Guests: Dr. Janice McKenzie and Dr. Doug Thomsen
What are some of the most important turning points in the history of this world?
This lesson jumps back to Daniel 8 and 9, and relates the time-prophecies there to the three angels’ messages. The links between the two chapters are abundant, and there is no question that although the vision of Daniel 8 and the visit of the angel in Daniel 9 may be separated by some time, they are literarily and thematically bound. The real shame in the lesson is that it doesn’t return to Daniel 2 and 7 also to build a stronger historicist foundation. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar dreams that the future of kingdoms broadly, from his day until God sets up His kingdom, can be likened to an image, an idol. Power for Nebuchadnezzar was something to worship; this is a warning for us today! The nations depicted there: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and divided nations retaining Rome’s influence, are shown again in ch. 7. Only this time, Daniel has the vision, and the kingdoms are represented by powerful predatory animals. For Daniel, all these nations preyed on small nations like Israel, and each would have significant influence and control over God’s people. This isn’t just about all powerful nations, but about religious history. These nations are chosen to teach us lessons about God and His plan of salvation. Daniel 7 introduces a feature not present in Daniel 2: a judgment scene after a little horn emerges from the great iron-toothed beast of Rome. The little horn becomes so powerful, it even seeks to take the place of God, and eventually, God must deliver His people from its hand. Daniel 8 and 9 build on and add to the complexity of Daniel 7, and Daniel 2.
Daniel has another vision and this time, Babylon is no longer relevant; it’s about to fall. The dream begins with a ram and a goat fighting. The angel interpreter informs Daniel that the ram symbolizes the Median and Persian alliance. The ram is conquered by the Grecian goat, led by Alexander the Great (the prominent horn on the goat). Alexander’s kingdom is passed to four of his generals, rather than a dynastic successor. But most of the vision concerns another horn, a little one, that arises from one of the four directions of the compass. This little horn has a horizontal, earthly, political conquest that includes Israel, and then a vertical, religious conquest against God Himself. This power appears to be Rome in both its pagan/republican role and its later religious guise led by popes as well as emperors.
Numerous references to the temple and sanctuary fill ch. 8. The animals indicated in this vision—a ram and a goat—were sacrificial animals in the Hebrew sanctuary specifically on the day of atonement. The little horn tears down the place of God’s sanctuary, and abolishes the “daily” or “tamid,” the work of the priest in interceding for God’s people. The angel finally asks how long this will go on, and the answer is “2,300 evening-morning.” This is not a typical way of speaking about time, thus it makes sense to take it as a prophetic number. How long should this last? Daniel is told several times in ch. 8 that the vision concerns “the time of the end,” and for the distant future. An evening-morning is the designation of one day in Genesis, and also references the evening and morning—daily!—sacrifice made at the temple for God’s people, for the sins committed in ignorance. There was always a sacrifice available for God’s people, even when they weren’t aware of their own sins.
The good news is that at the end of the time prophecy, the sanctuary would be restored, set right, made holy, or cleansed. The Hebrew verb used here, tsadiq, is broad and covers the restoration of all the damage done by the beast. But the day of atonement language is hard to miss. It was only on this day that Israel sacrificed a goat! This section of Daniel 8 parallels the judgment scene in Daniel 7 where the beast loses his power and the kingdom is restored to God’s people.
We see the same language in the 2nd half of Revelation. The ark of the covenant is seen in the introduction to chs. 12-14, the judgment of God is mentioned, the same beasts from Daniel 7 are mentioned, and the same oppression of God’s people. The restoration of true worship, of repentance and confession, of honoring
In what way is this message related to the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ’s blood shed on the cross? Some argue that the judgment of God is antithetical to the gospel because it examines the lives of people. It is said salvation is by grace, but judgment is by works. Can this be true?
Daniel is left after his ch. 8 vision without any strength. He is sick and doesn’t understand how the temple, currently in ruins in Israel, will actually be restored so far in the future. He is hoping it will be rebuilt.
Fortunately, Daniel 9 offers some hope. Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the Messiah will come. Space prevents us here from discussing all of Daniel 9, but it may be the single most significant prophecy about the Messiah in all scripture. Daniel is told that from the time a decree is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, 483 years will elapse. In fact, a total of 490 years (70 sabbatical-year cycles) are “decreed” for Israel. The word decreed can also mean “set aside” or “cut off”. That suggests that the 490 years of Israel’s probation are cut off from the 2,300 years of Daniel 8. The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem that actually completed the work and reestablished Israel’s autonomy occurred in 457BC. This means the sanctuary would be restored, set right, cleansed, etc., in the mid-1800s AD. Adventists have held that William Miller’s prediction of 1844 fulfills this time. The big question is what event actually occurred. It wasn’t the 2nd Coming as Miller and other Advent people hoped, and they were left disappointed. Rather, it was the beginning of the final judgment of God and the restoration of the sanctuary. The beauty of the Adventist message is that it also restored our study of the Sanctuary in Exodus and Leviticus. This story opened our study of Revelation in a new way, since the entire book is based on the Hebrew temple, the priesthood, and God’s dealing with sin.
If God sent Jesus right on time as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9, does it make sense that God would give us a warning about when the final judgment would begin? What does such as warning mean for us?
The final judgement is not bad news, something to fear but good news!