It sits there as a gemstone waiting to be revealed in its hundred brilliant facets. It is perhaps Adventism’s best-kept secret. The statement should in fact be the central platform of our church. It defines the cornerstone of our salvation: “In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life…This perfect atonement…” etc. —Adventist Fundamentals No. 91
To appreciate the historical significance of these words we put with them our first Statement compiled by Uriah Smith in 1872. Referring to the work of atonement in 1844 it says "…which atonement, so far from being made on the cross, which was but the offering of the sacrifice, is the very last portion of his work as priest…" —A Declaration of Fundamental Principles, p.3
The revised “Dallas” statement of 1980 was a sea-change, largely gone unnoticed. But a strategic question is what the statement does for Fundamental Belief number 24, that foundational doctrine of our church. What it does is remarkable. Number nine makes possible the peeling back of many layers of meaning to reveal a Sanctuary doctrine we can assertively take to the world. For truly, as we’ll see, our salvation lies within the Sanctuary.
Daniel’s time code of chapter 8:14 only becomes clear when we look through both ends of his telescope to obtain a macro and a micro view. In one we are given a long view of God’s salvation events reaching right down to end time. But in opting only for the long view we have missed the chapter’s context which provides the important setting upon which our Fundamental 24 is based: Calvary. We have also missed, as we will see, a most breathtaking insight into the whole plan of salvation.
The prelude to Daniel 8:14 sees the little horn power reaching up to the stars and host of heaven, pulling them down to be trampled upon. The language mirrors the actions of the great red dragon of Revelation 12:1-6 audaciously assaulting the very hosts of heaven and seeking the destruction of the boy child whose birth is so critical to messianic purpose. But the enemy stalking the heavens is finally thwarted, not by any earthly power, but by the very sacrifice he attempted to remove.
The very next words in verse 11 factor in the prince of the hosts, the one crucified under the authority of Rome. We are thus forced to look to Calvary for the fulfilment of these texts, a fact that becomes very clear in the words of chapter 9:24-27, seemingly the event to which 8:14 points.2
But it is in the instruction given to seal the words of 8:14 in verse 8:26 that the angel provides an even stronger correlation between the two passages, making it very clear that the verses of chapter 9 fulfil that of 8:14.3 The encrypted code tying 8:14 and 9:24 together reveals the only one who can fully cleanse, vindicate or restore the sanctuary to its rightful place.
Daniel’s choice of the words “evening and mornings” is significant. In verse 26 of chapter 8 it states that “the vision of the evening (ereb) and the morning (bokr) which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days (yome).” Daniel knew the word for a full day (yome) but chose not to use it in verse 14. Though the expression “evening and morning” is used in Genesis 1, it is there referring to the dark and light part of the day, a 24-hour period. An “evening” and “morning” sacrifice on the other hand marks out two specific points of time within a day. Thus, just as we have made the prophecy to refer to days/years, it is also perfectly legitimate to employ a microscopic scale of 1,150 literal days which would contain 2,300 sacrifices. In fact, whenever the Hebrew word Tamid occurs with ereb-bokr, as it does in this case, it is always referring to the evening and morning sacrifices.
The code concealed so alluringly within Daniel’s words, is summoned at a vital time in the yardstick of salvation. The beginning of the seven years of Daniel 9:27 occurred in the autumn of the year of Christ’s baptism. We position the 2,300 evenings and mornings within the period in the same way that we confirm the starting date of the whole 70 weeks of years: by working backwards from the fulfilment. So, in like manner, we trace backwards by 1,150 days from the date of Christ’s death. What event 1,150 days out from Calvary would be the natural and obvious starting point of this period of time? Given its status and mystique, the commencement would have to be of some significance would it not? It was!
A few months after His baptism, Christ went up to Jerusalem for the Passover. Just prior to that He had gained attention at the feast of Cana where against His wishes He had performed His first miracle. “My time has not yet come,” He protested. Indeed, it hadn’t. For God’s divine countdown had not yet commenced. Months later when hearing of the imprisonment of John the Baptist, Christ was able to announce that His time had come (Mark 1:14). What made the difference? Daniel’s micro-time schedule! For it was at this visit to Jerusalem that an event occurred that was to reveal the modus operandi of Daniel 8:14. And what was that event? The cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem!4
The enormity of this symbolism is surpassed only by the announcement that followed, words that might well have galvanised the attention of a whole universe. Here for the first time while on earth Christ reveals His plan, prefigured in Daniel 8:14, as to how the sanctuary would cease to be trampled under foot and restored to its rightful place. He announces his forthcoming death and resurrection. In answer to the question “under what authority do you do these things [cleanse the temple],” He responds: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” Little horn power, great red dragon, all abomination of desolations, be on notice. Unto 2,300 evenings and mornings, all will be reconciled! The hot, searing focus of cosmic attention is enflaming this end-fabric of typology, and Daniel’s code unravels! It’s Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that will bring cleansing, restoration and vindication to the sanctuary! “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:10,11).
But the decoding of Daniel’s micro-time doesn’t stop there. The effect of Christ’s actions on the crowds busily preparing for the impending Passover, that other precursor of Daniel 9:24, the blood on the lintel, must have been most disruptive. But not so much as to drown out some words delivered in parenthesis which should have reverberated around the world. And those words? “The temple he spoke of was His body” (John 2:21).
We have little difficulty ascribing full meaning to those temporal representations of Christ depicted within the heavenly sanctuary such as the showbread, the candlesticks, and tables of stone. The words of John, however, leave us no halfway measure in determining real-time fulfilment of the antitype. When the ancient sinner confessed his wrongdoing upon the lamb, that lamb became desecrated with the penitent’s sin as it were, the result of which was its slaying. Forgiveness was granted then and there at the altar of burnt offering. In its antitypical counterpart when Christ agonised in Gethsemane “even unto death,” it was because at that point He was at ground-zero with humanity’s transgressions. The combined sins of a whole planet were being placed upon Him, which He then bore “in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He, the perfect sinless man, became tarnished with our sins. “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“Unto 2,300 evenings and mornings shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Let me be so bold as to ask: Which temple had to be cleansed of our sins?
After His death and resurrection when Christ had “provided purification [cleansing] for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty in heaven” (Heb 1:3). When He arose from the grave, did He take those sins with Him? Did He still have them in His body to pollute the realms of heaven? No! Just as the Old Testament sinner could say goodbye to his mistakes at the death of the lamb, so the sins of the penitent remain buried. Just as the blood at the altar was poured into the desert sand (Leviticus 4:30), so our sins were buried in the ground with Christ, never to be exhumed. “For the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
The statement made to Christ’s detractors in John 2:21 was a bombshell. Could it be that all along it was not only the furnishings of the temple that represented Christ but the whole tabernacle itself? That just as Christ’s character could never be entombed in a box, or His Spirit within candlesticks made of pipes and wicks, so the far “greater things” of the heavenly sanctuary were actually embodied in a person and not a Lego set? We don’t have to guess. “The temple he spoke of was His body!”
The Sanctuary doctrine is meaningless, lifeless, and misleading if we don’t allow it to blossom in all 100% of its symbolism. The ancient sacrificial lamb represented characteristics that so powerfully prefigured Christ, how could we have missed the most critical of all? How could the restoration of Daniel 8:14 take place in any other way? His micro-code leaves us in no doubt. And right at the appointed time as accurately as is God’s astronomical clock, the countdown of the ages concluded. Salvation and God’s kingdom of grace were ushered in.
In describing the glory of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, John the Revelator searches for something that had been the context of his whole writing: the heavenly temple. Try as he might, He sees no such structure dominating heaven’s skyline. He need not have looked. For no display model could possibly contain the fullness of the Godhead, no object surpass the real thing. There never was a building. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22).
There was a bystander taking in the events at the temple cleansing in Jerusalem. He secretly came to Christ and asked a question that unwittingly provided a final decoding of God’s master plan. In so many words Nicodemus asked: If You are the temple of salvation, how does one find the gateway to your dwelling place? Jesus replied: You must be born again of water and the Spirit. If you want to come to the kingdom you must die with me at Calvary. You must rise again with me, and through my body come within the veil (Hebrews 10:20).
Which brings us to Daniel’s maxi-time. Does the schedule outlined above accord with our own beliefs? Note carefully our position embedded in these quotations from Fundamental Belief number 24:
a) Atonement is Calvary based: “Christ ministers on our behalf… the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross.”
b) Purification (cleansing) is a Calvary event: “The heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus.”
c) Judgment is Calvary based: “In 1844 at the end of the prophetic period of 2,300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.”
d) Judgment is “revelatory” rather than determinative, delivering a foregone conclusion: It “reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ… it also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him therefore are ready for translation.”
To assign salvation to our standing in Christ as we so do is to take on board all that is implicit in that term. There is not one thing more that can be achieved by the ministry of our high priest in heaven that is not already a reality in Him.5 Within the heavenly veil we are harboured by the one who “does not live in temples made with hands,” but is the one “in whom we live and move and have our being?” (Acts 17:24,28).
Amidst the cataclysmic convulsion of God’s Day of Judgment depicted in Revelation 11:18, a remarkable verse follows: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within the temple was seen the ark of his covenant.” Daniel’s short view and his long view merge. Both his micro- and macro-prophecies come together within the heart of the Sanctuary. In God’s hour of judgment, man’s only refuge is to be found within the veil. That means nothing less than to be found “in Christ.” To be “within Christ” and “within the veil” mean exactly the same.
What an incredible Sanctuary message we can take to the world!
1. The statement reflects the words of Ellen White in the Review and Herald, September 24, 1901: “He [Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. ‘It is enough,’ He said. ‘The atonement is complete.’”
2. The conditions in the run-up to verse 14 relate to the removal of the daily sacrifice, the demise of the sanctuary and of truth, of desolations, and the trampling underfoot of the hosts. Significantly these issues are also given attention in Daniel 9:24-27, specifically the bringing to an end of sacrifice, the anointing of the holy one (the prince of the hosts) and the abomination that desolates. The close correlation between Daniel 8:1-14, 16-27, and chapter 9:24-27 begs the conclusion that the latter enlarges upon, and indeed outlines the fulfilment of the former. (See SDA Commentary on Daniel 11:31 and Samuel Tregelles on Daniel 8:14.
3. Note the words of verse 26: “But seal up [satham] the vision [chazon] for it concerns the distant future.” Now come to 9:24 where we discover the same phrase: “to seal up [chatam] vision [chazon] and prophecy” The word satham in 8:26 suggests a sealing up of the vision, just as the text states. Chatam of 9:24 on the other hand infers a “confirming or ratifying” of the vision (SDA Commentary on 9:24). Jamieson Fausset and Brown is even more specific: “To give the seal of confirmation to the prophet and his vision by the fulfilment.” And note particularly the words of Horatius Bonar, with his reference back to 8:24: “To ‘seal vision and prophecy;’ that is, consummate, establish, fulfil, and complete them, settling them as true, and bringing to their end the things foreshown in them (8:24)” (The Quarterly Journal of Prophecy 1869 Volume XXI). Indeed, chatham would be out of character with the accompanying phrases if used in any way other than that of fulfilment.
4. The datum points for the calculations here used are the Passover events within the three-and-one-half years of Christ’s ministry. The 1,150 day starting point mentioned is predicated on the period of the four feasts extending over a longer time than a precise three years. It is important therefore to note the migratory nature of Passover dates, which enabled one commentator to put the date of this visit to Jerusalem at “more than three years” before his Crucifixion (Jamieson Fausset and Brown on Mark 14:57). Normally confined by adjustment to the Spring months of March/April, Passover dates can drift over a period of six or more weeks depending on a number of factors not the least being the timing of the barley harvest. Because of the Jewish lunar calendar’s non-alignment with the solar year, 30-day intercalary months were added which, along with the nomadic dates of the new moon, will explain how 1,150 days of lunar-based events could fall outside of 1,095 solar days (3 years) in the four-Passover cycle here involved. Insertions of the 30-day adjustments were at the discretion of the Sanhedrin being influenced in their decision “not by astronomic considerations alone, but also, in some measure, by the forwardness or backwardness of the season” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 158). This same source states that these 30-day insertions took place an average of “8 years out of every 19,” that is, a little over every two years. The historian Herodias referring to the similarly structured Greek lunar calendar, along with the Greek astronomer Geminus, confirm that a 30-day intercalary month was added every second new year to that calendar (EJ Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World. 1968. pp. 44-45). By applying the above indicators to the four Passovers in question (specifically using a combination of both seasonal and intercalary periods or incrementally thereof) we can arrive at the following result: 1,080 (360 x 3) plus 60 (30 x 2) plus an additional 3 days for the known lunar crescent date of AD 27 over that of AD 30 (and similarly for an AD 33 crucifixion), we have a total of 1,143 days, plus an additional few days for the fact that Christ went up to Jerusalem before the Passover (John 2:13). The result? 1,150 days!
5. We are a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17); we triumph in Him (2 Cor. 2:14); we are clothed with His righteousness in Him (Gal. 3:27); are sanctified in Him (1 Cor. 1:2); given grace in Him (2 Tim. 1:9); experience freedom in Him (Gal. 2:4); have the promise of life (2 Tim. 1:1); presented perfect in Him (Col. 1:28); live a godly life (2 Tim. 13:12); have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1); are seated in heavenly realms in Him (Heb. 1:3).
*All Bible quotations in this article are from the New International Version unless otherwise indicated. All emphasis throughout are mine.
Kevin Ferris is Sabbath School Director at Springwood Adventist Church in Brisbane, Australia.
Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash
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