Response to Jehovah's Witness Article


This article is a response to the Jehovah's Witness article entitled "The 'Investigative Judgment,'" which appeared in The Watchtower, July 15, 1997. Our Jehovah's Witness friends have assumed the responsibility of announcing to the world that the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of the investigative judgment is unbiblical. Their arguments are largely a reiteration of positions taken by certain Adventist scholars (whom they cite) who have opposed the investigative judgment doctrine.

We respect and admire the courageous door-to-door ministry of Jehovah's Witnesses, but we cannot accept certain aspects of their theology. It is no secret that Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Bible doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the full Deity and eternal pre-existence of Jesus Christ, and the Bible teaching of the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit. Their teaching on the Deity follows the teachings of Arius (c. A.D. 250 - c. 336) rather than the teachings of the Bible. Arius's doctrine was effectively addressed and answered by the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). But the Jehovah's Witnesses have seen fit to revive it.(1)

The Jehovah's Witness article on the investigative judgment emphasizes four main points: (1) The term investigative judgment is not found in the Bible. (2) There is no linguistic link between Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16. Therefore Adventists are incorrect in regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary referred to in Daniel 8:14 as the cleansing of the sanctuary on the antitypical Day of Atonement. (3) The Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 does not fit the context (Daniel 8:9-14). (4) Hebrews, chapter 9 is the New Testament book that explains the meaning of Leviticus 16, but Hebrews 9 does not refer to an investigative judgment.(2)


On the first point, it is significant that a number of terms used by theologians and Bible students are not in the Bible. For example, the term Trinityis not in the Bible, but the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity (notwithstanding the Jehovah's Witnesses opposition to it). The term monogamy is not in the Bible, but every committed Christian believes that monogamy is the Bible plan for marital relationships. The term Investigative Judgment is simply a convenient name for the pre-advent judgment which began in heaven in 1844 and which ends with the close of probation a short time before the coming of Jesus. This pre-advent judgment is spoken of in Daniel 7:9-14; 8:14 and many other passages of Scripture.


The fact is that, despite the statements by Anthony A. Hoekema and the dissident Adventist scholars cited by the Jehovah's Witnesses, there is a clear linguistic link between Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16.

Daniel 8:14 translates literally from the Hebrew text: "And he said to me, For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings then the sanctuary will be justified [nitsdaq]." (Nitsdaq is the passive form of the verb tsadaq that means to justify.)

Competent Hebrew scholars have translated tsadaq by "cleansed." For example, Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek in the third and second centuries B.C., thus producing what we know as the Septuagint Version, the most influential of the Greek versions of the Old Testament. They translated nitsdaq of Daniel 8:14 by katharisthesetai, which is the future, indicative, passive, third person, singular of the Greek verb katharizo that means "to make clean," "cleanse," "purify." Hence, they recognized the text as speaking of the cleansing of the sanctuary.

The King James Version translators rendered the latter part of Daniel 8:14, ". . . then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The Douay Version translates the text: ". . . and the sanctuary shall be cleansed." The New Jewish Publication Society translation of the Hebrew Bible entitled Tanakh: the Holy Scriptures translates Daniel 8:14: "He answered me, 'For twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.'" We have no reason to doubt that the Jewish Hebrew scholars who published Tanakh are sufficiently familiar with their own language that they know how a Hebrew verb in a particular context should be translated.

Since tsadaq means to justify, why have so many competent scholars translated it by "cleansed"? The answer is simply that, as it is used throughout the Old Testament, tsadaq has the connotation of cleansing as one of its meanings. In the Old Testament tsadaq is the declaration of a state of righteousness. It is a true to fact declaration. No one is ever declared righteous by God who is not so. Because of their covenant relationship with God certain Old Testament characters could be declared what He had made them, clean, pure, righteous people. (See 1 Kings 8:32; Exod. 23:7; Prov. 17:15; Gen. 15:6.)

In the Old Testament tsadaq is used synonymously with words meaning "to cleanse." For example, consider Job 4:17: "Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker." (KJV). The significant point is that in this text tsadaq is used synonymously with taher. The first verb is a form of tsadaq; the second is a form of taher. The two statements in the text are parallel. In other words, to be justified is to be clean or pure.

Job 4:17 establishes the linguistic connection between Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16:19, 30 that, according to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Anthony A. Hoekema could not find. Leviticus 16 uses the verb to cleanse; Daniel 8 uses the verb justify. But, according to Job 4:17 the verb to justify means to cleanse, to purifyTsadaq and taher are synonymous.

Job 15:14 translates from the Hebrew text: "What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous [justified]?" (KJV). The first verb in the Hebrew text is zakah that means "to be clear," "to be clean," "to be pure." The second verb is the verb to justify (tsadaq). The two questions in the text are parallel. Thus to be clean is to be justified (or righteous). Again it is apparent that the verb to justify means "to cleanse," "to make clean." (Compare Job 25:4.)

Job 22:3 translates from the Hebrew: "Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous [justified]? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?" (KJV). Thus to be righteous or justified is to be perfect. The first verb in the text is tsadaq; the second is tamam that means "to finish," "to complete," "to perfect," "to destroy uncleanness."

When anyone is justified in the Old Testament, he is declared righteous because he is cleansed by God. The verb to justify includes the idea of cleansing. This is why the ancient rabbis who translated the Septuagint translated the verb to justify in Daniel 8:14 by the Greek verb to cleanse. And it is why so many other translators have done the same thing.

A second linguistic link between Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16 is the fact that the same Hebrew word for sanctuary is used in both passages. The Hebrew word for sanctuary used in Daniel 8:14 is qodesh. The same word is used seven times in Leviticus 16 (verses 2, 3, 16, 20, 23, 27, 33). In each instance of this word in Leviticus 16 the reference is to the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary. In the same chapter, the Holy Place is spoken of as "the tabernacle of the congregation." Hence, the use of the word qodesh (sanctuary) has reference to the special judgment ministry carried on in the Most Holy Place by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the seventh month of the Israelite religious year.

Considering Daniel 8:14 as referring to the antitypical qodesh, the heavenly sanctuary (compare Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:1-14), we can conclude that Daniel was referring to a heavenly judgment conducted in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. As there was a cleansing on earth, so there is a cleansing in heaven. Why? Our next section addresses this question.



The Jehovah's Witness article asserts: "Adventists hold that Daniel 8:14 is a 'contextual island,' having nothing to do with the preceding verses." Such is most assuredly not the case. In fact reputable Adventist scholars have taken great pains to point out the remarkable relationship between their interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and the context of the verse. (See the sources referred to in footnote 2.)

As background to a discussion of Daniel 8:9-14, it is important to consider the nature of the judgment that occurred on the Israelite Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The cleansing of the sanctuary involved the record of the pardoned sins of God's faithful people being removed from the sanctuary. These sins had been forgiven in the daily services conducted throughout the religious year (see Leviticus 4). Then on the Day of Atonement came ultimate cleansing of people from their sins (Lev. 16:30), along with cleansing (atonement) of the "holy sanctuary" (most holy place), "the tabernacle of the congregation" (holy place), and "for the altar" of burnt offering in the court (Lev. 16:33). Thus the people were cleansed spiritually and the place was cleansed of its record of previously pardoned sin.

What defiled the sanctuary? It was not God who defiled the sanctuary; it was the sins of the people which, although forgiven in the daily service, remained on record in a symbolic sense until the Day of Atonement.

What happened to those Israelites who refused to follow the Divine counsel of Leviticus 16:29? "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you." Suppose an Israelite failed to "afflict" his soul on the Day of Atonement, what would happen to him? "For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people" (Lev. 23:29). In other words, the judgment of the Day of Atonement vindicated the faithful and condemned the unfaithful.

Now consider Daniel 8:9-14. The "little horn" (Dan. 8:9, KJV) that grew out of one of the "four winds of heaven" (verse 8) represents a power that would arise "in the latter time of their kingdom" (verse 23), that is, at the latter end of the rule of the Hellenistic Kingdoms. The four Hellenistic Kingdoms were Macedonia that became a Roman province in 148 B.C.; Pergamum that became a Roman province in 133 B.C.; Syria, that became a Roman province in 63 B.C.; Egypt that became Roman province in 30 B.C. The later end of the rule of the Hellenistic Kingdoms was, therefore, 30 B.C. when Rome finally conquered the Mediterranean world.

Many scholars have argued that the "little horn" power was Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king from 175-163 B.C. But Antiochus Epiphanes did not reign "at the latter end" of the rule of the four Hellenistic Kingdoms. He was only the 8th monarch in the Seleucid dynasty of 26 kings. The little horn became "exceeding great" (Dan 8:9) and prosperous (verse 12), which Antiochus did not. Antiochus was driven out of Egypt by Rome. In 168 B.C. he besieged Alexandria. The Roman envoy in Egypt, Popilius, handed Antiochus the Senate's order to quit Egypt. He drew a circle around him in the sand and told him to decide before stepping out of the circle. Antiochus' conquest of Palestine was a failure. By 165 B.C. the Maccabees had driven the Syrians out of Palestine and had rededicated the temple to Yahweh. Antiochus' conquest of Parthia and Bactria failed because he died in 163 B.C. before he had achieved his goal.

The power that became exceedingly great at the end of the Hellenistic period was Rome. It was the western power described in Daniel 8:9. But the little horn power was predicted to continue till the "time of the end" (Dan. 8:17). It would function till "the last end of the indignation" (verse 19). It would finally be "broken without hand" (verse 25), a reference to the coming of Christ whose eternal Kingdom will destroy earthly powers. (Compare Dan. 2:45 that describes the stone "cut out of the mountain without hands," a reference to God's eternal Kingdom.)

The little horn power of Daniel 8:9-12 is a symbol of both pagan and Papal Rome. Both powers fulfilled the specifications of the prophecy. The work of pagan Rome was a type or example of Papal Rome's more extensive and more devastating opposition to God's truth and people down to the end of time.

According to Daniel's prophecy, the little horn power would oppose God in three major ways: (1) It would persecute His faithful people (Dan. 8:10). (2) It would usurp the authority of the "prince of the host" (Dan. 8:11), a reference to the Messiah, the Christ (see Dan. 8:25; 9:25; 10:21; 11:22; 12:1). (3) It would destroy Christ's sanctuary (verse 11) and its services (verses 11, 12).

Pagan Rome fulfilled these predictions. It crucified Christ; it persecuted His followers, and it destroyed the earthly sanctuary in A.D. 70. Papal Rome also fulfilled the prophecy. Throughout the medieval period it persecuted the people of God in the name of religion. It usurped the High Priestly ministry of Christ by the claims of the supreme pontiff and by the claims of its priests to forgive sins. Human mediation took the place of heavenly mediation. The "daily" (verses 11, 12; Hebrew: Tamid), the mediatorial ministry of Christ that had been typified by the daily ministrations of priests in the earthly sanctuary, was usurped by the substitution of an earthly religion for the heavenly ministry of our Lord (see Hebrews 8; 9).

The question in verse 13 is correctly translated: "Until when is the vision, the daily (the regular sacrifice) and the desolating trespass, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled?" Then comes the answer, "Unto two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (verse 14).

Daniel 8:14 is parallel with Daniel 7:9-14. The heavenly judgment on the basis of books of record in Daniel 7 is the cleansing of the sanctuary described in Daniel 8:14. How does this judgment answer the question of Daniel 8:13?

(1) The pre-advent judgment, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, vindicates the persecuted people of God. Daniel 7:22 emphasizes this point. The persecution of the saints (Dan. 7:21; cf. 8:10) continues "until the Ancient of Days came [to the heavenly pre-advent judgment; see verses 9, 10] and judgment was rendered in favor of the holy ones of the Most High." (JPS). Hence, the pre-advent judgment of Daniel 7:9-14 and 8:14 vindicates God's persecuted people. The record of their forgiven sin is ultimately abolished, they are exonerated from the accusations and attacks of their spiritual and physical enemies, and they are prepared to meet their returning Lord.

(2) The pre-advent judgment, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, restores the place of Christ's sanctuary in the sense that at this time God directs His faithful people to look away from earthly, man-made religion and priestly mediation to the mediation and vindication of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. The message of Hebrews 7-10 is now understood. Christ is our High Priest. No earthly ministry can successfully usurp his Divine mediatorial and judgmental authority.

(3) The adherents of a false, human system of religion (the little horn power) are judged and condemned as were those Israelites who on the Day of Atonement refused to enter into the spiritual experience that God had for them. The pre-advent judgment only vindicates Christ's faithful people (Dan. 12:1); the remainder are subject to condemnation and ultimate rejection.

Thus the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary beginning in 1844, as predicted in Daniel 8:14, relates directly to the context (Dan. 8:9-13). The opposed and persecuted people of God are vindicated, the little horn power is condemned, Christ is exalted as the only true Mediator and Judge, and His work in the heavenly sanctuary is restored to its rightful place as the focus of the faith of His loyal followers.



The message of the book of Hebrews (specifically chapters 7-10) is that Christ's one atoning sacrifice made possible His entry into the heavenly sanctuary where He ministers for us. Because of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, we can have by faith immediate access into the presence of God and the certainty that our confessed sins are forgiven. (See Heb. 7:24, 25; 8:1-6.) Hebrews, chapter 9 briefly describes both the daily and the Day of Atonement services in the earthly sanctuary. Verses 8-14 make the application. "The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (verse 8). In other words, Christ's mediatorial ministry in the heavenly sanctuary began when the earthly sanctuary lost it significance. At Christ's death the earthly type met its antitype, and He returned to heaven to conduct in the true sanctuary the ministry that the earthly services had foreshadowed (verses 9, 10).

The pre-advent, investigative judgment cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is only briefly alluded to in the book of Hebrews. The writer did not claim that he was attempting an interpretation of Leviticus 16. He was writing to Jews who needed to understand that the earthly temple and ministry lost their significance at the Cross. Without attempting a detailed discussion of the antitypical Day of Atonement, he makes brief mention of the cleansing of the sanctuary. "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [the blood of animals]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices then these" (Heb. 9:23). The purification of the most holy place, the holy place, and the altar of burnt offering in the earthly sanctuary took place only on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:33). The writer of Hebrews alludes to this purification. But His emphasis is on the death of Christ that makes the cleansing possible.

For a detailed discussion of the pre-advent, investigative judgment that provides the antitype of Leviticus 16 we have to turn to the books of Daniel and Revelation. The discussion in Daniel 7­9 is amplified and supplemented in the book of Revelation. The announcement in the first angel's message of Revelation, chapter 14 that "the hour of his judgment has come" (verse 7, NRSV) is part of the everlasting gospel that is to be announced to the world before Jesus comes (verse 6) and is followed by two additional messages (verses 8-12). Thus the judgment that is announced is pre-advent.

The same judgment is referred to in Revelation 6:9-11. The blood of the faithful martyrs, representing the faithful dead of all ages, cries out metaphorically from the ground as did the blood of Abel (compare Rev. 6:10 with Gen. 4:10). The cry of the martyrs is, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:10). At the time of their death, they were not judged and vindicated. When are they judged in response to their cry? "White robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season. . . . " (verse 11). How could white robes be given to dead people? The white robes represent vindication in the heavenly judgment. On the basis of the heavenly records the faithful dead are judged and vindicated (Dan. 7:9-14, 22). Because they died in possession of Christ's righteousness, they can be vindicated in the pre-advent judgment.

After being vindicated, the faithful dead are told to "rest yet for a little season." (Rev. 6:11). In other words, the judgment in which they are vindicated is pre-advent. They are told to rest "until their fellow servants and their brethren who are about to be killed as they were, might be made complete" (verse 11, latter part). This is exactly how the Greek text reads.(3) The final sealing of living believers (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5) takes place pre-advent. This occurs when the faithful living are examined on the basis of the heavenly books of record and, because of their continuing born-again relationship with Christ, are found to be worthy of having their names retained in the book of life (compare Dan. 12:1 with Rev. 3:5).

The end of the judgment is described in Revelation 19:1-8. "He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants" (verse 2, NRSV). The Greek of verse 7 translates literally, "The marriage of the Lamb came, and His bride made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). How does Christ's bride make ready for the marriage at the end of the judgment? "It was given to her that she might be clothed with clean, shining linen, for the linen is the righteous works of the saints" (verse 8).

In the pre-advent, investigative judgment believers are judged on the basis of their works (see Rev. 22:12; compare Ps. 62:12; Jer. 17:10; Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev. 20:12). Because they have accepted salvation by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-24; Eph. 2:8-10) and a continuous born-again relationship with Him, they are doing works that are acceptable in His sight (see 1 John 2:29). Therefore they are "righteous, just as he is righteous" (1 John 3:7) because He is living out His life through them (Gal. 2:20). "Their deeds have been done in God" (John 3:21). Their good works are the result of, and give evidence of their faith-grace fellowship with Christ (Rom. 3:31; 8:3, 4). Because they have accepted and applied Christ's promise that he is able to keep them from falling (Jude 24), they are eternally vindicated in the pre-advent judgment, their names are retained in the book of life (Dan. 12:1), and they have victory over sin, for "in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless" (Rsv. 14:5, NRSV). These sealed, vindicated believers are then the righteous living on the earth when Jesus comes.

We invite our Jehavah's Witness friends to do what they are urging us to do, "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." And we invite them to re-examine their doctrine of Christ and the Holy Spirit to be sure that they are following Bible teaching rather than the unstable tradition established by Arius. We would enjoy having fellowship with our Jehovah's Witness friends, fellowship based on close conformity to the teachings and principles of the Word of God.




Anchor1. On the Deity and eternal pre-existence of Christ, see Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3; 5:18; 8:58 (compare Exod. 3:14); 14:9-11; Col. 1:19; 2:9. On the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit see Neh. 9:20; John 14:18, 23, 26; 16:13; Heb. 9:4; 2 Sam. 23:2, 3; Ezek. 8:1, 3; 2 Peter 1:21 compared with 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Cor. 3:18; Acts 5:3, 4. .

Anchor2. For a more comprehensive discussion of these points see Frank B. Holbrook, ed., Symposium on Daniel (Washington D.C.:Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1986); Issues in the Book of Hebrews (Biblical Research Institute, 1989); Doctrine of the Sanctuary: a Historical Survey (Biblical Research Institute, 1989).

Anchor3. The Greek reads, kai errethe autois hina anapausontai eti chronon mikron, eos plerothosin kai hoi sundouloi auton kai hoi adelphoi auton hoi mellontes apoktennesthai hos kai autoi. The word "number" is not in the Greek text, nor is it necessarily germane to the verb pleroo that is used here in the aorist, subjunctive form.


© Copyright 1997 by Erwin R. Gane, All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely distributed via the following means - Email (including listservers), Usenet, and WorldWideWeb. It may not be reproduced for profit including, but not limited to, CD ROMs, books, and/or other commercial outlets without prior written consent from the author.