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The Seventh-day Adventist
Sanctuary-Doctrine
– OR DANIEL 8:1-27 SERIOUSLY DEFORMED –
The interpretation
of the above passage of Holy Scripture is crucial to Seventh-day Adventism's identity and to its chosen separation from the rest of the Christian Church, world-wide.
Some
other branches of Christianity share Seventh-day Adventism's concern for a 'biblically based' diet.
Others even share their corrupted view on the sabbath and ritual foot washing, but the Seventh-day Adventism (SDA) view that sets the movement apart from the rest of the Christianity is its unique interpretation of this Bible passage in Daniel – which gave rise to what they call the 'Doctrine of the Sanctuary'.
Daniel 8:14
King James Version
• 
Their teaching hangs essentially upon the meaning of the angel's word's, translated as –
  "...two thousand and three hundred days..."
• 
In order to make the conclusion of this prophetic period coincide with the year 1844, as the SDA assert, various fallacious arguments were applied to the rest of this chapter of Scripture. But untangling these is unnecessary, if this pivotal verse is understood as originally understood by those to whom it was addressed at that time, and as we should understand it today if we give do respect to Holy Scripture.
 
It
is not the number 2300 which is contentious, but the term 'days' – which Seventh-day Adventism insists really means 'years', counting them forward from 457 BC to get to their October 1844 so-called 'Great Disappointment' date.
 
• 
This was first calculated by them as being March 21, 1843, then March 21, 1844, and then finally as October 22, 1844.
 
The
SDA's prophetess, Mrs Ellen G White, simply explains their earlier misleading errors as –
"God designed to prove His people. His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods".
And so blasphemously, God is blamed for these calculation antics which dishonour Holy Scripture!
White 1888:373,
emphasis mine.
• 
The Bible's statement giving the length of this prophetic period is its own answer to the question –
"For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?"
Daniel 8:13 & 14
English Standard Version
The
answer then given by the Bible is –
"And he said to me, 'For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state'."
 
• 
A comparison of translations of this key verse of SDA doctrine, which were unfortunately not then available to these Adventists in their beginnings, is very significant.
1901 American Standard Version:  "two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed"
Contemporary English Version:  "two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, before the temple is dedicated and in use again"
Literal Translation Version:  "two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings, then the sanctuary will be put right"
God's Word version:  "2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the holy place will be made acceptable to God"
English Standard Version:  "For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state"
Modern King James Version:  "For two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be vindicated"
 
• 
Yet, a strange inconsistency in SDA doctrine appears here. Where this same phrase 'evening and morning' occurs in Genesis Chapter One, it is insisted that it must mean days of 24-hours each. But when exactly the same phrase occurs in Daniel it is insisted that it means 'years' to them.
 
• 
It should therefore be obvious that this period is not years masquerading as 'days' in the text as the SDA movement has so adamantly maintained, but that it is what it actually says in its original language – 2300 evenings and mornings – that is, real twenty-four-hour days – exactly 2300 of them. A period which then ends with the Israel's Jerusalem sanctuary being made acceptable to God again.
 
• 
Because this SDA misinterpretation leads to so much confusion on other issues it is also necessary to deal in detail with this prophetic passage to show how the SDA interpretation further compromises and twists the pure Word of God which leads to judgment, even if this is done however sincerely in ignorance.

 
1. 'Expansion of Rule' Identification  
• 
The direction referred to in holy text to describe the military expansion of the aggressor is used in SDA literature to support Ellen White's identification of the 'little horn' with the Roman Empire. The expansion of this 'little horn' is described as toward the 'south, 'east', and 'the glorious land' (Palestine to the west of Daniel). These directions are cited by the SDA as indicating the expansion of the Roman empire. A closer look however shows up their error immediately –
 
• 
For instance: the 'Ram' (Medo-Persia, Dan. 8:4) expands towards the 'west', 'north', and 'south'. East is not mentioned here because the Medo-Persians came from the east of Daniel.
 
• 
However, this 'little horn' expands his rule towards the 'south', 'east', and 'glorious land' (Palestine, west of Daniel). North is not mentioned here because the conqueror came from that direction!
 
• 
The only northern oppressor of Israel after Daniel's time was the Seleucid (Greek-Syrian) empire which, as Dan. 8:9, says came "out of one of them" (from Alexander's Greek ruled territories). This 'little horn' that does such terrible things to Israel, specifically its Covenant, desecrates the Sanctuary of God in Jerusalem, prohibits Israel's religion, and burns her Holy Scriptures.
 
• 
Unfortunately, the SDA insist that 'east' in Dan. 8:9 means Macedonia and Asia Minor. Perhaps this is so on American maps, but it was certainly not true for Daniel to whom the prophecy is directly addressed.
 
• 
The holy text's directions are described from Daniel's position as specifically spelled out in 8:2.
 
 
"And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam.
And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal."
Daniel 8:2.
• 
The SDA could be correct only if directions were described from Rome, but then 'south' would not be toward Egypt, as they do acknowledge in their teaching. To twist this 'little horn' oppressor then to mean the Roman empire is unworthy of the sincere Christian as it plays games with text of Holy Scripture.

 
2. Which Sanctuary Cleansed?  
• 
The SDA confusion is a logical consequence from their two errors of –
1. 
Misinterpreting the 'mornings and evenings' as meaning years instead of days; and,
2. 
Misinterpreting the 'little horn' as an empire rather than an individual ruler.
Consequently, cleansing or re-consecrating the Sanctuary fits nothing in history, and so the SDA needed to find some alternative explanation.
 
• 
Their explanation was that something in the unseen must therefore have changed on their 2300-'year' date – so it was something in Heaven! Christ's priestly ministry of intercession before God's throne had therefore changed. Changed to what? To some divine judicial process of investigation that needs time!
As though God really needed special time for that!
• 
If the millions whose prayers are heard before God do not strain Heaven's resources, it is passing strange that a dedicated period of time in our absence would be needed for the divine mind to investigate the worthiness of believers.
 
• 
Sadly, the real fulfilment of God's grace in history that this passage points toward in Israel's experience is thus overlooked. The sacrifice of the faithful under the oppression of Antiochus IV goes completely unnoticed!
 
• 
The momentous cleansing of the Temple Sanctuary by the warrior-priest Judas Maccabaeus in 165 BC/BCE, after 2300 days of oppression (from the murder of the godly High Priest Onias) is ignored.  This victory is still celebrated today at Chanukah, mostly, by those who do not know Jesus as Christ. Whereas, we who do ought to have an even greater appreciation of God in history!

 
3. Which 'End'?  
• 
According to the context, the term 'end' is a reference to the end of Israel's suffering of 2300 morning and evenings of 'indignation'/'wrath', and her wait for her Messiah (8:17-19). This is ignored, however, and it is interpreted as meaning the end of all things (i.e. the second coming of Jesus which it is not!). 
 
• 
If the SDA interpretation were correct it would certainly be most strange for God to refer to the end of a 2300-year period, unmarked on earth, and completely passing over the miraculous coming of Jesus, His death and His resurrection, without even mentioning Him or these unique and universe changing events. But this is the foundational Seventh-day Adventist dogmatic interpretation!

 
4. SDA Interruption Theory  
• 
According to the Bible, Gabriel said to Daniel –
 
 
"seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future".
Daniel 8:26.
 
That is beyond Daniel's time not beyond our time!
 
 
But in contradiction of this, SDA teaching says that because Daniel became ill under the impact of the vision –
 
  "Gabriel had to discontinue his explanation" ... "Because of this interruption, Gabriel had to delay his explanation of the time period" SDA Ministerial Association
1988:323.
 
that is, until the first year of Darius the Mede – 13-years-later.
• 
This theory of Gabriel's interrupted explanation is a SDA device to connect two different prophetic time periods about different issues given in different circumstances.
 
• 
SDA teaching tries to use Gabriel's message in 538 BC (the first year of Darius the Mede, in Daniel 9), to explain Gabriel's earlier message in 551 BC (the third year of Belshazzar in Daniel 8). A thirteen-year interruption in the explanation of the same vision is more than strange, especially as the prophet Daniel is used by God during this 13-year interim to interpret Belshazzar's demise and the conquest of Babylon by the Medo-Persians.
 
• 
The SDA interruption-theory does violence to the basis of Daniel's vision recorded in chapter 9. In Chapter Nine, thirteen years later than his experience in Chapter Eight, Daniel petitions God for the restoration of Israel's Temple and city,  Jerusalem, because the 70 years of judgment which Jeremiah had prophesied were coming to an end. Gabriel then brings God's answer to this prayer, by saying the level of restoration which Daniel has asked God for would take 7 times the 70 years of Jeremiah.
 
• 
This detailed answer to his particular prayer gives the basis for Israel knowing the date of Jesus' first coming – to the very day (Lk.19:44). This 490-year period (70x7) has absolutely nothing to do with chapter 8's 'vision of evenings and mornings' (given thirteen years earlier in 551 BC – which described the transition from Medo-Persian empire to Hellenistic kingdoms, and the resultant unparalleled oppression of Israel's religion in consequence).
 
 
"2300 evenings and mornings"
 
5. God's Own Explanation  
• 
The transition in Palestine from Medo-Persian to Hellenistic rule (with its later tragic consequence to Israel for 2300-days) is given in greater detail in the closing vision to Daniel (Chapters 10 to 12). It is not a continuance after an 'interruption' as is falsely claimed! This is specifically given to Daniel in response to his 21-day fast after a revelation which is never described (Dan.10:1-3). 
 
• 
Three days later, Daniel is overwhelmed by a vision that gives him insight into spiritual forces behind these coming political changes, and spells out to him in greater detail what was summarized in Daniel 8 – the time of the 'four horns'. A time in which Palestine is caught in continuing intrigues and conflict between two of these four, the rulers of –
a.  Hellenistic Syria (Seleucids, the kings 'North' of Palestine); and
b.  Hellenistic Egypt (Ptolemies, the kings 'South' of Palestine).
Chapter Ten sets the scene for God's own explanation of the vision of '2300 mornings and evenings' given in Chapter Eight of Daniel.
 
• 
The following parallel below shows the relationship between these two visions. (For those new to this passage, explanatory comments are added in brackets).
 

  Daniel the Prophet received two prophecies several years apart concerning this coming crisis period for Israel –
the first
in the 3rd year of Belshazzar the Chaldean

(Recorded in Chapter 8)
 
the second
in the 3rd year of Cyrus the Persian

(Recorded in Chapters 10-12)
"I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns [Medes and Persians], standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns [Persian] was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged towards the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great." (8:2-4)
   
   
"Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. (11:1-2)
"As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn [Alexander the Great] between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He came towards the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. (8:5-7)
 
"Then a mighty king will appear [Alexander the Great], who will rule with great power and do as he pleases.
The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off [Alexander the Great], and in its place four prominent horns [the four generals among whom the kingdom is divided] grew up toward the four winds of heaven." (8:8)
  After he has appeared his empire will be broken up and parceled out towards the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others [His four Generals]. (11:3-4)
 
"The king of the South [Ptolemy of Egypt] will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter [Berenice] of the king of the South [Ptolemy II] will go to the king of the North [Antiochus II of Syria] to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.
"One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.
"Then the king of the South
[Ptolemy V] will march out in rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North [Antiochus III] will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.
"In those times many will rise against the king of the South. The violent men among your own people
[the Jews] will rebel in fulfilment of the vision, but without success. Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader will do as he pleases; no-one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land [Palestine] and will have the power to destroy it. He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. After this, he will turn back towards the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.
"His successor
[Seleucus IV] will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendour [and pay the Romans]. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.
"Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and towards the Beautiful Land [Palestine].
 
"He will be succeeded by a contemptible person [Antiochus IV] who has not been given the honour of royalty.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host [priests of God] down to the earth and trampled on them. (8:9-10)
 
He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the Covenant [Israel's high priest] will be destroyed
[High Priest Onias III is murdered, the 2300 days begin, 171 BC].
 
After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot, and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses – but only for a time.
"With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 
   
The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy Covenant [of God with Israel]. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.
"At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him
[from Rome, 168 BC], and he will lose heart. 
It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host;
it took away the daily Sacrifice from him, and the place of his Sanctuary was brought low.
Because of rebellion
[Jewish Hellenism], the host [priesthood] and the daily Sacrifice [Temple offering] were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (8:11-12)
 
Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy Covenant.
He will return and show favour to those who forsake the holy Covenant
[Hellenized Jews].
"His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the Temple fortress and will abolish the daily Sacrifice. Then they will set up the Abomination [idol] that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the Covenant, but the people who know their God [the Hasmoneans] will firmly resist him.
"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,
and the surrender of the Sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?'
 
"Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
"The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed
[2300 days], for what has been determined must take place. 
"He said to me,
'It will take 2300 evenings and mornings; then the Sanctuary will be reconsecrated.'
[by warrior-priest Judas 'Maccabeus' in 164 BC]

"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 end of the appointed time
[the 2300 days].
The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king
[Alexander]. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
"'In the latter part of their reign, when rebels [Hellenized Jews] have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise [Antiochus IV]. He will become very strong, but not by his own power.
He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.
He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.
He will cause deceit to prosper and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes.
 
 
He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honour a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honour with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honour those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
"At the time of the end
[of the 2300-day period] the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him [Egypt] with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships.
He will invade the Beautiful Land.

Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.
He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy Mountain. [Jerusalem].
Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
The vision of the evenings-and-mornings that has been given you is true,
but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future
[to Daniel]. (8:13-26)
 
Yet he will come to his end, and no-one will help him. (11:5-45)
"I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days.
Then I got up and went about the king's business.
I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.
(8:27)
   

Click for an historically integrated time-frame of these special '2300-Days'.
Bibliography:
Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 1988:
'Seventh-day Adventists Believe ...A Biblical Exposition of Fundamental Doctrines'.
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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