The Timing of the Cleansing
(Part 10 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series)
While every heart (sanctuary) needs cleansing, the opening verse of this whole series (Daniel 8:14) indicates a specific point in time for the cleansing process.
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (Dan 8:14)
We might learn something from understanding the timing of the event prophesied. Here is a related passage:
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Dan 9:24-25)
That commandment was issued in 457 BC by Artaxerxes, King of Persia (detailed evidence of this date here). Another version of verse 24 shows that the “seventy weeks” of the KJV are often understood to be weeks of years:
“Seven times seventy years [using the principle of a day representing a year in prophecy] is the length of time God has set for freeing your people and your holy city from sin and evil. Sin will be forgiven and eternal justice established, so that the vision and the prophecy will come true, and the holy Temple will be rededicated.” (Dan 9:24, Good News Translation)
Seven times seventy years = 7 x 70 = 490 years. The calculation of going forward 490 years from the starting point of 457 BC looks like this:
“Are determined upon thy people” Who’s people? – Daniel’s people – the Jews. This was a time set for certain things (listed in verse 24) to happen. “Determined upon” = cut off from – from what? – from the 2300 years of Dan 8:14
“Seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks”
That adds up to 69 weeks or years; 69 weeks of years = 69 x 7 = 483 years
“Unto the Messiah the Prince”
Until what? The arrival of the Messiah in 27 AD. The meaning of “messiah” is anointed, anointed one. The prophecy points not to Jesus’ birth but to the point where He became the Messiah at His baptism in 27 AD. This historical fact affirms the accuracy of the starting point of 457 BC. Going forward the full period of 2300 years brings us to another significant date:
So God said, through His prophet Daniel, thousands of years in advance, when this cleansing process would commence. But what sanctuary was being referred to?
The Old Testament sanctuary on earth (either the first or the second temple in Jerusalem) did not exist in 1844 so it could not have been referring to either of those. Actually, there was no temple building standing in Daniel’s time either. The first temple had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar years before and wasn’t rebuilt until after the end of the captivity in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
This study has shown that the sanctuary referred to was not:
- the Old Testament sanctuary (part 3)
- the Planet Earth as a sanctuary or a physical sanctuary in heaven (part 4)
- a yet-to-be-rebuilt temple on Earth (part 5)
Part 6 identified the true sanctuary as the God’s people and, more specifically, the hearts and minds of those people (part 7). But why wait so many centuries before starting this process? If it was just a matter of legal accounting to forgive sins and adjust heavenly records, couldn’t it have started long ago? And couldn’t it be done in a very short time with the technology of heaven?
If it actually involves correcting people’s attitudes towards God and cleansing minds of sinful ways of thinking so that even their acts of sins could be stopped then we could reason that the process had to wait. But for what? Perhaps for:
- further understanding and developments of truth such as “the just shall live by faith” that came with the Reformation and others since.
- the Bible to became more readily available to the common people.
- research tools (concordances etc) to become more available.
- electronic aids, the internet and efficient sharing of information.
- a time given for the manifestation of the results of Satan’s rule. Think of the 1260-year prophetic period (538-1798), in which “they [the saints of the most High] shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:25). Satan was given one year for each day of Jesus’ ministry. That ended in 1798 with the French Revolution and an interruption of papal rule as the pope was taken prisoner and exiled.
For whatever reason, God, in His wisdom, appointed this time. So in 1844, God began, at an accelerated pace, to make knowledge of truth available especially with light concerning Himself and His character. In fact, exactly on time, right at the end of the 2300-year period the revelation came that the sanctuary was to be cleansed. Within a short time, through careful Bible study and Divine guidance, this process became better understood. Unfortunately, over the years, it has been largely forgotten.
God has to do things in the right order. It would not be entirely effective to try to cleanse people from sin before cleansing our misconceptions of His character. It is an understanding of that character that will draw us (John 12:32) to Him to help us even want to obey. The cleansing really had to start with fixing our concept of Him. Remember from part 8 the levels of sin:
- sinful attitude (distrust towards God)
- sinful flesh (fallen human nature)
- sinful acts
It is like the illustration of people trying to mop water off the floor while the sink is still overflowing.
Better to first turn off the water; the source of the problem.
Forty and Six Years was this Temple in Building
It is interesting to consider the time from another important prophetic event to the beginning of the cleansing process.
“Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” (John 2:20)
This conversation occurred right after Jesus cleansed the temple at the start of His ministry. In cleansing the temple He was effectively announcing His mission to (as Daniel prophesied):
- finish the transgression
- make an end of sins
- make reconciliation for iniquity
- bring in everlasting righteousness
His mission was not to physically cleanse the temple which, of course, was totally destroyed in 70 AD. The Jews’ question was prompted by Jesus’ statement:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)
This verse tells us plainly that He was referring to Himself:
“But he spake of the temple of his body.” (John 2:21)
His mission was especially for the Jews, Daniel’s people (“upon thy people” – Dan 9:24) so that they could then effectively fulfill their task of witnessing to the rest of the world.
The parallel is this:
In Jesus’ day, the temple had been under construction (referring to the extensive renovations by King Herod) for forty-six years before Jesus cleansed it in John 2.
In recent history, there was a forty-six year period after the significant event of 1798 before the cleansing of the temple/sanctuary of God’s people on earth began in 1844.
During that recent 46-year period there was an increase in activity of Bible societies:
“The first Bible Society was the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), founded in 1804; its aim was to ‘translate, print and distribute the Bible, without any notes or commentary, throughout the British Isles and the whole world’.
Soon there were other European Bible Societies, in Switzerland (1804), Scotland (1809), Finland, Hungary (1812), Holland (1814), Sweden (1815) and France (1818).” (www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/the-beginning-of-the-bible-societies/)
With more Bibles available and more interest in understanding it, came systematic study and methods of learning how to understand it such as the 15 rules for Bible study developed by William Miller early in the 19th century.
There is probably more to be understood in this parallel. If anyone has any thoughts to contribute, please let me know.
When Does that Judgment Happen?
People have always been making up their minds about God; whether to trust Him or not. But there is to be a special time, preparatory to God indwelling His people in the greatest extent of that word, for that to happen. It is about His work to vindicate His own name and character. It seems He may have had a definite plan for when and how to facilitate that work. This verse is interesting:
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Pet 4:17)
The words “is come” are supplied in the King James Version. It could be paraphrased as:
“Because it is appropriate that the time of judgment should begin at the house of God …” (1 Pet 4:17, paraphrased)
In that verse, “judgment” is a noun but it is not specified whether those in the house of God are the objects of the judgment or the ones doing the judging. Grammatically, it could be either – or, it could be both.
The Beginning of the Judgment
It seems that God appointed a time, when He would begin that process, to reveal Himself more fully to His bride, the church (Ephesians 5). That process would cleanse the bride’s mind (sanctuary, most holy place) of any misconceptions about her future husband. After all, there was someone who, for his own reasons, did not want the marriage to take place and had been spreading lies about the groom.
Starting in 1844, there began a process of recovery of truth about the character of God. It was prophesied long ago by the prophet Daniel. He was not talking about an earthly sanctuary. He was not talking about cleansing records of sins in some heavenly accounting system.
It is abundantly clear in the Bible that each person will be judged. But it is not only people who are to be judged. There is a sense in which God Himself is to be judged – people are making up their mind about Him and what He is like, leading them to follow or reject Him.
This is Part 10 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series
Return to Daniel 8:14 (the master page of the series) to continue