An Evaluation of The 2520
Recently there has been a surge of interest in what is being called “The 2520 Prophecy.” The primary source of this teaching is Jeff Pippenger. Recently I have had the opportunity to meet with a group of brothers connected with Pippenger and hear the information in favor of the 2520.
In this essay I will offer what began as merely notes to myself regarding the 2520 as I have endeavored, by God’s grace, to sort it through. My goal has been to evaluate the 2520 with an open mind and simply allow the Bible and SOP to weigh in. I have navigated the topic mostly with a series of questions that naturally occur to me on the topic, and then I have written out some of the problems that must be surmounted if the 2520 were to stand solid as a time prophecy.
I begin with the premise that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore must clearly bear witness to the 2520 if it is, indeed, a vital truth deserving of attention and proclamation.
“I saw that the saints must get a thorough understanding of present truth, which they will be obliged to maintain from the Scriptures” (EW p. 87).
“But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms” (GC, p. 595).
Whatever the truths are for our time, we must be able to convincingly declare them from God’s Word. This is most especially needful for any topic to hold the status of “testing truth” and “the latter rain message,” as is the claim being made for the 2520. I cannot help but believe that any message occupying this sacred territory must be clearly evident in the Bible, which brings me to my first question.
Is the 2520 clearly evident in Scripture?
We are told that the 2,520-year prophecy is to be found in Leviticus 26. What I encounter by reading this chapter is a simple, clear, and straightforward message.
The grammar is linear and successive. God says to Israel, If you do not obey my commandments, then I will bring curses A, B and C upon you. Then, if you do not respond to corrective measures of A, B and C by repenting and obeying my commandments, I will bring curses D, E and F upon you. Then, if you do not repent, I will bring curses G, H and I upon you. And if you still do not repent, then I will bring curses X, Y and Z upon you. Each time the threatened list of punishments is different and worse, making evident that the intent of the grammar is to convey the idea of succession, not repetition.
Notice the language.
First a list of commands and their attending blessings are listed in verses 1-13. Then God says, “But if you do not obey Me. . .I also will do this to you. . .” Then follows the first list of curses in verses 14-17. Then God says, “And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins,” followed by a second list of curses (verse 18-20). Then God says, “Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring upon you seven times more plagues, according to your sins” (verses 21). Then God says, “And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins,” followed by a different and more severe list of curses (verses 24-26). Then, one final time, God says, “And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins,” followed by a different and still more serve list of curses (verses 27-39).
Plain and simple, Leviticus 26 reads as a linear, successive, cumulative description of gradually intensifying curses. The Lord states four times that if certain measures do not reform Israel, then things will get worse, worse yet, worser and worsest. The idea that God is saying the same thing four times, or even two times, for the purpose of conveying either one 2,520-year time prophecy (as the 1843 and 1850 charts suggest) or two 2,520-year time prophecies (as certain Millerites and the current 2520 movement suggest) is simply not present in the passage on the face of it. And this is a huge hurdle for me.
This brings me to my second question regarding the 2520.
Does the 2520 constitute a “second witness” to the 2300-day prophecy, and does it bear witness to the gospel as the 2300-day prophecy does?
2520 advocates set forth the 2520 as the necessary second witness to the 2300-day prophecy. They reason that if the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 is not a time prophecy, then the 2300-day prophecy has no second witness in Scripture, the idea being that the 2300-day prophecy is weakened if we don’t have the 2520 to back it up and testify to its veracity.
This “need” for a “second witness” is based on Deuteronomy 19:15: “By the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” (2520 advocates take this verse, and Paul’s use of it, as a necessary Bible study principle. While it is clear when read in context that this verse is not intended as a Bible study principle, I will address the perceived need for a second witness to Daniel 8 as if a second witness were necessary.)
Does the 2520 actually constitute a “second witness” to the 2300-day prophecy?
The essence of the 2520 is that Israel came under the curse/punishment of God beginning in 677BC and lasting until 1844.
There are a number of immediately evident problems with this claim.
First, the 2300-day prophecy makes a contrary claim, namely that Israel would receive, not a 2,520-year curse, but rather a 490-year probationary period from 457BC until AD34, “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
But Daniel’s prophecy goes a vital step further, indicating that the Messiah Himself would come, as the ultimate antitypical embodiment of Israel, and fulfill all the conditions of the covenant and thus continue God’s covenant blessing through history upon spiritual Israel. The 2300-day prophecy essentially declares God’s continued covenant blessing upon Israel by promising that Christ would come to “confirm the covenant” by His self-sacrificing death on the cross (Daniel 9:27).
The idea that Israel came under God’s curse in 677BC and continued under that curse straight through Israel’s history and onward through Christian history until 1844, seems to me to stands in direct contradiction to the message of the 2300-day prophecy. Again, the 2300-day prophecy declares God’s continued covenant blessing through Christ, whereas the 2520 message places Israel (and the Church) under God’s curse until 1844.
If the essence of the gospel is God’s covenantal love, promised through the prophets and kept faithful in Christ, then it is hard not to view the claims of the 2520 advocates as unwittingly suggesting a failure in God’s covenant promise and therefore unwittingly constructing a teaching that runs contrary to the good news of the gospel.
And there’s more to consider along these lines.
Interestingly enough, in harmony with Daniel 8 and 9, we find embedded in Leviticus 26 an amazing declaration that God’s covenant promise will be fulfilled in Christ. At the end of Leviticus 26, after delineating the intensifying succession of curses, God prophesies of the Messiah:
“Then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember” (verse 42).
This is the concluding promise of Leviticus 26, and it clearly points to Christ. Note the language used to declare the New Testament fulfillment as Mary sang of the covenant promise fulfilled:
“He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever” (Luke 1:54-55).
Also Zacharias declared:
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began. . . To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:68-73).
Clearly, the promised covenant blessing of Leviticus 26 came to fulfillment in Christ, not its earlier threatened curses.
Astounding light emits from a reading of the entire song of Mary and the entire prophecy of Zacharias when compared to Leviticus 26. The reader will notice that much of the language of Luke 1 is drawn from Leviticus 26, NOT as a confirmation of the curses, but rather as the undoing of the curses. In Christ the threatened curse against the disobedient is lifted and removed because He bore the curse in Himself. Leviticus 26 first offers a terrible depiction of the curse of sin, but then it offers a tremendous promise that the curse will fail to crush us because Christ will come as our sin-bearing deliverer. The real message of Leviticus 26 is a rich proclamation of the gospel, not a two and a half millennia curse.
Leviticus 26 shouts: “I will remember My covenant!” (Lev 26:42). The curse will not prevail! The covenant promise will be kept! Messiah will come and fulfill the promise of God’s saving grace!
Then the New Testament announces: “The Lord God of Israel” has “remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham” (Luke 1). Sure enough, He has come, just as promised! God has done as He said He would!
As far as I can see, interpreting the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 as a 2,520-year curse that runs straight over Christ all the way to 1844 cannot retain the integrity of the gospel promise prophesied in Leviticus 26:42. The overall gospel message of Leviticus 26 seems to forbid an interpretation of the “seven times” in Leviticus 26 as a 2,520-year curse that would extend straight through the ministry of Christ to 1844.
Does the 2300-day prophecy have any other eligible “second witness” in Scripture?
Yes, it does. In fact, it has more than a second witness. It has at least a third and a fourth as well. Jesus, Paul and John all bear testimony to the veracity of the 2300-day prophecy.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He announced, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
What “time” is Jesus referring to? As a confirmation of the 2300-day prophecy, “the time” of which Christ spoke was none other than the seventy-week segment of the 2300-day prophecy. Jesus was declaring that Daniel’s time prophecy was coming to fulfillment in His ministry. (SDA scholars have recognized this fact for at least the last thirty years, going back to the GC appointed Daniel and Revelation Committee.)
Toward the end of His public ministry Jesus again pointed to Daniel’s prophecy:
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).
The specific segment of Daniel Jesus here designates is the vision of Daniel 8 and 9, to which the 2300-day prophecy belongs. So again, Jesus confirmed Daniel’s vision.
Paul also testified of the 2300-day prophecy when he wrote, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
And thirdly, in Revelation John testified to the 2300-day/year prophecy in His marvelous vision of the Advent Movement and the opening of the Judgment in 1844 (Rev 10-11).
Does the idea of a 2520-year curse/punishment rightly represent the character of God?
In Leviticus 26:21 the term “according to your sins” is employed to indicate that the punishment pronounced is just and that it correlates to the sin committed. How is it conceivable that a 2,520-year, multi-generation, and corporately/nationally transferable curse is a just punishment, “according to your sins”?
Scripture explicitly teaches that, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). Biblically speaking, the extent of a generational curse can only extend a maximum of three or four generations, and that not as an arbitrarily imposed curse but as the divinely recognized extent of the residual effect of sin from one generation to the next (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:5-6). But interpreting the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 to impose a 2,520-year, 63-generation curse/punishment flies in the face of God’s plainly stated Word that punishment will not extend beyond four generations. Are we to believe that God essentially said to Israel of old, “If this present generation of Israelites does not obey Me, then I will punish them and their descendants for 2,520 years? It seems to me that this defies the biblical declaration that God will not punish in this manner and it seems to portrays God as severe and arbitrary.
Furthermore, what biblical justification is there for a curse/punishment that begins upon literal Israel and then continues in force upon spiritual Israel? If the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 is taken to mean a 2,520-year curse, then it is unavoidable that the New Testament church was under the curse of God from the time of the Christ until 1844. On what Scriptural basis do we construct this kind of concept?
What is the source of the current resurfacing of the 2520 and in what form is it being offered to the church?
The movement that is advancing the 2520 holds this teaching within a larger package of ideas, which includes the following:
1. that the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack is a fulfillment of the “third woe” brought to view in the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:14);
2. that the judgment of the living began on 9/11/2001, beginning with the SDA Church, for whom probation will close before it closes for the world;
3. that the latter rain began to fall from 9/11/2001 onward;
4. that the discovery of the 2520 is a vital part of the “new light” brought to us by the latter rain;
5. and that the 2520 is, therefore, the “testing message” for SDAs. Those who accept the 2520 are thereby receiving the latter rain and successfully passing the inspection process of the judgment of the living, and those who reject the 2520 are rejecting the latter rain and thus failing to bear up under the judgment of the living. Probation is closing for SDAs individually and finally for the corporate body by our acceptance or rejection of the 2520 and the attending package of ideas listed above.
These are huge and grave claims. If true, then the church is currently undergoing the judgment of the living and closing its probation by failing to receive the “new light” offered by the 2520 movement. Thus we can expect to see those who offer this message to the SDA church feel justified in separating from the church because of its rejection of the “latter rain message.” If false, then the 2520 movement is a misguided deception calculated to divert our attention from the real latter rain message.
So then, does the 2520 constitute the latter rain message? Is it the sealing message? Is it the judgment message that decides eternal destinies?
Ellen White clearly identified what the message is that will eventually constitute “the latter rain” and “the loud cry.” The following statement is an inspired summary that can scarcely be misunderstood:
“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His spirit in a large measure” (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-92).
This comprehensive statement reveals at least ten components to the latter rain/loud cry message:
1. The cross as the prominent focus: “This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior…”
2. The universal scope of the cross in making atonement for all sin: “…the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.”
3. Justification by faith: “It presented justification through faith in the Surety…”
4. Obedience to all God’s commandments as the manifestation of salvation and not the ground of salvation: “…it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.”
5. The divinity of the one hanging on the Cross: “They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person…”
6. The merits of Christ as alone sufficient for salvation: “…His merits…”
7. The changeless quality and universal scope of God’s love: “…His changeless love for the human family…”
8. The great controversy theme: “All power is given into His hands…”
9. The righteousness of Christ as a free gift: “…imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness…”
10. We humans are helpless to attain righteousness (to save ourselves): “…to the helpless human agent.”
Later in Testimonies to Ministers, when speaking of the rejection of the latter rain message, she clearly defined its practical core:
“True religion that advocates righteousness by faith has been denounced as leading to enthusiasm and fanaticism; has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed and rejected. But it is the active principle of love imparted by the Holy Spirit” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 468).
When distilled down to its basic essence, she saw in the 1888 message the beginning of the practical outworking of the truth of righteousness by faith, or what she called “the active principle of love imparted by the Holy Spirit.” God’s love is the active principle operable in the gospel. Said another way, the gospel pans out in as “the active principle of love.” This was the vital kernel of truth she heard coming through in the preaching of Jones and Waggoner. She discerned in their sermons the effectual combination of faith and love, by which the human agent may appropriate the righteousness of Christ in actual living experience. God’s love revealed in Christ upon the cross was and is the “active principle of love” at work as a practical reality: in other words, He gave His life in ministry for others. When received, the gospel impacts the way we live toward others, for it arouses faith in our hearts, by which we are motivated and enabled to live in active ministry to others; i.e., to lay hold upon the righteousness of Christ. In shorthand, righteousness comes by faith, and faith works by the power of God’s love and is manifest in practical manifestations of love. It is clear, then, that the “love” of which Scripture speaks is not the weak, self-gratifying “love” the world speaks of, but rather it is “the cross;” it is the giving of ones life in service to others. The ten points delineated in Testimonies To Ministers, pp. 91-92 are the theological framework that supports and expounds this practical experiential outcome.
That’s the practical angle. Now, what can we expect the eschatological outworking of the message to be?
After outlining these crucial components to the 1888 message, she plainly stated:
“This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His spirit in a large measure.”
So we know what the loud cry is, and we know what the latter rain message is. It is the third angel’s message, which she saw as encompassing the first and second angel’s message, as well, and the three messages together constitute a combined package of truths that will finally compose the loud cry. The basic components are:
• the everlasting gospel, which presents the cross of Christ as the definitive revelation of God’s character in answer to all the false charges leveled against Him by the Enemy and His earthly allies; in the light of the gospel, the world is called upon to “fear God and give glory to Him” while announcing the judgment hour and calling special attention to God’s creative power and the Sabbath that signifies that power.
• the fall of Babylon under the weight of the gospel, by which all religious confusion and false doctrinal systems lose their credibility, opening human hearts to know and worship the one and only true God for who He really is.
• the emergence in history of a people who, enlightened by the gospel, voluntarily keep the commandments of God by the faith of Jesus, thus establishing what Ellen called “the active principle of love” in the experience of God’s worshippers; those who do not participate in the faith of Jesus will give themselves over to the false system of worship that is characterized by coercion rather than by love.
Once the three angel’s messages are understood to cast laser beam clarity upon the non-coercive love of God as the only legitimate premise of true worship in contrast to the merit-based and liberty-restricting worship system of Babylon, we can then understand why Ellen White defined the essence of the three angel’s messages as justification by faith:
“Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message, in verity’” (1SM 372).
In a nutshell, the message of justification by faith teaches human beings to rest with total reliance upon the merits of Christ for salvation, thus giving rise in the heart to “the active power of love,” which alone is capable of generating in the believer a freely-rendered quality of worship and obedience that is worthy of the character of God.
The final crisis of human history will center on this deeply significance, character-shaping and character-revealing truth. This message will take on its final form when Sabbath and Sunday are brought into conflict as a global test of conscience.
Legislated Sunday observance will come to represent a liberty-restricting, conscience-coercing picture of God void of faith and therefore void of love. The Sabbath will shine forth as the bastion emblem of freedom, faith, and love, and therefore will reveal to the world a God who saves by grace alone and who seek love-motivated worship alone.
And the world will end on that note.
Here are substantial matters that are easily perceived as constituting the crucial message that seals the human soul for eternity!
Here is truth that probes the depths of human motive and therefore can be conceived of as the final testing truth that brings the soul to judgment!
Here are weighty realities worthy to be attended by latter rain power and swell to a loud cry so that all the world may hear and decide!
A weak point should never be taken to cancel out a strong point. For example, the Bible’s repeated affirmation of the seventh day Sabbath and the immutability of God’s Law cannot be cancelled out by a single, less than clear statement in Colossians 2:16 that speaks of not judging one another regarding food or drink or festivals or sabbaths. There is no good Bible study sense is choosing the vague over the clear.
Likewise, we have before us one biblical passage that speaks of Israel being cursed “seven times” (Leviticus 26). To construct from this 2520-year prophecy that suddenly constitutes a crucial testing truth for God’s people is to build a massive theological edifice from straw, as it were.
First, there is nothing in a plain reading of Leviticus 26 that would warrant interpreting “seven times” as a 2520-year prophetic period of curse.
Secondly, the term “seven times” is used on a number of occasions in Scripture to simply indicate perfection, completeness, intensity.
Thirdly, the Bible never once speaks explicitly about a 2520-year curse.
Fourthly, the 2300-year prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9, which is very explicit, speaks of a 490-year open probation for Israel rather than a curse and tells us that Messiah would actually “confirm the covenant” of God with Israel and thus expand Israel to encompass all who put trust in Him.
Fifthly, the claim that the so called “2520 prophecy” constitutes a “testing truth” and part of the “latter rain” message, is a huge leap of logic and a frightful diversion from the very truth we are explicitly told is the latter rain message—namely, the three angel’s messages, which have as their essential core the gospel of justification by faith, and which will become the final issue of decision for all mankind in the soon-coming Sabbath-Sunday crisis.
I appeal to those honest Bible students who have thought, in good conscience, that the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 equates to a 2520-year prophecy, to humbly reconsider. God knows your heart. He knows that you love Him and desire truth. He knows that you have sincerely believed that there was a good case in favor of the 2520. But now you are seeing strong points you had not previously taken in account. That’s OK. That’s how Bible study goes. We explore and we test the ideas brought to us, and if they do not hold up under investigation we follow the Spirit and lay them aside. There in no humiliation, but only a godly humility, in laying aside a position once it is demonstrated to be unsustainable. Please don’t feel defensive at the points I have raised. I mean no offence. I am simply your brother in Christ and a fellow Bible student with you. So I have here presented my findings for your prayerful consideration. Because you are a sincerely follower of Jesus and an honest Bible student, I am hopeful you will see that the case for 2520 is simply too weak to be maintained, and that the real truth for this time is abundantly clear.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you.
March 02 2012 09:05 pm | The 2520 Time Prophecy