Matt. 21:23-27 tells of the chief priests and the elders of the people confronting Jesus with the question, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" Jesus answered, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Priests and elders are honored religious leaders, yet they profess ignorance of an important religious truth. What a pity! In the face of truths having to do with life and death, let no one say, "I don't know." If we don't know where a teaching comes from, we must examine it closely; if it is from heaven, we should face it in earnest and do something about it.
1) But if we say we have a message from heaven, we need to produce evidence to prove it, not just make blind assertions.
Answer: That is right! When God gives man a message, it must have good evidence. Let me first point out that it is the highest honor for a human mortal to be trusted with a message from God. John 1:6-8 says, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came . . . to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." When he was asked, "Who are you?" he said, "I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord, "'as the prophet Isaiah said." John 1:23. John did not mention anything but the basis of his message in Bible prophecy. As we preach God's message, we don't need to advertise our name or academic degree, saying, "Listen as I show off my learning!" No! We must put self aside and point people to God's prophecies. Here lies the greatness of John. Jesus said, "Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist." Matt. 11:11. Some tried to make him jealous of Jesus, but he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Jn 3:30. Only as we learn his humility can we bear witness to the Light.
2) How do we know that the message we bear is the one God wants to tell the world? What is its prophetic basis?
Answer: The message God has for today is in Rev. 14:6,7: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth---to every nation, tribe, tongue and people---saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.' " This is a global message with a time factor, saying, "the hour of His judgment has come." How strange that such a solemn, global message is not proclaimed or even noticed by any church but the the Seventh-day Adventist one!
The judgment is a basic Bible topic. If there is no judgment, Christ need not have been crucified. Some preachers say with Paul, "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Cor. 2:2. Yet on two occasions in his first sermons to Gentiles, Paul spoke on God's judgment. Once in Athens, saying, God "has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained." Acts 17:31. Then before a Gentile official, Paul "reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come,." Acts 24:25. Paul always based his messages on Bible prophecy. In his day he preached on "judgment to come," that God "will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained." Now on the eve of the 21st century, the hour of judgment is no longer future, but "has come."
3) The judgment process involves investigation, verdict and execution. How do we know which phase this text speaks of?
Answer: Executive judgment involves rewards and penalties, so the sinner can no longer repent. But here the angel first says "The hour of His judgment has come," then he tells all to "worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water, " thereby indicating that the sinner still has a chance to repent. So we conclude that the judgment here spoken of is the investigative phase. Of this Paul wrote, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Cor. 5:10. James 2:12 says, "So speak and do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty." The immediate context reveals that the "law of liberty" is the Ten Commandments.
4) "The hour of God's judgment has come" seems to refer to a day God has appointed. What is its Old Testament basis?
Answer: It is in Dan. 8:14: "Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Lev. 16 16,30 says that the sanctuary is cleansed on the annual Day of Atonement. Lev. 23:29 says, "Any person who is not afflicted of soul on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people." So the Day of Atonement, which decides every person's destiny, is the judgment day. The three texts show that the cleansing of the sanctuary typified God's judgment. For only God knows who is truly afflicted of soul. Dan. 7:9,10 depicts the judgment scene in heaven: "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; . . . .His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
5) I hear that the 2300 days is a complex riddle with many solutions. How do you know yours is correct? And how do you determine the starting point?
Answer: This prophecy is not a difficult one. It has only two proposed solutions. One takes the 2300 days literally, adding up to about 6.4 years, hardly what the angel said to be "many days in the future." Dan. 8:26. Another solution takes a day for a year. See Num 14:34; Ezek 4:6. Thus 2300 days are 2300 years. The starting point is not hard to find. Dan. 9:24 gives a clue: "Seventy ‘sevens' are decreed for your people." The Hebrew for "decree" signifies "cut off," meaning that the 70 weeks comprise an initial span of time cut off from a longer period. This longer period could only be the 2300 years. So it is evident that the 2300 years start from the same year as the 70 weeks. That year is given in Dan. 9:25: "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem." which is 457 BC. So 2300 years from the fall of that year would come to the fall of 1844. In that year, the 10th day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar fell on Oct. 22. The solution is simple, yet no one arrived at it before the time of the end.
God made 6 distinct remarks relating to this seal to give it prominence.. Dan. 8:17 says, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end." V. 19 says, "At the appointed time the end shall be." V. 26 says, "It refers to many days in the future." Dan. 10:14 says, "the vision refers to many days yet to come." Dan. 12:4 says, "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge [of the 2300 days] shall increase." V. 9 says, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." These remarks have drawn many students in the time of the end to study, and solve the 2300 days. Jesus said to His men, "It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
6) Since the angel declared the vision of 2300 days to be sealed, does the Bible reveal when the "time of the end" begins?
Answer: Yes. Dan. 12:7 says, "I heard the man clothed in linen, . . . when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times and half a time, and when the power of the holy people shall be completely shattered, all these things shall be finished." In Rev. 11:2,3 this period is 42 months or 1260 days. In Rev. 12:14 it is again "a time, times and half a time." Reckoning a day for a year, this is a period of 1260 years, stretching from A.D. 538 to 1798, after which all events assigned to the "time of the end" will take place.
It has been asked, since the judgment began in 1844, why has it continued for 155 years and the end is not in sight? Does God require such a long time to judge His people? We learned earlier that after Jesus returns, the saints will judge the world in heaven. See 1 Cor. 6:2,3; Rev. 20:4. The judgment of the world will last a thousand years. So for the judgment of the righteous to continue for 155 years is not too long. For aside from the Father and the Son, the angels will also take part. They will make closest scrutiny. "For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." Matt. 12:36.
7) I don't see why God should reveal this truth 2500 years early, and then seal it. What purpose did He have in doing so?
Answer: Jesus said, "I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe." John 14:29. If the Bible said nothing about it, and I should now say, "the hour of God's judgment has come," nobody would believe me, for I have no basis for my claim. John the Baptist cited Isaiah as the basis for his message; as it was written 700 years earlier. It was God's stamp of approval: a "Thus says the Lord!" Today our message, "The hour of His judgment has come!" is also based on God's word written 2500 years ago. We're not talking irresponsibly. The Lord said, "That you may believe." He confirms our faith scientifically. He doesn't want us to believe an unfounded report. Bible prophecy is a miracle we can demonstrate any time anywhere.
As to why God sealed the 2300 days, His purpose was to proclaim His judgment hour on time. Isaac Newton studied the prophecies of Daniel many years, ascertained that the "command" of Dan. 9:25 went forth in 457 BC, but he failed to see that this was also the beginning of the 2300 days, so he did not arrive at 1844, because he lived a hundred years before the "time of the end." After the 1260 years closed, in the first half of the19th century, at least 43 books were published on the 2300 days, and 26 of them arrived at the dates 1843, 1844 and 1847. This fulfilled the prophecy of Dan. 12:4: "shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro [in the pages of Scripture], and knowledge [of the 2300-days vision] shall increase."
8) You said that Paul first "determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified," but then preached twice on God's judgment. Did he contradict himself?
Answer: No. Though the "everlasting gospel" preached by the angel does not mention the cross of Christ, nevertheless it embraces all that is in the gospel story. Jesus' gospel begins with creation and closes with the judgment. Since it has both head and tail, it naturally takes in all that is in between. In fact, God created all things by Jesus Christ, and Christ's mediatorial work is central in the judgment. People acquitted in the judgment, trust wholly in the blood of the Lamb. On the contrary, if you preach only the cross but do not explain that the crucified One is our Creator, and that His blood blots out our sins in the judgment, you preach a truncated gospel. Daniel and Revelation contain a gospel with both head and tail---truly the "everlasting gospel" of Rev. 14:6.
2 Cor. 5:10 says, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." The "appear" does not mean personal presence, but the opening of the records of our deeds. For Dan. 7: 9,10 says that the judgment takes place in heaven. There Jesus serves as our Attorney to speak on our behalf, acting as Guarantor in behalf of overcomers before the Father and the angels. 1Tim. 5:24 says, "Some men's sins are clearly evident [confessed], preceding them to judgment, but those of some men [impenitent] follow after." Rev 12:11 says, "They [our brethren] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [in heaven] and by the word of their testimony [on earth]."
9) This message indeed calls for our appreciation, study, meditation and praise. Little wonder that Rev. 5:9,10 says that beings in heaven would sing a "new song," because of new wonders, saying, ‘You are worthy . . , for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God."
Answer: Yes. All who have repented and are born again will catch the spirit of adoration and inspiration of angels as they contemplate God's plan of redemption and praise God's infinite love in rapturous song. John says, "I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne." Rev. 14:2,3. Do you plan to go to heaven? Then you should first learn here to appreciate the "riches of His grace" "in all wisdom and prudence."1 Pet. 1:12 says that they are "things which angels desire to look into." We should often glorify God with praise and thanksgiving like the angels. Eph. 5:19 says, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord."
10) I see God's plan of redemption is a profound science for endless study, and also gives true pleasure in spiritual uplift.
Answer: Yes! Jesus says, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For assuredly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." Matt. 13:16-17. We are blessed with many great hymns written by our spiritual forebears. We select one on the blood of the Lamb:
God help us often to repeat such songs, singing them in our prayers and daily lives, praising God and the Lamb with the angels and saints in heaven. Today the world crowds in on us, so that we easily forget God. We need constantly to hum and sing these hymns which use Bible texts to cleanse us, ushering us into the realm John beheld when he said, "I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them." Rev. 20:11.
This was Christ's purpose in taking three disciples up the mount to see His glory, so that "they saw no one but Jesus only." Matt. 17:8. Pray God for such an experience! If we would ask Him, the Holy Spirit will grant us a foretaste of the heavenly atmosphere as we lift up our souls in praise and thanksgiving, and behold God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
Bible quotes from the NKJV