Daniel 8-12, and "The Time of the End"
by Desmond Ford
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So pivotal to Seventh-day Adventist theology is our interpretation of Daniel 8 that any additional clue to the exegesis of that chapter should be thoroughly investigated and applied. It is the suggestion of this article that the final prophecy in Daniel (chapters 10-12) is both an aid and a safeguard in understanding the vision recorded in the eighth chapter.
Not all commentaries have recognized the fact that the closinc, prophecy in Daniel is a repetition and enlargement of the prediction concerning the sanctuary and the host, but many non-Adventist expositors may be quoted who have taken this position. Every such quotation buttresses the Adventist belief that the high point of Daniel 8 did not meet complete fulfillment in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes but rather points to the times in which we live, and therefore makes the cleansing of the sanctuary present truth for the world.'
In the middle of the eighteenth century Bishop Newton wrote as follows concerning the prophetic narration of the last three chapters of Daniel:
It is the usual method of the holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former; and revelation is (Prov. iv. 18) as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The four great empires of the world, which were shown to Nebuchadnezzar in the form of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel in the shape of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events, which were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here again more clearly and explicitly revealed in his last vision by an angel; so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment and explanation of the former.'
Commentators such as Adam Clarke cite Newton approvingly. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown has the following statement:
Ch. 10.-12 more fully describe the vision in ch. 8. by a second vision on the same subject, just as the vision in the seventh chapter explains more fully that in the second.'
In the Christian Worker's Commentary we find this notation:
Had he been seeking of heaven an explanation of the previous mysteries—especially that of the ram and the he-goat? This seems probable because what follows traverses so much of the ground of chapter 8.4
Lange's well-known commentary declares:
It is not only the most comprehensive, but, because of its form and contents, also the most remarkable and difficult among the prophetic portions of the book. Having been composed later than the three preceding visions, namely subsequent to the captivity and when the return of the exiles had already begun, . . . it supplements their contents, and develops them still farther—especially those of the second vision (chap. viii.) and of the third (chap. ix.). The development of the fourth and last world-power to the stage of anti -Christianity, which was described with special interest in those two chapters, is now illustrated more fully than in any former instance, and at the same time, the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God over that and all other opposing powers is brought into a clearer light and portrayed in more glowing colors than heretofore. The relation of the section to chap. vii. as serving to complement and still farther develop its subject, becomes especially prominent in this bright closing scene; while the prophecy is in so far complementary to chapters viii. and ix. as it describes the development of the anti-Christian world-power in predictions distinguished by a greater fulness of detail—to say nothing of the similarity between its preparatory scenery and that of chap. viii. and also of ix. 20-23. The section serves to complete the visions of chap. viii.5 (Italics supplied.)
More important to us than the conclusions of commentators are the indications within Scripture itself that these chapters are meant to be compared. Consider the following parallels:
Verse 26 "and the vision . . . is true" "it shall be for many days"
v. 27 "none understood it"
v. 16 "make this man to understand the vision"
Verse 1 "and the thing was true"
V. 11 "for yet the vision is for many days"
V. 1 Daniel "understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision"
Note also the parallels between the ninth chapter (which we believe to be partly explanatory of Daniel 8) and the tenth:
Verse 22 "I ant now come forth to give thee skill and understanding (cf. Dan. 8:16, 17)
v. 23 "thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter"
v. 23 "at the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and 1 am come to shew thee"
v. 3 "and I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting"
Verse 11 "understand the words that I speak unto thee. . . : for unto thee am I now sent"
v. 11 "0 Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words"
v. 12 "from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand . . thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words"
v. 12 "thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God"
These parallel references speak for themselves.
It is surely significant that the sanctuary is not only central in Daniel 8 but also in these later chapters. Seventh-day Adventists have long recognized that Daniel's references to the sanctuary in his prayer of chapter 9 were occasioned because he believed that the prophecy of the 2300 days could refer to an extension of the captivity period during which the sanctuary and the Holy City had been lying desolate. (See verses 16, 17, 19.) We have, however, not put a similar emphasis upon the references to the sanctuary in chapters 10-12.
The messenger to Daniel prefaces his prophetic outline by referring to the fact that he had been wrestling with the powers of darkness who had been trying to turn Cyrus against the builders of the sanctuary. (See Ezra 4:1-5.)
This third year of Cyrus was significant. We know that in his first year Cyrus had issued his famous decree permitting the Jews to return to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4). We know, furthermore, that not many had availed themselves of the privilege of returning. Also that the little band that had returned had encountered many disappointments and difficulties. And that the Samaritans had laid not a few obstacles in their way, especially at the Persian court (Ezra 4:4, 5) where they sought to block the way of the Jews by wicked machinations. It is essential to understand this situation in order to understand this entire revelation.' (Italics supplied.)
The first verses of the eleventh chapter describe the rule of the Persians, which people were significant to Israel because they had given the decrees regarding the rebuilding of the holy place at Jerusalem, while the verses immediately following describe the nations that would tread down the land of Jehovah's sanctuary. Later on in the chapter, verse 31 provides a parallel reference to 8:11.
"by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down"
"they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice"
Furthermore, the first verse of Daniel 12 alludes to Christ's standing up as king at the close of His sanctuary ministration, and the last verse with its allusion to "lot" uses imagery reminiscent of the sanctuary parable on the Day of Atonement when lots were cast over the two goats, and when Jewish worshipers numbered themselves as sealed with the goat upon which the Lord's lot had fallen.
We would not press the point, but it is possible that even the introductory verses of this culminating prophecy contain a latent reference to the sanctuary. The word translated "Time appointed" in chapter 10:1 (and which in Daniel 8:13 is translated "host") has for one of its possible meanings "appointed service" and it is used, for example, in Numbers 4:23-43 with reference to the Levites' ministry in the sanctuary. Ewald translates tzaba as "ministry" in 10:1, and the Pulpit Commentary refers to those who understand the word in 10:1 as meaning "temple service" as in 8:13. Leaving this point in suspension because of possible alternatives, we have abundant evidence that it is the destiny of the sanctuary of God and its worshipers that constitutes the central theme of Daniel 8-12 as we will show.
It should not be forgotten that the book of Daniel begins with reference to an attack on the sanctuary and the people of God by Babylon, and that this theme reoccurs throughout the whole book. See Daniel 5:1-3; 7:25; 8:13, 14; 9:27; 11:31, 44-45. The verses that immediately precede the chapters occupying our attention (9: 24-27) are descriptive of the rebuilding of the sanctuary, the coming of the great High Priest of the sanctuary, the atonement of the sanctuary, the dedication of the heavenly sanctuary, and the destruction of the earthly holy places. The sanctuary to which Daniel turned in prayer three times a day is also the cynosure of his prophecies, and the most detailed of his revelations is a history in advance of the destiny of all who adore God in His sanctuary. Thus Daniel 10:13 points to divine intervention to support the Temple builders; 10:14 the destiny of true worshipers in the latter days; 11:22 the sanctuary's antitypical sacrifice; 11:31 the earthly counterfeit of the service of the heavenly sanctuary; 11:44, 457 the final attack on the believers in God's sanctuary; 12:1 close of Christ's ministry in heavenly sanctuary; 12:13 the rewards accompanying the close of the antitypical Day of Atonement in the heavenly temple. Here is abundant evidence of the centrality of the sanctuary theme in Daniel's final prophecy.
1 Daniel 12 is obviously eschatological, presenting as it does the taking of the kingdom by Michael, the resurrection of the dead, and the glorification of the saints. Therefore if this prophecy of chapters 10-12 is an expansion of Daniel 8, the latter also must be eschatological, and it becomes impossible to limit 8:14 to pre-Christian times.
2 Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies (London: F. C. and J. Rivington, 1804), vol. 1, p. 335.
3 Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Commentary, Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible (Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan), p. 642, abridged ed.
4 James M. Gray, Christian Workers Commentary (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1915), p. 276.
5 Johann Peter Lange (ed.), A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, trans. Philip Schaff, Vol. XIII of the Old Testament (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915), p. 223 on Daniel.
6 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1949), p. 442.
7 See George McCready Price, The Greatest of the Prophets, pp. 318, 319:
"If we adopt the more figurative or symbolic interpretation, it would seem that we have here in these last verses of Daniel 11 a parallel to the many passages in the book of Revelation and elsewhere which speak of the final 'war' of all the powers of earth against the church of God. The dragon of Revelation 12 goes forth to make war against the remnant of the woman's seed. Verse 17, A.V. The combined powers spoken of in Revelation 17 'shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them.' Verse 14. `The beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat upon the horse, and against His army.' Revelation 19:19. Also in the sixteenth chapter, under the sixth of the seven last plagues, the three unclean spirits emanating from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet gather 'the kings of the whole world' together 'unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.' Verses 13, 14. In all these instances the combined powers of all the world are led on by the same leaders; they try to make war against the same apparently helpless church of Christ; but in each case the King of kings intervenes at the critical moment, and the trusting followers of Jesus are gloriously delivered.
See Doctrinal Discussions (Ministerial Association), p. 57:
"In Daniel lithe '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)."