The proclaiming of the message, "The hour of His judgment is come," makes of Seventh-day Adventists a distinctive people. For this reason the 2300-day prophecy must be carefully set forth. It usually presents two difficulties. In the first place it is something entirely new to nearly everyone, and second, there is danger of our becoming so involved in the mathematical side of the prophecy that we lose sight of the spiritual.
This is a prophecy that is almost impossible to give without the use of charts. However, even the most simple chart has too much on it. The average mind has not been trained to concentrate, and with all the dates before one, the mind is likely to wander. To avoid this difficulty, I decided to have each individual make his own chart.
The materials needed are few and easily obtainable. I usually have a piece of paper and a pencil for each reader and one for myself. I explain that the prophecy which we are studying is partly of a mathematical nature. I suggest that each one make a chart, as that will help all to see the prophecy more clearly. In the preceding studies I have been building up for this by having the readers take a very definite part in each study. Thus they are accustomed to doing things with me, and the making of a chart presents little difficulty.
I first explain the year-day principle, using texts. We are now ready to make the chart. We start with a horizontal line nearly all the way across the paper. Above the line an arc is drawn connecting the two ends of the line. Around the inside of that arc we write "Unto 2300 days [years] ; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Dan. 8:14. (See Eze. 4:6.)
After reading Daniel 9:24, we make a bracket below the line. Under this is written "70 weeks, 490 years, for the Jews." Next, that partition is divided into the 7 weeks (49 years) ; 62 weeks (434 years); and i week (7 years). By subtracting 490 from 2300 we have 18to years to put under the bracket dividing the rest of the period.
At this point the B. C.-A. D. reckoning of time may need to be explained. Explain that it was adopted many years after the Christian Era started, as a convenient means of reckoning time. A thermometer will help illustrate the method of computing such time. B. C. time corresponds to below zero, and A. D. time to above zero.
We are now ready to establish our dates. By the use of Daniel 7:25 and Ezra 6:14; 7:7-9 we find the starting point and place the date 457 B. c. at the beginning of our chart. Securing and placing the date 408 is then very simple. The next date is the only hard one to arrive at. As the difference between 434 and 408 is 26, we must now explain that 26 full years would bring us to the last day of the year 26 A. 0. In order to have 26 full years we must start at the first day of the year 457 B. c. But we did not do this. Ezra says the Jews arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of Artaxerxes. This would be in the fifth month of the Jewish year, or the fall of our year. Thus we are carried over to the fall of 27 A. D. It may also be necessary to explain the mistake that was made when our present calendar was adopted ; otherwise some will wish to know how Christ could be thirty years old in 27 A. D.
This part of the study must be given slowly and may need to be repeated. The all-important thing is to be certain that you understand it yourself. The dates 31, 34, and 1844 can be quickly arrived at and placed. We can now turn to the texts and fill in the events that match the dates. On the chart a word or two for each event is usually enough, but the reader should be given a list of events and texts to help with the chart.
This is only a general method. It must be varied according to the individual. However, I find that by using this method I have reached the two aims I had in mind. First I have convinced the reader that Jesus started the work of judgment in 1844; second, I have shown him his own personal relationship to this work of judgment. Once this has been done the prophecy becomes real and vital to him. He sees it as a part of the great advent movement and is well on his way toward being a Seventh-day Adventist.