And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary - By the "prince" Titus, the son of Vespasian, is plainly intended; and "the people of that prince" are no other than the Romans, who, according to the prophecy, destroyed the sanctuary, הקדש hakkodesh, the holy place or temple, and, as a flood, swept away all, till the total destruction of that obstinate people finished the war.
And after threescore and two weeks - After the completion of the last period of four hundred and thirty-four years. The angel had shown in the previous verse what would be the characteristic of the first period of “seven weeks” - that during that time the wall and the street would be built in circumstances of general distress and anxiety, and he now proceeds to state what would occur in relation to the remaining sixty-two weeks. The particular thing which would characterize that period would be, that the Messiah would be cut off, and that the series of events would commence which would terminate in the destruction of the city and the temple. He does not say that this would be immediately on the termination of the sixty-two weeks, but he says that it would be “after” אחרי 'achărēy - “subsequent” to the close of that period. The word does not mean necessarily immediately, but it denotes what is to succeed - to follow - and would be well expressed by the word “afterward:” Genesis 15:14; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:26, et al. See Gesenius, Lexicon The natural meaning here would be, that this would be the “next event” in the order of events to be reckoned; it would be that on which the prophetic eye would rest subsequent to the close of the period of sixty-two weeks. There are two circumstances in the prophecy itself which go to show that it is not meant that this would immediately follow:
(a) One is, that in the previous verse it is said that the “sixty-two weeks” would extend “unto the Messiah;” that is, either to his birth or to his manifestation as such; and it is not implied anywhere that he would be “cut off” at once on his appearing, nor is such a supposition reasonable, or one that would have been embraced by an ancient student of the prophecies;
(b) the other is, that, in the subsequent verse, it is expressly said that what he would accomplish in causing the oblation to cease would occur “in the midst of the week;” that is, of the remaining one week that would complete the seventy. This could not occur if he were to be “cut off” immediately at the close of the sixty-two weeks.
The careful student of this prophecy, therefore, would anticipate that the Messiah would appear at the close of the sixty-two weeks, and that he would continue during a part, at least, of the remaining one week before he would be cut off. This point could have been clearly made out from the prophecy before the Messiah came.
Shall Messiah - Notes, Daniel 9:25.
Be cut off - The word used here (כרת kârath ) means, properly, to cut, to cut off, as a part of a garment, 1 Samuel 24:5 (6), 11 (12); a branch of a tree, Numbers 13:23; the prepuce, Exodus 4:25; the head, 1 Samuel 17:51; 1 Samuel 5:4; to cut down trees, Deuteronomy 19:5; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 44:14; Jeremiah 10:3; Jeremiah 22:7. Then it means to cut off persons, to destroy, Deuteronomy 20:20; Jeremiah 11:19; Genesis 9:11; Psalm 37:9; Proverbs 2:22; Proverbs 10:31, et al. scepe. The phrase, “that soul shall be cut off from his people,” “from the midst of the people,” “from Israel,” “from the congregation,” etc., occurs frequently in the Scriptures (compare Genesis 17:14; Leviticus 7:20-21; Numbers 15:30; Numbers 19:13, Numbers 19:20; Exodus 12:19, et al.), and denotes the punishment of death in general, without defining the manner. “It is never the punishment of exile.” - Gesenius, Lexicon The proper notion or meaning here is, undoubtedly, that of being cut off by death, and would suggest the idea of a “violent” death, or a death by the agency of others.
It would apply to one who was assassinated, or murdered by a mob, or who was appointed to death by a judicial decree; or it might be applied to one who was cut down in battle, or by the pestilence, or by lightning, or by shipwreck, but it would not naturally or properly be applied to one who had lived out his days, and died a peaceful death. We always now connect with the word the idea of some unusual interposition, as when we speak of one who is cut down in middle life. The ancient translators understood it of a violent death. So the Latin “Vulgate, occidetur Christus;” Syriac, “the Messiah shall be slain,” or put to death. It need not be here said that this phrase would find a complete fulfillment in the manner in which the Lord Jesus was put to death, nor that this is the very language in which it is proper now to describe the manner in which he was removed. He was cut off by violence; by a judicial decree: by a mob; in the midst of his way, etc. If it should be admitted that the angel meant to describe the manner of his death, he could not have found a single word that would have better expressed it.
But not for himself - Margin, “and shall have nothing.” This phrase has given rise to not a little discussion, and not a little diversity of opinion. The Latin Vulgate is, “et non erit ejus populus, qui eum negaturus est” - “and they shall not be his people who shall deny him.” Theodotion (in the Septuagint), καὶ κρίμα οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἀυτῷ kai krima ouk estin en autō - “and there is no crime in him.” Syriac, “And it is not with him.” The Hebrew is לו ואין ve'ēyn lô - and the interpretation turns on the meaning of the word אין 'ēyn Hengstenberg maintains that it is never used in the sense of לא lo' (not), but that it always conveys the idea of “nothing,” or “non-existence,” and that the meaning here is, that, then, “there was nothing to him;” that is, that he ceased to have authority and power, as in the cutting off of a prince or ruler whose power comes to an end.
Accordingly he renders it, “and is not to him;” that is, his dominion, authority, or power over the covenant people as an anointed prince, would cease when he was cut off, and another one would come and desolate the sanctuary, and take possession. Bertholdt renders it, Ohne Nachfolger von den Seinigen zu haben- “without any successors of his own “ - meaning that his family, or that the dynasty would be cut off, or would end with him. He maintains that the whole phrase denotes “a sudden and an unexpected death,” and that it here means that he would have no successor of his own family. He applies it to Alexander the Great. Lengerke renders it, Und nicht ist vorhanden, der ihm, angehoret- and explains the whole to mean, “The anointed one (as the lawful king) shall be cut off, but it shall not then be one who belongs to his family (to wit, upon the throne), but a Prince shall come to whom the crown did not belong, to whom the name anointed could not properly belong.”
Maurer explains it, “There shall be to him no successor or lawful heir.” Prof. Stuart renders it, “One shall be cut off, and there shall be none for it” (the people). C. B. Michaelis, “and not to be will be his lot.” Jacch. and Hitzig, “and no one remained to him.” Rosch, “and no one was present for him.” Our translation - “but not for himself” - was undoubtedly adopted from the common view of the atonement - that the Messiah did not die for himself, but that his life was given as a ransom for others. There can be no doubt of that fact to those who hold the common doctrine of the atonement, and yet it maybe doubted whether the translators did not undesignedly allow their views of the atonement to shape the interpretation of this passage, and whether it can be fairly made out from the Hebrew. The ordinary meaning of the Hebrew word אין 'ēyn is, undoubtedly, “nothing, emptiness” - in the sense of there being nothing (see Gesenius, Lexicon); and, thus applied, the sense here would be, that after he was cut off, or in consequence of his being cut off, what he before possessed would cease, or there would be “nothing” to him; that is, either his life would cease, or his dominion would cease, or he would be cut off as the Prince - the Messiah. This interpretation appears to be confirmed by what is immediately said, that another would come and would destroy the city and the sanctuary, or that the possession would pass into his bands.
It seems probable to me that this is the fair interpretation. The Messiah would come as a “Prince.” It might be expected that he would come to rule - to set up a kingdom. But he would be suddenly cut off by a violent death. The anticipated dominion over the people as a prince would not be set up. It would not pertain to him. Thus suddenly cut off, the expectations of such a rule would be disappointed and blasted. He would in fact set up no such dominion as might naturally be expected of an anointed prince; he would have no successor; the dynasty would not remain in his hands or his family, and soon the people of a foreign prince would come and would sweep all away. This interpretation does not suppose that the real object of his coming would be thwarted, or that he would not set up a kingdom in accordance with the prediction properly explained, but that such a kingdom as would be expected by the people would not be set up.
He would be cut off soon after he came, and the anticipated dominion would not pertain to him, or there would be “nothing” of it found in him, and soon after a foreign prince would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. This interpretation, indeed, will take this passage away as a proof-text of the doctrine of the atonement, or as affirming the design of the death of the Messiah, but it furnishes a meaning as much in accordance with the general strain of the prophecy, and with the facts in the work of the Messiah. For it was a natural expectation that when he came he would set up a kingdom - a temporal reign - and this expectation was extensively cherished among the people. He was, however, soon cut off, and all such hopes at once perished in the minds of his true followers (compare Luke 24:21), and in the minds of the multitudes who, though not his true followers, began to inquire whether he might not be the predicted Messiah - the Prince to sit on the throne of David. But of such an anticipated dominion or rule, there was “nothing” to him.
All these expectations were blighted by his sudden death, and soon, instead of his delivering the nation from bondage and setting up a visible kingdom, a foreign prince would come with his forces and would sweep away everything. Whether this would be the interpretation affixed to these words before the advent of the Messiah cannot now be determined. We have few remains of the methods in which the Hebrews interpreted the ancient prophecies, and we may readily suppose that they would not be disposed to embrace an exposition which would show them that the reign of the Messiah, as they anticipated it, would not occur, but that almost as soon as he appeared, he would be put to death, and the dominion pass away, and the nation be subjected to the ravages of a foreign power. “And the people of the prince that shall come.” Margin, “And they (the Jews) shall be no more his people; or, the Prince‘s (Messiah‘s) future people.” This seems to be rather an explanation of the meaning, than a translation of the Hebrew. The literal rendering would be, “and the city, and the sanctuary, the people of a prince that comes, shall lay waste.” On the general supposition that this whole passage refers to the Messiah and his time, the language used here is not difficult of interpretation, and denotes with undoubted accuracy the events that soon followed the “cutting off” of the Messiah. The word “people” (עם ‛am ) is a word that may well be applied to subjects or armies - such a people as an invading prince or warrior would lead with him for purposes of conquest. It denotes properly
(a) a people, or tribe, or race in general; and then
(b) the people as opposed to kings, princes, rulers (compare λαός laos the people as opposed to chiefs in Homer, Iliad ii. 365, xiii. 108, xxiv. 28): and then as soldiers, Judges 5:2. Hence, it may be applied, as it would be understood to be here, to the soldiers of the prince that should come.
Of the prince that shall come - The word “prince” here (נגיד nāgı̂yd ) is the same which occurs in Daniel 9:25, “Messiah the prince.” It is clear, however, that another prince is meant here, for
(a) it is just said that that prince - the Messiah - would be “cut off,” and this clearly refers to one that was to follow;
(b) the phrase “that is to come” (הבא habbâ' ) would also imply this.
It would naturally suggest the idea that he would come from abroad, or that he would be a foreign prince - for he would “come” for the purposes of destruction. No one can fail to see the applicability of this to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman power, after the Lord Jesus was put to death. If that was the design of the prophecy, or if it be admitted that the prophecy contemplated that, the language could not have been better chosen, or the prediction more exact. No one can reasonably doubt that, if the ancient Hebrews had understood the former part of the prophecy, as meaning that the true Messiah would be put to death soon after his appearing, they could not fail to anticipate that a foreign prince would soon come and lay waste their city and sanctuary.
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary - The “holy place” - the temple. This is the termination of the prophecy. It begins with the command to “rebuild and restore” the city, and ends with its destruction. The time is not fixed, nor is there in the prophecy any direct intimation when it would occur, unless it be found in the general declaration in Daniel 9:24, that “seventy weeks were determined upon the people and the city.” The whole scope of the prophecy, however, would lead to the supposition that this was soon to occur after the Messiah should be “cut off.” The series of events under the Romans which led to the destruction of the city and temple, in fact, began very soon after the death of the Lord Jesus, and ceased only when the temple was wholly demolished, and the city was rased to its foundations.
And the end thereof - Hebrew, “its end,” or “his end” - קצו qı̂tsô It is not certain as to what the word “it” (ו ô ) here refers. It may be either the end of the city, or of the prince, or of the prophecy, so far as the grammatical construction is concerned. As the principal and immediate subject of the prophecy, however, is the city, it is more natural to refer it to that. Hengstenberg renders it, “it will end,” supposing, with Vitringa, that it refers to the subject of the discourse: “the thing - the whole affair - all that is here predicted in this series of events - will end with a flood.” This accords well with the whole design of the prophecy.
With a flood - בשׁטף basheṭeph That is, it shall be like an overflowing flood. The word used here means a “gushing, outpouring,” as of rain, Job 38:25; of a torrent, Proverbs 27:4; an overflowing, inundation, flood, Psalm 32:6; Nahum 1:8. Hence, it would appropriately denote the ravages of an army, sweeping everything away. It would be like a sudden inundation, carrying everything before it. No one can doubt that this language is applicable in every respect to the desolations brought upon Jerusalem by the Roman armies.
And unto the end of the war desolations are determined - Margin, “it shall be cut off by desolations.” Hengstenberg renders this, “and unto the end is war, a decree of ruins.” So Lengerke - and his aufs Ende Krieg und Beschluss der Wusten. Bertholdt renders it, “and the great desolations shall continue unto the end of the war.” The Latin Vulgate renders it, et post finem belli statuta desolatio - “and after the end of the war desolation is determined.” Prof. Stuart translates it, “and unto the end shall be war, a decreed measure of desolations.” The literal meaning of the passage is, “and unto the end of the war desolations are decreed,” or determined. The word rendered “determined” (חרץ chârats ) means, properly, to cut, cut in, engrave; then to decide, to determine, to decree, to pass sentence. See the notes at Daniel 9:24. Here the meaning naturally is, that such desolations were settled or determined as by a decree or purpose. There was something which made them certain; that is, it was a part of the great plan here referred to in the vision of the seventy weeks, that there should be such desolations extending through the war. The things which would, therefore, be anticipated from this passage would be,
(a) that there would be war. This is implied also in the assurance that the people of a foreign prince would come and take the city.
(b) That this war would be of a “desolating” character, or that it would in a remarkable manner extend and spread ruin over the land. All wars are thus characterized; but it would seem that this would do it in a remarkable manner.
(c) That these desolations would extend through the war, or to its close. There would be no intermission; no cessation. It is hardly necessary to say that this was, in fact, precisely the character of the war which the Romans waged with the Jews after the death of the Saviour, and which ended in the destruction of the city and temple; the overthrow of the whole Hebrew polity; and the removal of great numbers of the people to a distant and perpetual captivity. No war, perhaps, has been in its progress more marked by desolation; in none has the purpose of destruction been more perseveringly manifested to its very close. The “language” here, indeed, might apply to many wars - in a certain sense to all wars; to none, however, would it be more appropriate than to the wars of the Romans with the Jews.
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »
The burden of Christ's preaching was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The “time” which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. “Seventy weeks,” said the angel, “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.” Daniel 9:24. A day in prophecy stands for a year. See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given: “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,” sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel 9:25. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (see Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9, margin), went into effect in the autumn of B. C. 457. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A. D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. In A. D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and soon afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed. “The time is fulfilled.” DA 233.1
Then, said the angel, “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].” For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles. “In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease. DA 233.2
The one week—seven years—ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by persecution “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4); and shortly after, Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. DA 233.3Read in context »
With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devoted to the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importance and all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he could find no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel, though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave him only a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall the church was unfolded to the prophet's vision, physical strength gave way. He could endure no more, and the angel left him for a time. Daniel “fainted, and was sick certain days.” “And I was astonished at the vision,” he says, “but none understood it.” GC 325.1
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.” Daniel 8:27, 16; 9:22, 23, 25-27. There was one important point in the vision of chapter 8 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: GC 325.2Read in context »
Sacred Truth Dishonored by Excitement—We need to be thoughtful and still, and to contemplate the truths of revelation. Excitement is not favorable to growth in grace, to true purity and sanctification of the Spirit. Ev 612.1
God wants us to deal with sacred truth. This alone will convince the gainsayer. Calm, sensible labor must be put forth.... Ev 612.2
God calls upon His people to walk with sobriety and holy consistency. They should be very careful not to misrepresent and dishonor the holy doctrines of truth by strange performances, by confusion and tumult. By this unbelievers are led to think that Seventh-day Adventists are a set of fanatics. Thus prejudice is created that prevents souls from receiving the message for this time. When believers speak the truth as it is in Jesus, they reveal a holy, sensible calm, not a storm of confusion.—Manuscript 76a, 1901. Ev 612.3
False Teachers Misplace Prophecy—In our day as in Christ's day, there may be a misreading and misinterpreting of the Scriptures. If the Jews had studied the Scriptures with earnest, prayerful hearts, their searching would have been rewarded with a true knowledge of the time, and not only the time, but also the manner of Christ's appearing. They would not have ascribed the glorious second appearing of Christ to His first advent. They had the testimony of Daniel; they had the testimony of Isaiah and the other prophets; they had the teachings of Moses; and here was Christ in their very midst, and still they were searching the Scriptures for evidence in regard to His coming. And they were doing unto Christ the very things that had been prophesied they would do. They were so blinded they knew not what they were doing. Ev 612.4Read in context »
At the time of Christ's first advent the priests and scribes of the Holy City, to whom were entrusted the oracles of God, might have discerned the signs of the times and proclaimed the coming of the Promised One. The prophecy of Micah designated His birthplace; Daniel specified the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25. God committed these prophecies to the Jewish leaders; they were without excuse if they did not know and declare to the people that the Messiah's coming was at hand. Their ignorance was the result of sinful neglect. The Jews were building monuments for the slain prophets of God, while by their deference to the great men of earth they were paying homage to the servants of Satan. Absorbed in their ambitious strife for place and power among men, they lost sight of the divine honors proffered them by the King of heaven. GC 313.1
With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world's history—the coming of the Son of God to accomplish the redemption of man. All the people should have been watching and waiting that they might be among the first to welcome the world's Redeemer. But, lo, at Bethlehem two weary travelers from the hills of Nazareth traverse the whole length of the narrow street to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a place of rest and shelter for the night. No doors are open to receive them. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last find refuge, and there the Saviour of the world is born. GC 313.2
Heavenly angels had seen the glory which the Son of God shared with the Father before the world was, and they had looked forward with intense interest to His appearing on earth as an event fraught with the greatest joy to all people. Angels were appointed to carry the glad tidings to those who were prepared to receive it and who would joyfully make it known to the inhabitants of the earth. Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man's nature; He was to bear an infinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin; yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel's capital to greet His coming? Would legions of angels present Him to the expectant company? GC 313.3Read in context »
These and other scriptures clearly proved to Miller's mind that the events which were generally expected to take place before the coming of Christ, such as the universal reign of peace and the setting up of the kingdom of God upon the earth, were to be subsequent to the second advent. Furthermore, all the signs of the times and the condition of the world corresponded to the prophetic description of the last days. He was forced to the conclusion, from the study of Scripture alone, that the period allotted for the continuance of the earth in its present state was about to close. GC 323.1
“Another kind of evidence that vitally affected my mind,” he says, “was the chronology of the Scriptures.... I found that predicted events, which had been fulfilled in the past, often occurred within a given time. The one hundred and twenty years to the flood (Genesis 6:3); the seven days that were to precede it, with forty days of predicted rain (Genesis 7:4); the four hundred years of the sojourn of Abraham's seed (Genesis 15:13); the three days of the butler's and baker's dreams (Genesis 40:12-20); the seven years of Pharaoh's (Genesis 41:28-54); the forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34); the three and a half years of famine (1 Kings 17:1) [see Luke 4:25;] ... the seventy years’ captivity (Jeremiah 25:11); Nebuchadnezzar's seven times (Daniel 4:13-16); and the seven weeks, threescore and two weeks, and the one week, making seventy weeks, determined upon the Jews (Daniel 9:24-27),—the events limited by these times were all once only a matter of prophecy, and were fulfilled in accordance with the predictions.”—Bliss, pages 74, 75. GC 323.2Read in context »
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.... 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. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.... And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” GC 326.1
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.” After bidding Daniel “understand the matter, and consider the vision,” the very first words of the angel are: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.” The word here translated “determined” literally signifies “cut off.” Seventy weeks, representing 490 years, are declared by the angel to be cut off, as specially pertaining to the Jews. But from what were they cut off? As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter 8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off; the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and the two periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300 days would be ascertained. GC 326.2
In the seventh chapter of Ezra the decree is found. Verses 12-26. In its completest form it was issued by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, 457 B.C. But in Ezra 6:14 the house of the Lord at Jerusalem is said to have been built “according to the commandment [“decree,” margin] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” These three kings, in originating, reaffirming, and completing the decree, brought it to the perfection required by the prophecy to mark the beginning of the 2300 years. Taking 457 B.C., the time when the decree was completed, as the date of the commandment, every specification of the prophecy concerning the seventy weeks was seen to have been fulfilled. GC 326.3Read in context »
Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15. That message was based on the prophecy of Daniel 9. The sixty-nine weeks were declared by the angel to extend to “the Messiah the Prince,” and with high hopes and joyful anticipations the disciples looked forward to the establishment of Messiah's kingdom at Jerusalem to rule over the whole earth. GC 345.1
They preached the message which Christ had committed to them, though they themselves misapprehended its meaning. While their announcement was founded on Daniel 9:25, they did not see, in the next verse of the same chapter, that Messiah was to be cut off. From their very birth their hearts had been set upon the anticipated glory of an earthly empire, and this blinded their understanding alike to the specifications of the prophecy and to the words of Christ. GC 345.2
They performed their duty in presenting to the Jewish nation the invitation of mercy, and then, at the very time when they expected to see their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seized as a malefactor, scourged, derided, and condemned, and lifted up on the cross of Calvary. What despair and anguish wrung the hearts of those disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in the tomb! GC 345.3Read in context »
The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel of the kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart in the experience of those who proclaimed the message of His second advent. As the disciples went out preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible was about to expire, that the judgment was at hand, and the everlasting kingdom was to be ushered in. The preaching of the disciples in regard to time was based on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The message given by Miller and his associates announced the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based upon the fulfillment of a different portion of the same great prophetic period. GC 351.1
Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not, themselves, fully comprehend the import of the message which they bore. Errors that had been long established in the church prevented them from arriving at a correct interpretation of an important point in the prophecy. Therefore, though they proclaimed the message which God had committed to them to be given to the world, yet through a misapprehension of its meaning they suffered disappointment. GC 351.2Read in context »
It suits the policy of Satan that men should retain the forms of religion if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After their rejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to maintain their ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit that the presence of God was no longer manifest among them. The prophecy of Daniel pointed so unmistakably to the time of Messiah's coming, and so directly foretold His death, that they discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse on all who should attempt a computation of the time. In blindness and impenitence the people of Israel during succeeding centuries have stood, indifferent to the gracious offers of salvation, unmindful of the blessings of the gospel, a solemn and fearful warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven. GC 378.1
Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes with his inclinations will finally lose the power to distinguish between truth and error. The understanding becomes darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the soul is separated from God. Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and dissension enter. Church members center their interests and energies in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their impenitence. GC 378.2Read in context »
The fact that a few fanatics worked their way into the ranks of Adventists is no more reason to decide that the movement was not of God than was the presence of fanatics and deceivers in the church in Paul's or Luther's day a sufficient excuse for condemning their work. Let the people of God arouse out of sleep and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation; let them search the Scriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus; let them make an entire consecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant. With all possible deception he will manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm. GC 398.1
It was not the proclamation of the second advent that caused fanaticism and division. These appeared in the summer of 1844, when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerning their real position. The preaching of the first angel's message and of the “midnight cry” tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence, and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan. GC 398.2
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.” Matthew 25:5-7. In the summer of 1844, midway between the time when it had been first thought that the 2300 days would end, and the autumn of the same year, to which it was afterward found that they extended, the message was proclaimed in the very words of Scripture: “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!” GC 398.3
That which led to this movement was the discovery that the decree of Artaxerxes for the restoration of Jerusalem, which formed the starting point for the period of the 2300 days, went into effect in the autumn of the year 457 B.C., and not at the beginning of the year, as had been formerly believed. Reckoning from the autumn of 457, the 2300 years terminate in the autumn of 1844. (See Appendix note for page 329.) GC 398.4Read in context »
To accept this conclusion was to renounce the former reckoning of the prophetic periods. The 2300 days had been found to begin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300 years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ's baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ was crucified, in the spring of A.D. 31. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D. 34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years would remain. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. “Then,” said the angel, “shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” All the preceding specifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled at the time appointed. GC 410.1
With this reckoning, all was clear and harmonious, except that it was not seen that any event answering to the cleansing of the sanctuary had taken place in 1844. To deny that the days ended at that time was to involve the whole question in confusion, and to renounce positions which had been established by unmistakable fulfillments of prophecy. GC 410.2
But God had led His people in the great advent movement; His power and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a false and fanatical excitement. He would not leave His word involved in doubt and uncertainty. Though many abandoned their former reckoning of the prophetic periods and denied the correctness of the movement based thereon, others were unwilling to renounce points of faith and experience that were sustained by the Scriptures and by the witness of the Spirit of God. They believed that they had adopted sound principles of interpretation in their study of the prophecies, and that it was their duty to hold fast the truths already gained, and to continue the same course of Biblical research. With earnest prayer they reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary. GC 410.3Read in context »
“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy great mercies. PK 556.1
“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.” Verses 4-9, 16-19. PK 556.2
Heaven was bending low to hear the earnest supplication of the prophet. Even before he had finished his plea for pardon and restoration, the mighty Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar. And then the angel outlined before him in detail the period of the seventy weeks, which was to begin at the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Verse 25. PK 556.3
Daniel's prayer had been offered “in the first year of Darius” (verse 1), the Median monarch whose general, Cyrus, had wrested from Babylonia the scepter of universal rule. The reign of Darius was honored of God. To him was sent the angel Gabriel, “to confirm and to strengthen him.” Daniel 11:1. Upon his death, within about two years of the fall of Babylon, Cyrus succeeded to the throne, and the beginning of his reign marked the completion of the seventy years since the first company of Hebrews had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar from their Judean home to Babylon. PK 556.4Read in context »
Thus, through patriarchs and prophets, as well as through types and symbols, God spoke to the world concerning the coming of a Deliverer from sin. A long line of inspired prophecy pointed to the advent of “the Desire of all nations.” Haggai 2:7. Even the very place of His birth and the time of His appearance were minutely specified. PK 697.4
The Son of David must be born in David's city. Out of Bethlehem, said the prophet, “shall He come forth ... that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. PK 697.5Read in context »