Foundational to Seventh-Day Adventist eschatology is their chronology and plethora of dates they point to for certain historical events as landmarks for specific dates. They take what happens in Ezra 7:7-8 and link it to Daniel 9:25 because Daniel 9 talks about the rebuilding of Jerusalem. So they point to Ezra 7 to say that’s when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was and it happened in 457 B.C., giving them the key to unlock the time prophecy in Daniel 9:25.
They need this date for their chronology of the time prophecy of the 2300 evenings and mornings in Daniel 8:14 to get them to October 22, 1844—which is when they teach their novel investigative judgement doctrine began. This claim regarding Daniel 9:25 being linked to Ezra 7 is their first chronological step in a long chain of dates to try and make this work.
This was ultimately coming from William Miller’s poor exegesis, but Ellen G. White accepted and documented it in the Great Controversy, making it a “thus saith the LORD” level statement, putting God’s stamp of approval on it. There’s only one major problem, Ezra 7 says nothing about a decree to rebuild Jerusalem, which is what Daniel 9:25 speaks about. On this grounds alone there is no basis to connect these two verses like the Adventist Church has.
They also claim that King Artaxerxes supplied materials to help rebuild the city, which is what authorized the full restoration of Jerusalem, in Ezra 7:11-26. This is not true. They even go so far as to say Nehemiah 1 mentions a renewal of this decree in 444 B.C. Nowhere in the entire 11 verses of Nehemiah 1 is there any mention of this decree being renewed.
In Ezra 1-7 we are presented with 3 Persian kings (Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes), but none of them have anything to do with the rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Only the temple in Jerusalem, referred to as the “house of God” (Ezra 4:24).
In Ezra 1:1-4, God uses Cyrus to send out a decree to build God a house in Jerusalem, not the city of Jerusalem itself. This was a fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:9-12, which stated that the nation of Israel would be captured and serve Babylon for 70 years. The decree mentioned in Ezra authorized the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem as this 70 years was ending and all of the stuff taken that was used for temple worship during the Babylonian captivity was given back to them (Ezra 1:7-11).
After getting the authorization from Cyrus, the first thing the people did was build an altar to the Lord to offer burnt offerings (Ezra 3:1-3), but the foundation of the temple was yet to be laid (Ezra 3:6). This took place in Ezra 3:12 which plainly states the foundation was then laid and built. Again, the building of the temple is in view, not the city of Jerusalem.
But then in Ezra 4:6-12, under King Artaxerxes I reign, a commander and scribe wrote him a letter (Ezra 4:7-8) which made a false charge against the Jews that they weren’t authorized to rebuild the city (Ezra 4:12). This was a false charge because they weren’t rebuilding the city, but had authorization to rebuild the temple. The King receives this letter and responds, thinking the Jews are indeed rebuilding the city without the Kings permission and says to make a decree telling them to stop (Ezra 4:17-21). This decree is then taken to the Jews who are told to stop their work until the second year of King Darius’s reign (Ezra 4:23-24).
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah then prophesied to the Jews regarding the funds that would be necessary to resume the project saying they will be provided and to get back to work (Ezra 5:1; Haggai 2:1-9). So they ignore the order to stop and resume (Ezra 5:2). This caught the Governors eye who then asked who gave them permission to do so and what the names of the men doing the building were (Ezra 5:3-5). This report then made its way all the way to King Darius which—this time—correctly stated what the Jews were doing—rebuilding the temple (Ezra 5:7-10). The Jews respond by saying they work for the God of heaven and earth and that they are rebuilding his house that was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 5:11-12). They mention the decree they first received from Cyrus which authorized the rebuild efforts and they ask the King to find the letter (Ezra 5:16-17).
King Darius obliges to go and search for this letter in their archives (Ezra 6:1). Sure enough, a scroll was found that confirmed the decree by Cyrus (Ezra 6:2-3). This then prompted Darius to send another letter back to the Governor to leave the Jews alone and let them continue their work on the house of God (Ezra 6:6-12). He even offers to help them out by giving them whatever they need for worship (Ezra 6:9-10). The building of the temple is then completed by decree of God and by a decree of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes (Ezra 6:14). The Jews then celebrate this completion by celebrating the Passover (Ezra 6:19-22).
Ezra 7 then goes into talking about Ezra’s qualifications in the Mosaic law-work and that he had the right to teach such matters (Ezra 7:5-6) because he had a heart to study the Law of the LORD (Ezra 7:10). It says nothing about Ezra managing the construction of the city being rebuilt. Ezra was a priest working in the newly constructed temple.
There is nothing in Ezra about a Persian king decreeing the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. Only a false charge made against the Jews by governing authorities which was found to be fraudulent and unfounded. We only see the rebuilding of the house of God which was destroyed during the Babylonian captivity. There is zero reason to connect Ezra 7:7-8 to Daniel 9:25. This strikes a death blow to the Adventist theological systems chronology and foundation.
Ellen White claimed that “whatever contradicts God’s Word, we can be sure proceeds from Satan”, that her writings never contradict God’s Word and bear the test of investigation. We’ll let you connect the dots.