“The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God.”—The Great Controversy, 488.

“I know that the sanctuary question stands in righteousness and truth, just as we have held it for so many years. It is the enemy that leads minds off on sidetracks. He is pleased when those who know the truth become engrossed in collecting scriptures to pile around erroneous theories, which have no foundation in truth. The scriptures thus used are misapplied; they were not given to substantiate error, but to strengthen truth.”—Gospel Workers, 303.
The Sanctuary Truth

An Introduction*

An introductory chapter prepared in the office of the Ellen G. White Estate, providing the historical setting for the E. G. White chapters and other of her materials selected for the study of the sanctuary truth as understood and taught by Seventh-day Adventists.

Writing of what must be accomplished by the emerging Seventh-day Adventist Church before the Lord shall come, Ellen G. White in 1883 said:

“The minds of believers were to be directed to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ had entered to make atonement for His people.”—Selected Messages, 1:67.

In a crisis in 1906, in which certain of the basic teachings of Seventh-day Adventists were threatened, she wrote:

“The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith.”—Evangelism, 221.
The End of the 2300 Days

Among the prophecies forming the foundation of the advent awakening of the 1830’s and the early 1840’s was the prophecy of Daniel 8:14

: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Ellen White, who passed through the experience, explains concerning the application of this prophecy

“In common with the rest of the Christian world, Adventists then held that the earth, or some portion of it, was the sanctuary. They understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the last great day, and that this would take place at the second advent. Hence the conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844.”—The Great Controversy, 409.

This prophetic period came to its close on October 22, 1844. The disappointment to those who expected to meet their Lord on that day was great. Hiram Edson, a careful Bible student in mid-New York State, describes what took place among the company of believers of which he was a part:

“Our expectations were raised high, and thus we looked for our coming Lord until the clock tolled twelve at midnight. The day had then passed, and our disappointment had become a certainty. Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept and wept, till the day dawn….

“I mused in my heart, saying: ‘My advent experience has been the brightest of all my Christian experience…. Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there no God, no heaven, no golden city, no Paradise? Is all this but a cunningly devised fable? Is there no reality to our fondest hopes and expectations?’…

“I began to feel there might be light and help for us in our distress. I said to some of the brethren: ‘Let us go to the barn.’ We entered the granary, shut the doors about us, and bowed before the Lord. We prayed earnestly, for we felt our necessity. We continued in earnest prayer until the witness of the Spirit was given that our prayers were accepted, and that light should be given—our disappointment explained, made clear and satisfactory.

“After breakfast I said to one of my brethren, ‘Let us go and see and encourage some of our brethren.’ We started, and while passing through a large field, I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coining out of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2300 days, He, for the first time, entered on that day into the second apartment of that sanctuary, and that He had a work to perform in the most holy place before coming to the earth; that He came to the marriage, or in other words, to the Ancient of Days, to receive a kingdom, dominion, and glory; and that we must wait for His return from the wedding. And my mind was directed to the tenth chapter of Revelation, where I could see the vision had spoken and did not lie.”—Unpublished manuscript published in part in The Review and Herald, June 23, 1921.

There followed a careful investigation of the scriptures that touched on this subject—particularly those in Hebrews—by Hiram Edson and two close associates, Dr. F. B. Hahn, a physician, and O. R. L. Crosier, a teacher. The result of this joint study was written up by Crosier and was published, first in The Day Dawn, a paper of limited circulation, and then in rewritten and enlarged form in a special issue of the Day-Star, on February 7, 1846. This was a more widely read Adventist journal, published at Cincinnati, Ohio. Through this medium it reached a number of the disappointed Advent believers. The rather lengthy presentation, well supported by Scripture, brought hope and courage to their hearts as it clearly showed that the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days is in heaven, and not on earth, as they had believed earlier.

Ellen G. White, in a statement written on April 21, 1847, declared in endorsement of the Crosier article on the sanctuary question:

“The Lord showed me in vision, more than one year ago, that Brother Crosier had the true light, on the cleansing of the sanctuary, etc.; and that it was His will, that Brother Crosier should write out the view which he gave us in the Day-Star Extra, February 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized by the Lord, to recommend that Extra, to every saint.”—A Word to the Little Flock, 12.

At a later time she wrote of the rapid development of doctrinal understanding which followed the disappointment:

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth.” Manuscript 13, 1889, published in Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30.


Every feature of the third angel’s message is to be proclaimed in all parts of the world. . . . This message is a testing message. Received into honest hearts, it will prove an antidote for all the world’s sins and sorrows. No conditions of climate, of poverty, or ignorance, or of prejudice can hinder its efficiency, or lessen its adaptability to the needs of mankind.– Manuscript 75, 1906, p. 3. (“A Caution Against Heavy Investment in Food Manufacture,” September 29, 1906.) Truths of the Third Angel’s Message Constantly Unfolding .–The third angel’s message reveals the great saving truth for this time. Its truths are constantly unfolding, and it is God’s design that even the children and youth shall understand intelligently what God requires, that they may distinguish between righteousness and sin, between obedience and disobedience.– Manuscript 67, 1909, p. 3. (“A High Standard,” October 7, 1909.) White Estate Washington, D. C. October 22, 1979