The Investigative or Pre-Advent Judgment

The Investigative or Pre-Advent Judgment: Does the Bible Reveal the Time for This Phase of the Judgment to Begin?

An Answer to Walter Martin's Criticism of Seventh-day Adventism. If the Holy Scriptures declare that such a judgment is to take place, could we not expect that God would also reveal the time for this phase of the judgment to begin?

Editor, "Israelite" Magazine

IN THE July issue of this journal we reviewed some of the Biblical evidences for a pre-Advent or investigative phase of God's great judg­ment work. In these presenta­tions we are setting forth scriptural reasons for our Adventist position on the judgment, and we will now give consideration to the time when this judgment begins. If the Holy Scriptures declare that such a judgment is to take place, could we not expect that God would also reveal the time for this phase of the judgment to begin?

I. Preliminary Considerations

1. The Year-Day Principle

Through the years we have used two periods of time in dealing with the ques­tion of when this pre-Advent judgment be­gins, that of the 2300 days (Dan. 8:14) and that of the 70 weeks (Dan. 9:25). The 2300-day period is connected with the sym­bolic prophecy of Daniel 8. This proph­ecy is in the form of four symbols—the ram, the he-goat, the little horn, and the 2300 days. If "day" is a symbol in prophecy, and the 70-week period is to be understood as a key to the understanding of the 2300-day prophecy, we should expect the 70-week period to be in literal language. In the light of this, it is interesting to note that a more correct translation of the He­brew word shabu'a, rendered in the King James Version as "seventy weeks," would be "seventy weeks of years," as we find in the translations of Goodspeed, Rotherham, Moffatt, and the Revised Standard Version.

2. The Wide Range of Daniel's Prophecies

The far-sweeping view of Daniel's proph­ecies carry us beyond Daniel's day. In fact, in some aspects of chapters 7 to 12 we are brought down to the time of the end and the setting up of the everlasting kingdom of God.

The progressive nature of these unfold-ings is seen in the succession of four great empires of Daniel 7, i.e., Babylon to Rome. Daniel knew of these things by reve­lation and could see some developments in his day by the eye of faith, yet he certainly did not live to see the full developments among the nations.

a. Daniel's reference to "understanding" the prophecies

There were some things Daniel did un­derstand. These had a local application: "I . . . understood by books the number of the years" (Dan. 9:2) and he "had under­standing of the vision" (Dan. 10:1).

There were some things he did not un­derstand. These had a future application: "And I heard, but I understood not" (Dan. 12:8); "Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision" (Dan. 8:17).

b. Daniel's reference to "the time of the end"

"At the time of the end shall be the vision" (Dan. 8:17); "Understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days" (Dan. 10:14); "For yet the end shall be at the time appointed" (Dan. 11:27); "till the time of the end" (Dan. 12:9); "go thou [Daniel] thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days" (Dan. 12:13).

c. Daniel's reference to the kingdom of God

The culminating point of these proph­ecies is the setting up of the everlasting kingdom of God. Here are some examples:

Daniel 2:44: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: ... it shall stand for ever."

Daniel 7:18: "The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever."

Daniel 7:27: "And the kingdom and do­minion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."

d. Daniel's reference to the time proph­ecies

(1) The 3 1/2 times or 1260 days (Dan. 7:25; 12:7). See also Revelation 12:14; 13:5.

(2) The 2300 days (Dan. 8:14).

(3) The 70 weeks (Dan. 9:24).

(4) The 1290 days (Dan. 12:11).

(5) The 1335 days (Dan. 12:12). Recognizing in general the application of the year-day principle in the interpreta­tion of these time periods, we find that they all reach into the future, and in most cases to the "time of the end." The period of the 70 weeks of years was of short duration compared with the others, but even this was largely future in Daniel's day, for it had reference to the coming of Messiah, to His baptism, to the length of His ministry, and to His death on Calvary's cross. Other prophecies, such as the 1260-day period, which had reference to the persecuting power already referred to, cover activities during the centuries 533-538 to 1793-1798. The same principle applies to the 1290-day prophecy and particularly to the 2300-day prophecy. As the others reach into the fu­ture, it would be but natural that this 2300-day prophecy find its fulfillment in the clos­ing days of earth's history.

e. Daniel's reference to the "abomina­tion of desolation"

This expression may have had a minor and very restricted application in the days of Daniel. It certainly had a wider and much fuller application following the min­istry of our Lord on earth. He Himself called attention to this prophecy which was undoubtedly fulfilled in the destruc­tion of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. (See Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14.)

We might go even further than the ap­plication to the destruction of Jerusalem. This prophecy of the "abomination of des­olation" also has wider application, even to the "last days."

Bishop Chr. Wordsworth, on Matt. 24:15 remarks:

But the reference to Daniel made by our Lord in this His prophecy concerning Judaea and the world, shows that Daniel's prediction was not yet exhausted, but was to have a further accomplishment in Jeru­salem and also in the church at large.—Commen­tary, p. 86.

In the Christian Church the prophecy of our Lord concerning the setting up of an Abomination of Desolation in the Holy Place, appears to have been in part fulfilled by the setting up of the Bishop of Rome upon the altar of God in St. Peter's [at Rome].—Ibid., p. 87.

Ellen G. White writes:

Jesus did not answer His disciples by taking up separately the destruction of Jerusalem and the great day of His coming. He mingled the description of these two events. ... In mercy to them He blended the description of the two great crises, leaving the disciples to study out the meaning for themselves. When He referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, His prophetic words reached beyond that event to the final conflagration in that day when the Lord shall rise out of His place. . . . This entire discourse was given, not for the disciples only, but for those who should live in the last scenes of this earth's his­tory.—The Desire of Ages, p. 628.

f. Daniel's reference to the nature and the work of the "little horn"

More mention is made of this aspect of Daniel's prophecy than of any other sym­bol. A number of verses in the different lines of prophecy are taken up with its description. In Daniel 7 there are five verses; in Daniel 8 there are eight verses; in Daniel 11 there are twenty verses.

In Daniel 7 the "little horn" of verses 20-25 is described as having "eyes," "a mouth that spake very great things," and "whose look was more stout than his fel­lows" (verse 20). Further, we read that he "made war with the saints" (verse 21) and "shall wear out the saints of the most High" (verse 25). He did "think to change times and laws" and did continue for "a time and times and the dividing of time" (verse 25).

In Daniel 8 the "little horn" as applied to pagan and papal Rome is described dif­ferently. The emphasis in this chapter is on its relation to the sanctuary, to the worship of God, and to the redemptive work of the Messiah. This is seen in the fact that he "magnified himself even to the prince of the host" (Dan.. 8:11). In verse 25 this is interpreted to mean "against the Prince of princes," who is none other than the Mes­siah, our blessed Lord.

In Daniel 11 the "little horn" is further described, and what was given in Daniel 7 and 8 is enlarged upon. Further details are given, but the prophet is assured that "he shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan. 11:45).

g. Daniel's reference to the "daily"

The expression "daily sacrifice" is to be found five times in the prophecies of Dan­iel: 8:11, 12, and 13; 11:31; and 12:11.

It will be recognized that the word "sacri­fice" is in italics and represents a word supplied by the translators to give what they thought was the sense of the original word, tamid. Tamid is variously rendered in the King James Version, and by such words as continual, always, daily, perpetual, continually, ever, and for ever. A careful study of the use of this Hebrew word indi­cates that tamid is frequently applied to the morning and evening sacrificial offer­ings, and some of the English words just mentioned are used with reference to these offerings. For example, the word perpetual in the two occasions of its use; daily in the seven occasions of its use; continual in 23 out of 26 times of its use; continually about twelve times.

This being so in its reference to the morn­ing and evening services in the typical sanc­tuary, one would gather that it would be so in the antitypical service in the heavenly sanctuary. There it would evidently repre­sent the continuous ministry of the Lord as our great High Priest. The book of Hebrews picks up this thought, as can be seen in the statement that Christ "continueth ever" (Heb. 7:24). Our Lord "abideth a priest continually" (Heb. 7:3).

This daily service of the earthly sanctuary, in­volving the morning and the evening sacrifice—the tamid (Hebrew), or "continual"—fitly foreshad­owed the continual efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ our Lord, accomplished on Calvary's cross. The risen Christ, our ministering high priest, "ever liveth to make intercession" (Heb. 7:25) for us. Hence we understand His heavenly ministry to be the mediation of His complete and ever-efficacious atonement, which He made and completed on the cross for man, applying that atonement to the in­dividual sinner as he accepts Christ as his personal Saviour.—Questions on Doctrine, p. 264.

These considerations emphasize that, in the main, Daniel's prophecies had their ful­fillment after his day, and in fact a long way into the future, even to the "time of the end." One Bible (The Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publishing Society) renders Dan­iel 8:17 "the vision belongeth to the time of the end," and Rotherham renders it "to the time of the end belongeth the vision."

II. The Uniqueness of the Vision of Dan­iel 8 and 

There is something unique about the vision of Daniel 8 and 9. It is different from the visions of Daniel 2 and 7. In Daniel 2 the kingdoms of the world are portrayed to Nebuchadnezzar as valuable metals—gold, silver, brass, and iron; and later to Daniel as wild, ravenous beasts.

In Daniel 8, however, while reference is made to two kingdoms under the symbols of animals, those chosen are not wild beasts but domestic animals, and the signif­icant fact is that both the ram and the he-goat were animals used in the sacrificial service in the sanctuary of Israel.

The uniqueness of this prophecy is that it deals pre-eminently with the sanctuary. This can be seen in the following refer­ences: To the "daily," Dan. 8:11, 12, 13; to the sanctuary, 8:11, 13, 14; to the de­filement of the sanctuary, 8:11, 13; 9:17; to the evening oblation, 9:21; to the cleansing of the sanctuary, 8:14; to the termination of the sacrificial service, 9:27.

The reference to worldly kingdoms is merely to give the setting for the main theme, that of God's plan to redeem man from iniquity. The seventy-week period re­veals the cross, the redemptive, sacrificial act of our blessed Lord, the Messiah, and the time when He begins His priestly min­istry in the sanctuary above.  The 2300-day period reveals the time when He enters upon the closing work of His ministry as our great High Priest.

As just mentioned, in Daniel's day ful­fillment of the prophecy in the main was a long way in the future, but God did give to the prophet something to comfort his soul, and in part at least, answered the great burden on his heart. His earnest prayer, "How long" did have a local ful­fillment. He lived during the days of Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of both the Temple and city of Jerusalem (Dan. 1:1). He was about eighteen years old at that time (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 570). Then we read that Daniel lived until the third year of Cyrus, 537 B.C. (Dan. 10:1).

So Daniel lived long enough to see the morning and evening sacrifices restored. In this Daniel's heart was cheered and com­forted, even thoush he could not have understood the far-reaching implications of his prophecies.

III. The Tie Between Daxiel 8 and Dan­iel 9

We have also observed that the features of Daniel's prophecy in chapters two and seven were quite fully explained, and that in the main, the features of Daniel 8 were also explained. Only one symbol was not explained, and that symbol was the 2300 year-day period.

We maintain that this aspect of the Dan­iel 8 vision was dealt with in Daniel 9, and we will now consider certain aspects of this question.

1. The Significance of the Mention of the Angel Gabriel (Dan. 9:21)

The mention of Gabriel we believe is an indication of the tie between chapters 8 and 9. In Daniel 9:21 Gabriel, who comes to make Daniel understand the vision, was the angel Daniel saw in the beginning of the vision as recorded in chapter 8. There Gabriel is counseled by someone of higher authority to give understanding of the vi­sion to Daniel (Dan. 8:16). It was the same angel that was with Daniel when he fainted, and who comforted and assured him that the vision was true. In the seventh chapter there is no mention of Gabriel and no evi­dence that Gabriel gave that vision to Dan­iel.

2. The Significance of the Expression "con­sider the vision" (Dan. 9:23)

Gabriel had previously explained to Dan­iel all but the time portion of the symbolic vision of chapter 8. Now he reappears to continue the explanation in literal terms

(Dan. 9:21, 22) and to clarify the remain­ing part. The angel uses the arresting words "consider the vision." This expression pro­vides the key to the explanation, for the term "vision" appears ten times in chap­ter 8. But it is to be noted that in Daniel 8 and 9 two Hebrew words, chazon and mar'eh, not exact synonyms, are used in the original Hebrew text. In the majority of English translations only one word, "vi­sion," has been used to express these slightly variant thoughts, and as a result, the exact intent of the original has rarely been per­ceived.

Could we not regard the Hebrew words as having some significance? It is possible that when the word chazon is used, the reference seems to be to the particular per­sons or incidents seen and heard in the vision (chazon). On the other hand, where the word mar'eh is employed, the reference could be to the particular things seen and heard in the chazon. One feature seen in the over-all vision, the chazon, was the "two thousand and three hundred days" of Dan­iel 8:14. But the special scene referred to here is "the vision" (mar'eh) of the eve­ning and morning (verse 26).

When the angel Gabriel, "whom I [Dan­iel] had seen in the vision (chazon) at the beginning" (Dan. 9:21), returned to com­plete his explanation of the vision (cha­zon), he directed Daniel's attention specif­ically to the vision (inar'eh) when he said, "consider the vision (mar'eh)" (verse 23). The very thing, the mar'eh, that was un­explained in Daniel 8 is what Gabriel re­ferred to when he said to consider the mar'eh.

"There can be no mistake as to this iden­tification of 'the vision.' S. R. Driver, the noted critic (The Book of Daniel, 1936, p. 133), recognized this, and wrote con­cerning 'the vision at the beginning' (Dan. 9:21) that it refers to 'viii.16.' The chapter 8 usage and the chapter 9 tie-in appears inescapable, and the identical theme of the two chapters becomes self-evident. What follows in chapter 9 is therefore not a new and independent vision, but is the contin­uing literal explanation of the symbolic 'vi­sion' of chapter 8."  Questions on Doctrine p. 271.

3. The Significance of the Expression "to anoint the most Holy" (Dan. 9:24) 

The expression "most holy" is sometimes used of the sanctuary as a whole. It is, of course, used most frequently of the Most Holy Place, the inner room of the earthly sanctuary, while the larger section of the sanctuary was called "the holy place" (Ex. 26:33). There are instances, however, where the term is used of the sanctuary as a whole, irrespective of its various divisions.

Referring to the sacrifice that was to be eaten by the priests, Numbers 18:10 says, "in the most holy place shalt thou eat it." But according to Leviticus 6:16 such offer­ings were to be eaten in the holy place. No one could enter the Most Holy Place except the high priest, and then only on the Day of Atonement at the close of the sacrificial year. The Most Holy Place is mentioned in Ezekiel 45:3.

The term "most holy" is used exclusively of things and places, and never of persons. Thus Dean Farrar, in The Book of Daniel, 1895, p. 278 says: " 'Holy of Holies' is never once used of a person, though it occurs forty-four times." The King James Version in the margin reads "most holy place." The rendering in the American Revised Version margin is "a most holy place." Keil says this is a "new temple," a "most holy place," the "establishment of the new holy of holies," where God's presence will be manifest. The Jewish translation reads "to anoint the most holy place" (Dan. 9:24, The Holy Scrip­tures, the Jewish Publication Society).

And since Christ's ministry is in the heav­enly sanctuary, not in the earthly, we take this to be an obvious reference to the anoint­ing or consecration of the heavenly sanc­tuary preparatory to, or in connection with, Christ's coronation and inauguration as priest-king (Heb. 8:2; 9:23, 24).

4. The Significance of the Expression "Sev­enty weeks are determined upon thy people"

The problem with the word "deter­mined" is that it is variously rendered in the different English translations. Several translations, such as the King James Ver­sion, give "determined." The Revised Stand­ard Version, Jewish Publication Society, and Moulten give "decreed." Others give "destined" or "fixed" or "ordained." Some even give "divided" or "shortened." The Hebrew word is chathak, and this is the only place of its use in the Hebrew Bible. We should take cognizance of this fact in our interpretation of this word. We have been charged with recognizing only one meaning, namely, "cut off," and the idea in the criticism is that this has been a con­venient way for us to make a connection between Daniel 9 and Daniel 8. We should investigate this criticism fairly and ade­quately, to see what justification we have for using the expression "cut off." The fact is that the Hebrew lexicons differ as to which English translation really has prior­ity, but generally they give "cut" or "cut off" first mention.

Brown, Driver, and Briggs, in their He­brew and English Lexicon, give "to divide, to determine, to cut, cut off, to decide." Kohler and Baumgartner, in their Lexicon in Veretis Testamenti Libros, give "to cut, to decide." Gesenius gives "to determine, to destine." The Students' Hebrew Lexi­con gives "cut," "sever," "decide." The Harkavy Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary gives "cut," "decide."

In the light of this, it can be seen that the term "cut off" has considerable basis for its use. In a matter of this kind, however, why not recognize the various aspects of the meaning of the Hebrew word chathak. Is it not true that the 70-week period was "allotted" to the Jewish people to accom­plish the things mentioned in the proph­ecy (Dan. 9:24)? Was not this period ap­pointed by the Lord for this very purpose? Seeing that it is a specific period, can we not also recognize that God "determined" this period of time for His people? The word also means "cut off," as we have just seen, but why not recognize all facets of the meaning of the word in our interpretation of the prophecy? By so doing we gain rather than lose.

5. The Significance of the Fact That Dan­iel Did Not Understand the Fourth Scene in the Vision [mar'eh] (Dan. 8: 26, 27)

The fact that the vision of Daniel 8 closes without explanation of the fourth symbol —that of the 2300 evenings and mornings —but with one virtually promised after "many days" indicates that it was God's purpose to reveal this matter to His servant Daniel. Because there are points that tie this ninth chapter with the eighth chapter, it seems reasonable to conclude that when Gabriel came to Daniel he took up the thread of the prophecy from Daniel 8. Ga­briel then told Daniel he was come to give him skill and understanding, and that now he was to understand the matter and con­sider the vision [mar'eh].

6. The Significance of the Fact That Many Bible Expositors Have Recognized This Tie

For more complete data the reader is re­ferred to The Prophetic Faith of Our Fa­thers, by L. E. Froom. We will give but one relevant quotation:

"This chronological prophecy . . . [Dan­iel 9] was evidently designed to explain the foregoing [chapter 8] vision, especially in its chronological part of the 2300 days." —William Hales in A New Analysis of Chronology, 1833, vol. II, p. 517.

The following excerpts from the Ellen G. White writings should also be carefully noted:

Earnestly he [Daniel] sought for the meaning of the vision. He could not understand the relation sustained by the seventy years' captivity, as foretold through Jeremiah, to the twenty-three hundred years that in vision he heard the heavenly visitant declare should elapse before the cleansing of God's sanctuary. The angel Gabriel gave him a partial in­terpretation; yet when the prophet heard the words "The vision . . . shall be for many days," he fainted away. "I Daniel fainted," he records of his experi­ence, "and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it."—Prophets and Kings, p. 554.

Yet God had bidden His messenger, "Make this man to understand the vision." That commission must be fulfilled. In obedience to it, the angel, some time afterward, returned to Daniel, saying, "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understand­ing;" "therefore understand the matter, and con­sider the vision." There was one important point in the vision of chapter eight which had been left un­explained, namely, that relating to time,—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuming his explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time. . . .

The angel had been sent to Daniel for the express purpose of explaining to him the point which he had failed to understand in the vision of the eighth chapter, the statement relative to time,'—"Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."—The Great Controversy, pp. 325, 326.

We believe these considerations give us fair, logical, and sound reasons for our belief, not only on the pre-Advent aspect of the judgment but also as to the time when that phase of the judgment began its work; namely, in 1844, at the close of the 2300 year-day prophecy.

For historic data on the accuracy of the beginning date of the 2300 days, that is 457 B.C., see The Chronology of Ezra 7, by Siegfried Horn and L. H. Wood.


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Editor, "Israelite" Magazine

December 1960

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