Three Angels' Messages Part 22
Welcome! Thank you for joining with us as we continue our examination of the Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14. These messages constitute God’s last call to the human race. We are currently looking at the phrase, “The hour of His judgment has come,” and we’ve seen that the Bible clearly reveals that there is a judgment and that one important phase of it starts and ends before Jesus returns. Because it is through this pre-advent judgment that the decisions are made as to who will be saved and who will be lost, we should find out everything that we can about this critical topic!
We saw last time how this principle, of God investigating before the sentence is imposed, of “taking a look” before He “takes action,” is demonstrated in the three stories of what happened in the Garden of Eden, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fall of Babylon. Even though God didn’t need to examine the situations, because He is omniscient and knows everything, the Scripture is clear that He did so anyway, speaking in a language that we understand. He goes the “second mile,” doing what is not actually necessary, in His administration of divine justice.
Because, as has been established, the investigative phase of God’s judgment must be completed before He comes back, and because the cry of the first angel is, “The hour of His judgment has come,” we must ask, Can the time of this judgment be known by Scripture? The answer is, Yes. To do this we must spend some time studying the prophecies of Daniel. In summary, what we’ll see is that in Daniel 7, the prophet is shown the heavenly court scene, but not much is revealed as to when it takes place, except it is evident that it begins before Christ returns in glory. In Daniel 8, a time period is given that relates to the inception of the judgment, but no indication is given as to when that time period begins. In Daniel 9, however, a beginning point is identified. Therefore, we must stitch together the information from all three of those important chapters in order to obtain the complete picture.
We know that, for our own good, it is not within God’s plan to give to us the “day and hour” of His coming to earth in glory, but He has consistently provided “way marks” by which we can know when it is near. Days before His death His disciples asked Him, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3. Jesus proceeded, in that chapter, to outline several significant events which would serve as precursors to His coming. He said, “When you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.” Matthew 24:33.
In addition to the signs that Christ made known to His followers that have become visible on earth as they have been fulfilled, the Scriptures have also provided us with a crucial date in God’s timetable; the beginning of His investigative judgment in heaven. Though the event was not seen by earthly eyes (excepting the prophet Daniel in vision), we know by faith that it most certainly came to pass.
Let us turn our attention to a most important prophecy in the book of Daniel, contained in the 8th chapter, from which we may gain information as to when the investigative judgment began. This is crucial to our understanding the relevance of the message of the first angel, “The hour of His judgment has come.”
Having seen this heavenly pre-advent judgment in vision, recorded in chapter 7, in the “first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon,” two years later Daniel was given another vision. Like the other “outline” prophecies, this one was “entire” in its scope, going from “now” (Daniel’s day) all the way to the “end.” Thus the statue dream of Daniel 2 referred to the Babylon of Daniel’s day and extended to the kingdom of the Stone, representing God’s eternal kingdom. Thus the vision featuring the wild animals of chapter 7 began with Babylon and reached to God's kingdom, which “is an everlasting kingdom.” In the same way, the vision of chapter 8 of Daniel, which contains the prophecy we’re looking at, takes the prophet from the reign of Medo-Persia to the “end.” Addressing this point, the angel said, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” Daniel 8:17.
Our objective is to find the beginning point of God’s pre-advent judgment, pictured in Daniel 7. We believe that we can do that, on the basis of three “witnesses” found in Daniel 8:14. These witness are 1) the structural comparison between chapter 7 and 8 of Daniel, showing that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” occupies the same place in its vision as the “judgment scene” does in chapter 7. 2) The legal connotation of the word “cleansed,” which is tsadaq, as used in Daniel 8:14. 3) A study of the service of Yom Kippur, brought to view by the phrase “cleansing of the sanctuary.”
A structural comparison between the contents of chapter 7 and chapter 8 of Daniel, if you were to line up the component parts, reveals that the “place” taken by the heavenly court scene in the seventh chapter is occupied by something called the “cleansing of the sanctuary” in chapter 8. It is most important to see this parallel. In chapter 7, we find that the judgment scene is the hinge point of the prophecy. Up until that time, it appears that satanic agencies, led by worldly kingdoms represented by wild beasts and followed by a destructive horn power, are in control.
Then something happens that changes everything. “But the court shall be seated and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.” Daniel 7:26. The seating of the heavenly court is most crucial to the outcome of the events portrayed. If we reduce the content of the prophecy of chapter 7 to a simple outline, it could read: 1) reign of earthly kingdoms, including the horn power. 2) inception of God’s judgment. 3) destruction of earthly kingdoms and the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom. In this analysis, the beginning of God’s pre-advent investigative judgment, when “the court was seated and the books were opened,” is the turning point in the prophecy, the point at which the tide changes. In reading chapter 7 of Daniel, you will see that 5 times a significant transition occurs. The horn power is seen going about its lethal activity, but then “the judgment.”
Notice carefully that in the parallel prophecy of chapter 8, Daniel again sees animals that represent earthly kingdoms, but this time they are not animals of prey but “clean” animals, such as would be suitable for sacrifice in the sanctuary. This is not coincidental, but intentional, because the vision of chapter 8 “breathes” the atmosphere of the sanctuary. He is told specifically that the ram in the vision represents “the kings of Media and Persia.” Daniel 8:20. And, by the way, pay particular attention to the fact that the word “kings” is plural. The ram doesn’t represent just one king, one individual; the ram represents the kingdom of Medo-Persia, ruled by various monarchs. It is most important to see this!
Following the conquest of the goat, specifically identified as being the kingdom of Greece, a horn power emerges which wields great power and devastation, just as did the horn power of the vision in chapter 7. In the vision of chapter 8, Daniel again witnesses earthly powers, led by Satan, that seem to be in total command.
It is at this point then, that within the vision a question is asked, a very important question; one that anticipates the “turning point” in the prophecy. The question is asked, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?” Daniel 8:13. This question is the same as asking, “How long will it be that evil triumphs? How long will it be that the powers of wickedness prevail? How long will it be that God’s truth and His saints are cast down and trodden under foot?” Great question! “How long, O Lord?” This question has been raised since sin entered, since Adam and Eve were evicted, since they held in their arms the lifeless body of their son Abel. What can be the answer to that question?
In the next verse, an answer is given, “For two thousand three hundred days, then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” This must be something of critical importance to be the answer to the momentous question, “How long?” It will be something of crucial importance in turning the tide from the onslaught of evil to the triumph of righteousness. From a structural point of view, as we line up the component parts of the vision, we can see that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” in chapter 8 occupies the same place as the “judgment” in the vision of chapter 7. The “cleansing of the sanctuary” represents the hinge point in the prophecy, as did the judgment scene in the previous chapter. Before this evil is victorious; after this God’s justice takes over and the horn power will be “broken without human hand.”
The visions of Daniel and of John, as recorded in Revelation, give us confidence that God is in control of this chaotic world. God has a plan for this planet, and His plan will triumph. You and I have the confidence in knowing that we are living in the very last stages of that plan, and that very soon, our blessed Lord will return and take us home to the place He has prepared for us. What a Day that will be! We need to be praying every day, that just as He is preparing the place up there, He will prepare our hearts down here. Please join us next time as we continue our study of God’s great plan, and the importance of the judgment that is now taking place in heaven.