Those of you who are hoping to know when the image of the beast will appear may be disappointed to find out we aren’t given a precise date. We do know it will happen in the last days, however, and thankfully, we are given a date for when those final days begin.

The 2,300-day prophecy in Daniel and Revelation

Exploring the time period of 2,300 days, or prophetic years, given to Daniel, will help us know when those final days start (Daniel 8:14). There were some who thought that the world’s end would actually come at the end of 2,300 years; but almost all Christians now believe that the end is at least near.

There’s good reason to believe that the 2,300 years began with the 457 B.C. date that was already confirmed—see Prophecy 101 about the 70-weeks prophecy. That would mean that the “sanctuary would be cleansed” 2,300 years later in 1844 A.D., a year that proved a bitter disappointment to many who had been looking for Christ’s Second Coming.

“And he said unto me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days, then the sanctuary will be cleansed.’ ” Daniel 8:14 NKJV

Some of those early Adventist believers, however, went back to the Scriptures, and by studying the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, were able to make a connection to the heavenly sanctuary, where some kind of cleansing, investigative work would certainly begin in the year 1844.

Just as the Israelites solemnly prepared themselves for the yearly Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), when the sins that had been collecting in the sanctuary from the blood of their sacrifices would be cleansed from the earthly sanctuary, so we are to prepare our hearts for the soon-coming of our High Priest Jesus Christ, when He will come to cleanse this world of sin (Hebrews 4:14).

That image to the beast, which we are so wary of, because bowing to it will give us the mark of the beast, will not appear overnight. It will gradually evolve, just as papal Rome evolved from pagan Rome. The changes will be hard to detect, but God’s people can know certain signs that will help us know what it is.

Catholicism will likely play a part again. Revelation talks about the deadly wound being healed (Revelation 13:3 and Prophecy 102). The Roman Catholic faith and the pope have gradually become globally admired and popular since 1844. They have even found ways to unite with Protestants over several issues in the last few decades. And more recently have united with Protestant evangelicals to influence governments and politicians to enact laws that, for now, appear good to those who support them (Revelation 13:12 and Proverbs 14:12).

Where this is all heading is unclear at the time; but needless to say, we must always use caution when combining religion and politics, when the meaning of church and state separation becomes blurred. That’s how the church ruled so coercively in the Middle Ages, when disobeying the church meant you were also disobeying the king. We don’t want to see that kind of world return and lead to the persecution God’s people suffered back then (Revelation 13:15).

For a thought-provoking article in Message Magazine on this topic that might be helpful to our understanding of the current political climate, see Christian Nationalism Isn’t Christian

So, what’s in our future?

Knowing we are indeed in the last days, closer than ever to Christ’s return, and that God is always in control, can bring us peace, no matter what crisis lies ahead. Surely God will continue to open up our understanding of prophecy even more as time goes on.

The three angels’ messages (Revelation 14:6-12) have received particular attention by some in these last days, and these messages do not have to be mysterious or complicated, despite the abundant symbolism found there. I have recently seen these messages boiled down to less than ten words. Perhaps they will make another good topic in this series that will enable us to proclaim God’s salvation boldly to those we know and love.

Look for Prophecy 104 and a fresh look at the iconic three angels’ messages!