Setting the record straight on our God-given authority to study end time prophecies. Groundwork to understand the time prophecies in Chapter 12 of the Book of Daniel.
For those of you who are just starting with us or if you’ve missed any of the recent studies on Daniel, let me just give you the titles of those programs so that you can go back and listen to them:
- Seventy Sevens
- Preview: Little Book of Daniel That Was Sealed
- Fascinating Structure of the Book of Daniel
- Satan’s War Against God’s Holy Covenant
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In today’s study we’re going to continue to deepen our understanding of the Book of Daniel. Our goal is to ultimately tackle the three time prophecies given in Daniel 12. Daniel 12 is the last chapter of the Book of Daniel and it contains three mysterious time prophecies: the 1260-Day, 1290-Day and 1335-Day time prophecies. I call them “mysterious” because hardly any Adventist Bible teacher discusses them, yet they’re the culmination of the entire Book of Daniel. We ignore them at our own risk and peril.
But before we can do justice to those three time prophecies which we’ll tackle in our next study, there are a few things we need to do today:
- We need to set the record straight on our God-given authority to study these prophecies. There’s a lot of fear around studying the time prophecies, because of some comments made by Sister Ellen White. These comments have been taken out of context and made a blanket application on ALL time prophecies after 1844. This is a big mistake that Satan takes pleasure in perpetuating among God’s remnant people.
- We need to revisit the core themes of the Book of Daniel so that we understand how these three time prophecies fit in as the culmination of the entire book and we could also say of the Plan of Salvation.
- We need to understand the precise meaning of two important terms in the Book of Daniel: the term translated as “the daily” and the term translated as “the abomination of desolation”. If we don’t understand these terms we won’t be able to recognize the event that triggers the prophetic countdown on the 1260, 1290 and 1335 time prophecies.
Setting the Record Straight: “There Shall Be No More Time Prophecies”
There are two scriptures that set boundaries on Bible time prophecies. Let me explain.
The First Boundary
The first boundary is that no time prophecy foretells the day nor the hour of Jesus’ Second Coming: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). The same idea is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night”.
Jesus elaborates on this idea in Matthew 24: “42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42-44).
Having said that no one can know the day nor the hour, there are two qualifiers:
In the same chapter, Matthew 24, Jesus said: “32 Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”
In Mark 13 Jesus also warns us: “35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
So Jesus clearly tells us that only the Father knows the day and the hour, but just as clearly He tells we’re to know when it’s near and we’re to watch for the signs of His coming.
Before we move on to the second boundary around the time prophecies, it’s good to know that the Lord Himself will announce to His people the day and the hour. This is absolute confirmation of a Bible principle that God will do nothing except He first reveal it to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Let’s read a couple of statements by Ellen G. White, first a one-liner from the book Early Writings, then a longer quote from the book Maranatha.
From Early Writings page 15:
“Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming”.
From Maranatha page 287:
“The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming, and delivering everlasting covenant to His people. Like peals of loudest thunder His words roll through the earth.
He spoke one sentence, and then paused, while the words were rolling through the earth. The Israel of God stood with their eyes fixed upward, listening to the words as they came from the mouth of Jehovah and rolled through the earth like peals of loudest thunder. It was awfully solemn. At the end of every sentence the saints shouted, “Glory! Hallelujah!”
The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake”.
What this means for us students of Bible prophecy is that we’re not to look for any time prophecy to tell us the day nor the hour because no such prophecy exists. It also means that when it’s pertinent for us to know, the Father Himself will tell us.
The Second Boundary
The second boundary around the time prophecies is the one that has been misused and misapplied so often: the words of the Angel of the Covenant in Revelation 10:
“1 I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”
5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay (time) no longer, 7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:1-7 NKJV).
This Angel of the Covenant is Jesus Himself. Remember now that the context of Revelation 10 is when Jesus asks John the Revelator to eat the little book that was sweet in his mouth and bitter in his stomach. In symbolic language Jesus was asking the Millerites to prophesy again. The prophesying had to do with the 2300-Day Prophecy: this is the context of the statement that there would be time no longer. It doesn’t mean that prophetic time ended. It simply means that all of the time prophecies related to the 2300-Day Prophecy ended in 1844.
Let’s now analyze the Ellen White quote that gets everyone all bent out of shape, where she explains this passage of scripture: “This time, which the angel declares with a solemn oath, is not the end of this worlds’ history, neither of probationary time, which should precede the advent of our Lord. That is, the people will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time, reaching from 1842 to 1844, there can be no definite tracing of the prophetic time. The longest reckoning reaches to the autumn of 1844” (Manuscript 59, 1900 and 7 BC p. 971).
The “prophetic time” that Ellen White refers to here is the 2300-Day Prophecy.
In another text, she wrote this other comment about the Angel of the Covenant’s statement in Revelation 10: “This message announces the end of the prophetic periods” (2 SM p. 108).
What prophetic periods is she referring to here? The same ones that the angel was referring to: all of the time periods contained within the 2300-Day Prophecy:
- the 70 weeks or 490 days
- the 7 weeks
- the 62 weeks
- the last week
- the totality of the 2300 days themselves.
Before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we need to understand Ellen White’s statement in context. Like the Lord does with His Word, we need to put boundaries around her statements or the devil will use our lack of wisdom to his advantage.
Remember that the whole point of the Jesus’ message to the Millerites is “you must prophesy again”. Why? Because they’d used the 2300-Day Prophecy, which was a prophesy related to the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary and of the beginning of the Final Judgment, to forecast the Second Coming of Jesus. They’d finally gotten their time calculations right but they misinterpreted the event.
The Lord was testing the Millerites’ faith, to see who would remain faithful after the Great Disappointment. This is why in another quote the prophet says “Time will never again be a test”. Instead of being tested on time, our generation will be tested on our obedience to the Law of God, especially the Sabbath commandment.
After the Great Disappointment there remained a group that continued to try and use the 2300-Day Prophecy to predict the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. Never again should anyone try to predict the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. In these quotes Ellen White was clearly telling them not to try to figure out the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return. She’s not telling us, the last generation, to ignore all of the future time prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, which are quite a few in number.
Why did we just spend time understanding all this? Because it’s a fatal mistake to believe that we shouldn’t study end time prophecies. God wants us to study the time prophecies He’s given us especially in Daniel and Revelation. This is why they’re given. To not study these prophecies is to take away from the Word of God, and that carries a curse with it. To not study the time prophecies is to be unprepared for the Second Coming, and that only benefits the devil. To not study the time prophecies is to deprive ourselves of the precious light that this generation needs like no other generation before us.
In conclusion, we are exhorted to search the scriptures and to study to show ourselves approved, and that includes the study of future time prophecies such as the ones found in Daniel 12.
I hope this gives you a lighter heart to prepare for our next study. It was a huge breakthrough for me to understand that the Lord wants us to study the time prophecies. Sadly the devil is using Ellen White’s statement to create strife and division within our Church and to cause many sincere children of God to refuse the light of prophetic revelation for our generation.
Review: The Core Themes of the Book of Daniel
We said that the second thing we need to accomplish today is to revisit the core themes of the Book of Daniel to understand where the time prophecies fit. Let’s do a quick review of what we’ve learned so far. We have a lot of new listeners so this is a good recap for them to catch up.
The obvious thing to repeat is that the Book of Daniel is a prophetic book. Therefore, everything we read in that book has an application for the end time, the last generation.
Another thing to really notice is the “forward movement” of the book of Daniel. It progresses through history, taking us from the world superpower in Daniel’s time, Babylon, through the succession of world superpowers. When it gets to the Roman superpower it takes us through the various manifestations of Rome – Imperial Rome, Papal Rome, then the Healed Papal Rome – until finally (after much misery if I may say so) we get to the establishment of God’s Kingdom.
By the way, let me mention that in almost every prophetic timeline given in Daniel – whether it’s Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, whether it’s the vision of the four beasts and the little horn, or whether it’s the long and detailed succession of kings and kingdoms in Daniel 11 – once Rome appears it’s present on that timeline until the very end of the world kingdoms. Rome is the last persecutor of God’s people. In the end God’s people are finally delivered from the Roman yoke. The destruction of Rome opens the way for the establishment of God’s Kingdom.
We explained that the Book of Daniel is written in two languages, Aramaic and Hebrew. We can think of them as two books within one book, but there’s an overall cohesion and unity. This is not a disjointed book. On the contrary, the themes of the Aramaic portion fit and find their place within the bigger story of the Hebrew portion. Let me explain.
What I call the bigger story of the Hebrew section of the Book of Daniel is the Great Controversy between God and Satan, in other words, Satan’s continuous warfare to seize and keep the scepter of power over the earth. We saw that warfare powerfully enacted in the vision of the male ram and the he-goat that Daniel is given in Chapter 8.
We know how the Great Controversy ends: God’s people get the victory thereby inheriting God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is able to be established because at the end of time there is a remnant people that remain faithful to Him despite all the workings of Satan and the little horn.
Let’s get a second witness in Revelation 11 of the kingdom proclamations that we find in Daniel 7. This scene takes place at the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet:
“15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
Another important aspect of the Great Controversy between God and Satan is the intermingling of supernatural beings with humans. Both God and Satan work through men to accomplish their objectives. God worked through King Cyrus to invade and conquer Babylon and deliver God’s people. Satan worked through the Kings of Persia to try and sabotage the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem in order to prevent the prophecies from being fulfilled or to delay their fulfillment.
Within the overarching storyline of the Great Controversy we can fit in the other major themes of the Book of Daniel which are so well captured in the Aramaic section of the book:
The succession of world kingdoms, each one handing the scepter of world power to the following one, and within that the appearing of the little horn or anti-christ. This theme is described in Chapters 2 and 7, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue and Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and the little horn. We find the succession of world kingdoms are a front for Satan. He tries to use all these world powers to wage war against God and His people. The baton passes from one kingdom to the next, but that scepter of power is the one in Satan’s hand that he seized from Adam at the time of the fall.
The persecution of God’s people by Babylon, a union of church and state that enforces false worship and prohibits the free expression of true worship. This theme includes the deliverance of God’s people from this church/state persecuting power. This theme is described in Chapters 3 and 6, the story of the three Hebrew young men thrown into the fiery furnace and Daniel thrown into the lions’ den.
The judgment and fall of Babylon, a proud blaspheming power. Babylon worshipped false gods and desecrated the holy things of God, in their place lifting up the profane as holy. This theme is described in Chapters 4 and 5, the story of Nebuchadnezzar being deposed from his throne and the judgment of his grandson King Belshazzar who died and lost the kingdom to the Medes and Persians. The judgment of Babylon is at the very heart of the Aramaic section of the Book of Daniel.
The Aramaic section of the Book of Daniel is organized in a chiastic structure, where the judgment of Babylon is at the center. The chiasm is an important aspect of how a lot of ancient literature is written. Listen to this great definition of a chiastic structure, provided by a literary scholar (not a Bible scholar, yet very relevant for our study of the Bible): A chiasm is “the use of bilateral symmetry about a central axis”.
The judgment of Babylon is the central axis of the Aramaic portion of the book. We see that this theme bleeds over into Chapter 7, the vision of the four beasts and the little horn, which is a transition chapter to the more complex themes of the Hebrew section of the book. The theme of the Judgment also runs through the Hebrew portion of the book, it’s a closely related theme to the great controversy.
In other words, the theme of the Great Controversy is intertwined with the theme of the Judgment. Why is that? Because Satan, the accuser of the brethren, lifted himself up to put God on trial before the universe. Satan claims that God’s law can’t or shouldn’t be kept, and therefore His government is null, that is, void of legal force.
God can’t establish His Kingdom on earth if He has no faithful subjects in this territory. If every human being on this territory is worshipping the beast, God can’t claim planet earth for His Kingdom.
But in Chapters 7 and 12 we’re given the assurance that God’s people get the victory in the judgment. This means that they were able to keep God’s law. Their obedience to God’s law, under the most trying circumstances, is evidence that God’s law and His government are just. Therefore, God Himself is vindicated in the Judgment in the eyes of the watching universe.
Let me just say one more thing about the structure of the Book of Daniel. This book actually has a prologue and an epilogue. Interesting, isn’t it?
Prologue and Epilogue
The prologue gives us the big hint about diet. It tells us that diet will be the key to a right understanding of the book, especially of the Hebrew section which uses the keyword “understanding” in every single chapter.
The epilogue tells us how the story ends. It takes us forward to the close of probation when Michael the Prince stands up, and all the way to the voice of God pronouncing a blessing upon God’s people and declaring the fulfillment of the everlasting covenant. But this epilogue isn’t just a winding down. No! This epilogue contains glorious promises and prophesies that God will keep His everlasting covenant with His people. Jesus Himself shows up in Chapter 12 of Daniel to give us that assurance.
There’s a lot more to say but I hope you’ll go back and listen to the previous studies on Daniel. Moving on now we’re going to introduce one of the two key concepts needed to understand the time prophecies in Daniel 12: “the Daily” and “the Abomination of Desolation”. Today we’re going to understand the meaning of “the Daily” and in our next study we’ll tackle “the Abomination of Desolaton”.
The Meaning of “the Daily”
Daniel 12:4 says: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end.” One of the words that was sealed up was “the daily”. Throughout the centuries there have been many interpretations of this term. Let’s read the passages in the Hebrew Book of Daniel where the term “the daily” is used. You’ll see that these are very important scriptures in the overall scheme of things.
“11 He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. 12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?” (Daniel 8:11- 13)
“And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31).
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
You can appreciate how important all of these passages are, they’re foundational to the overall story. So we really need to get a grip on the meaning of this term “the daily”, otherwise we’ll interpret these scriptures incorrectly.
Let me first explain that everywhere in the Bible except the Book of Daniel, that word – from the Hebrew root “tamiyd” – is used as an adjective or adverb that describes another word. This Hebrew root means “to stretch”, “to extend indefinitely”, as in something continual. Generally the word “tamiyd” was used in reference to the ancient Hebrew sanctuary and its sacrifices and is translated as “daily” or “continual”. The better application of this word is to something that stretches out continually, versus applying it to something that’s repeated daily.
What’s very interesting about this word is that the prophet Daniel used it as a standalone word. It’s not describing a daily sacrifice or a continual burning of the seven-branch candlestick. No, instead it’s used alone to refer to something that stretches out continually in time. So you can think of it as “the daily” or “the continual” which isn’t really a proper noun so we can say “the continuum”.
You’ll notice in your Bible that wherever the word “daily” is used the translators added the word “sacrifice” in italics. Italics means the word wasn’t in the original Hebrew language manuscript but was added afterward. In order to have a correct understanding of the daily that’s aligned with the big picture of the Book of Daniel you need to completely disregard the word “sacrifice” wherever it’s been added. It’s totally misleading! So for those of you who like to mark-up your Bibles (personally I don’t) you can go ahead and cross out that word “sacrifice” from Daniel 8:11,12 and 13, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11. The word “sacrifice” will lead you astray.
Listen to what sister Ellen White wrote about the daily in her book “Early Writings”: “Then I saw in relation to the daily that the word sacrifice was supplied by man’s wisdom, and does not belong to the text. Darkness and confusion have followed”.
Indeed, as a result, Bible scholars throughout the centuries have struggled to figure out what the daily was. Many definitions have been proposed. In Adventism the most commonly accepted definition is that the daily refers to the continual ministration of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary. The basis of Christ’s priestly ministry on our behalf is His sacrifice on the cross. So I also had interpreted the daily to mean Christ’s mediation between God and His people.
But the true meaning of the daily wouldn’t be revealed until the time of the end. The Millerites were the ones to begin to unseal the daily with all the light of revelation that was shining upon that movement. Until 1844, they had one shared view of the daily. Remember that because of Ellen White’s counsel they’d gotten rid of the word sacrifice. So they came to the conclusion that the daily means paganism.
You must be thinking: “What?” Where on earth did they get that from??
OK, this is why I took the time to do that long recap on the themes of the Book of Daniel! Let me share with you that I actually resisted this Millerite definition a bit. The reason for my resistance was that throughout the entire Old Testament the word “tamiyd” is always associated with the Sanctuary. So my reasoning was: if a word in scripture always has a certain association, would it suddenly change its garment so to speak and show up in another Old Testament book with a totally new meaning? What about consistency, right? I’m big on consistency.
But consider this. First of all, we’re going to nuance that meaning of the “daily” given by the Millerites. They were definitely onto something, but the idea wasn’t completely refined. We’re going to refine it here today.
Secondly, consider the fact that the word “daily” is used in a completely different grammatical function in the Book of Daniel from the other OT books. In Daniel it’s a standalone word, a noun. It isn’t describing anything else, like a daily sacrifice or the continual burning of the lamps or the weekly changing of the showbread.
Thirdly, consider that this key word in these key verses of the Book of Daniel needs to make sense in the overall context of that book. It needs to fit within the major and supporting themes of the Book of Daniel. That’s why I took time to play that back to you and refresh your memories because we’re going to need that knowledge now.
Let’s refine now the Millerite definition of the “daily” with the light that we’ve received as the last generation. Let’s consider the “daily” in the context of two major themes of the book of Daniel: the Great Controversy and the Succession of World Kingdoms.
Let me read you a couple of interesting quotes:
“Daniel wrote the history of the world from the standpoint of nations … he deals primarily with nations”. (The Story of the Seer of Patmos, S.N. Haskell).
“The literary structure (of the Book of Daniel) conveys a theological thrust. That theological thrust revolves around the question of “Who Has Dominion”?” Dominion is a key word in Daniel Chapter 7 where we see the successive “earthly kingdoms rise and fall, receiving dominion for a time and passing it on to a successor”. “At the apex of the chiasm stands the scene of judgment in the heavenly court”. “The pattern is one of dominion finally taken away. The vision then concludes with the giving of final, eternal and all-inclusive dominon to the Son of Man”. (William H. Shea, Symposium on Daniel, Washington Bible Research Institute).
These quotes confirm what we said about the progressive, forward movement of the Book of Daniel. The book describes the succession of world kingdoms from Babylon until God’s eternal Kingdom. The “scepter of power” is handed down from one kingdom to the next, like a baton being handed over from one runner to another in a relay race.
The three scriptures that mention the daily are in fact referring to various historical expressions of Rome, where we see Rome being handed the scepter of power by the preceeding kingdom. At the end, in Daniel 12:11, the baton is handed to the papacy after its deadly wound is healed. And that power will persecute God’s people for 3.5 literal years.
But where did this scepter of power come from? Where did the baton start? It originated in God’s throne. It was the authority to rule over the earth that God delegated to Adam in Genesis 1:26. Let’s read that: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Sadly for all of us, when Adam sinned, he forfeited the authority God had given him. Satan seized the scepter of power and ever since has refused to yield it back to Jesus, the Second Adam. The “tamiyd”, which started in God’s everlasting throne, will revert back to Jesus right before the Second Coming, in the presence of the watching universe.
This is the conclusion of the Great Controversy. This is the major theme not only of the Book of Daniel but also of the entire Bible. This is the promise of Eden Restored. The Second Adam overcame where the first Adam failed, and God WILL keep His everlasting covenant with His people. That’s how the story ends.