As historic Seventh-day Adventists we are not teaching, believing or adopting any kind of new theology. We do not need it, because we have the truth. That does not mean that our minds are not open to believe and receive more truth, but the new light will not contradict the old light. We believe in the same old fashioned Adventist message that our pioneers preached over one hundred years ago.
In this article, I want to review the central pillar of our message. What is a pillar? It is something that is very important. Recently my wife and I were in the state of Washington visiting my wife’s father and stepmother. On the way back home we were traveling in the mountains. The freeway we were on was below a two-lane freeway going in the opposite direction that was held up by pillars. I was not worried about it because of those pillars. As long as the pillars stay in place, as long as the foundation stays in place, then there is nothing to worry about because everything will be all right.
What if a foundation is knocked loose? Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” If the foundations are destroyed, we are in big trouble. The whole building can come crashing down, or the freeway will break apart.
When I was attending Walla Walla College a disaster occurred along the Columbia River. A pillar from under the John Day bridge was washed away, and the bridge came down. Some people came down with it and they were never seen again.
It is easy to see then, that if a foundation or a pillar is washed away, disaster is sure to come. The devil knows that, so he does not chip away at the roof of the building, He tries to get underneath and knock the foundation out. The devil has been trying to do this over and over again with the Adventist faith. He has been trying to knock the foundation or pillar out from under it, so the whole thing will come down.
What is the foundation, the central pillar of the Advent faith? “The Scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the Advent faith was the declaration: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Daniel 8:14. These had been familiar words to all believers in the Lord’s coming. By the lips of thousands was this prophecy repeated as the watchword of their faith. All felt that upon the events therein foretold depended their brightest expectations and most cherished hopes. These prophetic days had been shown to terminate in the autumn of 1844.” The Great Controversy, 409.
Here it says that the central pillar of Adventism is found in Daniel 8:14. The devil has attacked this Scripture over and over again through our theological opponents for one hundred and fifty years his attacks have not ceased.
If you are a Seventh-day Adventist, or if you are thinking of becoming a Seventh-day Adventist and you want to understand the Seventh-day Adventist faith, you should make a special study of Daniel 8:10–14. Here is the central pillar and the foundation of our message. We will study Daniel 8 in its historical, linguistic and theological context.
“Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God.” Ibid., 488. All Christians have been given the command to perfect holiness in the fear of God. “The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the Word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God.” Ibid.
We are to clearly understand the sanctuary and the investigative judgment. This is the central pillar and the foundation of our faith. If we do not understand it, then we cannot give anyone a rational reason why we are Seventh-day historic Adventists.
The faith of many Adventists today is in disarray because they do not understand Daniel chapter eight. They do not understand what the investigative judgment is or what the cleansing of the sanctuary is all about and so they do not have a rational reason to be Adventists.
Several years ago I was a teacher at Southwestern Adventist College. In one of the classes one day, after reading the daily devotional Scriptures, I asked the students a question about salvation. When they answered my question, I was shocked. Here were dozens of Adventist young people, even ministers children and they did not know the fundamentals of salvation. They were not talking like Seventh-day Adventists. They were talking like Baptists. Baptists teach that salvation is a one step process. Seventh-day Adventists know from the sanctuary that salvation involves more than a one step process.
I worked with an Inter-denominational jail ministry for a number of years. A Christian worker from another denomination would say to me, “Some people were saved tonight.” I said to myself, “What is he talking about?” As soon as a prisoner said, “I believe,” they thought this person was saved—that it was an accomplished fact. The plan of salvation is more involved than that and Adventists know it. That is one of the reasons that other Christians hated our pioneers. If the sanctuary message is true, there is more to it than merely saying, “I believe.”
We need to understand what the sanctuary doctrine is and what the investigative judgement is. Ellen White said, “All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith, which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position, which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face.” Ibid.
Daniel 8 begins with a vision in which Daniel sees a ram and a goat, which has a big horn. The he goat destroys the ram and then the great horn is broken. Then there appear four horns. And finally a little horn appears. That is in the first eight or nine verses of Daniel 8. To understand Daniel 8:14 we need to know who and what this little horn is, because the prophecy about the twenty-three hundred days deals with this little horn.
In Daniel 8:20 the angel tells Daniel that the ram represents the kings of Media and Persia. The he-goat represents the kingdom of Greece and specifically Alexander the Great. The ram of Media Persia is described in the Hebrew text as being great. The he-goat is called exceedingly great or very great. Greece was more powerful and a greater empire than the kingdom of Medo-Persia and it took in more territory. The little horn power is described in even stronger terms, translated as “great beyond measure.” From that description it would have to be a power that is much greater than the Medo-Persian Empire which was a world empire. It would have to be even greater than the kingdom of Greece. The only kingdom that fits that description is Rome.
The little horn power was not Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a vassal king and did not have a world empire. He was definitely not greater than Alexander the Great. The theory that Antiochus Epiphanes was the little horn does not make any sense in the Scripture, no matter how our theological opponents present it.
Some people say that the Bible says that this little horn comes out of one of those four horns. It does not say that. The literal Hebrew translation reads, “And there came up four conspicuous horns in its place toward the four winds of the heavens.”
There are two nouns there, one is “horns” and the other is “winds”. “Out of one of them . . .” verse 9. Someone says, “See Pastor John, it says out of one of the horns.” No, it does not say out of one of the horns. It says out of one of “them.” The word “them” in Hebrew is masculine. The word “horn” is feminine. So “them” cannot refer to horns.
In Greek and Hebrew a pronoun always has to agree with its noun in gender. Winds can be either masculine or feminine, but horns can only be feminine. So the word “them” cannot refer to horns. It refers to the winds, which is the noun directly preceding it.
“Out of one of them,” that is, out of one of the winds of heaven, “there came a little horn.” Daniel 8:9. When we look at the linguistic context, we see that the little horn comes out of one of the winds of heaven, the west wind.
We have seen that the historical context proves this little horn to be Rome, and the linguistic context points the same way. Let us look more closely at the little horn power. Verse 10 says, “And it became great, even to the host (army) of the heavens.”
Who is the host of heaven? The armies, or the hosts of heaven, is a term in the Bible that refers often to God’s people. (See Joshua 5:14, 15 and Exodus 12:41.) The angels are also referred to as the armies or the hosts of God. (See Luke 2:13.)
When the angel explained what this meant, he said that this little horn power would “destroy the mighty and also the holy people.” Verse 24. That is God’s people—the armies of heaven.
“He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host.” Verse 11. Jesus Christ is the Ruler of the armies of heaven. Revelation 19 describes His coming back to this world as the head of the armies of heaven. “He has on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16. He is the Commander of the hosts of heaven. This little horn power would even exalt himself to oppose the Commander of the hosts of heaven.
Which government was involved in the crucifixion of Jesus? It was the Roman government. Roman soldiers nailed Him to the cross at the command of a Roman governor. It is not hard to figure out that this little horn power would exalt itself even to the Commander of the armies of heaven.
It [the little horn] cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground and trampled [destroyed] them. (Daniel 8:10.) Verse 24 says, concerning this little horn power, that he would “destroy the mighty and also the holy people.” Then notice what it says will happen. “He magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily was taken away.” Daniel 8:11.
The little horn power exalted the continuous, or the daily, or that which is continual. What is it that was continual? Verse 12 calls it the “continuance in rebellion.” Then it says that the very thing that he exalted, he later was given an army against it. The Bible translators could not figure that out, so they changed the wording to the “daily sacrifice.” They could not figure out how you could exalt something and then have an army given you to destroy it.
Ellen White said that the pioneers and William Miller had the truth on what the “daily” was. The continuance, that which was always in rebellion—even back before the flood; then at the Tower of Babel, in Egypt, in Assyria, in Babylon, in Medo-Persia, in Greece and finally it reached its epitome in Rome. It was the “continuance in rebellion” that was exalted to its highest level in Rome. For four thousand five hundred years it was a continuance in rebellion. It was paganism or heathenism which center around sun worship.
The history of Rome reveals what paganism does to a nation. The horrors and debauchery are too dreadful to be written down, but if you look in Romans chapter 1 you can get a small idea. Romans was written to the people who lived in that city and it describes the society in which they had to live.
Later on it says an army would be given to this little horn power to take away the continuance and set up an “abomination that would make desolate,” or that would depopulate it. In verse 12 it says, “Because of the transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.” The word translated “transgression” means a revolt or a rebellion.
There are two rebellions mentioned in these verses 10–12. The first one, the daily, is the daily in transgression or the “continuance in transgression” or rebellion. (Daniel 8:12.) Then there is the desolating transgression or the desolating rebellion. (See Truth Triumphant, by Benjamin Wilkinson.) The continual rebellion started before the flood and it kept on going after the flood until the beginning of the sixth century, A.D. When it was taken away, something worse was put in its place. That something is described in the Scriptures as Antichrist, the Man of Sin. The apostasy of the latter times that would last until the Second Coming of Christ.
The continuance, plus the abomination of desolation, refers to the sin problem from its beginning to its end. Somehow our detractors and opponents cannot seem to figure that out. It is one of the main thrusts of Daniel 8, 10, 11 and 12. It is connected here in Daniel 8 with the twenty-three hundred days because we read in Daniel 8:13, 14, “And then I heard a certain holy one speaking and he sent another holy one to that one who spoke. ‘Until when is the vision concerning the daily [“the continuance in rebellion”]?’” Daniel 8:13.
How long is the vision concerning the continuance and the desolating rebellion? It has been going on now for thousands of years. The time is coming when it is going to be taken away and the desolating rebellion put in its place. How long are both of these things going to continue into the future, “to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled? And he said to me, Unto two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed [made righteous, purified or restored].” Daniel 8:13, 14.
At the end of two thousand three hundred days, the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state. “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the Holy City under foot for forty-two months.’ ” Revelation 11:1, 2.
What does it mean for the sanctuary to be restored, vindicated? God’s sanctuary is in heaven. They knew that, even in the Old Testament time. We enter into that sanctuary by faith. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the Veil, that is, his flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19–22. When this sanctuary is cleansed, friend, it is God’s measuring time. He is not just going to measure a building. The sanctuary, the temple, is a symbol of the church (See Ephesians 2:19–22.) The sanctuary, the altar and the worshippers will be measured. God has a measuring rod, and He will measure the people who are in it.
When the measuring is over, you will either be in it or you will be shaken out of it. When you lose your vision, and you turn your back on the Biblical teaching of the judgment like some people are doing today, you have been shaken out. You can go to church every week for the rest of your life, but you have been shaken out of God’s church. The sanctuary cannot be restored to its rightful state as long as those who are worshipping in it by faith are still full of sin. They must be purified, cleansed.
The central pillar and the foundation of the Advent faith cannot be knocked out from under the person who studies the Biblical texts carefully. It is rooted in the Bible. You can study it historically, linguistically, and theologically—any way you want to study it, and it will stand investigation.
It is measuring time and God is doing the measuring. Either by His grace we are going to measure up or we will be shaken out. (See Hebrews 12.) The good news is, Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” If you want to be saved, He will give you enough grace so that you can be purified, so that you will measure up, so that you can be restored. When the worshippers in the sanctuary are measured, when they are all put before the measuring rod, I want to be ready for that time so I will remain and will not be shaken out. How about you?