Daniel chapter 8 is a repeat and enlargement of the timeline of Daniel chapters 2 and 7.

Daniel 8

Daniel 7

(sanctuary language)

Lion

Ram

Bear

Goat

Leopard

Horrible Beast

Ten Horns

Horn

Little Horn

Cleansing of Sanctuary ====

Heavenly Judgment (equal entities)

Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

Daniel chapter 2 uses metals to describe the kingdoms. Daniel chapters 7 and 8 use beasts and horns. The animals in Daniel chapter 7 are unclean, carnivorous animals of prey. However, Daniel chapter 8 uses clean animals to describe the same powers and culminates with the prophecy about the cleansing of the sanctuary.

The theme and emphasis of Daniel chapter 8 is the cleansing of the sanctuary. The animals referenced in Daniel 8 are the ram and the he-goat; there is also a reference to horns. In the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, the ram and the he-goat were the animals (Lev. 16:5) used on the Day of Atonement. The horns of the altars (Lev. 16:18, 19) were also cleansed on the Day of Atonement. Furthermore, the phrase “the sanctuary will be cleansed” in Daniel 8:14 is an explicit reference to the Day of Atonement and cleansing of the earthly sanctuary found in Leviticus 16.

Comparing Daniel chapter 7 and chapter 8, the judgment scene in chapter 7 is the same event as the cleansing-of-the-sanctuary event in chapter 8. Both of them follow immediately after the papacy. In our previous lesson, we deduced that the judgment scene in Daniel 7 must take place sometime after 1798 and before the second coming. Therefore, the cleansing of the sanctuary must also take place after 1798 but before the second coming. This leads us to another conclusion: that the reference to the sanctuary must not be the earthly sanctuary, since 1798 is well after Jesus ascended as our High Priest into the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 8:1, 2). It must refer to none other than the heavenly sanctuary.

The cleansing of the earthly sanctuary in Leviticus 16 reveals the systematic process of how God removes sin. When a sinner came to the sanctuary, an innocent animal died in the place of the sinner. The blood was either sprinkled on the veil or put on the horns of the altar in the sanctuary (Lev. 4:6, 7). In other words, even though the sinner was forgiven, the record of those forgiven sins was still kept in the sanctuary, signified by the blood. Therefore, the sanctuary was becoming “polluted” with the record of the forgiven sins of Israel daily. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, all the sins of Israel were removed from the sanctuary; the sanctuary was cleansed. Even as Jesus came as a Lamb, and Jesus is our High Priest in heaven, so the types, symbols, and ceremonies of the Old Testament sanctuary point to the realities of the plan of salvation. The cleansing of the sanctuary on earth in the annual Day of Atonement pointed to the cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven. According to Daniel 7 and 8, this takes place sometime after 1798 and before the second coming of Christ.

The sanctuary process of removing sin points to the reality that it was a systematic process. Sin does not simply disappear and vanish away; for sin to be forever eradicated from the universe, God must follow this process. The cleansing-of-the-sanctuary process alludes to the nature of sin itself. Sin is not a trivial thing; it is a deadly virus that cost God everything to cure and remove from the universe.