In the two chapters where the little horn appears, Daniel 8 and 9, it is helpful to see how Daniel himself relates to the evil beasts and to the evil little horn power. If we can look at these chapters not only from the standpoint of Daniel himself (as portrayed in the book), but also from the standpoint of all those who lived through a particular “abomination,” it can broaden our own horizons when interpreting the book.
For each of the following eras, ask how God’s people at that time applied the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9. In particular, one should ask which “sanctuary” believers understood to be the object of desecration at different points in history:
|586 BCE:||The sanctuary destroyed by Babylon, the only one known to Daniel himself. The biblical evidence is found in Daniel 8 and 9.|
|168/67 BCE:||The sanctuary defiled by Antiochus, clearly the one on the minds of the devout Jews who wrote 1 Maccabees 1:54-64 and 2 Maccabees 6:1-6.|
|70 CE:||The sanctuary destroyed by the Romans, the one in the mind of the Gospel writer: “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel…” (Matt. 24:15). This passage reveals that any application to Antiochus can at best be partial. The “real” one is still future. future.|
|1844 CE:||After the destruction of the earthly sanctuary, the only two serious choices remaining are the heavenly sanctuary, a conclusion held by Adventists, or a rebuilt Jewish sanctuary in Jerusalem on the Dome of the Rock, the conclusion held by dispensational futurists. Daniel states clearly that the message of Daniel 8 is for the time of the end (8:17, 10).|
|Questions:||Some may feel that the concept of “multiple applications” is too relativistic. Why is that? How do you see the biblical evidence for multiple applications? Is it strong, weak, perverse, shocking, unsettling? Explain.|
The Dark Day: Another biblical example. For Adventists, the “natural” signs which jarred the world in the 18th and 19th century were seen as fulfillments of prophecy: Lisbon Earthquake (1755), Dark Day (1780), and falling stars (1833). For an interesting study in “multiple applications,” check out the “sun, moon, and stars” theme in a concordance and see what those signs represent. Some applications of the “dark day” are particular striking: a grasshopper plague in Joel’s day, the events surrounding the crucifixion in Acts 2, and the application to the second coming in Revelation 6:12-17. Uriah Smith, in classic historicist style, applied the earthquake, dark day, and falling stars of vs. 12-13 to events in the 18th and 19th century. But the contextual interpretation clearly points to the second coming itself. Understanding how multiple applications work allows us to take a both/and approach rather than an either/or.