Another possibility is that the sanctuary referred to in the vision was not the Jerusalem temple, or even the temple site, but heaven itself. Heaven is also called God's sanctuary in scripture. For example, Psalm 102:19 says, "For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth..."
Heaven is called the dwelling place of God in many scriptures. Isaiah 66:1 refers to heaven as God's throne, the earth his footstool. The reference to stars, and the host of heaven in Daniel 8:9 clearly means things up in sky. But how could anything Antiochus IV accomplished make heaven desolate? Of course, it could not, in a strictly literal sense; but his policies may have influenced man's beliefs about cosmology.
Daniel's prophecy depicts the little horn (the Seleucid king Antiochus IV) of the goat (which represents the Greek empire) growing to the height of the stars, and casting them to the earth, and trampling them. This is certainly a figure. I interpret this as depicting the acts of the little horn, promoting the geocentric cosmological ideas of the Greeks. By the introduction of alterations to some of the cosmological passages of scripture, Antiochus caused the crust of the earth to become identified with the rigid sky of the Greek cosmology, so the Bible was made to present a false cosmology, so our Bibles contain references to the rigid heavenly "firmament" and "waters above the firmament", etc.
Coin depicting Antiochus IV, with enthroned Zeus holding Nike on the reverse. The legend reads "Of king Antiochus, the God Made Manifest." [Figure from A.B. Cook, 1914, Zeus, Cambridge University Press. p. 1189]
This identification of the earth's crust [Hebrew: 'raqia'] of Genesis 1, with the heavenly firmament, meant in effect, the sun, moon, and stars were all relocated on the inside of the earth's crust! So the stars were "cast to the earth" in symbol, by redefining raqia.
The enigmatic "waters above the firmament" (Genesis 1:7) came about as a result of the earth's crust, being identified with the sky, by the insertion of the phrase "and God called the firmament Heaven" in Genesis 1:8, and by numerous alterations in other parts of the scripture which supported and disguised this change.
Many Bible scholars assume Daniel's vision refers to Antiochus desolating the temple site at Jerusalem. Translators usually include the word sacrifice in the text in verses 12 and 13. These verses say the 'daily' or 'constant' was taken away by the little horn. The Hebrew word here is tamiyd which means perpetual or constant. The word sacrifice in these verses is italicized in the KJV, indicating that the word was inserted by translators, and is not present in the Hebrew. However, if the true interpretation of Daniel's prophecy is cosmological, the 'constant' or 'daily' which was taken away probably refers to the knowledge about the earth's diurnal rotation. Its being taken away means this understanding was stamped out or suppressed by the little horn.
The introduction of statements supporting the geocentric cosmology of the Greeks into the scriptures, and their influence, was evidently the "abomination" referred to by Daniel. The presence of statements supporting a flawed cosmology has discredited the Bible in the eyes of many people, and caused great confusion amongst Christians.
The duration of the desolation is specified; the angelic messenger says, in vs 13, "How long will be the vision concerning the Constant, and the transgression of desolation, to give the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" The reply is, "Unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
The vision of the "transgression of desolation" or, to paraphrase, "the transgression that makes the sanctuary desolate," during which "the Constant was taken away," spans 2,300 days. The start date is not mentioned, but the answer "unto 2,300 days" implies the period began when the words were spoken by the angelic messenger. Daniel says he received the vision in the third year of Belshazzar. Obviously, since there were centuries between the time of Belshazzar and the time of Antiochus IV, the 2,300 days must be interpreted as something other than literal days. They could represent years, for example; in that case, they would represent 23 centuries.
If the 2,300 days are taken to mean years, the period ends in the mid eighteenth century, or around 1750 AD.
The sanctuary which was cleansed at that time was the physical universe. Heaven was "cleansed" or "justified" when men discovered the true structure of the universe, and the solar system. This was the scientific revolution. It was probably the most important development in man's history since the crucifixion of Christ, and the establishment of the Church in New Testament times.
The old idea of geocentricity was abandoned and the concept of a rigid heavenly firmament, needed in the geocentric theory to hold the stars fixed in place, was dissolved, and passed away into oblivion, 23 centuries after Daniel's vision. The planetary spheres, and the complicated system of equants and epicycles of Ptolemaic cosmology were swept away like old cobwebs, and replaced by the knowledge of the earth's rotation. This fulfilled the prophecy of Peter, in 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with great noise..." The heavens of Peter's time passed away, with great commotion, about 1750 AD. The "great noise" Peter refers to depicts the rise of skepticism and the abandonment of faith in the divine authorship of the Bible, by many.
The rigid rotating firmament, and all the planetary spheres of the old cosmology were abolished, when the true structure of the universe and solar system was discovered. The theory of universal gravitation and the laws of motion as explained by Isaac Newton were published around the world. It was the time of the "enlightenment." The first volume of Diderot's Encyclopedie was published in 1751.
Coin depicting Antiochus IV, bearded, in the
likeness of Zeus Olympos. Zeus with Nike on
the reverse. [Figure from A.B. Cook, 1914, Zeus,
Cambridge University Press . p. 1191]
The great tragedy was that because of corruptions introduced in the hellenistic period that were initiated by Antiochus IV, the Old Testament scriptures appeared to support the geocentric worldview, and so the Bible was discredited along with the old cosmology.
Scholars who had not understood Daniel's prophecy assumed the problematic cosmological statements in the Bible were original. The Scripture seemed to support a cosmology that intelligent scientific men now knew to be untrue! This was the background to the rising tide of skepticism and disbelief which accompanied the scientific revolution that swept over the world.
Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.