Report From The Tower
The Holy Spirit has been leading me these past several weeks in a study of old things, some forgotten which are not widely disseminated or taught in these twenty first century times. I will continue along with the general line of my last article to attempt to lay out the case for an understanding of the 2,300 day prophecy of Daniel. Most whom I talk with today simply skip over these mysterious prophecies of time periods that are found in Daniel and in The Revelation. I believe these things may be understood by those to whom God grants wisdom. I also believe that we will have no ability to foresee just how God will fulfill in soon coming times those prophecies given long ago unless we carefully study those prophecies which have already seen a definite fulfillment in recorded history. The one who asks for wisdom must ask, without doubting, believing that he or she has received such. (James 1) Prayer, careful study and sanctified intellect can, I believe, avail much in so far that pride is not permitted to germinate in the heart of the seeker.
Proper understanding of Daniel's prophecy of the 2,300 days is perhaps more critical than most other prophecies in the word of God because this prophecy has been entirely fulfilled in the last fifty years and will most likely not be fulfilled again in any other form. We can therefore look at how God gave the prophecy and examine all the elements God used to fulfill it and in doing so, we will come to know our Lord and Master better. We can then have a better and more lively hope that we can properly understand the prophecies that still await fulfillment.
The vision portrayed in Daniel 8 begins with the appearance of a ram with two horns which stood before the river Ulai in the province of Elam (Persia). This ram is identified as the two kings of Media and Persia in verse 20. H. Grattan Guinness identifies 538 BC as the date for the rise of this ram empire, which also speaks of Daniel’s second beast, the bear, the same as that which is described as the kingdom of silver as depicted on Nebuchanezzar’s statue. You can see this event listed in it's proper time position on page 587 of the calendar of "The Times Of The Gentiles", by H. Grattan Guinness (From Nabonassar, First Emperor of the Baylonian Empire, who acceded to the throne in 747 BC to Romulus Augustus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, who fell in 476 AD. This time period covers an ASTONISHING One Thousand, two hundred and sixty lunar years. (A time, times and half a time as described in Daniel 12:7). It is available at this link: Calendar of "The Times Of The Gentiles" Part 1. This calendar also contains the portrayal of the entire 490 years of Daniel's Seventy Weeks prophecy and displays it as completely fulfilled in 34 AD.
Please open the calendar of "The Times Of the Gentiles" at the link provided in the preceding paragraph in a separate window as we will be referring back to it frequently during the body of this article.
I have mentioned above the appearance of this ram empire of Media Persia which most historical commentators, looking backward, always connect with the second beast that God showed Daniel, the bear, as it is described in Chapter 7. We can however, look forward and at almost the same time, look backwards. We do this every day when we drive a car, checking the rear view mirrors as we move in a forward direction. I do not discount out of hand the notion that Daniel's bear beast of Chapter 7 may also speak of the Soviet Union and Russia in our day. I can hardly restrain myself in mentioning that these four beasts of Daniel 7 appear to be a pantheon of nations that will be among the most influential nations at the time of the Lord's coming. It is impossible to miss the reference in 7:4 to a nation, symbolized by a Lion, (England) with Eagles wings (American Colonies), which Daniel beheld until the eagle's wings were plucked off (American Independence). But, I will return to my task at hand, which is the gaining of full understanding of chapter 8.
Next in order of biblical appearance as we continue on with Daniel chapter 8 is the he goat who came from the West (verse 4). This rough Goat is identified in verse 21 as the King of Greece and corresponds to Daniel’s vison of the four headed Leopard and Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom of Brass. The four headed Leopard of Daniel 7, looking forward, may be speaking of Germany in our day and I do not dismiss this possibility out of hand. It is, however, not my intention to examine the forward view at this time as it is not involved in the examination of the fulfilled status of the 2,300 day prophecy. Guinness identifies the appearance of this rough goat as the rise of Alexander the Great in 334 BC on page 590 of the Guinness calendar.
The ram of Daniel 8, discussed in the preceding paragraph, whose appearance was fulfilled by the rise of the empire of Media-Persia at the sudden death of Belshazzar, King of Babylon, was not hostile to Israel and never trampled down the Jews, nor did they trod any of the holy city under foot. To the contrary, two years after Darius gained control of this empire, he was succeeded by Cyrus in 536 BC (page 588 of the Guinness Calendar). Cyrus was a friend of the Jews and became convinced as to the power of the God of Israel, when according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was handed the scrolls of Isaiah upon his entry into Jerusalem, where he was shown the prophecies concerning him on the obviously aged scrolls of Isaiah which were already almost two hundred years old at that time. Isaiah had prophesied of Cyrus by name in 44:28 and 45:1 and Cyrus was suitably impressed. He responded with the issue of the first decree for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed in 588 BC. I am therefore fully persuaded that the 2,300 day prophecy could have had no application to an origination from 538 BC, mainly because the host and the sanctuary were trodden upon by friends of the Jews. A majority of the commentators agree with my view.
We find this passage in "Antiquities Of The Jews" written by Josephus, the Jewish historian, in chapter 11, book 1:
"Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: "My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple." This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild their city Jerusalem, (2) and the temple of God, for that he would be their assistant, and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighborhood of their country of Judea, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and besides that, beasts for their sacrifices."
Several years later, The Media-Persian Emperor Darius Hystapis issued the second decree for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in 521 BC, as shown on the Guinness calendar on page 588. This evidences a still generally favorable attitude toward the Jews, their nation and their sanctuary. We find this favor continuing further down the line of history to 457 BC, where we find that Artaxerxes Longimanus issued a decree for the rebuilding of the walls and streets of Jerusalem which was further re-confirmed by the same Artaxerxes by his commissioning of Nehemiah to carry out the work in 444 BC. We have nothing in the historical record to suggest a deterioration in this climate of favor for more than the next hundred years. It is, for these reasons, that I have concluded that it is improper to commence the running of a 2,300 period from the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C.
This atmosphere of good feeling abruptly changed and was replaced with trepidation with the rise of the empire of Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Alexander was a worshiper of idols and even consulted the oracle of Delphi for spiritual advice. He was certainly no friend of the God of Israel and was a pagan to the core. I therefore conclude that 334 BC was the starting point for the long running time period of 2,300 years of the trampling of the sanctuary under foot. I will now take some effort and time to demonstrate why I prefer this interpretation to other competitors.
Israel sorely felt the pain of being trodden under foot during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes which began in 171 BC (page 591 of the Guinness Calendar). Kislev 25 in the year 168 marked the time when he stopped the daily sacrifice. It was restarted with the cleansing of the sanctuary exactly three years later on Kislev 25, year 165 BC. Many today argue that this three year time period constituted the fulfillment of the 2,300 day prophecy, yet 2,300 literal days covers a period of almost six years. Some have chopped the 2,300 mornings and evenings into 1,150 days in trying to come close to the mark, as the Hebrew used there speaks of mornings and evenings and there were two sacrifices per day. The difference between three years of Lunar Calendar days: approximately 1,062 days and the 1,150 days implied through utilization of this method is explained by most as a differing time between when the altar of the Lord was taken away and the pagan abomination that causes desolation was set up, which 1 Maccabees tells us occurred on Kislev 15 (1 Maccabees 1:57). This seems reasonable to me and I am in agreement that the scripture was fulfilled, at least at one level, at that time.
I believe however that something more is alluded to here in Daniel’s prophecy: something of a much greater severity and I believe covering a far longer period of time. I put forth as evidence that we find it still the case when Jesus, speaking in 30 AD in Luke 21:24 that “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles by fulfilled”. Daniel's prophecy in chapter 8 concerned itself not solely with the sacrifices and the altar but also with that trodden down situation that began to fall upon the Jews as soon as Alexander the Great arose in power. Clearly Jesus, speaking almost a full 200 years after the 3 year defilement of Antiochus, still speaks of Jerusalem as still existing in a “trodden down” condition that will stretch forward some time, but to where and what time exactly?
Bishop Thomas Newton was, I believe, the first to advance the notion that the 2,300 day prophecy of Daniel would be fulfilled in 2,300 years and he proposed that we should date the starting point of this long run of years from the rise of Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Newton, writing in 1732, proposed that 2,300 literal years would expire in the latter part of the twentieth century. He did not give the exact date, but it is not difficult to do the math and calculate the date for him.
Thomas Newton’s actual language regarding that thing which he, in effect, prophesied in 1732 that would come to pass by interpolation in 1967, is found in this book, "Dissertations On The Prophecies", on page 338, volume 1. We all know that Jerusalem once again became a part of Israel on June 7, 1967 during the Six day war. Adam Clarke is alone as the only one of the major English commentators who mentioned this interpretation as his preferred interpretation in his commentary, which he published from 1810 to 1826. He actually posited the date 1966 as the terminus of the 2,300 year prophetic period, but missed the mark by one year because he failed to discern that the elapsed time from 1 BC to 1 AD is exactly one year, not two. Let us pick a hypothetical birth date for Jesus as October 15. October 14, the day prior to his birth, fell in 1 BC. October 16, one day after His birth, fell in 1 AD. Therefore, there is one day of elapsed time from December 31, 1 BC to January 1, 1 AD, if the birth of Jesus fell on New Years Day. Matthew Henry makes a quick passing mention of the indicated terminus of the prophecy at a time near the close of the sixth millennium as one of many possible interpretations but takes no preference as to this view over the others he presents as possible meanings.
I feel it is important to bring these prophetic ideas forward for the instruction of the modern reader. I have consulted with two ministers and neither were previously aware of this interpretation of the 2,300 day/year prophecy. Very few are schooled in matters that were learned hundreds of years ago that now stand mostly forgotten. Very few have knowledge that the “DAY/YEAR” means of interpreting these prophecies is more than an untested theory and has already proven to be accurate many, many times. No one I have met has been previously aware that Thomas Newton, in 1732 and Adam Clarke in 1826 were almost right on the mark with their expectations concerning its’ fulfillment in or around 1967.
The times of the Gentiles have, in all likelihood, been concluded. I believe it is important that we become aware of such literal fulfillments of bible prophecy. We can then look at these predictive passages and know that they have meaning and that wise men have received the true interpretations from the Lord. Prophecy has proven accurate in the past and we shall better understand those things that are about to occur if we are aware of how our Lord has chosen to fulfill those things that he told us about beforehand.
Stephen L. Bening
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