Monday, February 25, 2013

Uriah Smith on the 2520

(Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1912 ed., pp. 784, 785)
Almost every scheme of the "Plan of the Ages," "Age-to-come," etc., makes use of a supposed prophetic period called the "Seven Times;" and the attempt is made to figure out a remarkable fulfilment by events in Jewish and Gentile history. All such speculators might as well spare their pains; for there is no such prophetic period in the Bible.
The term is taken from Leviticus 26, where the Lord denounces judgments against the Jews, if they shall forsake him. After mentioning a long list of calamities down to verse 17, the Lord says:
"And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." Verse 18. Verses 19 and 20 enumerate the additional judgments, then it is added in verse 21:
"And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me: I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins." More judgments are enumerated, and then in verses 23 and 24 the threatening is repeated: "And if ye will not be reformed by me these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins." In verse 28 it is repeated again.
Thus the expression occurs four times, and each succeeding mention brings to view severer punishments, because the preceding ones were not heeded. Now, if "seven times" denotes a prophetic period (2520 years), then we would have four of them, amounting in all to 10,080 years, which would be rather a long time to keep a nation under chastisement.
But we need borrow no trouble on this score; for the expression "seven times" does not denote a period of duration, but is simply an adverb expressing degree, and setting forth the severity of the judgments to be brought upon Israel.
If it denoted a period of time, a noun and its adjective would be used, as in Dan. 4: 16: "Let seven times pass over him." Here we have the noun (times) and adjective (seven): thus, shibah iddan; but in the passages quoted above from Leviticus 26, the words "seven times" are simply the adverb sheba, which means "sevenfold." The Septuagint makes the same distinction (in the Greek, using the noun and adjective) in Dan. 4: 16, etc., but in Leviticus simply the adverb.
The expression in Dan. 4: 16 is not prophetic, for it is used in plain, literal narration. (See verse 25.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Three Horns of Daniel 7

A standard identification of the three horns introduced in Daniel 7:8 has been the Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Heruli. As it turns out, this is not the best view historically.

Often the three horns are identified as the three Arian tribes among the Germanic invaders of the Roman empire, implying that there were only three Arian groups. In reality, nearly all of the Barbarian nations to invade the Roman empire were Arian. The two notable exceptions were the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, both of which were still pagan when they arrived. Considering that as many as eight of the commonly listed Barbarian nations were probably Arian, the three are not unique on that count alone.

A map of the year 500 will be of help to us. The three major Barbarian kingdoms that at that time controlled the territory of the former western Roman Empire were the Visigoths, Vandals, and Ostrogoths. The elimination of these three was essential to the supremacy of the papacy.

The following is a quote from the Biblical Research Institute Release #7, Historical Confirmation of Prophetic Periods, by Heinz Schaidinger, May 2010.

"I do not favour the Heruli as one of the three uprooted powers for the following reasons: (1) It was not the tribe of the Heruli that was destroyed by Theoderic's murder of Odoacer. Odoacer was partly of Herulian descent, true; yet, his soldiers were mercenaries coming from many tribes. There was no such thing as a 'Herulian kingdom'. (2) The fight between Theoderic and Odoacer had nothing to do with the Roman pontiff. The papacy did not gain anything out of the change of rulership from Odoacer to Theoderic."

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Beast from the Bottomless Pit

In Revelation 9:1, 2 a star falls from heaven and "to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit."

In Revelation 9:11 we read of "the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."

In Revelation 11:7 a creature described as "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" makes war against God's two witnesses.

In Revelation 17:8 we find a beast that "was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go to perdition."

In Revelation 20:1-3 an angel comes down from heaven "having the key of the bottomless pit," and he binds Satan and casts him "into the bottomless pit . . . till the thousand years should be fulfilled."

Each of these descriptions portray the bottomless pit as a domain of evil. Although these passages represent different scenes and different time periods, the common figure to be most clearly identified with the bottomless pit is Satan himself. Understanding a "beast" in Bible prophecy to represent a king or a kingdom (Daniel 7:17, 23), we must expect the "beasts" associated with the bottomless pit to be nations through which the Devil exercises his Satanic power and influence.

We're going to focus here only on the beast of Revelation 11:7. The other passages will have to be dealt with elsewhere. Commenting on this beast, we quote from the book, The Great Controversy.

"Here is brought to view a new manifestation of satanic power." "Another power--the beast from the bottomless pit---was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God." The Great Controversy, p. 269.

Some people are quick to tag this beast as atheism. But nowhere does Scripture ever say that a "beast" can represent an ideology or a belief system. Prophetic "beasts" denote ruling nations or kingdoms. The land where this particular beast was to exercise its power is "spiritually" "called Sodom and Egypt." Revelation 11:8. The country would be "called Sodom and Egypt" because it manifested the characteristics of those places. What are those characteristics?

"Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. . . . And the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance." "The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture." Ibid.

"In the land where the testimony of God's two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom. This prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of France." Ibid.

The Great Controversy goes on to document how France during the Revolution of the 1790s manifested the characteristics not only of Egypt and Sodom, but "where also our Lord was crucified." Revelation 11:8.

So the beast from the bottomless pit in Revelation 11 represents the nation of France under the control of Satan during the French Revolution.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Bible is Not Hard to Understand

After Jesus, on the mountain, was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, He told them not to tell anyone about what they had seen until after Jesus was risen from the dead.

"And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean." Mark 9:10

The fact is that it meant exactly what Jesus said. But because Jesus' words did not fit with the disciples' preconceived ideas, they considered His plain words to mean something other than exactly what He said.

How often we approach God's word with that same theological method. We take the plain words of Jesus and question one with another what they mean.

"In Christ's teaching there is no long, far-fetched, complicated reasoning. He comes right to the point." Evangelism, p. 171.

"The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people. The great truths necessary for salvation are made as clear as noonday; and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God." Steps to Christ, p. 89.

"The Bible with its precious gems of truth was not written for the scholar alone. On the contrary, it was designed for the common people; and the interpretation given by the common people, when aided by the Holy Spirit, accords best with the truth as it is in Jesus." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 331.

"God has spoken in the plainest language upon every subject that affects the salvation of the soul." Review and Herald, February 5, 1901.

"The great truths of the Word of God are so clearly stated that none need make a mistake in understanding them." Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, p. 150.

"The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: 'Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.' Mark 12:24. The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise: 'If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.' John 7:17. If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make the angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error." The Great Controversy, pp. 598, 599.

"The only safe and proper rule of Biblical interpretation is to take every passage of the Book of God as meaning what it says, word for word, excepting those cases where the text and context clearly show that a figure or parable is introduced for a more clear elucidation of the subject." James White, Review and Herald, May 29, 1879.

"How to know when a word is used figuratively. If it makes good sense as it stands, and does no violence to the simple laws of nature, then it must be understood literally; if not, figuratively." William Miller, Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology Selected from Manuscripts of William Miller with a Memoir of his Life, 1842 ed., Joshua V. Himes, p. 22.

"Seek to grasp the simple, most obvious meaning of the biblical passage being studied." Bible Study: Presuppositions, Principles, and Methods, Section 4c, General Conference Executive Committee, October 12, 1986.

"All who exalt their own opinions above divine revelation, all who would change the plain meaning of Scripture to suit their own convenience, or for the sake of conforming to the world, are taking upon themselves a fearful responsibility." The Great Controversy, p. 268.

"Those who suppose that they understand philosophy think that their explanations are necessary to unlock the treasures of knowledge and to prevent heresies from coming into the church. But it is these explanations that have brought in false theories and heresies. Men have made desperate efforts to explain what they thought to be intricate scriptures; but too often their efforts have only darkened that which they tried to make clear." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 110.