by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.”
As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”
While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.
He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.”
“The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith, was the declaration, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 409.
We have been studying about the sanctuary. A study on the sanctuary without touching Daniel 8:14, 1844, the investigative judgment, and the cleansing of the sanctuary would be an incomplete series of studies. So now we will deal with these subjects. Those of you who are familiar with these doctrines and those of you who are doing any reading will know that these doctrines which are unique to the Seventh-day Adventist Church have come under fire. This fire has increased since the 1950s.
I will begin with some of the statements made about this so that you will be aware of what has happened and what is happening. In the 1950s, two evangelical scholars by the name of Barnhouse, the editor of Eternity Magazine, and Walter Martin, the expert on the cults, visited the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and had several meetings with the brethren, our theologians. The result of those meetings were twofold. A book published by the Reveiw and Herald, which I am sure most of you are acquainted with, Questions on Doctrines, appeared. Those questions were asked by these two scholars.
The other book was by Walter Martin himself, The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists. In that book, Walter Martin delivered the Seventh-day Adventists out of the cults. He no longer calls us a cult, but he calls us a Christian Church with a few beliefs. He had one observation to make above most others and that was our doctrine on 1844 and our interpretation of Daniel 8:14. I will paraphrase what he said. He said that the Seventh-day Adventist teaching on Daniel 8:14, 1844, cleansing of the sanctuary, and so on is the greatest face-saving lie invented in the history of Christianity. That was his statement.
Then another scholar came on the scene by the name of Harold Linso. This is what he says: “If Seventh-day Adventists cannot prove 1844 from the Bible they have no right to exist as a denomination.” I agree with that. Destroy 1844 and you destroy the mission of this church. If you destroy the mission of this church, we have no right to exist as a denomination so it is quite a challenge from these non-Adventist scholars.
Then we come to that famous October meeting at Pacific Union College, October, 1980, when Desmond Ford was asked by the Adventist Forum to defend 1844 from the Bible. He said, “No, you cannot defend it from the Bible.” This led to six months of probation when he had to defend himself by producing a document which was studied at Glacier View. I have a copy of that document if anyone would like to read it. You need to know a little bit of Hebrew for it is a scholarly document. What amazed me was that, here was a scholar with two Ph.D.s who had changed, in some areas, quite radically from his book Daniel published only two years earlier. It seems that even scholars can change their minds.
But that was not the worst of all. After Glacier View, Loma Linda requested a very well-known Adventist scholar, now retired, to expound on what he felt about Desmond Ford’s position. The man is Raymond Cottrell, who was not only one of the editors of the Review and Herald, but also the man who wrote that section of Daniel in the Seventh-day Adventist Commentary. So he was a key scholar.
In his talk at Loma Linda, Cottrell said that, when he was writing the Daniel part of our commentary, he contacted almost every Bible professor dealing with this area — not only from our colleges of North America but also some colleges outside of North America. If I remember right, I think he contacted about 36 college professors. He said that not one of them could defend 1844 from the Bible. So he was asked by a person of the congregation there at Loma Linda, “Do you believe in 1844?” And he said, “Yes, but I do not believe that I can prove it from the Bible. I believe it because Ellen G. White taught so.”
Now to come closer home. On Sunday in the opinion column comes a letter in the Union Bulletin. A comment was made by a man from Dayton. It was in response to an interview held with the president of Walla Walla College, Jack Bergman. It concerned cults. In this letter, there is a definition given by Bergman about cults. I don’t know whether it is a verbatum quotation or if it is a paraphrase but this is what Bergman is said to say in defining a cult: “When churches take unto themselves an authoritive figure and primary emphasis on unique doctrines outside of scripture and not part of traditional churches, they become a cult.”
Then this man goes to prove (he is quoting Raymond Cottrell) that our doctrine is not from the Bible but Ellen G. White, outside of the Bible. Here is his quotation and he is quoting Raymand Cottrell: “The 70 weeks and 2,300 days (years) and the cleansing of the sanctuary are pivotal doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. There are no definite statements in the Bible which support the view of Adventists on this point. Their conclusions are derived from the teachings of Mrs. White and, in turn, are the result of her interpretation of the Bible.” He implies that they were wrong. At least that is the implication I get.
I have wrestled with this since the 1950s. The question I have asked myself is, “Have we, as a church, been following cunningly devised fables? Can we defend our interpretation of 1844 or our interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and be honest with that passage exegetically?” Of course, I would like to throw the same question to my fellow Christians who preach the gap theory of the 70 weeks: “Can you defend it with honest exegesis? And if you can’t, maybe I should call you a cult.” But that’s a different matter.
I would like to present my conclusion as I studied this passage. I tried to do it honestly, because we must be honest with the Word of God. The truth will triumph. You and I may not triumph but the truth will triumph. It is better for us to be on the side of the truth even though it is an embarrassment, than to be on the side of wrong.
There are some who don’t like the word “cult,” so I may say something here that may help you. The early Christians, the apostolic church, were called a cult by the Roman world. They were looked upon as an off-shoot movement of Judaism, but they had the truth. It is not uncommon for history to repeat itself. So don’t be too ashamed of being called a cult. Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Truth is truth whatever men call it. And the truth will triumph. I will say this much and that is that 1844 has something very special for me. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I would go back to architecture and wonderful money, drive a Cadillac, and enjoy ice cream every day. I happen to be a minister who believes that God has given this church a mission.
Daniel 8 has problems — linguistic problems and contextual problems. I am convinced after my study that the pioneers of this church came to a correct conclusion but I must admit that some of their methods left something to be desired. Most of our pioneers used what we know as the “proof text” method — take a text here, take a text there, put them together, and come up with a teaching or doctrine. Now there is nothing wrong with that basically, but there is a danger with it. The danger is that of taking a text out of context. When you take statements of the Bible out of context and put them together and produce a doctrine, you can make the Bible say anything you want — almost.
So I will confess that there were some problems of which these scholars have accused this church that are correct. I’ll give you one of the main ones. Daniel 8:9-14 is a unit:
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people[a] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”
He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”
You can’t separate verse 14 from the rest of that passage. Its dealing with the little horn that cast the truth of the sanctuary to the ground and prospered. Verse 13 is asking a question and the question has nothing to do with the investigative judgment. The question is:
How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?
“How long, God, will you allow the truth of the sanctuary to be cast on the ground and for the little horn to prosper? How long?”
And the answer in verse 14:
He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”
“Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed, or restored, or vindicated.”
You cannot take verse 14 and take it out of context and apply it to the investigative judgment without coming under fire. We have to approach the whole thing because we do have better methods since we are more conscious today of exegesis — an accurate interpretation of scripture — than the Christians of the nineteenth century. I am going to give you a statement from the pen of Ellen G. White. Counsels to Editors, p. 35:
“There is no excuse for anyone taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.”
That’s exactly what I intend to do with Daniel 8:14. That’s why it will take more than one study to do it.
I want to expose you now to certain linguistic problems. Some of them have been aired by the scholars and some haven’t and I wonder why they haven’t aired these problems. For example, look at the word “sanctuary” in verse eleven of Daniel 8. The word sanctuary in verse eleven is “Migdash”; that’s the Hebrew word. Now “Migdash” is a common word for sanctuary and can be applied to any sanctuary. Pagan sanctuaries were called migdash. God’s sanctuary was called migdash. Normally when Migdash is applied to God’s sanctuary, it has always a qualifying term. Such is the general emphasis of the Old Testament. In other words: “The migdash of the Lord thy God,” or build me a migdash, or my migdash. Now, in verses 13 and 14, the word is “cordash.” Why did Daniel use two different words?
Does the “his” in verse 11 apply to the little horn sanctuary or God’s sanctuary? These are problems that I’m not sure we can have full solutions for. The word “sanctuary” in verses 13 and 14 is “cordash,” a different word and cordash always refers to God’s sanctuary. So that’s one problem.
Here is another big problem that I have yet to read from any scholar inside or outside of this denomination. I have wondered why they don’t touch it. In verse 11 of Daniel 8, I read about the little horn:
It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down.
Look at the words “took away.” The Hebrew word is r-u-m. Every lexicon I’ve read — in fact, I even looked at a computer program called “The Word” and I even looked, with the help of individuals who know how to use those modern gadgets, at the definition of “rum" from that. By the way, I believe that program was put together with no help from an Adventist scholar but Pentecostal scholars, but no Adventist scholar helped him in producing that program.
I looked at every material that gives us the meaning of this word. I find that the primary meaning of “rum” is not “take away” but “to lift up” to “exalt” and, if I read the word “lift up” and “exalt” in verse 11, I get a completely different interpretation of verse 11. I’m asking myself the question, “Could it be possible that the interpreters were reading into the statement what they wanted it to say because they believed that the “little horn” applies to Antiochus Epiphanes?” I don’t find in any of the lexicons the word “take away” having too much of a meaning in the word “rum.” Why? I don’t know. So I feel that the word “take away” is substituted for the correct meaning, which is “to exalt,” “lift up,” or even “to absorb.”
Then we have the problem of the word “daily,” found in verses 11, 12, and 13. What did Daniel mean by the word “daily,” “hatamid”? Did he mean the sacrificial system, the evening and morning sacrifices, (the word “sacrifice” is the basic understanding of the Christian Church and the Jewish scholars of the Maccabean period) or did he mean “paganism,” which is what our pioneers believed that he meant? Or did he mean “Christ’s heavenly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary which is known in Adventist circles as the “new view” because it’s the view used by Conradi and accepted today by the church? So what does the word really mean? The actual meaning of the word in the Hebrew simply means “continual.”
Let me give you one more problem. In verse 14 the King James version says:
And he said unto me unto two thousand three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
The word “days” does not exist in the original. Daniel did not use the word “days”; he simply used “evenings mornings” and some of the modern translations use that. What did Daniel mean? Did he mean “evening and morning sacrifice” (remember, there were two sacrifices each day — evening and morning or morning and evening) or did he mean “day,” because in Genesis “evening and morning” is referred to as a day?
If you give the expression “evening morning” to refer to sacrifices, then you don’t come up with 2,300 days since there were two sacrifices a day. Therefore, you have to divide 2,300 by two to get the number of days. That is what the Good News Bible says:
...Unto 1,150 days.
How do they come up with that? They believe that “evening morning” doesn’t refer to days but to sacrifices. But there is a problem. Normally, the Old Testament, when refering to sacrifices, will use “morning and evening,” whereas, when they refer to days, they use “evening and morning” like in Genesis: “evening and morning” was the first day, “evening and morning” was the second day. They reverse it normally when they apply to sacrifices. That is why many scholars — especially Young, the famous scholar, for example — takes the position that the “evening morning” does refer to days. Therefore, he says it is 2,300 days. So we have scholars in both camps, both non-Adventist scholars.
Then there is the word “cleansed.” The King James says “cleansed.” Some say, “No it doesn’t mean “cleansed” it means “vindicated” or “restored.” It is a unique word. It appears only once here in Daniel. I do know one thing and that is that the Septuigent, even though some believe it unreliable, but it was used by the New Testament writers. The Septuigent, the Greek Old Testament, uses the word “katharizo” which, in Greek, does mean cleansed. So at least we have the backing of the Septuigent that it does mean “cleansed.” So the King James version could be accurate.
I have no problem if they used “vindicated” or “restored.” These are linquistic problems and what I am saying is this that it is impossible for anyone to be dogmatic and say, “This is the interpretation.” There are problems. Whatever problems there are, we need to be honest with ourselves. Can I be comfortable with our interpretation? I say, “Yes, I am comfortable with it.” And I will explain why.
Before we go further into the study of Daniel 8, we should know that Daniel and Revelation are known as apocalyptic prophecies, that is, prophecies that deal with the last day events. There are four schools of interpretation regarding Daniel and Revelation. I want to expose you to the four schools but I also want to give you a little bit of history. That will be our study for this chapter. I’m only giving you a background here.
There are four schools of interpretation. They are:
Whichever school you belong to, you will arrive at a different conclusion. So it is important that you are aware of the four schools, but it is also important that you know the background. Let us briefly observe what each school believes.
The preterist believed that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were all fulfilled within the near proximity of the prophet. In other words, by the second century B.C., all of Daniel’s prophecies were already fulfilled. Within a few years after John, all the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled. In other words, the prophecies do not have a long range view. This is one view.
The next view is futurism. This is held by quite a few Christians today. Futurism teaches that some of the prophecies of the prophetic sections of Daniel and Revelation were fulfilled in the prophet’s day or in his period. But then there was a big gap in time and the prophecies of the last days are fulfilled at the end of time. In other words, some were fulfilled during Daniel’s period and others will be fulfilled at the end of time and between is a gap known as the “gap” theory. For example, of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9, it says that 69 weeks were fulfilled during the Jewish period and Daniel’s period and the 70th week will be fulfilled at the end of time. In between is the big gap.
Idealism says that prophecies are not predictions but simply symbolic forms of instruction. This is the position of many Lutheran scholars who do not believe that God can see the future.
Then we come to the historicist position, which is the Adventist position. This position believes that prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are a continual record or prophecies of historical events or periods until the consumation. In other words, it gives us a continuous basic event that will take place from Daniel until the time of the end. Or from John in the book of Revelation until the time of the end. So we have an overall panaromic view of the history of the world from these prophets’ time till the end of time.
This position was not invented by Adventists. This was the main school of the reformers. The historicist is often known as the “reformation school of interpretation.” So we belong, as a church, to the reformation camp. The reformers using the historicist approach of Daniel and Revelation, mainly Daniel, came to the conclusion that the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 was the papacy. That was the conclusion the reformer Luther came to. It was not something that we invented. The reformers believed that.
If you were a Roman Catholic, what would you do? You would not take that sitting down. So the Roman Catholic Church came up with two scholars — both Jesuit priests. The preterist scholar was Luis De Alcazar. He was from Seville, Spain, a Jesuit priest who came up with the idea of the preterist interpretation. If you say that the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled all within the period of Daniel’s time, you have to excuse the papacy because the papacy did not exist in Daniel’s period nor the second century, B.C. The papacy began in the fifth century A.D.; therefore, by using the preterist approach, you save the Catholic Church from being the “little horn.” I don’t blame them. They are trying to save themselves from an embarrasment, because the little horn is equated with the antichrist.
The other position, the futurists, also introduced by a Jesuit priest Francisco Ribera, from Solomonca, also from Spain (I keep wondering if anything good comes out of Spain). He came up with the futurist idea that some of the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled in his time and some at the end of time, and, in the gap theory, which is the papacy period, none of the prophecies apply.
So whichever approach you take — Futurist or Preterist — you deliver the Roman Catholic Church from being the little horn. I don’t blame them for that. What bothers me is the fact that today almost every denomination in the Christian world that came out in Protestantism except for the Seventh-day Adventist Church have given up the historicist interpretation and have gone to the Roman Catholic position. Is that progress or recession? I’m sure that, if Luther was to raise up from his grave, he would be horrified with what the Protestant churches have done with their school of interpretation, the historicist.
So remember that these two schools which today are accepted by the Christian churches at large were both originated, futurism and preterism, by the Roman Catholic scholars. They had a purpose. They met that purpose. Today the Protestant churches have fallen for it and, therefore, have liberated the Catholic Church from being the “little horn.” When I use the term “Roman Catholic Church,” I am not referring to Catholic Christians, because my mother is a very staunch Roman Catholic, a fine godly Christian. I come from a very strong Roman Catholic background. I am pointing my finger at the hierarchy, not at the members of that church. We must make a distinction that the Roman Catholic Church makes themselves. To them, the church is divided into two camps, the teaching church and the taught church. I am not referring to the taught church, which is the members. I am referring to the teaching church. I challenged my own uncle, who is a Jesuit priest, when we discuss this to defend both the preterist and the futurist position with an honest exegesis of Daniel and he came up with poor conclusions, so I said to him, “I am not willing to accept your position even though the Protestant churches have. He told me, “All the other denominations have turned to our position.” And I said to him, “If a thousand people tell lies and one person tells the truth, lying doesn’t become truth.”
You do not judge truth by numbers. The truth will triumph. The road to heaven is narrow. Few walk in it. The road to destruction is wide and many walk in it. So please let us not judge truth by numbers or by scholars. All of the Jewish scholars did not see in Christ the Messiah. They were wrong. They took only those sections of the prophecies of Christ that deal with His second coming when He will come as a King. They ignored the prophecies that dealt with Him as a suffering servant. Therefore, truth doesn’t belong to scholars, it does not belong to the majority, it belongs to God. We need to study this passage prayerfully.
If we destroy the message of 1844, you will not have this pastor at the pulpit because I believe 1844 is linked with our mission. Now what that mission is, we will cover in the next study. May God bless us as we wrestle with this passage. May God help us that we will be able to defend this vital doctrine because we have come under fire. Peter said we must be able to give an answer for what we believe. I believe God is leading us all the way. The question is, “Are we willing to follow Him?”