Gospel Issues in Adventism
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

#10 – The Significance of 1844 (Part 1)
(Daniel 8:9-14)

On page 409 of The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White makes this statement:

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” [Dan. 8:14].

Turning to the 27 SDA Fundamental Doctrines, this is how this text is interpreted:

In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2,300 days, He (i.e., Christ) entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.

According to this fundamental doctrine, the anti-typical Day of Atonement and the investigative judgment of the believers began in 1844. However, ever since the early 1950s, and even earlier, this doctrine has come under fire that it is unbiblical, first from non-Adventist scholars and, more recently, from our own scholars. The objection to this truth is threefold.

  1. The Linguistic Problem. The word translated “cleansed” in Dan. 8:14 (KJV) is not the same original word for “cleansed” found in Lev. 16 for the Day of Atonement. In Dan. 8:14 the word is “tsadag,” while the word used in Lev. 16 is “taheer.” Therefore, linguistically, we cannot link the cleansing of the sanctuary of Dan. 8:14 with the cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.

  2. The Contextual Problem. In Dan. 8:9-12, Daniel describes the little horn which casts the truth of the sanctuary to the ground and prospers. Verse 13 raises the question: how long is God going to allow this? The answer is in verse 14: after 2,300 days, then the sanctuary will be “cleansed,” “restored,” “vindicated,” or “reconsecrated” (the original word could mean any of these). This answer has nothing to do with the investigative judgment of the saints.

  3. The Investigative Judgment Itself. Our traditional explanation of the investigative judgment of the saints contradicts the gospel truth of justification by faith alone. Therefore this doctrine is also unbiblical.

These are all serious charges which we cannot ignore. Why? Because, as we noted, 1844 is the foundation and central pillar of our faith. To do away with 1844 is to do away with the very purpose God raised the advent movement. As one evangelical scholar stated: “If SDAs cannot prove 1844 from the Bible, they have no right to exist as a denomination.” The question we must therefore ask ourselves is, have we been following cunningly devised fables or does 1844 have a Biblical significance for our existence?

As we tackle this subject, we shall discover that 1844 is vital to our global mission, which I believe is to restore and proclaim the everlasting gospel into all the world. Even though our pioneers did not use correct Biblical rules to interpret Dan. 8:14, I honestly believe that God was behind the advent movement He raised out of the great disappointment of 1844. Therefore, what we are going to do in the next two studies is to re-examine Dan. 8:14 in its proper setting and examine it significance to us as a denomination.

Now we will examine Dan. 8:14 in the context of the entire book of Daniel, as well as in the context of chapter 8 itself. Once we do this we will be in a position to correctly interpreting Dan. 8:14, which will be our next study. Then, in our final study, we will turn to the investigative judgment an examine it in the light of the gospel truth of justification by faith alone. This is going to be heavy stuff, but I hope very profitable to our own personal faith journey as well as our mission at [this church].

In examining the entire book of Daniel, you will notice that the book is divided into two distinct parts — historical and prophetic. Since Dan. 8:14 belongs to the prophetic part, this is the section of Daniel we will consider.

In studying the prophetic parts of Daniel, we discover that certain chapters are dealing with the same kingdoms and periods of time. This is especially true of chapters 2, 7, and 8. These are all parallel passages even though different symbols are used in each chapter. Therefore, using the hermeneutic principal of parallelism or recapitulation, a principal first used by the Christian church in the 3rd century A.D., I want you to notice a very important truth that is vital to a correct interpretation of Dan. 8:14.

The Great Stone event of Dan. 2:44, 45, the Judgment scene described in Dan. 7:9-28, and the cleansing of the sanctuary of Dan. 8:14 are all parallel events that belong to the same kingdom and period of time — the establishment of the kingdom of God. This is the kingdom that will eventually replace all earthly kingdoms and will be an everlasting kingdom.

Turning to chapter 8 of Daniel, we discover that the prophet Daniel is shown four major events regarding the history of this world. Here is a brief outline of the four events he is shown and their interpretation:

  1. The Ram with two horns [read Dan. 8:3, 4]. Turning to verse 20, this symbol is clearly shown to be the kingdom of Medo-Persia.

  2. The male Goat with one horn [read Dan. 8:5-8]. According to verses 21, 22, this kingdom represents Greece.

  3. The little horn [read Dan. 8:9-13]. When we consider the description of this little horn, as well as the interpretation in verses 23-25, we discover that it is not only a political kingdom but also a ecclestical power that cast the truth of the sanctuary to the ground and prospers.

  4. Finally, in answer to the question of verse 13, Daniel is shown what will take place after the 2,300 evenings and mornings, which is translated into days in the King James Version [read Dan. 8:13, 14]. Now please note carefully that while the first three events or kingdoms are explained, no explanation is given to Daniel when it comes to the 2,300 evenings and mornings. Instead, note what Daniel is told about this fourth event and his reaction to it [read verse 26, 27].

One thing clearly stands out as we consider this fourth item, the 2,300 evenings and mornings or days, of Daniel chapter 8. Daniel is clearly told that this fourth item will take place in the distant future. Note verses 18, 19 (“the appointed time of the end”) and look again at verse 26 (“but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future”).

This clearly agrees with what we discovered in looking at the 2,300 days prophesy in the light of the entire prophetic section of the book of Daniel, that this prophesy is a last day event that belongs to the establishment of the kingdom of God. Hence, the interpretation that many commentaries give that this 2,300-day prophesy applies to Antiocus Epiphenies of the Greece period is incorrect, and if I may say so, the interpretation that is unbiblical.

How then are we to interpret Dan. 8:14? Did God leave Daniel in the dark regarding this prophesy? The answer is no. You will notice that in verse 27, Daniel fainted and was sick for days when the angel Gabriel told him that this prophesy was to be sealed because it had to do with the distant future. Plus, we also read in verse 27 that Daniel “was astonished or appalled by the vision, but no one understood it,” or as the NIV puts it, “it was beyond understanding.”

In our next study we will discover why Daniel fainted and was appalled at this 2,300 day prophesy and the interpretation God gave him, as a result of his sincere prayer recorded in chapter 9. What I want you to keep in mind is the fact that our contextual study of Dan. 8:14 clearly established the 2,300 days prophesy as a last day event. Next study you will hear the rest of the story.

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