Our Prophetic Heritage
Scripture: Rev 10; 14:6-12
Leading Question: What is the most effective way today to direct attention to the work of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary?
Several issues present themselves in connection with the study of the three angels’ message of Revelation 14. Those are addressed below
1. Historicism and the Original Context: A Both/And Approach. While those who are deeply rooted in strict historicism may find traditional arguments convincing, increasingly it is important to develop ways of recognizing the original contextual understanding of passages that have been interpreted from within a historicist perspective. Three examples present themselves, all of which can be viewed from a both/and perspective:
2. Type and Antitype. The Adventist understanding of the sanctuary and judgment doctrines illustrates the use of type and antitype in the interpretation of Scripture. The term “antitype” is confusing because modern usage more typically things of the word “anti” as suggesting opposition (e.g. anti-biotics, anti-aircraft fire); but in the word antitype, “anti” means in place of. This antitype refers to the real thing, while type refers to the image that points forward to the real thing. Thus Jesus was the once-for-all antitypical passover lamb, while the typical passover lamb would be the lamb that was sacrificed in the yearly festival in the Old Testament. As noted in Lesson #7 (Nov. 16), the idea of seeing the dying messiah as being represented by the passover lamb was apparently not recognized in the Old Testament and only came clear in the years following the resurrection.
In Adventist history, seeing Jesus as the once-for-all antitypical lamb suggested to our forebears the possibility of seeing a once-for-all antitypical day of atonement as the ultimate fulfillment of the annual Day of Atonement. The fact that such an antitypical application was developed in the light of the Disappointment without direct exegetical “proof” from Scripture correlates with the “late” parallel development of the idea that Jesus was the once-for-all Passover lamb.
For the full development of the Adventist understanding of the sanctuary/judgment doctrine four key biblical contexts come into play: Leviticus 16, the annual Day of Atonement; Daniel 7, the development of the judgment theme; Daniel 8-9, the desecration and restoration of the earthly sanctuary; Revelation 14:6-12, the three angels’ messages representing the final preaching of the everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14:6) and the Judgment hour message (Rev.14:7). The book of Hebrews can be added to that cluster, but operates from within quite a different framework to make the point that the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus is the clearest revelation of God.
3. The Role of Jesus in the Heavenly Sanctuary. Some devout Adventists almost panic when critics argue that the Adventist understanding of the sanctuary isn’t “biblical” in the traditional exegetical understanding of the term. And if Adventists feel that this is the only unique feature of our faith, reaction to the critics can be very intense indeed.
But if we can see the Sanctuary/Judgment doctrine as simply another way of pointing to those things that are very important throughout Scripture, then the sanctuary/judgment theme can be very profitable. And we have stripped all the weapons from the hands of the critics. Paul summarized his two-pronged approach to Christian living at the end of the fourth chapter of 1 Corinthians (4:21): “What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” Some of us need more of the stick, some of us a lot of the stick; but some gentle and conscientious people need almost no stick at all. Ellen White made this application to a brother who was inclined to use more of the stick:
When making the application to the sanctuary/judgment model, we can say that those who need more threats will need more of the judgment metaphor; but those who need love in the spirit of gentleness, can envision Jesus as our high priest applying his blood on our behalf within the sanctuary and in judgment. In short, we have a model that is useful for anyone, anywhere, and it is the work of the church as a body to help each of us find what we need most. That is why Paul’s view of the church as an incarnational model of God’s temple/sanctuary is so important (see Lesson #2 for October 12): “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” – 1 Cor.3:16-17, NIV