Section 10

The Adventist Movement Contrasted with the New Testament Era

We will now compare ten major pioneer assertions about 1844 with ten major apostolic assertions about the New Testament era.

Ten Major Pioneer Assertions about 1844

1. The Time of the End. The time of the end began in 1798 (1844 era).

2. The Exodus Movement. The antitypical exodus took place in 1844 (see Rev. 7:1-4).1

3. The Restoration Movement. The final restoration movement began in 1844 (see Isa. 58:12; Dan. 8:14; Rev. 18:1-4).2

4. The Remnant. Adventism is the remnant surviving the great Babylonian captivity (papal apostasy), coming out of Babylon and rebuilding the ruins (see Joel 2:32; Rev. 12:17; 14:12).

5. The Atonement. The High Priest entered the holy of holies in 1844 to sprinkle blood before the mercy seat and thus to make the atonement. Some pioneers said that the atonement began in 1844. Others said that it was to be finished in 1844. All agreed that Christ went into the holy of holies to make an atonement.

6. The Day of Atonement. The antitypical day of atonement began in 1844.

7. "Within the Veil." Christ passed within the inner veil of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844.

8. The Most Holy Place. Christ entered the most holy place in 1844.

9. The Reception of the Kingdom. Christ came to the Ancient of Days in 1844 to receive His kingdom from the Father (Dan. 7:13, 14).

10. The Judgment. The pre-advent judgment began at the house of God in 1844.

Ten Major Apostolic Assertions about the New Testament Era

1. The Time of the End. The apostles declared that they were already living in the time of the end (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:1, 2; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Rev. 1:1).

2. The Exodus Movement. There are two hundred references to the Exodus in the New Testament. Jesus is presented as the new Moses, the new Israel and the Passover Lamb. His birth as the firstborn, His going down to Egypt, His baptism in the Jordan and His testing for forty days in the wilderness replay the events of the old Exodus. His death is the Passover, His resurrection is the coming "up out of the sea" (Isa. 63:11; cf. Heb. 13:20). The Easter events at Jerusalem were "His exodus" (Luke 9:31, Greek).

Those who were baptized into Christ were part of the new exodus. The New Testament community lives between the exodus (the cross) and the promised land (the Parousia). Hence Paul's instruction about not repeating the mistakes of old Israel (1 Cor. 10; cf. Heb. 3, 4).

The New Testament witnesses to Christ not so much by proof texts, but by reinterpreting the events of the Old Testament. The New Testament shows the correspondence of Old Testament events with the Christ event.

Jesus' contemporaries freely identified Him as a second Moses— the expectation of a second Moses played an important part in popular eschatology at the time—and with the expectation of a second Moses went very naturally the expectation of a second Exodus.3

3. The Restoration Movement. The restoration from Babylon is presented in the Old Testament as a second exodus. Both exodus movements are types of the Christ event.

a. Christ's resurrection was a victory over hostile powers and the liberation of God's people by the defeat of the king of Babylon (Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:10-12).

b. The restoration of David's fallen tabernacle is declared to be taking place in the New Testament era (cf. Amos 9:11, 12; Acts 15:14-18).

4. The Remnant. The remnant in the Old Testament refers primarily to those who would survive the disaster of captivity. The survivors of Israel would be the faithful few who would return to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem (Isa. 1:9; 7:3, margin; 10:20, 21; Amos 5:15). The Hebrew term for "remnant," however, first appears in reference to the minority in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).

The apostles employed the remnant motif to describe the New Testament community (Acts 15:14-18; Rom. 9:27-29; 11:1-5).

When the crucial test came, the faithful remnant was reduced to one person, the Son of Man who entered death single-handed and rose again as his people's representative. With him the people of God died and rose again.4

With the possible exception of Luke the writers of the New Testament—like all charter members of the church—were Jewish Christians. They looked upon themselves as the final remnant of true Israel immediately prior to the eschaton, which they believed to be imminent in their day.5

5. The Atonement. All the great New Testament synonyms for atonement—such as reconciliation, redemption and propitiation—are used to describe the transaction of the cross. The cross is declared to be the mercy seat (hilasterion) (Rom. 3:25; cf. Heb. 2:17). It corresponds to the type of the high priest's sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat. Calvary made full satisfaction to the claims of the law and unites justice and mercy. The believing sinner is forgiven, and the law is honored (Rom. 3:25-31). This is the essential lesson of the mercy seat.

6. The Day of Atonement. The day of atonement and "making the atonement" cannot be either logically or exegetically separated. The book of Hebrews shows that the Day of Atonement sacrifice, the high-priestly ministry and the mercy-seat transaction all found fulfillment in the Christ event (Heb. 9, 10). Christ is at the same time the day-of-atonement Sacrifice, the day-of-atonement Officiator and the day-of-atonement Mercy Seat. According to Hebrews, Calvary was Yom Kippur.

7. "Within the Veil." "Within the veil" in Hebrews 6:19 is an expression which literally means "the inner of the veil." Dr. Norman Young of Avondale College has summarized four reasons why the writer of Hebrews means within the holy of holies:

1. The outer veil of the tabernacle was cultically unimportant, it was the inner veil which possessed the real significance. The Epistle to the Hebrews is more likely to make reference to this theologically meaningful veil, than the more innocuous curtain at the tabernacle's entrance.

2. The inner veil played a cultically rich role on the day of atonement. The Epistle to the Hebrews draws heavily upon the day of atonement imagery in portraying Christ's self-offering and high priesthood and thus presumably has the inner veil and its day of atonement role in view.

3. The immediate context of Heb. 6:19f. speaks of Jesus' entrance "within the veil" as the act of one who has "become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." The only place in the Old Testament where it is said that the high priest enters "within the veil" is on the day of atonement (Lev. 16:2, 12, 15), and it here has reference to the Holy of Holies.

4. The Epistle to the Hebrews has a penchant for the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. The actual phrase to esoteron tou katapetasmatos ( = the inner of the veil) occurs in the Septuagint only in Ex. 26:33; Lev. 16:2, 12, 15 and refers always to the inner veil. We should notice that three of the four occurrences are found in the chapter referring to the day of atonement. The Hebrew phrase behind the Septuagint in these places, mibeth haparoketh, occurs in one other place, Numbers 18:7. This text probably refers to the outer veil as Fletcher, Watson, and Howell assert, though some scholars do not agree. But Num. 18:7 does not give the same relevant background to Heb. 6:19 that the day of atonement chapter (Lev. 16) gives. What rules Num. 18:7 completely out of the question, however, as the source of the phrase "within the veil" in Heb. 6:19, is the fact that the Septuagint has to endothen tou katapetasmatos not to esoiteron tou katapetasmatos as in Heb. 6:19.

We conclude, therefore, on the ground of these considerations of Old Testament usage, Septuagint language, and the context of Heb. 6:19, that the phrase "within the veil" in Heb. 6:19 means "within the holy of holies "6

8. The Most Holy Place. Hebrews 9 and 10 use the Day of Atonement motif to illustrate the nature of Christ's sacrifice and His entrance into the heavenly sanctuary.



But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.—Heb. 9:7, NIV.

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. —Heb. 9:12, NIV.

The high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. —Heb. 9:25, NIV. He entered heaven itself. —Heb. 9:24, NIV.

Ta hagia is not necessarily a plural word. Therefore the old Adventist argument of men like Crosier, Smith, Bates and Andrews that it implies two apartments and that Christ did not enter the most holy at His ascension is not valid.7

Ta hagia can mean first apartment as in Hebrews 9:2, second apartment as in Hebrews 9:12, or whole sanctuary as in Hebrews 9:24. The context must determine the meaning.

We accept the New International Version's translation of ta hagia as "Most Holy Place" in Hebrews 9 and 10 for the following reasons: In Hebrews 9:1-10 the two apartments are used to illustrate the two ages. The first apartment, with limited access and with a veil before the presence of God, represents the Jewish age. The entrance of the high priest into the most holy place represents the blessings of the Messianic age, when the veil is rent and all believers are given free access to God. Hebrews 10:19, 20 teaches the same. The lesson here is not celestial geography but unrestricted access to God because the veil is rent.

In view of the eschatological atmosphere of the New Testament, it is inconceivable that the writer of Hebrews taught that Christ had only entered a preliminary and not a final ministry. "For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay"' (Heb. 10:37, NIV).

9. The Reception of the Kingdom. The giving of the kingdom to the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13, 14) is applied by the New Testament to Christ's ascension and enthronement (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:34-36; Rev. 1:5; 3:21; 5:1-6, 12).

10. The Judgment. "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17) applies to the New Testament era. The judgment-hour message of Revelation 14:6, 7 also applies to the New Testament era, since this message was first sent to the seven churches in Asia Minor. "The hour of His judgment is come is the announcement of the apostolic gospel and must therefore be coextensive with the gospel.8

The Adventist Pioneers Created a Tension between A.D. 31 and 1844.

The pioneers made certain eschatological claims about 1844. Since they did not then understand New Testament eschatology, they generally affirmed that whatever occurred in 1844 did not occur in the New Testament era. For example, O. R. L. Crosier and Uriah Smith said that the atonement was not made on the cross. James White said that the remnant of Joel 2:32 did not appear until 1844. No one seemed to recognize that the last days were inaugurated by the resurrection and outpouring of the Spirit. Thus, the pioneers tended to make 1844 compete with A.D. 31 as an event of redemptive history

The Old Testament must be interpreted in the light of the New Testament rather than the reverse. But an examination of pioneer literature shows that the early Adventists tended to interpret Old Testament prophecy without reference to the New Testament's interpretation of that prophecy. Thus, Adventists sometimes deny what the New Testament says in order to maintain their claim regarding 1844. The New Testament clearly teaches that the last days were inaugurated by the resurrection, that Christ was enthroned at God's right hand in the holiest of all, and that the kingdom—or judgment—was inaugurated by the Christ event. Adventists are sometimes thrust into the awkward position of preaching a new gospel—a gospel with features not found in the apostles. For instance, R. J. Wieland claims that the Adventist gospel must go beyond the message preached by Paul.9 How are we going to preach things not found in the testimony of the apostles? Does the unsealing of Daniel give us more light than the apostles?

The Suggested Solution

1. The Bible is a record of the great acts of God. In these acts there is a discernable pattern, a recurring rhythm.

2. The raw material of biblical theology is not philosophical formulas, mental speculations or mystical trances, but a recognition of God's acting in the events of history.

3. Before the New Testament age, the Old Testament used the principle of re-interpretation rather than the proof-text method to explain God's acts. For example, the Creation model is re-interpreted in the Flood story and in the Exodus event. When the prophets describe the post-exilic act of God, they do it by reinterpreting the Exodus and even Creation.

4. The New Testament likewise applies the principle of re-interpretation rather than the proof-text method to the Old Testament. The writers discern the correspondence of God's working in different eras of history. They discern the acts of God in the Old Testament as types, not allegories, which point to Christ which in fact exist for the sake of Christ. The New Testament writers describe the entire Christ event in images and allusions to Old Testament people, institutions and events.

So too, the apostles take the promises given to the Jewish nation and the remnant and apply them to Christ and the church, which becomes the new Israel. They can do this only by re-interpreting the Old Testament. This is necessary because changing circumstances have made a crassly literal interpretation impossible. But since the principles are the same, re-interpretation is possible.10

5. The New Testament community was an eschatological community, the remnant of the last days. But the "falling away" and a new "Babylonian captivity" of the church brought a disruption, a whole new set of circumstances.

6. The Adventists of the nineteenth century sensed that God was acting in the events of their day and that the end of the 2300 days was an event of great significance in salvation history. They believed that God wanted to create an eschatological community, a remnant, who would be heirs and restorers of the apostolic gospel.

In many ways the early Adventists were like children. They were not fully conscious of what they were doing in their use of Scripture. For example, in 1857 James White wrote the first presentation on the doctrine of "the investigative judgment." He used four New Testament texts to prove this pre-advent judgment— 1 Peter 4:17, 18; 1 Timothy 5:24; 1 Peter 4:5-7 and Acts 3:19. White did not exegete these texts, because it is obvious that they do not refer to 1844, but rather to the apostolic era. He was actually re-interpreting these scriptures.11

So too, the early Adventists used the Old Testament images of the Exodus, the remnant's rebuilding the wall and the coming out of Babylon to explain the divine intention in the 1844 event. We do not believe they were wrong in doing this. But it is also evident that they were not fully aware of what they were doing.

There is good support for the principle of re-interpretation in the book of Revelation. It has been called a book of the rebirth of Old Testament images. For example, Revelation 7:14 reinterprets the Exodus in the events surrounding the second coming of Christ. The call to "Come out of her" in Revelation 18:4 is a re-interpretation of both the Exodus and the postexilic movement.

7. In this re-interpretation it is important to see the connection between the A.D. 31 event and the 1844 era:

a. The events of salvation history have a recurring pattern, but they all point to and highlight the atoning death and bodily resurrection of Christ. For instance, the Old Testament events actually preach Christ, because they all exist for His sake and testify of Him. So also, the post-resurrection events must highlight Calvary and present the meaning of Calvary. For example, Pentecost does not compete with Calvary but highlights it. So did the destruction of Jerusalem. The gospel, "crucified" by the papacy, must be resurrected too. If 1844 is to be a significant era in salvation history, it must point back to the cross and highlight that event.

b. The Bible exhibits a clear pattern of God's acts and their rehearsal. The covenant community is called to rehearse—recite, replay, reflect, re-present—the acts of God. Creation is rehearsed in the Sabbath and the weekly cycle. The Exodus is rehearsed in the Sabbath, the Passover and the firstfruits. God is truly worshiped and faith is preserved only as God's deeds are remembered by rehearsal.

The gospel is the means of remembering God's act in Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The gospel is the rehearsal of what God has done. By the Holy Spirit this is done in such a way that as the great act of God is re-presented, it becomes present. All the power in the act of God is present in the gospel rehearsal of that act (Rom. 1:16). The same principle of rehearsal and remembrance is true when the Lord's Supper is re-enacted by the remnant people of God.

c. Daniel 8:14 is the rehearsal of Daniel 9:24. Thus, the real point of 1844 movement is that God called a community into being to rehearse the Christ event before the world; hence the correspondence between these two events.

d. In other words, Daniel 8:14 can be reinterpreted to point to the time of the restoration of the "daily"—the everlasting gospel.

If the apostolic gospel is to be restored, the New Testament situation must be restored. The New Testament gospel was preached in a historical, legal and eschatological framework. So, in God's guiding providence, Adventism was given a strong sense of history through its understanding of the prophecies linking our day with the past. It was given a strong legal framework. And its conviction on the time and signs of the end re-created an eschatological community. Rightly understood, none of this went beyond the New Testament situation, but was a restoration of the apostolic situation.

e. It is quite amazing how the early Adventists returned to the Old Testament framework. In fact, they became remarkably like the Jewish community which waited for the "glory" to come. For the first forty years Adventism tried to preach its framework as if that were the gospel. In 1888 the "glory"—gospel—arrived, but it was unwelcome.

f. Just as the apostolic gospel, given in the framework of Old Testament history, law and eschatology, was the fruition of Judaism, so the restoration of that gospel is the mission of Adventism. This gospel becomes and is the reality of the ten major pioneer assertions about the Adventist movement:

We cannot, dare not, go beyond what the apostles preached. We can only recover it. The apostolic gospel, restored to its true framework, is the essence of the pre-advent judgment (Dan. 8:14). By this gospel, sent from heaven, men are tested and judged, sealed or marked. He who believes and keeps on believing has the verdict of the judgment and the life of the age to come.


1. See also Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (1911 ed.), p. 458; Taylor G. Bunch, The Exodus and Advent Movement in Type and Antitype (Leaves of Autumn Books, n.d.). Taylor Bunch's book illustrates Adventism's self-understanding.
2. See also Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1917), pp. 7 14-15. Note the parallel drawn between events before and after the beginning of the 2300-day period.
3. F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), p. 49.
4. Ibid., p. 62.
5. Anonymous Adventist scholar, "A Hermeneutic for Predictive Prophecy" (Chapter 4 of an unpublished manuscript), p. 18.
6. Norman H. Young, "The Checkered History of the Phrase 'Within the Veil,"' pp. 5-6, cited by Desmond Ford, "Daniel 8:14: The Judgment and the Kingdom of God: A Rebuttal of Criticisms of the Adventist Sanctuary Doctrine."
7. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary on Hebrews acknowledges that ta hagia does not in itself prove two apartments. See The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 7 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Assn., 1953-1957), 7:444, 448-49.
8. See Section 11, "The Doctrine of the Judgment in the Old and New Testaments," for a discussion of the present (gospel) reality of judgment, especially in Johannine literature.
9. Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short, 1888 Re-examined, in A. L. Hudson, ed., A Warning and Its Reception (Baker, Oreg.: Hudson Printing Co., n.d.), p. 50.
10. For example, compare Amos 9:11, 12 with Acts 15:15-17.
11. See Appendix, Exhibit A: James White, "The Judgment," Review and Herald, 29 Jan. 1857, pp. 100-101.

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