Christ Himself launched the witness of the Christian church with the tremendous announcement of the close of the prophetic seventy weeks. "The time is fulfilled," He declared; the sixty-ninth week of Daniel 9 was ended. The fateful seventieth week was beginning, in the midst of which the Messiah would be "cut off" in violent, substitutionary death for the sins of the world. And after His resurrection and ascension, He would begin His mediatorial ministry for us in heaven above. Such was the apostolic message.
During the first half, or three and a half years, of that epochal week of years, the apostles were instructed by the Saviour not only in the great doctrinal and practical truths of salvation and the Christian faith, but upon the great prophetic outlines of Daniel, which set the seal of divine attestation upon the interpretation of the four world powers of outline prophecy, as verily as upon the year-day principle, though not yet upon the closing events of the 2300 years. That portion of Daniel was locked and sealed from their understanding.
So powerful, however, was the impress of the general prophetic teachings of Christ, Paul, and John that it persisted with astonishing purity for centuries—and that despite the speedy departures from the great doctrinal principles and practices of the early Christian faith. Thus the seventy-weeks prophecy, as the first portion of the 2300-year outline, cut off for the Jews, sealed the beginning of this great prophecy with divine attestation. The atoning sacrifice was made on earth; the heavenly ministry of Christ was begun in heaven, and signified by the event of Pentecost.
And now the remnant church of today stands forth as the complement and consummation of that apostolic message, but this time announcing the end of the 2300 years, and the close of that phase of heavenly ministry begun after Christ's ascension in 31 A. D.—and His momentous entry upon the judgment phase of priestly ministration immediately to precede the second advent.
These two great periods and messages—the apostolic and the remnant—are tied together inseparably by the 2300-year prophecy, the first section only of which was understood in apostolic days, and the closing events of which were sealed till the time of the end, when the hour of God's judgment was imminent, and the warning Message was due and must be given. Then the seal was broken and understanding came. Thus the two end messages of the Christian Era clasp hands across the centuries, bound together by the great prophetic span of the 2300 years.
The first is the earnest and assurance of the second, and the second is the completion and consummation of the first. So the sacrificial and mediatorial provisions of the plan of redemption become the two great anchoring abutments of the arching span of the 2300-years prophecy bridging the Christian Era and forming the essence of the gospel message.
In the very nature of the case, the present-day remnant message must gather up, tie to, and restore the apostolic message. But it must move forward in emphasis to the closing provisions and involvements of the plan of salvation. Thus there is harmony, symmetry, and progression, such as always characterize the truth of God; and thus it is that the sanctuary truth is the keystone in the arch of the centuries, the focal point of emphasis for these last days, which involves the judgment-hour message, Sabbath reform and restoration, and projects God's final appeal and warning to all mankind to separate from the ecclesiastical departures and incrustations of the centuries. 'the remnant message must complete the arrested apostolic message. The logic of the case and the demands of the gospel require it. And such it does. This is its divine insignia.
The "everlasting gospel" must stress this unchangeable provision. The "gospel of the kingdom" impending must stress the antecedent sacrifice, mediation, and judgment phases of Christ's activity for us.
The sanctuary truth for today is, therefore, far more significant and indispensable for these last days than men are prone to think or concede. It is the inevitable truth of God for time's last hour. It had to be, and therefore is, the supreme message of the remnant church, compassing the Sabbath, the prophecies, and the doctrines of the Word in its all-embracing sweep.
L. E. F.