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Questions On Doctrine


Christ Pre-eminent in Daniel 8 and 9



Why do Seventh-day Adventists place so much stress upon the prophecies, especially of Daniel 8 and 9? Should we not rather center our emphasis and affection on Jesus Christ and on salvation through faith in Him? Are not the disappointed hopes of 1844 a rather shaky foundation upon which to base your expectation of the imminent coming of our Lord?


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 8:14.

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 of redemption.


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, unchanging


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.

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