The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


IV. Sound Prophetic Principles but Fallacious Application

The pathetic eagerness with which the leading Jewish scholars of the centuries sought to “read the riddle of redemption,” and from the prophecies to discover the hour of the Messiah’s promised advent, must be apparent. Yet this candid survey presents a dismal procession of hopeless, disappointing futility, and fallacious application. Speculation on the time of the Messiah’s coming overshadowed all else. PFF2 238.6


Although the Jews clearly perceived the sound year-day principle of time prophecy, 90 they rejected the basic factor of the death of the prophesied Messiah in the fourth decade of the Christian Era as the key. The seventy weeks of years were never once rightly located by them during the seventeen centuries surveyed. And, since they failed to connect the seventy weeks with the 2300 year-days, from which they were cut off, neither the true beginning nor the correct ending of the 2300 years was ever obtained in all the Jewish attempts to calculate their chronological placement. PFF2 239.1

The second error was this: Failing to grasp the papal fulfillment of the prophesied Little Horn of the fourth, or Roman, beast in the generally and correctly understood series of prophetic world powers—Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome-they likewise failed to locate correctly the true time boundaries of any one of the 1260, 1290, or 1335 year-day periods that are related to the key 1260 and the 2300-year periods. PFF2 239.2

Passionately longing for the Messiah, they fervidly sought some beginning date that would bring the terminus near to their own day—not to mention the Sabbatical seventh—thousand-years element frequently brought in to determine the end, nor the attempts of some to lengthen or adjust the literality of the stated time periods presented by the prophet Daniel through employing the vagaries of Gematria or Cabala. Such has been the pathetic story of the futility and error of Jewish application of time prophecy. But these twin keys—the seventieth week as fulfilled in the death of Jesus the Messiah, and then tied to the 2300-year prophecy of the cleansing of the sanctuary, and the 1260 years of papal ecclesiastical supremacy—were the clues that enabled Christian expositors, living in these same centuries, to come first to be increasingly accurate, and then finally to sound and irrefutably true conclusions. PFF2 239.3


Nevertheless, it was the Jews who, hundreds of years before the cross, first applied the year-day principle to the seventy weeks. And it was the Jews who first perceived the fourth empire, in the prophetic series, to be Rome. 91 These were their two great contributions. Such was part of the “every way” advantage of the Jew. (Romans 3:1, 2.) What a tragedy that with these absolutely sound principles-that were simply carried over into the Christian church, there to find such successful lodgment—they failed to keep in the lead! PFF2 240.1

As disclosed by the Chronological Table on page 194, at least ten Jewish expositors, between Nahawendi in the eighth century and Tobiah ben Eliezer in the eleventh, applied the year-day principle to the longer time periods before Abbot Joachim, of Floris, in 1190, first applied it to the 1260 days. And some seven Jewish scholars-between the same Nahawendi in the eighth century and Nahmanides in the thirteenth—applied the year-day principle to the 2300 days before Villanova in 1297, and probably two more before Cusa in 1440. Truly this is a remarkable record, constituting a separate but strongly confirmatory line of competent witnesses to the fundamental year-day principle of Biblical time prophecy, of the same race and language as those of the prophet Daniel himself, whom they studied. PFF2 240.2

Furthermore, while Catholic Archbishop Eberhard II, of Salzburg, first applied the Little Horn of Daniel 7 to the historical Papacy, the Jewish Don Isaac Abravanel, counselor successively to the kings of Portugal and Spain, similarly applied the Little Horn to the Papacy in 1496-before the Protestant applications began early in the next century. Yet this was the climactic point of the prophecy of Daniel 7. But here again there was independent harmony of witness before the voices of Protestant Reformation expositors were added. Such is the panorama of Jewish interpretation in the Christian Era. PFF2 240.3