Before attempting to address those numbers, we need to understand–as we pointed out in detail in previous Q&As–that we do not know the exact day of Christ’s return. Matthew 24:44 reads: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” In Mark 13:32-33, we read Christ’s words: “But of that DAY and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Neither Christ, nor God’s angels, nor we “know” [present tense!] the DAY and the HOUR of His coming. Christ seems to be saying that we won’t know the exact time — a phrase broader than just a 24-hour-day. The reason for this conclusion is given in Acts 1:6-7:
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ [They understood that Christ would establish the Kingdom of God on this earth, when He returns.] And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know TIMES or SEASONS which the Father has put in His own authority.'”
It is the FATHER’S decision to determine when exactly to send Jesus Christ back to this earth. That is the reason why even Jesus Christ does not know the EXACT time. All attempts to figure out the exact time are also futile in light of Christ’s words in Matthew 24:21-22:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were SHORTENED, no flesh would be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days will be SHORTENED.”
Some have speculated that Christ will return exactly three-and-a-half years after the beginning of the Great Tribulation (and the Church’s protection at a place of safety). This does not take into account, however, that these last days will be shortened. We also read in Hosea 6:1-2: “Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day [not: AFTER three-and-a-half prophetic days or years] He will raise us up.”
With this background, we must be careful when reviewing certain numbers in the book of Daniel. Some have used those numbers to try to figure out, exactly, the DAY of Christ’s return, or at least the YEAR.
(1) 2,300 Evenings and Mornings (Daniel 8:1-14)
Daniel 8:1-14 addresses the time when daily sacrifices will be brought, but subsequently abolished. This will happen just before the return of Christ. In this context, a time frame of 2,300 evenings and mornings is mentioned.
Verses 13 and 14 of Daniel 8 are not all that clear in the New King James Version. Notice how other renditions make the meaning clearer:
The Revised English Bible states: “… ‘How long will the period of this vision last? How long will the regular offering be suppressed and impiety cause desolation? How long will the Holy Place and the fairest of all lands be given over to be trodden down?’ The answer came, ‘For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, then the Holy Place will be restored.'”
The New Jerusalem Bible writes: “… ‘How long is this vision to be…?’ … ‘Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings have gone by; then the sanctuary will have its rights restored.'”
The New International Version reads: “…’How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?’ He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.'”
Notice carefully: 2,300 evenings and mornings were to pass before the sanctuary would be cleansed or restored. During this time span, the daily offerings would be suppressed; the “transgression of desolation” (verse 13) would appear; and the Holy Place or the sanctuary would be trodden down or trampled underfoot.
The “Soncino Commentary” states that the 2,300 evenings and mornings refer to the number of times the offerings, normally brought twice daily, will be omitted, giving a total period of 1,150 DAYS. The Broadman Bible Commentary agrees: “The time is given two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings… These sacrifices would cover 1150 DAYS.”
Now notice the following explanation of the 2,300 evenings and mornings, or 1,150 days, as published in The Plain Truth, August, 1965, The 2300 Days, by Herman L Hoeh:
“At the end of this 1150-day period the sanctuary is to be ‘cleansed’ or ‘justified.’ This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled!… A great European Church-State union will be in control of Palestine and the whole Western World… It will be allowed to tread Jerusalem underfoot and to prohibit ‘the daily sacrifice’ at the sanctuary for 1150 days… The Gentiles will tread down Jerusalem for 1260 days (Rev. 11) — a period which includes the 1150 days. It is the time of the two witnesses who will prophesy in the streets of Jerusalem for 1260 days, then be killed, and — just IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE RETURN OF CHRIST — be raised from the dead in the sight of the people! God will suddenly intervene in human affairs. He will put an end to this wicked idolatrous system. ‘The sanctuary SHALL BE cleansed.'”
We will discuss a problem with this explanation later in this Q&A.
(2) The 1,260 Days, 1,290 Days, and 1,335 Days (Daniel 12:7, 11-12)
In Daniel 12, we are introduced to three additional numbers. In this end-time prophecy (verse 4), we are told, in verses 7, 11-12:
“… it shall be for a time, [two] times, and half a time [or 3 1/2 years or 1,260 days]… all these things shall be finished… And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.”
Please note these statements by Herbert Armstrong, The Time We Are In Now, Pastor General’s Report, November 20, 1979:
“What is this abomination? This refers to Daniel 11:31 and Matthew 24:15. From this time (Daniel 12:11) to Christ’s coming will be 1290 days. Now, verse 12, ‘Blessed is he that waiteth, and comes to the 1335 days.’ Never before have we understood these periods of 1260, 1290 and 1335 days. But it seems evident, now, a blessing is pronounced on us–GOD’S CHURCH–who wait and endure until the 1335 days–approximately 1335 days prior to Christ’s coming. But since no one can know the day or hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day this 1335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED Europe shall appear–the revival of the medieval ‘Holy Roman Empire.’ We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later ‘the beast’s armies’ will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain–and possibly the same day or immediately after, on the United States and Canadian cities.”
To summarize at this point, the explanation, as set forth above, under (1) and (2), operates from the assumption that all the days end with the return of Christ. It counts backwards from the time of the return of Christ, reaching the following conclusions:
(a) 1,335 days before Christ’s return: The organized Work ends
(b) 1,290 days before Christ’s return or 45 days after the Work ends: The abomination of desolation is set up
(c) 1,260 days (3 1/2 years) before Christ’s return or 75 days after the Work ends or 30 days after the abomination of desolation is set up: The Great Tribulation begins and Jerusalem is occupied by Gentiles [Compare Daniel 7:25–3 1/2 years or 1,260 days of persecution of the saints.]
(d) 1,150 days before Christ’s return or 90 days after the beginning of the Great Tribulation, or 120 days after the abomination of desolation is set up: The daily sacrifices are taken away (Note again Herman Hoeh’s article, stating that “at the end of the 1150 days, the sanctuary will be cleansed”).
(e) However, we should be able to see that this explanation fails to reconcile an important discrepancy:
According to this explanation, the sacrifices would still be ongoing, even though the Great Tribulation had already begun and the city of Jerusalem had already been occupied (for 110 days), AND the abomination of desolation had already been set up (for 140 days). But Daniel 12:11 says that 1,290 days will expire AFTER the daily sacrifices will be taken away AND the abomination of desolation has been set up.
(3) Other Interpretations of Daniel’s Numbers
What are some other possibilities as to how to understand the numbers in Daniel 8 and 12?
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, commenting on Daniel 12:11-12, point out that historically, it took 1,290 days from the profanation of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes (in the month Ijar of the year 145 B.C.) until the restoration of the worship by Judas Maccabeus on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month [Chisleu] of 148 B.C. Then, FORTY-FIVE DAYS more elapsed before Antiochus’ death in the month Shebat of 148 B.C., “so ending the Jews’ calamities…”
Applying these facts prophetically, the commentary suggests that “Jesus at His coming will deliver the Jews [better: Israel and Judah]. An interval elapses, during which their consciences are awakened to repentance and faith in Him. A second interval elapses in which Israel’s outcasts are gathered, and then the united blessing takes place. These stages are marked by the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days.”
Scofield Reference Notes offer a similar explanation, commenting on Daniel 12:12, as follows:
“Three periods of ‘days’ date from the ‘abomination’ (that is, The blasphemous assumption of deity by the Beast)… Twelve hundred and sixty days [pass until] the destruction of the Beast… This is also the duration of the great tribulation… Dating from the same event is a period of 1290 days, and addition of thirty days… Again forty-five days are added… No account is directly given of that which occupies the interval of seventy-five days between the end of the tribulation and the full blessing of verse 12… It is suggested that the explanation may be found in the prophetic descriptions of the events following… Armageddon… The Beast is destroyed, and Gentile world-dominion ended, by the smiting of the ‘Stone cut out without hands’ at the end of the 1260 days, but the scene is, so to speak, filled with the debris of the image which the ‘wind’ must carry away before full blessing comes in [compare Daniel 2:35].”
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible makes similar comments to Daniel 12:11:
“… there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days; from the beginning of the reign of antichrist to the end of it are one thousand two hundred and sixty days or years, or forty two months, which is the same… here thirty days… are added, which begin where the other end, and is the time allotted for the conversion of the Jews [better Israel and Judah], and other things, making way for the kingdom of Christ; and which the reign of antichrist was an hindrance of, but should now immediately take place.”
The Ryrie Study Bible comments on Daniel 12:11-12:
“… Antichrist will abolish the Jewish sacrifices… From that time to the end will be 1,290 days. Normally 3 1/2 years (of 360 days per year) would include only 1,260 days. The extra 30 days mentioned here allow for the judgments which take place after the second coming of Christ… Since the one who lives 75 days after the second advent … is called Blessed, this must mark the beginning of the actual functioning of Christ’s millennial kingdom.”
Finally, let us also note these statements by the Broadman Bible Commentary, on Daniel 12:11-12:
“The taking away of the continual burnt offering and the erection of the abomination that makes desolate… from that time there will be 1290 days… Revelation 11:3; 12:6 have a figure of 1260 (3 1/2 years). Since the first half of v. 11 [of Daniel 12] refers to the perversion of the Temple and the abolishment of sacrifice, it would be logical that the 1290 days would refer to the time that the worship would be reestablished and the Temple rededicated to Yahweh… Another dating is introduced in v. 12 [of Daniel 12], 1335 days, which adds 45 days to the last figure… Some… suggest that the first date [refers] to the deliverance from persecution and the second date to the time that the reign of righteousness would be set up.”
According to the opinion of the above-quoted commentaries, a possible future scenario could unfold, as follows:
(a) After 1,260 days of the beginning of the Great Tribulation, Christ returns, ending the Great Tribulation and fighting on the same day of His return at Jerusalem with the armies of the kings of the world, including the beast and the false prophet.
(b) 30 days later (1,290 days), Christ will have judged and banished Satan and awakened the surviving Israelites and Jews to repentance and brought them back to the Promised Land; and the worship in the cleansed Temple will resume.
(c) 45 days later (1,335 days), the peaceful rule of Christ will begin, after the hordes from the east will have been destroyed [compare Ezekiel 38]. As Antiochus died 1,335 days after he had profaned the first temple, so the hordes from the east (who collaborated with the beast at the very end, compare Revelation 16:12) will be destroyed 1,335 days after the third temple has been profaned.
(d) But what about the 1,150 days, since the sanctuary will be cleansed 1150 days after the sacrifices have been taken away?
The Bible says that the sacrifices will be taken away, and that 1,150 days later, the sanctuary will be cleansed. It does not say, when exactly it will be cleansed, or that sacrifices will resume right away after the cleansing. It does not say either, that at the end of the 1,150 days, Christ will return. Rather, it says that sacrifices will be given prior to Christ’s return, and then they will be taken away–around the same time, when the beast and the false prophet set up the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place (a rebuilt Temple). It is true that Christ will ultimately cleanse the sanctuary or Temple, but this could happen some time after He has returned.
(e) Nevertheless, the above-stated opinions also face a big problem–the fact that they all presuppose that we can start counting from a particular given date (be it 1,260 days or 1,290 dates), and that at the end of one of these particular dates, Christ will return. However, as we have seen, nobody knows or can know the exact DAY of Christ’s return, and the time of the Great Tribulation (normally referred to as lasting for 3 1/2 years) might be shortened.
(4) Conclusion of the Matter
We must emphasize that we do not know the exact meaning of the 1,150 days–or of the 1,260 days, 1,290 days or 1,335 days–but there is certainly importance attached to them. But the importance is not that Christ will return exactly 1,150 days after the abolishment of the sacrifices. Remember, too, that the 1,150 days refer not only to the time of the abolishment of the sacrifices, but also to the time when the abomination of desolation is set up and the Holy Place is being trodden under foot (note again Daniel 8:13-14)–and as we have seen in Daniel 12:11, these events seem to last longer than just 1,150 days.
In conclusion, we believe that to our knowledge, NOBODY understands at this time the full meaning of these numbers in the book of Daniel, even though some erroneously claim that they do. However, we should not try to read certain human interpretations into them. God will reveal the meaning to His true servants in His due time (Daniel 12:4, 9-10). Let us wait patiently for God, and let us not try to step ahead of Him–only to become embarrassed later when our human interpretations do not come true.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link