This is the fourth post in a series on the Investigative Judgment, for the previous entry please click HERE. This post does not cover the 70 Weeks Prophecy in Daniel 9 but rather the linking of the two chapters that is asserted by SDA as part of the Investigative Judgment motif.
Based on my conclusions from the previous post on Daniel 8:14 we are working with 1150 literal 24 hour days but we don’t have a starting point on a calendar by which to see when they began and when they ended.
This is the same problem for SDA who are trying to figure out when the 2300 years is supposed to start. In order to solve that problem they asserted that the visions in Ch 8 and Ch 9 are connected. The reason that they want to do this is because in Daniel 9:25 we see the following:
“Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one,….” Daniel 9:25 ESV
It is asserted that the “going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem” transpired in 457 B.C. when Nehemiah was commanded to rebuild the wall by King Artaxerxes (Neh 2:1). As an aside, scholars don’t actually know for sure if Dan 9:25 is a prophecy concerning Nehemiah or King Cyrus (Isa 44:28). Either is just as possible as the other as Daniel 9:25 is not clear enough to decisively pick one over the other. Scholars generally pick the one that works best for their brand of eschatology.
That said, SDA go with Neh 2:1 which can be dated to 457 B.C. If you add 2300 modern calendar years to 457 B.C. you arrive at 1844. If you add 2300 Jewish calendar years to 457 B.C. you arrive at 1812. If you account for leap year you end up somewhere in 1811. My point in mentioning this is that there exists a lot of flexibility in date setting. Because of this I would recommend viewing Biblical time prophecies as pointing to a period of time rather than a specific year or day. SDA don’t take this into account though as they have to stay with the ending date that William Miller and Ellen White selected.
Getting to the point, the biggest problem for SDA here is that in order to have the start date of 457 B.C. for the 2300 years they need the vision in Daniel 8 to be connected to the vision in Daniel 9. Below is a diagram illustrating my point. Notice that the orange 2300 year prophecy must start at the same time as the blue 490 year prophecy in their motif, otherwise you don’t have 1844.
In order to effect this interpretation SDA focus in on a few Hebrew words in Daniel 9. Lets take a close and see what they mean. I am not a Hebrew scholar nor do I claim to be, my sources in this are biblehub.com, a good website that allows you to look at every verse in its original language breakdown, and Investigating the Investigative Judgment by Larry Pahl. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he is an SDA theologian at Andrews University.
The first verse we will look at is where Gabriel is identified and a prior vision is referenced.
“while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.” Daniel 9:21 ESV
The word in question here is transliterated “techillah” and can be translated as “at the first” or “at the beginning” depending on what version you are using.
In order to connect the visions of chapters 8 and 9 SDA will argue that the referent to “at the first” is the prior vision Daniel had received 14 years earlier in Ch 8. The problem with this is rather than saying “the prior” vision he is saying the “first”. So logically it would be a referent to the first vision received in this set of three (3).
Since the vision in Ch 7 is received prior to Ch 8 in a set of three (3) concluding with the one in Ch 9 it therefore follows that the “vision at the first” is the one in Ch 7. While it is true that all three visions are received chronologically, that in no way requires that they all be addressing the same topic or have the same start and or end dates.
That isn’t even touching the biggest problem with asserting the vision in Ch 8 is linked to Ch 9. See below that Gabriel specifically states that the vision he gave in Ch 8 is to be sealed.
“The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” Daniel 8:26 ESV
I would argue that contextually the “many days from now” is a referrent to verse 17 concerning the same vision:
“…Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” Daniel 8:17 ESV
So the command is given to Daniel to seal up the vision for many days, which I would argue is the same as “the time of the end”. Whether you interpret that as the first advent of Christ or the second, you cannot understand Ch 9 as a clarification of Ch 8. This is because it was commanded for Ch 8 to be sealed for many days.
The vision in Ch 9 was given to Daniel only 14 years later and long before any of the events of either visions were fulfilled. Furthermore, if SDA were to argue that the “many days” is only 14 years that would undermine their argument that the seal of this Ch 8 vision was opened during and after the Millerite movement. You can’t have it both ways.
To summarize, if the SDA were correct that Ch 9 is providing the start date of the vision in Ch 8 then they are saying that a seal placed by the Kingdom of Heaven on a vision was unsealed long before the Messenger of Heaven said it would be. In essence, they present a self defeating Biblical argument that creates unnecessary contradictions and falls apart when examined with any scrutiny. The simple truth is that we can’t Biblically assert a start date for the time prophecy in Daniel 8:14.
This is not that big of a deal, there are many time based prophecies in the Bible in which no start or end date is given in the text. Instead in Ch 8 we are given a prophecy of an event that will last a certain length of time, most likely 1150 days.
If I were to search through history looking for fulfillment I would seek out an event where the Temple was destroyed or desecrated in some fashion or another by a powerful individual who is subordinate to a greater power (hence the little horn), and then see if the destruction remained for about 1150 days. This is not a study I have performed yet but I am providing a link below to the work of a Biblical scholar who has for those interested in further reading.