QUESTION: What is the “constant feature” mentioned in Daniel chaps. 8, 11, 12?
The “constant feature” is what the Watchtower has explained it to be.
Most translations either use the phrase “daily sacrifice” or “continual burnt offering.” The most literal rendering is “continual sacrifice” —alluding to the sacrifices associated with the physical tabernacle and temple attended to by the Levitical priests.
According to the Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai the priests attending to the tabernacle were to offer Jehovah two male lambs every day —one in the morning and one in the evening, at twilight, along with bread —a so-called “grain offering,” as well as an alcoholic drink offering, which was poured out upon the altar. This was to be done daily for perpetuity.
As the apostle Paul explained in great detail in his letter to the Hebrews, all the things associated with the formal worship surrounding the portable tabernacle and later the temple, including the animal and grain, and drink offerings, were a shadow of the things to come, the reality belonging to Christ, who not only has served as the sacrificial lamb of God, but also functions as the high priest officiating over a spiritual temple.
In the conclusion of the letter to the Hebrews Paul referred to the ashes of the daily sacrifice being disposed of outside the camp, and he stated: “Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people with his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, for we do not have here a city that remains, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come. Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that make public declaration to his name.”
So, the daily sacrifice performed by the priests corresponds to the preaching done by Christians —who “make public declaration to his name.” Since Christ himself is the sacrifice as well as the officiating high priest, the sacrifice of praise is offered to God, his name being Jehovah. Therefore, the disruption of the “constant feature” referred to in prophecy and earmarked for fulfillment during the time of the end, must relate to the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who undeniably are making public declaration to his name.
Around the clock every day, at any given moment of the day, somewhere in the world Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching the good news and declaring the name of God in hundreds of languages and dialects. It is the “constant feature” and the reason Jehovah’s Witnesses even exist.
WHEN IS THE CONSTANT FEATURE REMOVED?
As one might expect, while the Watchtower has keen insight into the meaning of the “constant feature” as it relates to the work of Christ, that insight does not carry over to the significance of the disruption of the regular sacrifice. For example, here is what the Watchtower once wrote in explanation of the 12th chapter of Daniel’s prophecy:
This continual sacrifice was taken away in June 1918. What, then, was “the disgusting thing”—the second feature to look for? It was the League of Nations, promoted by the victorious powers at the end of World War I. It was disgusting because the leaders of Christendom put it in the place of God’s Kingdom, representing the League as man’s only hope for peace. The League was proposed in January 1919. If we count 1,290 days (three years, seven months) from that time, we arrive at September 1922.” —Watchtower 11/1/1993
As if there were three different occasions when the constant feature is removed, here is what their last word was on the removal of the constant feature in the 11th chapter of Daniel:
So successful was Hitler that he went to war, as the angel correctly foretold…From the 1930’s, the great crowd have worshiped in association with the anointed remnant; hence, they are said to serve ‘in God’s temple.’ The earthly courtyard of the temple was profaned by the relentless persecution of the anointed remnant and their companions in lands where the king of the north held sway. So severe was the persecution that the constant feature—the public sacrifice of praise to Jehovah’s name—was removed. —Watchtower 11/1/1993
And here is what the Watchtower teaches as regards the removal of the constant feature in interpretation of the eighth chapter of Daniel:
Well, what was the experience of faithful Bible students—Jehovah’s Witnesses—during World War II? Intense persecution! This amounted to a “transgression,” an effort to desolate God’s “sanctuary” class, and so take away from Jehovah the “constant feature” of daily public worship. It started in Nazi-Fascist countries. But soon ‘truth was being thrown to the earth’ throughout the vast domain of the ‘small horn whose power became mighty.’ The “army” of kingdom proclaimers and their work of preaching kingdom truth was banned in almost all of the British Commonwealth. When these nations conscripted their manpower they refused to grant exemption as ministers to Jehovah’s Witnesses; they showed no respect for their theocratic appointment as ministers of God. Mob violence and other indignities were heaped upon Jehovah’s faithful servants in the United States. —Watchtower 9/15/82
According to the Watchtower’s interpretation the constant feature was removed in 1918. Then again by the Nazis in the 1930’s. And to top it off, the British Empire removed it throughout their realm during the Second World War. But, to assuage the inconvenient fact that neither the persecution of the Bible Students in 1918 or the Nazi Holocaust or the British-imposed ban on the Watchtower during WWII succeeded in shutting down the preaching work the Watchtower is forced to declare that the enemy’s efforts failed completely; hence, the same publication as above concludes, effusing:
The enemy’s vicious attempt to desolate and destroy the “holy place” completely had failed. The remaining “holy ones” on earth, along with their companions of the “great crowd,” had come off victorious. The kingdom of the Supreme One, Jehovah, and of his Christ, had triumphed!
It should be apparent that there is only one occasion when the constant feature is removed by a political agency. That being true, the fierce looking king and the king of the north are the same entity. Furthermore, there is no reason to assume that the campaign to remove the constant feature is unsuccessful. Not only that, the removal of the constant feature coincides with the appearance of the disgusting thing in a holy place, which even the Watchtower now reluctantly admits has not occurred, it still being in the future, immediately before or during the tribulation.
Although the Watchtower has acknowledged that the disgusting thing has not stood in a holy place, the seers of Bethel still propagate the delusion that the desolation of the holy place and removal of the constant feature foretold in the eighth chapter of Daniel took place during the Second World War.
Obviously, Bethel doesn’t quite have things in focus.
Because all prophecy is harmonious the book of Joel is useful in shedding light upon when it is that the constant feature is removed. Describing a global desolation as coming about by a symbolic plague of swarming locusts, cockroaches and caterpillars, the first chapter of Joel states:
“Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come in and spend the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God; for grain offering and drink offering have been withheld from the house of your God. Proclaim a fast; call for a solemn assembly. Gather the elders together, with all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Jehovah your God, and cry to Jehovah for help. Woe because of the day! For the day of Jehovah is near, and it will come like a destruction from the Almighty!”
According to Joel grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of God; hence, the constant feature is suspended by the calamity that immediately precedes the day of Jehovah.
And just as the prophecy of Daniel indicates that the holy place is restored, Joel foretells that the same sort of resolution, saying: “The threshing floors will be full of pure grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and oil. And I will make compensation to you for the years that the swarming locust, the unwinged locust, the voracious locust, and the devouring locust have eaten, my great army that I sent among you. You will surely eat to satisfaction, and you will praise the name of Jehovah your God, who has done wonders in your behalf; my people will never again be put to shame.”
It will be a stunning humiliation for Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially the leadership, the “ministers of the altar,” to have the constant feature suddenly taken away. After all, the Governing Body have boasted that God will not allow any weapon formed against them to have success. But Jehovah’s great army will.
Interestingly, the prophecy of Joel refers to God making compensation for the years that the locust wrought destruction. How many years might that entail? Daniel 12: 11 states: “And from the time that the constant feature has been removed and the disgusting thing that causes desolation has been put in place, there will be 1,290 days.”
However, the eighth chapter relates it this way: “‘How long will the vision of the constant feature and of the transgression causing desolation continue, to make both the holy place and the army things to trample on?’ So he said to me: ‘Until 2,300 evenings and mornings; and the holy place will certainly be restored to its right condition.’”
As mentioned at the onset, the daily offering at the temple took place twice per day —in the evening and morning. The 2,300 evenings and mornings of no constant sacrifice, then, amount to 1,150 days, closer to the 1,290 days in the 12th chapter. What accounts for the 140 day discrepancy? It cannot be determined exactly at this point; however, it is interesting that 140 days amount to five months according to the lunar cycle, Hebrew calendar of 28 days (5 x 28=140) which perhaps, not coincidentally, is the time period allotted to Abaddon’s locusts after they are released from the abyss to sting the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (Revelation 9)
That indicates that the stinging locusts of Revelation are released after the final sealing. (The locust of Revelation should not be confused with the locusts of Joel.) So, the holy place is brought into its right condition when the last of the called are chosen –sealed. And that harmonizes with the removal of the constant feature. How so? The conclusion of the preaching and disciple-making work means that the harvest phase begins. And during the harvest all the sons of the Kingdom are gathered into the storehouse; thus, precluding any more preaching and teaching. The final witness work will not be a message of salvation — but of certain doom for Satan’s world.