Was Ellen White Wrong on Daniel 8:14?

By Desmond Ford, abridged from Daniel 8:14, Chapter 3

In preparing the sanctuary chapters of Great Controversy, Ellen White copied most of her material from Uriah Smith and J. N. Andrews. In so doing, she also followed their implicit denial that Daniel 8:13 asks a question to which 8:14 is the answer. In fact, Daniel 8:13 does not appear in Great Controversy at all.

After describing the successes of the wicked little horn against the sanctuary and its worshippers, the inquiry was made: How long would such ravages continue? When would heaven intervene and stop the wicked aggressor? Verse 14 was the answer to that inquiry. But SDAs refuse to connect the two! Instead, they jump from the theme of evil deeds by an anti-God power to the theme of sins of the saints defiling a heavenly sanctuary. Let it not be missed: the context says nothing about believers defiling allying. Nor do the Old or New Testaments anywhere else teach that confessed sins defile the heavenly sanctuary. Even on earth the sanctuary of Moses was defiled by the act of sin, not by its confession. (Num. 19:13,20; Lev. 20:3)

The argument that the sins of believers, though forgiven still require blotting out, falls short of the teaching of Scripture. Acts 3:19, used by SDAs to teach this, teaches nothing of the sort. One needs but compare Acts 3:19 with Acts 2:38 and Psalm 51:1,2, to see this. Acts 2:38 promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who come to Christ, as does Acts 3:19. Not one text used for the investigative judgment stands up to examination.

Context and Language

The context of 8:14 sets forth a situation that demands redress: the temple of God is being shamefully treated. "How long, 0 Lord?" is the cry-to which comes the answer: "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings."

To detach Daniel 8:14 from this cry is to be exegetically at sea without an anchor.

Furthermore, Daniel 8:13-14 is no isolated pericope, but the heart and pulse-throb of the entire book. It illuminates the whole and is illuminated by the whole. Every chapter of Daniel is concerned with the theme of vindication, and with the Hebrew ad (until when).

In chapter one, Daniel and his fellows are on trial. Their religion is being tested before the heathen. But the trial has a limit. And at the end of the prescribed time they are vindicated, found better than the heathen, and elevated to honor.

In chapter two, the wisdom of Israelis on trial, compared with the wisdom of the heathen astrologers. Daniel asks for time, and is given it. At the end of the time, again Israel and Israel's God are vindicated.

In the third chapter, those faithful to the Torah are threatened with incineration. They are given time for reconsideration, but then are thrown into the fiery furnace, only to be vindicated by the delivering angel of God.

Chapter four shows a proud arrogant monarch who exalts himself against the God of heaven, but only for a limited period. Then judgment falls, and heaven is seen as ruler indeed.

In chapter five, another presumptuous king profanes the holy things of the sanctuary. But God has fixed the limit of transgression, and Belshazzar having reached that limit, falls under the invader's knife.

Chapter six is a replay of three, with those loyal to the law of their God threatened once more. He, in whom has been found an excellent spirit, endures trial triumphantly, and is delivered by the God who had been thus challenged by heathenism.

In the following chapter, what has been repeatedly acted out, is taught out by prophetic vision. A tyrant, embodying the characteristics of pride, idolatry, and vengeful persecution, personified by Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius, is to arise to lay waste the saints. But only until the judgment sits. His period of apparent victory is limited to a time, times, and half a time, and then the heavenly assessors condemn him to the fire.

Chapter eight goes over the same ground--earthly powers are again represented by beasts, and finally a beast who brings forth a little horn which grows great even to the host of heaven, and casts down the stars and tramps upon them. The holy truth and places are trodden down, and the cry ascends: "How long, 0 Lord? Until when shall this iniquity triumph?" In reply, the heavenly messenger gives the assurance: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be restored to its rightful estate."

In chapter nine, the sequence is the same. The whole chapter is an elaboration of 8:13,14. The prayer pleading for vindication and restoration can be equated with the plea of 8:13. Listen to the climax of that prayer: "Now, therefore, 0 our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplications, and for thy own sake, 0 Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate... 0 Lord, hear; 0 Lord forgive; 0 Lord, give heed and act; delay not..." (9:17,19). Then comes the equivalent of 8:14, which is 9:24-27. The Most Holy Place is to be anointed, restored to its rightful state, and the desolator's transgression finished.

This same sequence of trial and deliverance, threat and promise, night and morning, death and resurrection continues throughout the remaining chapters.

Particularly observe the following parallels:

  • 7.8,9 "...another horn, a little one, eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. I looked until (Hebrew ad) the thrones were placed … The court sat in judgment..."

  • 7:21,22 "As I looked, this horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them, until (Hebrew ad) the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High…"

  • 8:13,14 "For how long (Hebrew ad) is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?" And he said to him, "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."

  • 9:27 "...and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until (Hebrew ad) the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator."

  • 11:36 "And the king shall do according to his will he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper until (Hebrew ad) the indignation be accomplished; for what is determined shall be done."

  • 12:6 "How long (Hebrew ad) shall it be till the end."

  • 12:9 "…until (Hebrew ad) the time of the end."

Both the narratives and the visions tell the same story. Evil is allowed to prosper for only so long, only until the judgment sits, and the books recording the evil deeds of the blasphemer are opened. Then comes deliverance, restoration, vindication. This is the message of Dan. 7:9-13; 8:13,14; 9:3-27; 12:6-13--indeed this is the message of the entire book.

The judgment is not on believers

The parallel passages of Daniel make it quite clear that 8:14 has to do with the redress of wickedness, that it is the Little Horn that is investigated, not the saints. The books record its transgression, not the failures of the worshippers of Yahweh. Similarly, the judgment of Revelation 14:7 is not a judgment of the saints but of Babylon.

Category: 1844 Movement
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