Home > Book of Daniel, The 2,300 days > John Fletcher and Daniel’s 2,300 days

John Fletcher and Daniel’s 2,300 days

December 8, 2011

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.

Fletcher thought that the sanctuary that was cleansed in that year was the church, which he believed had by then become free of many un-Scriptural pollutions and traditions.

The year 1750 AD was a pivotal point in the scientific revolution, and in astronomy. Around that time, the scientific writings of Sir Isaac Newton were translated, and works expounding the new science began to become available in various languages. Newton’s discoveries were confirmed and became generally accepted. Men everywhere around the world began to believe and understand that there was no rigid heavenly firmament, carrying the stars around the earth. The diurnal rotation was attributed to the earth instead. The planetary spheres of the old cosmology were abolished. This was the cleansing of the sanctuary that Daniel’s prophecy foretold.

Although he lived in the midst of this revolution in science, later called the “Enlightenment,” Fletcher did not understand the astronomical and cosmological significance of 1750 AD, but he realized that this date must have fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy.

Below is part of Fletcher’s letter to Wesley in which he refers to the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, and identifies 1750 as the time of its fulfillment. [1]

Here the prophet heard a saint asking another saint, How long the church should be thus corrupted and desolate? And the answer was, till the end of 2300 days, and then the sanctuary should be cleansed.–Here is a number given; a number by which we may know that we are come to the very time the Spirit of God had in view: a number which fixes the beginning of the things that are coming upon the earth: let us take some notice of it.

1. When shall the sanctuary begin to be cleansed, in such a measure, as to deserve to be taken notice of by the Spirit of God? At the end of 2300 days; which are proved to be prophetic days, and to signify each a whole year, by the prophecy of the seventy weeks, and many other places of Scripture. 2. What is the epocha from which we must begin to reckon those 2300 years? It is evident it must be the time of the vision itself, which the prophet has taken particular care to observe; for in the first verse of the chapter, “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, (says he) a vision appeared to me, even unto me, Daniel.”

3. But how can we know certainly the time of Belshazzar’s reign? I must own this question is not so easily answered as the others; but it can be resolved, with some knowledge of history and chronology: for if we compare the writings of sacred and profane historians; if we I trust the canons of Ptolemy, which have been tried by astronomical observations, with Petrarius, Usserius, Prideaux, and others, we shall agree that Belshazzar (the same whom the historians call Niricasoolassar, or Neriglissor,) having killed Evilmerodac, the son of Nabocolassar, or Nebuchadnezzar, seized upon the Assyrian throne, A. M. 3476, i. e. 559 years before Christ, or, as Torniel will have it, about twenty years after: because asserting that Evilmerodac (instead of two years, which the above-mentioned chronologists give to his reign) enjoyed the diadem twenty-three years, which would make the reign of his successor, our Belshazzar, begin about 538 years before Christ. If we admit the first opinion, which is more probable, it follows that the third year of Belshazzar’s reign falls in 556 years before Christ, which is the epocha wanted; add to it four or five years, on account of the difference of the Judaical year of 360 days, and ours that is 365, and above; add three years more for the time that Belshazzar had reigned when Daniel had the vision, and we have about 550, which being subtracted from 2300, give the year 1750, for the cleansing of the sanctuary; or for such a tolerable progress in the cleansing of it, as may be taken notice of, and attract the eyes of all those who wait for this cleansing of God’s church.

4. If any one should ask, what happened so remarkably about that time, as to shew that the sanctuary is in some degree cleansed, or that this important work is really carried on with any tolerable success; I would answer, That God was working at that time, and still works, such a work as never was seen since the Apostle’s days; he has sent some chosen servants of his, both in these kingdoms and abroad, who, by the manifest assistance of God’s Spirit, have removed the filthy doctrine of justification by works, and the outward Christless performances of moral duties, which pollute the sanctuary, and make it an abomination to the Lord. The Holy Ghost is given, and the love of God is shed abroad in the hearts of believers, as in the days of old; and the Lord has taken to himself servants, that will rejoice to stand boldly for the truth, to remain unshaken in the evil day, and to fight manfully his battles, when he shall call them to it. I own that the cleansing is but begun, but this first revolution may, in all probability, be the forerunner of a greater: God has called; a few have obeyed his call; the generality still shut their eyes and ears against the tender invitations of their Lord, and continue to pollute the sanctuary, and to look on the blood of the Lamb as an unholy thing. Shall not God carry on his work? Shall the creature still resist his Creator, and the arm of flesh be stronger than the living God? Not so: he will not always strive with obdurate hearts: What the gentle breathings of his Spirit cannot perform, he will do with war, sword and fire, plague and famine, tribulation and anguish: he is going to gird on his sword, and his right hand shall teach him terrible things. Nations refuse the sceptre of his mercy: what remains then, but to rule them with an iron sceptre, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel?

5. If this answer, satisfying as it is, do not content those, who will not believe even what they see, I would answer farther, that the calculation above mentioned is so far from being made to reach farther than chronology will allow, (as I have heard some object) that it might admit of an addition of twenty-one years, according to Torniel, as I said before: which would put off the cleansing of the Sanctuary till 1770. Chronologists may mistake in a few years, but cannot err upon the whole; and as God is true and faithful, so it is manifest, that the prophecy of 2300 years must be fully accomplished in our days, or those of the next generation.

6. To set the argument, drawn from the number of 2300, in a clear light, it is necessary to prove, that it was not designed to shew the time of the cleansing the sanctuary by Judas Maccabaeus and his brethren, from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes; nor the cleansing of Jesus and his Apostles, who freed the Church of God from Pharasaical hypocrisy, and Sadducean profaneness; nor lastly, that of Luther, and other reformers, who cleansed the outside, and washed white the sanctuary, but were not able to remove the filth of unbelief that remained within. Many arguments might be drawn from the number itself, which agrees with no cleansing but that in these days; but it will be easier to draw them from the general drift of the prophecy, and the context of the chapter. Observe first these words, “At the time of the end shall this vision be fulfilled,” where the word end signifies plainly, the catastrophe of God’s drama, the last act of the wicked tragedy men have been acting for near 6000 years, and the *** of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, in the 19th verse, the angel said to Daniel, “Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation, for at the time appointed the end shall be.” What end is here spoken of, if it be not that of God’s universal scheme?

Ponder also those words, (verse 26,) “Wherefore shut thou up the vision, for it shall be for many days:” which agrees far better with our times than those of Antiochus, Paul, or Luther. Observe again these words of an angel to Daniel, chap. x. “I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days,” for the vision is for many days; where it is plain that latter days here, and end, in the 8th chapter, signify but one and the same thing. The angel, according to his promise, tells the prophet in the 11th chapter, many particulars of those things that shall soon come upon us, and of that time of trouble, which will be matchless and unheard of before; “Then, (add the angel,) thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book:” and who is the man, so little conversant with history, as to say, that here is meant the prosecution of Antiochus, which, though fierce for a while, by no means answers the Angel’s words; or the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; for, though the troubles of the Jews were beyond expression, yet the Spirit of God had a far more distant prospect, as can be proved by1 the assurance the angel gives Daniel, that “at that time his people should be delivered; which neither was then, nor has been hitherto: the Jews sighing still in a shameful banishment, and expecting yet that promised deliverance. An argument as strong as the foregoing, may be drawn from the first resurrection, which is to take place soon after that deliverance, “when many of them that sleep shall awake;” whereas, at the second and last resurrection, not only many, but all the souls of dead men shall re-enter their bodies: but more concerning this afterwards.


John Fletcher. The works of Rev. John Fletcher, Volume 2. T. Allman, 1836. pp. 567-569.