Hebrews 4:1-16 The Sabbath Rest For God’s people

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First century Roman culture was a culture of despair.  Some historians would refer to it as a culture of suicide.  It was violent, it was bloody, it was dangerous, it was oppressive, it was full of death and disease.  On top of that the religious establishment had created such religious oppression that people lived in bondage.  Most had given up any thought that they could ever stand right before a holy God.  It was into that context that Jesus uttered the words, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  About three decades later, the writer of Hebrews would give a message to people on the threshold of bloody persecution.  The message was not a message of health, wealth and prosperity.  It was a message that in the midst of the pain, you can enter His rest.  So here we are two thousand years later.  I think we all get this.  Sometimes the world can be very, very painful, hurtful, heartbreaking, confusing, devastating.  In the midst of all of that, what Jesus offers us is rest.  That’s what we want to talk right now.  If you have a Bible, turn to Hebrews, Chapter 4.   
 
One of the terms that we’ve seen a lot in the book of Hebrews is the word therefore.  You know the old adage: Whenever you see the word ‘therefore’ you stop to see what it’s there for.  And it basically reminds us that all of these truths are connected.  You can’t take any one passage in Hebrews and pull it out of its contextfor one truth leads to another truth leads to another truth and it’s all connected together.  It’s good that we keep remembering that.  Chapter 3 was all about the cost of unbelief, which then leads us to Chapter 4 verse 1: 
 
Therefore (in light of that, the cost of unbelief), then let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, anyone of you may have seemed to have come short of it. (*NASB, Hebrews 4:1)
 
So what’s the fear?  The fear is that even though there’s still a promise of rest, it wasn’t just about people thousands of years ago entering a land.  It wasn’t just about people in the first century.  It’s every bit as true for us today.  There is a promise of rest.  The word promise is really an important word in the book of Hebrews.  As a matter of fact, no New Testament book uses the term more than the book of Hebrews.  What do you say to a group of people that are on the threshold of bloody persecution?  You remind them, there’s a promise.  There is a promise that, in the midst of the storm, I will give you rest now, and a glorious future to come.  But the concern is that they won’t believe it.  It’s interesting that he says, anyone of you may seem to have come short of it.  This basically confirms what we talked in the last chapter—that when the writer is looking at the first readers, his audience, he’s identifying them primarily as believers but he’s not convinced they’re all believers.  There is no New Testament writer who could know that everyone who will receive this letter is a believer.  So there seem to be some who perhaps don’t believe.  Maybe they’re giving lip service; maybe they’re just going with the flow, but he says, “But it may seems like you’re coming up short.  You don’t really believe it.”  So that’s our audience—primarily believers—but the writer is not convinced that everybody believes, and that’s part of his concern here.  Verse 2: 
 
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united (mixed in) by faith in those who heard.   
 
So the children of Israel heard good news.  We talked about this last time.  The good news was that God will give you the Promised Land—a land flowing with milk and honey.  But the truth was not mixed with faith; therefore it did not profit them.  They did not believe.  The writer is saying, in the same way we have good news.  We, too, have an offer of rest that we can enter into—a promise of rest.  But that promise has to be mixed with faith if we are going to profit from it.  It is a reminder that even though Jesus died for the sins of the world, the message is not universalism.  It’s not, “Everybody’s in!” The truth has to be mixed with faith.  There’s God’s part and there’s our part—that’s always the way it is.  God’s part is He has done the work, and He offers rest.  Our part is we have to believe, mixed with faith, in order for that truth to profit us.  Verse 3:  
 
 For we who have believed (the writer puts himself in there) enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
 
So what is he talking about there?  He’s saying we who have believed enter into this rest.  When David said to the children of Israel in Psalm 95 that with belief they can enter God’s rest—My rest —God says, there’s a reminder that even though they were in the land, David was concerned that they would not enter into His rest.  In other words, the land wasn’t the point.  The land was a picture; the land was a shadow.  Are we saying today that in order to enter into God’s rest, we have to all fly to Israel and enter the land?  And we all understand, “Of course not!”  So the land was a picture, a metaphor.  David comes along with Psalm 95, They’re in the land—David’s king over the land; he’s reigning over the land—but his concern is they still won’t enter His rest because the rest isn’t just the land; it’s just a picture, a metaphor.  So what is it?  It’s God saying, “My rest,” which goes all the way back to Genesis 2:2 where it says the rest of God started all the way back at the foundation of the world.  In Genesis 2:2, we’re told that “on the seventh day God rested.”  He quotes that in verse 4:
 
 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” (VS. 4-5) 
 
So here’s what he’s saying: On the seventh day of creation, God rested.  Why did God rest?  Was He worn out?  Had he had a really hard week?  God didn’t rest because He was tired; He rested because the work was done.  The text says that when God had completed His work, He rested.  Then He placed Adam and Eve in His rest.  This is essentially what defined paradise.  God had done the work; once it was completed He rested, He didn’t begin another work and rest cycle. He rested from creative work once and for all. Adam and Eve entered into that state of rest.  This is what God has always wanted for people made in His image.  But as you know the story, Adam and Eve sin; chaos enters the world, yet God still promises rest—“to enter into My rest.”  Was it the land? Was it a day? The land was just a metaphor, just a picture.  David comes along hundreds of years later and he still desires for the people by faith to enter God’s rest.  It wasn’t just the land; it wasn’t a day. It was something far more than that.  Now one of the interesting parts of Genesis 2:2: When God rested is not on day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6—each one of those days ends with, “There was morning and there was evening.”  But on the seventh day, when God rested, you don’t read those words because the rest of God was not a day of the week.  It was not one day of the week.  It was a state.  God had now completed the work; it was a state of rest, and He wanted people made in His image to enter into that rest daily.  So the Jewish promised land is a shadow, the Jewish Sabbath day of the week is a shadow, but God’s rest is something far more than that.  Verse 6:
 
Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,”  
 
So today there remains a rest for us to enter into, but we do so by faith.  We talked about this: Disbelief leads to disobedience!  Whenever I don’t believe God tells the truth, then I do it my way.  Whenever I don’t believe that God’s going to meet some need in my life, I do it my way.  Disbelief always leads to disobedience; that’s the concern of the writer. So verse 7:
He again fixes a certain day
Okay, there it is!  He again fixes a certain day—a day of rest.  What day is that?  Well, it’s today!  Oh, it’s Sunday.  Last time I said, “It’s today,” and they said, “Oh, it’s Saturday.”  This has been a longstanding debate: Is it Saturday or is it Sunday?  Are we still under the Sabbath of the old covenant?  Or is Sunday, the new covenant Sabbath?  Answer:  “Neither…Neither!”  This has nothing to do with whether or not you mow your lawn on Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether or not a business is open or closed on a Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether you have worked the fields on a Saturday or Sunday; it has nothing to do with whether you took a nature walk or went to church on a certain day!  The Sabbath rest today is today!  Ask me on Tuesday; I’ll say, “It’s today!”  Ask me on Friday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  It’s not a holy day of the week; that was just a metaphor; it’s just a shadow.  It’s not a holy piece of ground or “the holy land” (Zec 2:12); it was just a metaphor—a shadow.  Ultimately it is a state to enter into the rest of God.  That’s what he’s saying: “What day is it?”  “It’s today!”  Verse 7:   
 
He again fixes a certain day, (what day?) “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He (God) would not have spoken of another day after that. (Vs. 7-8) 
 
So Joshua is the Hebrew version of the name Jesus.  So Jesus is the Greek version.  The Hebrew version of the exact same name is Joshua, and it reminds us that Joshua in the Old Testament was a type or a picture of the Messiah to come, a picture of the Jesus to come.  So what did Joshua do?  Joshua led them into the land of promise.  They claimed the land.  They observed weekly holy days. But God still promised that day of rest was yet to come.  So what he’s saying is, “If entering and possessing the land was the rest, then there would be no reason to say there’s still another day of rest coming, unless the land was merely a metaphor, a picture.  Just like the day of the week is a shadow of the ultimate fulfillment to come.  Verse 9: 
 
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  
 
Now that phrase Sabbath rest is actually one word in Greek.  It’s not found anywhere else—this is the only place it is found. It doesn’t say that there is a Sabbath day; it says there is a Sabbath rest.  So what is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God today?  It’s not a piece of land; it’s not a day of the week; those were just shadows; they were just pictures.  What is it?  Verse 10: 
 
 For the one who has entered His rest (how did he do that?) has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.  
 
There it is right there—verse 10!  This is the main theme of the gospel all throughout the New Testament.  Who is it that enters into God’s rest by faith? Not God’s work and rest cycle, but God’s rest.  It’s the one who ceases from his or her works and enters into God’s rest.  On what day? Today. So what is the Sabbath about today?  It’s about not working.  What does that mean?  It has nothing to do whether or not you mow your lawn on a Sunday.  It has nothing to do with whether or not your business is open or closed on a Saturday.  It has nothing to do with whether or not you are working the fields on a Sunday.  It has nothing to do with that.  Sunday is not the new covenant Sabbath.  It has nothing to do with that.  What does it have to do with?  The idea of works is used consistently throughout the New Testament as defining those things we’re doing to somehow try to merit favor with God—efforts of self-righteousness, religious activity, things we’re trying to do to make ourselves good enough for God. The world is full of religion.  Religion taps into our desire to be our own god.  I want to do it myself; I want to make myself righteous; I want to make myself spiritual; I want to measure up on the basis of my own efforts.  But religion is oppressive; religion is damaging; religion is full of hopelessness and despair because every day you are reminded that you’re actually just a loser that will never measure up to the standard before a holy God.   
 
We know from the book of Hebrews what the work is that God completed—the fulfillment of a promise that at a point in time, the Creator God of the universe took on human flesh.  He blazed a trail of salvation by conquering sin and death once and for all.  As the ultimate High Priest, He offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin to make propitiation for sin.  Chapter 1 said to make purification for sin.  He was buried; He rose again; He returned to the Father and what did He do?  We learned this in Chapter 1: He sat down.  The priest was never allowed to sit because their job was never done, because it was only a foreshadowing of the promise of One who would ultimately pay the price for sin.  Jesus uttered on the cross, “It is finished!”  When He rose from the dead, He returned to the Father and the great High Priest sat down!  Mission accomplished; paid in full!  What did He do at the right hand of the Father?  He rested.  He created the rest of God that God has always wanted for people made in His image.  How do we enter into that rest?  By faith!  We cease from our own self-righteous works.  We give up our own attempts to merit favor with God through religious activity, and in brokenness and humility we acknowledge the only hope we have is what Jesus did for us.  We enter into the finished work of Christ.  This is a consistent message throughout the New Testament.  We’re going to throw a couple of verses on the screen just to remind ourselves of this message: 
 
But to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. (*NASB, Romans 4:5)  
 
This is the theme of the New Testament.  This is verse 10.  There is a Sabbath rest.  “Is it a piece of ground?”  “No, it’s not!”  “Is it a day of the week?”  “No, it’s not!”  Those were just shadows or pictures.  But ultimately Sabbath rest is when we rest from our own attempts at self-righteousness and we simply rest in what God has done for us through Jesus.  Sometimes people will say to me, “How come you don’t keep the Sabbath?”  Answer: “I keep it every day.” What a shame just to keep one day of the week. Ask me on Tuesday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  I rest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross today.  Ask me on Friday, I’ll say, “It’s today!”  I rest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It has nothing to do with mowing your lawn, opening your business, or working in the field.  It has to do with resting in what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  There is a Sabbath rest.  Verse 11: 
 
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall through following the same example of disobedience.  
 
Now clearly rest is not automatic.  It’s not even automatic for believers.  That’s why he says, “…be diligent; work really hard at resting.”  There are those who have never trusted Christ.  They need to believe this is true.  Perhaps they’ve been used and abused and beat up by religion and need to hear, “That’s not what it’s about.”  But it’s also possible for those of us who have trusted Christ to still be miserable because we don’trest in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  The enemy comes along and he whispers in your ear, “You’re a loser; you’re a failure; you’ll never measure up. Who do you think you are that God just hands out some kind of a salvation as a gift? You’ve got to be kidding me.  God probably is so annoyed that you’re in His presence because you’re a loser.”  How many lies does the enemy whisper in our ears and we’re anxious; we’re fearful; we’re hopeless, and we’re despairing because we are not diligent to rest.   
 
Can I come to the end of a day where I’ve blown it, biffed it, and disappointed God and myself again and still be at rest?  Answer:  “Yes!” …resting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  I need to be diligent to rest because when I rest, when I think that way, when I remember what’s true, that is the most likely scenario where I’m going to be repentant, where I’m going to confess, where I’m going to do it differently tomorrow—because I remember again who I am in Christ!  Verse 12: 
 
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able  to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Vs. 12-13)   
 
In other words, Him with whom we will be accountable.  So the Bible is not just words on a page. It’s a living, breathing book.  It’s the God-breathed Word of God.  God takes His words with His Spirit and He penetrates and He judges and He sorts out, and He presents us naked. That’s literally what it says—naked before a Holy God—the One to Whom we will give an account.  For some people that is an absolutely terrifying thought.  For some people they will avoid the book because the book terrifies them because it penetrates and it judges; and it discerns and it sorts out; and it presents us naked before a Holy God.  But for those of us who believe, it is where we find the truth. 
It’s where we find grace and mercy.  It’s where we find relief from the bondage of religion and enter into the rest of God.  It’s where we find guidance; it’s where we find life.  When we understand the truth about God’s rest, I am not terrified to be presented naked before a holy God because I know I stand in the rest—the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It’s the living, active Word of God that gives me life, that gives me hope, that gives me a future, that gives me what I need to rest in my most difficult moments in life.  Verse 14: 
 
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens (meaning back to the Father to be seated), Jesus the Son of God (that’s His humanity and His deity), let us hold fast our confession (our statement of faith, what we believe).  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence (boldly) to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Vs. 14-16)   
 
When we go through the most difficult moments of life, we cry out not to a god who is so abstract and disconnected we have no sense that he understands what we are going through.  That’s not who He is.  It’s the One who actually took on human flesh.  As remarkable as that may seem, the God of the universe actually became one of us—and He walked on this earth.  He knows our struggle; He knows our pain; He knows our trials and our temptations; This is the God who loves me; this is the God who saved me; this is the God who’s experienced the struggle and the pain that I’m going through.  I come boldly and confidently into the presence of God, and in my hour of need I find grace and mercy.  I find what I need to get me through another day! 
 
There is a Sabbath rest.  It’s not a day of the week; it’s not a piece of ground.  It’s a Person.  It’s a Person who did for me what I could not do for myself—and He offers it freely as a gift!  If mixed with faith, I believe and enter into His rest.  
 
He’s just inviting you, by faith, to enter that rest, to experience the forgiveness of sin, and to experience a relationship with God.  I would invite you this morning, to enter into that rest.  What day is the Sabbath rest? It’s today!  Why would you wait?  Why would you wait until tomorrow?  Why wouldn’t you enter that rest today?  
 
Our Father, it’s really just so hard to comprehend that the God of the universe actually took on human flesh to make a way of salvation, to conquer sin and death once and for all,  to make payment for sin, and to simply offer it freely as a gift.  Lord, we’ve been reminded that truth has to be mixed with faith.  We have to choose to believe that’s true to enter into Your rest.  Lord, may today be our day of Sabbath rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
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The little horn of Daniel 8 is the Papacy?

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  • Seventh-day Adventist’s teach that the little horn power of Daniel 7 and little horn power of 8 are Rome (Papacy). However, there is a problem with this, as there are important differences between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8. Here are a few:

Little Horn of Daniel 7

Little Horn of Daniel 8

Is associated with a beast representing the fourth empire (Rome)

Is associated with a beast representing the third empire (Greece)

Rises directly out of the head of the beast (Rome)

It does not come up from the head of the goat (Greece), but rises out of an already existing four horns (Alexander’s four generals)

Is a horn (ruler) that comes out of a beast (Kingdom)

Note: Horns represents rulers or kings (Dan. 8:20). Beast represents kingdoms (Daniel 7:17, 23)

Is a horn (ruler) that comes out of a horn (ruler)

Note: Horns represents rulers or kings (Dan. 8:20). Beast represents kingdoms (Daniel 7:17, 23)

  • Daniel 8:9 says the little horn (ruler) would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire:
  • The goat (Greece) became very powerful (under Alexander the Great). But at the height of his power, his large horn (ruler Alexander) was broken off. In the large horn’s place grew four horns (four generals of Alexander) pointing in the four directions of the earth. 9 Then from one of the [four] prominent horns came a little horn (ruler from the same Grecian empire) whose power grew very great (Daniel 8:8,9).
  • Daniel 8:9 says the little horn would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire when these were in their “latter time” (v. 23). This points us toward a power originating from the Greek world sometime after 300 BC, and not Rome.
  • Therefore, the little horn of Daniel 8 was to arise six centuries before the little horn (Roman emperor Nero) of Daniel 7 existed!

So who is the little horn of Daniel 8?

  • There is a near-unanimous opinion among Bible scholars of all denominations–Jewish and Christian, and even including a few prominent SDA scholars–that the “little horn” of Daniel 8 is Antiochus Epiphanes, a Grecian King.
  • Let’s examine the evidence:
  • The little horn of Daniel 8:9 ‘was to wax exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land
  • Antiochus’ sphere of operations was precisely in the three areas that Daniel mentions (See: Ancient History. Vol IV. P422, 1 Maccabees 1:20-42). This is not true of Rome. Many of Rome’s greatest conquests were to the North and West of Rome.

  • Since the little horn is said to wax ‘exceeding great’, SDA’s argue that compared with Medo-Persia and Greece, Antiochus was not “exceeding great,” (only Rome was), and therefore could not have been the little horn of Dan. 8:9.
  • However, a careful reading of Dan. 8:9 reveals that the prophecy never says the little horn will be exceeding great in comparison to Persia and Greece. The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax “exceeding great” in three regions: to the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Antiochus was not a big horn on a big stage. He was a little horn that played a big role on a little stage.
  • The little horn in Daniel 8:10 is said to cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them
  • The above verse is not talking about heavenly beings, because no empire, not even Rome, has cast down heavenly beings. Both the Bible and the Jewish Apocrypha use similar language to calls the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people as stars (Genesis 37:9). In 2nd Maccabees 9:10 (a history book), Antiochus persecuted Jews including priests and rulers and is described as, “the man, which thought he could reach to the stars of heaven…
  • The little horn in 8:11 is said to, ‘magnify himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down
  • Prince in the Bible is defined as (sar) meaning “a head person, captain, chief, general, governor.” Therefore, the little horn would magnify himself to the head/captain/ruler of the host (Jews). Antiochus did this literally, during his rule, when the high priest, Onias, was driven into exile and later killed in the cruelest manner.
  • Furthermore, Antiochus figuratively magnified himself to the ultimate prince of the host, God Himself. His surname Theo Antiochus declared him to be an effulgence in human form of the Divine, a god manifest in the flesh (see Edwin Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, p. 154).
  • Antiochus Epiphanes ‘took away the daily sacrifices’ (Dan 8:11) as prophesied by forbidding the daily sacrifice of lambs and profaned the sanctuary. The book of Maccabees describes how the daily sacrifice was taken away, and how the sanctuary was desolated: “And in his arrogance he went into the sanctuary and took away the gold altar and the lampstand for the light, and all its furniture…” (1 Maccabees 1:21)
  • Daniel 8:12 says ‘And an host (army) was given him (Antiochus) against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth [of sacrifices] to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered’
  • Antiochus’ attack on the Jewish religion was the worst crisis to face the Jews between the Babylonian captivity in 606 BC and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. History records, “And they (Antiochus’ army) shed innocent blood all around the sanctuary, and polluted the sanctuary itself. … Her sanctuary became a desolate wilderness…” (1 Maccabees 1:37,39)
  • The Bible says these calamities came upon the Jews “by reason of transgression.” (Dan 8:12). In other words, it was the sins of the Jews that brought this calamity upon themselves.
  • The question is raised with regard to the duration of this attack on the sanctuary in Daniel 8:13, 14 ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the [attack on ] daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
  • Since the context of the verse itself is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple, which took place every morning and evening, the only reasonable conclusion is that this verse is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple. Certainly it would be reckless to apply the “year-day” principle to every prophecy where “days” are mentioned. In Genesis 6:3 God prophesied there would be a period of 120 years before the flood, which did not equate to 43,200 years.
  • The 2300-day prophecy witnessed an amazing fulfillment during the terrifying reign of Antiochus. According to the Jewish calendar, the 2300 days works out to be six years, three months, and 18 days. This is the time period in which Antiochus took the daily sacrifices away, and at the end of the 2300 days, was eventually defeated.
  • This attack on the sanctuary by Antiochus was the beginning of a period of intense suffering for those in Israel who chose to remain faithful to God. Judas Maccabeus was outraged over the injustice done to God’s sanctuary: ‘Behold, our sanctuary and our beauty and our glory have been laid waste, and the heathen (Antiochus) have profaned them.” (1 Maccabees 2:7,8,12)
  • Maccabeus rose up and started a revolt against Antiochus. The Sanctuary was “cleansed” by Judas Maccabeus when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places: “Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary..’ (1 Maccabees 4:41-51)
  • The Sanctuary is being vindicated or cleansed from having been trampled upon and cast down by the ‘desolation’ which is the devastation due to sacrilegious or wrong treatment of the temple by Antiochus. Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the temple of God by offering sacrifices to idols upon the holy altar of God.

  • Jesus referred to the abomination (by Antiochus) in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9:27) as a warning to His followers that a similar desolation was going to happen to the Jewish nation in the future: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation (sacrileges treatment of the temple leading to emptiness), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (referring to Jerusalem temple destruction by Titus in AD70), then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” (Matt. 24:15)
  • When Daniel 8:19 says the prophesy of 2300 days is ‘at the time of the end…in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be’. We must bear in mind that the “time of the end” is not the same as the “end of time.” Rather, it refers to the end of the particular period associated with this prophecy. In this case, the “end of the indignation” is definitely indicated, namely, the afflictions permitted to be brought upon the Jewish people.
  • Daniel 8:25 says the little horn power (Antiochus) ‘shall be broken without hand’. This is a stunning prophecy indicating how Antiochus would die. Notice how this prophecy was fulfilled:
  • But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague;.. Thus the murderer and blasphemer having suffered most grievously, as he entreated other men, so died a miserable death in a strange country in the mountains.” (2 Maccabees 9:5-12,28)

  • Albert Barnes adds, “All the statements given of his [Antiochus] death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Aarian agree that the Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be ‘without hand,’ in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality, but that it would be a direct divine infliction.” (Notes on Daniel, p. 355)
  • To summarize:
  • There is near universal agreement among scholars (including both Christian, Jewish, agnostic, and even some Adventist scholars) that Antiochus Epiphanes is the “little horn” of Daniel 8.
  • The 2300-days represents a literal period during which the daily evening-morning sacrifices ceased and the Temple in Jerusalem was profaned by the gentiles led by Anticohus Epiphanes.
  • The cleansing of the sanctuary refers to the restoration of the temple services after Antiochus Epiphanes was defeated by the armies of Judas Maccabees.

Seventh-day Adventists make some very unusual claims about Daniel 8:

  • Gabriel was unable to make Daniel understand the vision–particularly the 2300-day portion of it
  • Gabriel came back later (in Daniel 9) to help Daniel understand the 2300 days
  • Daniel 9 is an expansion upon the subject of Daniel 8
  • The 70-week prophecy is “cut-off” from the 2300 days, and therefore they have the same starting date
  • First, I will address whether Gabriel failed in his mission to make Daniel understand the vision.
  • SDA’s claim that the latter part of Daniel 9 is a further explanation of Daniel 8. This teaching is derived from Daniel 8:27: “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.”
  • First, we need to recognize that the word it is supplied by the translators, and is not in the original Hebrew. Removing the word makes the meaning of the verse clear: “…I was astonished at the vision, but none understood.”
  • What does “none understood” refer to? Did no one understand the vision? Or did no one understand Daniel’s reaction to the vision? Isaac Lesser, a leading Jewish scholar, renders the verse as follows:
  • “And I Daniel, grieved, and was sick several days: afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was depressed because of the appearance; but no one observed it.”
  • It is obvious from this translation that the part about “not understanding” was referring to the people Daniel worked with who did not comprehend why he was ill and depressed.
  • To make the claim that Daniel failed to understand the vision–thus requiring a second visit from Gabriel–one must first assume the angel failed in his first mission. In Daniel 8:16 a voice commands, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” If one is a Bible-believing Christian, then one must believe that Gabriel obeyed the command to make Daniel understand the vision.
  • Is the sanctuary of Daniel 8:13-14 the heavenly sanctuary?
  • Notice the question: “How long shall…the sanctuary…be trodden under foot?” (Daniel 8:13)
  • The answer is 2300 days (evenings-mornings). This puts the Seventh-day Adventists in a dilemma, because they insist that the sanctuary being “cleansed” in verse 14 is the heavenly sanctuary.
  • However, according to their own calculations, the papacy did not arrive until after 476 AD–nearly a millennium after the 2,300 years started! Who was trampling the sanctuary for 934 years before the rise of the papacy? Seventh-day Adventists claim that “Imperial Rome” trampled the earthly temple in 70 AD when it was destroyed by Roman armies, but that was the earthly, not the heavenly temple. If the sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary in verse 14, then how could it be the earthly sanctuary in verse 13, since verse 13 is a question being answered in verse 14?
  • The truth is that there has never in human history been a 2300-year period where the sanctuary in heaven (or on earth) was trodden under foot. This fact alone should prove that the SDA interpretation does not fit historical facts, and is therefore invalid.

Daniel 7 – Little horn is the Papacy?

Roman-Emperor-Nero

  • Are Seventh-day Adventist’s accurate in interpreting the little horn of Daniel 7 as the Papacy?
  • The four kingdoms of Daniel 2 (Image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream), and Daniel 7 (four animals) represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. SDA’s agree to this point, but thereafter drifts away.
  • Little horn of Daniel 7 is described this way: On the head of the fourth beast (Rome) there are ten horns, three of which are plucked up by a little horn.

  • SDA’s teach the ten horns are ten tribes that conquered Rome in 476 AD.
  • The problem with this teaching is that there were more than twenty or more tribes that actually conquered the western Roman Empire as per recorded history, but SDA’s and few others arbitrarily selected ten tribes and decided these were the tribes represented by the ten horns (Vandals, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Visigoths, Burgundians, Anglo-Saxons, Alamani, Suevi, Lombards and Franks).
  • The Bible clearly says the ten kings will arise from within the Roman Empire. ‘And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise…’ (Daniel 7:24 KJV). None of the ten tribes cited by SDA’s arose from within or ruled over the Roman Empire. They were outsiders.
  • SDA’s teach the little horn is the Papacy and it uprooted three tribes. Adventists teach that the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heuli were destroyed by the Pope of Rome. However, any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, the Vandals and Ostrogoths by the Byzantines.
  • SDA’s teach the Papacy persecuted the saints for 1,260 years. There is no doubt at all that the Papal church persecuted others, but the 538 – 1798 timeframe of the persecutions does not fit very well with actual historical facts.
  • SDA’s teach that when it says papacy was thinking of changing laws, it is the Sabbath. However, Sunday observance started hundreds of years before the Roman bishop’s rise to pre-eminence. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day ..is at the heart of the Church’s life…This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age” (sections 2177-2178).
  • Besides, the law the little horn think to change is not ‘torah’ but ‘dat’ meaning “decree”. Thus, Daniel is speaking of a beast who would change times and laws is no reference to to God’s law—and certainly the Sabbath is not in view.
  • Did the Papacy have Supremacy for 1260 years? The Bishop of Rome was gradually consolidating power for many centuries, and the papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. These dates were concocted by Adventists and a few others because they were convenient.

 

  • Even SDA Theologian Dr. Bacchiocchi explains what happened after the pope was captured in 1798: “The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the ‘abolishment’ or ‘the downfall of the Papacy.’ It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. ‘Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., Endtime Issues #87, “A Reply to Criticisms Part I ‘The Use of Ellen White’s Writings in Interpreting Scripture'” (August 1, 2002).
  • SDA’s teach that when Daniel 7:10 says ‘judgement was set’, it is an investigative judgment of the righteous: However, there is nothing said in this sequence of events about investigating the deeds of the righteous. The ones being judged are the little horn and the beast power.
  • The truth about the little horn in Daniel 7:
  • Daniel 7 makes it abundantly clear the ten kings will “arise from this kingdom“. This could not possibly refer to outside entities that come in and conquer Rome. The only reasonable Biblical interpretation is that the ten horns represent ten kings or rulers over Rome.
  • History records that there were, in fact, ten Roman Caesars who ruled Rome prior to the destruction of Jerusalem:
  • Julius Caeser 49-44BC
  • Augustus 31BC-14AD
  • Tiberius (Luke 3:1) 14-37AD
  • Gaius (aka. Caligula) 37-41AD
  • Claudius (Acts 17) 41-54AD
  • Nero 54-68AD
  • Galba 68-69AD
  • Otho 69AD
  • Vitellius 69AD
  • Vespasian 69-79AD
  • The truth is that Daniel is a Jewish book, written by a Jew, written for the Jews, containing God’s prophecies relating to His Covenantal people (Dan. 9:24). It is all about events that would directly impact the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. The last prophecy of Daniel, the 70-week prophecy, ends with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  • Except for a few brief comments about future events (Christ’s kingdom filling the earth (Dan. 2:34-35), the resurrection (Dan. 12:1-3)), the entire book of Daniel is focused on the Hebrew nation and its interaction with world powers from the time of Babylon up until the final destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

  • Who is the Little Horn?

  • It is an established historical fact that the Little Horn of Daniel 7 is Nero. Consider the incredible correlations between Nero and the little horn of Daniel 7:
  • He will uproot “three of the first horns” (7:24) – Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.
  • He shall speak words against the Most High” (7:25) – Nero encouraged emperor worship and had a huge statue of himself erected in Rome. Inscriptions found in Ephesus called him “Almighty God” and “Saviour….”
  • He “shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (7:25) – Nero was the first Roman Emporer to launch a persecution against Jews and Christians. Some of the saints slain during his persecution include the Missionary Paul and the Apostle Peter. Historians have described the persecution as “the most cruel that ever occurred.”
  • The saints “shall be given into his hand for time, times, and half a time’ (7:25) – Nero’s persecution began in November of 64 AD, and ended with his death in June of AD 68, a period of exactly 42 months (1260 days).
  • His dominion shall be taken away” (7:26) – The Roman Senate eventually voted to put Nero to death, thus effectively taking away his dominion.
  • The kingdom “shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27) – It is a mistake to think this passage is a reference to God’s eternal kingdom. It is a reference to God’s spiritual kingdom, which was established in approximately 30 AD when John the Baptist announced, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).
  • Christ talked about the “kingdom” as being present then (Matt. 12:28; 16:19; 23:13), not in the far distant future. Daniel talks about a kingdom that gradually fills the earth, and Jesus speaks of a Mustard seed which grew into a great tree. (Dan. 2:34-35; Matt. 13:31-33).
  • Therefore, the giving of the kingdom (Rome) to the saints of the Most High began when Christ established his kingdom on this earth, and the kingdom continued to grow until one day Christianity would became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Who is being Judged?
  • As noted earlier, the Bible clearly indicates that the judgment of Daniel 7 is a judgment against the little horn and the beast power, not an investigative judgment of the saints. Did such an event occur in the first century? Notice carefully the words of Jesus:
  • Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out’ (John 12:31)

  • ‘And when he [Comforter] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment …because the prince of this world is judged’ (John 16:8,11)

  • Jesus said that the judgment of Satan was happening “now”, during the final hours of His life on earth. He said that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world that the prince of this world is judged. It was during the reign of the Roman Empire that judgment sat in heaven and passed sentence on the prince of this world and the Roman Empire.
  • It was the Roman Empire, under the guidance of Satan, acting through a Roman governor and Roman soldiers, that crucified the Son of God.
  • The judgment, although decided in heaven, was not instantly executed upon Rome when Jesus died, just as Satan will be punished only after the second coming. A generation of time was given to allow for Rome to manifest what it was going to do with Christ and Christianity.
  • Jesus’ death was as a mustard seed being planted in the earth. After His death the gospel sprouted and spread throughout the empire. Nero and later Caesars manifested a Satanic hatred towards Christianity. They thought to persecute it into non-existence, and Nero almost succeeded.
  • However, he was killed, his perseuction halted and his dominion was taken away. The very persecution he started in an attempt to stamp out Christianity would later become the seed that fueled an even more explosive growth of Christianity. Eventually the dominion of Satan was broken in the Roman Empire and it became the dominion of the saints. Christianity was recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  • Every specification of Daniel 7 came to pass just as predicted. In fact, the fulfillment in the events of the Roman Empire were so dramatic that atheists and agnostics insisted the book of Daniel was written after Nero’s death.

  • These enemies of God were silenced in shame when parts of the book of Daniel were discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, and were carbon-dated to 165 BC. Only God could have known about Nero and the Roman empire hundreds of years beforehand. Praise God!

Source: Adapted from Amazingfiction.org