IN DANIEL 8:14 OCCURS A STATEMENT which now claims our attention. It reads: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Any statement concerning the sanctuary is important. The text quoted above is particularly so. It states that at a certain time the sanctuary shall be cleansed. This is rather unusual, for the earthly sanctuary was cleansed every year, on the Day of Atonement. Why, then, should a certain time, twenty-three hundred days, elapse before this particular cleansing should take place?
The eighth chapter of Daniel contains an important prophecy. It describes a vision which Daniel had concerning a ram and a he-goat: "In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
"And I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven." Dan.8:1-8.
The interpretation is given in verses 20, 21: "The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king."
Among commentators there is unanimity that the "great horn" is Alexander the Great. While he was yet "strong, the great horn was broken." Verse 8. In its place came up four others, denoting the four divisions of the Greek Empire at the death of Alexander. Verse 22. The part of the prophecy in which we are especially interested begins with verse nine. "Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
It is evident that the prophecy turns upon the "little horn" which waxed "exceeding great." Alexander is "the great horn." Dan.8:21. The power symbolised by the little horn began in an inconspicuous way, but became "exceeding great." It is noteworthy what this horn does. It shall "destroy wonderfully" the people of God. Verse 24. This is done, not so much by war as "by peace." Verse 25. It is wise and crafty, and has a definite "policy." Verse 25. It is powerful, "but not by his own power," and shall "prosper, and practise." Verses 24,12. It is a proud power, for "he shall magnify himself in his heart," "yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host." Verses 25,11. It is a persecuting power, for it destroys "the mighty and the holy people," and a whole "host" is given him "to be trodden underfoot." Verses 24,10,13. It teaches false doctrines and it "cast down the truth to the ground." Verse 12. It wars against the truth; the sanctuary is "cast down" and "trodden underfoot," and this "by reason of transgression." Verses 11-13. The climax is reached when he stands "up against the Prince of princes." He is then "broken without hand." Verse 25. When Daniel saw all this in vision, it so affected him that he "fainted, and was sick certain days." He was "astonished at the vision," and neither he nor any one else understood it. Verse 27.
We are especially interested in the time mentioned in verse fourteen. The conversation carried on between the two angels was evidently for Daniel's benefit. The vision of the ram and the he-goat seems to be related merely to lead up to the story of the little horn that became "exceeding great." When Daniel saw the persecutions carried on by this power, and how it should prosper by crafty methods and magnify itself and "destroy wonderfully," he naturally wondered how long this would continue. In the conversation of the angels he is told that there is to be a period of twenty-three hundred days during which time "both the sanctuary and the host" is "to be trodden underfoot," and this evil power will prosper.
How could this power "be mighty, but not by his own power"? That seems a contradiction in terms. How could it "cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground" and stamp upon them? How could it cast down the sanctuary and tread it underfoot? How could it "cast down the truth to the ground," and prosper in so doing? Yet all this it was to do. Verses 24,10-12,25. Daniel was astonished, and did not understand the vision.
But he was more than astonished. When he saw what this power would do to the sanctuary, to religion, to God's people, to the truth, he "was sick certain days." Verse 27. Here was a blasphemous power that would persecute God's people and attempt to destroy the truth, and prosper in so doing. Even the sanctuary would be cast down and trodden underfoot. The one ray of hope in the whole vision concerned the time. The sanctuary and the truth would not always be trodden underfoot. The truth would come into its own again. It would be vindicated. At the end of twenty-three hundred days the sanctuary would be cleansed. To that time God's people were to look.
This in itself, however, could not be of great comfort to Daniel. What did the twenty-three hundred days mean? When did they begin? When did they end? He did not understand. He began to study more earnestly than ever before. His study led him to understand "by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem. Dan. 9:2. But he had as yet no light on the twenty-three hundred days. Had they anything to do with the end of the seventy years? Perhaps they began when that period ended? He did not know. And so he betook himself to prayer. He must have light on the question.
Some commentators hold that the little horn that became exceeding great stands for the kingdom of the Seleucidae, especially under such kings as Antiochus Epiphanes and Antiochus the Great. This view is open to serious objections. These kings did persecute. They were crafty, impious, proud. It can hardly be said, however, that they were such more than many others, before and since. It cannot be claimed that they were greater than Alexander the Great. Yet the vision demands this. Antiochus Epiphanes, whom many believe is especially referred to, was a persecutor; he did interfere with the sanctuary service; but he was not so outstanding as to merit the attention given the little horn in the vision. He did his little part in the drama for a few years and passed on, leaving no mark such as Alexander did, and would long ago have taken his place among the petty kings of the period had it not been for the persistent effort of commentators to give him undue prominence.
The vision in the eighth chapter of Daniel is not an isolated vision. Medo-Persia and Greece are not here spoken of for the first time. The seventh deals with a related subject and mentions the beasts which represent Medo-Persia and Greece, and also refers to a "little horn." The prophet says: "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." Dan. 7:8. This little horn intrigued Daniel. He wanted to know more "of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows." Verse 20. He had seen that it "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them." Verse 21. He saw, moreover, that it should "speak great words against Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and, laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Verse 25. At last, however, "the judgement shall sit, and they shall take, away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end." Verse 26. The chapter ends: "Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart." Verse 28. It is easy to see that this prophecy deals in a general way with the same events as the prophecy in the eighth chapter.
Daniel was troubled by what he had seen. He had -- in the seventh chapter -- been brought face to face with a persecuting power that wore out the saints of the Most High, that spoke great words against God, that would think to change times and laws, that was diverse from other kings (verse 24), and that at last should be destroyed. This power was the "little horn" that had eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth that spoke great things. Who might that power be? Daniel did a great deal of thinking and was perplexed. "My cogitations much troubled me," he confesses. Verse 28. But he kept the matter in his heart. He was sure God had greater light. "Hitherto is the end of the matter," he said. The word "hitherto" is significant. Daniel does not say: "This is the end of the matter," but, "Hitherto is the end." That is, "This is the end so far. There is more to come. We stop now, but more is coming." That is the meaning of "hitherto." And more did come. The eighth chapter deals again with this power, and the ninth chapter has further explanation.
It is impossible to conceive of the little horn of Daniel 7 as Antiochus Epiphanes or any other Antiochus. Practically all Protestant commentators of the old school agree in referring it to the Papacy, in which it is seen to meet a complete fulfilment. How could it ever be true of any Antiochus that he "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgement was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom"? Verses 21,22. Antiochus is long since dead. He ruled but a short time. Of what other power than the Papacy is it true that it wore out the saints of the Most High, or attempted to change times and laws? Are not the sagacity, the wisdom, the far-reaching policies of the Papacy, expressively suggested by the horn that had "eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things"? Verse 8. We believe we stand on solid exegetical ground when we hold that the little horn of Daniel 8 is Rome, first pagan, later papal, and the little horn of Daniel 7, the Papacy.
These considerations will help us in our attempt to establish the meaning of the twenty-three hundred days of Daniel 8:14. They occur in the midst of a prophecy dealing with a power that has existed longer than any other power on earth. Since this is part of a prophecy, doubtless prophetic time is here mentioned. If so, the twenty-three hundred days stand for twenty-three hundred years, according to well-established prophetic interpretation. "I have appointed thee each day for a year." Eze.4:6.
If we accept the view that the little horn of Daniel 8 refers to imperial Rome and the Roman Catholic Church, it becomes our duty to discover any possible connection between it and the sanctuary as mentioned in Daniel 8:14. To this study we shall now address ourselves.
The Roman Catholic Church is an attempt to reestablish the old theocracy of Israel with the accompanying sanctuary service. The Catholic Church has taken over the essential ritual from Judaism with certain ceremonials from paganism. It has an established sanctuary service with its priests, high priest, Levites, singers, and teachers. It has a sacrificial service culminating in the mass, with the accompanying ritual and offering of incense. It has its high days patterned after the Israelitish custom. It has its candles, its altar of incense, its table with the bread, and its high altar. The laver with holy water is in evidence; the daily mass is observed. The parallel between the old Israelitish religion and the Roman Catholic religion is almost complete.
All this would not be very important were it not for the fact that it constitutes an attempt to obscure the real work of Christ in the sanctuary above. When the Old Testament period closed, when Christ began His work in the heavenly sanctuary, it was God's intent that the sanctuary services on earth should cease. The veil of the temple was rent in twain, --and later the temple was entirely destroyed, --signifying the cessation of the service on earth and the inauguration of the service in heaven. Christ entered into a temple not built with hands. He entered into heaven itself, there to minister on our behalf. Men are invited to come to Him with their sins and receive forgiveness. The service in the earthly tabernacle had prepared men to look to the real sanctuary in heaven. The time had come for the transfer to be made.
The Catholic Church completely fails to understand or appreciate the work of our High Priest in heaven above. It fails to understand that the earthly sanctuary service was no longer of avail. It reestablished the old ceremonies and beliefs, and attempted to bring men back to a discarded ritual. And it succeeded in doing so to a large extent. "All the world wondered after the beast." Rev.13:3.
This, as has been noted above, tended to obscure the work of Christ. Men lost the knowledge of the sanctuary in heaven and of Christ's work there. Their attention was called to the rival work of His pretended vicar on earth. While Christ in heaven forgives sin, the priest on earth claims to do the same. While Christ intercedes for the sinner, so does the priest. And the terms of the priest for the forgiveness of sin are much more easily met than the terms of Christ. Men forgot entirely that there is a sanctuary in heaven. That truth was cast to the ground. Century after century rolled by and the church kept men in complete ignorance of the all-important work going on in heaven above, while it extolled its own wares and made merchandise of all that is most sacred. The Papacy thus in a real sense became a competitor, a rival of Christ. It attempted to supersede Him in the minds of men, and succeeded to a remarkable degree. It is the church's God-given work to call attention to Christ and the truth. It is the one agency God has to instruct men. When Christ ascended on high to begin His ministry in the sanctuary above, it was the duty and the privilege of the church to proclaim that news to the ends of the world. Henceforth, there were to be no more sacrifices on earth. That belonged to the old dispensation. The Levitical priesthood had also ceased. The veil was rent and a new and a living way opened for man. Men had free access to God and might appear boldly before the throne of grace without any human intercessor. All God's people had become a royal priesthood and henceforth no man was to step between a soul and its Maker. The way of access was opened to all.
That the Papacy had become a rival, a competitor of Christ, is no mere figure of speech. Consider the situation. Christ is our High Priest. On Calvary He died as the Lamb of God. He shed His blood in our behalf. The Mosaic sacrifices had been prophetic of this for centuries. Now the reality had come, of which the other had been shadows. As in the Old Testament the death of the lamb was not enough, but must be supplemented by the ministration of the priest as he sprinkled the blood on the altar or in the holy place, so with the death and blood of Christ. The blood having been provided, Christ became "a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Heb. 8:2. Thus "Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb.9:11,12.
The holy place here mentioned does not have reference to the tabernacle on earth. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24. Before the presence of God Christ pleads and ministers His blood which not merely sanctifies "to the purifying of the flesh" as did the blood of bullocks and goats of old. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Heb. 9:14. Any one who wishes to have his conscience purged may therefore with "boldness... enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, though the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." Heb. 10:19-22. In the Old Testament none but the priest could enter the sanctuary. Now all may come. It is a "new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us."
This blessed new and living way it is the privilege and duty of the church to proclaim. Every one may come to Christ direct. Not as in the sanctuary on earth need a priest intervene. That is done away with. Every man may face his Maker direct without human interference. He may boldly enter through the veil.
But the Papacy thought and taught otherwise. It attempted to reestablish the Old Testament belief, that man can approach his Maker only through special representatives, such as the priests. Men were put farther from God than ever. The church closed the new and the living way opened by Christ, and had men approach God through the priesthood, who had to appeal to some patron saint who had influence with Mary, who had influence with Christ, who had influence with God. The whole system was an attempted reincarnation of the Mosaic ordinances which had definitely been abolished, and which were not to be compared to the new and living way of the New Testament.
What has been the result? Men have flocked to the Church of Rome and forsaken the sanctuary and the Minister of the sanctuary in heaven. The Roman church has effectively obscured the ministry of Christ, so much so that few Christians even know that there is a temple in heaven, much less that there is a service going on there. Day after day Christ stands waiting to minister His blood, hoping that men will find the new way. But very few come. On the other hand, millions flock to the Roman church, there to receive indulgence and forgiveness of sin on acceptable terms.
The Papacy has nearly succeeded in making of none effect Christ's ministry. It has inaugurated another ministry, established, not on the promises of the gospel, not on the new covenant basis, not on Christ as the High Priest, but on the vain promises of an earthly priesthood which itself needs forgiveness and the power of the atoning blood of Christ.
In saying that the Papacy has attempted to substitute a false mediatorial system for the true mediatorial work of Christ, we are well aware of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church believes in Christ's sacrifice on the cross, that He is man's advocate and intercessor and that through Him we are saved. On this the following statements are to the point:
"There is nothing from which the faithful should derive greater joy than from the reflection that Jesus Christ is constituted our advocate and intercessor with the Father, with whom His influence and authority are supreme." "True, there is but one mediator, Christ the Lord, who alone has reconciled us through His blood (1Tim. 2:5), and who, having accomplished our redemption, and having once entered into the holy of holies, ceases not to intercede for us. Heb.9:12; 7:25."
--Catechism of the Council of Trent, pp.59,247, Rev. J. Donovan's translation, 1829 edition.
"We can go to God with all confidence, says St. Arnold, because the Son is our mediator with the eternal Father, and the mother is our mediatrix with her Son."--Glories of Mary, Alphonus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church, p.224, revised edition.
It is in the ministration of the blood, in the relationship existing between man and Christ, that the Papacy has attempted to erect a false system. Here saints, and especially Mary, have been interposed between the soul and God. This we believe to be a most serious perversion of truth, in that it interposes extramediatorial persons as necessary to approach God, when the Scriptures teach that there is "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." 1Tim. 2:5. The Bible recognises no other as mediator, and for the church to teach otherwise, is to make of none effect the truth of God.
There are thus two ministrations that promise men forgiveness and the blotting out of sins: That of Christ in heaven, and of the Papacy on earth. Each has a priesthood and accompanying service. Each claims full pardoning power. The Papacy boasts of having the keys of heaven. It can open or shut. It has a treasury of merits without which few can be saved. It is in possession of the "host," the holy mystery of God. It possesses an infallible head. It has power over purgatory. It can remit punishment. It claims authority over the kings of the earth. It acknowledges no superior. It is supreme.
All these claims would fall to the ground if men were only cognisant of the true ministry of Christ. A knowledge of the sanctuary truth is the only antidote to the false claims of the hierarchy of Rome. For this reason it is important to the Papacy that the sanctuary subject remain unknown. For this reason God has made His people the depositories of His truth concerning the sanctuary.
We need not go into detail concerning the mathematical problems of the twenty-three hundred days. The reader is referred to "The Great Controversy," by Ellen G. White, and other standard Adventist works. Suffice it to say that these days -- or rather years -- began 457 B.C. and ended 1844 A.D. At this latter date, the sanctuary should be cleansed.
It is evident that this cleansing cannot have reference to the sanctuary on earth. That was long ago destroyed and its service discontinued. It must therefore have reference to the sanctuary in heaven, which indeed is spoken of as being cleansed "with better sacrifices than" those of the Old Testament. Heb.9:23.
We have already discussed in detail the matter of the cleansing of the sanctuary on earth. This cleansing was a type of the cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven. As the priests served in the first apartment of the tabernacle every day of the year until the great Day of Atonement, so Christ ministered in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary until the time of its cleansing. That time was 1844. Then Christ entered upon the final phase of His ministry. Then He entered the most holy. Then the hour of judgement began, otherwise called the investigative judgement. When that work is done, probation ceases and Christ comes. We would at this time call attention to the word "cleansed" as used in Daniel 8:14. In Hebrews it is tsadaq, and is translated "justified," to become or be counted righteous. Some translate: "Then shall the sanctuary be justified." Others, "Then shall the sanctuary be vindicated." Others again, "Then shall the sanctuary come into its own again." The word contains the idea of restoration as well as of cleansing.
These meanings of the word are significant in view of the fact that the subject of the sanctuary has been trodden underfoot and the truth cast to the ground. Shall the time ever come when the subject of the sanctuary shall again be given its rightful place, when God shall vindicate His truth, and error and secret machination be uncovered? Yes, answers prophecy, the time shall come; an evil power shall arise that will persecute God's people, obscure the sanctuary question, cast truth to the ground, and prosper in doing it. It shall set up its own system in competition with God's, attempt to change the law, and by its crafty policy deceive many. But it shall be unmasked. At the end of the twenty-three hundred days a people shall arise who will have light on the sanctuary question, who follow Christ by faith into the most holy, who have the solution to break the power of the mystery of iniquity, and who go forth to battle for God's truth. Such a people is invincible. It will proclaim the truth fearlessly. It will make the supreme contribution in its advocacy of the sanctuary truth. It will "build the old waste places;" it will "raise up the foundation of many generations;" it shall "be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Isa.58:12.
The final controversies will be clear-cut. All will understand the issues and the consequences. The chief point will be the worship of the beast or the worship of God. In this controversy the temple of God will be opened in heaven, and men will see "in His temple the ark of His testament." Rev. 11:19. God's people on earth will have a part in showing men the opened temple. On the other hand, the apostate church will blaspheme "against God... blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." Rev.13:6.
It is a special privilege to be permitted to have a part in such a work as this. But if we are to conquer, we must know where we stand and why. May God give us grace to be found faithful.