THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, 2300 DAYS
On the Day of Atonement in ancient Israel there was a ceremonial "final judgment" of the sinners who had brought their sacrifices to the sanctuary throughout the year. These ceremonies were a symbolic “shadow” of the heavenly reality foretold by Daniel 8:14, the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary—“For two thousand three hundred days, then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” This prophecy will be explained in detail in 4: The Day of Atonement and Appendix 5, but at this point it is only necessary to briefly look at two important concepts: when in human history does the “cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary” take place in terms of human history, and what is it that is cleansed?
In Daniel 8 the prophet had a vision in which he saw the history of the empires that oppressed God's people, beginning with the symbols of a ram and a goat. The ram (the Persian Empire v. 20) was defeated and trampled by the goat (the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, v. 21). After the death of Aexander the Greek Empire was divided “toward the four winds of heaven,” becoming the Hellenistic kingdoms. These were superseded by a little horn “which grew exceedingly great…up to the hosts of heaven” (Daniel 8:9,10). A comparison with the visions of Daniel 2 and 7 shows that the horn represents the Roman Empire as it evolved from pagan Rome into the persecuting papal power of the Middle Ages.
Daniel 8 goes on to show how the Roman Catholic Church "took away" Christ’s ministry of intercession in the heavenly sanctuary—“He [the horn] even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host [Christ]; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground” (Daniel 8:11,12). This verse refers to the "army" of medieval priests, monks and theologians who created a system of "salvation" that effectively left Christ and His intercession out of the picture. An angel asked a vital question: “How long will the vision be?” (v. 13). Daniel heard the answer: “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed” (v. 14).
From the context of the vision, extending from the Persian empire “to the time of the end” (v. 17) it is obvious that the 2300 days were not literal days, which would have been just a little more than six years, but are prophetic days, in which a day represents a year. The angel Gabriel tried to explain the meaning, but Daniel was overwhelmed and did not understand what it meant (vs.16,27).
Later Gabriel returned to interpret the vision, particularly the portion concerning the 2300 “days” (Daniel 9:1, 21-23). He explained that 490 years would be designated, or “cut off” from the 2300 years for the Jewish people in order to prepare for the Messiah. Both the 490 years and the 2300 years would begin at the same time with the decree “to restore and build Jerusalem,” which was given by the Persian king Artaxexes in 457 BC. A calculation of the 490 years starting in 457 BC reaches to the crucifixion of Jesus. A calculation of 2300 years starting in 457 BC extends to AD 1844. All of this is explained in much more detail in Appendix 5.
This time frame fits perfectly with the chronology of the Philadelphia period. "The sanctuary" that was to be "cleansed" (Daniel 8:14) does not refer to the earthly sanctuary, which was destroyed in AD 70 and has never been rebuilt, but rather to the heavenly sanctuary and the intercessory work of Christ. The medieval Catholic Church, symbolized by the great horn, had created a system of “salvation” based upon human works and human priests that obscured and desecrated Christ’s intercession in the heavenly sanctuary—“the place of His sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:9-11). The “rubbish” of superstition and tradition would be “cleansed” as Christ entered the final phase of His heavenly ministry, preparing the way for His Second Coming.
It is important to note that the purpose was not to clean the furniture in the temple—it was to provide a final cleansing of the sinners who had been confessing their sins during the year. “For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” (Leviticus 16:30). It was a day of judgment, to determine who among all those who had brought their sacrifices to the temple during the year were continuing to trust in the salvation that had been provided for them.
 Even the animals used to symbolize the historical empires were ones used in the sanctuary. The ram and the goat are both sacrificial animals used on the Day of Atonement. (See Leviticus 16:5).
 The day-for-a-year principle is obvious from the prophecies of Daniel. For example, the seventy weeks (490 days) of Daniel 9 was to start with “the command to restore and build Jerusalem” (which was in 457 BC) and would extend “until Messiah the Prince” (Jesus) (Daniel 9:25). The prophecy of 2,300 days in chapter 8 began with “the kings of Media and Persia” (the Persian kings reigned in the 6th and 5th centuries BC) and would extend “to the time of the end” (Daniel 8:20, 17). The prophecy of “time, times and half a time” (1260 days) in chapter 7 began at the time of the breakup of the pagan Roman Empire and extended “until the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (Daniel 7:22). All these prophecies started in ancient times and continued the number of years the prophecy specified in days. Other scriptural support for this principle is found in Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:5,6, Job 10:5, Psalm 77:5.
 There were actually three decrees given, the first by Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4) which allowed for the building of “the house of the Lord God of Israel”, the decree of Darius (Ezra 6:1-12) which again allowed for the building of the temple after it had been halted by opponents, and the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11-26). However, it was only under the decree of Artaxerxes that provision was made for the building of the walls and city, as specified by the prophesy of Daniel 9:25 (See Nehemiah 2:1-9)
 Many commentators apply the 2300 day prophecy to the history of Antiochus Epiphanes (who ruled from 175-164 BC), the Syrian king who opposed the Jewish worship of God. He tried to impose the worship of Zeus, forcing the Jews to sacrifice swine on the altar (the so-called “transgression of desolation”). In this view, the restoration of the temple services by the Macabees was the cleansing of the sanctuary. But this event does not fit the specifications of the prophecy: 1) The “little horn” was to become “exceedingly great,” “His power shall be mighty,” “He shall prosper and thrive.” But Antiochus Epiphanes was a relatively weak king, certainly not matching those before or after him. 2) The “little horn” king was to arise “in the latter time of their kingdom” (the Greek Seleucid kingdom). But Antiochus was only eighth in a series of 26 kings and his rule was about one hundred years before the end of the dynasty. 3) Daniel was told that “the vision refers to the time of the end” “in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be” (Daniel 8:17, 19). But Daniel 11:40-12:3 makes it clear that the “time of the end” is the end of time when the great time of trouble will take place, God’s people will be delivered and the dead resurrected, in other words, at the Second Coming of Christ. 4) Neither 2,300 days nor 1,150 days (2,300 evening and morning sacrifices, as some commentators interpret this period) are significant periods of time in the career of Antiochus Epiphanes (the chronology is found in 1 Macabees). 5) According to Jesus, the “abomination of desolation” was still future in His day (Matthew 24:15).