Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 10-11, 12, overview WhyProphets.com
1844: restoring the rights of the church
(the best known of all dated prophecies)
Other numbers:
, 1290,
70 weeks

Medieval Church
Magnificent churches - sanctuaries - have been built for two thousand years.
But their theology and authority can be traced to the errors of the Dark Ages.
God promised to cleanse his sanctuary before he returned.


Daniel 8:14 gives 2300 years until the cleansing of the sanctuary. What does "cleansed" mean in this context? In the Bible, people are symbolically cleansed by the shedding of blood (animals in the Old Testament, looking forward to the shedding of Jesus' blood in the New). The Jerusalem Bible rewords this "then the sanctuary shall have its rights restored". Actually, this is the simplest of all the prophecies - there is more agreement about this one than any other prophecy.

See also: 1830-1844 and other churches
other churches and millennial prophecy
the Baha'i faith and 1844

This topic, and many others, are also discussed at Massimo's web site - check it out!

What do the words mean?

Transgressions (or rebellions) that cause desolation

The topic of transgressions or abominations that leave a land desolate is discussed on its own page.

The important thing to notice here is that Daniel 8:13-14 involves the entire vision which includes the abomination - it is not dated from the abomination.

But what is "the sanctuary"?

There are many possibilities:

So the simplest fulfillment would be...

Remember, we are looking for the simplest possible fulfillment (if any), of the prophecy. So is there an event that fulfils all these possibilities? Is there an event that involved the shedding of blood, restores the rights of the church and restores the rights of the temple? And involves a place where people flee to from the world? An event that is closely linked to the fulfillment of the 1260 "day" prophecy and is so important that the angel who taught Daniel considered it one of the most important events in the history of the world? There is. But first, let's see if there are any other clues.

Identifying the start date

What is context for the starting date for this prophecy? Daniel 8:14 does not say, but verse 13 tells us (indirectly). The question Daniel asked was "how long shall be the vision concerning the continuous state and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?" In other words, "how long is the vision I have just seen?" The vision, of course, includes the abomination of verses 10-11, but started some time before that, with the battles between Greece and Persia.

In Daniel 8, Persia (the ram) expands her borders (verses 3-4). But Greece (the he-goat) arises and takes over from Persia (verses 5-7). Then we learn about the origin of the little horn that was introduced in chapter 7. So the point of the vision in Daniel 8 seems to be to show the role of Greece in the story. Notice the word "therefore" at the start of verse 8. It is the end of Persia as a player in this drama that causes the events that follow. So when we are looking for a date, we should ask "when did Persia cease to be the important power and Greece become important, from Daniel's point of view?

The starting date for the 2300 year prophecy:

Daniel chapter 8 begins with the battle between Greece and Persia. When were they battling? Well nearly all the time, actually. But when were they battling on more or less equal terms? This narrows down the question. Back in the sixth century BC, Persia was clearly the superior power. In the fourth century BC, Greece was clearly dominant. But in between?.

We seem to be looking for some date in or around the fifth century BC - that is, 500 BC to 400 BC.

When the goat (Greece) defeated the ram (Persia)

Looking more closely at the rise of Greece:

Greece, in its early stages, was not a united kingdom, but a series of city states. From a world history point of view, Athens was most important. Athenian philosophers and statesmen (Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, etc.) led to Athens being called "the nursery of Western Civilisation". In the crucial fifth century BC, Athens had its own empire - it was the key player.

The Delian League

The crucial period for the battle between Persia and Greece was 478 to 48 BC - the Delian League. In 480 BC, Persia had sacked Athens. In 478, Athens created a league of city states (the Delian League) to defend themselves against Persia. (Incidentally, Byzantium was an important member of this league - Byzantium, remember, was one of the key players in the origin of Europe and the fulfilling of Daniel's prophecies of the little horn). By 448 BC, the Athenian empire had become so strong that the league was no longer needed, and was dissolved.

So we are looking for a date some time between 478 and 448 BC.

The most likely start date

Now, we are always looking for the simplest possible interpretation, so we shall assume that this ties in with a similar prophecy in the next chapter (Daniel 9). In Daniel 9, an important prophecy is dated from the time that Persia left Daniel's world - the last major decree for the Jews to return to their land. This date was was 457BC.

Checking, we find that 457 BC is comfortably in the middle of the Delian League period. In fact, this was just about the time that Pericles and others were starting to rebuild Athens into the formidable power. So 457 is a fairly safe starting date for the prophecy.

2300 years from 457BC (remember that there is no "year 0") takes us to 1844.


Don't take my word for it!

Many people have studied the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation over the centuries, and come up with various schemes for how it all might be fulfilled. But one date stands out from all the others - 1844. More than any other, this date resonated in peoples' minds. It was big news at the time, and millions believed in it (just look up "Millerites" in any good encyclopaedia).

The belief in 1844 as a major date in prophecy has been incorporated into modern religions such as the Baha'i faith and the Seventh Day Adventists.

In terms of prophetic dates, 1844 was The Big One.

Did all those Bible readers get it wrong?

So what happened? The world did not end, and everyone went home disappointed. But if they had read the context of the Bible prophecies, they would have seen that although the date was correct, its significance had been missed. 1844 was not the end of the world, but it signaled the restoration of the sanctuary, which is not quite the same thing. While all those people were climbing their hills and selling their worldly goods, looking heavenward in expectation of the end, the ancient prophecy was being fulfilled, right on schedule, in the state of Illinois, in a town called Nauvoo and in a tiny jailhouse called Carthage.

Almost 2000 years earlier, devout Bible readers had missed the first coming of Christ, because it took place in a lowly stable and not with armies of angels. This time they missed the final restoration of his kingdom in preparation for his second coming, because it took place in the middle of Illinois and once more the armies of angels were invisible to all save a few.

How 1844 fulfils the prophecy

In 1844, Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, completed his mortal mission. He sealed his testimony with his blood (see Doctrine & Covenants 135). Like all those other martyrs spoken of in Revelation, he was slain for the word of God. All he had ever said was what he had seen with his own eyes, and they killed him for it.

Before the prophet Joseph died, when he could see what was inevitable, he had two driving goals:

He died only once he had completed his work. After thousands of years when prophecy had ceased, the church was once more ready to fulfil the will of the Lord. And after thousands of years of there being no temple, or worse, a polluted temple, the rights were at last restored.

The sanctuary had been cleansed.

The rights of the temple had been restored.

The prophecy was fulfilled.

The aftermath of the prophecy

In this web site I promised not to use obscure historical details. You may not have heard of 1844 as significant before, but you will. 1844 was the turning point for the church of Jesus Christ in the Latter-Days - the first significant Christian church since the days of the apostles to claim new scripture, a church that has fulfilled prophecy after prophecy as it grows to fill the world.

When his enemies killed the prophet, the saints were numbered in the thousands. Now they are numbers in millions, and growing by hundreds of thousands each year.

When they killed Joseph, there was one temple under construction. Now the number of those completed or recently announced is one hundred.

When they killed Joseph, there were hundreds of missionaries spreading the news of the latter-day restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now there are over fifty thousand.

When his enemies killed the prophet, they thought that would be the end of "Mormonism". The people had lost their leader, and were soon driven from their homes into the wilderness. But they had reckoned without the hand of God.

A footnote: when did members of the Church first spot this prophecy?

I personally first heard of this prophecy in 1985. Many people, like myself, only become aware of it after seeing Seventh Day Adventist materials. But when did church members first come to accept that this great prophecy was fulfilled?

There is no indication that anyone in the church saw the significance of this prophecy before it was fulfilled. After all, they did not expect the prophet to be martyred. However, church members were well aware of the Millerites. The apostle Parly P. Pratt went so far as to say that instead of looking for the second coming, the Millerites should have been looking for the martyrdom of the prophet:

A Discourse, by Elder P. P. Pratt, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, October 7, 1855.

Are there any Millerites here who have been setting a time for the Son of Man to come? . . .

O ye Millerites, ye made a great mistake; you thought the first thing was the coming of the Lord in power and great glory; you were going to have him come immediately, without any kingdom to come to, without a forerunner in the shape of a Prophet, but just by men guessing, and predicting, and remarking, and commenting on the prophecies; but so far as the coming of the Lord being the first thing you knew, you will "begin to see these things come to pass, and then know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand" and we have to be born again or we cannot see it.

People hear of "Joe Smith," as he is called, of the Book of Mormon, of angels coming from heaven again; of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; of modern Prophets and Apostles, and martyrs, and they think, "what under heaven does all this mean, we have no reason to look for anything of the sort, but we expect the Lord here every minute." They have no idea of a modern Prophet; of angels visiting the earth in the latter times; of modern inspiration; of a modern Church that will hearken to the voice of a Prophet in all things that he shall say unto them; it is all new to them, they are astonished, and say, "what does it mean, I wonder what is this Mormonism coming to?"

The Lord will never come until he has organized his kingdom on the earth, and prepared his people by sending a messenger to prepare the way before him; that messenger has come, and the man that delivered it has been slain, namely, Joseph Smith, and by the instrumentality of that messenger, here sit the Apostles and Prophets, ordained to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

If the people had read the Scriptures they would have been looking for all this, if they had not listened to a set of blind guides, who have hired out for money to tell them the Scriptures mean something else.

The first time someone recognised the fulfillment of these prophecies may have been as early as three days after the martyrdom. An unnamed Millerite preacher, fresh from preaching about the fulfillment of the "2300" prophecy, accepted the gospel early in 1844:

"Sunday, the 30th of June [1844, three days after the martyrdom of the prophet] , we held conference in Lindon, at which time the different branches in Vermont were represented, and we had a very interesting time. There were two Millerite preachers present, and one of them became convinced of the truth and was soon after baptized."
- William Hyde Autobiography, BYU, p.12 (available on Folio Infobases)


the bottom line...

Millions of people recognised the prophecy of 1844 before it happened. The Bible was clear. The Bible was right ... even though most people didn't realise at the time.


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