The book of Daniel contains the longest time prophecy in all of Scripture. This Bible prophecy talks about the final judgement. It reveals that the final judgement is not merely a one-day event some time in the distant future, but that it already started in 1844.
2300 days until the cleansing of the sanctuary
The time prophecy that reveals the starting time of God’s final judgement is found in Daniel 8:14. You might wonder, what does that verse with 2300 days have to do with God’s judgement? Fair question. It will make sense when you understand what the “cleansing of the sanctuary” means.
The day of atonement
The word atonement means at-one-ment. Or, to make one. At the end of the ‘day of atonement’, God’s people would be one with God.
“For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” Leviticus 16:30
All throughout the year, the confessed and surrendered sins of the people where brought into the sanctuary. The sinner walked away forgiven after their sacrifice, but the process of removing the sin just started.
At the ‘day of atonement’ the sins that had been piling up inside the sanctuary were finally removed. This is called the ‘cleansing of the sanctuary’. It is about the final removal of sin from God’s people.
A shadow pointing forward
The sacrificial system, the sanctuary and its services were shadows that pointed forward to the ministry of Jesus. Being our High Priest, Jesus is now ministering for us in the sanctuary in heaven (Psalm 11:4, Hebrews 4:14; 8:1-2; 8:5; 9:11; 9:24).
And this prophecy from Daniel 8:14 is pointing us to the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. To the phase of Jesus’ ministry where He starts the real final removal of the sins of His people. And at the end of the heavenly day of atonement, God’s people will be clean and one with God -forever!
The interrupted explanation
In both Daniel 2 and 7, Daniel receives a dream or vision, followed by an explanation. This pattern repeats itself at the Daniel 8 vision. First Daniel sees the vision and an explanation followed. However, something happens! Daniel fainted and got sick and he did not understand the vision (Daniel 8:27).
Chapter 9 starts with Daniel offering up a beautiful prayer. During the prayer the angel Gabriel appears to him. From Daniel 9:20-27 this angel gives Daniel an explanation. What kind of explanation is this? The context makes is clear what this angel is referring to.
Skill to understand
The angel Gabriel told Daniel that he came to give Daniel the “skill to understand” to “understand the vision” (Daniel 9:22-23). Remember that chapter 8 ended with Daniel not understanding the vision of the 2300 days.
Between when Daniel got sick in the end of chapter 8 and the arrival of Gabriel in chapter 9, there is no mention of a new dream or vision. So of course this refers back to the vision that Daniel did not understand. Gabriel now continues the explanation that was interrupted by Daniel’s sickness.
Gabriel explains the vision
Chapter 8 tells us that the angel Gabriel was the one who began to explain the vision to Daniel. None of the ones explaining the previous dreams and visions to Daniel are identified. But here it tells us that it was Gabriel.
Then who shows up to give the rest of the explanation? The very same angel, Gabriel.
70 Weeks cut off
In the explanation, the angels gives Daniel another time prophecy (Daniel 9:24). A time of 70 weeks would be cut off for his people and his city. So what are these 70 weeks cut off of?
There is no other time prophecy given in this context that it can refer to, other than the 2300 day prophecy given in Daniel 8:14.
Chazon or Mareh
The original word (in which this part of the Bible was written) that is used to announce the vision in Daniel 8:1-2 is the word for vision, ‘chazon’. But when Daniel refers to the part of the vision concerning the 2300 days -the cleansing of the sanctuary- he uses the word for vision, ‘mareh’.
When Daniel said that he did not understand the vision (Daniel 8:27) , guess what word for vision he used? ‘Mareh’!
Then when Daniel recognizes that Gabriel has come back, he identifies him as the one who gave him the explanation for the vision (Daniel 9:21). Here he uses the word ‘chazon’. But then it becomes even more interesting when Gabriel tells Daniel that he came back to make him understand the vision. Guess which word for vision Gabriel used? ‘Mareh’!
This quick word-study, and the other three listed reasons, make it clear that the explanation in chapter 9 is a continuation of the one that got interrupted in chapter 8. Gabriel came to explain the part about the 2300 days, the cleansing of the sanctuary. Now that we know this, it’s time for the most exciting part of the 2300 days prophecy: its fulfillment!
The application of the 2300 days
The first part of the vision, before Daniel 8:14, describes certain animals. In Bible prophecy animals are used to represent nations or kingdoms. Two of the kingdoms are named by name, Medo-Persia and Greece. History records show that these powers reigned in total from 539 BC – 168 BC. So how can these things have happened in 2300 days (about six years)?
The day for year principle
When dealing with prophetic times, one day symbolizes one year (Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6). The context of this same vision makes it clear that this is not speaking of merely 2300 literal days, since the reign of the mentioned kingdoms was much longer. The 2300 days represent 2300 years.
The starting time of the 70 weeks and thus the 2300 days, is said to begin when the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem went forth (Daniel 9:25). After the time of Daniel there have been given four decrees worthy of consideration.
Cyrus, 536 BC
In 536 BC, Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2-4, 2 Chronicles 36:23). This decree does not entail the whole description as said to Daniel.
Darius I, 520 BC
The Cambyses suspended Cyrus’ decree in 522 BC. Two years later Darius I confirmed the original decree again as given by Cyrus (Ezra 6:1-13). So this decree does not fit the description either.
Artaxerxes, 457 BC
In the seventh year of his reign, Artaxerxes gave the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7, Ezra 7:11-26). They were allowed to set up their own governmental authorities and laws.
Artaxerxes, 445 BC
Not long after Artaxerxes gave this decree he himself suspended it because the Samaritans complained. In 445 BC Artaxerxes revoked his suspension and confirmed his original decree again (Nehemiah 2:7-9).
The simple math
The third decree, the one given in 457 BC, fits the exact description as recorded in Daniel 9:25. This gives us the starting year from which we can start counting.
From BC to AD
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.
A time of judgement since 1844
Based on this prophecy of Daniel 8:14, we can know something that we have not been able to witness, but is of crucial importance. As our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus began the final part of His ministry in the Most Holy place in 1844.
He has begun the process of the investigative judgement, the real day of atonement. The sanctuary is being cleansed, and the confessed and surrendered sins of all God’s people are being removed from the books. The result of this process is amazing news for God’s faithful ones, as they can be declared NOT GUILTY!
Live God’s Word Today -application
We now know that Jesus is cleansing the sanctuary that is in heaven, but He also wants to cleanse the sanctuary on earth. And friends, that’s you and me. Our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). So in the same way as He is removing sin from the heavenly sanctuary, He wants to cleanse your life from sin.
Are you willing to let Jesus (Revelation 1:5) and His Word (Ephesians 5:26) clean your life more and more from sin?