Monday, July 24, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 6, Qtr 3-06

Special Insights No. 6

Third Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“Daniel 9”

Dear Subscriber,

Due to travel, Insight No. 9 is being sent to you a week early. May the Holy Spirit guide your study.—Carol Kawamoto for “Insights”


Daniel nine is an important chapter for Seventh-day Adventists. It is here that we find clear reference to beginning date for the prophecy which distinguishes us as a prophetic movement and sets us apart theologically from all other denominations. The chain of references actually begins in Daniel eight: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Dan. 8:14); “The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith” (Letter 208, 1906; Evangelism, p. 221).

An important aspect of this “correct understanding” depends upon understanding the time prophecy delineated by the 2300 days. But a time prophecy is useless unless one knows when it begins. We can get a hint at when this time prophecy begins through a careful study of Daniel chapter eight. It begins in the days of the “ram” (vs. 3), which represents the kingdom of Media-Persia (vs. 20). But we cannot determine the exact starting point without a study of Daniel chapter nine.

In chapter eight, Daniel uses the term “vision” several times. Note verses 1, 2, 13, 15, 16, 17, 26, and 27. However upon reading this chapter closely, one begins to sense that Daniel does not always use the word “vision” to refer to the same thing. Some refer to the entire vision of chapter eight, others refer only to the 2300 day portion of the vision. An examination of the Hebrew reveals that there are actually two different Hebrews words translated by the English word “vision,” chazown and mareh. When Daniel refers to the entire chapter’s content he uses the term “chazown” (see verses 1, 2, 13, 15, 17), but when he refers to the 2300 day portion he uses the term “mareh” (see vss. 16, 27, and the first reference in 26).

Now notice what it was that Daniel said he did not understand: “I was astonished by the vision [mareh], but no one understood it” (Dan. 8:27). But what was it that the angel Gabriel was especially sent to explain to Daniel? Verse 16 says: “And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, ‘Gabriel, make this man understand the vision [mareh]’” (8:16, NKJV). Daniel understood the vision, but he did not understand the vision. That is he understood the chazown. He had seen this portion of history depicted in Nebuchanezzar’s dream. But he did not understand the mareh, the part which Gabriel was sent to explain.

Since Gabriel is a faithful angel, and he knew that he had not yet explained to Daniel that which he had been especially commissioned to explain, he returns as Daniel wrestles with the prophecy as described in chapter nine. Notice what he says when he comes to Daniel in verse 22: “‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision’” (Dan. 9:22-23, NKJV).

Which vision is it? Is it the chazown or the mareh? Which “vision” was Gabriel told to make Daniel understand in chapter eight? Which “vision “was it Daniel said he did not understand? It was the mareh. Thus the word that Gabriel uses in chapter nine is mareh. He came to explain the mareh. Thus we see clearly that verses 24 through 27 of Daniel chapter nine are an explanation of the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel chapter eight.

After explaining that the first seventy weeks are determined [Hebrew: chathak—to cut off] from the 2300 hundreds days as especially pertaining to the Jews, Gabriel provides the secret required for understanding the longest time prophecy in the Bible, the starting point: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Dan. 7:25).

The commandment to restore and build both the temple and the city (Jerusalem) is recorded in the book of Ezra: the Jews built the city “according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia” (6:14). There were four commands to build the city and the way was not fully open for the work to be completed,according to God’s will until the fourth command, which was given by King Artaxerxes of Persia. His command is recorded in Ezra chapter seven. It was given in the seventh year of his reign (7:7).

In Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, page 208 contains the following editorial footnote: “The years of Artaxerxes’ reign are among the most easily established dates of history. The Canon of Ptolemy, with its list of kings and astronomical observations, the Greek Olympiads, and allusions in Greek history to Persian affairs all combine to place the seventh year of Artaxerxes at 457 B.C. beyond successful controversion. See Sir Isaac Newton, Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, pp. 154-157.”

Beginning with 457 B.C. all of the prophecies of Daniel chapter nine fall into place. The Messiah appears on time. He is “cut off” right on time, in the middle of the sixty-ninth week. The covenant is confirmed to the “seed of Abraham” for one week, exactly per the prophecy. And the end of sacrifices is indicated by the tearing of the veil of the temple from top to bottom by an unseen hand, right on time!

Some have attempted to change the interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel eight and nine in order to invalidate certain points of Seventh-day Adventist belief. However, a comprehensive review of the chapters reveal that much more is affected by tampering with this prophecy. The cross of Christ appears right in the middle of this prophecy. Therefore changing the interpretation in order to invalidate 1844 invalidates much more than the foundation of one denomination. It denies the cross of Christ and invalidates Christianity itself.

We must continue to believe, as the 1888 messengers’ believed and proclaimed, something very special began in 1844. It was then that Christ began a very special work for His people. Hear what one messenger, A. T. Jones, said:

“There is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sin. There is a difference between the gospel being preached for the forgiveness of sins and the gospel being preached for the blotting out of sin. Always, and to-day, there is abundant provision for the forgiveness of sins. In our generation comes the provision for the blotting out of sin. And the blotting out of sin is what will prepare the way for the coming of the Lord; and the blotting out of sin is the ministry of our high Priest in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary; and it makes a difference to the people of God to-day in their ministry, in their message, and in their experience, whether they recognize ... or ... experience the fact of the change. ... That should be distinctly brought out in the third angel’s message; and with that, of course, will come the clearest revelation of the gospel ministry for this time, the blotting out of sin in this generation, thus preparing the way of the Lord” (General Conference Bulletin, 1903, pp. 53, 54; The 1888 Message An Introduction, page 162).

It is obviously Satan’s purpose to destroy the concept of the cleansing of the sanctuary and thus delay as long as possible (indefinitely if possible), the coming of Christ. May God’s purpose prevail.

Kelvin (Mark) Duncan


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