What Is the Meaning of Daniel 8:14?

Recently one religion related to the other took its brethren to task for its interpretation of Daniel 8:14. Both of these sects are two of the four natural religions formed in America. Both of their histories mention William Miller and the Millerites. Both have interesting interpretations of Daniel 8:14. The younger brother criticized the older for his interpretation of Daniel 8:14 which led to "The Great Disappointment" when Christ did not Return as predicted in 1844. The younger brother was to have its own "Great Disappointment" several times later, most notably in 1975. This first disappointment was to be reinterpreted by the famous author of "The Great Controversy," Ellen White.

Now the younger brother critiques this interpretation of Daniel 8:14 but without going on to give his explanation which turns out to pinpoint another year, 1938, for in that year the younger brother feels their organization was "restored to its right condition" by ceasing congregational vote in the appointment of elders. So, the older brother interprets Daniel 8:14 to apply to an "investigative judgment" of Christ beginning 1844 and continuing to the present. The younger brother insists it applies to 1938 when their organization gave up the democratic vote in the appointment of elders. What is the meaning of Daniel 8:14?

It turns out that was a question of Daniel himself. Note this in Daniel 8.13, 14: ‘And I got to hear a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one proceeded to say to the particular one who was speaking: "How long will the vision be of the constant [feature] and of the transgression causing desolation, to make both [the] holy place and [the] army things to trample on?" So he said to me: "Until two thousand three hundred evenings [and] mornings; and [the] holy place will certainly be brought into its right condition."’ [NWT] Now, Daniel himself was very much interested in this period of 2,300 days. Would he have been satisfied with the dates 1844 or 1938? It turns out he asks a better source. Note the answer.

Daniel 8:15-19: ‘Then it came about that, while I myself, Daniel, was seeing the vision and seeking an understanding, why, look! there was standing in front of me someone in appearance like an able-bodied man. And I began to hear the voice of an earthling man in the midst of the U'lai, and he proceeded to call out and say: "Ga'bri·el, make that one there understand the thing seen." So he came beside where I was standing, but when he came I got terrified so that I fell upon my face. And he proceeded to say to me: "Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of [the] end." And while he was speaking with me, I had become fast asleep on my face on the earth. So he touched me and made me stand up where I had been standing. And he went on to say: "Here I am causing you to know what will occur in the final part of the denunciation, because it is for the appointed time of [the] end.’ [NWT]

We can see that the understanding of Daniel 8:14’s 2,300 days deals with three main factors: a) some military attack; b) the cessation of the Daily Sacrifice; and, c) "the time of the end." Now our younger brother takes his older brother to task over the context of Daniel 8:14. So, let us consider these above three factors and the context of the vision in Daniel chapter 8.

The context begins with Daniel 8:9-12: ‘And out of one of them there came forth another horn, a small one, and it kept getting very much greater toward the south and toward the sunrising and toward the Decoration. And it kept getting greater all the way to the army of the heavens, so that it caused some of the army and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it went trampling them down. And all the way to the Prince of the army it put on great airs, and from him the constant [feature] was taken away, and the established place of his sanctuary was thrown down. And an army itself was gradually given over, together with the constant [feature], because of transgression; and it kept throwing truth to the earth, and it acted and had success.’ [NWT]

Is it fair to state that the "Decoration" is the land of Israel with its holy city Jerusalem? (Ezekiel 20:6, 15; 25.9; Daniel 11:16, 41, 45) The "sanctuary" is that Holy Temple of the Jews. (Daniel 9:17; 11:31) The "constant feature" is that daily sacrifice offered by the Jewish priests at the Temple. (Exodus 29:38) Is it fair to say we seem to be dealing with literal Jerusalem, with its literal Temple, and its literal daily offering? How can we know for sure? What if we had an inspired quote or allusion to this whole matter? By someone who we could no longer question? Say, Jesus Christ himself?

First, note that this matter in Daniel 8:14 with its context is not the only time the subject of a cessation of sacrifice is mentioned. It is mentioned again at least twice and associated with a certain Disgusting Thing. Compare: ‘And he must keep [the] covenant in force for the many for one week; and at the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease. (Daniel 9:27) And upon the wing of disgusting things there will be the one causing desolation. ... And there will be arms that will stand up, proceeding from him; and they will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant [feature].And they will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.(Daniel 11:30, 31 NWT)

This prophecy regarding a "sanctuary" and "the Disgusting Thing" is something Jesus Christ the Nazarene mentions himself. In doing so, within the context of the subject of Jerusalem’s Temple (Matthew 24:1-3), the Greek translator of Matthew has Jesus using a form of the same word found at Daniel 9:27 in the Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX), BDELYGMA TON EREMOSEON. The Lord does this when he answers his disciples’ question about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Matthew 24:15 records this: ’Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing (BDELYMA TES EREMOSEOS) that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place ....’ Is it fair to say we have Jesus himself alluding to this same context in Daniel on the very subject of the "sanctuary"? This would seem to confirm that Daniel 8:14 is talking about some outcome to the literal sanctuary or Temple of the Jews. Is there any thing else which would establish this?

The phrase used by the angelic interpreter in Daniel 8:17, "the time of the end" (NWT), occurs 6 times in Daniel (Daniel 8:17, 19; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9) and a comparison of it seems to limit it to the end of Jerusalem with its Temple, just as Jesus does in Matthew 24:15. Though some will object to this, perhaps the actual fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 will settle this. What is that fulfillment and thus the meaning of Daniel 8:14?

We need to find a moment in Jewish history when a "Disgusting Thing" is about to "desolate" Jerusalem and her "sanctuary" or Temple along with the cessation of her "Daily Sacrifice," including a trampling on certain "stars" and a "fortress." When could this be?

May we suggest beginning in the Fall of the year 66 AD with the attack of Jerusalem and the cessation of those daily sacrifices at the Temple? All of this is recorded by Josephus in his First Century Wars of the Jews. How long did this struggle or war with the Romans continue? The Romans minted coins for each year of their war with the Jews, ending with a fifth, indicating they viewed the whole matter to last part of six years or more. If we begin with the Fall of the year 66 where would the period of 2,300 days take us? To the Spring of 73! What notable thing happened then? The Romans ended their war with the Jews by driving certain rebels to suicide atop Masada. Is this coincidental?

In this context of the "time of the end" of Jerusalem and her "sanctuary" a certain "fortress" is mention at Daniel 11:31. Some have suggested this Hebrew word is related to the very word Masada which means "fortress." Thus another arrow points to the fulfillment of the 2,300 days to end with the conquest of the Jewish holdout, Masada.

There may be one objection to the above and that this the phrase in Daniel 8:14, ‘and the holy place will certainly be brought into its right condition.’ (NWT) Others render this phrase "right condition" as: KJV: cleansed; AMP: cleansed and restored; NAS: properly restored; NIV: reconsecrated; NJB: rights restored; JPS: cleansed. The Aramaic word is TSADAQ, Strong’s # 6663 = "make right [in a moral or forensic sense]") is very much associated with what is right or righteous. What is the "right" condition of this Jewish Temple from God’s standpoint? The answer lies in the year 70 CE and the destruction of the Temple as foretold by Jesus. (Matthew 24:3) The answer lies in that word "transgression" at Daniel 8:12.

What may we learn from this struggle between these two brothers related to William Miller, one insisting on the date 1844, the other preferring 1938? Unfortunately, many Christian teachers have failed to listen to the Nazarene’s warning at Luke 21:8: ‘(Jesus) said: "Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ... "The due time has approached." Do not go after them.’ (NWT) Christian history, right up to modern times, is filled with sincere Christian teachers and Bible students who felt Christ must Return while they were alive, missing the point completely that the "day and hour" (thus the year) of the Parousia cannot be known. (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32, 35) Only the "presumptuous" may act as a prophet foretelling something that does not materialize. (Deuteronomy 18:22) No one has anything to fear from such "prophets."

Rather than predict some obscure historical point in two American religions, Daniel 8:14 dramatically foretells the exact length of time from the first attack against the Temple in Jerusalem (66 CE) to the final conquest of Masada, that grand Jewish fortress, in 73 CE.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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