by Roy Gane
Part VII: Appointment With God
O'Grady also needed to be ready at the right time. He could not see the planes when they met each other, but he was ready to meet the Marine helicopters when they landed. It only took him a few seconds to get on board. If he had been off somewhere else wandering around and not paying attention, his rescue would have been much more difficult.
Timing is important for us in our daily lives. Missing an appointment is not a pleasant experience. When I was a college student in California, I did miss an appointment. I was practicing the piano at my parents' home and received a phone call informing me that I was supposed to be on the platform to speak at a student worship service held in a chapel on campus. The program had already started. I told the person calling to have the students sing some more songs and I would be there right away.
I jumped in my '67 Saab, but it wouldn't start! So I ran down the street, through a trail in the woods, and up across campus. When I arrived, flustered and sweaty, the students were leaving the chapel. They had given up on me. They had been in the right place at the right time, but I had not. I was so upset with my car that I got it running and promptly sold it.
Christ keeps His appointments. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom 5:6). The "right time" was the time of the Passover festival. Christ was symbolized by the Passover lamb, so He was slain at Passover when the lamb was slain (Jn 19:14). He also rose from the dead as the "first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20) at the right time: on the day after the Sabbath following Passover, when an Israelite priest offered a first fruits offering to God (Lev 23:11).
The Holy Spirit keeps His appointments. He came upon Christ's followers with mighty power so that there was a great "harvest" of conversions on the festival day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which celebrated the beginning of the wheat harvest (Lev 23:16-20).
Christ's death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit happened on the days when the sanctuary festivals that pointed forward to these events took place. In each case a sanctuary symbol and the historical event that it predicted came together on the same day.
In each case the historical event began something that continued after that. Christ's death made provision for our ongoing atonement. When He was raised from the dead He continued to live. The Spirit poured out at Pentecost did not come to visit for only one day; He came to stay, beginning an era in which God's people are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13)
What about the judgment that is represented by the cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement? In light of the way in which Passover, the wave sheaf, and Pentecost were fulfilled, we could expect the Day of Atonement judgment to come or at least begin on the tenth day of the seventh month, when the Day of Atonement was observed at the sanctuary. If so, can we know the year in which this would happen?
In the next chapters we will answer the question of the year. But before we put forth the effort to get into that, we can ask: So what? What difference does it make whether we know the time of the judgment or not? Christ told us to live godly lives in preparation for His return any time (Matt 24:42). So why should we know when the judgment begins?
The short answer to this question is: So that we might participate in the judgment event. God told the Israelites exactly when the Day of Atonement began so that they could be ready for it:
Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves... and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God... It shall be to you a sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath (Lev 23:27, 28, 32).
This passage from Leviticus 23 focuses on what the Israelites were to be doing when the high priest was in the sanctuary, making atonement on their behalf. They were to acknowledge what was being done for them by practicing self-denial (fasting, etc.) and by not working. If they did not have this experience of humbling themselves before God and concentrating on what He was doing for them, they would lose the benefit of atonement.
The Israelites had an appointment with God on the Day of Atonement. They needed to know when the day began so that their experience would be appropriate for what was happening. Nobody could see the high priest when he was in the sanctuary cleansing the most holy place and the holy place (Lev 16:17). But the Israelites knew when to practice self-denial and to abstain from work because God told them: from the evening of the ninth day of the seventh month to the evening of the tenth day (Lev 23:27, 32).
The ancient Israelites were to participate in the Day of Atonement at a particular time when the high priest was cleansing the sanctuary on their behalf. This indicates that people who live at the time of God's judgment should also participate in the event when Christ, our High Priest, cleanses God's heavenly sanctuary. If so, how can we know when to have this experience? Just as the Israelites could not take their cues by physically watching their high priest, so we cannot literally see what Christ is doing in the heavenly sanctuary.
We can only know when God's judgment begins if He tells
us the date. God controls the timing.
In Daniel 8:14, God tells us when the judgment begins: "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."
The expression "restored to its rightful state" could also be translated: "justified." This is a good way to describe a judgment that was foreshadowed by the ancient Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, the sanctuary was justified, meaning that God was cleared from any possible charges of injustice.
The judgment to which the Day of Atonement pointed is to begin at the end of 2,300 evenings and mornings (Dan 8:14). How do we arrive at a date for the end of this period? Our first clue is found in Daniel 8:13, the previous verse: "Then I heard a holy one speaking, and a holy one said to the one who spoke, 'Until when is the vision: the regular (worship), and the giving of the desolating transgression, and a sanctuary, and the trampling of a host?'" (my translation). The answer to this question is the 2,300 evenings and mornings (verse 14). During this period there would be problems such as "the desolating transgression." But the problems would be solved when the sanctuary would be cleansed.
The problems to which Daniel 8:13 refers in abbreviated fashion are described more fully in verses 9-12:
Out of one of them came another horn, a little one, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land. It grew as high as the host of heaven. It threw down to the earth some of the host and some of the stars, and trampled on them. Even against the prince of the host it acted arrogantly; it took the regular burnt offering away from him and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. Because of wickedness, the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offering; it cast truth to the ground, and kept prospering in what it did.
Who is the "little horn?" The Hebrew of verse 9 refers to it as "a horn from littleness" (my translation). That is, it begins little. But it grows to become a big horn. We could call it "the little big horn." Daniel uses this symbol to refer to a power that does certain things. If we can identify it, we will have a better idea of when the 2,300 evenings and mornings end (Dan 8:13-14).
The "little horn" arises after a succession of powers. A ram with two horns (verses 3-4) represents the kings/kingdom of Media and Persia (verse 20), which captured Babylon in 539 B.C. and dominated the Middle East for two centuries. A male goat with one horn, which smashed the ram (verses 5-7), represents the king/kingdom of Greece, and its horn stands for the first king (verse 21). This king must be Alexander the Great, who conquered the Medo-Persian empire in the 330s B.C. When he died, his kingdom was split into four Greek/Hellenistic kingdoms, represented by four horns in Daniel 8:8, 22. The four kingdoms were: Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Syria, Attalid Pergamum, and Antigonid Macedonia.
The "little horn" arises at the end of the rule of the four Greek kingdoms (Dan 8:23), and comes from one of the four winds/directions toward which Alexander's empire was divided. We read in Daniel 8:8-9: "... the great horn was broken, and in its place there came up four prominent horns toward the four winds of heaven. Out of one of them came another horn, a little one." The "four winds" refer to the four directions of the compass, as shown by comparison with Jeremiah 49:36.
English translations of Daniel 8:8-9 allow for the possibility that the "little horn" comes out of one of the four Greek horns, but this is ruled out by the Hebrew syntax. The Hebrew word for "them" in "Out of one of them" is masculine in grammatical gender. But the word for "horn" in "the great horn was broken" is feminine. The same feminine word for "horn" is understood/supplied in "four prominent (horns)," even though "horns" does not actually appear in the Hebrew text at this point. In Hebrew, a pronoun such as "them" agrees in gender with the word to which it refers. Because "them" is masculine, it cannot refer to the four horns, which are grammatically (not biologically) feminine. Trying to interpret "them" as the four horns creates what we could call a "gender bender." However, "one (feminine) of them (masculine)" precisely matches the combination of genders in "winds (most often feminine) of heaven (masculine)."
It may appear strange that the "little horn" simply arises from one of the four winds/directions rather than from the head of an animal (compare Dan 7:7-8; 8:3, 5). But this is symbolic prophecy in which elements such as "horns" represent things. Because such elements are symbols rather than material realities, they are not limited by constraints operating in the material world. Thus the "little horn" can grow horizontally in several different directions and vertically up toward heaven (8:9-10). Notice that interpreting the "little horn" as originating from one of the four horns, which is already ruled out by the Hebrew syntax, would also be strange in terms of the material world because horns do not sprout out of other horns.
In Daniel 8 the "little horn" is distinct from the four Greek kingdoms and supersedes them. Its power is on the rise when theirs is falling. As it expands, it grows "exceedingly great" (verse 9) as Alexander's united Greek empire had (verse 8).
There is only one power that arose at the end of Greek rule and conquered a great empire as Alexander had: Rome. So the "little horn" causing the problems that are solved when the sanctuary is cleansed must be Rome. Therefore, the cleansing of the sanctuary comes at the end of the period of Roman domination.
Many scholars claim that the "little horn" represented the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ruled the Greek kingdom of Syria, one of the four divisions of Alexander's empire, from 175 B.C. to 164/3 B.C. According to the first chapter of the apocryphal book of First Maccabees, Antiochus interrupted and profaned Jewish worship practices in Jerusalem, including regular sacrificial worship at the temple. Since the writer of 1 Maccabees regarded the erection of an idol above the altar at this time as the desolating abomination prophesied by Daniel (1 Macc 1:57; compare Dan 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), he clearly viewed Antiochus as Daniel's "little horn."
There is no question that Antiochus was evil and opposed to God, and he certainly did some things that the "little horn" of Daniel would do. But does that make him the "little horn"? Hitler was like Napoleon in that he was a European conqueror who invaded Russia. But Hitler was not Napoleon. Hitler arose at a different time and place and did things that Napoleon did not do, such as carry out genocide against the Jews.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled over one of the four branches of Alexander's empire: Syria. He was in the middle of the line of Seleucid kings who ruled Syria. Unlike the "little horn" of Daniel 8, he did not arise at the latter end of the rule of the four Greek kingdoms and establish a powerful new empire that replaced them.
Antiochus did attempt to enlarge his empire toward the south and east. He had some initial successes, but for the most part he failed to accomplish his objectives: He was turned out of Egypt by Rome, he lost Palestine to the Jews, and he died while fighting in the East, unable to subdue the Parthians. Antiochus does not fit the description of the "little horn" in Daniel 8:9 because his kingdom did not greatly expand under his rule.
Antiochus profaned the temple for three years and ten days. Scholars try to fit this length of time with the 2,300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8:14, which are literally "2,300 evening morning" in Hebrew, by saying that Daniel refers to 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices, which took place in 1,150 days, two sacrifices per day. 1,150 is a couple of months longer than three years and ten days, but it is regarded as close enough.
The interpretation of time just described does not work. For one thing, "evening morning" cannot refer to morning and evening sacrifices because the order is wrong. If Daniel had meant morning and evening, he would have said it that way.
In Daniel 8:14, "2,300 evening morning" is an abbreviation for "2,300 evenings and 2,300 mornings." Compare verse 26, which speaks of "the evenings and the mornings," that is, the 2,300 evenings and 2,300 mornings. This refers to 2,300 full days, just as "the forty days and the forty nights" (Deut 9:25; my translation) refers to 40 full day (24 hour) periods. If Daniel had wanted to speak of 1,150 days, he would have used the number 1,150. 2,300 days is well over six years, more than twice as long as the time during which Antiochus profaned the temple.
In harmony with the conclusion that Antiochus did not fulfil the prophecy of the "little horn," Jesus predicted that the desolating sacrilege/abomination set up by the "little horn" (Dan 8:11-13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) would appear after His time on earth:
"So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains" (Matt 24:15-16; compare Mk 13:14).
If Antiochus is not the "little horn," what about Titus, the Roman general and later emperor who destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D., a few decades after Jesus' ministry on earth ended? This identification is ruled out by the fact that the Jerusalem temple was not rebuilt after this destruction, let alone cleansed or justified (contrast Dan 8:14).
Daniel saw his vision just before the Medo-Persian empire took over. For him the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of the 2,300 evenings and mornings was far in the future, at the end of Roman power in "the appointed time of the end" (Dan 8:19): "The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now" (verse 26).
The 2,300 evenings and mornings (verse 14) are stated in answer to the question: "Until when is the vision: the regular (worship), and the giving of the desolating transgression, and a sanctuary, and the trampling of a host?" (my translation). The vision began with the ram that stands for Medo-Persia (verses 1-3). The question is: How long does the period of time represented in the vision last? Daniel emphasizes here the latter part of the vision, which depicts the activity of the "little horn." How long is the vision that includes all those shocking activities with regard to the regular (worship) and so on?
The answer is: 2,300 evenings and mornings. So the vision lasts from Medo-Persia until the end of Rome, a time period that covers centuries. This is many times longer than 2,300 literal days.
God has an "appointed time" for the events in the vision
(Dan 8:19), including the cleansing of His sanctuary, but we
have come to the end of Daniel 8 and we do not yet have a
date for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The explanation
seems incomplete. If we are perplexed, so was Daniel: "So I,
Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I arose
and went about the king's business. But I was dismayed by the
vision and did not understand it" (Dan 8:27). Daniel needed
more information, and he has told us in the next chapter of
his book (Dan 9) how God provided it.
This prophecy should have made Daniel happy. The seventy years were coming to an end and Babylon had just been defeated by the Medes and Persians. Babylon was the enemy of God's people that had destroyed the temple and Jerusalem and taken captive the inhabitants of Judah. With the end of Babylon, Daniel should expect the restoration of God's people, right?
Wrong! Daniel had recently received the vision of Daniel 8, which showed the battle of the little big horn, which would attack God's people. Their distress would not be relieved for a long time. This explains why Daniel was upset. Babylon had ended, Medo-Persia had begun, and this was only the beginning of a succession of oppressors. The worst times for God's people were still to come.
Daniel 9 records a long and beautiful prayer of Daniel in which he confesses the sin of his people and pleads for deliverance for them and restoration of Jerusalem and the temple (verses 4-19). God heard Daniel's prayer and sent the angel Gabriel to give Daniel a "word" and to help him "understand the vision." (verses 21-23). What vision? There is no vision in Daniel 9. This must refer to the vision of Daniel 8. Gabriel had earlier explained to Daniel the vision of chapter 8 (see 8:16-17) and now he had returned to give Daniel more information regarding that vision.
The additional information is as follows:
"Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator" (Dan 9:24-27).
Here a time period was given specifically for Daniel's people, the Jews. It was the Jews who were Daniel's concern. He was worried because he thought the 2,300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8:14 meant that the Jews would not be freed from oppression and have their temple restored until far in the future, in the time of the end (see 8:19). But Gabriel was telling him that restoration for the Jews would happen sooner than that. Within "seventy weeks" Jerusalem would be rebuilt and "an anointed prince," the Messiah, would come.
Daniel 9:25 gives the beginning point for the "seventy weeks": "from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem." The book of Ezra records three words/decrees of Persian kings that went out to provide restoration for the Jews after their captivity. The first was that of Cyrus. His decree allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and provided for the rebuilding of the temple there (Ezra 1:2-4; see also 6:3-5), but it did not deal with restoration of the city of Jerusalem itself. A second decree, this time by Darius, was similar in that it showed concern only for rebuilding the temple (Ezra 6:6-12). So the "seventy weeks" did not begin with either of the first two decrees.
As a result of the decrees of Cyrus and Darius, some Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple before Ezra and his group arrived there from Babylonia (Ezra 6:13-22). But the city of Jerusalem, including its walls and gates, still lay in ruins (Neh 1:3; 2:3, 13, 17).
A third decree, issued by Artaxerxes, was addressed to Ezra (Ezra 7:13-26) and equipped him to make provision for the services of the temple (verses 15-24). But this decree included an additional element. Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra to "make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem" (verse 14) and he authorized Ezra to appoint magistrates and judges (verses 25-26). Thus Artaxerxes gave Ezra civil authority in Jerusalem.
Artaxerxes' decree was the first to express concern for the city of Jerusalem and to provide some restoration of Jewish self-governance there, subject to Persian rule. The next major step in the restoration of Jerusalem was the rebuilding of the city walls. This was accomplished a few years later under the leadership of Nehemiah (Neh 2:17-7:4), who was sent to Jerusalem by Artaxerxes (Neh 2) and appointed governor of Judah (5:14). Jerusalem was repopulated and the city walls were dedicated (Neh 11-12).
The restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish nation was a process that involved Ezra and Nehemiah. This process began with Artaxerxes' decree, a copy of which went out with Ezra to Jerusalem in the seventh year of the king's reign (Ezra 7:7-8, 11-13). Investigation of ancient documents dated to the reign of Artaxerxes has shown that his seventh year was 457 B.C. (Siegfried H. Horn and Lynn H. Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7 [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953, 1970], pp. 115, 127). So the "seventy weeks" of Daniel 9 must have begun in 457 B.C.
Now we are faced with a dilemma. The "seventy weeks" began during the Persian era and were to include the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah. How could all that happen in seventy weeks, that is, 490 days?
Leviticus 25 provides the solution. For the Israelites, a week could be a week of years in which the seventh year was a "Sabbath" of rest for the land, meaning that the land would not be cultivated in the seventh year (verses 2-4; compare Exod 23:10-11). At the end of seven Sabbaths/weeks of years, the Jubilee year of freedom was to come for Israelites who had fallen into debt slavery or who had lost their land (Lev 25:8-10).
Leviticus 25 speaks of seven weeks of years before freedom would come for individual Israelites. Daniel 9 speaks of "seventy weeks" for the Israelite nation to be freed from sin: "to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place" (verse 24). The parallel is unmistakable. The "seventy weeks" are a large-scale Jubilee period: seventy weeks of years, that is, 490 years.
The fact that the "seventy weeks" represent a period leading up to a Jubilee is reinforced by Daniel 9:25, which refers to a period of "seven weeks." This is like the "seven weeks of years" leading up to a Jubilee in Leviticus 25:8. So within the large Jubilee period of "seventy weeks" of years there is a smaller Jubilee period of "seven weeks" of years, that is, 49 years.
We already know that the "seventy weeks" = 490 years began in 457 B.C. Taking into account the fact that there was no zero year between B.C. and A.D. time, 490 years from 457 B.C. is 34 A.D. A simple way to figure this with a calculator is to punch in 490, subtract 457 (B.C. years.) and you get 33 (A.D.). This calculation includes the number zero. But there was no year zero. So the period of 490 years stretches one year longer than your calculation indicates. Add a year at the end to compensate for that and you get 34 A.D. By 34 A.D., at the end of the 490 years, the Jews were to have freedom from sin (Dan 9:24).
Daniel 9:25-26 tells us that the Messiah would come after seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, that is, after sixty-nine weeks. This is just one week of years (= 7 years) before the end of the seventy weeks of years. Sixty-nine weeks of years equals 483 years. Start in 457 B.C. and go forward 483 years, without a zero year, and you get 27 A.D. According to Daniel, the Messiah was supposed to come in 27 A.D.
Luke 3 indicates that Christ kept His appointment! Verse 1 tells us that John the Baptist began baptizing in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius..." Jesus was baptized by John at that time and the Holy Spirit identified Him as God's beloved Son. Then Jesus began His ministry (Lk 3:21-23). So the Messiah made His public appearance in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.
Having already been installed as co-ruler with Augustus in the Roman provinces, Tiberius took over as emperor when Augustus died on August 19 in the year 14 A.D. Luke probably followed the usual Jewish method of dating at that time, which counted the first year of a king's reign as the portion of the year coming before the first New Year's Day of his reign. New Year's Day was the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri, in the autumn about mid-October. So the time between August 19 and mid-October of 14 A.D. would have been regarded as Tiberius' first year.
Tiberius' second year would have been the Jewish civil year running from mid-October of 14 A.D. to mid-October of 15 A.D. Continuing in this way, Tiberius' fifteenth year would have lasted from the autumn of 27 A.D. to the autumn of 28 A.D.
According to Luke, Jesus was baptized and began His ministry in Tiberius' fifteenth year, which would have been the Jewish civil year 27/28 A.D. The end of Daniel's 483 years was 27 A.D., falling within the range of Tiberius' fifteenth year. So the Messiah appeared when Daniel said He would.
Rather than setting up a political kingdom by freeing the Jews from domination by the Romans, Christ was "cut off" and had "nothing." The city of Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, just as Gabriel had told Daniel (Dan 9:26).
The end of Daniel 9:27 is ominous. After the Messiah would make a strong covenant with many and make the sacrifice and offering cease, the sacrifice and offering would be followed by false worship: "...an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator."
What is this about "an abomination that desolates"? Haven't we heard about something like that before in the vision of Daniel 8:11-13? Daniel 9:27 refers us to the rest of the story, which we already know from Daniel 8. After the sacrifices of the Jewish temple had ceased and Christ was already ministering in heaven, the Roman "little horn" would put some kind of earthly false worship in place of the earthly sacrifices that Christ had made to cease. This would be arrogant defiance of Christ, who had moved the focus of true worship to heaven. But the "little horn" would lose its power and at the end of the 2,300 evenings and mornings the sanctuary would be cleansed (Dan 8:14).
Now we know several important things. First, the sanctuary that is cleansed at the end of the 2,300 evenings and mornings must be the sanctuary in heaven, where Christ is ministering. It cannot be the earthly temple, which was destroyed in 70 A.D. Second, the 2,300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8 and the 490 years of Daniel 9 both begin in the time of the Medo-Persian empire. Third, the vision of Daniel 8 reaches beyond the 490 years, through a time when Rome would set up false worship and to a time when God would solve this problem. So the 2,300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8:14 must be a longer time period than 490 years.
If "seventy weeks" in Daniel 9 refers to 490 years rather than 490 days and if the 2,300 evenings and mornings are longer, the latter period must represent 2,300 years rather than 2,300 days.
Since Daniel 9 elaborates on the first phase of the vision of Daniel 8, which has to do specifically with the Jews, it is clear that the 490 years overlap the first part of the 2,300 years. Of the 2,300 years, the first 490 are particularly relevant for the Jews.
No beginning point is given in Daniel 8 for the 2,300 evenings and mornings, but a beginning point is given in Daniel 9 for the "seventy weeks," the first phase of the 2,300 years. We know that the vision of Daniel 8 also begins in the Medo-Persian period, and it makes sense that the beginning of the 2,300 evenings and mornings is the same as the beginning of the 490 years.
The 490 years reached forward to the time when Christ began His first phase of atonement: mediation. The 2,300 years reach forward to the time when Christ begins His second phase of atonement: judgment.
The language of Daniel 9:24 agrees with the idea that the 490 years and the 2,300 years start at the same time. The verse begins: "Seventy weeks are decreed..." The Hebrew word translated "decreed" here is not used elsewhere in the Bible. However, in rabbinic Hebrew literature the word is fairly common, most often with the basic meaning "cut." Things that were "cut" were usually parts of animals, but a verse could also be "cut" into two verses. The word could also have the extended meaning "decide/decree" (Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature [New York: The Judaica Press, Inc., 1975], p. 513). In those days a decision in a legal case or a government decree was regarded as something that was "cut," just as people today "cut a deal."
The Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:24 was ideal for Daniel's purpose because both of its meanings apply: The seventy weeks were "cut off" for the Jewish people from the beginning of the 2,300 years and they were "decided/decreed" for the Jewish people.
Since the 490 years began in 457 B.C., the 2,300 years also began in 457 B.C. Now that we have a beginning date, we can easily figure out when the heavenly sanctuary is supposed to be justified according to Daniel 8:14. Going forward 2,300 years from 457 B.C., without a zero year, we come to 1844 A.D. The judgment comes, or at least begins, in 1844.
1844! That is long after the fall of Rome. The western part of the Roman empire fell in the fifth century A.D. So why would Daniel make it look as though the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844 would solve the problems caused by Rome?
The end of the Roman empire was not the end of Roman power. In 538 A.D. the church of Rome gained effective religious control of what had been the western part of the Roman empire. This religious control involved enormous political power.
The Roman church developed and used its power to dominate Europe during the Middle Ages. During this time, church leaders made kings tremble and tried to wipe out all who opposed their decrees. Hundreds of thousands, or more probably millions, perished in persecutions and religious wars.
The Reformation in the sixteenth century reduced Roman power. But it was not until 1798 that the political power of the Roman church was brought to an end by Napoleon through his general, Berthier.
Now it makes more sense why the heavenly sanctuary would be cleansed in 1844, not long after 1798. The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary would solve problems created by the church of Rome.
Daniel 8:11-13 and 9:27 predicted the kinds of problems caused by the Roman church: The Roman "little horn" put earthly worship in place of the earthly sacrifices that Christ had made to cease. This was defiance of Christ, who had moved the focus of true worship to heaven. The Roman church set up earthly priests through whom people had to gain forgiveness, rather than directly through Christ (see Hebrews 7-10), and it made the Christian communion service into a sacrifice officiated by a priest. Christ is the only "ladder" or "bridge" between heaven and earth (see Jn 1:51), but the Roman church claimed this function.
If the Roman church has been so out of harmony with God, how does it affect God's sanctuary/reputation at all? As we found earlier, the Israelite sanctuary represented God's name/reputation, which was affected by the actions of His chosen people and those who lived in the land that He had given them. Even in cases of illegitimate defilement, the Israelite sanctuary was only affected by sins that were committed by Israelites or resident aliens living in the land of Israel (Lev 20:2-3; Num 19:10-13). These were the people who received the benefit of the daily rituals at the sanctuary and who were associated with the name of God. Compare the fact that those who are connected with a modern religious, political, or business organization can affect its reputation. Similarly, Christians who take the name of Christ are at least in name a chosen people of God (1 Pet 2:9) and therefore their actions affect the name/reputation of the Lord in His heavenly sanctuary. The church of Rome is a Christian organization that began with true faith in the days of the apostles. Because it is associated with the name of Christ, its actions affect God's reputation.
The cleansing of the sanctuary solves the problems caused by the Roman church. Like the ancient Day of Atonement, the cleansing of the sanctuary is a judgment that demonstrates God's justice by separating people who are disloyal to God from those who are loyal. Furthermore, the cleansing of the sanctuary draws attention upward to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ is ministering on our behalf.
In the course of attempting to learn the time and nature of the judgment in the book of Daniel, I have been unable to avoid following the lines of evidence in Daniel that identify the "little horn." These lines point to the same thing, as in the saying, "all roads lead to Rome." I challenge readers to examine the evidence for themselves. The Bible commends people who heard new ideas and then "examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). The Roman Church we are talking about is a system of dogma, organization, and policy. Christ has sincere believers in this and every other communion, as Jesus said: "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd" (Jn 10:16).
Just as God gave the Israelites the time when the Day of
Atonement began so that they could participate in the event,
God gave His people the time when the end-time judgment
begins. Surprise! This time is already in the past: 1844.
Our confidence is increased when we see that Daniel's predictions regarding world events have been fulfilled with remarkable accuracy. Already in Daniel 2 there is a succession of four great kingdoms, represented by a statue made of four metals, beginning with Babylon of gold and ending with an iron kingdom. In Daniel 7 there are also four kingdoms, symbolized by wild animals coming out of the sea. A blasphemous "little horn" power rises out of a terrifying fourth beast/kingdom (verses 7-8).
It is historically true that a succession of four great empires ruled the territory that included Daniel's homeland. Babylon was followed by Medo-Persia, which was conquered by the Greek/Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great. The Greek empire was replaced by a fourth power: the brutally strong Roman empire, out of which arose the church of Rome that dominated Europe during the Middle Ages.
Scholars who believe that Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek king of Syria, was the "little horn" interpret the four empires of Daniel as: Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece/Macedonia. In this way they can have Greece/Macedonia rather than Rome as the fourth empire in order to harmonize the Bible with the historical fact that Antiochus was Greek rather than Roman. The problem with this view is that Media and Persia followed Babylon as a combined empire rather than two successive empires. Cyrus combined Media and Persia before Babylon was conquered (compare Dan 5:28). This explains why Daniel 6 speaks of the law of the Medes and Persians (verses 8, 12, 15; compare Esth 1:19), indicating that the Medes and Persians shared one government.
Additional evidence against the idea that Media and Persia were separate is found outside the Bible in a Babylonian text referred to as the "Dynastic Prophecy." This text indicates from a Babylonian point of view the succession of empires that ruled the region of Babylon up through the beginning of the Greek/Macedonian period: Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Macedonia (A.K. Grayson, Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975], pp. 24-37). There was no separate Media between Babylon and Persia. So in Daniel 2 and 7, which begin with Babylon, the fourth empire must be Rome. This rules out Antiochus as the "little horn" in Daniel 7.
There is a difference between the way the "little horn" symbol is used in Daniel 7 as compared with Daniel 8. We found that in Daniel 8 the "little horn" represents Roman power, including both the empire and the church. In Daniel 7, however, the empire and church phases are clearly differentiated: The empire is represented by the fourth beast and the church is represented by the "little horn."
Why doesn't Daniel provide another animal for imperial Rome in chapter 8, as in chapter 7? Perhaps Daniel only wanted two animals in his symbolism: ram and goat. That this specific pair of animals is significant is indicated by the fact that they appear in Leviticus 16 as the sacrifices for cleansing the sanctuary on behalf of the non-priestly community on the Day of Atonement (in reverse order: goat and ram). The Day of Atonement is the only occasion in the entire sacrificial system where this pair of animals shows up. So it seems to be no accident that Daniel 8, which speaks of the cleansing of the sanctuary (verse 14), uses Day of Atonement animals.
Daniel accurately specified the manner in which the church of Rome would arise and the length of its domination.
I was considering the horns, when another horn appeared, a little one coming up among them; to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogantly (Dan 7:8).
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them. This one shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High, and shall attempt to change the sacred seasons and the law; and they shall be given into his power for a time, two times, and half a time (Dan 7:24-25).
Just as Daniel's vision predicted, the Roman church arose at the expense of three powers: the Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths. These barbarian nations were blocking the rise of the Roman church to political power. All three supported Arianism, a form of Christianity that was competing with the religion of the church of Rome.
The Heruli took over the city of Rome from the last emperor of the western Roman empire in 476 A.D. The Ostrogoths then attacked the Heruli, following the suggestion of Emperor Zeno of the eastern Roman empire. The leader of the Heruli surrendered in 493. The Vandals in North Africa were threatening the power of the Roman church in the West, so Emperor Justinian of the eastern empire sent an army under Belisarius that defeated the Vandals in 534.
The Ostrogoths had been driven from Rome, but they returned and besieged it in 537. However, Justinian sent another army, which broke the siege in 538. This was the end of Ostrogothic power as a serious threat to the church of Rome, even though the nation of Ostrogoths survived for a few years.
Justinian had decreed in 533 that the bishop of Rome should be head of all the churches in the West. This decree went into effect in 538, when the city of Rome was freed from the control of an Arian power for the first time since 476, when the last western emperor was deposed. So 538 was the true beginning of political power for the church of Rome. This power lasted for 1,260 years, until 1798.
Daniel predicted the 1,260 years in symbolic terms. In Daniel 7:25 "a time, two times, and half a time" adds up to three and a half times/years of domination by the "little horn." Revelation 12 explains this time period by referring to it in two different ways: "a time, and times, and half a time" (verse 14) and "one thousand two hundred sixty days" (verse 6). Three and a half years of 360 days each would equal 1,260 days.
1,260 days. We have already found that in the time prophecies of Daniel a week can be a week of years (Dan 9:24-27: 70 weeks) and a day can represent a year (8:14: 2,300 days). For this kind of relationship between days and years, see also Numbers 14:34 ("for every day a year") and Ezekiel 4:6 ("one day for each year"). It is clearly no coincidence that Daniel and John spoke of time periods equaling 1,260 days and the Church of Rome's political power just happened to last for 1,260 years. The day/year pattern applies here too. The predictions of Daniel and John were precise.
Daniel accurately prophesied world events reaching far beyond Bible times. Fulfillment of these events, which have happened during the 2,300 years as Daniel said they would, indicates that the 2,300 year time prophecy is also accurate.
We do not have proof that the judgment actually began in 1844, just as we do not have uncontested proof outside the Bible that Jesus died on the cross. What we have is evidence to give us faith that what the Bible writer said is true. Christ has kept His appointment with His people.