Five great waymarks stand out as mountain peaks along the great plan of salvation, as we look at it for us in the New Testament era.
- AD 31, The beginning of Jesus ministry.
- AD 34, Calvary and resurrection.
- AD 34, Jesus ascension to minister in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
- 1844, The change of Jesus ministry from the Holy to the Most Holy place.
- Close of human probation and Jesus prepares to return.
Each one of these marks a fundamental change in Christ's ministry, involving both the church on earth and the sanctuary in heaven.
The Bible speaks of Christ as the head of the church —Ephesians 5:23. And the church as the body —Ephesians 1:22,23. When the head is ready to move, what should the body do? Unless it is paralysed, the body moves with the head!
So with this in mind, Jesus longed for the fellowship of His disciples as He approached the hour of His great sacrifice. Again and again He sought to prepare them for the events coming – His crucifixion. He was trying to get the body to move with Himself – the Head.
On the journey to His last passover; "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him." —Matthew 20:17-19
Most of those disciples would have grown up with Isaiah 53, perhaps some even committed it to memory. Yet, despite His repeated efforts all during His ministry, the crucifixion surprised and disappointed His disciples and followers, they just didn't get it – they just couldn't comprehend it.
But Jesus, the Head of the church, went ahead with His work, because He knew salvation depended on His making an offering for sin. The Head moved forward without the body. Whether or not they understood it then or not, He knew that they would gain the necessary experience and comprehend it later.
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now... Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he... But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." — John 16:12; John 13:19; John 14:26.
After His resurrection, Jesus spent many hours with His disciples, explaining Old Testament prophecies, showing how His life and death had fulfilled these predictions. How significant Isaiah's description of the suffering Servant appeared now in chapter 53! How precisely the mathematical prophecy of Daniel 9 had been fulfilled.
No longer was His church to pray toward the earthly sanctuary. Jesus directed all eyes to the Heavenly sanctuary, and to His intercession within the veil.
By the time of Pentecost, it showed that the Head and the body were unified and in close communion. The disciples' great disappointment had been explained;
confidence and joy filled the hearts of His people and they went forth to witness, filling the earth with the glory of His name.
One thousand, eight hundred years later, the great Head of the church was again about to make a major move. The work in the Holy Place was to come to a close; the work in the Most Holy Place was to commence.
The same prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9 that had defined the time for Christ's sacrificial death and the anointing of the heavenly sanctuary; pointed to 1844 as the time for Christ to begin his work within the second veil.
"Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." —Daniel 8:14. To prepare His church for this important move, God sent a special message. As a result, the cry sounded throughout the land: "The hour of His judgment is come." —Revelation 14:7, and thousands looked to the autumn of 1844 for the cleansing of the sanctuary.
But like the first disciples, their minds were so filled with their ideas of what it all meant, that they missed God's idea of what it all meant! And when the day came and went, the day of His appointment became labelled as 'The Great Disappointment.'
So October 22, 1844 stands in human records. The 'body' on earth did not know what its divine Head was doing that day. The greatest event since Pentecost took place, and not a soul on earth was conscious of it. Disappointment? Yes, not only here but also undoubtedly in heaven. Jesus would have been pleased if His church had moved with Him by faith into the Most Holy Place.
Just as after His resurrection He appeared to his sorrowing disciples, so also at 1844, having moved into the Most Holy Place; He also showed His disciple, Hiram Edson the heavenly sanctuary and His change of ministry from the Holy Place to the Most Holy.
Jesus indicated that as our great High Priest, He had done exactly what prophecy had foretold. As the disappointed Millerites searched the Scriptures, the rays of light from the mercy seat shone brighter and brighter, explaining their disappointment and making clear the present truth.
Confirmed by the visions of Ellen White, the budding Advent believers saw in the Biblical prophecies the present work of Jesus within the second veil of the heavenly sanctuary.
To what purpose was all this? For these final days, Christ is seeking to make ready His people for the blotting out of sins. As He sent the early rain from the Holy Place at the beginning of His ministry as High Priest, so He will send the latter rain from the Most Holy Place as He closes His mediatorial work.
Will His church today be in step with its Divine Head as He makes the last move? Yes, it will without a doubt. At His crucifixion, whether His people understood or not, He could go to the cross and make it plain later. Then in 1844 whether anyone on earth understood it or not, He could move from the Holy to the Most Holy and make it plain later. But He can't close His work in the Most Holy Place and make it plain later, because later will be TOO LATE!
Now we see why the Bridegroom tarried, why time has continued on and on since 1844. Jesus has slowed His pace that He may walk with us – at our speed.
By way of illustration, defective and all that it may be, in the USA in times gone by, when the final day of Congress came to its close and the hour of adjournment drew near, if there remained some urgent bills which Congress felt must pass, a man would go up to the big clock and turn the hands back so that the legislators could have more time to finish their agenda. He may do this several times, for they must complete their work during the last legislative day.
Now that the digital age has taken over, all has no doubt changed; and we may say, just leave the clock alone, time goes on anyway. But there is spiritual lesson here! How often do you suppose God has turned back His great clock during our more than 175 years of waiting?
Long ago He told us that He planned to finish things quickly, so that he could come and take us all home. In AD 31, the prophetic clock struck the hour; Jesus went to the cross and then entered His work in the Holy Place.
Again in 1844, the clock struck the hour and Jesus moved from the Holy into the Most Holy Place. Everything was on time. But from here on, God did not predict a date. The close of probation is not a matter of mathematical calculation. The last date on the prophetic chart is October 22, 1844.
This should tell us loudly that time does not stand between us and the coming of Jesus. He is waiting for His church to move with Him into the Most Holy Place experience.
Note the date of the following quote; "The slumbering church must be aroused, awakened out of its spiritual lethargy, to a realisation of the important duties which have been left undone. The people have not entered into the (Most) Holy Place, where Jesus has gone to make an atonement for His children." —Review & Herald, February 25, 1890
Yes, the Head is waiting for the body to catch up. There does come a time when the hands do not go back; there comes a time when the hands continue – time finishes!
Jesus wants us to go in with Him; "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." — Hebrews 10:19-22
To go in with Him means; "…to understand His work, and to follow Him by faith as He goes in before God."
Now, in these times that we live, Christ desires the thoughts of His people to be with Him in the Most Holy Place. As we read the account of Jesus' work in Early Writings and Great Controversy, His work will become more and more real to us. This is what our time now is for; this is what should fill our minds. This should be our priority in life, before anything else.
We all have a work of character building to complete and a world to warn. We all have a Saviour who long ago laid down His life for us and that life is still laid down for us. Jesus Christ has one great longing in His heart and that is for us to be with Him. This yearning of His heart fills Him, He can never rest satisfied until this world is over, when the price of His sacrifice brings His family home to be with Him. "Leaving the first love is represented as a spiritual fall. Many have fallen in this manner. In every church in our land, there is needed confession, repentance and reconversion. The disappointment of Christ is beyond description." —Review & Herald, Dec.15, 1904
We have commonly known 'The Great Disappointment' being when our first pioneers looked for the coming of Christ on October 22, 1844 – but didn't come. Not long after, we read of another and very 'Great Disappointment' – greater than we comprehend.
Think of a bridegroom waiting to be married to His bride; waiting year after year for the wedding. And she doesn't come – she isn't ready! Doesn't his bride want to be with Him? Just know that it isn't God who is holding things up for His bride, it’s us who are not ready! It should be that God's people have just one business – and that is; to please, not only our Maker, but also our Saviour/Redeemer. We should want to satisfy His aching heart; to understand what He is doing in the sanctuary in the blotting out of sin; to measure our lives by the Law in the Ark; to see His cleansing blood that we may be purified from all iniquity.
Face to Face with God
Note how we are to prepare to meet God face to face. At the time of the Exodus when God took Israel out of Egypt, there came the time when God was going to re-give His divine law.
God called Moses up to be with Him. "And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the LORD abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights." —Exodus 24:12, 15-18
Now notice how inspiration develops these texts to describe Moses' preparation to be able to stand in the presence of a holy God. "Even Moses could not go at once up into the mount, for he could not immediately approach so nigh unto God, and endure the exhibitions of his glory. Six days he was preparing to meet with God. His common thoughts and feelings must be put away. For six days he was devoting his thoughts to God, and sanctifying himself by meditation and prayer, before he could be prepared to converse with God." —Spiritual Gifts, vol.3, p.272,273
The same lesson applies to us today. God has not changed, He is just as holy as He was at the time of the Exodus, He is just as repulsive of sin as He was at the time of the Exodus, His law is just as holy as it was then, He wants His fallen creation to be with Him through the plan of salvation just as much now as He did then. We just have to prepare ourselves to meet with Him face to face.
Here is the answer, the more we behold Him, the more we will understand Him, the more we will become like Him in mind and character. — II Corinthians 3:18
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." — 1John 2:28-3:2
Shall we send Him word that we are ready to move with Him? Shall we send Him word that we are prepared and waiting? Remember, this can't be like at the time of the cross, when He went ahead anyway and His disciples/followers 'caught up' the pace afterwards as they gained understanding.
This can't be like October 22, 1844 when he moved from the Holy Place to the Most Holy anyway, and His disciples/followers 'caught up' the pace afterwards as they gained understanding.
We live now in the preparation time. All of us will either be cleansed and purified or neglect the cleansing and eventually be rejected! But there will be a pure people - a remnant! "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." —Ephesians 5:27
The Head and the body will be firmly and fully united. They will be intelligently and spiritually united as we approach the hour that ends human probation and that will mark the close of the work in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
So finally, what will the end look like?
"As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges, but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us. Not having received the love of the truth, they will be taken in the delusions of the enemy; they will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and will depart from the faith.
"But, on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say: 'I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.' The testimony of one and all will be: 'I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour.'" —Testimonies for the Church, vol.6, p.400,401
Just remember one important point. We will not be preparing ourselves just by prayer and reading and perfecting ourselves in our comforts, waiting for Jesus to come back.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." —Ephesians 4:11-16
Our God will have a people who will prepare themselves, He will have a people who will be able to live in His presence. They will not be inactive, indolent, sickly, lukewarm, proud! They will be active, innocent, healthy, working, red-hot and humble!
They will be "the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." – Revelation 12:17
Drawn from “Ransom and Reunion” by Elder W D Frazee