Sabbath School Lesson for June 6-12, 2020


The important things to know about how to safely and accurately interpret Bible prophecy are…

  • What is the historicist method, and why is it preferable to other prophetic methods of interpretation? (Sunday)
  • How do we know when the day-for-a-year principle is appropriate? (Monday)
  • Why is knowing about the “little horn” power important? (Tuesday)
  • What prophecies support the investigative judgment, and what does it mean for our world today? (Wednesday)
  • What is the value of typology in interpreting prophecies? (Thursday)


Bible prophecy has always been one of the most difficult areas for Bible students to understand. Yet, we must know as much about how this unique interpretive task is done as possible. After all, about 30 percent of the Bible is prophetic in nature.

We mustn’t ignore prophecy in the Bible, because there are distinct advantages to our understanding it. Jesus Himself said, ” ‘And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.’ “ John 14:29 NKJV

Living so near the end of time as we do, we have great advantage in seeing many things come to pass that were predicted in Scripture. Knowing that prophecy leads us to our final redemption…

  1. keeps the church looking forward to the Second Coming
  2. give us a sense of urgency and mission
  3. calls us to prepare for the great event of Jesus’ return

The pillars of historicist interpretation, used by early reformers such as John Wycliffe and Martin Luther, are what gives the Seventh-day Adventist church its identity and mission.

Memory Text: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14 KJV

This pivotal text is vital to knowing that judgment in the heavenly sanctuary has already begun. As the sanctuary service was designed to teach us, the Day of Atonement is fast approaching, and now is the time to prepare our hearts for our soon-coming Lord.

Hymn of the Week: “Standing on the Promises”, p. 518

Sunday: Historicism and Prophecy

Historicism is seeing the linear progression of history, from past and present to the future, in the major prophecies of the Bible. The easiest way to see how this method of interpretation works for biblical prophecies is in the second chapter of Daniel. Here, the interpretation for the different symbols are clearly shown to represent kings and kingdoms, beginning with Babylon, which was succeeded with the Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires.

The visions given to Daniel in chapters 7 and 8 cover the same kingdoms with increasing detail. And the ones given to John in Revelation additionally cover history from pagan and papal Rome, up to the coming of Jesus and the completion of our redemption.

Historicism was, therefore, how the Protestant Reformers saw prophecy unfolding, with papal Rome playing a major role and the little horn power representing the papacy. There are several identifying marks of the little horn that brought them to that conclusion.

Two Jesuit priests came up with alternate methods of interpreting prophecy, however, during what was called the Counter Reformation in the 1500s. Luis de Alcazar moved all the prophetic events as already in the past (known as the preterism method of interpretation). And Francisco Ribera moved all of them to the future (called futurism). Both methods cleared the papacy of any identification with the political and religious powers thus represented in biblical prophecy.

Unfortunately, most Catholics, and later even the Protestants, embraced interpretations based on preterism, and more recently, since the Scofield Reference Bible (in 1906), on futurism. The Seventh-day Adventist church, however, has remained true to the historicism method taught by the first Protestant Reformers.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Daniel 2:36-40

  • How has there been a continuous succession of powers after Babylon that make it easy to see the value of the historicist method of interpreting prophecy?

Daniel 7:16-19

  • What did the four beasts represent in the vision of Daniel 7?
  • Why was Daniel particularly troubled by the fourth beast?

Daniel 7:23-25

  • How does the papacy fit the description of the “little horn” that came out of the fourth beast power?

Monday: The Year-Day Principle

Key texts, such as Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, do indicate the year-day principle is sometimes needed. The context of the prophecies themselves help us see when to safely apply this principle.

Here are some things to look for when deciding whether a day represents a year:

  1. the use of prophetic symbols are present, suggesting that the time periods might also be symbolic
  2. the prophecies foretold must clearly occur over a long span of time
  3. there may be unusual ways of expressing the time in question, such as the “2,300 evenings and mornings” of Daniel 8:14

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Numbers 14:34

  • Why do you think God was particularly specific in telling them that a day would represent a year in this instance during the Exodus?

Ezekiel 4:6

  • Why was it necessary for God to alert them that a day represented a year in this case?

Daniel 8:14, 26

  • Why is it reasonable to interpret these 2,300 “days” as years in the context of this vision?

Tuesday: Identifying the Little Horn

Having experienced firsthand all the worst characteristics of the medieval Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformers had no problem identifying the prophecies that spoke about the little horn power in Daniel 7 and 8 as referring to the office of the papacy.

Those marks of identification they particularly noted during the Middle Ages were…

  • it was a persecuting power (Daniel 7:21, 25 and 8:13)
  • it was self-exalting and blasphemous (Daniel 7:8, 20, 25 and 8:11, 25)

From our present-day standpoint, we can also see that the time period this political/religious power held sway was exactly as the prophecies foretold. Daniel 7:26 cryptically mentions that it held great power for “a time and times and half a time”. See also Revelation 11:2, 3, 12:6, 14, and 13:5. The numbers all add up the same: 1,260 days, which unmistakably must mean 1,260 years, using the day-for-a-year principle.

The Roman Catholic Church did hold a unique form of religious/political power during the years of 538-1798 A.D. One of Napoleon’s generals took the pope captive in 1798, thus ending the power the church had enjoyed for the previous 1,260 years.

And let’s not forget how this little horn tried to “change times and law”. The Catholic church catechism, that teaches believers what’s in the Bible, omitted the second commandment about having graven images. The church has also admitted to changing the day to worship from the Bible Sabbath to the first day of the week, Sunday.

Understanding the three angels’ messages in Revelation 14:6-12 becomes easier when we correctly interpret the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. These messages basically tell us to…

  1. Worship the Creator.
  2. Leave the confusing teachings of churches who have changed God’s law and times.
  3. Follow God, rather than the deceptive teachings of Satan.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Daniel 7:21, 25 and 8:13

  • Why would it have been easy for the Protestant Reformers to see the papacy as the “notable horn” that grew out of the final beast in Daniel’s visions here?

Revelation 14:6-12

  • How does understanding the identity of the papacy in these prophecies help us understand the three messages from heaven given in the last days?
  • What exactly are these messages telling us?

Wednesday: The Investigative Judgment

Many have accepted the concept of an investigative judgment without fully understanding the mathematical calculations that determined its beginning in 1844. The year 1844, however, is reasonably thought to be the end of the 2,300 day prophecy in Daniel 8:14.

People around the world were preparing for the Second Coming in 1844, assuming that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant the cleansing of the earth at the end of time. William Miller began preaching that message in the 1800’s and much of the world accepted his conclusions.

After 1844 and the bitter disappointment that Jesus hadn’t come, a few of those early Adventists began to study more about the sanctuary. After all, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the event spoken of in the verse Miller had targeted (Daniel 8:14).

Understanding the serious nature of the the Day of Atonement service in the earthly sanctuary, also called the cleansing of the sanctuary, helped them see the investigative work that must occur before that great Day. After all, Revelation 22:12 tells us our reward (who will be saved and who will not) will already be determined when He returns.

The camp of Israelites did much soul searching prior to that yearly Day of Atonement service, which symbolized the coming Judgment Day of the Lord. We, too, therefore, are in that final preparation time just prior to the Lord’s return.

After all, before a judge delivers his sentence, there must be an investigation going on about the crime. It just makes sense that God would allow the same kind of fair justice system to prevail for the whole universe to see that His judgments are just and fair. God is now determining the fate of His people on earth, those who have been laid to rest, and finally, those who are still living.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Daniel 7:9, 10 and Revelation 20:11, 12

  • How are these scenes related and what do they tell us about the nature of the work of the sanctuary at this time?

Daniel 8:14 and Leviticus 16:30-34

  • What is the duty of God’s followers prior to the Day of Atonement, and why?
  • How should we be occupying ourselves during these final days of earth’s history?

Hebrews 8:5 and Revelation 14:7

  • Why is it reasonable to believe that some kind of judgment is occurring in the heavenly sanctuary at this time?

Thursday: Typology as Prophecy

Symbolism differs from typology in this way. A symbol in the Bible, such as the he-goat in the vision Daniel saw in chapter 8, gives us something symbolic (not real) to represent something actual, which in this case was the kingdom of Greece (Daniel 8:21).

Typology, on the other hand, uses actual, historical people, things, or events to point forward to a greater reality in the future. For example, there are many types in the Old Testament that see fulfillment in the greater reality of things that happened to Christ in the New Testament (called their antitype).

When Jesus came to John the Baptist for baptism, John immediately recognized that the lamb, offered for so many years on their altars, represented Jesus, the Lamb of God, our supreme Sacrifice.

Some types even point to things that happen to us in these last days. The experience of the Hebrews during their wilderness experience should inspire us as we endure temptation and deprivation, as we look forward to entering another Land of Promise, the reality of our heavenly home.

Bible Verses to Ponder and Share:

Matthew 12:38-41

  • Why do people ask for signs? Must these always be miraculous signs?
  • What signs in the story of Jonah should they have recognized?

John 3:14, 15 and Numbers 21:8, 9

  • Why was a serpent used to represent Jesus? How would a serpent have made the people think of their sins?

1 Corinthians 10:1-6

  • How can the wilderness experience help us endure the temptations we still face today?

Friday: What We Learned This Week

Our faith must be grounded, not only in the past, in what God has done throughout history. But it must also be grounded in the future, as revealed in biblical prophecy. To understand only one and not the other, leaves us with huge gaps in our knowledge about God and His plan for our redemption.

Whether you’ve been familiar with prophecies in the Bible most of your life, or you are just learning about them for the first time, there is value in understanding and reviewing them as often as you are able. Hopefully, the tools and principles we studied this week have helped or reaffirmed what you know about prophecy.

There is additional guidance online in doing this. You might find the webpage a great help in getting a firm grasp of these prophecies, especially the ones in Daniel.

Another article by Ed Dickerson is helpful in understanding current events and how natural disasters, wars, and even the current pandemic fit into the prophecies about the end of the world. Read his short blog at

Next Week’s Lesson: Dealing With Difficult Passages

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to

Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at

Also, Teresa is livestreaming daily about the lesson on her Facebook page