|Prophets & Prophecy - Advanced|
| North American Division
|| Skill Level 3
Year of Introduction: 2017
Unlike some honors with definitive answers, the Prophets and Prophecy honor will not have an answer sheet. Rather it will include a set of teacher's notes that have suggestions for teaching this honor and possible methods for answering the questions. Prophecy can often have more than one interpretation. Many biblical prophecies are known to have dual meanings; others may gain duality as history continues to unfold. It would be presumptuous to assume singular answers for a topic this complex. As new light continues to pour in and illuminate the subject of prophecy, the fulfillment of these questions can be expected to continue to grow.
The fact that God would reveal thousands of years of history to his people and allow them to understand what was to transpire reveals another facet of His indescribable love for us. Prophecy can also be a difficult and demanding taskmaster; prophetic truth continues to grow, and understanding prophetic meaning is often unfolded slowly over time. As students of prophecy, we are required to examine the interpretations associated with prophecy in the second half of the nineteenth century and judge these interpretations against newly revealed information from archaeology and historical research. Caution is urged for the teachers of this honor, so as to be aware that certain dates, such as AD 538, that were once considered gospel, are now widely questioned and likely inaccurate. This does not mean that the 1260-day prophecy is any less relevant or even that the traditional Adventist interpretation is inaccurate; it just means that the start and end dates may not hold to the absolutely certainty as once believed. IT IS IMPORTANT to allow your students to understand that history and the unfolding of current events continue to shed light on prophetic interpretation. If you do not consider new light, prophecy may become an obstacle rather than a supportive pillar in the development of religious belief. Please be honest with your students and let them know that we do not have certainty in all of our understandings. However, God has promised that if we undertake prayerful consideration of these prophecies, He will send His Spirit to enlighten and guide us in our journey.
1. Complete the Prophets & Prophecy Honor.
This Wiki has a page with instructions and tips for earning the Prophets & Prophecy honor.
Teacher's Notes: This honor should only be attempted by those that desire to be serious students of the Bible. The Prophets & Prophecy honor contains many factoids and is a good introduction to biblical and extra-biblical prophets and prophecy. This advanced honor is much deeper, the committee would consider this honor a skill level 3+ if such a nomenclature existed. Hence, do not have your students start with this advanced honor until you are sure they understand the basic facts covered in the Prophets & Prophecy honor, and until you believe they are able to study and think for themselves concerning biblical and denominational truth.
In addition, as a teacher, please be sure that you are well acquainted with the prophetic material in this honor. This honor requires dedication, deep thought, and intentional prayer to lead. Prophecy has an incredible power in a person's life -- and as the teacher, your goal is to present biblical prophecy in an honest, open, fair, illuminating, deep, and positive light. 1 Peter 3:15 is a great reminder of how God can guide your efforts as you prepare for this time with your Pathfinders/group.
2. What were the roles of a prophet in strengthening the church?
Teacher Notes: There are a great many more prophets than the ones whose names title books of the Bible, and many of the prophets had roles associated with their close relationship to God beyond their prophetic calling. It is important that the student of prophecy understand that the role of a prophet was often an active one that went far beyond just sharing the prophecy handed down from God.
An example list of Old Testament Prophets:
- Adam, Seth, Enos [Enosh], Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Gad, Elihu, Moses, Joshua, Balaam, Deborah, Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Ahijah the Shilonite, Jahaziel, Elijah, Elisha, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Obed, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
An example list of New Testament Prophets:
- John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Revelator, Simon Peter, Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus), Agabus, Silas, and Barnabas.
Each of these prophets had messages from God to warn or strengthen those that would listen to the words of God. Sometimes they took even more direct action.
- Noah not only preached the Word, but also built the Ark that would ultimately provide shelter from the God’s wrath upon the wicked.
- Samuel not only shared God’s warnings, he was the last judge of Israel and as such was a political leader, a supreme judge, a military leader and the spiritual leader of the people.
- Elisha was a prophet, a teacher, a performer of miracles (including raising the dead), a preacher, and a priest.
- Jesus was a prophet, teacher, miracle worker, and most importantly, Savior.
- The apostle John was a church leader, the writer of multiple books of the Bible (only one of which is a prophetic book), and caretaker of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
3. Explain the various roles Moses fulfilled for God and how some prophets can be more task-oriented rather than prediction-oriented.
Teacher's Notes: Some people question whether Moses was a prophet. Think of the several interesting prophetic offerings beyond the messages to the Pharaoh during the time of deliverance. In Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Moses writes that God promised another prophet like Moses. In Deuteronomy 28:49-52, Moses presents a chilling prophecy that appears to be fulfilled by the A.D. 70 sacking of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus. In Deuteronomy 29:23, Moses prophesies about Israel becoming a wasteland and foreshadows an almost two-millennia period where Israel has no homeland.
An examination of Moses shows that prophets had a plethora of jobs to fulfill for God. Some of the roles that Moses fulfilled include:
- The undisputed physical manifestation of God’s theocratic leadership of His people
- A judge
- An author and poet
- A military strategist
- An archetype of the Savior - Moses offered his own life and subsequent salvation to God as a sacrifice to protect the fallen children of Israel (Exodus 32). While Moses’s suggestion would not have been sufficient to save Israel from their sins, we see Jesus’s sacrificial love for humankind personified in Moses. Moses was raised from the dead, before the death of Jesus on the cross, as a first fruit of the coming glorification of God’s people.
- A high priest – before Aaron, Moses was the person that laid supplication before God on behalf of the children of Israel.
4. List all of the roles of the following prophets:
- Advisor to kings
- Military leader
- Religious leader prior to prophetic message
- Husband and father to the unfaithful and unloved
- Exhorter of the king
- Mentor to Elisha
- Performer of miracles
f. John the Revelator
- Church leader
- Performer of miracles
- Military advisor
h. Ellen G.White
- Church leader
- Exhorter of early leaders
5. Are all of the writings or utterances of the prophets inspired by the Lord? Cite examples and phrases that give clues to support your answer.
Teacher's Notes: While all true prophecy comes from God, not all utterances of the prophet are inspired. Prophets are human messengers from God and as such, there are instances where prophets speaking from their own wisdom would preach or write non-prophetic messages. This is an important distinction, because thinking that every word from a prophet's mouth or hand is from God has led many to stray from the church or to denounce a person’s prophetic influence. There are many cases were prophets share writings that may not be prophetic.
- Balaam – God would not let him curse the children of Israel. However, in Numbers 31:1, we see that Balaam did advise Balak, king of the Moabites, on a methodology to separate Israel from God. In subsequent chapters, the Israelites stray from God through the auspices of the fertility worship of false gods and from the women of Moab. Clearly, Balaam’s advice to Balak is not an utterance inspired by God.
- Daniel – There are portions of the book of Daniel that are prophetic and other portions that are historic first person or third person narratives. Clearly, Daniel receives messages from God during the prophetic portions of the book (Chapters 2, 7, 8, 10-11), but Daniel did not need to be in a prophetic role to write the story of the three faithful Hebrew youths on the plains of Dura, or the story in Daniel 1 concerning the eating of the king’s food.
- Ellen G. White – There has been much consternation concerning plagiarism in the Conflict of the Ages series. Ellen White was a church leader and a prolific author, as well as being God’s prophet. When writing, she often uses phrases similar to "and I was taken into vision" to delineate that which was shown to her by God, from that which is her own writing. When judging writing, a sense of historical context must be kept in mind of the rules of plagiarism when the writing was undertaken. There are examples where Ellen White "lifted" significant passages of historical description from other authors. This was a common practice in the late 19th / early 20th centuries. However, the fact that she borrowed writings to describe history does not negate her prophetic messages to the SDA church, or diminish her influence on growing this denomination.
6. Read Revelation 2 concerning the discussion of the seven churches and the messenger that was sent to each church. Discuss if that messenger was indeed a prophet.
Teacher's Notes: In every Biblical Age, there were prophets. Therefore, it is a conundrum for some to believe that from the end of the New Testament until very late in the modern age, no prophets were sent by God to enlighten His people or to provide them prophetic comfort or rebuke. If you couple the fact that Ellen G. White referred to herself as a messenger, and examine the close relationship of the words messenger, prophet, and angel in the Greek, then the depiction of the seven angels to the seven churches may take on significance. The question is, "Do these seven angels represent prophets, with specific messages, sent to each time period depicted by the seven churches?" Adventists regularly hold the periods to be as follows:
- Ephesus – up to AD 100
- Smyrna – AD 100-313
- Pergamos – AD 313-538
- Thyatira – AD 538-1560s
- Sardis – AD 1560s-1790s
- Philadelphia – AD 1790s-1840s
- Laodicea – AD 1840s-End of Time
This delineation certainly made sense to the early Advent writers who believed the second coming was imminent. Thus for many years, Ellen White was the messenger to the Church of Laodicea, and the last prophet. One might wonder if that is correct, given the unfolding of the last 100+ years of history. It is known the book of Joel mentions that there will be prophets in the end times. All teachers are encouraged to prepare their students to be open to messages from God, should a new prophetic voice arise for the end-time church. Remember, there are tests of a prophet, and God is in control. Be watchful for both true and false prophets among the people of God.
7. Explain how the day-to-year interpretation of biblical time prophecy influenced William Miller and others in their understanding of 1844.
Teacher's notes: The day-for-year belief is not widely held by many Christian religions. Wikipedia claims that this belief is most notably held by Seventh-day Adventists (or more rightly all Adventists seeing it was a founding principal of William Miller), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some Pentecostals. While Wikipedia is not a definitive source, it is included in this note to highlight the fact that when dealing with young people that have grown up with Christian traditions associated with Catholicism or one of the major Protestant religions, the student may be unfamiliar with this traditional SDA belief. There is biblical precedent for the day-to-year prophetic coupling. In Numbers 14, it describes Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years, one year spent for every day of the spies’ mission in Canaan. In Genesis 29, Laban requires an additional seven years work for the hand of Rachel in marriage, calling it a week.
William Miller, upon the realization that his life was spared during the war of 1812, comes to study the Bible exhaustively. He went verse by verse and attempted to reconcile every truth from beginning to end. Upon arriving in Daniel, he understood the significance of the 1260 and 2300-day prophecies and began searching for their meaning. Upon his understanding of the verses mentioned in the paragraph above, he started looking at what these long term prophecies could mean to the church during his time period. This study ultimately led him to find the start of the 2300-day prophecy. A first look at the starting point was the 536 BC date, the year associated with Cyrus's decree to allow the Jews captive in Persian lands to return to Judea, rebuild Jerusalem, and re-establish their homeland. However, the decree itself was not the re-establishment of the Jewish nation, Cyrus died in 530 B.C. and it takes the Jewish people almost 80 years to self-organize. In 457 BC, Ezra received the decree from Artaxerxes giving the children of Israel the final authority to become self-governing. Therefore, William Miller selected 457 BC as the restoration of Jerusalem, and from this date, 2300 years mathematically becomes AD 1843. Further examination of the zero year (was there a year that was neither before Christ or in the year of our Lord?), Miller concludes that there was no zero year, and hence 1843 became 1844.
8. Research three Old Testament prophecies, each describing the birth, life, or death of Jesus Christ.
Teacher's Notes: Here is a non-canonical list of Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus. There are many others, but this list should get the students started on seeing the text of the prophecy and then tying that text to a fulfillment in one of the four Gospels.
- Messiah would be born in Bethlehem - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." -Micah 5:2 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be of the line of Abraham - "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." -Genesis 22:18 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be born of a virgin - " Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." -Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
- Messiah would come to earth as a baby – "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob - "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.[" -Numbers 24:17 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be a descendant of David - "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth." -Jeremiah 23:5 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be a prophet like Moses – "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear." -Deuteronomy 18:15 (NKJV)
- Messiah would enter Jerusalem triumphantly – "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey." -Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be rejected by His own people – "Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." -Isaiah 53:1, 3 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver – "Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter." -Zechariah 11:12, 13 (NKJV)
- Messiah will be tried and condemned – "He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken." -Isaiah 53:8 (NKJV)
- Messiah will be smitten and spat upon – "He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken" -Micah 5:1 (NKJV)
- "I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting" -Isaiah 50:6 (NKJV)
- Messiah’s clothes would be divided up – "They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." -Psalm 22:18 (NKJV)
- Messiah’s bones would remain unbroken – "They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it." -Numbers 9:12 (NKJV)
- Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s grave – "And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth." -Isaiah 53:9 (NKJV)
9. Choose one of the minor prophets and examine:
The time frame they lived
To whom they prophesied
The core message of the prophecy
The power or principality God used to fulfill the immediate prophecy
The message that is relevant for today
Teacher’s Notes: This information is readily available in the Introduction to each Minor Prophet in the SDA Bible Commentary. Hence, a single example will be provided rather than provide sample answers for all twelve Minor Prophets. Remember the "minor" prophets are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi.
- Time frame: Hosea prophesied from some period around 753 BC to 729 BC. His date of birth is not known, nor what happened to him in later life, after his prophetic period ceased.
- To whom did Hosea prophesy: Hosea was a prophet to the northern tribes of Israel (the tribes that abandoned the Davidic line and followed Jeroboam).
- The core message of the prophecy: The dominant theme of this book is the love of God for His people, even after they have turned away from Him time and time again. Hosea's message does not condone the sins of the people; rather it calls on ghastly images of what will happen if the northern tribes do not turn from their wicked ways and return to God.
- The Power or Principality that ultimately fulfilled the immediate prophecy: Assyria, in 722 BC, Sargon II completes the conquest of Israel.
- The message that is relevant for today: "Hosea depicts the yearning love of God for His wayward people. The book is filled with appeals to repentance and messages of hope to those who will turn again to their loving Father." – Page 886, Volume 4 of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Copyright 1955.
10. Read Daniel 7 and diagram which portion of the prophecy has come to pass, as well as the portion of the prophecy that is ahead of us.
11. Study the prophecy of Daniel 7. Compare and contrast the Seventh-day Adventist interpretation of this prophecy to other Protestant churches.
Teacher’s Notes: The principle difference between Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) interpretation of Daniel 7 and that of most other Christian religions is in the interpretation of the fourth beast, the horns on its head, and the meaning of the little horn.
Seventh-day Adventists interpret the fourth beast to be the Roman Empire. This is born out of consistency with other prophecies in Daniel (the teeth of iron [ch. 7] and the legs of iron [ch. 2]) and the historical evidence that Rome’s primary weapons of choice were made of iron. Thus, Seventh-day Adventists interpret the ten horns to be the ten tribes (the Alemanni, Franks, Suevi, Vandals, Burgundians, Visigoths, Anglo-Saxons, Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Heruli). Common SDA belief on the little horn is that the Bishop of Rome transforms from a religious leader to a political entity, thus explaining why he was a different type of horn. The Bishop of Rome ultimately subdues (with the help of Justinian) the three tribes that rule the Italian peninsula, establishing political domination over the remaining tribes. Finally, the Bishop of Rome changes times and laws, Sabbath to Sunday, and numerous laws concerning man’s direct relationship with God, respectively.
Obviously, the largest Christian church does not share the SDA interpretation and thus neither do many of the Protestant religions. These religions hold Babylon as the Lion, the Medean Empire as the bear, the Persians as the four-headed Leopard, with the Macedonian Empire as the fourth beast defying description. Thus the horns are representative of the Seleucid dynastic lineage with the 11th horn being Antiochus IV, more commonly known as Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus Epiphanes was a 2nd century BC ruler that came to power via three assassinations, ultimately persecuted the Jews, sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem, and created the environment that led to the Maccabean revolt.
12. Explain the importance of the Message of John the Revelator to the last day church. Study Revelation 1-4 and 18-22 to become acquainted with John’s message.
Teacher's Notes: The book of Revelation is a Chiasmus, a literary structure where a message is laid out in two or more clauses and presented to the reader or hearer, then presented again in reverse order. In mathematical terms, the first four chapters of Revelation are a reflected image of the last four chapters of Revelation. We find the rejoicing in Heaven over God’s victory (chapter 19), the Millennium of Understanding (chapter 20), the New Heaven and New Earth (chapter 21) and the Restoration of Eden, and the Epilogue (chapter 22) in the last four chapters. These were important messages to the early Christian church, giving assurance that God would prevail. Similarly, we find the Throne in Heaven (chapter 4), the last three churches (chapter 3), the first four churches (chapter 2), and the introduction of the message and John’s cision of Christ the Redeemer (chapter 1) in the first four chapters. These first four chapters gave the early church an understanding that there would be times of trial, however, Christ and Christ alone holds the keys of death and Hades, and that Jesus is ultimately in control and will triumph over evil. What a wonderful message for the early church and the church today!
13. Read Joel 2:28-29. Consider and discuss the fact that if we are living in the end time, God may send more prophets.
Teacher's Notes: Joel 2:28-32 describes the Day of the Lord and is understood to prophetically refer to the end of time. The passage reads:
|Joel 2:28 & 29 (NKJV)|
|«And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.»|
From Joel, it is evident, that if necessary, God will send more prophets to strengthen His people in the latter days. Is it necessary to believe we need another prophet after Ellen G. White? This question can be answered with a thought she herself discussed. You can find Ellen White’s thoughts in both Volume 5 of her Testimonies and in Selected Messages, book 3, pages 29-33.
- "If you had made God's word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies."
It is not a matter of does the church have sufficient light to make it through until the end of time, but rather will the church diligently study that truth or will God need to send a prophet(s) to remind us of what He has already told us.
14. For every good thing God sends to us, the Devil sends a counterfeit. How do you distinguish a true prophet from a false prophet?
Teachers Note: Remember the four tests of a prophet:
- “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is not light in them” Isaiah 8:20 – The words of any new prophet have to be consistent with the Word of God and the not contradict the Bible
- “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” Matthew 7:20 – The actions and lifestyle of the prophets have to be consistent with the truth and a reflection of Christ
- “When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.” Jeremiah 28:9 – their predictions will come to pass, not just selected predictions but prophecies
- “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” 1 John 4:2 – Any new prophet will attest to the fact that Jesus Christ is the savior and that only through his sacrifice can man be saved.
The devil cannot send a counterfeit prophet that meets these four tests and still provide a bogus message. Many counterfeit prophets have arisen, but none meet all four of these tests.
15. Nostradamus and Rasputin are considered to have many predictions come true. Examine and identify their lives and their prophecies and why we consider them false prophets.
Nostradamus: Nostradamus was a French pharmacist who lived from 1503 until 1566. He wrote 942 quatrains (four line rhymes) of prophecy. To date thousands of supposed correct interpretations are attributed to these 942 prophecies. For example:
- "In the year of the new century and nine months,
- From the sky will come a great King of Terror.
- The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
- Fire approaches the great new city."
Many would like to say that this predicted the 9/11 tragedy. However, how is 2001 the dawning of the new century for Nostradamus? That would be the year 1600. Who is the king of terror? There has been no singular figure that is the king of terror. Osama bin Laden was certainly a high profile terrorist, but he would not be considered ruler of all terrorists. What does it mean that the sky will burn at 45 degrees? The highest temperature in NYC on September 11, 2001 was 81° F (27° C), it was approximately ten degrees (F) cooler when the second plane struck the tower. If he intended 45° of latitude, it is abundantly clear that New York fails in this regard as well. What is the great new city? New York was hardly a new city as it was founded in 1624.
When considering the four tests of a prophet, Nostradamus fails at least three. Test 1, he fails because he is not consistent with the Bible. Test 3, the majority of his prophecies have not come true. Test 4, he does not claim Jesus as Savior. It is difficult to speak to test 2 because too little about his life is accurately recorded to see if he lived a life in accordance with a reflection of Christ.
Rasputin: Gregori Rasputin was a “monk” who became advisor to the Czar Nicholas II and his Czarina because of an almost hypnotic method he used which seemed to control the hemophilia of their child Alexi. Before his death, Rasputin sent the Czarina a “prophetic” letter describing his own death and the timeline of the royal family’s deaths if the Russian princes killed him. Rasputin did not have to be a prophet to understand that his undue influence on the royal family was causing great concern from members of the Russian court. Furthermore, he understood the tenuous nature that the Czar held over the country as the letter was written after hundreds of thousands of Russian casualties had taken place during the beginning of the World War I.
When considering the four tests of a prophet, Rasputin clearly fails at least three tests. In his case, he was not consistent with previous truth, we know that Rasputin’s life was inconsistent with the reflection of Christ (regular deceit, fornication, alcoholism, drug abuse), and his prophecies did not proclaim Jesus as Savior.
16. Research and discuss the historical and current understandings of the 1260 day prophecy and its timeline.
17. Create a graphical representation of the timeline of the 2300-day prophecies. Discuss your confidence in the start and end date.
Again, a reminder to those who teach this honor that some of the dates held by Uriah Smith and other church leaders have been called into question with further historical and archaeological study.
For some dates, there is exceptional evidence through past events that anchors accuracy to within a year. For example, the 457 date that anchors the 2300-day prophecy. It is possible to have great confidence in this date because of the seventy weeks prophecy that reveals when the Messiah was to live and die. If 457 is taken and 490 years added, the result is AD 34 (remember, no zero year). If you take AD 34 and go back ½ a week (3½ years), it will be AD 31, and it is known from Roman records that this is an accurate date for the crucifixion of Christ. Hence, it is posisble to have significant confidence that the 1843/44 date is correct in the 2300-year prophecy.
Other dates are more challenging; 538 to 1798 for example. Adventist theologians have continued to teach an exact time period for the 1260 day and the 1290 day prophecy (see this link). However, each uses one of two starting points: the fall of the Ostrogoths or the declaration of Justinian, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, declaring the Pope as the head of the Church. The 538 date for the Ostrogoth tribe being uprooted has been shown to be inaccurate. One might cite the fall of Ravenna (540) as the apparent completion of the Byzantine conquest of the Italian peninsula, but if taken into account a modern understanding of that conquest, the war continues into a second phase that is reinvigorated under the leader Totila and the Byzantine armies do not complete the conquest of the Ostrogoth tribe until 554. Others call out 538 because they believe that it represents Justinian’s recognition of the Pope in Rome as the head of the true Church (this can be found in certain modern Catholic documents dated at AD 538). However, it was in AD 533 that Justinian, in his Code of Justinian, addresses the pope as being “the head of all the churches.”
Just as questionable is the assumption that the 1798 capture of the Pope Pius VI by General Berthier of France was the end of the political domination by the Bishop of Rome. Yes, the papacy was temporarily stymied; however, the College of Cardinals elected a new pope the following year and this new pope (Pius VII) revives the Jesuit order, again restricts the freedom of movement by the Jewish people, and reestablishes the Jewish ghettos that Napoleon had abolished. Pope Pius VII also rebuilt the walls of the Vatican and declared that the United States had done more for Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom, after the U.S. defeated the Barbary Pirates; hardly apolitical!
Neither of these questionable dates need cause doubt to the 1260-day prophecy. The Bishop of Rome indeed rose far beyond religious leadership and for 1260 years dominated the political landscape of Europe and the New World (look up the Treaty of Tordesillas).