Holy Place Confusion

By Dirk Anderson

For God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)

It is a fundamental teaching of Seventh-day Adventism that Jesus left the Holy Place in 1844 and moved into the Most Holy Place. Mrs. White writes:

"This door was not opened until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches. I saw that Jesus had shut the door of the holy place, and no man can open it; and that He had opened the door into the most holy, and no man can shut it (Rev. 3:7,8)."1

"So when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment."2

Confusion about where Jesus is

Despite saying that Jesus "ceased His ministration" in the Holy Place, Mrs. White seems confused about just exactly where He is. She has Him bouncing back and forth between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place:

He's in the Most Holy Place! No! He's in the Holy Place!
1882 - Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches.3 1888 - But Jesus alone is my dependence. In Him I trust. He loveth even me. He is at this moment standing at the altar of incense presenting before the Father my prayers, my heart-longing desires for His grace, His heavenly endowment, that I may through the grace given unto me reveal to others His great love and complete efficiency.4
1886 - I warn you, Do not place your influence against God's commandments. That law is just as Jehovah wrote it in the temple of heaven. Man may trample upon its copy here below, but the original is kept in the ark of God in heaven; and on the cover of this ark, right above that law, is the mercy seat. Jesus stands right there before that ark to mediate for man.5 1898 - He is today standing at the altar of incense, presenting before God the prayers of those who desire His help.6

Mrs. White mentions Jesus standing by the altar of incense, but according to the Bible, the altar of incense is in the Holy Place:

And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil: And he burnt sweet incense thereon... (Ex. 40:26,27)

Ellen White is also very specific about where the altar of incense is located. She even claimed to have seen it in the heavenly sanctuary while in vision:

"I passed into the Holy Place. Here I saw the Altar of Incense. Before the altar was the table, on which was the candlestick, with seven lamps, and the showbread, &c. After viewing the glory of the Holy, Jesus raised the second veil, and I passed into the Holy of Holies."7

"In the holy place was the candlestick, on the south, with its seven lamps giving light to the sanctuary both by day and by night; on the north stood the table of show-bread; and before the veil separating the holy from the most holy was the golden altar of incense, from which the cloud of fragrance, with the prayers of Israel, was daily ascending before God."8

"In the first apartment, or holy place, were the table of showbread, the candlestick, or lampstand, and the altar of incense."9

There can be no doubt at all that Mrs. White understood the altar of incense to be in the Holy Place. She never indicated otherwise in her writings.

In 1886, according to Ellen White's manuscript 6a (see above) Jesus was standing in the Most Holy Place. But two years later, in 1888, He is back in the Holy Place before the altar of incense. Then a year later, in 1889, Jesus is back "within the veil where he ministers above the ark of God in the Most Holy Place."10 However, nine years later, in 1898, Jesus is ministering by the altar of incense in the Holy Place! If Jesus moved to the Most Holy Place on October 22, 1844, then how and when did He move back to the Holy Place? Look what Ellen White wrote from one of her visions in Early Writings:

"I saw the Father rise from the throne, and in a flaming chariot go into the holy of holies within the veil, and sit down. Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who were bowed down arose with Him. I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. ... Then a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, surrounded by angels, came to where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the holiest, where the Father sat. There I beheld Jesus, a great High Priest, standing before the Father."11

Here we have the Father and Jesus moving into the Most Holy Place in 1844. Now look what happens to those poor souls who did not realize that Jesus moved from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place in 1844:

"I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, 'Father, give us Thy Spirit.' Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence..."12

Ellen White sees Satan in the Holy Place that Jesus has just recently vacated in 1844, trying to carry on the work of God! But in 1888, Jesus has apparently returned to the Holy Place. The question is, where is Satan? Is he still there in the Holy Place with Christ? Are they working together? Or did they swap places? Did Satan move into the Most Holy Place when Christ entered the Holy Place? Does it get any more confusing than this?

See also


1. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 42.

2. Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, p. 428.

3. Early Writings, p. 42.

4. Ellen G. White, 1888 Materials, p. 865.

5. Ellen G. White, MS 6a, 1886. See also the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1109.

6. Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 568.

7. Ellen G. White, Broadside 3, April 7, 1847.

8. Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, 1888 edition, p. 412. See also Great Controversy, 1911 edition, p. 412, Spirit of Prohpecy, vol. 4, p. 260.

9. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 348.

10. Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, Apr. 22, 1889.

11. Early Writings, p. 55.

12. Ibid., p. 56.

Category: Confused Teachings
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