Editorial comment: This larger, single issue of the Day Star is a double issue and represents the July and August 1998 editions. WUAS decided to publish a two-month single edition for two reasons. First, because the study of Daniel 8 is so complex, it deserves a comprehensive presentation. Previously, comprehensive studies have been published in segments over several months, but we have found that process has problems too. Invariably, some readers have had trouble keeping both issues together to form a complete study; often one segment gets lost or misplaced.
So, for this lengthy study, we are trying a new approach, which is to print this study in one booklet and letting it serve as two issues of the Day Star. The second reason for combining these two issues under one cover is one of survival. Most of the WUAS staff will be attending the Durango seminar (June 28-July 4). To meet printing and mailing deadlines this project needs to be completed before the staff leaves.
Since two newsletter issues of reading are contained in this booklet, it is our hope you will find two months worth of "meat" in this issue! In the study, several denominations are mentioned. Our desire is not to denigrate or support any particular denomination. Instead, we only wish to provide a historical basis for understanding Daniel 8. As stated in each Day Star, Wake Up America Seminars is a nondenominational organization that is not sponsored by any denomination nor do we promote any church organization.
Introduction and Historical Survey
Every student of prophecy wrestles with the meaning of Daniel’s vision as it is described in Daniel 8. Daniel 8 is a difficult chapter to interpret and several obstacles can thwart the intended meaning. A Bible student’s presuppositions, and the quirks of the Hebrew language make the content and concepts presented in Daniel 8 problematic. Even worse, some comments found in Daniel 8 appear on the surface to be disconnected from the main elements of the vision – the ram, goat and horn power.
Admittedly, Daniel 8 is a difficult prophecy, yet I find this vision to be a critical piece in the apocalyptic prophecy puzzle. The information revealed in Daniel 8 provides the key that connects several prophecies. In fact, without Daniel 8’s contribution, certain mysteries within Daniel and Revelation would be impossible to solve!
After reviewing 66 prominent scholars who wrote explanations on prophecy between the years of A.D. 430 to 1781, it is interesting that few expositors say anything at all about Daniel 8. Among these expositors, no consensus on the meaning of Daniel 8 exists, especially the 2,300 days mentioned in verse 14. Notice how their conclusions, written over a period of 1,351 years, are summarized:
1. The 2,300 days represent years: 21 writers
2. The 2,300 days are 2,300 literal days: 3 writers
3. The 2,300 days reach to the end of the world: 6 writers
4. The 2,300 days represent 1,150 24-hour days: 1 writer
5. No comment on the 2,300 days: 35 writers
For this survey, I purposely selected writers who wrote before the beginning of the 19th century when Baptist evangelist, William Miller, and many others, both in Europe and the United States began teaching that the 2,300 days would end during the 19th century. It is important to note that before the 19th century there was no consensus position on the meaning of Daniel 8. In fact, very little has ever been written on Daniel 8 during the past two millenniums.
Nineteenth Century Thinking
Historically speaking, William Miller was among the first to bring Daniel 8:14 out of obscurity. During the time-period of 1831 to 1844, Miller created a great deal of excitement about the 2,300 days. Although he was not the first to conclude that 1843/44 marked the end of the 2,300 days, he was the first to preach a comprehensible explanation of Daniel 8 to a significant body of people.
Historians claim that somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 early nineteenth century Americans agreed with the teachings of Miller at a time when the population of the United States was about nine million. Miller’s followers joyfully anticipated the return of Christ sometime during the Jewish year of 1843 (Spring 1843 to Spring 1844).
It is interesting that the Baptist Church (Miller was a licensed Baptist minister) did not appreciate Miller’s conclusions. Consequently, they eventually parted company.
As the anticipated year neared its close, Miller spoke at the Chinese Museum in Philadelphia to a crowd of nearly 5,000 people in February 1844. He predicted that Christ would appear within one month, around March 18 or 19 (the Spring equinox). Miller said, "The time of the Second Advent is revealed, the hour hasteth greatly, the Master is now even at the doors . . ." His bold claims were based on two conclusions.
First, the decree from which Miller dated the beginning of the 2,300 years and the commencement of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 was issued on or about the first day of a Jewish new year in 457 B.C. Therefore, 2,300 full years would reach to the Spring of 1844. Second, Miller believed that God would cleanse the Earth from sin before He would dwell with man. Therefore, he concluded that the "cleansing" spoken of in Daniel 8:14 referred to the cleansing of the Earth.
The certainty and urgency of his anticipation brought him much grief and bitter disappointment when March 1844 came and went without Christ’s appearing.
During Miller’s February 1844 Philadelphia meeting, two of Miller’s colleagues recalculated a new terminus for the 2,300 days. Miller, of course, could not accept a new date for Christ’s appearing until his own prediction failed, and then, it was only a few weeks before the new date arrived that he reluctantly accepted the new date of October 22, 1844. This new date was calculated by Samuel Snow and Apollos Hale. They concluded that the 2,300 day prophecy should be 2,300 years plus seven months.
However, when October 22 passed and Jesus did not appear in the clouds of Heaven, nearly all of Miller’s followers felt they had been misled. Even the most notable leaders of the Millerite movement abandoned their prophetic positions within a few weeks after October 22 passed.
The passage of time had proven their prophetic views to be in error. Angry and bitterly disappointed, some abandoned their faith in God and of course, a vast majority of people dismissed the importance of Bible prophecy altogether.
In fairness, Miller spoke on many Biblical topics besides Daniel 8:14 and time-setting. He exalted the whole Bible with clarity and careful reasoning. His simple, but eloquent explanation of repentance, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ and other Bible doctrines displayed an amazing grasp of Scripture. Tens of thousands came to hear this humble New England farmer/preacher and were deeply moved by the Holy Spirit. His meetings were not embellished with showy Vaudeville actors or political personalities.
His presentation was sober and his message compelling. However, for all the good that he accomplished, Miller was eventually ridiculed and called "a false prophet" because of the one text in the Bible that he proclaimed so widely – Daniel 8:14. This text, which brought so much attention to his ministry, also brought his ruin.
Historians claim that less than 500 "Millerites" clung to Miller’s prophetic views within a year of the great 1843/44 disappointment. Truthfully, the Millerite debacle should be considered an important, defining moment for Daniel 8. That Miller was able to bring so much attention to Daniel 8 is a point that is often overlooked in the larger story of prophetic exposition.
Yes, the fulfillment of Daniel 8 did not occur as Miller expected, and I am sure he died pondering the very question this study focuses on: "What does Daniel 8 actually mean?"
After the disappointment of October 22, 1844, a handful of disappointed Millerites tearfully reviewed their prophetic position and concluded that Miller’s placement of the 2,300 days was correct (457 B.C. – 1844). Although they agreed the timing was correct, they agreed his interpretation of the specific event that was to take place on October 22 was wrong.
These people concluded that instead of Christ returning to Earth in 1844 as Miller claimed, Christ entered a new phase of work in Heaven’s sanctuary. Historical records reveal that Samuel Snow was the first person to associate the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament with the coming of Christ on Yom Kippur in 1844 (Yom Kippur occurred on October 22 that year according to the Karite Jewish calendar).
The following morning of October 23, after the night of great disappointment, Hiram Edson suggested that the sanctuary to be cleansed was the temple in Heaven and not the Earth. After five years of investigation and debate, an even smaller group from the Millerite contingent concluded that October 22, 1844, was the correct terminus for Daniel 8:14, but the date marked a point in time when Jesus began to investigate Heaven’s written records of the dead in Heaven to determine who should be saved.
Miller, however, did not accept this "new" view. He died in 1849, financially destitute and without a clue about why or where his Daniel 8 interpretation of Daniel 8 was faulty.
Miller’s followers were mainly Protestants from mainline denominations in early America. As the "Millerite" movement gained momentum, most of Miller’s followers were expelled from their respective churches. Naturally, after the great disappointment, many Millerites never returned to their former churches.
The small group mentioned earlier who believed Miller’s dating was correct, but his interpretations of the event wrong, eventually formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863, almost 20 years after their hopes for Christ’s second coming were dashed. As you might expect, one of their early doctrines was a strong and passionate defense for the "timeliness" of 1844.
At that time, SDA exposition on prophecy included a strong defense for the fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 in 1844; however, they claimed this verse was fulfilled in Heaven and not on Earth. For early Adventists, 1844 marked the end of all prophetic time-periods except for the half hour mentioned in the seventh seal and the 1,000 years of Revelation 20. For them, 1844 marked the beginning of the "time of the end" and as a prophetic milestone indicating the time had come to proclaim God’s final offer of salvation to the world.
They gave a solemn warning against receiving the mark of the beast, which they concluded was Sunday worship. (SDAs claim the beast of Revelation 13:1 is Roman Catholicism and its unique mark of authority upon Christendom is the sacredness of Sunday.)
1844 was a very important date for the early SDAs because it marked the birth or the church’s corporate beginning on Earth as a "Movement of Destiny." Like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other religious groups who came into existence during the 19th century, SDAs believe they are the remnant church of Bible prophecy. (Revelation 12:17)
A New Doctrine Rises from Hebrews
The Millerite experience should not be overlooked because out of the debacle of 1844 came a brand new doctrine – the ministry of Christ as man’s High Priest in Heaven’s sanctuary. This new insight was discovered by disappointed Millerites who were forced back into their Bibles for a clearer understanding of truth.
Currently, I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is the only denomination that addresses this profound subject. Although I am not a member of this church, I am convinced that the ministry of Christ as our High Priest is crucial to understanding the purpose of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14.
Unfortunately, this Christ-centered doctrine established from the book of Hebrews has not been widely accepted by other Christian denominations. This is very unfortunate because the ministry of Christ in Heaven’s temple is intricately woven throughout apocalyptic prophecy – especially Revelation.
Now that we have considered the historical record of Daniel 8 during the nineteenth century, let us continue our examination by considering events occurring in the twentieth century.
With the dawn of the twentieth century, another Baptist preacher began teaching about and influenced more people on this topic than anyone else to date. His name was Dr. C.I. Scofield. During the first decade of this century, he placed a bold new thesis before Protestants to consider.
In brief, Dr. Scofield synthesized three concepts that were developing within Protestantism. Since the historical framework taught by Miller had proved to be faulty, Scofield combined futuristic ideas taught by Jesuit scholar, Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), with the relatively new idea of a pre-Second Coming rapture.
This rapture notion was first presented at the British Albury Park Conferences, 1826-30. With these two notions he included a new emerging doctrine called "dispensationalism." As a result of Scofield’s synthesis, four new prophetic ideas were introduced into Protestant thinking:
- The promises given in the Old Testament to ancient Israel will be fulfilled after the rapture of the Christian Church. God will fulfill all that. He promised a restored and "converted" Israel after the rapture.
- The 70th week of Daniel 9 is disconnected from the 69 previous weeks and should be placed at the end of the world. The gap between the 69 weeks and the 70th week is called "the age or dispensation of the Christian Church."
- Down through the ages, God has implemented different plans or requirements (dispensations) for the salvation of man. (This is the teaching that frees Christians from obedience to the Old Testament laws which "were nailed to the cross.")
- Before the Great Tribulation begins, the body of Christ will be raptured away from Earth. Then 144,000 Jews will be converted to Christ and they will fulfill their original appointment to lead the world to Him as a Savior.
Although Scofield’s thesis did not gain immediate support, it did take root. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Illinois eventually became a strong supporter of Scofield’s ideas. Over time, the fundamentalist wing of Protestantism has adopted much of Scofield’s thesis. As fundamentalism and dispensationalism have grown in popularity, significant departures from traditional Protestantism have taken place in prophetic understanding.
Two Points of Divergence
Perhaps the most profound change between Protestants prior to Scofield and Protestants after Scofield is the role Israel plays during the end-time and the identity of the Antichrist. Until 1900, most Protestant writers identified the New Testament "Israel" as people from all nations who received Christ (Galatians 3:28,29) and the pope was the great Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13:1)
However, Scofield was convinced the New Testament "Israel" is the same nation as the Old Testament "Israel." Scofield anticipated the establishment of the modern nation of Israel (which did take place in 1948). Scofield also concluded that the Antichrist is a man (perhaps born in Europe) that will appear in the future, during the middle of the seven years of the Great Tribulation (the 70th week of Daniel 9).
So, where did Scofield place the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14? In his Bible commentary on Daniel 8 he states, "This prediction was fulfilled during the bitter persecution under Antiochus Epiphanies IV and in the cleansing of the sanctuary in Jerusalem." He is referring to a time-period that reaches from 168 B.C. to 162 B.C., historically known as the Maccabean revolt under Judas Maccabees.
Scofield’s reasoning is both simple and straightforward: He concludes that the ram of Daniel 8 is Persia and the goat is Grecia. (The Bible clearly states this.) Scofield then concludes that the horn power of Daniel 8:9 must be Antiochus Epiphanies IV, a king who came out of Syria (which was located in one of the four divisions of the Grecian empire).
Historians tell us that Antiochus persecuted the Jews and profaned their temple in Jerusalem. Scofield places the beginning of the 2,300 days on December 6, 167 B.C. when Antiochus desecrated the temple and ends that time-period on March 27, 160 B.C. when General Nicanor was killed.
I believe Scofield correctly observes that the vision of Daniel 8 concerns the appointed time of the end, but this produces a bit of a problem. Most commentators on Daniel 8, prior to Scofield, considered the horn power (Daniel 8:9) and the "king understanding dark sentences" (Daniel 8:23, KJV) to be the same entity.
However, Scofield separates them. He concluded that the sinister figure in Daniel 8:23 (the king understanding dark sentences) is not the same entity as the horn power mentioned earlier in Daniel 8:9, but rather an allusion to the Antichrist during end-times. In other words, Scofield places 95% of Daniel 8 in ancient history and without displaying any connection between the past and the future, places the final verses of Daniel 8 in the future.
I believe the horn power in verse 9 and the king understanding dark sentences in verse 23 are the same – the Antichrist who appears during the appointed time of the end. The horn power is obviously the only possible entity that can appear during the end-time, since the ram and goat are defined in the vision as the ancient world empires of Medo-Persia and Grecia. From my point of view, Scofield errs by separating the horn power from the specifications that go with the king understanding dark sentences, and then attempting to force Antiochus IV and the 2,300 days into an ancient setting.
Both Views are Deficient
As you may have concluded, I find the views of Scofield and the Seventh-day Adventists to be deficient, although both views do contribute to the understanding of Bible prophecy. I enjoy studying various views on any subject since ideas from many people reveal issues that one person would never find in his or her own study. Scofield’s claim about the 2,300 days cannot be validated for three reasons:
Scofield chooses two events to mark the beginning and ending of the 2,300 days that have no textual relevance to Daniel 8 or the 2,300 days mentioned in verse 14. He begins with the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem and he ends with the death of General Nicanor about 2,300 days later.
Using the future indicative tense, the prophecy in Daniel 8:14 simply states that the sanctuary will be cleansed when 2,300 days elapse. If the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is concerned with the temple in Jerusalem that Antiochus IV desecrated, then history does not support the claim of Scofield. According to 1 Maccabees 4:52-54, the rebuilt temple was purified, reconsecrated and services resumed three years later on December 14, 164 B.C. II Maccabees 10:1-8 also confirms that temple services resumed at this time. In other words, the length of time between the purification of the rebuilt temple by Judas Maccabee and the defilement by Antiochus is not even close to 2,300 days. This point alone should render Scofield’s view incorrect.
Although defenders of Scofield’s position acknowledge that temple services began long before the 2,300 days expired, they contend that temple services were only free of "destructive threat" after General Nicanor died. Daniel 8:14 says nothing about a threat or about destruction. The Bible simply states, "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (or restored NIV). Nonetheless, defenders of Scofield say the 2,300 days were fulfilled when Nicanor died because the threat of temple destruction disappeared after Nicanor died.
The following is a chart of the 2300 days that is often used to support this argument. The data is taken from I Maccabees 1:54 and 7:43:
|x = December 6, 167 BC when Antiochus IV desecrated temple|
|y = March 27, 160 BC when General Nicanor was killed|
|therefore: 360 + 360 + 360 + 360 + 360 + 360 + 110 =|
* Add 30 days per seven years for calendar adjustment
|Total Time||2,300 days|
This chart is based on a false assumption that the Jews observed a 360-day year. Supporters of this theory calculate that from December 6, 167 to March 27, 160 B.C. was 2270 days. Then, to make the calculation work, they add one month (30 days) per seven years for calendar adjustment, and the total time adds up to 2,300 days.
This calendar seems to be contrived, more than a historical fact. First, consider that no historical evidence exists that Jews ever observed a 360-day year. (However, there is evidence that the Jews associated a year with a 360-degree cycle of the sun.) In fact, no historical evidence exists that any nation or tribe on Earth ever followed a 360-day year.
Even if the Jews did use this 360-day year calendar as described, the adjustment of 30 days per seven years does not solve the critical problem of solar alignment (which is necessary for planting crops). In seven years, the alignment problem with the sun would be 36.75 days, not 30 days.
Further, if the Jews did use this calendar, with its 30-day adjustment every seven years, then in a mere 28 years, their calendar would be 27 days out of alignment with the sun and its seasons. No agricultural nation could endure this kind of error in calendation.
A solar year is 365.2422 days. Prior to the Babylonian captivity in 605 B.C., the Jews followed a twelve month year based on solar/lunar timing (a lunar month is 29.53 days) which consisted of 354 or 355 days. To harmonize the lunar calendar with the sun each year, Jewish leaders simply added "intercalary days" to the end of each year.
They waited for the first new moon after the Spring equinox to start each new year. This simple method of adding days to the twelfth month of the old year ensured accurate reckoning with the sun for crops, feasts, etc. It also means that each new year began within a period of 29 days (any time between the Spring equinox and the first new moon).
This system worked very easily. For example, in any particular year, the Jews might add 10 intercalary days to the twelfth month after an equinox while waiting for the first new moon to begin the new year. The next year, however, they might have to add 16 days to the twelfth month. The crucial point is that they never added more than 30 days to the twelfth month because a lunar cycle is never longer than 29.53 days and they never started the new year before the Spring equinox.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, cloudy days could delay the new year for as long as two weeks because the Jews waited until they could observe the new moon! For this very reason, historians cannot calculate Jewish events down to the very day with a high degree of certainty, and the length of time between Antiochus IV desecrating the temple and General Nicanor dying (assuming this is where the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 belong) is not 2,300 days!
Scofield seems to brush aside the point that prophetic time-periods are precise time-periods. He comments on the 70-week time-period (Daniel 9:24) verify this point: "In this connection it should be remembered that, in the grand sweep of prophecy, prophetic time is invariably so near as to give full warning, so indeterminate as to give no satisfaction to mere curiosity."
So, if we agree with Scofield’s placement of the 2,300 days, then we must also accept "near" timing, because the actual number of days between the dates (x and y above) is 2,303 days according to solar reckoning. On the other hand, if we follow the Jewish manner of keeping time, the range in days could be as few as 2,303 or as many as 2,332 total days.
Obviously, Scofield thought that 2,304 or 2,332 was close enough. If this is true, then all time-periods in prophecy (including the 70 weeks) should be considered as only approximate timing. Does this mean that once we find some event "close enough" to fit a prophetic time-period, can we declare the mystery solved?
No, I do not believe so. I believe that God, the Author of prophecy, means what He says and says what He means. How can an omniscient God not know the actual number of days? It appears that Scofield and his followers have "forced" a false assumption into the prophecy of Daniel 8, and then attempted to justify it with a poor fit.
Another issue that Scofield did not address is intimately involved in Daniel 8:14. If the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 are reckoned by the day/year principle of the Jubilee calendar, then what prevents the 2,300 days from being reckoned by the same mechanism?
It appears that the time-periods in Daniel 7, Daniel 8 and Daniel 9 are reckoned by God according to the day/year operation of the Jubilee calendar. Obviously, Scofield could not use this method of reckoning and place the end of this prophetic time-period prior to Christ’s birth. Yet, he offered no reason why the day/year principle should not be used for this time-period, although he did use it for the seventy week prophecy in the following chapter of Daniel.
Scofield claims that the death of General Nicanor is related to Daniel 8. Scofield chose the death of General Nicanor on March 27, 160 B.C. to mark the end of the 2,300 days. Why General Nicanor? What made his death THE prophetic fulfillment of Daniel 8:14? Did the "threat" to the temple in Jerusalem end with the death of General Nicanor?
No. In fact, life for the Jews only became worse. For example, King Demetrius abducted and killed Judas Maccabee (I Maccabees 9:18) about two months after Nicanor was killed and the wars against Israel did not end with Nicanor’s death. In May, 159 B.C., about a year after the death of Nicanor, "Alcimus ordered the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary to be torn down, thus destroying the work of the prophets." (I Maccabees 9:54)
The book of I Maccabees describes many wars that continued to be waged against Israel after Nicanor’s death. The idea that the military "threat" against the temple disappeared with the death of General Nicanor is not true. The facts verified by history dispute Scofield’s claim of fulfillment.
Now, let us summarize Scofield’s placement of the 2,300 days. The temple in Jerusalem was not free from threat after the death of Nicanor. The period between the Antiochus’ desecration of the temple and Nicanor’s death is not 2,300 days.
Further, Scofield also fails to include many prophetic specifications given in Daniel 8 in his conclusions. This brings up a good point: A prophetic fulfillment can only occur when all the specifications are met.
Therefore, I believe that God, who defined the orbit and number of electrons around the nucleus of an atom, is much more precise at predicting the actual outcome of events than Scofield’s interpretation of prophecy allows.
Variances with Miller and SDA’s
I also disagree with some conclusions taken by Miller and later, Seventh-day Adventists. Although several of my conclusions on Daniel 8 are similar, I reach certain conclusions using a completely different process. The point is that the rules of interpretation that I follow may produce similar results in one prophetic element, but very different results in another. Following is a brief overview of my conclusions and an assessment of the differences:
- William Miller correctly determined that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 are to be reckoned as a day for a year, which would be 2,300 solar years, although it can be shown that Miller reached this conclusion using faulty logic.
- William Miller correctly identified the end of the 2,300 days as the Spring of 1844. (It was Samuel Snow and Apollos Hale that calculated the terminus of the 2,300 days as October 22, 1844.)
- William Miller correctly associates the 2,300 days of Daniel 8 with the 70 weeks of Daniel 9. Miller came to the conclusion that the angel Gabriel’s explanation, recorded in Daniel 9, is a continuation of Daniel’s earlier vision recorded in Daniel 8. In other words, the vision of Daniel 8 and the addendum in Daniel 9 came in two installments.
- William Miller correctly interpreted the ram and the goat as ancient world empires. The ram represents the Medo-Persians and the goat, the Grecians. Miller also concluded that the great or notable horn on the goat was Alexander the Great and that after his death, his empire was divided among his four generals: Selecus, Ptolemy, Cassander and Lysimachus.
- Early Seventh-day Adventists correctly concluded that the temple "to be cleansed" in Daniel 8:14 is the Heavenly Temple and not the Earthly one. (Hebrews 8-10) Using Old Testament sanctuary symbology, they learned that Christ began a new phase of work in Heaven’s temple in 1844 as man’s Judge. As such, Jesus began a pre-Advent judgment in 1844 by opening and investigating each life in the record books of Heaven. (Daniel 7:9,10) The purpose of this investigation is to determine who, among the dead since Adam and Eve, should be saved or destroyed. (The living will be judged by the mark of the beast test that occurs just prior to the Second Coming.) However, Adventists incorrectly concluded that the judgment that began in 1844 concerns only those who have received Jesus as their Savior at some point in their life. I understand that every life is examined in the books of record – not just those who have received Christ.
- William Miller and early SDAs believed the horn power/stern-faced king of Daniel 8 is an enlargement of the little horn power in Daniel 7, and is therefore the papacy. This conclusion distorts the origin of the horn power. My study has led me to believe that the horn power/stern-faced king of Daniel 8 is the devil, who physically appears to deceive the world during the coming Great Tribulation. To accomplish this, the devil will personate Christ, perform great miracles and lead billions of people to believe that he is God – all before the Second Coming of Jesus occurs. Remember, the description of the stern-faced king occurs during the focal point of the vision, which is "the appointed time of the end."
- Finally, William Miller and early Adventists did not correctly interpret certain specifications within Daniel 8, such as the starry hosts, the daily, etc. These and other specifications will be discussed later.
Why do we Differ?
In a word, Scofield, Miller, Adventists and I differ on Daniel 8 because of the rules of interpretation used. Rules of interpretation are the methods or means used to interpret Bible prophecy consistently. Accurate rules of interpretation cannot be created by an interpreter, and more importantly, great care should be taken by any interpreter not to "bend" or arrange the rules so that they are more favorable to whatever point he or she wishes to make.
In other words, the Bible must interpret itself. The key to determine if a rule is valid is internal consistency. Much testing is required to prove the validity of a rule. The Bible alone must provide the rules that solve its mystery.
To my knowledge, neither Scofield nor Miller published a set of rules or hermeneutics (see update below) to accompany their prophetic interpretation. Even so, most students can carefully analyze their conclusions and determine the methods that produced them.
Update: This article was written in 1998. In 2013, I was delighted to learn that William Miller did in fact publish a set of general rules governing Bible study. His fourteen rules are listed in "Memoirs of William Miller" by Sylvester Bliss, pages 70-72.
Scofield’s interpretation of Daniel and Revelation seems to be based on certain doctrinal presuppositions. Scofield was an aggressive Bible student and his writing confirms that he had a broad knowledge of Scripture. Evidently, Scofield and his peers began to question the historical Protestant view of prophecy for several reasons, and perhaps the greatest impetus for doing so was the failure of Miller’s historical approach.
Although Miller’s public failure did impact Protestant thinking on prophecy, Scofield’s conclusions have had even more impact on current prophetic thought. This is surprising since Scofield’s interpretive process was even more risky than Miller’s, because Scofield reached his apocalyptic conclusions based primarily on doctrinal presuppositions.
Notice how it works. If you first presume that God has different dispensations within the plan of salvation (that is, different requirements for salvation for different generations), and if you first presume that the covenant made with ancient Israel will be literally fulfilled at the end time, and if you first presume that the 70th week will take place at the end of the world, then the specifications of prophecy become secondary, and support for presuppositions becomes primary.
Obviously, this manner of interpretation can lead to many erroneous conclusions and should not be followed. Scofield’s doctrinal positions were apparently in vogue before he produced "the prophetic glue" that holds his conclusions together. Unfortunately, time has not changed this approach to Bible study, for evidence abounds that many people "use" the Bible today to support their presuppositions instead of gathering all the information the Bible offers on a given topic.
The Search for Truth
Can an honest seeker after truth determine whether he or she is "using" the Bible inappropriately or instead, allowing the Bible to interpret itself? In theory, the matter is simple. In practice, the problem is complex. In theory, the only safe course is to place all the evidence that can be gathered on the table for consideration – that is every piece of information the Bible offers on the topic under investigation. In practice, however, human nature has a tendency to see what we want to see and reject or dismiss what we do not understand or like. So, how do we find and then consent to the truth?
In my pursuit of truth, I have found a six-step process. First, be willing to gather all of the evidence. Second, be willing and careful to resolve all the conflicts that the weight of evidence produces. Third, be completely honest and willing to accept the verdict of truth, despite its effect on your social standing within your family, circle of friends or employment.
Fourth, be intimately acquainted with the presence and impress of the Holy Spirit. Fifth, be willing to share what you have learned. Last, keep an open attitude that continues to pursue truth. Be willing to constantly prove and disprove all things. In spite of all this, we still may not fully solve the issue of truth on a particular topic, simply because truth itself is a timely matter.
This is an important part – when God determines the time has come to understand a particular truth, He will reveal it to those who are searching for His truth. However, prior to God’s timing for that truth, all the people in the world cannot wrestle the simplest of truth from its mystery.
So, if an expositor offers no rules of interpretation, people who study his conclusions cannot validate his views from the text of the prophecies except in the direction the expositor leads them. Human logic is not trustworthy because logic is governed by premise or supposition, and if a premise or supposition is wrong, the conclusion will also be wrong. Further, testing the conclusions of Miller and Scofield is very difficult, since these events have not happened yet.
In Miller’s day, rules to test unfulfilled elements in prophecy were unknown. All that Miller could offer was convincing logic, and history proves that logic alone is too fickle for something as important as Bible prophecy. Humans need something to guide and test our logic!
If this is the case, then how does a Bible student know whether his or her conclusions about future prophetic events are correct if there is no way to verify the conclusions? Said more simply, how can we determine if we have the truth or not?
The only answer to this dilemma is found in a valid set of governing rules by which all interpretation can be tested, both past, present and future. Since Miller and Scofield offer no published rules, then to accept their views we are forced into one of two traps. Since portions of Miller’s view have proved to be erroneous by the passage of time, we need to be more concerned about the futuristic conclusions of Scofield. Consider these two traps:
Trap 1: "Parishioners must depend upon a scholar or a committee of scholars to explain prophecy correctly." This notion is totally unacceptable. This belief is the seed bed for cults (both popular and unpopular). This position supports the idea that only experts can understand Bible prophecy.
Where were the experts in Christ’s day? In Noah’s day? Jesus condemned this premise by describing it as, "the blind leading the blind." (Matthew 15:1-13; 23:13-39)
Trap 2: "Bible prophecy always conforms to parochial doctrine." This is a formidable and persistent problem. Consider the following: Baptists have a prophetic understanding that is favorable to Baptist doctrine. Mormons have a prophetic understanding that is favorable to Mormon doctrine.
Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists, Catholics and others are afflicted with the same problem. So, which comes first, the understanding of doctrine or the interpretation of prophecy? Actually, these two elements cannot be brother and sister until a valid set of rules solves the entire prophetic puzzle.
Since the book of Daniel was sealed up until the "time of the end" (Daniel 12:9), doctrine and prophecy cannot be brother and sister or harmonious until the time of the end. Unfortunately, this is contrary to the ideas spread around by large, well organized and well financed religious bodies.
The Basis of Miller’s Conclusions
William Miller did not publish a specific set of rules by which we can examine his conclusions. However, evidence does exist that indicates he did follow an informal prophetic process that Protestants generally used prior to 1844. Like Scofield, Miller also included some presuppositions in his interpretative process. Identifying these rules and presuppositions is not too difficult, and for this article, we will discuss three of them.
1. Bible Prophecy is Historically Progressive.
This is a logical rule and means that Bible prophecy moves forward through time from fulfillment to fulfillment. This rule mandates that Bible prophecy must be validated by the forward, unbroken march of time and historical events. Protestant writers, as early as the 13th century, used this logic to identify the church at Rome as anti-Christ. In later centuries, many Protestant writers used this rule to specifically identify the papacy as the little horn power of Daniel 7. Protestants felt that this power, which warred against the saints and opposed the teachings of Christ, further identified the church at Rome as THE Antichrist. Miller understood the logic supporting this process and followed it faithfully.
Colonial America was founded on the inalienable right that a person can worship God according to the dictates of conscience. Many Protestants fled to this country because of religious persecution from Rome. In 1776, American colonists declared their independence, and only 22 years later, in February 1798, Napoleon’s generals captured the pope and put the Catholic Church in a state of exile. American newspapers headlined the event by printing "Deadly wound inflicted." Is it any wonder that 1798 was a very important date to early American Protestants? Miller was 17 years old when Napoleon captured the pope and 35 years old when he joined the Baptist Church. Because of this major religious/political/social upheaval, Miller was strongly convinced that the little horn power of Daniel 7 and the horn power of Daniel 8 was the papacy. Consequently, Miller had two reasons for following the historical progressive rule. First, Baptist Protestants of his era commonly believed that the papacy was the Antichrist. Second, the purpose for the logical order of historical events, as outlined in Bible prophecy, helps God’s people know when they reach the "end of time." As logical as these two points may sound, they contributed to Miller’s failure.
2. Bible Prophecy Depends Upon Repetition and Enlargement
The second rule that Miller borrowed from historical Protestantism is called "repetition and enlargement." This concept assumes that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation repetitiously cover the same time periods. Miller believed that each time a prophecy was given that covered a specific time-period, another prophecy was given which enlarge the details of the first, but basically covered the same time-period. For example, Miller reasoned that the seven churches, seven trumpets and seven seals of Revelation must cover the same time-period (from the ascension of Christ to the time of His return). Each prophecy, therefore, enlarges on the passage of time so the body of Christ can determine how soon Christ’s return will be.
3. A Prophetic Day Always Equals a Year
Miller concluded that all prophetic time-periods in the Bible must be reckoned as "a day for a year" since this concept had been proven true in his own lifetime. In the 1840’s, most American Protestants believed the 1,260 years of the little horn power (Daniel 7:25) terminated in 1798. Therefore, they concluded that the 2,300 days (Daniel 8) and the 490 days (70 weeks in Daniel 9) must follow the day/year rule, too. To his delight, Miller found historical data that confirmed that the 70 weeks also followed the day/year rule. Further, Biblical evidence exists that shows God used the day/year rule with ancient Israel. (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5,6) Miller became convinced of three things: First, there was a direct link between the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 and 2,300 days in Daniel 8, and that these two time-periods began with the same decree, ran concurrently and were reckoned as day/years. Second, Miller erroneously concluded that 2,300 day/years from 457 B.C. would conclude with Christ’s Second Coming and the end of the world, or the cleansing of God’s temple. (The cleansing of the temple, Miller believed, was the cleansing of the Earth so that Christ could dwell on Earth. Revelation 21:22) Since Miller lived at the end of the 2,300 days, he concluded that all prophetic time-periods in Daniel and Revelation, except for the seventh seal and the millennium, had already occurred. Because he believed his conclusions were based on a consistent use of the day/year rule, he reasoned that the terminus of the 2,300 days (Spring 1844) must be end of the world!
How the "Rules" Brought Disappointment
Even good rules can be misapplied. Miller and thousands of followers believed they were on solid ground with these rules or suppositions. After all, his conclusions were logical and within the traditional "ground-rules" of Protestant interpretation. Further, they did not exalt Baptist doctrines over the doctrines of other churches. (This helps to explain why many of Miller’s followers were not Baptist.) As any good Bible student might do, Miller assumed his interpretative process was valid and he based his reputation on this certainty.
He was not the kind of man who sought publicity or fame. Miller was a farmer and did not possess a natural talent for public speaking. Yet when the Holy Spirit compelled him to speak, Miller shared what he had learned. With simple words and plain explanations, he presented his prophetic findings from the Bible and was very surprised at the response.
Of course, as we look back to Miller’s day, it is easy to say today that he made two fatal mistakes. We have 20-20 hindsight. However, we can learn lessons from Miller’s experience: First, he used the 1844 "end-of-the-world" conclusion and conformed the rest of the prophecies to conclude that all the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were fulfilled prior to 1844.
Because of this thinking, Miller produced a "so-so" explanation for every verse in Daniel and Revelation. In hindsight, his logic and interpretation now bring a smile, but in 1840, Miller’s views seemed very reasonable. Miller’s story gives us a good example of using a presupposition to support a conclusion, and later, Scofield would use the same kind of approach. By putting "the cart before the horse," Miller used his prophetic conclusion about 1844 to interpret all of Daniel and Revelation.
Miller’s second mistake was a function of time. Miller did not approach Daniel 8 or any of the prophecies with a valid set of rules. Before we become too critical of Miller’s method, let us remember what Daniel 12:4,9 says: ". . .the words [in the book of Daniel] are closed up and sealed until the time of the end."
Miller thought 1844 was the end of time and that the prophecies in Daniel were now "unsealed." Today, more than 154 years have past since 1844 and very few people are willing to concede that 1844 marked the beginning of the time of the end. Unless, of course, you are one of those people who believe that the end of time is centuries in length and the time of the end is indefinite. (You would be surprised to learn how many people believe this).
In fact, one pastor told me that the time of the end began at the cross. He went on to share with me that the last days of humanity began with the resurrection of Jesus. Two thousand years of "last days" does not make any sense to me.)
Looking back at Miller, we can conclude two things: (1) Miller was wrong and 1844 was not the end of time, and (2) Miller’s conclusions that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8 terminated in 1844 did not "unseal" the prophecies found in Daniel.
So, when does the time of the end begin? When is the book of Daniel unsealed? Daniel 12 gives us the simple answer – at the time of the end. Therefore, we can conclude that when the prophecies of Daniel are unsealed, the time of the end is near. I believe what God chose to "seal up" in Daniel were the rules that govern apocalyptic prophecy.
Once these valid rules are discovered, truth unfolds and understanding blossoms. This fact is true in every area of God’s creation.
Rules Sealed Up
"But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge." (Daniel 12:4)
Q. What was sealed up in the book of Daniel? Was it the stories of faith pertaining to Daniel and his three peers?
A. No, for these lessons in faith are easily understood.
Q. Was the meaning of the visions sealed up?
A. No, because the visions have been understood (more or less) for hundreds of years.
Q. What was it, then that was sealed up until the appointed time of the end?
A. I believe it was the schematic, architecture or structure of apocalyptic prophecy.
Q. Why is the knowledge of prophetic architecture so important to interpreting prophecy?
A. The understanding of the architecture of apocalyptic prophecy allows the Bible to interpret itself and sets the prophecies free from individual or traditional views. Instead of trusting in "an expert" to interpret the prophecies, an ordinary person can examine the Scripture and reach its intended meaning by observing the rules of architecture.
Q. Why was Daniel sealed up and not Revelation?
A. The bulk of Daniel’s fulfillment is in the past. Therefore, the final generation can test and prove their understanding of the architecture with recorded history. On the other hand, Revelation remains a mystery until Daniel is unsealed. Since the bulk of Revelation is in the future, an accurate interpretation is not needed until the time of fulfillment arrives.
The keys to understanding Revelation are found in Daniel, and Daniel was sealed up until the time of the end. Why? The reason is simple – the only generation that needs to understand the details of Revelation accurately is the generation that must face these matters (such as the mark of the beast). Has that generation arrived? Yes, I believe it has and I believe the unsealing occurred perhaps as early as the Spring Equinox in 1994 – at the end of 70 Jubilee cycles.
Maybe these are the Rules that Were Sealed Up
I have tested for the presence of rules in apocalyptic prophecy and although additional ones may be discovered, I have found four consistent rules. If other rules exist, they should not nullify the following rules unless it can be demonstrated that one of the four rules is not valid.
Remember, truth is proven by the harmony that comes from the sum of all its parts. Truth is internally consistent. Keep in mind, five different types of prophecy are evident in the Bible and each type has its own rules of interpretation. However, from my study, I have found within Daniel the following rules that also appear to operate consistently within Revelation:
- Each apocalyptic prophecy has a beginning point and an ending point in time and the events within each prophecy occur in chronological order as given.
- A prophecy or prophetic element within a prophecy is not fulfilled until all the specifications are met. This includes the order of the events within the prophecy.
- Apocalyptic language can be literal, symbolic or analogous. To reach the intended meaning of a passage, one must consider: (a) the context; (b) the use of similar language in the Bible; and (c) relevant statements that define the symbol.
- The presence or absence of the Jubilee calendar determines whether God reckons time as literal or a day for a year.
I believe if you will independently test these rules, you will find them to be true and reliable. This does not guarantee, however, that our conclusions will be in 100 percent agreement. Some people have applied these rules to passages Daniel and Revelation and their results are slightly different from what I have found.
This is not a problem. Rules cannot solve every question, but they are clear enough to keep us on the path toward understanding the plans of God.
So, What does Daniel 8 Say?
Given the rules identified above, Daniel 8 reveals the following:
The ram (the Medo-Persian empire) establishes the historical setting of this vision. (Daniel 8:20) Why does this vision start with the Medo-Persian empire if the vision is primarily focused on the "appointed time of the end?" God understands that people on Earth cannot see the closing scenes in Heaven visually.
So, He wisely "connected" a well-documented time-period on Earth with the restoration (or cleansing) of Heaven’s temple. By placing a prophetic yardstick of 2,300 days/years between the Medo-Persian empire and the restoration of Heaven’s temple, we can easily calculate when the cleansing of Heaven’s temple begins, although we cannot visually verify it. Keep in mind that 1844 is not "the appointed time of the end" mentioned in Daniel 8:19.
However, we do know that the end of the 2,300 days is reached before the horn power appears. From Revelation we know that the devil (the horn power) physically appears during the appointed time of the end. His appearing, of course, is still future.
God removed any doubt about the origin of this vision, its interpretation, and the commencement of its great clock of 2,300 years (using the day/year principle), by including both the fall of the Medo-Persian empire and the speedy rise of Grecia’s first king, Alexander the Great.
This transition of world kingdoms removes all doubt as to the setting of this vision. According to rule 1, the starting and ending points in Daniel 8 (and all apocalyptic prophecies for that matter) is highly important. The subsequent division of Alexander’s empire toward the four winds becomes highly significant when we ask, "Why does the vision in Daniel 8 not include the appearance of another beast to conquer Grecia?" From Daniel 7 and Daniel 2, we know that another kingdom follows Grecia’s leopard, so why does this vision end without the defeat of Grecia?
Simply, the ram and the goat serve only to set the time of origin for this vision. With that established, there is no point in tracing political developments of future nations when other visions in Daniel clearly do that.
The horn power that rises out of the four winds is significant. Daniel 8:9 says, "Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land." The pronoun them is problematic. Does the pronoun them apply to the four winds or the four horns? Obviously, either choice will seriously affect the conclusion. Scofield assumed that the pronoun them applied to the four horns.
Therefore, he had to find a powerful entity established from a segment that divided the Grecian empire. This is why Scofield uses Antiochus Epiphanies IV, a descendant of the Selecuid kings to support his position. (Selecus was one of Alexander’s four generals who gained dominion over part of the divided empire.) The early Adventists had a different view.
They believed the pronoun them referred to the four winds. They believe this proves that the horn power in Daniel 8 is the papacy because Daniel 8:23 says, "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise." Today, Adventists claim that this companion verse and its pronoun "their," refer to the last days or divisions of Alexander’s empire.
Their SDA Bible Commentary (Volume 4, page 845) states the horn power is identified as both pagan and papal Rome. Their supposition is based on the fact that pagan and eventually, papal Rome came from the Macedonian Empire.
Both positions offer insurmountable problems. In brief, Scofield tries to solve his problem by disconnecting the horn power in verse nine from the stern-faced king in verse 23. He claims they are not the same entity. However, his claim is not supported by the context, for the context indicates they are the same entity! If they are not the same entity, then there is not enough data given on the horn power and the king understanding dark sentences (stern faced king) to determine accurately who they are!
Although Adventists correctly conclude that the horn power and stern-faced king are the same entity, they erroneously claim the horn power in Daniel 8 represents pagan Rome and then papal Rome. This claim cannot be supported by the context or history either.
Adventists justify this claim so that they can ultimately use this symbol with the little horn of Daniel 7. This parallel is impossible since the little horn power of Daniel 7 did not come into existence until the latter part of the Grecian empire. To be even more specific, the little horn power of Daniel 7 did not come into existence until nearly 700 years later! So, to bridge the gap of 700 years, Adventists maintain that the horn power of Daniel 8 represents pagan Rome first and then this same horn power is transferred to papal Rome around A.D. 538.
The reader should note the obvious: This vision concerns the appointed time of the end. We have already reviewed how the ram and goat provide a solid historical footing for the origin of this vision. Therefore, the only other element remaining in the vision is the horn power that has to appear at the time of the end, especially since the vision specifically states that it concerns the appointed time of the end. (Daniel 8:9,17,19) Later, I will demonstrate that the 2,300 years are a significant time-bridge connecting ancient history with events that happen before the appointed time of the end.
To clarify this further, let us go back to the source of the horn power in verse 9. The Bible says, "And out of one of them . . ." To pinpoint the subject of this phrase, we need to consider the antecedent of the pronoun them. Reviewing all the details given in this vision, it seems that only one answer can identify the pronoun them: The horn power rises out of the four winds during the appointed time of the end – it does not originate from the four horns of Alexander’s empire that developed a long time ago. Actually, as you will soon see, the horn power will appear out of the North!
This vision points forward to a specific point in time. Notice what Gabriel said to Daniel: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end." (Daniel 8:19 NIV) If we graph the contents of this vision, the time line looks like this:
|538 – 331 B.C.||331 – 168 B.C.||<– Gap –>||1998||Time of Wrath|
This vision has three elements. The two kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Grecia are a matter of historical record. Since the horn power is the third element, it makes sense that the horn power is the part of the vision that occurs at the appointed time of the end.
Scofield recognized this textual problem and he tried to solve it by disconnecting the identity of the horn power (in verse 9) from the stern-faced king (in verse 23). From an exegetical point of view, this is unacceptable. The vision in Daniel 8 is focused on three primary players: the ram, goat and horn power. The commentary that Gabriel offers is limited to the ram, goat and horn power. To add another entity is textually unacceptable.
Miller also recognized this problem and solved it by forcing the identity of the horn power in Daniel 7 (the papacy) onto the horn power in Daniel 8. (Remember the repetition and enlargement rule that Miller followed.) Since Miller thought the end of time would conclude in 1844, he logically thought the fall of the papacy in 1798 was the fulfillment of the destruction of the horn power.
When 1844 came and went, the early Adventists modified Miller’s position slightly by allowing a "healed or restored papacy" during the end-time. One point in their favor – they have correctly concluded that the papacy would return to a position of world influence and power. The vision of Daniel 8, however, is not concerned with the papacy, either before 1798 or after.
Notice the details Gabriel gives regarding the horn power: Daniel 8:25 ". . . he will take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power." This clue cannot be overlooked. The horn power will be destroyed, but not by human power. In other words, this horn cannot be destroyed or killed by human beings. (See also Revelation 17:8; 19:20,21.)
Jesus Christ, the Prince of princes has to destroy this horn power when He appears in the clouds of heaven. So, who is this horn power that will appear out of the four winds at the appointed time of the end and furthermore, will be alive at the Second Advent? Although Revelation 13 predicts the papacy (the wounded head) will be healed during the Great Tribulation, the specifications given about the horn in Daniel do not indicate that this power is an ordinary mortal like the pope.
This horn power will be a great king, a man-god figure, who is none other than the devil. Satan, that ancient serpent, will physically masquerade before people all over Earth as God and quickly establish a visible kingdom here. Satan will be granted temporary control over the world during the appointed time of the end and he will be allowed to perform great miracles for deception.
(God gives the man of sin (the devil) this power as indicated in 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12; and again in Revelation 13:15 God gives the lamblike beast (same devil) this miracle working power. The Bible even describes how the devil will call fire down out of the heavens to prove his assumed divinity to deceive the world! Revelation 13:13)
To help us identify the horn power in Daniel 8, five points need to be presented at this time. First, within the context of Daniel 8, the notable or great horn on the goat is its first king. That horn is a man, Alexander the Great. Alexander is not the goat – the goat is Grecia. The horn is not Grecia – the horn is Alexander.
This is the point: A horn can represent a man, a nation, or even a powerful organization. For example, in Daniel 7, the ten horns represented ten kingdoms and the little horn represents a powerful kingdom unlike the other ten kingdoms. In Luke 1:69 Jesus is called a "horn of salvation." In Lamentations 2:3, Israel’s princes are called "horns."
In 2 Samuel 2:10 the king of Israel is called "the horn of the Lord’s anointed." This is an important point since the two horns on the ram in Daniel 8 are two men, the kings of Media and Persia. The great horn on the goat was Grecia’s first king, Alexander. After Alexander was broken off, the four horns that followed represent four men (Alexander’s four generals).
Within the context of Daniel 8, it is therefore consistent to say that the horn out of the four winds has to be one man. That man will be the man of sin, a stern-faced king, who will appear during the appointed time of the end. Further, Daniel wrote that no human being can destroy him – only Christ has power to destroy him. (See 2 Thessalonians 2.)
Second, notice that the horn power in Daniel 8 does not grow out of a beast nor does it rise out of the sea. The beasts in Daniel 7, Daniel 8 and Revelation 13:1 represent the empires of humankind that rise out of multitudes, nations and languages of people (the waters). (Revelation 17:15)
The ten horns in Daniel 7 grow out of the fourth beast and represent ten kingdoms that divide the Roman empire. Therefore, the ten horns have their "roots" in the fourth beast. In the same way, the horns (kings) on the ram and goat have their roots in their empires.
Please note. The horn power in Daniel 8 does not grow out of a beast. It just appears from out of one of the four winds and grows in strength. (This parallels the rise of the lamb-like beast in Revelation 13:11. See March, 98 Day Star.) Another important observation can be made regarding the origin of this horn – notice that it grows out of the North!
When Daniel received the vision recorded in Daniel 8, he was in Susa. The description of the appearing of the horn power helps us locate its origin. Notice what Daniel says: Daniel 8:9 "Out of one of them [four winds] came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land." If the horn is moving South, East and toward the beautiful land of Israel (West from Daniel’s location), then this horn has to be coming out of the North.
Why is this important? Because in Daniel 11:36, Satan is given the title of The King of the North during the appointed time of the end.
For the ancients, the direction of North was the source of highest power and total destruction. Further, the king of the North was regarded as sovereign king. Consider the following:
- God punished Israel by sending Nebuchadnezzar to wage war against them and take them captive. From Israel’s location, the direction of Nebuchadnezzar’s advance was from the North. (Jeremiah 1:13,14; 4:6; 6:1; 6:22)
- God punished Egypt by sending armies from the North. (Jeremiah 46:20-24)
- God punished the Philistines by sending armies from the North. (Jeremiah 47:1-4)
- God punished Babylon by sending armies from the North. (Jeremiah 50:2,3; 51:48)
- Ezekiel saw the glory of God coming from the North. (Ezekiel 1:4)
- Elihu spoke about the glory of God beaming from the North. (Job 37:22)
- The table of shewbread (representing God’s throne) was located on the North side of the temple. (Exodus 26:35) Note: This location is also known as the sides of the North (KJV) (Isaiah 14:13; Psalms 48:2).
If we take Gabriel at his word, then the appointed time of the end is also a time of wrath. Notice what Gabriel said: "I am going to tell you [Daniel] what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end." (Daniel 8:19) When is this time of wrath? Answer: It is the Great Tribulation. When is the time of wrath finished? Revelation 15:1 says, "I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath is completed."
The Great Tribulation (time of wrath) only occurs during the appointed time of the end. The horn power from the North in Daniel 8 "just appears out of nowhere" during the appointed time of the end, and remember, his roots are not in the kingdoms of men. Daniel further identifies the horn power as a "stern-faced" king who does as he pleases. (Daniel 8:23)
What will he do? Daniel 11:36 says, "The king [from the North] will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined [by God] must take place."
Now we come to the third point: How does the physical appearing of Satan at the time of the end fulfill the specifications of Daniel 8:10. It says, "It [the horn] grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them."
When Satan appears, he will present himself before the multitudes of Earth. In this fashion, he will quickly grow in popularity (by means of the miracles he has power to do) and gain the confidence of billions of suffering people. He will lead them to conclude that he is Almighty God.
With awesome miracles, Satan will maneuver Earth’s religious and political systems until they are completely under his dominion. Using wicked people as his pawns, he will accomplish his evil plans and destroy many saints. The leaders of the world will join him and use their power over the people for his benefit. (Revelation 17:13) What a devilish plan!
To appreciate Daniel’s use of language in verse 10, we need to determine who the starry hosts are that are cast down and trampled on? Are they the angels of Heaven? No, I do not think so. Satan cannot trample on the angels of Heaven. In fact, they trampled on him! (Revelation 12:7-9)
The Bible uses the term "starry hosts" to identify false gods concocted by the vanity and ignorance of men. The ancients, even apostate Israel, worshiped all kinds of false gods who were thought to live among the starry heavens – gods like Jupiter, Zeus, Thor, Venus, Ra and Marduk. There was a host of them. Notice the following four texts:
- 2 Kings 17:16 "They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal."
- 2 Kings 21:3 "He [Manasseh] rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them."
- 2 Kings 23:4 "The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel."
- 2 Kings 23:5 "He [Josiah] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem–those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts."
These verses clearly explain who the starry hosts are. They are pagan gods. Daniel says the horn [Satan] grew until it reached [preeminence with] the host of the heavens. This means that Satan’s influence will grow throughout the Earth until many people, from all religions, will accept him as God. (The growth and acceptance of Satan’s influence are also presented in Revelation 13:11-14.)
The next sentence in verse 10 says that Satan will throw some of the starry host [false gods] down to the earth and trample on them. This means that Satan will show himself to be superior to the make-believe gods of man. Baptists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Adventists, Buddhists, Lutherans, Methodists, and heathens all have a view of God.
Satan will prove, by means of his glorious appearance and his powerful miracles and signs, that the gods of men are powerless and he alone deserves global respect, obedience and homage. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:4-12; Revelation 13:8,9.) (Of course, the saints will know of his deceit and worship the only true God.)
Each religion on Earth has its own view of God. So in summary, the hosts of heaven and the starry hosts that the devil will trample on are Daniel’s way of describing the many false gods of man.
The fourth point we need to address is the statement made by Daniel that the horn power (this stern-faced king or evil man) takes away the daily. Daniel 8:12 says, "Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily [sacrifice] were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground."
Note: The word sacrifice is added by translators. It is not included in the Hebrew text. In fact, the word daily could be accurately translated to read regular or continual. The regular, continual or daily refers to the intercession of our High Priest in Heaven. (Hebrews 7:25) His continual intercession for Earth’s inhabitants will end because of their rebellion.
Because of world rebellion, Jesus will terminate His ministry for man in Heaven’s temple. This rebellion is described in 2 Thessalonians 2. This is how the rebellion will occur: Satan will lead world leaders to make and enforce laws that are contrary to the fourth commandment.
Because he will be masquerading as God, Satan will demand obedience to his laws or suffer severe penalty. Respect for God’s law and Christ’s intercessory work in Heaven’s court as man’s intercessor will be made to appear foolish, even contrary to the salvation offered by the glorious Anti-Christ.
Submitting to the authority of the devil will be easier than standing for truth, because people will be tortured and/or killed if they refuse to obey. Many saints will perish because they will stand firm in their faith during Satan’s presence on Earth. When the last person on Earth has finally decided who they will obey, Jesus’ daily intercession in Heaven for individuals will end.
The mark of the beast test will force everyone into a decision. The evil horn power from the North will prosper in everything he does. He will denigrate the importance of the 144,000’s message – salvation’s story and its redemptive process. Ultimately, men and women will be led to despise the intercessory work of their Only Hope.
Remember, Satan is not only allowed to deceive the world and lead it astray, but God also gives him power to accomplish these things because the world refuses to believe the truth and be saved. For this reason, God sends this strong delusion so the conflict with sin can come to a speedy end. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 and compare with 1 Kings 22.)
One final point on this segment needs to be made. The horn power of Daniel 8 is described as the stern-faced king that will appear when rebels have become completely wicked. Daniel 8:23 says, "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue (politics), will arise." Again, a pronoun is causing the trouble. If you insist that verse 22 is establishing the antecedent of the pronoun their, then it could appear to be referring to the latter part of Alexander’s general’s reign.
However, consider this paraphrase ". . . – when rebels have become completely wicked, in the latter part of their reign, a stern-faced king will arise." In other words, the pronoun their refers to the rebels. This thought seems to be consistent with the appearing of the man of sin and this happens during the great rebellion that takes place before Jesus returns. (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
Let us consider another text to drive home this point. By the time the Great Tribulation begins, sin’s effect on the last generation will have taken its toll.
2 Thessalonians 2:10,11 says, ". . . They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. – For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. . . ." In other words, people will perish because they were given ample opportunity to love and accept truth, but refused. So, because of their wicked rebellion, God sends them a powerful delusion – the physical appearing of the devil. The wicked will be astonished when they behold his glorious presence (Revelation 17:8) and he will lead the world into total condemnation. "He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people." (Daniel 8:24) Notice how Daniel’s statement mirrors John’s description of the lamb-like beast (the devil personating the Lamb). John says he will order everyone who refuses to worship the image of the beast to be killed. (The image of the beast is the devil’s one-world religion. See March 98, Day Star.)
The Missing Link Turns Up
The vision recorded in Daniel 8 is very important. It reveals several things that God’s people should delight to know. First, how do the saints know when they are near the appointed time of the end? Answer: The fulfillment of the 2,300 days described in Daniel 8:14 serves as an early warning device announcing that the day of the Lord is almost here. This verse in Daniel 8 is another historical link that confirms what many Christians have hoped for – that we are living very near the Second Coming.
However, let me ask you, isn’t it much better to know where we are in God’s Plan than just to hope the end is just around the corner? Of course, it is natural for people to trust their "senses" regarding world events to determine when the end of the world might be.
However, let me assure you, God has given us something much better – "the more sure word of prophecy." As I survey the problems in our world today, history reminds me that 21 civilizations have come and gone. The coming collapse of our current civilization does not prove that we are near the Second Coming. In fact, it only proves that we are near the end of this civilization!
Miller was wrong – the 2,300 days do not come to an end at the Second Advent. However, Miller was also right – the 2,300 days are to be calculated as solar years. (Remember rule 4.) Scofield was wrong – the 2,300 days do not span the time between Antiochus’ conflict with the Jews and the death of Nicanor.
However, Scofield was also right – the stern-faced king will appear during the appointed time of the end. Both men, who embraced very different conclusions, also contribute something toward understanding truth. However, in all fairness, Daniel 8 cannot be fully understood until the rules are discovered and proved to be true. This only happens when Daniel is unsealed.
Right Place, Right Time
Turning our attention to the 2,300 days, let us consider the proper reckoning and placement for the 2,300 days. The 2,300 day prophecy is important for seven reasons:
- It is integral to the 70 weeks mentioned in Daniel 9:24 because the 70 weeks are "cut off" from this longer time-period.
- It confirms the historical location of the judgment scene recorded in Daniel 7:9,10.
- It proves that the Jubilee calendar operates on both sides of the cross, and proves that the Jubilee calendar continues to operate even after 1798. (See Appendix, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled for an in-depth presentation on the Jubilee calendar.)
- It solves the timing mystery of Christ’s ministry in Heaven’s sanctuary. (Hebrews 8,9; Revelation 5,6)
- Using solar years, it operates in full harmony with all other time-periods in Daniel and Revelation.
- The fulfillment, like all prophetic dates before it, was discovered by searching Christians at the proper time. (Prophetic things are only understood on or about the time of fulfillment.)
- It determines the timing of the third seal. (Revelation 6:5) Consequently, it provides another historical milestone indicating our chronological position within God’s plan of salvation.
We will now examine each point and consider the impact it has on the contents of Daniel 8.
After seeing the ram, goat and horn power in vision, Daniel heard a conversation between two angels. At first glance, you might think this conversation has nothing to do with the vision. However, read the text carefully. The questions are placed here because they are integral to the overall meaning of the vision.
One angel asked another angel a four-part question: "Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled – the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" (Daniel 8:13)
- How long will it take for the vision concerning the daily to be fulfilled?
- How long will the rebellion that causes desolation last?
- How long will the sanctuary be surrendered (or desecrated)?
- How long will God’s people be trampled upon?
After reading verses 1-12, many people have wondered why these four questions are suddenly asked in the vision. They say, "These questions have nothing to do with the ram, goat or horn power – so, why are they mentioned here?" God associated these four questions with this vision because these four questions identify four issues that are directly connected to this vision! For example, the horn power is going to trample upon God’s people for 42 months during the appointed time of the end. (Daniel 12:7; Revelation 13:5)
Also, a great rebellion against God is going to occur when the gospel is powerfully presented before the world during the Great Tribulation. (Daniel 12:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) Last, this vision is not fulfilled until the people of God are finally conquered. (Daniel 12:7; Revelation 13:7) Therefore, three of the four questions provide clues about the work of the horn power during the end-time.
The second angel responded to the first angel saying, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (Daniel 8:14) The second angel does not answer all four questions. Rather, he directs our attention to the third question because this subject is important in this setting of 2,300 evenings and mornings.
Note: In the KJV, Daniel 8:14 is interpreted as 2,300 days although the Hebrew term, ereb boger is singular: evening/morning. The words translated in the NIV are more accurate. The time-period given is literally "2,300 evenings – mornings." Neither translation is faulty, since 2,300 ereb boger in English has to be plural.
However, the Hebrew sense of ereb boger is simply a unit of time or "a day." In Judges 19:26 and 2 Samuel 13:4 the word boger is used to simply refer to the morning or the dawning part of the day. The Hebrew word ereb is used in the O.T. more than 40 times and refers to the evening part of a day.
From Genesis 1:5, a day consists of an evening and a morning. That Daniel 8:14 is referring to 2,300 days is evident since the usage of ereb and boger is the same in many texts.
So, how do the 2,300 days relate to this vision? The 2,300 days is a specific unit of time that must occur between the ram and goat scene (the ancient kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Grecia) and the horn power that appears at the appointed time of the end! To be more specific, the 2,300 days define a prerequisite space between the two beasts and the horn. The 2,300 days were placed within this prophetic context so that the three elements of Daniel 8 could be firmly linked together, yet properly spaced apart.
The Vision of 2,300 Evenings and Mornings
The vision in Daniel 8 is called "the vision of the evenings and mornings" because the 2,300 evenings and morning are its most notable point. (Daniel 8:26) The primary purpose for this vision, down through the ages, has been the 2,300 mornings and evenings. No other vision offers this particular detail about a work that must take place in Heaven’s temple before Christ returns. In other words, although this vision concerns the appearing of the horn power during the appointed time of the end – the appointed time of the end can only occur after the 2,300 days expire.
To appreciate the setting of this vision, we need to investigate some background information about Israel at the time the vision was given. By 605 B.C., God had reached His limit with Israel’s long history of rebellion and consequently, sent them into Babylonian captivity.
Through a message to the prophet Jeremiah, God let Israel know their captivity would last 70 years. "For twenty-three years . . . the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. . . . Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: ‘Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the North and my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon . . . and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. . . . This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’ " (Jeremiah 25:3,8,9,11)
When Daniel received his vision a hundred years later, which is recorded in Daniel 8, he knew that Babylon was going to fall. He also knew that the 70 years of captivity predicted by Jeremiah were about to expire. After the kingdom of Babylon was destroyed, Daniel wrote, ". . . I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes." (Daniel 9:2,3)
Daniel was full of expectation – he was anxious for his people to be set free so they could return to Jerusalem. He also looked forward with great anticipation toward the day when Israel would welcome the promised Messiah. Since Gabriel’s remarks did not address Israel’s destiny in the vision of Daniel 8, Daniel fasted and prayed for a more comprehensive understanding regarding the Plans of God.
God’s timing cannot be rushed. About 12 years after the vision was recorded in Daniel 8, Gabriel returned to visit with Daniel. (In our age of instant gratification, 12 years seems like a very long time.) Daniel 9 records both the good news and bad news that Gabriel brought.
Note: God often gives a vision and then He allows some time to pass before the meaning of the vision is discussed and understood. For example, as recorded in Daniel 10, God gave Daniel a vision that focused on a great war. Three weeks later, he received the meaning of the vision. Some commentators teach that Gabriel’s visit, recorded in Daniel 9, has nothing to do with the vision in Daniel 8 because the second visit from Gabriel is twelve or more years later.
From an exegetical point of view, this teaching is not supported. This is why: Daniel mentions the earlier vision (Daniel 8) in Daniel 9:21 and during the second visit, Gabriel also refers to the earlier vision. (Daniel 9:23) If an individual accepts the fact that Gabriel and Daniel are discussing the vision of the 2,300 evenings and mornings, the context of Daniel 9 is easy to understand.
Very Broad Plan
When Gabriel appeared before Daniel on the second visit, he did not say much, but the conversation picked up where the previous vision ended. Daniel says, "While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision [of Daniel 8], came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice." (Daniel 9:21)
Remember, in the earlier vision of the 2,300 evenings and mornings, Gabriel explained to Daniel that the ram with two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia. During the twelve-year interval since the earlier vision, Babylon had been destroyed. Now a new kingdom was in place, and Daniel wanted to know about the fate of his exiled people.
His interest is tenderly expressed in his prayer recorded in Daniel 9. When Gabriel explained that 70 weeks (490 years) had been appointed for Israel, Daniel’s view of God’s plans suddenly expanded.
Now in his 80’s, the old prophet realized that God’s timetable was much more encompassing than just 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Grasping the scope of God’s plans is so hard for humans! We think small because we are small. For us, life is short and our plans for life are likewise.
The focal point for the second visit by Gabriel was to reveal to faithful Daniel that God was interested in far more than just setting Israel free to return to Jerusalem and be nation again. God wanted Israel to accomplish something for Him within a certain time-frame.
The Visit Resumes – Good News, Bad News
When Gabriel appeared before Daniel with more information, he simply said, "I have now come to give you insight and understanding [as you requested] . . . Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision [of the 2,300 evenings and mornings]." (Daniel 9:22-23)
Two issues must be mentioned. First, Daniel’s primary concern at the time of Gabriel’s resumed visit was the restoration of his people. Daniel was still confused about how the vision of the evenings and mornings related to the restoration of Israel, so he intensely sought the Lord for greater understanding with fasting and prayer. When Gabriel appeared the second time, he immediately began to talk about Israel, the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple because this was the burden on Daniel’s heart. No record exists of any conversation on a personal level between the angel and Daniel.
Second, it appears that Jeremiah’s prediction about Israel’s 70 years in Babylonian captivity was about to end when Gabriel’s second visit took place. A few weeks later, in 536 B.C., Cyrus, King of Persia, released Israel from captivity, right on time! The decree concerning this release is recorded in Ezra 1. "In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation . . . [freeing Israel to return home]." (See Ezra 1:1-11.) No doubt, concerns about this decree were stirring Daniel’s heart when Gabriel appeared.
The Future of Israel
When the resumed visit began, Gabriel said, "As soon as you [Daniel] began to pray, an answer [to your petition] was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the [relationship between your people and the] vision [of the evenings and mornings]." (Daniel 9:23) Then, the angel outlined six major points concerning the future of Israel (Daniel 9:24-27):
- Seventy "sevens" (or 70 weeks) are cut off from the 2,300 evenings and mornings. This period of mercy has been granted to your people to accomplish the following purposes:
- pay the penalty for their wicked deeds as a nation,
- put an end to national apostasy,
- usher in everlasting righteousness,
- seal up the vision and prophecy,
- anoint the Most Holy.
- From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Anointed One (Messiah) appears, there would be one full Jubilee cycle of seven weeks plus 62 more Jubilee "sevens."
- In the middle of the 70th week, the Anointed One (Messiah) would be cut off from His people. He would also confirm His covenant with His own blood and He would put an end to sacrifices and offerings.
- Jerusalem and its sanctuary would be destroyed, but later it would be rebuilt.
- Wars and desolations would continue until the end of Jerusalem.
- The one who causes desolations upon the Earth (the horn power of Daniel 8) will continue until the very end of time.
Note: The Hebrew word in Daniel 9:24 translated "weeks" (KJV) and "sevens" (NIV) is "shabua." Shabua refers to a week or a seven-day period beginning with the first day of the week. This word is used in the Old Testament seventeen times and all of them refer to a literal week of seven days. Daniel 10:2,3 and Daniel 9:24 use the same word: shabua. This small point will become significant in our study since a basic understanding of the Jubilee calendar is necessary for the calculations that follow.
Comments on Daniel 9
Gabriel used language during this second visit that most expositors overlook. For example, Gabriel told Daniel that from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Anointed One (the Messiah) would appear, there would be seven weeks and 62 weeks. Why didn’t Gabriel just say, 69 weeks?
The answer is in the language. Four decrees were given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, but only one occurs at the beginning of a Jubilee cycle. In other words, Gabriel gave a clue about the timing of the decree from which God will count the 69 weeks. Gabriel explains to Daniel that the decree to watch for is THE decree that occurs at the beginning of a Jubilee cycle. (In fact, such a decree was given in 457 B.C. and it alone meets the timing specifications of this prophecy.)
The good news to Daniel’s inquiring mind was, "Yes, Jerusalem would be restored and the Holy One of Israel would come at a specific point in time."
The Jews understood that the Anointed One (Messiah) would come through Israel, because Isaiah had prophesied: ". . . The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. . . . in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles . . . The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 7:14, 9:1,2,6)
I am sure Daniel was both disappointed and thrilled with the information that Gabriel gave him. Imagine Daniel’s joy when he learned that the expected Messiah, the promised King of Israel would come at an appointed time! However, Daniel also recognized that Messiah’s appearing was still several centuries away. The news that seemed to devastate Daniel the most was that someday, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed again. Daniel’s great concern was for his nation – would God entirely forget His people?
An Appointment with Messiah
Gabriel told Daniel that from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah, the Prince, appeared would be 69 weeks (literally 69 sevens). What does this mean? The Jews reckoned time in two ways. The first way was using literal time. A week was seven evening and mornings that began with the first day of the week and ended with the seventh day of the week. (This is somewhat different from the way we calculate time today).
For us, a week can begin on Tuesday and end the following Monday, etc. For the Jews, a week was a fixed time-period of seven days that always began with the first day of the week. If they described the length of time from Tuesday to Monday, it would be called seven days – not a week.)
Second, the Jews also reckoned time in Jubilee units, according to the operation of the Jubilee calendar. For example, a Jubilee week is seven years in length; under this calendar, each day of the week represents a year. God gave this system of time or calendar to Israel at the time of the Exodus and it is explained in Leviticus 25 and 26. So, under this system, 69 weeks represents 483 years (69 x 7 = 483), and remember, a week always began with a Sunday year.
The Jubilee Rule
Although not explicitly stated in the Bible, a consistent process exists for reckoning prophetic time. I believe God established the Jubilee calendar for three reasons: First, it was a recurring cycle of time based on units of seven that allowed God to show His affection for Israel through events that transpired each Sabbath year and again during the Jubilee year.
A Jubilee occurred after each cycle of seven "sevens" (49 years) had passed. Second, Jubilee cycles keep all other timing cycles together in a very harmonious and synchronous format. Third, God created Jubilee cycles so He could provide a simple means for measuring large time-spans in prophetic words without requiring many external dates and events outside the Bible. Thus, the Bible requires very little external data to validate its prophetic time-periods.
For reasons beyond the scope of this article, a principle that governs the use of the day/year principle in prophecy works as follows: If a prophetic time period falls within the operation of the Jubilee calendar and that time period occurs within one of the apocalyptic prophecies found in Daniel and Revelation, then the time-period must be reckoned by using the day/year principle.
This simple principle explains why some time-periods are day/year and others are literal. For example, I am convinced that the Jubilee calendar expired in March 1994. Therefore, the 3½ years mentioned in Daniel 7:25 are to be calculated as 1,260 years because they took place before March 1994 that falls within the Jubilee calendar.
However, the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 are to be interpreted as 1,000 literal years because they take place after 1994, when the Jubilee calendar had expired. (For a full discussion on the topic of the Jubilee calendar, please read the Appendix in my book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled.)
As shown before, God parallels events in Heaven with events on Earth so human beings can understand the timing of events in Heaven. According to Daniel 9, Jesus was going to leave Heaven and come to Earth as a baby at a predetermined time. Gabriel told Daniel to begin counting the 69 weeks when the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was given. Did God mean 69 literal weeks or 69 Jubilee weeks? History proves that God meant Jubilee weeks. Notice how the story unfolds.
History records four decrees given to the Israelites for the restoration of their homeland! Cyrus gave the first decree in 536 B.C. (Ezra 1) Darius gave the second decree in 519 B.C. (Ezra 6) Artaxerxes gave the third and fourth decrees in 457 and 444 B.C. (Ezra 7 and Nehemiah 2) So, from which of these decrees did God intend the 69 weeks to begin?
I believe God intentionally kept this question shrouded in mystery, just as He has intentionally kept the date of Christ’s Second Advent a mystery. The knowledge of timing – of both advents – belongs to those who are studying, watching and praying. (1 Peter 1:10-12) In the days of Christ’s first advent, most Jews and their leaders were not prepared to meet the Messiah. The parallel is clear. Many negligent believers will be caught by surprise at the Second Coming – including many highly respected clergy.
God did not specifically reveal which decree would start the prophetic clock. The question of which decree would start the clock kept the Israelites watching and wondering. For example, 69 Jubilee weeks after the first decree in 536 B.C. is 53 B.C. (far too early for the birth of Christ); 69 weeks after the second decree in 519 B.C. is 36 B.C. (still too early to be historically possible); and 69 weeks after 457 B.C. is A.D. 27 (right on time). Note: The 444 B.C. decree is not historically plausible because historical records show that A.D. 40 is far too late for the appearing or ministry of Messiah.
Another undeniable fact is that the 457 B.C. decree is the only decree that occurred during a Sunday year of the Jubilee calendar! In other words, a week of years or a "seven" can only begin with the first day/year of the week and 457 B.C. is the only one of the four decrees that occurs during a Sunday year. Even more amazing, 457 B.C. is the first Sunday year of a new Jubilee cycle! God’s timing is perfect!
The Jewish leaders were well aware of Daniel’s prophecy and prophetic interest must have escalated as 53 B.C. drew near. When Messiah did not appear, then 36 B.C. must have raised prophetic interest too. Again, the Messiah did not come. So, it is conceivable that when A.D. 27 arrived, Messianic interest was at an all time high.
Notice how Luke carefully documents the first year of Christ’s ministry. This is no coincidence – God made sure this historical data was recorded by using the governing rules and the timing of their reigns: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. . . . The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ." (Luke 3:1,15)
The 15th year of Tiberius is well documented – it occurred around the year A.D. 27. As it turns out, it was this very year that Jesus was baptized, being about 30 years of age. The Jews did not acknowledge Messiah or anoint Him as their spiritual leader, as was their privilege to do. Instead, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and the Father Himself spoke and commended Jesus for His faithfulness to the PLAN to save man. (Luke 3:21-23)
The Wise Men
Each time the story is told about Jesus’ birth, the "wise" men are mentioned. Many people do not realize that the wise men were students of prophecy. They came from the East (an area close to the original Babylon) where they had found and studied copies of Daniel’s prophecies. By studying the Jubilee calendar and recognizing that a priest in Israel had to be 30 years of age before beginning his ministry, they had calculated an approximate time when the 483 years should end. Then, they subtracted 30 years from their conclusion to determine the approximate year of Jesus’ birth.
When we consider that their round-trip journey to see baby Jesus could have taken up to two years, we begin to detect the intensity of their desire to see Messiah. Wise men do not go to such extremes on a whim. Like the prophets Simeon and Anna, they, too, longed personally to behold the Savior of the world.
Their presence at the birth of Jesus is another confirmation that the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. is the correct decree for starting the 70-week countdown. The fact that the wise men appeared in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth is a compelling statement, because no other prophecy in the Bible pinpoints the time of Messiah’s appearing other than Daniel 9.
What is so ironic is that these "Gentiles" were watching and waiting for the sign of Messiah while the Jewish leaders chose to ignore the importance of the prophecies regarding the time of His appearing. Perhaps some Jewish elders had experienced false Messianic excitement before. Why should they be excited now? What does this say to laymen about relying on religious leaders today?
A Special Year
Another point about the 457 B.C. date of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem must be made. Although the length of this article prohibits us from discussing it thoroughly, the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. is the only decree that occurs during a Jubilee year. Not only is 457 B.C. a Sunday year, it is also a Jubilee year.
The intersection of Artaxerxes’ decree with a Jubilee year is not coincidental. The whole idea behind the Jubilee year was the restoration of the land to its original owners – for free! Although Artaxerxes did not realize the significant role he was fulfilling for God’s people, his decree to restore the land to Israel for free was right on time!
Seventy weeks equal 490 years (70 weeks x 7 days = 490 days). Seventy weeks also equal 10 Jubilee cycles (49 years x 10 cycles = 490 years). The importance of Messiah dying in the middle of the 70th week confirms something larger than the 70-week prophecy. It demonstrates how God reckons time. He is the One who established the 70 weeks. He is the One who died in the middle of the 70th week. He is the One who confirmed the synchronism of the Jubilee calendar.
Solving the Mystery of Chathak
We now return to Gabriel’s visit recorded in Daniel 9. Gabriel told Daniel that 70 weeks were decreed upon Israel. The Hebrew word translated "decreed" comes from the Hebrew word chathak and it means to "cut off," as from a larger piece. For example, if you granted your son one hour to play outdoors, you may stipulate that he must first take out the trash.
In this illustration, the time required to take out the trash is included in his one allotted hour – usually in this type scenario, the trash gets removed in about one minute! So, Gabriel informed Daniel that 70 weeks had been cut off from the 2,300 evenings and mornings. The key point that many expositors overlook is that one can only "cut off" (chathak) a shorter time-period from a longer time-period. This is the context of Gabriel’s statement concerning the 70 weeks.
Consider the setting: Daniel and Gabriel are discussing the earlier vision concerning the 2,300 days and Gabriel tells Daniel that God has granted a period of mercy to the Jews that is cut off from the 2,300 days. This period of mercy is 70 weeks. Thus, the shorter time-period is cut off from the longer time-period.
The conversation is about time-periods, and chathak is the appropriate word in this context. Translators have used words for chathak that fail to convey the primary idea of "cutting off a smaller segment from a larger piece" for two reasons. First, they have overlooked the fact that the second visit in Daniel 9 is a continued discussion regarding some issues addressed in the vision in Daniel 8. Second, translators do not appear to understand the Jubilee calendar.
People who are bilingual know that translated words can have a very different meaning from what is originally intended if the translator does not clearly understand the setting or subject content.
If a Bible student can accept the fact that Gabriel and Daniel are mindful of the previous vision recorded in Daniel 8 as they talk, a big problem is easily solved. In the earlier vision, Daniel heard that the sanctuary (in Heaven) would be cleansed after the 2,300 days expired.
He was not told, however, when the 2,300 evenings and mornings would begin. Now that we know that the 70 weeks are cut off from a specific time-period, then we can assume that this is the 2,300 day period, since there is only one time-period in Daniel 8. If we know that the 70 weeks are cut off from the 2,300 evenings and mornings, then both prophecies share the same beginning point.
The following sections give five reasons why I believe the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 are directly related to the 2,300 days in Daniel 8:
Daniel 8:13 asks four questions. Questions 1, 2 and 4 are answered with remarks that specify a number of days in Daniel 12. The third question dealing with the length of time the sanctuary will be surrendered (or desecrated) is immediately answered with a specific length of time, namely, 2,300 evenings and mornings in verse 14.
I should take just a moment here to describe the meaning of the desecration of the sanctuary. First, a person has to understand something about the sanctuary process. Each day of the year, the blood from sacrifices was placed on both of the altars.
The blood served as a record of sin. A beautiful picture begins to develop here dealing with the process of grace, because the guilt of sin was transferred away from individuals to the altars through blood. (Hebrews 9:22) The record of sin (blood on the altar), however, caused the sanctuary to be desecrated or defiled. On the annual Day of Atonement, the sanctuary was cleansed of the record of sin by sprinkling mixed blood on the Ark of the Covenant and the horns of the altars. (Leviticus 16: 15-21)
This illustration, being carried out in the earthly tabernacle shows that Heaven’s sanctuary remained in a desecrated (defiled) state because of the records of sin until the time for cleansing arrives (1844).
Nothing is said in Daniel 8 about the commencement of the 2,300 days. From the text, no event on Earth is associated with the commencement of this time-period. The only thing written about the terminus of the 2,300 days is the cleansing of the sanctuary (in Heaven).
Perhaps the absence of some event on Earth prevents many people from understanding this prophecy. (Human beings tend to view everything from Earth’s point of view instead of Heaven’s point of view.) However, Daniel 8:14 is not the only prophecy that has this problem.
The time, times and half a time in Daniel 7:25 is not marked by a beginning point either. However, we can determine the terminus of the 1,260 years by associating events in Heaven with events on Earth and calculate the beginning of the 1,260 years. So, sometimes, an ending date will work if no beginning event is present. However, for the 2,300 days, a beginning date is established with a decree mentioned in Daniel 9:24.
Now, let us discuss how we can determine that the 70 weeks and the 2,300 days share the same beginning date. Follow the logic: the 70 weeks are "cut off" from the commencement of the 2,300 days because the vision of Daniel 8 begins with the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.
The decree in Daniel 9:24 is given by the Persian king, Artaxerxes, in the seventh year of his reign. (Ezra 7) If the commencement of the 2,300 days is moved forward, then the 70-week prophecy cannot be "cut off" from the vision in Daniel 8 because Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. If you use a later date for the 70th week (A.D. 27 – 33), then the appearing and death of Messiah is not historically possible.
The second reason I believe the 70 weeks and 2,300 days are related is because a sanctuary is mentioned in Daniel 8:11. Speaking of the horn power, Daniel says, "It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily [sacrifice] from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low." Who is the great Prince of the host? Of course, it is Jesus. (1 King 22:19; Nehemiah 9:6) Where is the place of His sanctuary? The true sanctuary built by God and not by man is in Heaven. (Psalm 102:19; Hebrews 8:2)
Who will set himself up to be as great as Jesus at the appointed time of the end? None other than that stern-faced king, the ancient serpent, the devil. (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 8:25; 11:36) The devil’s goal during his physical appearing on Earth is to lead the world into complete rebellion against God, causing Christ’s daily intercession for individuals to end. (Hebrews 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Revelation 12:9)
How will the devil cause Christ’s sanctuary to be brought low? Remember, Christ sits at the right hand of the Father. This is His rightful place and it is a very exalted position. (Hebrews 1:13) However, through counterfeit miracles and gross deception, the devil will cause billions of people to believe that he (masquerading as God) has come from Heaven’s temple to dwell among men. Thus, the dwelling (or sanctuary) of Christ in Heaven will be made to appear as though it were on Earth.
Daniel 8:11 introduces the sanctuary in Heaven as a key element in this vision, but what does the sanctuary have to do with the story of the ram, goat and horn power? Essentially this: The horn power on Earth will stand in direct opposition to Christ, who ministers in Heaven’s temple.
To understand the actions of the horn power properly, you must first understand Christ’s work in Heaven’s temple. The truth about Daniel 8 unfolds beautifully when both sides of the controversy between Christ and Satan are seen for what they really are.
Then, how does the four-part question in verse 13 connect to this vision? Notice that the two angels are discussing items that are integral with this prophecy, although they are not addressed in this prophecy. This is why I said in the beginning of this article that Daniel 8 contains a unique key that connects several prophecies together.
The 2,300 days/years not only separate the ram and goat from the appearing of the horn power, but verse 14 also indicates that Christ has a timely work to do in Heaven’s temple before the horn power can appear. Another point may be new to many of you, but should be considered: As stated earlier, the 2,300 days and the 70 weeks run concurrently for 490 years.
IF the Jews had been willing to do all that God asked of them within the probationary period of 490 years, the remaining portion of the 2,300 days would have never been fulfilled. The longer, 2,300 day portion of the prophecy would not have been needed because "everlasting righteousness" would have been set up on Earth before A.D. 34.
This is why the phrase, "to seal up vision and prophecy" is placed in the same verse as the 70 weeks. (Daniel 9:24) In other words, if Israel had been faithful, the 2,300 days of Daniel 8 and the destruction of Jerusalem in Daniel 9 would never have been fulfilled. My study in the Old Testament indicates that God’s original intention was to establish His kingdom on Earth during the time of Christ, but only if the Jews had been prepared to receive Messiah. (See February 1997 issue of Day Star on the prophecies of Ezekiel.)
The beauty of God’s orderly and timely ways can be observed in the 70th week prophecy as it confirms the synchronism of the Jubilee calendar. We know the 70th week began in A.D. 27 and ended with A.D. 33. Christ died in the middle of the 70th week (a Wednesday year) in A.D. 30. So, we have complete harmony from the sum of several parts: First, from historical records, the decree of Ezra 7 was issued in 457 B.C. Second, from historical records, Jesus died in A.D. 30 – midway through the 70th week.
Third, the starting point for the 2,300 days is also 457 B.C. because the 70 weeks are "cut off" from the beginning of this time-period. Since the 70 weeks require the day/year principle, which comes from the Jubilee calendar, this means the 2,300 days must be reckoned on a day/year basis as well.
Last, we know the Old Testament sanctuary was cleansed only on the Day of Atonement. So, if we trace 2,300 years forward from 457 B.C., we reach 1844. Miller’s computation of the terminus of the 2,300 days was correct! However, what Miller failed to understand was that 2,300 years must expire before the horn power can appear. This is the same conclusion Scofield reached, but he misplaced the 2,300 days segment of time and missed the connection of the 2,300 days with the necessity of cleansing the temple in Heaven.
Many pastors claim that the Jubilee calendar ended at Calvary. If this were true, then the 70 weeks would have stopped at 69½ weeks instead of 70 full weeks. Further, if the Jubilee calendar was terminated in A.D. 30, at Christ’s death, then the 2,300 days did not reach fulfillment either, because without the operation of the Jubilee calendar, it is not possible to continue to reckon apocalyptic time in day/year units. (Rule 4)
The 70 weeks and 2,300 day prophecies are related in another way. The time period of 2,300 evenings and mornings refers to a span of 2,300 years because the day/year principle is operating under the Jubilee calendar. Ever since Creation, a day has been made up of an evening and a morning (Genesis 1) and of course, 2,300 evenings and mornings equal 2,300 days. During the operation of the Jubilee calendar, each day of the week equals one year.
In fact, the previous discussion about the 70 weeks revealed that God is reckoning time in Jubilee units. So, if the 70 weeks are reckoned as day/years, and history confirms this to be correct, then the 2,300 days must also be reckoned in day/years because they run concurrently. To be precise, the 2,300 day period amounts to 328 weeks and five days. If the time-period had been two years longer (2,302 days), the angel would have said, "after 329 weeks, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
However, the use of 2,300 days in Daniel 8 and 70 weeks in Daniel 9 is necessary since 2,300 days does not add up to 329 full weeks. Remember, God’s calendar calculates a week beginning with Sunday and ending with Sabbath. The 70 weeks began on a Sunday year (457 B.C.) and ended with a Sabbath year (A.D. 33). Isn’t that incredible! The 2,300 days also began with a Sunday year (457 B.C.), but ended with a Thursday year (1844) since we are calculating in days and not complete weeks.
The absence of a clearly stated starting point for the 2,300 days has left room for considerable discussion. The Millerites believed that the 70 weeks and the 2,300 days began simultaneously, but I believe there is a way to demonstrate this point conclusively. Although the subject of the seven seals is not presented here, the seven seals provide a confirming key. (See November 1995 issue of Day Star, pages 11-19.)
Briefly, this is how it adds up: The judgment scene in Daniel 7:9 began in 1798, at the end of the 1,260 years. When the Ancient of Day pronounces the restraining order in Heaven, the persecution of the saints by the little horn power ends. (See Daniel 7:21,22.)
If we calculate the beginning date for the cleansing of the sanctuary as 1844 (2,300 years after 457 B.C.), complete harmony exists from the sum of the prophetic parts. In 1798, Jesus was found worthy to receive the book sealed with seven seals and He began opening the seven seals at that time. The third seal (the rider on the black horse having the scales or balances) represents the proclamation of a pre-Advent judgment. This new concept in Christian doctrine developed in 1844.
I have found a prophetic mechanism to be true – when the time comes for the fulfillment of a prophecy, the understanding of that prophecy occurs. True to form, more than 60 prophetic expositors around the world came simultaneously to understand the general timing of 1844, although they did not correctly understand the purpose of 1844 until they were greatly disappointed. (The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, L.E. Froom, Vol. 3. pgs. 744-45, 1946)
My point, however, is that God actually accomplished His objective anyway. Now that 1844 has come and gone, there are people on Earth who can explain what Jesus is doing in Heaven’s temple!
Notice how the elements come together. The 70 weeks began in 457 B.C. (Daniel 9) and Jesus personally confirmed this date when he began His ministry in A.D. 27 and then died right on time in the middle of the 70th week – A.D. 30. The judgment scene in Daniel 7:9 began in 1798 because we find the power of the little horn is brought down by Napoleon in that year – this coincides with a restraining order by the Most High in favor of the saints.
Jesus was found worthy then to receive His kingdom (Daniel 7:13,14) and receive the book sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:7) If you will consider the idea that Jesus began opening the seals in 1798, the timing of the third seal complements 1844 because it represents the enlightenment that a pre-Advent judgment has begun. This new insight gives new understanding regarding the process going on in Heaven’s temple! Hebrews exposes the true temple that God erected, not man.
The opening of the third seal reveals God’s disclosure to man that Jesus was found worthy to serve in Heaven’s court as man’s High Priest. According to Daniel 7:13 Jesus was granted sovereign power in 1798 to conclude the Plan of Salvation. According to Leviticus 16, the High Priest was only found worthy to serve in the temple once a year, on the Day of Atonement. In 1844, His Royal Sovereignty (Jesus) began to review the books and determine the rewards of the dead.
The harmony of all these points demonstrates that the only logical time that the 2,300 days/years could begin is with the decree that starts the 70 weeks. Thus, the 70 weeks are "cut off" from the 2,300 years and three separate prophecies link together to confirm the timely operations within each other!
What is the surrender or desecration of the sanctuary? What is the cleansing (KJV) or reconsecration (NIV) of the sanctuary? What does the answer in Daniel 8:14 mean? ". . . It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (Daniel 8:14)
To begin with, what temple is being discussed? Is the angel talking about the nonexistent temple in Jerusalem (the temple in Daniel’s day was destroyed in 598 or 586 B.C.) or is the angel talking about the true temple in Heaven where Jesus serves as High Priest? (Hebrews 8:1-5) I believe the angel is talking about the sanctuary in Heaven, for it is the one and only true temple that exists at the appointed time of the end. Even to this day, God’s true temple is not in Jerusalem.
In short, the angel is saying that 2,300 years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, Heaven’s temple will begin to be restored. (The verb tense is future indicative. This means the action will begin after the 2,300 days have expired.)
Cleansing the Temple
See if this review helps. In Old Testament times, the record of sin was placed upon the horns of two altars via blood. Blood from the sacrifices was placed on the horns with each sacrifice, and through the shedding of blood, the guilt of sin could be transferred from the camp or individual to the temple. On the annual Day of Atonement, the horns were cleaned and the sanctuary was restored or reconsecrated. The parallel is this: In Heaven, as Jesus makes a determination regarding each case, the sins of a person are removed from the temple.
The sins are placed upon either the sinner’s head or Jesus will place them on the scapegoat, who is the devil, at the end of the 1,000 years. The point is that after reviewing a sinner’s life, the guilt of sin no longer remains in the temple of Heaven. This is the cleansing that the angel spoke of and the Heavenly judgment scene that Daniel saw in vision. (Daniel 7:10)
For an in-depth study on the services of the Sanctuary and its meaning, you may want to study "The Sanctuary" – Part Five from the Five Essential Bible Truths series.
Daniel 8 Summary
The vision of Daniel 8 reveals four things that are necessary for resolving the mysteries of other apocalyptic prophecies. First, this prophecy reveals that a great span of 2,300 solar years must occur between the ancient kingdoms of the Medes and Persians and the commencement of cleansing of Heaven’s temple. Second, this prophecy teaches that the coming horn power (the devil, masquerading as God) will occur during the appointed time of the end.
He will be brutal, evil and exceedingly powerful. From a human point of view, he will appear invincible, but "he will come to his end, but not by human power." Third, this prophecy is intimately connected to a new doctrine from Hebrews that associates Old Testament tabernacle services with Christ’s work in the Heavenly temple. Because of this connection, Daniel 8 is linked to the issue of worthiness that is indirectly presented in Revelation 5.
The point is that the High Priest in Old Testament times had to be found worthy on the Day of Atonement before he could proceed to cleanse the tabernacle. The parallel here is that Jesus had to be found worthy to do so in Heaven.
The issue of worthiness is resolved in Daniel 7:13,14 where Christ is found worthy to receive His kingdom in 1798 and in Revelation 5, where He is found worthy to receive the book sealed with seven seals.
Last, Daniel 8:24 summarizes this prophecy from my point of view by saying, "He [the horn power] will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people." These actions by the horn power are reiterated in Revelation 13:7: "He [the beast] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation."
Without doubt, the vision of Daniel 8 points to the appointed time of the end. The appearing of Antichrist during the appointed time of the end is presented in this prophecy for the benefit of those who will live during that time. There is no question about it, the world will face a very solemn contest in days to come.
As a matter of human interest, I have often wondered if Miller and Scofield had been our contemporaries and had as much information available to them as we do today, would they have reached the same conclusions on the 2,300 days that I have?