In the Olivet Discourse where Jesus responds to the question about the sign of his coming and the end of the age, Jesus focused upon seeing the abomination of desolation mentioned in the prophecies of Daniel. Scholars have long debated what he meant. In Daniel chapter 8, a prophecy is described that refers to 2,300 days, and its meaning would only be understood at the “time of the end.” [Dan. 8:17] When Jesus referred to one of the prophecies of Daniel in connection with the “sign” of the end time, he must have meant that when Daniel’s prophecies are understood, that would be the sign of his coming that the disciples requested.
The chart below shows the relation between the 70 weeks, and the 2,300 days, and “this generation,” which is the generation Jesus represents. It runs off the chart at the right, because it continues forever.
In Daniel 8 a little horn growing out of the head of a goat grows tall, up to the sky, where it casts stars and the host of heaven to the earth, and tramples them. This of course cannot be literal, but has to be interpreted. In verse 14, Daniel hears that the desolation of the sanctuary is to continue for 2,300 days. This specifies the termination of the desolation, but no start date is mentioned. The phrase “unto 2,300 days” indicates that the time extends from when the words were spoken by the angel in the vision, the 3rd year of Belshazzar, about 553 BC. If the days represent years, 23 centuries would end in about 1750 AD.
The following chart identifies ten time periods from the prophecies of Daniel, and Revelation, and the words of Jesus. These prophetic periods are all connected to one another. Three of them began in the lifetime of Daniel, and two were associated with the king Belshazzar. The duration of another is given in terms of units corresponding to the age of Darius when he was made king of Babylon. One key period, illustrated in bright yellow in the chart, is “this generation,” a period that extends from the birth of Jesus, to the end of time, because Jesus was raised from his grave, and lives and reigns forever, and he represents his generation.
David, Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophets asked God, “how long?” They looked for a time when God will no longer hide, [Psalm 13:1; 89:46] when the adversary would no longer reproach the saints, [Psalm 74:10], when God would turn away his anger, [Psalm 79:5] when the wicked would not triumph, [Psalm 94:3-4] when the land would no longer mourn, [Jeremiah 12:4] when the time periods of prophecy would be fulfilled, [Daniel 12:6] when God would save his people, [Habakkuk 1:2] and avenge the blood of the martyrs. [Revelation 6:10]
John William Fletcher (1729-1785) was born in Switzerland, and was named Jean Guillaume de la Fléchère. Having learned English, he went to England in 1750, where he became acquainted with John and Charles Wesley. He was appointed vicar of Madeley, and was involved in the holiness movement in the Church of England, and Methodism. He was the chief systematizer of Wesley’s Methodist theology.
In a letter on prophecy written in 1755 to John Wesley, Fletcher discussed the 2,300 days in Daniel 8, and said they were fulfilled in the year 1750 AD.
The 2,300 days prophecy of Daniel chapter 8 is one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible. It relates to events in the reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, that were to have long lasting effects, that would be especially relevant in the “time of the end.”
This post consists of a table listing some of the time periods of prophecy, with scripture references.
A good understanding of the prophecy of the 70 weeks can greatly strengthen our faith in the gospel, as Daniel’s prophecy is demonstrably accurate, and when understood properly it helps us to understand other difficult topics, such as the significance of the time, times and a half, which in Daniel 12:7 refers to a period that extends to the end of the age, when all of Daniel’s prophecies will be fulfilled.
The chart below combines the four periods of seven times in Leviticus 26, the 70 weeks of Daniel 9, the 2,300 days, and several other time periods mentioned in prophecy.