What the Bible Says About The Judgment

The following is a reply to issues raised by a Watchtower article with regard to the doctrine “investigative judgment”. I have received permision to post this response without making any changes to his words (Author: Cyril G. Hartman).

(This is a preliminary introduction for a critique of an article which is against there being the judgment which the Bible presents. It is not an exhaustive presentation and is sketchy, but covers the main points. For a more complete understanding of the subject, I recommend the little booklet, “1844 Made Simple” by Clifford Goldstein. It is available from AdventistBookCenter.com and on the internet from other locations. What Bible students need to know and understand is that the sanctuary service established by God for the Israelites was a prophetic model of Christ's entire ministry until the restoration of all things and it includes the judgment. Psalms 77:13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary. . . John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. . .)

We will consider these questions:

1. Will there be a judgment?
2. When will the judgment occur?
3. Who will be judged?


Will there be a judgment? Who will be judged?

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. . .


When will the Judgment occur?

Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Romans 2:16 God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ accord¬ing to my gospel.

Acts 17:31 He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man who he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Romans 14:10-12 Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Hebrews 10:30 The Lord shall judge his people.

All these texts written roughly around 50 to 60 AD place the judgment in the future.

Going now to the time prophecies of Daniel, we look at Daniel 2 in which the world kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome are depicted and then the dividing of the kingdoms in the feet of iron and clay and then the setting up of God's kingdom as the stone strikes the feet.

This vision forms the framework for Daniel 7, 8 & 9 which speak of the judgment. Because we know WHEN these kingdoms reigned, we know WHEN the judgment started.

Going to Daniel 7, we find the place that the judgment occurs—after the reign of the little horn. It is evidently so important that this is mentioned 3 times in the chapter. The kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome are represented as beasts: Lion, Bear, Leopard, and Terrible beast. Coming out of Rome are ten kings and then another one that uproots three. This little horn power has been identified by all the reformers of the 16th Century and modern Bible scholars, as Papal Rome. And, you notice that it is given a prophetic time of ruling of 1260 years. Papal Rome uprooted the last of the three kings in 538 AD and then exactly 1260 years later in 1798, the pope was taken prisoner by French General BertiĆ©.

Since the judgment is stated three times in Daniel 7 as taking place after the little horn reigns, this means that the judgment has to start after 1798. Daniel 8 and 9 pinpoint the exact date.

We should take note that not just anybody is going to understand this message as it says in Daniel 12:10 . . .and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

Daniel 8 has a vision that gives the same kingdoms as Daniel 7, except leaving out Babylon which had about reached its end when Daniel had the vision. After listing Medo-Persia, Greece, and a little horn, it speaks of the next event as the cleansing of the sanctuary instead of the judgment mentioned in Daniel 7. But because of the many parallels, it is certain that the little horn of Daniel 7 is the same power, (papal Rome), as is certain in Daniel 7. And what follows it is the cleansing of the sanctuary. This strongly suggests that the judgment in Heaven and the cleansing of the sanctuary are the same event. The only sanctuary known to exist at this time from Hebrews 8 & 9 is the Heavenly sanctuary.

This parallel of the judgment and cleansing of the sanctuary is not the only evidence that they are the same event. When the Jewish people, even today, celebrate the day of atonement, (Yom Kippur), they definitely consider it the final judgment day, of which abundant evidence exists.

So, this text is referring to the judgment which is mentioned three times in Daniel 7: Daniel 8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

And, so, the main item left in the puzzle is WHEN did this period start so that we know WHEN the judgment started. Daniel 9 answers.

Although you can't see it in the English of the text, in the Hebrew, Gabriel comes to explain the 2300 days/years, not the whole vision of Daniel 8. So, when Gabriel starts his explanation he says, 70 weeks are “cut off,” that is, cut off from the first part of the 2300 years. And he says that it starts with the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The effective decree, with funds to carry it out, occurred in the fall of 457 BC given by Artaxerxes when the prophet had returned from Jerusalem. Even if we did not have this date, we can figure backwards from the anointing of Jesus at His baptism in the fall of 27 AD which was in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar according to Luke. And those 69 weeks take us back to 457 BC. So 457 BC is certain.

Going forward now 2300 years takes us to 1844 at the time of the Day of Atonement in that year which was October 22, 1844. A number of things occurred in that year, that could be seen or heard, that confirm that the year and time were correct, and I will list them briefly here.

1. Preaching for over 10 years that the antitypical Day of Atonement was coming. (Blowing of Trumpets)

2. Preaching of the second coming of Christ in fulfillment of Daniel 8:14.

3. Preaching of Revelation 14:6, 7. (“The hour of His judgment is come.”)

4. Preaching of the second coming of Christ all over the world including over 200 preachers from various denominations in the United States. (population about 20 million in 1844—would be equivalent to 3000 ministers today.)

5. A restoration of truth that had been “trampled to the ground.”

6. Specifically a return to the Sabbath truth and other teachings such as the State of the Dead, annihilation of the wicked, etc.

7. A call to come out of churches teaching false doctrines in fulfillment of Rev. 14:8.

8. A disappointment of “eating” the little book of Daniel and finding it sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the stomach.—Rev. 10:10

9. A teenager started having visions guiding people back to the Bible truths in fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 which answered the question, “How long will the truth and the sanctuary be cast to the ground?”—the year 1844.

10. The Washington, New Hampshire church switched to keeping the Bible Sabbath. The month and year, March 1844.

11. Truth was beginning to triumph. The year—1844.

12. There are described those who have “the everlasting gospel” and what they will say, calling people to worship the God of creation in His appointed way. (The Sabbath—one of the 10 commandments and the one have to do with remembering creation and worshipping the creator.) Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Now, there is only one church that I am aware of that is teaching the messages of Rev. 14:6-12 (“the everlasting gospel.”)

Cyril G. Hartman
Volunteer responder for Bibleinfo.com

Now, let us take up some comments regarding an article that has been posted, opposing the judgment as taught in the Bible above. Unfortunately it ends with a quote from “The New World Translation.” I say unfortunately because it is not an acceptable translation by Bible scholars, but only by the ONE church who created it. I say created, because it does not follow the Hebrew and Greek text, but makes additions and corrections. For instance, it changes the tense of the verbs in Genesis 1, from past tense to present progressive tense. This is obviously because the theology of the creators, is that each day of creation took 1000 years. Because the creator's theology also teaches that Christ is a created being, they alter texts such as the following: (Square brackets indicate their changes which contradicts : John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.) NW: Colossians 1:13 He delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, 14 by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of our sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (preeminence) of all creation; 16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist. . .

I will make remarks in the following article [inside square brackets and in bold brown font]

The "Investigative Judgment"—A Bible-Based Doctrine?

OCTOBER 22, 1844, was a day of great anticipation for some 50,000 people on the East Coast of the United States. Their spiritual leader, William Miller, had said that Jesus Christ would return on that very day. The Millerites, as they were called, waited in their meeting places until darkness fell. Then the next day dawned, but the Lord had not come. Disillusioned, they returned home and thereafter recalled that day as the "Great Disappointment."

Yet, disappointment soon gave way to hope. A young woman named Ellen Harmon convinced a small band of Millerites that God had revealed in visions that their time calculation was right. She held that a momentous event had taken place on that day—Christ had then entered "the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary."

More than a decade later, Adventist preacher James White (who had married Ellen Harmon) coined a phrase to describe the nature of Christ's work since October 1844. In the Review and Herald of January 29, 1857, White said that Jesus had begun an "investigative judgment." And this has remained a fundamental belief among some seven million who call themselves Seventh-Day Adventists. [Around 30 million attend Seventh-day Adventist services each week and membership is about 17 million now.]

However, some respected scholars in the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church have been wondering if the "investigative judgment" is a Bible-based doctrine. Why are they having second thoughts about it? If you were a Seventh-Day Adventist, this question would concern you. First, though, what is "investigative judgment"?

What Is It?

The anchor text cited to support this doctrine is Daniel 8:14. It reads: "He said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (King James Version) Because of the phrase "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," many Adventists link this verse with Leviticus chapter 16. It describes the cleansing of the sanctuary by the Jewish high priest on the Day of Atonement. They also connect Daniel's words with Hebrews chapter 9, which describes Jesus as the Greater High Priest in heaven. One SDA scholar says that this reasoning is based on the "proof-text" method. A person finds "a certain word like sanctuary in Dan. 8:14, the same word in Lev. 16, the same word in Heb. 7, 8, 9" and holds "that they are all talking about the same thing."

The Adventists reason this way: Ancient Israel's priests performed a daily ministry in the temple compartment called the Holy, resulting in forgiveness of sins. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest performed an annual ministry in the Most Holy (the temple's innermost room) that resulted in the blotting out of sins. They conclude that Christ's priestly ministry in heaven consists of two phases. The first began with his ascension in the first century, ended in 1844, and resulted in the forgiveness of sins. The second, or "judgment phase," began on October 22, 1844, still continues, and will result in the blotting out of sins. How is this accomplished?

Since 1844, Jesus [the father, angels and all the universe] is said to be investigating the life records of all professing believers (first of the dead, then of the living) to determine if they merit eternal life. This examination is the "investigative judgment." After people are thus judged, the sins of those who pass this test are blotted out of the record books. But, explained Ellen White, those who do not pass will have 'their names blotted out of the book of life.' Thus, "the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death." At that point, the heavenly sanctuary is cleansed and Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled. So Seventh-Day Adventists teach. But the SDA publication Adventist Review admits: "The term investigative judgment is not found in the Bible." [It is not an admission, but a statement of fact. The reason investigative was coined is because, those not found worthy have a judgment when the translated saints sit in judgment with the others named above.]

A Missing Linguistic Link

This teaching has troubled some Adventists. [Unfortunately, the “Adventists” quoted are not in good and regular standing. One had in his doctoral thesis the position that the Jesuits manufactured to take the heat off the the Papacy which all the reforms identified as the antichrist. He had his ministerial credentials removed, because it was heresy. I wonder if the writer knows this.]

"History shows," says one observer, "that loyal leaders in our ranks have undergone agony of soul as they contemplated our traditional teaching on the investigative judgment." In recent years, he adds, agony turned to doubt as scholars began to "question many pillars of our usual sanctuary presentation." Let us now examine two of them.

Pillar one: Daniel chapter 8 is linked with Leviticus chapter 16. This premise is weakened by two main problems—language and context. First, consider language. Adventists believe that the 'cleansed sanctuary' in Daniel chapter 8 is the antitype of the 'cleansed sanctuary' of Leviticus chapter 16. This analogy seemed acceptable until translators learned that "cleansed" in the King James Version is a mistranslation of a form of the Hebrew verb tsa•dhaq´ (meaning "to be righteous") used at Daniel 8:14. Professor of theology Anthony A. Hoekema notes: "It is unfortunate that the word came to be translated be cleansed, since the Hebrew verb usually rendered cleansed [ta•her´] is not used here at all." It is used in Leviticus chapter 16 where the King James Version renders forms of ta•her´ as "cleanse" and "be clean." (Leviticus 16:19, 30) Hence, Dr. Hoekema correctly concludes: "If Daniel meant to refer to the kind of cleansing which was done on the Day of Atonement, he would have used taheer [ta•her´] instead of tsadaq [tsa•dhaq´]." Yet, tsa•dhaq´ is not found in Leviticus, and ta•her´ is not found in Daniel. The linguistic link is missing.

[Who said there had to be a linguistic link? When Daniel heard that something was being done in the sanctuary, he had no difficulty in knowing that it was speaking of the sanctuary such as the temple in Jerusalem and the day of atonement in which the people's sins were dealt with whether the words used were the exact Hebrew words. And, as explained above in my write-up, Yom Kippur was known as the judgment day with the Jews even today, greeting each other with “May your name be retained in the Book of Life.” And what Daniel did not understand was explained to him in Daniel 9.] (See: The Hebrew word for "cleansed" in Daniel 8:14)

What Does the Context Reveal?

Now consider the context. Adventists hold that Daniel 8:14 is "a contextual island," having nothing to do with the preceding verses. But do you get that impression when you read Daniel 8:9-14 in the accompanying box entitled "Daniel 8:14 in Context"? Verse 9 identifies an aggressor, a small horn. Verses 10-12 reveal that this aggressor will attack the sanctuary. Verse 13 asks, 'How long will this aggression continue?' And verse 14 answers: "Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; and the holy place will certainly be brought into its right condition." Clearly, verse 13 raises a question that is answered in verse 14. Theologian Desmond Ford says: "To detach Dan. 8:14 from this cry ["How long?" verse 13] is to be exegetically at sea without an anchor." [As explained above, Ford is not a reliable theologian. And, the context is that the antichrist power which has been identified as the papacy, has tried to substitute Christ's ministry in the sanctuary with its own priesthood and made further attacks against the truth with false teachings. How long will this continue? Until the judgment begins and truth is restored. This was signally fulfilled in 1844 as seen in my article.]

Why do Adventists detach verse 14 from the context? To avoid an awkward conclusion. The context ascribes the defilement of the sanctuary, mentioned in verse 14, to the activities of the little horn. However, the "investigative judgment" doctrine attributes the defilement of the sanctuary to the activities of Christ. He is said to transfer the sins of believers to the heavenly sanctuary. So, what happens if Adventists accept both the doctrine and the context? Dr. Raymond F. Cottrell, a Seventh-Day Adventist and former associate editor of the SDA Bible Commentary, writes: "To pretend to ourselves that the SDA interpretation reads Daniel 8:14 in context then would thus be to identify the little horn as Christ." Dr. Cottrell honestly admits: "We can't have both context and the Adventist interpretation." With regard to the "investigative judgment," therefore, the Adventist Church had to make a choice—accept the doctrine or the context of Daniel 8:14. Unfortunately, it embraced the former and dropped the latter. No wonder, says Dr. Cottrell, that informed Bible students blame Adventists for "reading into Scripture" what cannot "be drawn from Scripture"!

[My sketchy article above, is clear enough that the context and parallelism of Lev. 16 and Daniel 8:14 stands strong.]

In 1967, Dr. Cottrell prepared a Sabbath school lesson on Daniel, which was sent to SDA churches worldwide. It taught that Daniel 8:14 does relate to its context and that the 'cleansing' does not refer to believers. Significantly, the lesson omits any mention of an "investigative judgment."

[Not all prepared Sabbath School lessons have been holy and correct theology.]

Some Remarkable Replies

How great is Adventist awareness that this pillar is too weak to support the "investigative judgment" doctrine? Dr. Cottrell asked 27 leading Adventist theologians, 'What linguistic or contextual reasons can you give for the link between Daniel chapter 8 and Leviticus chapter 16?' Their response?

"All twenty-seven affirmed the nonexistence of any linguistic or contextual reasons for applying Dan. 8:14 to the antitypical day of atonement and the investigative judgment." He asked them, 'Do you have any other reasons for making this link?' Most of the Adventist scholars said that they had no other reasons, five replied that they made this link because Ellen White did, and two said that they based the doctrine on a "fortunate accident" in translation. Theologian Ford remarks: "Such conclusions offered by the cream of our scholarship assert in effect that our traditional teaching on Dan. 8:14 is indefensible." [I guess they don't have that guide that guides on into “all truth.”]

Any Help From Hebrews?

Pillar two: Daniel 8:14 is linked with Hebrews chapter 9. "All our early works draw heavily on Heb. 9 when explaining Dan. 8:14," says theologian Ford. This link was born after the "Great Disappointment" in 1844. Searching for guidance, Millerite Hiram Edson dropped his Bible on a table so that it would fall open. The outcome? Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 were facing him. Says Ford: "What could be more appropriate and symbolic of the Adventist claim that these chapters hold the key to the meaning of 1844 and Dan. 8:14!"

"That claim is crucial for Seventh-day Adventists," adds Dr. Ford in his book Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment. "Only in Heb. 9 . . . can be found a detailed explanation of the significance of . . . the sanctuary doctrine so vital to us." Yes, Hebrews chapter 9 is the chapter in the "New Testament" to explain the prophetic meaning of Leviticus chapter 16. But Adventists also say that Daniel 8:14 is the verse in the "Old Testament" that does so. If both statements are true, there must be a link between Hebrews chapter 9 and Daniel chapter 8 as well.

Desmond Ford observes: "Certain things stand out immediately as one reads Heb. 9. There is no obvious allusion to the book of Daniel, and certainly none to Dan. 8:14. . . . The chapter as a whole is an application of Lev. 16." He states: "Our sanctuary teaching cannot be found in the only book of the New Testament which discusses the significance of the sanctuary services. This has been acknowledged by well-known Adventist writers around the world." So, then, pillar two is also too weak to support the troubled doctrine.

[May I remind you that Jesus didn't go to school either. They would have tried to corrupt Him too.]

However, this conclusion is not new. For many years, says Dr. Cottrell, "Bible scholars of the church have been well aware of the exegetical problems our conventional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and Hebrews 9 encounters." Some 80 years ago, influential Seventh-Day Adventist E. J. Waggoner wrote: "Adventist teaching concerning the sanctuary, with its 'Investigative Judgment' . . . , is virtually a denial of the atonement." (Confession of Faith) Over 30 years ago, such problems were presented to the General Conference, the SDA Church's leadership.

Problems and an Impasse

The General Conference appointed a "Committee on Problems in the Book of Daniel." It was to prepare a report on how to resolve the difficulties centering on Daniel 8:14. The 14 committee members studied the question for five years but failed to propose a unanimous solution. In 1980, committee member Cottrell said that most committee members felt that the Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 could be "established satisfactorily" by a series of "assumptions" and that problems "should be forgotten." He added: "Remember, the name of the committee was the Committee on Problems in the Book of Daniel, and the majority was suggesting that we forget the problems and not say anything about them." That would have amounted to an "admission that we had no answers." So the minority refused to back the majority's view, and there was no formal report. The doctrinal problems remained unsolved.

Commenting on this impasse, Dr. Cottrell says: "The issue of Daniel 8:14 is still with us because we have been unwilling, thus far, to face up to the fact that a very real exegetical problem does exist. That issue will not go away so long as we keep pretending that there is no problem, so long as we insist on holding our heads, individually and collectively, in the sand of our preconceived opinions."—Spectrum, a journal published by the Association of Adventist Forums.

[Not a reputable nor an Adventist journal.]

Dr. Cottrell urges Adventists to make "a careful reexamination of the basic assumptions and the principles of exegesis on which we have based our interpretation of this—for Adventism—indispensable passage of Scripture." We would encourage Adventists to examine the doctrine of "investigative judgment" to see whether its pillars are based solidly on the Bible or are founded on the unstable sands of tradition. The apostle Paul wisely urged: "Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine."—1 Thessalonians 5:21.

[And that is what I presented in my sketchy article above.]

Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies defines tsadaq (or, tsa•dhaq´) as "to be righteous, to be justified," and taheer (or, ta•her´) as "to be clear, bright, and shining; to be pure, clean, purged; to be clean from all pollution or defilement."

Dr. Ford was a professor of religion at the church-run Pacific Union College in the U.S.A. [He was transferred there from Avondale College in Australia because of his heresies and they didn't want to put him out of a job. Bad mistake!] In 1980 the SDA leadership gave him a six-month leave to study the doctrine, but they rejected his findings. He published these in the book Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment.

For a reasoned explanation of Daniel chapter 8, see pages 188-219 in the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth," published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

Daniel 8:14 in Context

DANIEL 8:9 "And out of one of them there came forth another horn, a small one, and it kept getting very much greater toward the south and toward the sunrising and toward the Decoration. 10 And it kept getting greater all the way to the army of the heavens, so that it caused some of the army and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it went trampling them down. 11 And all the way to the Prince of the army it put on great airs, and from him the constant feature was taken away, and the established place of his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 And an army itself was gradually given over, together with the constant feature, because of transgression; and it kept throwing truth to the earth, and it acted and had success. "13 And I got to hear a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one proceeded to say to the particular one who was speaking: 'How long will the vision be of the constant feature and of the transgression causing desolation, to make both the holy place and the army things to trample on?' 14 So he said to me: 'Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; and the holy place will certainly be brought into its right condition.'"—New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

[For us common folk in the pews, I think this verse might apply to said theologians above: 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not deceive yourselves: "Evil communications corrupt good morals." And these communications can include mistaken theologian teachers; for to promote heresy is a sin. We can claim this promise as we pray:John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth . . .]