The prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, which Seventh-day Adventists believe
to be inseparably tied together, are precious to us for the simple
reason that we understand their primary purpose to be the setting forth
of Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice, made on Calvary nineteen
centuries ago, and our mediating priest in heaven through the subsequent
centuries, preparatory to His coming again as the eternal King of kings
in supernal glory.
We believe that chapters 8 and 9 are inseparably related to each other,
in that they lead up to, and involve, respectively, the wondrous
preparatory events and glorious provisions of the first and second
advents of Jesus Christ our Lord. And to us these two advents form the
two interrelated centers, or foci, of God's
redemptive provisions for man.* They thus constitute the focal points of
time and eternity. To us there is no greater unfolding of the gospel
provisions in all the prophetic Word than is revealed here.
At the first advent the incarnate Son of God lived a matchless, sinless
life among men, as God's great servant and revealer, and as our example.
Then, as the Lamb of God, He died a vicarious, atoning, reconciling
death for a lost world (2 Cor. 5:19). And this tremendous redemptive act
took place in the "midst" of Daniel's prophesied seventieth
"week" of years.
This transcendent event certified before the entire universe the
integrity of the multiple promises of redemption in Christ. And it was
attested by His triumphant resurrection from the dead and His ascension
into heaven, where, as our great High Priest, He ministers in the
presence of God the benefits of the atonement made on Calvary. And we
believe that, according to promise and prophecy, He entered upon the
second, final, and judgment phase of that heavenly ministry when the
great span of the 2300 year-days ended in 1844, as foretold in Daniel
At the conclusion of His work as mediator, we understand that human
probation will end forever, with every case settled for eternity and
with the justice and righteousness of God vindicated before all the
created intelligences of the universe. This, we understand, will be
followed by Christ's second personal appearing, in
*At the first advent Christ offered Himself without spot unto God (Heb.
9:14), to purge our sins and reconcile us to God by His own atoning
death. This laid the foundation for all the redemptive provisions to
follow. And at the second advent He comes for the redemption of our
bodies (Rom. 8:23), and for the eternal removal of every vestige of the
consequences of sin. Around these two centers cluster His complete work
power and glory, to raise the righteous dead to immortality, and at the
same time to translate the righteous living (1 Cor. 15:51-54). Both
groups of the redeemed—those resurrected and those translated—will
then be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, evermore to be
with Him (1 Thess. 4:17).
That, to us, is the glorious tie—in and wondrous revelation of these
two chapters. They portray, and involve, the Lord's miraculous
incarnation, sinless life, divinely attested anointing, atoning death,
triumphant resurrection, literal ascension, mediatorial ministry—and
then His glorious return to gather His saints to be with Him
forevermore. This we conceive to be the very heart and fullness of the
gospel. That is why we love to dwell upon these prophetic chapters,
which set forth the two wondrous advents of our Lord, and their
inter-related aspects of redemption.
The intervening centuries of the Christian Era since the cross, now
nearing their fateful close, are here uniquely unfolded in prophetic
outline that we may understand the sequence of events, which are
anchored to an immovable beginning date. Thus we are enabled to know the
times, or latter days, in which we live in the outworking of God's great
plan of redemption for all men in all ages.
Prophecy is basically the revelation of the redemptive activity of God
in and through Jesus Christ. These chapters are therefore most precious
to us, as they form the prophetic keystone in the imposing arch of
complete and glorious salvation through Jesus Christ. This, to us, is
not honoring and loving Christ less, but is simply another revelation,
not too commonly stressed
today, of our incomparable Lord and Saviour. That is why we, as
Seventh-day Adventists, have such a deep interest and profound belief in
the majestic outline of the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9.
As to the second question—concerning the "disappointment" of
1844—we feel that these two chapters not only portray the events
leading up to the two advents, but that each was accompanied by a grave
initial misunderstanding and disappointment. The first was experienced
by the disciple band in connection with Jesus' death on the cross as the
Lamb of God. The other was experienced by those who expected the return
of their Lord in glory in 1844, and who then, like the disciples,
discovered their error of interpretation as to the event predicted. When
the disciples saw Jesus die on the cross, they were bitterly
disappointed. Their hopes were crushed, for they were persuaded that
Jesus was the promised Messiah, as attested by His anointing by the Holy
Spirit. They had heard Him declare that the prophetic "time"
for His appearance was "fulfilled" (Mark 1:15). Doubtless He
was referring to the close of the sixty-nine weeks of years and the
beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy. They had
witnessed His death at the specified time, but did not understand the
significance of His atoning sacrifice until after the resurrection.
Somehow, they had been unable to grasp the idea that He would be
"cut off" by violent death in the "midst" of that
final week of years of the great Messianic prophecy. They had thought He
would, at that time, restore the earthly kingdom to Israel, and that
they would share prominently in His glorious reign.
When, instead, He went to trial and rejection, and to death on Golgotha,
their hopes died with Him. And when they tenderly laid His bruised body
in the tomb, their hopes, they believed, were buried beyond recall.
But everything was changed when He rose triumphantly from His
sacrificial death. He Himself then unfolded to them all the prophecies
concerning His life and death and resurrection. After His ascension,
they sensed that their great disappointment in His death at the
appointed time—as well as His resurrection, and ascension to minister
as heavenly priest for man—was all of God's appointment. And this
sequence of redemptive events was indeed the foundation upon which the
Christian church itself was built. The time was correct, but the
anticipated event—the setting up of the kingdom of glory—was wrong.
Christ was not at that time to take the throne, but was instead to
suffer death as our atoning sacrifice, and then as our mediating priest,
to minister that sacrifice in heaven for man. Not until the appointed
end of the age was He to return as conquering king. All then became
clear, simple, and reasonable. It was simply the outworking of the
immutable purpose of God, fully foretold by the prophets of old.
Similarly, we believe that the Advent band of 1844, with eyes fixed on
another "time" feature—the end of the related 2300
year-days—mistakenly looked for Christ to appear at that time as King
of kings and Lord of lords, to take the throne and reign forevermore.
But such an expectation was similarly without warrant, either in promise
or in prophecy. Christ, our mediating heavenly priest, was simply to
enter at the
appointed time upon the final, or judgment, phase of His twofold
priestly ministry, indicated by the cleansing, vindicating, or
justifying judgment feature that marks the close of the 2300
years—before His coming as King of kings in power and great glory. And
this coming we understand, will not take place until after the close of
human probation and the end of Christ's priestly ministry.
The disappointment of the Advent believers of 1844 was, we believe, in a
sense analogous to the disappointment of the disciples in their
expectation that Christ would set up His kingdom at His first advent.
They were both correct on their respective time emphasis, as based on
the fulfillment of prophetic time periods, but were both totally wrong
as to the event to take place. Nevertheless, God's great plan of
complete redemption through Jesus Christ moved on toward its majestic
close, meticulously fulfilling each of the multiple predictions, which
have been carried out without deviation, in accordance with God's
eternal purpose in Christ.
We do not consent, therefore, that the Adventist Church simply sprang
out of a mistaken concept on the part of multiplied thousands, scattered
all through the leading churches of the Old World and the New, regarding
the imminence of the second advent, any more than we admit that the
apostolic church grew out of the mistaken concept of events that marked
the first advent of Christ.
In both cases the transient human misconception was but a passing
incident, which quickly gave way to those enduring foundation truths
that constituted the
occasion of, and afford the full justification for, the developments
that followed. In each instance it resulted in a clearer understanding
of our Lord and His redemptive work for man.
An emphasis on time was justifiable in each case, for the prophetic Word
had indicated that something of great importance was about to take
place. In each instance the truth was beclouded by human misconception.
But the initial disappointment was speedily followed by clarifying
light. In each episode, despite mistaken initial expectations, a
tremendous fulfillment had actually taken place in the wondrous
outworking of Christ's redemptive activity for man.
Thus it was that early error over the order of events was soon
superseded by abiding knowledge and truth. The brief initial mistake of
each group was quickly supplanted by a clear understanding of God's
purpose. Confusion over the sequence of events in God's unfolding plan
of redemption was soon clarified by a clear grasp of the divine outline
of God's perfect plan of redemption. The faith of Adventism is therefore
anchored in the perfection of God's revealed plan and purpose, not in
the imperfection of man's knowledge and understanding.
Our hope and expectation is built on divine certainties, not on human
frailties. It is founded on the established facts of divine revelation,
not on a transient human misapplication. It is based upon the
undeviating, sovereign purpose of God, not on the faulty, limited
concepts of man. Such is the solid foundation of our advent hope and
expectation. That is where we place the emphasis—on God's omnipotent,
faithfulness, not on man's faltering limitations. We do not censure the
apostles for their mistake, for we see the hand of God behind it all,
leading them out of the dark. Nor do we censure our own forefathers, for
again we see the hand of God leading through their early disappointment.
What at first was a terrible embarrassment, quickly became a movement
marked by the blessing of Heaven.
This, then, is our faith: Christ has been moving forward from phase to
phase in His all-encompassing work for the redemption of sin-alienated,
lost mankind. Not one feature, or provision, has failed, or will fail.
Our hope and our triumph are wholly in Him.