Q: Do we as Adventists still believe in the 2,300-day prophecy? Could you also explain who is the “man of sin, the son of perdition” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3? — from Cy
A: Dear Brother Cy, as Seventh-day Adventists we absolutely still believe in the 2,300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. It is biblical truth that is undergirded by the Spirit of Prophecy. It is foundational for our faith and for our mission in proclaiming the message of Revelation 14:6-12, which includes the warning that “the hour of His [God’s] judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7).
Overview of Judgment in Daniel
Not just Daniel 8 but almost every chapter of the book underscores the importance of preparing for the judgment. In chapter 1, Daniel and his three friends are tested for their faith on the matter of diet. In chapter 2, the dream of the metal image with feet of iron and clay climaxes with the toppling of the image by the stone cut out without hands, pointing to the judgment of the world at the second coming of Jesus. Chapter 3 describes the testing of the three Hebrews who refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image and in chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar himself is judged, removed from power, and, as a result, comes to believe in the true God. Daniel 5 records the judgment on Babylon, which is weighed in the balances and found wanting. In chapter 6, Daniel’s faith is tested again, he is thrown into the lion’s den, and God protects him. Daniel 7 has the most vivid description in the whole Bible of the pre-advent investigative judgment, when “the judgment is set and the books are opened” (vs. 10).
So, by the time we get to chapter eight we expect that the judgment will be described in some way. In fact, there is only one time in the sanctuary service during the year that the two animals of Daniel 8, the goat and the ram, were offered together — on the Day of Atonement. The reference to the sanctuary at the climax of the vision in verse 14 is another clear indication that this is talking about the judgment.
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
The “cleansing” of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement is referred to by the Hebrew word nitsdaq, which has a depth of meaning that fits the idea of the investigative judgment. We know the word means “cleanse” because it is used synonymously with the Hebrew word tahēr (the normal Hebrew word for “cleanse”) and Jewish translators two centuries before Christ, in the Greek Septuagint, translated it by the word that means cleanse (katharizō).
In the Old Testament sanctuary, its “cleansing” at the end of the religious year symbolized God’s judgment on sin. Up to that time, the sins of the people, through their confession of sin on the head of the sacrifice, were transferred symbolically to the sanctuary, resulting in its defilement.
This represents the fact that, in the great controversy between Christ and Satan, God was charged with the responsibility for sin until the cross when it became clear to the surrounding universe that Satan was really the one responsible. Jesus’ spotless sacrifice and cleansing blood shed on the cross is represented by the blood of the Lord’s goat that was “sinless,” because it was offered up without any sins being confessed upon it. The scapegoat, on which was laid all the sins of God’s people, represents the fact that Satan bears the final responsibility for sin, not God.
The blood of this goat was taken by the high priest and first sprinkled in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary — on the mercy seat, containing God’s law that was broken. This represents the closing work of judgment, carried out by Jesus as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, His blotting out of sins of God’s people, and delivering the verdict of their final vindication. That’s not just good news, it’s the best news of all! That is also why the first angel in Revelation 14, who has “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth,” announces that “the hour of His [God’s] judgment has come.”
The 2,300 “Days”
The 2,300 “days,” symbolizing years, stretches from 457 BC, which marks the beginning of the time prophecies in Daniel 8 and 9 (“from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem,” Daniel 9:25) to 1844. Just as the spring feasts of Passover, Firstfruits, and Pentecost met their fulfillment to the very day in connection with the first advent of Christ, so the Day of Atonement in 1844 fell on Oct. 22, marking the beginning of the investigative judgment.
We should remember, as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that Martin Luther believed that the judgment was not imminent in his day but would happen several hundred years later.
In that amazing book “The Great Controversy,” Ellen White tells us that “the foundation and central pillar” of the Adventist faith was the declaration “unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14). This is the heart of our message because it points to the work that Jesus is doing for us now and His resolution of the sin problem so that He can come to take us home. That is why Jesus says that, when He comes, “My reward is with Me, to give everyone according to His work” (Revelation 22:12). Let us be faithful and spread this good news so that many more will be in the kingdom to “meet Him in the air” when He comes, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
For wonderful, further explanations of this dynamic prophetic subject, read the following chapters in “The Great Controversy”: Chapter 22 on “Prophecies Fulfilled”; Chapter 23 on “What Is the Sanctuary?”; Chapter 24 on “In the Holy of Holies”; Chapter 25 on “God’s Law Immutable”; and Chapter 28 on “Facing Life’s Record.” If you don’t have a copy of “The Great Controversy,” you may download it free here.
The “Man of Sin”
The “son of perdition” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, like Judas who is called this by Jesus (John 17:12), is a man (and a religious system) who has been used by the devil through much of Christian history to persecute God’s people. Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 describes this end-time persecuting power in detail.
Notice what “The Great Controversy,” page 50 says, “This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power — a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will — To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan — the bishop of Rome.
“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled ‘Lord God the Pope,’ and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage.”