Sabbath School Lesson for April 29-May 5, 2023
Overview of Lesson 6, The Hour of His Judgment
Memory Text: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” Romans 13:11, 12 NKJV
Topics this week include:
- Sunday: The Cleansing of the Sanctuary–Why was Daniel confused about the 2,300 day prophecy in his vision (Daniel 8:14)?
- Monday: The 2,300 Days and the End Time–How do we know the 2,300 day prophecy is talking about the end time?
- Tuesday: The Angel’s Instruction to Daniel–Why is it important to understand the 70-week prophecy (Daniel 9:24)?
- Wednesday: The Messiah “Cut Off”–What happened during that final week of the 70-week prophecy?
- Thursday: The Year 1844–What does the end of the 2,300 days, or years, mean for us now?
Some people are asleep in the sense that the news that the judgment is close at hand doesn’t seem to excite them any more. They may understand the perfect way the prophetic time table has unfolded, but have just lost their desire to prepare for our Lord’s soon Coming to bring us home with Him.
The symbols and signs all seem so distant and unreal to many people. But we must try our best to understand the time prophecies, so we can explain them even a little to those around us. Many people have been brought to a deeper faith experience by seeing for the first time how precise God is with His timing of events in the past.
But what is most important for our friends and neighbors to see is our reaction to the message about the coming judgment. We must wake out of our slumber and show by our preparations that we take God’s cosmic messages seriously.
Sunday: The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
The disciples were quite concerned when Jesus talked about the temple being destroyed. They wanted to know when it would happen and asked Him further about the event (Matthew 24:3). In a similar way, when Daniel heard in his vision about the cleansing of the sanctuary (Daniel 8:14), knowing that it represented the Day of Atonement the Jews prepared their hearts for every year, he, too, was quite concerned, wanting to know more about when it would happen. He was so concerned, it actually made him ill, causing him to pray for several years about the matter.
How relieved Daniel must have been when the angel Gabriel appeared to him one day, declaring his intention to enlighten Daniel about the most troubling part of the vision, described in chapter 8 (Daniel 9:21). He needed to know more specifically about those 2,300 days. If those days meant years, it seemed like an awfully long time for God’s judgment to occur.
Gabriel went on to explain when the 2,300 days would start, and also how long the Jewish nation would have to fulfill their covenant with God. They were on probation, it seemed for 70 weeks (meaning 490 years). The final week would include the anointing and death of the Messiah. How comforting it must have been to the prophet Daniel to finally have some clear cut answers to what had been troubling him for so long.
- When did Jesus put an end to sacrifice and offering?
- What is the link between the death of Jesus and the judgment?
Monday: The 2,300 Days and the End Time
After the vision given Daniel in chapter 8, Gabriel interpreted its meaning for him, also in chapter 8. He was told that the ram and the goat, and the little horn on the goat, represented kings and powers that would arise after Babylon. This explanation fit perfectly with the empires of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, that we know so well from our study of history. Gabriel even named the first two for Daniel as Medo-Persia and Greece, so we have no excuse for not knowing how this prophecy was fulfilled.
What Daniel needed most, even after Gabriel’s previous interpretation, was more understanding about the cleansing of the sanctuary. Just knowing that it involved 2,300 days was not much to go on. Daniel was anxious to know more about it because he recognized that it must have something to do with God’s final judgment. After all, when the earthly sanctuary was cleansed, it represented the Day of Atonement or the Day of Judgment. A time when justice would finally prevail for God’s people.
Daniel 8:17, 19, 26
- How do we know from Gabriel’s first explanation that it involved the time of the end?
Tuesday: The Angel’s Instruction to Daniel
The answer Daniel was looking for is found in Daniel 9:24-27. He was told that the beginning of the 2,300 days/years would begin at the command to restore and build Jerusalem. There ended up being several commands from Medo-Persian kings to do that, but the final one in 457 B.C. fit this description best (Ezra 7). They not only were given the opportunity to go back, but given the help they needed to rebuild.
The 70-week prophecy revealed to Daniel was even more helpful. It described how those 2,300 days would include how long the Jews had to prepare for the Messiah’s first coming. Christ’s baptism, death, and the stoning of Stephen (the first Christian martyr) were predicted to occur the final week that was cut off from the 70 weeks.
- What events in Jesus’ life were alluded to here? What would His anointing be? When did He bring an end to sacrifice and offering?
Wednesday: The Messiah “Cut Off”
Daniel was no doubt very interested in the vision’s interpretation of the one-week period that was cut off from the 70-weeks prophecy. It seemed likely that this was about the coming of the Messiah, something God’s people had been longing for since Creation. Figuring 70 x 7 or 490 prophetic years, then taking off 7 years would leave 483 days/years left.
If we use the fall of 457 B.C., when Artaxerxes’ decree was given, as the date to start both the 70 weeks and the 2,300 days, then we are taken 483 years forward to the year 27 A.D., the year Jesus was baptized, or anointed (remembering there is no zero year). That would then be the beginning of that “cut off” week.
The middle of the week, when the sacrifice and offerings would end would be the spring of 31 A.D., three and a half years later. And of course, Jesus, the Lamb of God, died during the Passover of that year, causing the need for animal sacrifices to end (hence the tearing of the veil in the temple–Matthew 27:51).
There was another event worth noting three and a half years after the crucifixion, which would be the end of that final, “cut off” week. It was the stoning of Stephen in approximately 34 A.D. This, many believe, marked the time when the gospel passed from the Jews to the Gentiles.
Daniel 9:25 and Matthew 3:15-17
- How did Christ’s baptism show that He was Messiah the Prince?
Daniel 9:27 and Mark 15:37, 38
- How did the tearing of the temple veil verify that the animal sacrifices would cease to have meaning?
Thursday: The Year 1844
Not to say this is simple math, because for some people, math is never simple. But perhaps the easiest way to find the end of the 2,300 days/years is to first subtract the 490 years from the 2,300 years. That leaves you with 1,810 years. Since the end of those 490 years was 34 A.D., we need to add 34 to the 1,810, which would bring us to the year 1844.
Many Christians across the world began to discover and preach about the Second Coming of Christ in the 1800s. This movement has been called the Second Great Awakening. Many revivalist preachers, especially in America, began to listen to William Miller, who was the first to preach about the end of the 2,300 days as falling very soon, as soon as the year 1843, and later thought to be 1844.
Their mistake, however, was to preach that Jesus would come for them in 1844. They saw the earthly sanctuary as meaning the earth, and that God would cleanse it by His Second Coming. But they were bitterly disappointed when it didn’t happen on the date they had determined.
They misunderstood the meaning of the cleansing of the sanctuary. Of course, it was referring to the heavenly sanctuary and indicated that, like on the Day of Atonement for the Jews, we must use this time to prepare ourselves spiritually and physically for Christ’s soon return, just as the Jews did before the yearly Day of Atonement.
These last days, that started in 1844, are a time to humbly examine our hearts, confess our sins, and cleanse our lives to be ready for that great Judgment Day, still in our future. Jesus verified that the exact time will never be known (Matthew 24:36). We don’t know when our Bridegroom will come for us!
- In what way should we be “afflicting our souls” today, as we prepare for that Day of Atonement, when God will come to judge the world?
Friday: Final Thoughts
Daniel 9 is probably the most remarkable chapter in all the Bible. It contains predictions about the Messiah’s First Coming that happened exactly on time, giving us faith that God’s future prophecies, particularly the ones about the Second Coming, will also happen right on schedule.
The end of the 2,300 days/years in 1844 means we are living in the judgment hour, just as the first angel in Revelation 14 declares. God’s sanctuary in heaven is busy getting ready for a cleansing Day of Atonement more spectacular than those symbolic ones here on earth. How important that we prepare for that great Day.
We, like the Jews, must use this time wisely, filling our lamps with the Holy Spirit, to light our way during some dark days ahead just before He comes. We can count on Christ’s Second Coming to happen when the time is right, just as Daniel looked forward to the Messiah’s first appearance at the end of their 490 years, or 70 weeks.
Next Week: Worshiping the Creator
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