Section B: Prophets Speak Out
Christ warned His hearers that they would have to give account in the day of judgement of every idle word they spoke. Matthew 12:36. Paul also preached that there was a coming judgement. Similarly, Daniel was instructed about the judgement. In fact, he was shown the scene of the judgement in vision in Daniel 7:9-14. This topic deserves our closest scrutiny, for, as we shall see in this lesson, we are living today in the time of the judgement.
The vision of Daniel 8
Please read Daniel 8 and 9 through carefully. Notice that once again God revealed a portion of world history to Daniel, using fitting symbols of beasts. A ram with two horns represented Medo-Persia, and a he goat with a great horn represented Greece. After the battle between these two beasts, the great horn was broken and four others came up. We have already studied in Daniel 2 and 7 about these kingdoms and the four divisions arising out of the third kingdom, Greece. Daniel 7:6.
Now Daniel 8:9-12 goes one step further to show how, out of one of the four winds of heaven, another little horn arose, which “waxed exceeding great.” We studied in detail about this little horn as the anti-christian power in Lesson 9. Here the same power is shown again – papal Rome or the Roman Catholic Church.
In Daniel 8:13,14, the angel referred to the great apostasy which would be caused by the little horn, or the antichrist, by which the truth would be cast to the ground. Please read Daniel 8:12-14 carefully.
In Daniel 8:16-26, the angel Gabriel, called the angel of prophecy (Gabriel means “the man who stands before God”), explained to Daniel the meaning of the ram and the he goat as well as the work of the little horn, but he did not give any explanation of the 2,300 days of Verses 13, 14, 26. “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” Daniel 8:27.
Explanation of the 2,300 days (evenings and mornings) of Daniel 8:14; 9:22-27
From Daniel 9:1, it is apparent that several years passed before Daniel received another vision. The prophet was praying and interceding earnestly for his people when the angel Gabriel came flying to him. Daniel 9:20, 21. Immediately the angel began to speak about the time reckoning concerning that part in the vision of Daniel 8 about which the prophet had not received any interpretation. Here is the link between the vision and its interpretation. What follows is the explanation of this prophetic time period; it is the longest, most important prophecy in the Bible. Remember that in Daniel 8:17 the angel declared that the vision would be for the time of the end.
In Lesson 9, the key to understanding prophetic time was given – one day in prophecy is equal to one literal year. This key is applicable to all prophetic time periods.
According to Daniel 9:24, a portion of the 2,300 days was to be cut off; this period would reach to the coming of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem. 70 prophetic weeks is a period of 490 literal years (70 weeks times 7 days per week). These 490 years were to be fulfilled within the history of the Jewish nation. Because it is said that this period of 490 years was to be determined, or cut off, we can figure out when these 490 years began and from that establish the beginning point of the entire 2,300 years, which were to reach to the time of the end.
Beginning date of the 70 weeks
The angel of prophecy, Gabriel, was entrusted with the responsibility of explaining the beginning point of the 490 years. Thus we have no human calculation but the words of Heaven itself.
Please read carefully Daniel 9:25, 26. 7 weeks plus 62 weeks total 69 weeks, or a period of 483 years. The angel summed up (1) events to occur during these 483 years, (2) the rejection of the Messiah in the 70th week, and (3) the destruction of Jerusalem a few decades later by the Romans. All this was literally fulfilled.
The 70 weeks began at the date when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given. Jerusalem at that particular time lay in ruins. History records three such decrees. The first one was given by the Persian king Cyrus in B.C. 539. Only a few Jews heeded this command, and a second decree was given by Darius in B.C. 519. But the last one, which was effective, was given by Artaxerxes in B.C. 457, the seventh year of his reign. Ezra 6:14. Thus B.C. 457 is the beginning date of the 70 weeks, and also of the 2,300 days.
The time of the Messiah and the time of the end
In Daniel 9:24, 25, the 70 weeks are subdivided into three periods – 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. The first 7 weeks reached to B.C. 408, when Jerusalem was rebuilt, fulfilling the prophecy. The next subdivision – 62 weeks – reached to the appearance of the Messiah in A.D. 27. “Messiah” means “anointed one.” The anointing of Christ took place at His baptism in the Jordan. Matthew 3:16, 17. This was the first appearance of the Lamb of God, who carried the sins of the world.
Jesus was 30 years old at His baptism, although it was the year A.D. 27. It is a proven fact that the compiling of our Christian calendar began 3 years late, so in the year 1 of our time reckoning, Christ was already 4 years old. The 69 weeks, or 483 years, thus ended in A.D. 27.
The last week
Only one week remained to complete the 70 weeks. When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, an end was made of all Old Testament laws concerning sacrifices and offerings, which were only a shadow of reality. The Reality, Christ, had come; and therefore the shadow ceased.
“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Mark 15:38. This was Heaven’s sign that all ceremonial sacrifices were now fulfilled through the last week. A week in prophetic time is 7 literal years, so half of it is 3 1/2 years, after which He was crucified. This was the halfway mark of the 70th week. The crucifixion thus took place in A.D. 31, leaving 3 1/2 years to complete the 70 weeks. If we add 3 1/2 years to 31, we come to A.D. 34.
What happened in A.D. 34?
That year the 70 weeks (490 years) set apart for Israel ended, and the Jewish nation ceased to be the chosen people of God, because they had continually rejected the gospel. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was killed by the Jews. Acts 6,7. Paul, who became the apostle to the Gentiles, was converted. Acts 9. Through the scattering of the Christians as a result of persecution by the Jews, the gospel message was spread all over the earth among the Gentiles. From A.D. 34 on, the gospel was preached to the Gentiles. Acts 8:4. The first Gentiles received the Holy Spirit and were baptized. Acts 10. And the apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, made the decision to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46.
The Jews, by rejecting Christ as their Messiah, sealed up their own doom as the chosen people of God. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” was the judgement Christ had pronounced. Luke 13:34,35. The message went to the Gentiles. Christ in His church is no respecter of persons or nationalities. See Galatians 3:27, 28; Colossians 3:10, 11. The special probation and status of the Jewish nation had ended and 36 years later (A.D. 70), Jerusalem was destroyed.
The 1,810 years remaining
The remainder of the long period of 2,300 years, of which 490 years were determined, or cut off, was 1,810 years. Adding this to A.D. 34, we come to 1844. Thus the 2,300 years reach from B.C. 457 to A.D. 1844. The angel had declared that this vision would reach to the time of the end; thus this longest prophetic time period is a proof that in 1844 the time of the end had already begun. What happened at this time in history will be studied in Lessons 11 and 12.
“Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. After 1844, a work was to be done in the sanctuary. The earthly sanctuary, which had been built at God’s command, was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Since that time, there has not been a sanctuary upon the earth. In the following lesson we shall study the sanctuary and learn about its cleansing.
The heavy line represents the full 2,300 day/year period, the longest prophetic period in the Bible. Beginning in B.C. 457, when the decree was given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11-26; Daniel 9:25), seven weeks (49 years) are measured off to indicate the time occupied in this work of restoration. These, however, are a part of the sixty-nine weeks (483 years) that were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. Christ was anointed in A.D. 27, at His baptism. Matthew 3:13-17; Acts 10:38. In the middle of the seventieth week (A.D. 31), Christ was crucified, or “cut off,” which marked the time when the sacrifices and oblations of this week reached to A.D. 34, or to the stoning of Stephen and the great persecution of the church in Jerusalem which followed. Acts 7:59; 8:1. This marked the end of the seventy weeks, or 490 years, allotted to the Jewish people.
But the seventy weeks are a part of the 2,300 days; and as they (the seventy weeks) reach to A.D. 34, the remaining 1,810 years of the 2,300 – day period must reach to 1844, when the work of judgement, or cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, was to begin. Revelation 14:6,7. Then special light began to shine upon the whole sanctuary subject and Christ’s mediatorial or priestly work in it. (Click here to see the diagram)
Four great events, therefore, are located by this great prophetic period – the first advent, the crucifixion, the rejection of the Jewish people as a nation, and the beginning of the work of final judgement.