Pre-Advent Judgement made simple
In Daniel 8:1, Daniel tells us he had a dream during the reign of Belshazzar. The first thing Daniel sees (Daniel 8:2-4) is a ram with two horns—one horn bigger than the other. Babylon is about to pass off historys stage, and Daniel 8:20 tells us explicitly that the ram represents Medo-Persia. The Persians pushed to the west, north and south (verse 4) and devoured the Babylonian empire.
The second animal (Daniel 8:5-7) is a goat with a notable horn between its eyes that built a vast empire with amazing swiftness. The notable horn (Alexander the Great) is broken off and replaced by four horns (his four generals), just as the leopard had four heads. And just in case there is any doubt as to what the goat represents, in Daniel 8:20, 21 the angel tells us explicitly that its Greece!
The next kingdom in this vision, of course, is Rome—we know that, historically speaking, this is a fact. Daniel 8:9-12 refers to Rome as a “little horn.” (See: The Little horn of Daniel 8 is Rome).
Now in Daniel 7, there is a vision similar to this one wherethe little horn is followed by a description of the judgment (Daniel 7:13-14, 21-22, 26-27). The progression of Daniel 7 runs like this:
Babylon- Medo-Persia - Greece - Rome- Little Horn - Judgment.
Daniel 7 gives more detail regarding the “little horn” and separates it from Rome. So far, in Daniel 8, the progression runs like this:
Medo-Persia- Greece - Little Horn (Rome) - ???
If you were to hazard a guess as to what comes after the little horn, what do you suppose it would be? The judgment? It would make sense. Daniel 8:14 describes it this way:
“Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
Now the progression of events in Daniel 8 runs like this:
Medo-Persia- Greece - Little Horn (Rome) - sanctuary cleansed in 2300 days
Notice that for all of the other parts of the vision (ram, goat, little horn), Gabriel elaborated and gave Daniel more information. He even named Medo-Persia and Greece by name! But when you look for Gabriels explanation of the sanctuary being cleansed in 2300 days (literally evenings and mornings), you dont have much. In Daniel 8:26, Gabriel simply says:
“And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
And thats it! No further explanation is given. Does that mean we were never meant to understand it? Of course not. The Bible gives us a number of important clues to help us figure out what the “cleansing of the sanctuary” represents:
1. Daniel 8:17 tells us that the vision has to do with the time of the end.
2. Daniel 8:18, 19 tells us that the vision deals with an appointed time. This is important! Acts 17:31 speaks about something “appointed” in connection with the time of the end—the judgment!
"Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.."
The date for the judgment has already been set. It all fits.
In Daniel 7, the reign of the little horn was followed by the judgment.
In Daniel 8, the same thing happens—except now we learn that the date for the judgment has already been set.
(Some people have tried to figure out the date for the Second Coming from this prophecy, but that's impossible—see Matthew 24:36. This prophecy points us to the judgment, not the Second Coming.) It will convene on an appointed day, just before Jesus comes.
3. Daniel 8:14 tells us this prophecy has something to do with the sanctuary. In fact, everything in this chapter refers to the sanctuary. It talks about a sanctuary and sacrifices, and uses only animals that were used as sacrifices. (Clean animals—the animals in Daniel 7 were unclean). God is drawing our attention to the ancient sanctuary!
Everything in the ancient Israelite sanctuary pointed to Jesus Christ—the sacrifices, the furniture, everything. It was carefully constructed as an object lesson in the plan of salvation. In fact, in Exodus 25:8, 9 and Hebrews 8:5, we discover that Moses constructed the tabernacle very carefully—according to exact specifications in a Divine blueprint! The earthly sanctuary he built was a shadow, or copy of the heavenly sanctuary, where Jesus now serves as our heavenly High Priest (see Hebrews 8:1, 2).
What does the sanctuary have to do with the judgment? Everything! There were seven special feasts held each year in the sanctuary, and each of them pointed to something Jesus would do for us. For example, at the Passover, a lamb was slain, pointing forward to Jesus death on the cross. The Feast of Firstfruits pointed forward to the resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:20). These feasts are all described in Leviticus 23.
One of these feasts—known as the “Day of Atonement” (or Yom Kippur)—was especially solemn. It was known as a day of judgment. You had to be sure that everything was right with God, or you would be cut off from His people forever (see Leviticus 23:26-29). And still to this day, many Jews greet each other on this solemn day with the expression,“May your name be sealed in the book!”
Daniel 8 is directing our attention to this this solemn feast—a day of judgment. It was the day on which the high priest cleansed the sanctuary! All through the year, people would sacrifice animals (symbolically pointing forward to the cross), confessing their sins over them, and the blood would be taken into the sanctuary. This was symbolic of Jesus taking all of our sins on Himself and presenting His blood before the throne of God on our behalf.
There was only one problem with the arrangement. The sanctuary was also Gods dwelling place—and sin cannot dwell in the presence of God forever. So once a year, the high priest would cleanse the sanctuary of all the sins that had been symbolically transferred into it—on the day of judgment. Leviticus 16:15, 16 provides a description of what happened. On the 10th day of the 7th month, every year, a special service was conducted to cleanse the sanctuary of sins. And one day, at the judgment, God is going to put a stop to sin forever. Time will eventually run out for sinners to claim the gift of salvation.
Daniel 8 points to the day of judgment—there is no question about it. God is warning us, in love, that time is going to run out. One day it will be too late to confess your sins and accept the free gift of salvation. One day it will be too late to follow Jesus. The court of Heaven will finish its work and all decisions will be final.
One day, it will be too late. When will that be? For certain, we don't know when the judgment is finished, because we don't know when the Second Coming will take place. But is God trying to tell us when the judgment would begin? Why did Gabriel say that the judgment would take place in 2300 days? (A clue—dont forget that in Bible prophecy, a day represents a year.)
God has appointed a specific time for the judgment to begin (Acts 17:31). Daniel tells us that there is anappointed time at the end (Daniel 8:17, 19). Daniel's vision led us into a discussion of the “cleansing of the sanctuary,” (Daniel 8:14) which we discovered was a reference to the Day of Atonement—a special annual feast the Israelites regarded as a day of judgment. The angel Gabriel told Daniel that the“cleansing of the sanctuary” was going to take place in 2300 days, which in Bible prophecy represents 2300 years (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34).
In Exodus 25:8, 9, God instructs Moses to build an earthly sanctuary according to a plan that he was shown (see also Acts 7:44 and Hebrews 8:5). This plan was a blueprint based on a sanctuary in heaven! The ancient Israelite sanctuary was a type, or shadow, of the ministry of our heavenly High Priest (Jesus Christ) in heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1, 2). Everything that took place in the earthly sanctuary foreshadowed some aspect of Christ s ministry for our sinful world. Even the furniture and physical layout (see Hebrews 9:1-6) pointed to Christ.
The sanctuary was divided into two compartments—the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. In the Holy Place, you could find a golden candlestick (pointing to the“Light of the World,” John 8:12), a table of shewbread (pointing to the “Bread of Life,” John 6:35, 51), and an altar of incense (representing the prayers of the saints ascending to God, Revelation 8:4). In the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant, with two angels perched on the lid, representing the throne of God. It was literally the place where the presence of God rested when He was in the sanctuary (see, for example, 8:6-13 and Psalm 99:1). Inside the Ark was the ten commandment moral law of God, representing the fact that God s government is based on the rule of law. Of course, the lid on the Ark is called the mercy seat! Our God is not only perfectly just, but He is also perfectly merciful! (In Revelation 11:19, the “temple of God” is opened in heaven, and John is given a glimpse the“Ark,” or throne of God.)
The earthly priests went into the Holy Place every day. Blood from sacrificial animals (pointing out our need for the blood of Christ) was sprinkled against the veil. Only the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year (Hebrews 9:7). This happened on the Day of Atonement, when the sanctuary was cleansed of all the sins that had been symbolically transferred into it. According to 16, two goats were selected. One of them was to be the Lord s goat; the other a scapegoat. Aaron, the High Priest, sacrificed the Lord's goat and sprinkled its blood seven times before the mercy seat, on the Ark of the Covenant. Thus the sanctuary was cleansed. Sin was symbolically eradicated by the blood of Christ! Leviticus 16:20-22 tells us that the sins from the sanctuary were then symbolically placed on the scapegoat, and it was driven out into the wilderness to die.
This system of cleansing the sanctuary went on year after year for hundreds of years. But when Christ came and died on the cross of Calvary, this system of sacrifices was no longer needed because the Lamb of God (to whom all the sacrificial animals pointed) had been slain for our sins once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). The veil in the temple was torn in two the moment Christ died, signifying that the sacriÞcial system in earth s sanctuary had come to an end (Matthew 27:51).
According to Hebrews 9:24, when Jesus returned to heaven, He went into the heavenly sanctuary to serve as our High Priest. 1 John 2:1 reminds us that He serves as our advocate. Sin will not be permitted to go on forever, however. In Hebrews 9:26-28 we are told that“once in the end of the world” Jesus will put away sin forever. When He returns, it will be “without sin” (Hebrews 9:28).
The prophecy of Daniel 8:14 points us forward to this time. This is the longest time prophecy in the entire Bible: 2300 years until the sanctuary is cleansed, or the heavenly judgment will convene. To help Daniel understand, Gabriel appears in another vision by which Daniel can understand and calculate the first (Daniel 9:25-27). Daniel is told that 70 weeks are “determined” (or literally, “cut off” from the 2300 year prophecy) for his people. Who are Daniels people? The Jews. The 2300 year prophecy is divided into two parts for simplicity's sake: the first 70 weeks (70 x 7 = 490 years) is for the Jewish people. The remaining 1,810 years take us down to the time of the judgment.
In Daniel 9:25, we learn that the date that marks the beginning of both the 490 years for the Jews and the 2300 years until the judgment is when the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem is given. In 457 B.C., the Persian king Artaxerxes sent the Jews back to Jerusalem, along with all the supplies they would need, to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:13, 20, 23, 27). If you add 490 years to 457 B.C., you come to 34 A.D. (remember that you must add a year when you cross the B.C./A.D. line). A.D. 34 happens to be the year that Stephen was stoned and the gospel was taken to the Gentile world!
Daniel 9:25 tell us that the Messiah would appear after “seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.” That's a total of 69 prophetic weeks, or 483 years. That takes us to 27 A.D., the very year that Jesus was baptized and began His ministry as the Messiah! (Luke 3:1 tells us that He was baptized in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar.) Daniel 9:26 tells us that some time after 27 A.D., Jesus would be “cut off,” and then after that, the sanctuary and the city would be destroyed (compare with Matthew 23:37-39; 24:2). True to God's Word, Jerusalem was ransacked by the Roman General Titus in 70 A.D. Then in Daniel 9:27, we are told that Jesus would confirm the covenant with the Jews for one week, or seven years. This is precisely the period of time between 27 A.D. (His baptism) and 34 A.D. (when the gospel went to the Gentiles). In the middle of this period, He was “cut off” (compare with Isaiah 53:8) for our sins. This happened in the spring of 31 A.D., right on schedule! At this point, the sacrificial system came to an end. The veil in the temple was torn in two.
We know the 490 years began in 457 B.C. And 2300 years from 457 B.C. takes us to 1844. That means that in 1844, the judgment scene depicted in Daniel 7:9, 10 began. The judgment is already underway, today! This is in keeping with the spectacular warning message given to the world just before Jesus returns—in Revelation 14:6, 7, a worldwide message declares that the “hour of His judgment is come.”
Revelation 3:5 tells us that Jesus will stand for us in the judgment, if we will let Him and 1 John 2:1 tells us that He is eager to represent us before the Father!