The longest time prophecy in the Bible reveals a surprising element about the final judgement that you did not see before. Discover hope in the judgement.
The reasons why it is important to know about the judgement, is because the wrong picture of judgement distorts the picture of God and opens a door for deceptions in other areas. Many believe in a direct judgement after death and that you immediately go to heaven or hell. This opens the door for false teachings such as being able to speak with the dead. Then another part believes in a day where all humanity is lined up before the heavenly courts awaiting their personal verdict. God in this type of judgement is often portrayed as an angry judge who enjoys punishing those who He did not like. Yet neither of these interpretations are Biblical or fit Gods character, and at the same time completely miss the bigger picture of the war between good and evil.
This war originated when God’s motives and character were publicly attacked and questioned. God’s purpose since has been to clear His name and to gain the trust again of His created beings. With God’s motives and character under fire, how would it look to the universe if He alone is involved in the judgement, determines the verdicts and hands them out as report cards? The universe would still be left with a million questions since they would not understand how these cases were decided and how reliable they would be. This would not win back the trust from His creation. That is why the process of judgement is transparent; to give all His created intelligent beings the understanding and insights of each case. The judgement will happen in three phases over different times: investigation -before Jesus comes again (Daniel 8:14), justification -during the millennium in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:3, Revelation 20:4) and execution -the destruction of the wicked (Revelation 20:9, Malachi 4:3). In this blog-post we will focus on the first phase.
The case for an investigative judgement
The Bible indirectly tells us that an investigative judgement, pre-advent (=before His second coming), is required. A judgement where through investigation is determined who belongs to God’s people. When Jesus comes again, the Bible tells us that He will have His reward with Him for His people (Isaiah 62:11, Revelation 22:12, Isaiah 40:10, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, 1 Peter 5:4). If there has not been any judgement yet, how can it be known who gets a reward? In the same way the Bible tells us that at Jesus’ coming, His people will be gathered unto Him, those who are still alive and those who were dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Revelation 20:5). We find the same problem here; how can it be known who is to be taken with Him and who is to be resurrected if not for some sort of judgement before?
That there will be a judgement before Jesus’ coming is also confirmed in the seventh chapter of Daniel. He does not leave any room for doubts about the matter. In three places in the same chapter, he shows the order of how it will be: little horn power > judgement > God’s kingdom.
In Revelation 14:14-15 Jesus is getting ready to harvest His people, but what do we see a few verses earlier? A message proclaiming that the hour of the judgement is come (Revelation 14:6-7). Again, the judgement happens before the reaping, before Jesus comes again.
Lastly, we will look at our key verse, Daniel 8:14. When we study the principles of the sanctuary, we understand that the cleansing of the sanctuary is the same as what was done on the day of atonement: remove sins. However, the earthly sanctuary was only a shadow, pointing forward to the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest in the heavenly temple (Hebrews 8:5, Psalm 11:4, Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 8:1-2). The high priest on earth could not take away sins (Hebrews 10:4), so these actions professed faith in that one day, Jesus as our High Priest would take care of our sins for real. When Jesus would start the work of cleansing the sanctuary as our High Priest in the temple in heaven, He is removing the sins that have been confessed by His people. The books in heaven open up (Daniel 7:10, Revelation 20:12, Revelation 3:5) and each name of those belonging to Jesus comes by from the beginning of time until the end. Jesus shows the universe which humans that have confessed their sins, and therefore have their life covered by the blood of His sacrifice on the cross and will be eligible to be taken to heaven at His second coming. Daniel calls it a judgement in favor of the saints (Daniel 7:22), because our sins will be removed once and for all!
The interrupted explanation
Now we know that a judgement is to take place before Jesus comes, to investigate who belongs to God’s people. A judgement where Jesus defends those people who belong to Him and have confessed their sins. But that is not all. We can learn a lot more about this phase of the judgement, even the starting date. Daniel receives a vision (Daniel 8:2-14) that after 2300 days the sanctuary would be cleansed. Since the sanctuary-ministry is no longer on earth but in heaven, we know that this prophecy refers to the ministry of removing the sins in the heavenly temple by our High Priest, Jesus.
After the vision ends in Daniel 8:14, Daniel receives an explanation. We have seen the same order happen in the dream in Daniel 2 and 7. However, something happens here during the explanation. The chapter ends in Daniel 8:27 with Daniel fainting, being sick and not understanding the vision. When we continue reading in chapter 9, we read about Daniel praying and then something happens. An angel again appears unto Daniel to give him an explanation (Daniel 9:20-27). What kind of explanation is this? Is this talking about something new, or not? Notice these points based on the context.
Chapter 8 ends with the statement that Daniel does not understand the vision. Then in chapter 9, the angel tells Daniel he is come to make him understand (Daniel 9:22-23). Make him understand what? Daniel did not get a new dream or vision. In the prayer in between the end of chapter 8 and the explanation in chapter 9, Daniel does not mention anything else that he does not understand, as the rest was clearly explained already. Remember that Daniel did say that there was something he did not understand. The time prophecy concerning the 2300 days. Doesn’t it make sense that the angel comes to give Daniel understanding about the matter Daniel said he needed understanding in? Of course. The context clearly tells us that the explanation in chapter 9 is the second part of the explanation of the vision in chapter 8.
For both explanations Daniel identifies the angel to be the same one. In both Daniel 8 and 9 it is the angel Gabriel that comes to him to explain.
In Daniel 9:24 the angel gives Daniel another time prophecy. The angel tells him that 70 weeks are cut off for his people and his city. The question that arises is: cut off from what? No other time prophecy has been given between chapter 8 and that point that it could be cut off from. Logically it must then refer to the time prophecy given before, the 2300 days from chapter 8.
In Daniel 8:1-2 Daniel says that he got a vision. The word for vision here is ‘chazon’. When Daniel in Daniel 8:26 refers to the part of the vision concerning the 2300 days, the cleaning of the sanctuary, he uses the word ‘mareh’. Daniel uses the word ‘chazon’ to refer to the entire vision and uses the word ‘mareh’ for specifically the part about the 2300 days. Then when Daniel says that he did not understand the vision (Daniel 8:27), guess what word he used? ‘Mareh’. When Daniel identifies the angel who gave him the vision (Daniel 9:21) he again uses ‘chazon’. Then when the angel tells Daniel he will explain to him the vision, what word does the angel use? ‘Mareh’!
These points and the word-study tells us very clearly, that the angel came back to explain specifically the part of the vision (the 2300 days) that Daniel did not understand in Daniel 8.
The application of time
Now that we have established that chapter 9 continues the explanation of the vision given in chapter 8, we have a few more details to work with to apply the 2300-day prophecy. When Daniel hears two angels speaking to each other about the vision, he hears that the vision will be for 2300 days (Daniel 8:14). When dealing with prophetic times, one day symbolizes a year (Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6). This manner of time-interpretation gets confirmed by its context. If we would take the days literal, it would mean that the mentioned kingdoms from the whole vision in chapter 8 needed to have been fulfilled within 2300 days -about six years. The Bible tells us which kingdoms it concerns, and we know that this did not happen in only six years.
The time of the 2300 years would start at the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25). There have been four decrees that could be considered. In 536 BC Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2-4, 2 Chronicles 36:23). This decree got suspended in 522 by Cambyses. Then in 520 BC Darius I confirmed the original decree of Cyrus after it had been suspended (Ezra 6:1-13). In 457 BC Artaxerxes gave a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7, Ezra 7:11-26). Not long after he gave this decree he himself suspended it as the Samaritans complained. Lastly, in 445 BC Artaxerxes revoked his suspension and confirmed his original decree again (Nehemiah 2:7-9). The only decree fitting the description both to restore and rebuild is the decree given in 457 BC.
Now that we have our starting place, it’s time for some math. When counting from BC to AD, the timeline goes from -1 BC to 1 AD. There is no year zero. For example, if you regularly count from -3 and add 5, you come to 2. Now if we do the same math solution on the timeline and cross from BC into AD, you come to 3. Why? Because you do not count the year zero. This means, when counting from BC to AD, you can count as you normally would, but you add one. When we go from -457 and add 2300, we come to 1843. But because we cross from BC into AD, we add 1, which brings us to the year 1844. And according to Daniel 8:14 this investigative judgement would start when the 2300 years come to an end.
Based on this prophecy, we know that Jesus started His final work in the heavenly temple in 1844. The work where Jesus as our high priest is cleansing the sanctuary; removing the sins that were confessed, defending the cases of His people. The books in heaven have been opened and the universe will be able to see each case of those who Jesus will bring to heaven at His second coming and understand why they belong in heaven too.
The call to respond
There are a lot of wrong teachings about the judgement, that misrepresent the character of God. Now we have dealt with only one part of the judgement, but there is more for you to discover. On a personal level our appeal to you is to confess your sins to Him, so that Jesus can cover them with His blood and remove them when your name comes up in the books in heaven for judgement. Our second appeal to you is to understand and proclaim the message God has selected that should be preached in this time of judgement (Revelation 14:6-11).