AS A CHURCH we take proper pride in the fact that Christ is the glorious center of every doctrine and tenet of our faith. We dare not preach any message unless it bears in visible prominence the impress of the cross. The power of Paul's ministry derived from his constant exaltation of the cross. "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Our ministry in these modern times can be effectual only as our prayers, our study, and our public ministry are set in the context of this determination.
With this principle in mind might we not find a better way to present, or at least to introduce, the 2300-day-prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9? Our traditional approach begins with Daniel's dream of the beasts symbolizing the empires of history, and the subsequent mental and physical distress he experienced as he contemplated the vast chasm of time that must elapse while a "king of fierce countenance" afflicts the people of God. Mystified and perplexed Daniel prays for understanding and again the angel Gabriel returns to give him further instruction. Then we establish 457 B.C. as the beginning date.
We talk of the "70 weeks cut off" for the Jews, at the end of which time the gospel is proclaimed to the Gentiles. At long last we come to the Messiah who is cut off in the midst of the last week of years. So ultimately, but often incidentally, we arrive at the cross in A.D. 31.
Really, the focus and climax of the 2300-day-prophecy is first and foremost its affirmation of the Messiahship of Christ. The year 1844 becomes truly significant because it follows in chronological sequence and is anchored in prophetic time by the cross of Jesus. As truly as Christ is the Son of God, so the church that proclaims the three angels' messages of Revelation 14, based upon the 1844 awakening, is the remnant church of God. The fulcrum oyer which this great time prophecy balances is none less than the cross of Christ. When we measure backward from the cross we establish the vital date, 457 B.C.; when we move forward to complete the period, we arrive irrevocably at A.D. 1844. Thus the validity of the Advent Movement is sealed by the blood of Christ on the cross in A.D. 31.
A Suggested Approach
Within the framework of these principles may we suggest a new introduction: "In the year A.D. 27 there appeared in Palestine a young man of peasant parentage who claimed to be the Son of God. His origin was somewhat shrouded in mystery. He lived a simple life among the common people, yet He was the source of much concern to the intellectuals of His day. He was the object of much controversy, yet His conduct was above reproach. He healed the sick, worked miracles, taught profound truths by simple parables, and even professed to for give sins! The masses rejected His claim, but many followed Him.
"Was He truly the Messiah of whom the ancient prophets wrote? Was He verily the Son of God? Or was He a self-deluded fanatic, or a bold impostor?
"Tonight, on the authority of God's Holy Word, I shall proceed to establish with all Biblical ac curacy that He was who He claimed to be—the Son of God. In order to do this we will turn in our Bibles to the ancient book of Daniel, written several centuries before Jesus appeared on earth. In the eighth and ninth chapters we discover a marvelous prediction that carries us dramatically to modern time, and in the heart of this great time prophecy we will establish certain historical events that will irrevocably settle the question of the Messiahship of Christ."
From this point the salient facts of the prophecy can be delineated, and be made to move, step by step, toward a climactic confirmation of the chronological accuracy of Messianic prophecy. Having established the sealing of the prophecy by the shed blood of Christ upon the cross at the precise time according to Gabriel's prediction, we are prepared to move out to the date of 1844 with an assurance and certitude born of the infallible Word of God.
As we anchor 1844 upon the Messiahship of Christ, our eschatological ministry cannot be refuted, for it will be animated by the Spirit of the living and soon returning Son of God. "Christ crucified—talk it, pray it, sing it, and it will break and win hearts." —Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 67. The cross on Calvary's hill is the high point from which both the be ginning and the ending of this magnificent prophecy must be established. From this eminence we can confidently affirm the relevance of the three angels' messages, for the Advent hope is the sequel of the cross.