Pickle Publishing "1844 Was the Wrong Date" Research Papers

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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


The Millerite Movement

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#19 & #20: "Even though the 1843 date had now been adjusted to 1844, it was still an error."—Narrator.

#19: It adjusted the 1843 date to 1844. Neither Mrs. White's first vision of December 1844 nor her 1850 vision had anything to do with the change of date from 1843 to 1844. The simple proof of this is the fact that the date was adjusted in the summer of 1844, long before she had either of these visions (see #6).

#20: The 1844 date was still an error. The documentation package is silent on quite a few points, including this one. The reason for silence here is simple: The theological understandings of those of any and every persuasion have yet to produce any valid objections to the basic interpretations of Scripture that lead to this date. No better date has yet been found.

If the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 did not end in 1844, when did they end? Actually, this question is premature. Since Daniel 8 and 9 are tied together linguistically, a better question to start with is, When did the 490 days of Daniel 9 end?

Even though Gabriel had already explained everything except the 2300 days, Daniel says that "none understood" the "vision" (8:27). How could that be? The answer lies in the Hebrew text.

There are two different Hebrew words translated "vision" in chapter 8: mar'eh and chazown. Chazown occurs in verses 2, 13, 15, 17, and the last half of 26. Mar'eh occurs in verse 16, the first half of 26, and 27. The distinction between these two words is critical to a proper understanding of the chapter, for it is the mar'eh that "none understood," not the chazown.

When Gabriel says in verse 26 that the "vision [mar'eh] of the evening and the morning which was told is true," he provides the key to understanding the difference between the chazown and the mar'eh. Literally, the Hebrew for "2300 days" in verse 14 is "2300 evening-morning." So the vision or mar'eh of the evening-morning must specifically refer to the 2300 evening-morning, while the chazown refers to the entire vision.

Thus, when Daniel said none understood the vision or mar'eh, he was correct, for Gabriel had not explained the mar'eh of the 2300 days yet. Gabriel was specifically assigned the special task of making Daniel "to understand the vision," or mar'eh, but Daniel fainted a little too soon (vss. 16, 27).

In chapter 9 Gabriel returns, "the man" "whom I had seen in the vision" or chazown (vs. 21). Gabriel tells Daniel, "Consider the vision," or mar'eh, the 2300 days (vs. 23). The rest of what he says to Daniel in the chapter is connected to the time prophecy of the 70 weeks, or 490 days. Somehow, therefore, the 70 weeks are supposed to be an explanation of the 2300 days.

Nearly everyone agrees that the first 483 of the 490 days of Daniel 9 end at some point in the ministry of Christ, each day representing a year.

One troublesome problem in chapter 8 is that there is no starting point given for the beginning of the [p. 26] 2300 days. This problem is removed in chapter 9, for these time prophecies are said to begin with the decree to restore and build Jerusalem:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. (Dan. 9:25)

So we need to find a decree that both restores and builds. Adventists begin the 490 years with the decree of Artaxerxes' seventh year, or 457 BC. In that year the Jews' judicial system was "restored" to the point that they could even execute the death penalty against violators of God's law (Ezra 7:7, 8, 26). Isaiah 1:26 had predicted this restoration of the judges.

What about the "build" part of the decree? We need to understand that the giving of this decree was a process that took some time. It began with Cyrus commanding the building, and it ended with Artaxerxes restoring the judiciary (Ezra 6:14).

Ezra 1:2 records Cyrus's decree which commanded the building of the temple, but did Cyrus really fulfill Daniel 9:25 by also commanding the building of Jerusalem? Yes, he did. The Lord, calling Cyrus by name more than a century before his birth, said that he would command Jerusalem to be built (Is. 44:28; 45:13).

If we start the 70 weeks in 457 BC, then the first 69 weeks unto "Messiah the Prince" would end in 27 AD. Adventists identify this as being the year of Christ's baptism. At that time He was anointed with the Holy Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove (Luke 3:1, 22; Acts 10:38). Since the Hebrew word for "Messiah" and the Greek word for "Christ" both mean "the anointed one," it seems most logical to identify the coming of the Messiah of Daniel 9:25 with Christ's anointing at His baptism.

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Dan. 9:27). When Christ died after a ministry of 3½ years (31 AD), the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Mat. 27:51). Thus Christ showed that the sacrifices were to cease, since the true sacrifice for sin had been offered.

This leaves but half a week left of the prophecy, 3½ years, stretching to 34 AD. In Acts 7 we find Stephen being stoned as the first Christian martyr. Immediately after this the gospel started going to non-Jews: Samaritans, the Ethiopian eunuch, and the Roman centurion Cornelius, along with his household (Acts 8:4-39; 10). Gabriel had told Daniel, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people" (Dan. 9:24). It therefore seems logical to end the 70 weeks with the stoning of Stephen, for at that point the gospel began to go to the Gentiles, not just Daniel's people, the Jews.

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week" (Dan. 9:27). For one week (7 years) the gospel, the new "covenant," was "confirmed" with "many," the Jewish nation: 3½ years during the ministry of Christ, and 3½ years after His resurrection. After that, it went to the Gentiles.

The first 490 days of the 2300 thus ended in 34 AD. The remaining 1810 years can be added to 34 AD to arrive at 1844.

Before it can be said emphatically that 1844 is "an error," a better interpretation than the above must be found. None has been found to date.

The most popular alternative interpretation today is the following, which is more complex than what was above, which should tell you something: The first 69 weeks stretch from Artaxerxes' supposed twentieth year in 445 BC to about the death of Christ, and the 70th week is yet future.

Sir Robert Anderson proposed multiplying the 69 weeks, or 483 days, by 360 days to the year, and then dividing this product by 365.25 days per year. By this method he reduced the 483 years to just over 476 years, a total of 173,880 days. He then began the time period on March 14, 445 BC, what he supposed was the first day of the first Jewish month of Nisan that year. Then he ended it with April 6, 32 AD, what he supposed was Nisan 10, Palm Sunday, the week Christ was crucified. The 70th week of Daniel 9 Anderson put off into the future to a yet unknown time (The Coming Prince).

There are a number of serious problems with Anderson's theory:

  1. In making this calculation, he mistakenly added three leap days too few, owing to his misunderstanding the differences between the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. 173,880 days should really end on Thursday, April 3, not Sunday, April 6.

  2. Nisan 10 could not have been earlier than Wednesday, April 9, in 32 AD, and so could not have been April 6. This is because the sighting of the new moon which begins the new Jewish month could not have occurred as early as Anderson's theory demands.

  3. Thus, Nisan 14 would have been on a Sunday or Monday in 32 AD, not on a Thursday as Anderson supposed. Anderson tied the last supper to Nisan 14, with Christ dying on the 15th. If Nisan 14 was on a Sunday or Monday, that would put Christ's death on a Monday or Tuesday in disagreement with the gospel accounts.

  4. The Jews of Elephantine used accession-year reckoning for Artaxerxes, and the Jews of that [p. 27] time used a fall-to-fall calendar (Horn and Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7, pp. 75-90; Neh. 1:1; 2:1). A king's accession year ran from the date of his enthronement until the next New Year's day. In a fall-to-fall calendar this would be Tishri 1, sometime in September or October. Not till after the accession year did the king's first year of reign begin. In contrast, non-accession year reckoning has no accession year, but begins the first year of reign with the king's enthronement. Each year of reign still ends on New Year's day.

  5. Xerxes was murdered sometime in 465 BC. An Aramaic papyri, AP 6, written on January 2, 464 BC, is still dated in Artaxerxes's accession year, meaning that his first year would not begin until Tishri 464 (Ibid., pp. 98-115, 172-174). This makes Nisan in his twentieth year 444 BC, not 445. So Anderson's starting date was a year off.

  6. Daniel 9 requires a "commandment to restore and build." While we have record of a decree from Artaxerxes' seventh year in Ezra 7, we have no record of a decree from his twentieth year. So how can we commence the 70 weeks with the twentieth year?

  7. The reason Artaxerxes's twentieth year is chosen is because it is thought that then is when the Jews were commanded to build Jerusalem. However, Cyrus had commanded this long before (Is. 44:28; 45:13).

  8. Putting the seventieth week of Daniel 9 into the future ignores the linguistic ties between chapters 8 and 9, and the resulting connection between the 2300 days and the 490 days.

  9. The method of reducing the 69 weeks of 483 years to only 476 years ignores the Jewish seven-year cycle, since the 483 years no longer coincide with 483 actual years.

The Israelites were to work their fields for six years, and then let the land keep a sabbath for the seventh year (Lev. 25:2-7). It is easy to see an allusion to this practice in Daniel 9's "70 weeks," "7 weeks," "62 weeks," and "1 week." In fact, many scholars of various persuasions have recognized just such a connection. One's interpretation of the 70 weeks ought to therefore coincide with actual seven-year sabbatical cycles.

The Adventist way of reckoning them indeed does. The fall of 457 BC began the first year, and the fall of 34 AD ended the seventh year of a seven-year cycle (see "When Were the Sabbatical Years?" posted at http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers). Thus, when 31 AD is identified as the date for Christ's crucifixion, the middle of the last week of seven years, it truly is the precise middle of a seven-year cycle.

Back to the original point: Until the critics find a better interpretation that fits all the data, they really shouldn't be so emphatic that the 1844 date is an error. Indeed, with the evidence as overwhelming as it is, the 1844 date is as solid as it gets.

A Response to the Video

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