Bible Studies - Prophecy

2,300 Day Prophecy

All Bible texts are from the King James Version.



The longest time prophecy in Scripture is found in Daniel 8:14 :-

"And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."


A lot of people find it hard to understand the prophecies of the Bible, but they should take heart. Daniel, the very man who was given this vision, did not understand it and his lack of understanding made him sick.

Daniel 8:27 "And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it."

The reason why Daniel's lack of understanding made him so sick is because he knew of Jeremiah's prophecy that the Jews would be in captivity in Babylon for 70 years (see Jeremiah 25:1, 11.) He also knew that the seventy years was nearly over, yet now he had a vision that seemed to be saying that the temple services would not recommence until after 2,300 days or years (see Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 for the day / year principle in prophecy) from some date in the future. This terribly concerned Daniel for without the sheding of blood within the Sanctuary system there would be no forgiveness of sins in his dispensation.

However, God is merciful and He sent the Gabriel, an exceedingly powerful angel, to give Daniel understanding:-

Daniel 9:21-23 "Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision."



When did the 2,300 day prophecy commence?

Daniel 9:25-27 "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

The angel gives to Daniel the event which is to mark the commencement of the seventy weeks. They were to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. And not only is the event given which was to determine the time of the commencement of this period, but those events also which were to transpire at its close. Thus a double test is provided by which to try the application of this prophecy. But more than this, the period of seventy weeks is divided into three grand divisions, and one of these is again divided, and the intermediate events are given which were to mark the termination of each one of these divisions. If, now, we can find a date which will harmonize with all these events, we have, beyond a doubt, the true application; for none but that which is correct could meet and fulfil so many conditions. Let the reader take in at one view the points of harmony to be made, that he may be the better prepared to guard against a false application. First, we are to find, at the commencement of the period, a commandment going forth to restore and build Jerusalem. To this work of restoration seven weeks are allotted. As we reach the end of this first division, seven weeks from the commencement, we are to find, secondly, Jerusalem, in its material aspect, restored, the work of building the street and the wall fully accomplished. From this point sixty-two weeks are measured off; and as we reach the termination of this division, sixty-nine weeks from the beginning, we are to see thirdly, the manifestation before the world of the Messiah the Prince. One week more is given us, completing the seventy. Fourthly, in the midst of this week the Messiah is to be cut off, and to cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and fifthly, when the last week of that period which was allotted to the Jews as the time during which they were to be the special people of God expires, we naturally look for the going forth of the blessing and work of God to other people.

We now inquire for the initial date which will harmonize with all these particulars. The command respecting Jerusalem was to include more than mere building. There was to be restoration; and by this we must understand all the forms and regulations of civil, political, and judicial society. When did such a command go forth? At the time these words were spoken to Daniel, Jerusalem lay in complete and utter desolation, and had thus been lying for seventy years. The restoration, pointed to in the future, must be its restoration from this desolation. We then inquire, When and how was Jerusalem restored after the seventy years' captivity?

There are but four events which can be taken as answering to the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. These are:

  1. The decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the house of God, B.C. 536 (Ezra 1:1-4);
  2. The decree of Darius for the prosecution of the work, which had been hindered, B.C. 519 (Ezra 6:1-12);
  3. The decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra, B.C. 457 (Ezra 7);
  4. The commission to Nehemiah from the same king in his twentieth year, B.C. 444 (Nehemiah 2).

Dating from the first two of these decrees, the seventy weeks, being weeks of years, 490 years in all, would fall many years short of reaching even to the Christian era; besides, these decrees had reference principally to the restoration of the temple and the temple-worship of the Jews, and not to the restoration of their civil state and polity, all of which must be included in the expression, "To restore and to build Jerusalem."

These made a commencement of the work. They were preliminary to what was afterward accomplished. But of themselves they were altogether insufficient, both in their dates and in their nature, to meet the requirements of the prophecy; and thus failing in every respect, they cannot be brought into the controversy as marking the point from which the seventy weeks are to date. The only question now lies between the decrees which were granted to Ezra and to Nehemiah respectively.

The facts between which we are to decide here are briefly these: In 457 B.C., a decree was granted Ezra by the Persian emperor Artexerxes Longimanus to go up to Jerusalem with as many of his people as were minded to go with him. The commission granted him an unlimited amount of treasure, to beautify the house of God, to procure offerings for its service, and to do whatever else might seem good unto him. It empowered him to ordain laws, set magistrates and judges, and execute punishment even unto death; in other words, to restore the Jewish state, civil and ecclesiastical, according to the law of God and the ancient customs of that people. Inspiration has seen fit to preserve this decree; and a full and accurate copy of it is given in the seventh chapter of the book of Ezra. In the original, this decree is given, not in Hebrew, like the rest of the book of Ezra, but in the Chaldaic (or Eastern Aramaic), the language then used at Babylon; and thus we are furnished with the original document by virtue of which Ezra was authorised to restore and build Jerusalem.

Thirteen years after this, in the twentieth year of the same king, B.C. 444, Nehemiah sought and obtained permission to go up to Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2. Permission was granted him, but we have no evidence that it was anything more than verbal. It pertained to him individually, nothing being said about others going up with him. The king asked him how long a journey he wished to make, and when he would return. He received letters to the governors beyond the river, to help him on his way to Judea, and an order to the keeper of the king's forest for timber for beams, etc. When he arrived at Jerusalem, he found rulers and priests, nobles and people, already engaged in the work of building Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:16. These were, of course, acting under the decree given to Ezra thirteen years before. And finally, Nehemiah, having arrived at Jerusalem, finished the work he came to accomplish, in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:15.

Now which of these commissions, Ezra's or Nehemiah's constitutes the decree for the restoration of Jerusalem, from which the seventy weeks are to be dated? It hardly seems that there can be any question on this point.

  1. The grant to Nehemiah cannot be called a decree. It was necessary that a Persian decree should be put in writing, and signed by the king. Daniel 6:8. Such was the document given to Ezra; but Nehemiah had nothing of the kind, his commission being only verbal. If it be said that the letters given him constituted the decree, then the decree was issued, not to Nehemiah, but to the governors beyond the river; besides, these would constitute a series of decrees, and not one decree, as the prophecy contemplates.

  2. The occasion of Nehemiah's petition to the king for permission to go up to Jerusalem was the report which certain ones, returning, had brought from thence, that those in the province were in great affliction and reproach, also that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates thereof burned with fire. Nehemiah 1. Whose work were these walls and gates that were broken down and burned with fire? - Evidently the work of Ezra and his associates; for it cannot for a moment be supposed that the utter destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, one hundred and forty-four years previous to that time, would have been reported to Nehemiah as a matter of news, nor that he would have considered it, as he evidently did, a fresh misfortune, calling for a fresh expression of grief. A decree, therefore, authorizing the building of these, had gone forth previous to the grant to Nehemiah; and the attempt that had been made to execute the work, had fallen into embarrassment, which Nehemiah wished to relieve.

  3. If any should contend that Nehemiah's commission must be a decree, because the object of his request was that he might build the city, it is sufficient to reply, as shown above, that gates and walls had been built previous to his going up; besides, the work of building which he went to perform was accomplished in fifty-two days; whereas, the prophecy allows for the building of the city, seven weeks, or forty-nine years.

  4. There was nothing granted to Nehemiah which was not embraced in the decree to Ezra; while the latter had all the forms and conditions of a decree, and was vastly more ample in its provisions.

  5. It is evident from the prayer of Ezra, as recorded in Chapter 9:9 of his book, that he considered himself fully empowered to proceed with the building of the city and the wall; and it is evident that he understood, further, that the conditional prophecies concerning his people were then fulfilled, from the closing words of that prayer, in which he says, "Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldst not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?" Ezra 9:14.

  6. Reckoning from the commission to Nehemiah, B.C. 444, the dates throughout are entirely disarranged; for from that point the troublesome times which were to attend the building of the street and wall, did not last seven weeks, or forty-nine years. Reckoning from that date, the sixty nine weeks, or 483 years, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince, bring us to A.D. 40; but Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring him his son, in A.D. 27, thirteen years before. According to this calculation, the midst of the last or seventieth week, which is marked by the crucifixion, is placed in A.D. 44, but the crucifixion took place in A.D. 31, thirteen years previous. And lastly, the seventy weeks, or 490 years, dating from the twentieth of Artaxerxes, extend to A.D. 47, with absolutely nothing to mark their termination. Hence if that be the year, and the grant to Nehemiah the event, from which to reckon, the prophecy has proved a failure. As it is, it only proves that theory a failure which dated the seventy weeks from Nehemiah's commission in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.

  7. Will these dates harmonize if we reckon from the decree to Ezra? Let us see. In this case, 457 B.C. is our starting point. Forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the city and the wall. On this point, Prideaux (Connexion, Vol 1, p. 322) says: "In the fifteenth year of Darius Nothus ended the first seven weeks of Daniel's prophecy. For then the restoration of the church and state of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea was fully finished, in that last act of reformation which is recorded in the thirteenth chapter of Nehemiah, from the twenty-third verse to the end of the chapter, just forty-nine years after it had been commenced by Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus." This was B.C. 408.

So far we find harmony. Let us apply the measuring-rod of the prophecy still further. Sixty- nine weeks, or 483 years, were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Dating from B.C. 457, they end in A.D. 27. And what event then occurred? Luke thus informs us: "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:21, 22; margin, A.D. 27. After this, Jesus came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled." Mark 1:14, 15. The time here mentioned must have been some specific, definite, and predicted period; but no prophetic period can be found then terminating, except the sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy of Daniel, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince. The Messiah had now come; and with his own lips he announced the termination of that period which was to be marked by his manifestation.

Here, again, is indisputable harmony. But further, the Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many for one week. This would be the last week of the seventy, or the last seven years of the 490. In the midst of the week, the prophecy informs us, he should cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. These Jewish ordinances, pointing to the death of Christ, could cease only at the cross; and there they did virtually come to an end, though the outward observance was kept up till the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D.70. After threescore and two weeks, according to the record, the Messiah was to be cut off. It is the same as if it had read: And after threescore and two weeks, in the midst of the seventieth week, shall Messiah be cut off, and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Now, as the word midst here means middle, according to an abundance of authority which we might produce if necessary, the crucifixion is definitely located in the middle of the seventieth week.

It now becomes an important point to determine in what year the crucifixion took place. The following evidence is sufficient to be considered absolutely decisive on this question.

It is not to be questioned that our Saviour attended every Passover that occurred during his public ministry; and we have mention of only four such occasions previous to his crucifixion. These are found in the following passages: John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 13:1. At the last-mentioned Passover he was crucified. From facts already established, let us then see where this would locate the crucifixion. As he began his ministry in the autumn of A.D. 27, his first Passover would occur the following spring, A.D. 28; his second A.D. 29; his third A.D. 30; and his fourth and last, A.D. 31. This gives us three years and a half for his public ministry, and corresponds exactly to the prophecy that he should be cut off in the midst, or middle, of the seventieth week. As that week of years commenced in the autumn of A.D. 27, the middle of the week would occur three and one-half years later, in the spring of 31, where the crucifixion took place. Dr Hales quotes Eusebius, A.D. 300, as saying: "It is recorded in history that the whole time of our Saviour's teaching and working miracles was three years and a half, which is the half of a week (of years). This, John the evangelist will represent to those who critically attend to his Gospel."

Of the unnatural darkness which occurred at the crucifixion, Hales, Vol 1, p. 69, 70, thus speaks: "Hence it appears that the darkness which 'overspread the whole land of Judea' at the time of our Lord's crucifixion was preternatural, 'from the sixth until the ninth hour,' or from noon till three in the afternoon, in its duration, and also in its time, about full moon, when the moon could not possibly eclipse the sun. The time it happened, and the fact itself, are recorded in a curious and valuable passage of a respectable Roman Consul, Aurelius Cassiodoruis Senator, about A.D. 514: 'In the consulate of Tiberius Caesar Aug. V and Aelius Sejanus (U.C. 784, A.D. 31), our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, on the 8th of the Calends of April, (25th of March), when there happened such an eclipse of the sun as was never before nor since.

"In this year, and in this day, agree also the Council of Ceasarea, A.D. 196 or 198, the Alexandrian Chronicle, Maximus Monachue, Nicephorus Constantinus, Cedrenus; and in this year, but on different days, concur Eusebius and Epiphanius, followed by Kelper, Bucher, Pantinus, and Petavius, some reckoning it the 10th of the Calends of April, others the 13th."

Here, then, are thirteen creditable authorities locating the crucifixion of Christ in the spring of A.D. 31. We may therefore set this down as a fixed date, as the most cautious or the most skeptical could require nothing more conclusive. This being the middle of the last week, we have simply to reckon backward three and a half years to find the sixty-nine of the weeks ended, and forward from that point three and a half years to find the termination of the whole seventy. Thus going back from the crucifixion, A.D. 31, spring, three and a half years, we find ourselves in the autumn of A.D. 27, where, as we have seen, the sixty-nine weeks ended, and Christ commenced his public ministry. And going from the crucifixion forward 3 and a half years, we are brought to the autumn of A.D. 34, as the grand terminating point of the whole period of the seventy weeks. This date is marked by the martyrdom of Stephen, the formal rejection of the gospel of Christ by the Jewish Sanhedrin in the persecution of his disciples, and the turning of the apostles to the Gentiles. Acts 9:1-18. And these are just the events which one would expect to take place when that specified period which was cut off for the Jews, and allotted to them as a peculiar people, should fully expire.

A word respecting the date of the seventh of Artaxerxes, when the decree for restoring Jerusalem was given to Ezra, and the array of evidence on this point is complete. Was the seventh of Artexerxes B.C. 457? For all those who can appreciate the force of facts, the following testimony will be sufficient here:-

"The Bible gives the data for a complete system of chronology, extending from the creation to the birth of Cyrus - a clearly ascertained date. From this downward we have the undisputed canon of Ptolemy, and the undoubted era of Nabonassar, extending below our vulgar era. At the point where inspired chronology leaves us, this canon of undoubted accuracy commences. And thus the whole arch is spanned. It is by the canon of Ptolemy that the great prophetical period of seventy weeks is fixed. The canon places the seventh year of Artexerxes in the year B.C. 457; and the accuracy of this canon is demonstrated by the concurrent agreement of more than twenty eclipses. This date we cannot change from B.C. 457, without first demonstrating the inaccuracy of Ptolemy's canon. To do this it would be necessary to show that the large number of eclipses by which its accuracy has been repeatedly demonstrated have not been correctly computed; and such a result would unsettle every chronological date, and leave the settlement of epochs and the adjustment of eras entirely at the mercy of every dreamer, so that chronology would be of no more value than mere guesswork. As the seventy weeks must terminate in A.D. 34 unless the seventh of Artaxerxes is wrongly fixed, and as that cannot be changed without some evidence to that effect, we inquire, What evidence marked that termination? The time when the apostles turned to the Gentiles harmonizes with that date better than any other which has been named. And the crucifixion in A.D. 31, in the midst of the last week, is sustained by a mass of testimony which cannot be easily invalidated." - Advent Herald.

From the facts above set forth, we see that, reckoning the seventy weeks from the decree given to Ezra in the seventh of Artaxerxes, B.C. 457, there is the most perfect harmony throughout. The important and definite events of the manifestation of the Messiah at his baptism, the commencement of his public ministry, the crucifixion, and the turning away from the Jews to the Gentiles, with the proclamation of the new covenant, all come in in their exact place, and like a bright galaxy of blazing orbs of light, cluster round to set their seal to the prophecy, and make it sure.

It is thus evident that the decree to Ezra in the seventh of Artexerxes, B.C. 457, is the point from which to date the seventy weeks. That was the going forth of the decree in the sense of the prophecy. The two previous decrees were preparatory and preliminary to this; and indeed they are regarded by Ezra as parts of it, the three being taken as one great whole. For in Ezra 6:14 , we read: "And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia." It will be noticed that the decrees of these three kings are spoken of as one - "the commandment (margin, 'decree,' singular number) of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes" showing that they are all reckoned as a unit, the different decrees being but the successive steps by which the work was accomplished. And this decree could not be said to have 'gone forth,' as intended by the prophecy, till the last permission which the prophecy required was embodied in the decree, and clothed with the authority of the empire. This point was reached in the grant given to Ezra, but not before. Here the decree assumed the proportions, and covered the ground, demanded by the prophecy, and from this point its 'going forth' must be dated.


With the seventy weeks we are now done; but there remain a longer period and other important events to be considered. The seventy weeks are but the first 490 years of the 2,300. Take 490 from 2,300 and there remain 1810. The 490, as we have seen, ended in the autumn of A.D. 34. It to this date we now add the remaining 1810 years, we shall have the termination of the whole period. This to A.D. 34, autumn, add 1810, and we have the autumn of A.D. 1844. Thus speedily and surely do we find the termination of the 2,300 days, when once the seventy weeks have been located.

One other point should here be noticed. We have seen that the seventy weeks are the first 490 days of the 2,300; that these days are prophetic, signifying literal years, according to the Bible rule, a day for a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), as is proved by the fulfilment of the seventy weeks, and as all reliable expositors agree; that they commenced in 457 B.C. and ended in A.D. 1844, provided the number is right, and twenty-three hundred is the correct reading. With this point established, there would seem to be no room for further controversy. On this point Dr. Hales remarks:-

"There is no number in the Bible whose genuineness is better ascertained than that of the 2,300 days. It is found in all the printed Hebrew editions, in all the MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi's collations, and in all the ancient versions, except the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, which reads 2,400, followed by Symmachus; and some copies noticed by Jerome, 2,200, both evidently literal errors in excess and defect, which compensate each other and confirm the mean, 2,300." - Chronology, Vol II, p 512.

The query may here arise how the days can be extented to the autumn of 1844 if they commence 457 B.C., as it requires only 1843 years, in addition to the 457, to make the whole number of 2,300. Attention to one fact will clear this point for all difficulty; and that is that it takes 457 full years before Christ, and 1843 full years after to make 2,300; so that if the period commenced with the very first day of 457, it would not terminate till the very last day of 1843. Now it will be evident to all that if any portion of the year 457 had passed away before the 2,300 days commenced, just so much of the year 1844 must pass away before they would end. We therefore inquire, At what point in the year 457 are we to commence to reckon? From the fact that the first forty-nine years were allotted to the building of the street and wall, we learn that the period is to be dated, not from the starting of Ezra from Babylon, but from the actual commencement of the work at Jerusalem; which is not probable could be earlier than the seventh month (autumn) of 457, as he did not arrive at Jerusalem till the fifth month of the year. Ezra 7:9. The whole period would therefore extend to the seventh month, autumn Jewish time, of 1844.


2300 year time line and explanation


Now that we have the commencement date of B.C. 457 and ending date of autumn A.D. 1844, what does "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" mean.



What is the sanctuary?

Let us place ourselves in the place of Daniel, and view the subject from his standpoint. What would he understand by the term sanctuary as addressed to him? If we can ascertain this, it will not be difficult to arrive at correct conclusions on this subject. His mind would inevitably turn, on the mention of the word, to the sanctuary of that dispensation; and certainly he well knew what that was. His mind did turn to Jerusalem, the city of his fathers, which was then in ruins, and to their "beautiful house," which, as Isaiah laments, was burned with fire. And so, as was his wont, with his face turned toward the place of their once venerated temple, he prayed God to cause his face to shine upon his sanctuary, which was desolate. By the word sanctuary Daniel evidently understood their temple at Jerusalem.

But Paul bears testimony which is most explicit on this point. Hebrews 9:1 "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary." This is the very point which at present we are concerned to determine: What was the sanctuary of the first covenant? Paul proceeds to tell us. Hear him. Verses 2-5 "For there was a tabernacle made; the first (or first apartment), wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary (Margin, the holy). And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly."

There is no mistaking the object to which Paul here has reference. It is the tabernacle erected by Moses according to the direction of the Lord (which was afterward merged into the temple at Jerusalem), with a holy and a most holy place, and various vessels of service. A full description of this building, with its various vessels and their uses, will be found in Exodus, chapter 25 and onward. If the reader is not familiar with this subject, he is requested to turn and closely examine the description of this building. This, Paul plainly says, was the sanctuary of the first covenant. And we wish the reader carefully to mark the logical value of this declaration. By telling us what did positively for a time constitute the sanctuary, Paul sets us on the right track of inquiry. He gives us a basis on which to work. During the time covered by the first covenant, which reached from Sinai to Christ, we have before us a distinct and plainly defined object, minutely described by Moses, and declared by Paul to be the sanctuary during that time.

This is the only sanctuary connected with the earth, concerning which the Bible gives us any instruction, or history any record. But is there nowhere any other? This was the sanctuary of the first covenant; with that covenant it came to an end; is there no sanctuary which pertains to the second, or new covenant? There must be; otherwise the analogy is lacking between these covenants; and in this case the first covenant has a system of worship, which, though minutely described, is unintelligible, and the second covenant has a system of worship which is indefinite and obscure. And Paul virtually asserts that the new covenant, in force since the death of Christ, the testator, has a sanctuary; for when, in contrasting the two covenants, as he does in the book of Hebrews, he says in chapter 9:1 that the first covenant "had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary," it is the same as saying that the new covenant has likewise its services and its sanctuary. Furthermore, in verse 8 of this chapter he speaks of the worldly sanctuary as the first tabernacle. If that was the first, there must be a second; and as the first tabernacle existed so long as the first covenant was in force, when that covenant came to an end, the second tabernacle must have taken the place of the first, and must be the sanctuary of the new covenant. There can be no evading this conclusion.

Where, then, shall we look for the sanctuary of the new covenant? Paul, by the use of the word also, in Hebrews 9:1, intimates that he had before spoken of this sanctuary. We turn back to the beginning of the previous chapter, and find him summing up his foregoing arguments as follows: "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Hebrews 8:1, 2. Can there be any doubt that we have in this text the sanctuary of the new covenant? A plain allusion is here made to the sanctuary of the first covenant. That was pitched by man, erected by Moses; this was pitched by the Lord, not by man. That was the place where the earthly priests performed their ministry; this is the place where Christ, the High Priest of the new covenant, performs his ministry. That was on earth; this is in heaven. That was therefore very properly called by Paul a "worldly sanctuary;" this is a "heavenly one. "

This view is further sustained by the fact that the sanctuary built by Moses was not an original structure, but was built after a pattern. Exodus 25:9 "According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."

Of what was the earthly sanctuary a type or figure? Answer: Of the sanctuary of the new covenant, the "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." The relation which the first covenant sustains the second throughout, is that of type to antitype. Its sacrifices were types of the greater sacrifice of this dispensation; its priests were types of our Lord, in his more perfect priesthood; their ministry was performed unto the shadow and example of the ministry of our High Priest above; and the sanctuary where they ministered, was a type, or figure, of the true sanctuary in heaven, where our Lord performs his ministry.

We have said that Daniel would at once understand by the word sanctuary the sanctuary of his people at Jerusalem; so would any one under that dispensation. But does the declaration of Daniel 8:14 have reference to that sanctuary? That depends upon the time to which it applies. All the declarations respecting the sanctuary which apply under the old dispensation, have respect, of course, to the sanctuary of that dispensation; and all those declarations which apply in this dispensation, must have reference to the sanctuary of this dispensation. If the 2,300 days, at the termination of which the sanctuary is to be cleansed, ended in the former dispensation, the sanctuary to be cleansed was the sanctuary of that time. If they reach over into this dispensation, the sanctuary to which reference is made is the sanctuary of this dispensation, - the new covenant sanctuary in heaven.

The fact that the 2,300 days terminated in this dispensation of the new covenant, as clearly shown previously, means the sanctuary spoken of must be the heavenly sanctuary.



What is the cleansing of the sanctuary?

Having learned what constitutes the sanctuary, the question of its cleansing and how it is accomplished is soon decided. It has been noticed that whatever constitutes the sanctuary of the Bible, must have some service connected with it which is called its cleansing. There is such a service connected with the object which we have shown to be the sanctuary, and which, in reference to both the earthly building and the heavenly temple is called its cleansing.

We now inquire, What is the nature of this cleansing, and how is it to be accomplished? According to the language of Paul, Hebrews 9:22, 23 "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.", it is performed by means of blood. The cleansing is not, therefore, a cleansing from physical uncleanness or impurity; for blood is not the agent used in such a work. The fact that Paul speaks of heavenly things to be cleansed, does not prove that there is any physical impurity in heaven; for that is not the kind of cleansing to which he refers. The reason Paul assigns why this cleansing is performed with blood, is because without the shedding of blood there is no remission.

Remission, then, that is, the putting away of sin, is the work to be done. The cleansing, therefore, is not physical cleansing, but the cleansing from sin. But how come sin is connected with the sanctuary, either the earthly or the heavenly, that it should need to be cleansed from them? This question is answered by the ministration connected with the type, to which we now turn.

The sin of the individual was, by his confession, by the slaying of the animal or bird victim, and by the ministry of the priests, transferred from himself to the sanctuary. Day by day the work went forward; and this the sanctuary continually became the receptacle of the sins of the congregation. But this was not the final disposition of these sins. The accumulated guilt was removed by a special service, which was called the cleansing of the sanctuary. This service, in the type, occupied one day in the year; and the tenth day of the seventh month, on which it was performed, was called the day of atonement. On this day, which all Israel refrained from work and afflicted their souls, the priest brought two goats, and presented them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. On these goats he cast lots; one lot for the Lord, the other lot for the scape-goat. The one upon which the Lord's lot fell, was then slain, and his blood was carried by the priest into the most holy place of the sanctuary, and sprinkled upon the mercy-seat. And this was the only day on which he was permitted to enter into that apartment. Coming forth, he was then to lay both his hands upon the head of the scape-goat, confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, and thus putting them upon his head (Leviticus 16:21), he was to send him away by the hand of a fit man into a land not inhabited, a land of separation, or forgetfulness, the goat never again to appear in the camp of Israel, and the sins of the people to be remembered against them no more. This service was for the purpose of cleansing the people from their sins, and cleansing the sanctuary and its vessels. Leviticus 16:30, 33. By this process, sin was removed, - but only in figure; for all that work was typical.

One year's round of service in the earthly sanctuary represented the entire work of the sanctuary above. In the type, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the brief closing work of the year's service. In the antitype, the cleansing of the sanctuary must be the closing work of Christ, our Great High Priest, in the tabernacle on high. In the type, to cleanse the sanctuary, the high priest entered into the most holy place to minister in the presence of God before the ark of his testament. In the antitype, when the time came for the cleansing of the sanctuary, our High Priest, in like manner entered into the most holy place to make a final end of his intercessory work in behalf of mankind. We confidently affirm that no other conclusion can be arrived at on this subject without doing despite to the unequivocal testimony of God's word.



Readers, do you now see the importance of this subject?

And this is what the prophecy is designed to show. It is to make known the commencement of this momentous work. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."



Much of the information on this page was taken from Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, 1911 edition.



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© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated September, 2017.
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