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Sabbath School Lessons on The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: Day-Year Principle *
Introduction: Do you hate to wait? My wife is a teacher, and I
decided to go with her to a national teachers' convention last week.
We arrived at the airport very early in the morning, and I was
shocked to see the airport jammed with travelers - and on Sunday
even. As I was heading towards the "self-service" check-in machines
that I always use, an airline employee told us to go stand in this
huge line. We did what we were told. As I surveyed the line, I had
some doubts about making it on time to our plane. I decided to
depend on my own judgment instead of the direction of the airline
employee. I left my wife in line, and in less than five minutes had
both of our boarding passes issued by a self-service check-in
machine. We were soon on our way. Poor Daniel, in his case we have
decided that what is stated in days, really means years! Are we like
the airline employee, needlessly creating delay? Let's jump in and
look at this issue again this week!
- Read Daniel 9:1-3. When was Daniel praying? (The first
year of King Darius. The Bible Knowledge Commentary
identifies this as 539 B.C. - 66 years after Daniel had
- What is Daniel praying about? (Read Jeremiah 29:10. Daniel
is praying about Jeremiah's prophecy that the destruction
of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews would last for
only 70 years. Since Daniel is 66 years into his exile, we
can understand why he is praying about this topic.)
- How do you think Daniel understood this 70 years?
Were they literal years? (If Daniel thought they were
something other than literal years, he would not have
been praying so diligently about their fulfillment.
He would have figured it was some time in the distant
future - far beyond his lifetime.)
- Day-Year Consistency
- Read Daniel 9:24. We decided when we studied this text two
weeks ago (Lesson 7) that seventy "sevens" (weeks)did not
mean literal weeks. Why is that?
- How can you be so inconsistent? When Daniel writes in
Daniel 9:2 about seventy years, you think this is
literal time. When a few verses later he writes in
Daniel 9:24 about seventy weeks, you suddenly think
he is talking about symbolic time?
- Isn't consistency a virtue? Aren't we required to
use a little common sense in studying the Bible?
- Let's look at each of these texts to see if we have any
reason for appearing to be so inconsistent.
- Jeremiah 29
- Read Jeremiah 29:1-3. Who is the audience to which
Jeremiah writes? (All of the Jewish captives. The leaders
and the regular people.)
- What was the state of mind of the recipients of the
letter? (On one hand they were probably glad to be
alive since they were "the surviving." On the other
hand, it is pretty lousy to be a captive and know
that life, as you knew it, would never be the same
- Read Jeremiah 29:4. Whose idea was it to make them
captives in a foreign land? (It was God's idea - their
- How does that knowledge make them feel?
- Read Jeremiah 29:5-6. How long does this suggest they will
they be in exile? Will this be a temporary matter?
- Read Jeremiah 29:7. What kind of citizens should they be
while in captivity? (They should be good citizens, and
they should pray for their captors.)
- Why? (Because their welfare turns on the welfare of
- Read Jeremiah 29:8-9. What messages are the false prophets
giving? (The text here does not say, but the implication
is that they are saying that the people will soon return
to their land. Captivity will be short.)
- What is the overall conclusion to be reached from the
instructions contained in Jeremiah's letter on behalf of
the "Lord Almighty, the God of Israel?" (They are in for a
long stay. They might as well get comfortable, get on
with their lives, and make the best of things. They will
have grandchildren born in this new land.)
- Have you ever seen people who could not get over some
problem or tragedy and pick up with their lives? (God
tells His people this is their new reality and they
should just carry on with their lives.)
- Read Jeremiah 29:10-11. What does God promise? (That in 70
years He will bring them back home. God promises them hope
and a future.)
- Read Jeremiah 29:12-14. What are the people expected to
do? (As the 70-year time period approaches, they should
pray that God will bring them home.)
- This is a mystery that we need to explore. Years ago
a lady in my class asked me, "If God knows the
future, if He knows what He will do, and He does what
is best for us, why do we need to pray for Him to do
- Here, God promises them that in 70 years He will
bring them home, so why do they need to be praying
that He will do what He already promised? (They are
in exile because God reacted to their sins. God wants
a partnership with His people. What we do makes a
difference to God. He tells us that He listens, so
our prayers must have some practical effect. If they
do not change God, at least they change us.)
- Look again at Jeremiah 29:10. Is there any reason to
believe that these are literal, as opposed to symbolic
years? (Nothing in this situation appears to be symbolic.
God says that He will "come to you" and "fulfill My
gracious promise to bring you back to this place."
Obviously, not everyone is going to survive 70 years, but
God sounds like He is speaking personally to the people.
It makes sense to understand these as literal years.
Another "clue" is that God instructs ( Jeremiah 29:6) for
them to marry and have children so their children can have
children. This number of generations is consistent with a
literal 70 year period.)
- Daniel 9
- Read Daniel 9:20-23. Daniel, as instructed by God in
Jeremiah 29:12-14, is praying that God will listen and
bring them back out of captivity. What does Gabriel say
he has come to give Daniel? (Insight and understanding.)
- Insight and understanding about what? (On a very
basic level, it would be about the topic of going
home. But, more specifically, it is about(Daniel
9:23)"understand[ing] the vision.")
- What vision is this? (Read Daniel 8:26-27. The
vision which has shaken up Daniel, the vision he
does not understand, is the vision "of the
evenings and mornings." It is the vision which
he was last writing about.)
- Quickly review Daniel 8:1-14. Does any of this seem
literal to you? (No. This is all symbolic. The ram, the
goat, the horns are all obviously symbolic. At the end of
this text we read that there are 2,300 evenings, and then
something will happen to the sanctuary. The context of
this time period is entirely symbolic, not literal.)
- Are you with me so far? Daniel has read the literal
prophecy of Jeremiah 29, he is praying as instructed,
Gabriel comes and makes reference to the symbolic vision,
which obviously seems to refer back to the 2,300 day
vision of Daniel 8. Let's go forward to Daniel 9 and pick
up the rest of Gabriel's explanation. Read Daniel 9:23-27.
- Part of the context is literal. (The promise to
return in 70 years.) Part of the context is symbolic.
(The 2,300 "morning and evenings" prophecy.) Using
the common sense contextual approach we have learned
so far, should the 70 "sevens" (70 weeks) be
considered literal or symbolic time? (The vision to
be understood from Daniel 8 is symbolic. 70 weeks is
literally a little over a year. Gabriel's message, if
literal time is meant, tells us that the temple will
be rebuilt in less than two years after the order to
rebuild, the Messiah will come in that same two year
period and be killed. During that same two years the
temple will be destroyed and the end will come. It is
a pretty action-packed two years! Literal time just
does not make any sense. As we discussed in Lesson 7
of this series ("70 Weeks"), if we use symbolic time
(a day = a year) then the time period works out
perfectly for the coming of Jesus.)
- One last "loose end." Where do you get the idea that a
prophetic day equals a year? Why not equal a month? A
decade? Or some indeterminate time? (Easton's Bible
Dictionary refers to the fact that Daniel 9:24 is "usually
interpreted on the 'year-day' theory." We read about this
day = year concept in Ezekiel 4:4-6 and Numbers 14:34.)
- Friend, when you study the Bible and you read about time
periods, do you think that you are equipped to determine
whether literal or symbolic time is meant?
- Next week: Rome and Antiochus.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.