Letter to Jeff Pippenger
by Ty Gibson
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my study entitled, An Evaluation of The 2520. I genuinely respect your commitment to validating the historicist view of Bible prophecy and I believe you are a sincere Bible student.
Although you said in your letter that you do not expect a response from me, and I appreciate the release from obligation, I would like to respond nonetheless. I would ask that you please hear me as a brother in Christ who believes the Advent message and yet who also has some valid questions and challenges for you to consider.
You have posed two specific questions for me and have raised two additional points in the overall body of your letter. I will begin with your last two questions, both of which have to do with Ellen White’s view of the 2520. Then I will address Leviticus 25 as the context to chapter 26. Lastly I will offer some points regarding the “daily” in the book of Daniel.
What about the Spirit of Prophecy position on the 2520?
You ask if I believe that the Spirit of Prophecy gives an accurate account of Adventist history.
My answer is a definite yes! I assume, since you have put this question to me, that your answer is yes as well. And it is evident that you ask the question because you believe the Spirit of Prophecy advocates the 2520.
But does it, really?
The “Longest” of the Prophetic Periods
The first point you raise from the Spirit of Prophecy is the fact that Ellen White speaks of “prophetic periods,” plural, that extend to 1844, which you see as proving that she must have meant both the 2300-day/year prophecy and the 2520. The reasoning you hint at in your letter and elucidate in greater detail elsewhere is that since she used the plural, this means that there must be more than one prophetic period that reaches to 1844. And since none of the other generally accepted prophetic periods—the 1260, the 1290 and the 1335—conclude in 1844, she must have meant to call attention to the 2520.
But when we read the statements in their context and take into account other statements she made on the topic, we discover that she did not have the 2520 in mind at all. First, let’s notice the statements in which she speak of the prophetic periods extending to 1844:
“The preaching of definite time called forth great opposition from all classes, from the minister in the pulpit down to the most reckless, heaven-daring sinner. ‘No man knoweth the day nor the hour,’ was heard from the hypocritical minister and the bold scoffer. Neither would be instructed and corrected by those who were pointing to the year when they believed the prophetic periods would run out, and to the signs which showed Christ near, even at the doors” (EW, p. 235).
“The believers in this message were oppressed in the churches. For a time, those who would not receive the message were restrained by fear from acting out the sentiments of their hearts; but the passing of the time revealed their true feelings. They wished to silence the testimony which the waiting ones felt compelled to bear, that the prophetic periods extended to 1844” (EW, p. 237).
It is evident that Ellen White is here talking about the prophetic periods as a unit: the 1260, the 1290, the 1335 and the 2300. She simply states that, “the prophetic periods extended to 1844.” And they did, with the 2300-day/year prophecy being the longest. Her statement that the prophetic periods (plural) run out in 1844 means that the last and longest one of the group reached to 1844.
I am grateful for your confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy, Jeff, because I will now share with you an absolutely clear statement from the pen of inspiration that explicitly negates the 2520 as one of the prophetic periods:
"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, p. 351).
Please notice that Ellen White here names the 2300-day/year prophecy "the longest and last prophetic period." This could not be the case if there were such a thing as a 2520-year prophetic period, since 2520 is “longer” than 2300. Either Ellen White is wrong to specify the 2300-day/year prophecy as “the longest” prophetic period, or the 2520 is not a valid prophetic period. Both cannot be correct. Clearly the 2520 was nowhere on Ellen White’s radar, which explains why she never once mentions it in her voluminous writings. If we take her statement here in The Great Controversy for what it plainly says, the entire notion that the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 is a 2520-year prophecy utterly collapses. Plain and simple, the 2300-years prophecy is “the longest and last prophetic period.”
With this statement taken into account, all that can legitimately be derived from the quotations that speak of “prophetic periods” is that the group of prophetic periods delineated in Daniel and Revelation reach no further than 1844. To read into these statements that she was pointing us to the 2520 is an extrapolation that is not there.
I appeal to you, as one who believes the Spirit of Prophecy, to receive the simple clarity of this inspired statement. I realize that once a commitment has been made publicly to a certain position, it can be very difficult to lay it aside. But there is no shame in humbly discarding a previous position when that position is shown to be erroneous. Brother, I implore you, please do not hesitate to make that courageous move. Those to whom you have taught the 2520 will respect you all the more for your honest reckoning with inspiration.
Ellen White’s Endorsement of the Charts
The second point you raise from the Spirit of Prophecy is Ellen White’s endorsement of the 1843 and 1850 charts, which you take to indicate an endorsement of the 2520.
I will first point out the fact that even though she lived though the Millerite movement and then lived as a prophetic witness through the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ellen White never once wrote a single line regarding the 2520. Her silence is eloquence.
The Great Controversy, as her definitive work regarding the end-time message, tells the history of the Millerite Movement, the Advent Movement, the opening of the Most Holy Place, and the recovery of the great truths of the gospel that had been lost sight of through the long years of papal supremacy. It then projects forward to the latter rain movement that will close up human history, and not once does the book mention the 2520.
If the 2520 were a vital part of the latter rain message, then its complete absence from The Great Controversy could only be regarded as perhaps the greatest failure of the prophetic gift on record. Although with good intent, no doubt, it seems to me that the advocates of the 2520 are asking us to somehow process and accept the idea that the very book that labors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit no less!, to tell us what the final message is, has, in fact, failed to do so. We are then asked to believe that current uninspired voices are now telling us what the latter rain message is, although the inspired writings know nothing of that message.
That’s a tall order.
There is a far more logical, contextual and natural explanation for Ellen White’s endorsement of the charts.
When we take into account the entire scope of her writings—including the above statement that definitively names the 2300-day/year prophecy “the longest” prophetic period in the Bible—it is clear that Ellen White’s positive statements regarding the charts does not constitute an agreement on her part with every detail the early Advent believes included on the charts. Rather, it indicates her agreement with the overall message of the charts, which was to validate 1844 as the opening of the judgment.
I can easily understand how Ellen White could promote the charts while at the same time not advocating every point made on them, because that has been my own position for my entire Adventist life, and that of many others. All biblically astute and doctrinally faithful Adventists affirm the Millerite charts for the truth they convey and for the historical role they played in the Advent Movement. The overall message of the charts is truth. To read into Ellen White’s endorsement of the charts an unequivocal endorsement of every detail on them is to push her in a direction the larger body of her writings never goes.
It was Ellen White’s gracious and broadminded habit to speak favorably of those with whom she did not agree on all points. Most notably,
• she highly praised John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, despite the fact that it teaches immediate transport to heaven at death, a doctrine she aggressively rejected;
• she spoke positively of evangelist D.L. Moody, even though he preached eternal torment and Sunday sacredness;
• she made similar favorable endorsements of Martin Luther, John Calvin and other advocates of certain vital truths even though she was well aware of the fact that these men held certain views that she did not endorse;
• she spoke highly of Uriah Smith and recommended that he occupy a position of great influence in the church, even after he aligned himself squarely against crucial aspects of the gospel in 1888.
The point is this: her positive statements about the Millerite charts does not equate to an endorsement of the 2520, which is made evident by the fact that she never once mentions the 2520 and clearly states that the 2300-day/year prophecy is “the longest” prophetic period in the Bible, which she could not say if the 2520 were valid. Her overall writings make very clear which aspects of the early Advent Movement she latched onto under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—the 2300 day prophecy and the great prophetic lines of Daniel and Revelation.
It is a weak case, indeed, to say, in essence, “Ellen White never mentioned the 2520, not even in The Great Controversy, which was her comprehensive and definitive treatment of the end-time message, but because she spoke favorably of the Millerite charts, that constitutes her as an advocate of the 2520.” It is hard to imagine a more shaky position to occupy.
Please do not take any of my points personally. I assume that you are a sincere Bible student, and as such you want to candidly look at the evidence against your position. I mean only to present that evidence in the spirit of Christian brotherhood. Because of your solid advocacy of the historicist view of Bible prophecy, I believe you could do much good for the cause of God by throwing all the weight of your intellect and influence in that direction and laying aside those view that are indefensible and not held by the general body of your brethren who also advocate the historicist perspective. If fact, I plead with you in this regard. God’s church needs you.
But now, let’s move on to another point you have raised.
What about the need for the land to rest in Leviticus 25 as the context to Leviticus 26?
There is nothing in Leviticus 25 that suggests that the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 constitute 2,520 years. What we have in chapter 25 is an explanation for ancient Israel regarding proper ecological and ceremonial land and labor management. The Lord essentially tells His people that they are to conduct themselves responsibly in relation to their farming, lending practices. This involved allowing the land to have a Sabbath rest every seven years. Then, on a grander scale, after the passage of forty-nine years, the fiftieth year was to be celebrated as a year of “Jubilee,” or “liberty throughout the land” (Lev 25:10). All possessions and lands were to return to their original owners on the stated premise that nobody really owns anything, but that all things belongs to the Lord and He is gracious to cancel debts.
This was an ingenious system of sheer grace designed to protect the people from the lethal idea that humans own things and earn merit by their labor. The seven-year cycle of land rest and the Jubilee cycle was God’s method of building the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone into the very economy of daily Israelite life.
That’s the point of Leviticus 25, with no hint of a 2,520-year prophetic curse. To miss the gospel truth proclaimed in Leviticus 25 is to miss something truly grand and beautiful.
No 2,520-year Curse is Evident in History
As one reads Leviticus 25 and 26, another obvious point begs for recognition, and it is this: the land was not in a state of rest from 677 to 1844.
If the curse of Leviticus 26 was meant to be taken as a 2520-year period from 677 to 1844 during which the land rested, then we can only conclude that the curse failed to occur or be enforced by the Lord. This is evident by the simple fact that nothing of the sort happened. We see nothing that correlates to a 2520-year curse occurring exactly within the parameters of 677 and 1844. In fact, Israel’s history as a chosen people of God does not even extend to 1844. According to Daniel’s seventy-week (490-year prophecy) prophecy, AD 34 marked the birth of a new Israel fully realized in Christ and embodied in His church. There simply is no curse of the sort described in Leviticus 26 that rested upon literal Israel, nor that transcended literal and spiritual Israel from 677 to 1844. Scripture does not testify to it, and history reveals no fulfillment of any such curse. For the fulfillment of every other Bible prophecy we see historic evidence and correlation. My question to you is, do you see a historic fulfillment of the curses delineated in Leviticus 26 resting upon Israel as a people or upon its land from 677 to 1844? That is, do you see Israel experiencing the following for 2,520 year between 677 and 1844?
“Wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. . .your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. . . I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number. . . And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. . .
You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. . . And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.
They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away” (Leviticus 26).
Certainly we can pinpoint various episodes of Israel’s history in which some or all of these things happened, but interspersed with times of repentance and blessing. But what we do not see is the above-described condition of Israelite affairs for a sustained period of 2520 years from precisely 677 to 1844. Historically, as a fulfilled prophecy, it’s just not there.
For example, if the curse was lifted in 1844, I think many a historian and many a Jew would actually argue that the plight of the Hebrew people was the worse it had ever been from the time after 1844 until the mid 1900s. World War II alone bears more resemblance to Leviticus 26 than any time prior, but, alas, it does not fall within the parameters of 677 to 1844.
Moreover, we actually see the Jewish people prospering throughout the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, as the residual genetic and intellectual effect of God principles having been obey to a greater or lesser degree throughout their history as a people. The accumulation of Jewish wealth during this supposed time of curse has brought us into the present situation in which a sizable amount of the world’s wealth is in Jewish hands. We also see during this same period of history a substantial intellectual and scientific prosperity among the Jews. It is estimated that as much as one half of all scientific advancements of the last 300 years were the product of Jewish minds.
My point is simply this: history does not bear out that Israel presided under a precisely marked off curse from 677 to 1844 composed of the elements described in Leviticus 26.
And why not? Why did the curses of Leviticus 26 never come to fulfillment? I have answered this question in my earlier evaluation of the claims of the 2,520 advocates. The reason the curse was never fully realized is because, as Moses explained in the gospel he proclaims in Leviticus 26, covenant faithfulness was kept in Christ as He bore the curse on behalf of all mankind.
The Great Week of Time
Then we might ask, what is the message of Leviticus 25? And will the land ever experience the Sabbath rest depicted by the seventh-year cycle and the Jubilee?
The answer is a resounding, Yes!
The Bible suggests that about six thousand years have been allotted for the great controversy to play itself out. Then will come a seventh millennium of rest. As a type, ancient Israel’s seven-year Sabbath cycle and the Jubilee pointed to this grand and restful conclusion to the great war between good and evil. The one thousand-year period brought to view in Revelation 20 bears all the characteristics of land rest and liberation depicted in Leviticus 25.
This concept is also advanced by Ellen White when she speaks in terms of a divinely set limitation of six thousand years designated for the great controversy to reach its conclusion. All the timeline prophecies of Daniel and Revelation have different starting points in history and land roughly for their end-points in the period from 1798 to 1844. Add to this the fact that biblical chronology places our time at about six thousand years from Creation, and the case in favor of a millennial week of time becomes convincing.
The world was created in six days and then God rested on the seventh day. That was the literal week of Creation. Then the Fall of mankind occurred, and another week began to unfold, a millennial week of creational redemption, seven “days” consisting of one thousand years each. The biblical parallels between the literal creation week and the millennial salvation week are many.
First, we note that the Ten Commandments were given twice on tables of stone. All the commandments in both versions are the same except the fourth, the one that pertains to time. The Sabbath Commandment was given in the first version of the Law as a memorial of Creation week (Exodus 20), but in the second version creation week is not mentioned. Rather, the Sabbath is now given as a memorial of deliverance from bondage. A salvation theme is invoked, calling attention to the Passover as the delivering event, thus pointing to the Cross (Deuteronomy 5).
Secondly, the Bible frequently uses Creation language to define salvation, such as David’s repentance prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. . . Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:10-12). When we come to the New Testament a frequent point is made of telling us that the one who came to save us is the one who is our Creator (John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:16-17). We can see that a parallel between creation and salvation is intended.
The Old Testament opens with the words, “In the beginning God created. . .”, and the account of Creation follows. John’s gospel opens with the words, “In the beginning was the Word. . .”, and the account of salvation follows. The Genesis account depicts the earth as formless and pervaded with darkness. Then God said, “Let there be light.” The gospel account depicts salvation being initiated by the entrance of a new Light into the world (John 1:4-9). The state of mankind in sin is frequently depicted as a condition of darkness. Then the Savior entered as “the light of the world”—a second light, a new light, and this time as a salvation light. Paul actually quotes the activity of God on the first day of Creation week to describe how it is that the Savior initiated our salvation: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). As a parallel to the creation of man in God’s image on the sixth day, Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus was the “the image of God,” a direct quote from Genesis 1. Paul also calls Jesus the “second Adam” and the “new man.” Then, just before the Cross event, Jesus told the Father, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do” (John 17:4). This language is lifted directly from Genesis: God “finished. . .His work. . .and He rested on the seventh day” (Gen 2:1-2). Then Jesus went to the Cross and cried, “it is finished” (John 19:30). He died on Friday as the complete new Man, resting in the tomb on Sabbath (Luke 23:54-56).
We are now living in the sixth millennial day of what we might call “the great week of time,” during which we are to “put on the new man” (Eph 4:24) that was created as a finished work in Christ. Once the church comes to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13), then the sixth millennial day will end and the seventh millennial day will begin (Rev 20).
The concept of the millennial week demonstrates that we are living at the most significant transitional period in history, awaiting the formation of the image of God in man as the full realization of what was achieved in the person of Christ. It also demonstrates that the Sabbath is of major salvation/gospel significant as well as creation significance. The Sabbath embodies original Creation, and it is also prophetic of the final form a completely redeemed humanity will take.
It is the grand scheme of truth to which Leviticus 25 and 26 point. To miss all of this in favor of a hard-to-extrapolate 2,520-year curse is to miss, I believe, the whole point.
What about the daily?
In your letter you raise the topic of the “daily” in the book of Daniel. I have deliberately saved this topic for last, because I did not want to divert us from the abundant clarity of the earlier points.
I also want to be absolutely clear that I regard your position on the daily as a fully acceptable position to be held within the parameters of a viable Adventist historicism. While I will here offer some reasons why I believe the other position is more biblically sound, I will concede that a legitimate case can be made in favor of the position you advocate. All I ask is that you prayerfully here me out and genuinely try to understand the points I will now make regarding the daily.
Ellen White’s Position
The first point I want to address is the claim that (1) Ellen White clearly took the position that the daily is paganism and (2) therefore one must deny the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy in order to take the view that the daily is the ministration of Christ.
If this were the case, Ellen White would not have made this statement:
“I have words to speak to my brethren east and west, north and south. I request that my writings shall not be used as the leading argument to settle questions over which there is now so much controversy. I entreat of Elders Haskell, Loughborough, Smith, and others of our leading brethren, that they make no reference to my writings to sustain their views of the daily. It has been presented to me that this is not a subject of vital importance. I am instructed that our brethren are making a mistake in magnifying the importance of the difference in the views that are held. I cannot consent that any of my writings shall be taken as settling this matter. The true meaning of the daily is not to be made a test question. I now ask that my ministering brethren shall not make use of my writings in their arguments regarding this question; for I have had no instruction on the point under discussion, and I see no need for the controversy. Regarding this matter under present conditions, silence is eloquence” (Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 164 ).
In this 1910 statement we see that:
1. She did not want her writings to be used to settle the question over the daily.
2. Clearly some of these brethren who were arguing over the daily (specifically those taking the paganism position) were using her writings to settle the question. The only segment of her writings they could have been using would be the statement found in Early Writings (RH 11-1-1850). This is the statement you and others use to sustain the paganism position, which is the very thing she specifically told Haskell and Smith not to do.
3. She plainly states that God had given her no light on “the point under discussion,” which was whether the daily is paganism or the ministration of Christ. This rules out deriving either position from her 1850 statement. More specifically, the 1850 statement did not constitute God showing her that the paganism position was correct, as is claimed by its advocates.
Her 1910 statement quoted above raises a natural question:
What, then, did she mean in her 1850 statement when she said, “the Lord gave the correct view of it [the daily] to those who gave the judgment hour cry”?
By reading the 1850 statement in its context the matter becomes perfectly clear:
“Then I saw in relation to the daily, that the word sacrifice was supplied by man’s wisdom, and does not belong to the text; and that the Lord gave the correct view of it to those who gave the judgment hour cry. When union existed, before 1844, nearly all were united on the correct view of the daily; but since 1844, in the confusion, other views have been embraced, and darkness and confusion has followed” (Review and Herald, 11-01-50).
This is where the paganism advocates generally stop reading and proceed to make their point. But notice what she goes on to say:
“The Lord showed me that Time had not been a test since 1844, and that time will never again be a test. Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error, that the saints are yet to go to Old Jerusalem before the Lord comes. Such a view is calculated to take the mind and interest from the present work of God, under the message of the third angel; for if we are to go to Jerusalem, then our minds will naturally be there, and our means will be withheld from other uses, to get the saints to Jerusalem. I saw that the reason why they were left to go into this great error, is because they have not confessed and forsaken their errors, that they have been in for a number of years past” (Review and Herald, 11-01-1850).
When we read that second paragraph, the light immediately comes on. We see that she was not addressing the matter of whether the daily is paganism or the ministration of Christ. That question was not on her radar at all, nor was it even a point of controversy at this early stage of the Advent Movement. Rather, she was addressing those who were setting new dates for the Second Advent of Christ and teaching that the saints were to relocate to Jerusalem to await His coming, thus maintaining that the sanctuary to be cleansed and the daily were somehow a reference to an earthly sanctuary and its service. By contrast to this view, after the great disappointment the early Advent believers held that the 2300-day/year prophecy pointed to the heavenly sanctuary, not to an earthly one. Hence her point that the word sacrifice was added by the translators and should be removed. They held, therefore, that all efforts to come up with new dates for the termination of the 2300-day/year prophecy, and all efforts to give the prophecy an earthly focus on some kind of sacrificial service in Jerusalem, were erroneous.
Ellen White’s point in her 1850 statement is that all the early Advent pioneers were united in this non-earthly “correct view” of the daily. This would include O.R.L. Crosier, who, at this early stage of the Advent Movement, laid the basic groundwork for the perspective that the daily was the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary (See O.R.L. Crosier, the Day-Star, Extra, February 7, 1846). Regarding Crosier’s article, Ellen White had this to say:
“I believe the Sanctuary, to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days, is the New Jerusalem Temple, of which Christ is a minister. The Lord shew me in vision, more than one year ago, that Brother Crosier had the true light, on the cleansing of the Sanctuary, &c; and that it was his will, that Brother C. should write out the view which he gave us in the Day-Star, Extra, February 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized by the Lord, to recommend that Extra, to every saint” (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 12).
If Ellen White had taken the position that the daily was paganism, she would not have been able to recommend Crosier’s article. The plain fact of the matter is this: the huge issue at stake during this historic period was whether the sanctuary to be cleansed was earthly or heavenly, and whether new dates should be set. She and the Advent pioneers were all clearly taking the position that the sanctuary to be cleansed was the heavenly temple in which Christ was ministering as our high priest. Whether the daily was paganism or the ministration of Christ was of no concern to her at this point. Clearly God had not revealed to her that either perspective was true or false. In her own context, what she called the “correct view” of the daily in 1850 was simply that it had no application to any future date setting or to any temple activities in Jerusalem preparatory to the Second Advent. Therefore, she could say in the later 1910 statement that she “had no instruction on the point under discussion,” which was whether the daily is paganism or the ministration of Christ.
I understand and appreciate your desire to uphold the Spirit of Prophecy, but ignoring Ellen White’s 1910 statement regarding the daily, as well as failing to recognize the context of her 1850 statement, does not do rational nor studious justice to Ellen White’s clear intent.
There is a fourth point brought to view in Ellen White’s 1910 statement. She says, “this is not a subject of vital importance. I am instructed that our brethren are making a mistake in magnifying the importance of the difference in the views that are held. . . . The true meaning of the daily is not to be made a test question.”
Why would she say this since the daily is part of the crucial prophecies of Daniel?
I believe that the answer lies in the fact that both positions on the daily are essentially correct in the historic point they make.
Did the papacy take up the position vacated by pagan Rome?
Did the papacy interpose itself between the hearts of men and the ministration of Christ?
Both points are true. So what is gained by “magnifying the importance of the difference in the views that are held”? In substance of truth, nothing is gained, because both interpretations see the same basic thing happening—namely, the papacy as a false Christian system coming to prominence in the position vacated by pagan Rome.
In view of her 1910 statement, we can only conclude that it is unwise to be strident or polarizing on the daily. The most we can do is recognize that both positions make vital and historically true points, present what we believe are the merits of whichever view we hold, and do not make our position a test. Some advocates of the paganism position way over-shoot the mark by suggesting that their position is the one affirmed by Ellen White and that anyone who takes the other position is rejecting her inspired authority and thereby dismantling Adventism. This is clearly not the case.
In the spirit of her counsel on the topic, I will now offer what I believe are some strong biblical points in favor of the position that the daily is the ministration of Christ.
Biblical Usage of Tamiyd
When we come to the study of the daily, the first and most obvious point we notice is that the word is used throughout Scripture to refer to God’s saving work.
In the Hebrew Old Testament, daily is tamiyd. It means, “to stretch, continuance, regular, constant” (Strong’s No. 8548). The word translates continually 53x, continual 26x, daily 7x, always 6x, always 4x, ever 3x, perpetual 2x, continual employment 1x, evermore 1x and never 1x.
In the vast majority of its usages, tamiyd is associated with God’s sanctuary and therefore with the salvation work of Christ. For the force of this biblical pattern to register, it is important to actually read the following sample verses.
With regards to the burnt offering:
“Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually” (Exodus 29:38).
“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee” (Exodus 29:42).
“Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savor, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD” (Numbers 29:6).
With regards to the shewbread:
“For the shewbread, and for the “continual” meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God” (Nehemiah 10:33).
“And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me always” (Exodus 25:30).
“And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon” (Numbers 4:7).
“Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, and to burn before Him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel” (2 Chronicles 2:4).
With regards to the light of the lampstand:
“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always” (Exodus 27:20).
“Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute forever in your generations” (Leviticus 24:2-3).
With regards to the breastplate of the priest:
“And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually” (Exodus 28:29).
“And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually” (Exodus 28:30).
The Concept In The Book of Hebrews:
Then the pattern becomes even stronger when we come to the book of Hebrews. Here we find that the language and concept of tamiyd or daily is carried over into the New Testament to covey the continual, non-stop, ever-sufficient ministry of Christ as our sacrifice and mediator:
“Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God” (Hebrews 9:6).
“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin” (Hebrews 10:11).
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Hebrews 10:1).
“Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:27).
“But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
The clarity of this linguistic pattern is hard to ignore. Basically what we have before us is a consistent usage of daily (tamiyd) to describe the work of Christ as our Savior in the Old Testament and then we have parallel language in the New Testaments applied the same way.
So at the very least, those who take the paganism view should appreciate that those who take the ministration of Christ view are not pulling the view out of thin air. The idea of the daily (tamiyd) pertaining to the things of God is consistent throughout the Bible. Similar textual strength cannot be amassed in favor of the paganism view.
In the face of this overall pattern in Scripture, we are asked by advocates of the paganism position to radically shift gears in an entirely different direction with regards to the usage of daily (tamiyd). Suddenly, we are told, in Daniel the word now means paganism. One cannot help but notice that the leap is out of sync with the general usage of tamiyd in Scripture. Honestly, to do so feels like a forced fit.
The Daily in Daniel 8
I will now call attention to three key points regarding the daily in Daniel 8:
1. A simple comparison of parallel texts in Daniel 8 and Revelation 13 demonstrates that the daily belongs to God’s kingdom, not to paganism.
2. The contextual flow of Daniel 8:11-14 reveals that the sanctuary associated with the daily in verse 11 is the very same sanctuary that needs to be restored in verse 14, making clear that both references to the sanctuary pertain to God and therefore the daily also pertains to God, not to paganism.
3. The daily in Daniel 8:10-13 occurs as one item in a list of four additional items under papal attack, all of which pertain to God, strongly suggesting that the daily also pertains to God.
Comparing Daniel With Revelation
In the paganism interpretation of the daily, the “sanctuary” associated with the daily in Daniel 8:11 is necessarily regarded as a pagan temple of some sort, or as the pagan worship system in general. In this case the text would read as follows:
“He [the papacy] magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him [that is, by the papacy] the daily [paganism] was taken away, and the place of his [paganism’s] sanctuary was cast down [by the papacy]” (Dan 8:11).
In the interpretation that regards the daily as the ministration of Christ, the “sanctuary” in Daniel 8:11 is regarded as God’s sanctuary in heaven, rendering the text as follows:
“He [the papacy] magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him [that is, by the papacy] the daily [heavenly ministration of Christ] was taken away, and the place of his [Christ’s] sanctuary was cast down” (Dan 8:11).
Tremendous effort has been put forth to support the first interpretation. It is understood that much depends on which way Scripture leads us here. It is self-evident that if the sanctuary spoken of in this verse by Daniel can be proved to belong to Christ, then the paganism view of the daily would significantly fail at this crucial point. It is surprising how simple a matter it is to provide this proof.
There is no question that Daniel 8 and Revelation 13 are parallel prophetic passages. Point by point, each describes the activities of the papacy as it comes to power and reigns for 1260 years. If we simply read the following parallel passage in Revelation, it becomes clear which sanctuary is designated as under attack in Daniel 8:
“He [the papacy] opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Rev 13:6).
With that, the light immediately comes on. John explicitly indicates that the tabernacle (sanctuary) under attack belongs to God and “them that dwell in heaven.” It would make no sense for the sanctuary in Daniel’s treatment of the very same historic narrative to be a pagan temple of some sort and then in John’s treatment of the history for the sanctuary to belong to God. Because in Revelation the temple explicitly belongs to God, it is unavoidable that the sanctuary in Daniel 8:11 also belongs to God.
The Contextual Flow of Daniel 8:11-14
The case becomes even stronger when we take into account the logical contextual flow of Daniel 8:11-14.
“He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of 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. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, ‘How long will the vision be, concerning the daily and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?’ And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’”
All agree that the sanctuary needing to be cleansed in verse 14 belongs to God. But it must be noted that the fact that it needs to be cleansed as stated in verse 14, refers back to the fact that it has been defiled as stated in verse 11. Clearly, the sanctuary that is attacked by the little horn in verse 11 is the one that needs to be restored in verse 14.
The force of this contextual flow is strengthened when we take note of the conversation between the two angels that occurs in verses 13 and 14. The first angel inquires, “How long?” The question is regarding the adverse actions of the little horn against God, His people, His truth and His sanctuary. The responding angel answers with the 2300-day/year-prophecy. So then, we are told in this angelic conversation to expect that at the end of the 2300 days/year prophecy, the deeds of the little horn will be addressed. And what is the focal point of the rectification?
“The sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
God’s sanctuary is clearly the center of concern, not a pagan sanctuary.
It disrupts the historic direction of the narrative for the sanctuary under attack (verse 11) and the sanctuary to be restored (verse 14) to be two different sanctuaries, especially if the first is to be regarded as a pagan temple and the second as God’s temple. In that case the passage would read in this disjointed fashion:
• The little horn will do bad things to paganism’s sanctuary.
• “How long will this continue?” an angel asks.
• Another angel responds, “At the end of the 2300-day/year prophecy God’s sanctuary will be cleansed.”
What? Why the disconnect, and why the angelic concern for a downtrodden pagan sanctuary? And why and to what good end does the cleansing of God’s sanctuary rectify the situation for paganism?
It makes far more historic and prophetic sense, and fits so much better with the storyline in Revelation, to understand the sanctuary under attack and the sanctuary to be restored as one and the same:
• The little horn will do bad things to God’s sanctuary.
• “How long will this continue?” an angel asks.
• Another angel responds, “At the end of the 2300 year prophecy God’s sanctuary will be cleansed.”
With this reading, then we come to Revelation and find congruence with Daniel 8:11-14. John is shown that the papacy, by its false doctrinal system, has “blasphemed” God’s “name” and “His tabernacle” (Revelation 13:8). God’s response comes in the form of a new movement of truth that arises on the scene of history. Parallel to the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14, we see the birth of the Advent Movement in Revelation 10 and 11. As the “temple of God” is “opened in heaven,” they see therein “the Ark of His covenant” (11:19). Through study and faith they step into the Most Holy Place, and the heavenly sanctuary that had been eclipsed by the papal system is now rediscovered. As they peer into the obscured mysteries of God’s sanctuary, a body of truth is assembled: the immutable Law of God, the Sabbath, the reservoir of free forgiveness at the mercy seat, the mediatory work of our heavenly High Priest with no human imposter between, the hour of judgment—it’s all brought to light and the day of restoration has arrived. God’s system of salvation has been under attack by a false interposing system, but beginning in 1844 a new movement launches on the historic scene to restore the truth.
That’s how the story in Daniel and Revelation reads.
The Daily Occurs In A List of Five Items That Pertain to God
It is also crucial to notice that the casting down of the daily occurs in a list of items that are under attack by the Papacy, and all of those items clearly pertain to God. Daniel says that the Papacy (the little horn) would perform the following actions:
1. The Papacy “grew up to the host of heaven and it cast some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.”
2. The Papacy would “exalt himself as high as the Prince of the host.”
3. “And by him [the Papacy] the daily was taken away.”
4. “And the place of His [the Prince’s] sanctuary was cast down.”
5. And “because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn [the Papacy] to oppose the daily and cast the truth to the ground.”
It is difficult not to notice that the papacy is being depicted here as leveling its attack against God, His people, the Prince of the people of God, His sanctuary and His truth, and then to notice that the daily falls in this list of items that pertain to God.
Please also notice that the papal action against the daily is called “transgression,” a word that refers to violating God and breaking His law. If we interpret the daily as paganism, then we are obligated to regard the transgression in verse 12 as a transgression against paganism that is to be rectified by the cleansing of God’s sanctuary in verse 14, which make no historical, eschatological or theological sense.
Rather, the daily and the sanctuary that are cast down are associated with “the truth” that is also cast down. The casting down of the truth is a summary description that includes all the damage done by the little horn. And paganism does not qualify for being placed in the category of “the truth.”
Both prophecy and the history that became its fulfillment bear out that the papal system obscured the mediation of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary by putting a false “Christian” priesthood in its place. The entire context and flow of Daniel 8 is that the little horn has defamed Christ by setting up a counterfeit system of salvation. The characteristics and deeds of that grand masquerade are listed. The Papacy would:
• blaspheme God (with its false doctrinal system),
• persecute God’s people (by coercion and restricting liberty of conscience),
• displace the daily (obscure the heavenly priesthood of Christ by putting a false earthly priesthood in its place),
• cast the sanctuary to the ground (by setting up a sanctuary system on earth),
• casting the truth to the ground (by palming off on the world a false way of salvation encompassed in the total system listed above).
In view of all these actions, an angel asks the question:
When will this power’s deeds against God, His people, and the truth be challenged and overcome?
Another angel answers, “Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
It is clear then that the cleansing of the sanctuary is the answer to the little horn’s program. The Advent Movement provided and provides that answer by its recovery of the truths obscured by the Papacy and by directing the world’s faith to the true sanctuary of salvation.
This contextual flow seems pretty plain to me, lending serious weight to the interpretation of the daily as belonging to the package of items Daniel associates with Christ.
You suggest that there is some logical line of necessary connection between taking the view that the daily is the ministration of Christ and an inability to understand the significance of 1844 and the sanctuary doctrine, although you do not define what that line of connective necessity looks like.
But that is simply not the case.
First, when the controversy over the topic was raging in the early 1900s, Ellen White said, in her 1910 statement, that, “It has been presented to me that this is not a subject of vital importance. I am instructed that our brethren are making a mistake in magnifying the importance of the difference in the views that are held. . . . I see no need for the controversy.” She clearly did not see grave theological danger in either view. Certainly if taking the view that the daily is the ministration of Christ would lead to a rejection of the sanctuary doctrine, she would have discerned that danger and warned against it. But she never did.
Secondly, I and many other Adventists have found the opposite to be the case. Taking the position that the daily refers to the ministration of Christ actually drives our logic in the direction of affirming the sanctuary doctrine and discerning the crucial importance of 1844 as the beginning of a movement whose mission it is to restore the focus of human minds on the saving ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.
The vital overall point of Daniel 8 is that a powerful system has practiced and prospered in casting the sanctuary, the daily and the truth to the ground, exalting itself above Christ in the eyes of humanity. And yet there is good news: at the end of the 2300-day/year prophecy, in 1844, the heavenly sanctuary and the ministry Christ will be restored to the world. Forces will be put in motion for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Contrary to compromising the sanctuary doctrine, this view magnifies its significance.
Thank you, Jeff, for your prayerful consideration of the points I have made here and the previous points I have made in my earlier study titled, An Evaluation of the 2,520. I greatly appreciate you hearing me out. Again, I believe you are an honest Bible student.
I also believe, however, that it would be wisdom on your part to humbly lay your more divergent theological ideas before brethren outside your circle who are studious enough and biblically literate enough to offer you valid critique. Once a man has gone public with a view that differs from the body’s position, it can become very difficult to yield that view even when valid arguments are made against it. There is safety in submitting to the collective study of the body and especially in seeking out those who are capable of offering significant challenge to our ideas.
Simply disregarding my objections to the 2520 by claiming, as you have in your email, that I lack discernment and am incapable of reasoning from cause to effect does not strengthen your position in the eyes of discerning people who can reason from cause to effect. I would simply point out that whether I lack discernment or not, I have still made a number of points that deserve response.
May the Lord richly bless your study of His Word!
March 02 2012 | Jeff Pippenger | Comments Off