Archive for Eschatology 101

The Doctrine of the Great Sabbath

By on June 6, 2010

Down through the centuries, Christian theologians have searched the Scriptures for clues, which might shed light on the nearness of the Second Advent of Christ. Among the prophets, Hosea stands out as one of the most important. His treatment of the two advents of the Messiah should be examined.

Hosea’s Third Day

The first passage to which I draw your attention is given in Hosea 5:14-6:3:

“For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 5:14-6:3).

This is one of the most remarkable prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ to be found in the Bible. I have highlighted certain words and phrases to emphasize them. We shall look at each of them carefully.

First, the Messiah says that He will be “unto Ephraim as a lion.” I think this is a reference to the Lord as He represents the Mosaic Covenant. But when He says that He will be “as a young lion to the house of Judah,” He was referring to His birth in Bethlehem. There will come a day when the Messiah will be born of the house of Judah.

Messiah’s First Coming

He will become as a baby lion. But His First Coming will become a judgment for Judah. Messiah will “tear and go away.” We can relate this to Christ as He chides the Pharisees. Matthew 23 gives the account of Christ condemning the religious leaders for their unbelief. Finally, in the last few verses, He says that He is going away rather than setting up the kingdom they had long hoped for:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:37-39).

Christ predicts the desolation of Jerusalem, rather than the establishment of His throne in the holy city. Instead of staying and being crowned King of kings, Christ announces that He is returning to heaven from whence He came. This corresponds with Hosea 5:15:

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence” (Hosea 5:15).

All of this is historic fact. We know that Christ ascended back into heaven with the promise that He will return when the Jews acknowledge their offense.

Messiah’s Second Coming

In the following sentence, there is an all-important clue as to when that will occur:

…“ in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15b).

The Hebrew word for “early” is shacher [rja], meaning “at the time of dawn — the darkness which becomes light!” Some day, at the crack of dawn, Israel will be thrown into the midst of affliction — which I believe is a reference to the Tribulation Period. They will acknowledge their offense and seek the Messiah. This will occur “early” as one would watch for the rising of the sun.

After Two Days

So when is this crack of dawn? Which future day will observe this phenomenon? The following verses tell us specifically that it will be “after two days” and “in the third day.” In fact, Hosea mentions being raised up — a term used to describe rising in the early morning — shall we say at the crack of dawn?

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).

Hosea is not speaking of ordinary days in this passage. Christ could not come as a young lion to the house of Judah, tear (as the metaphor implies) and return to His place, only to come back on the third day of an ordinary week. He must be referring to the concept introduced by Moses in Psalm 90:4:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

Thousand-Year Days

Moses, the first of the biblical prophets introduced the days of Creation as metaphors of seven millennia. The six days of Creation represent six thousand years since the creation of Adam. And the seventh day, the day of Sabbath rest, represents the seventh millennium as a time of kingdom rest.

Many view this Hosea passage as referring to the passing of two thousand years. The “third day” following the First Coming of the “young lion” of Judah would be the same as the “seventh day” wherein God rested after His work of Creation.

Since we have lived to see the conclusion of this sixth millennium of human history and the introduction of the seventh with the year 2001, we would do well to observe what the prophets were trying to tell us.

Sabbath Days in the New Testament

Let us consider the possibility that certain events in the Gospel narratives take on prophetic implications when viewed with respect to the “millennial day” concept. There appears to be a correlation between certain events recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the number of days listed in each story.

Several events occurred on a Sabbath day lending support to the implication that these events will be ultimately fulfilled during a future millennial Sabbath.

Christ Announced His Ministry On a Sabbath

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus enters the synagogue at Nazareth to announce the beginning of His ministry. It was on a Sabbath that He took the scroll of Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Then He closed the book. Had He continued to read, He would have read the words “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Perhaps the fact that He read the words on a Sabbath day offers a prophetic implication that the day of vengeance will be fulfilled during the future millennial Sabbath — the seventh 1,000 year period of human history.

Christ Plucked Corn on the Sabbath

On another Sabbath, our Savior plucked ears of corn — a seeming violation of rabbinical law:

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

“And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? …

“And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Luke 6:1-2,5).

It seems the Savior was saying that the future millennial reign of Christ would be a time of planting and harvest. It would be a time of activity and progress. Though it is considered to be a Sabbath rest, that rest will be spiritual rather than physical. It will be a rest from evil — a rest from the temptations of Satan.

Notice the Savior’s reply to the Pharisees in Luke 6:5: “And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

He implies that He will bear the title of King of kings and Lord of lords during that future 1,000-year reign.

Christ Healed a Withered Hand On the Sabbath

Then there was the time Christ healed a man with a withered right hand on the Sabbath day:

“And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; and they might find an accusation against him.

“But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

“And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Luke 6:6-10).

By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus implied that the millennial kingdom would be a time of healing. During the seventh millennium, mankind will see the eradication of all diseases.

Christ Healed a Woman on the Sabbath

In Luke 13 Jesus performed another healing on the Sabbath day. This time it was a woman who had suffered a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. The Savior loosed her from her infirmity, and in verse 16, implied that Satan had been the cause of her problem:

“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16).

The implication is at once apparent: During the future “Day of the Lord” all will be healed.

Christ Healed a Man with Dropsy on the Sabbath

Luke records yet another healing on the Sabbath. That time it was a man diseased with dropsy.

“And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

“And behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

“And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day:

“And they held their peace. And he took him and healed him, and let him go;

“And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

“And they could not answer him again to these things” (Luke 14:1-6).

Jesus healed the man of his infirmity in the presence of the lawyers and the Pharisees. In doing so, it seems that Jesus implied, prophetically, that such would be the case during the great Sabbath rest — the seventh millennium of human history.

In the verses following, He told the parable of a wedding. By doing so, He seemed to imply, prophetically, that during the seventh millennium, there would be a wedding:

“And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

“When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him…” (Luke 14:7-8).

Following that, Jesus gave the parable of a great supper, implying that in the future kingdom, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb would be celebrated and that there would be no hunger in the Lord’s kingdom:

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many…

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:16,23).

It is amazing that all of these incidents appear to have a prophetic implication when viewed in the context of the great Sabbath — that seventh 1,000-year period of human history.

At the Pool of Bethesda

Another Sabbath healing took place in Jerusalem at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. The religious authorities became angry and confronted Jesus with an accusation that He should not heal on the Sabbath. Jesus replied:

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:22-24).

Christ spoke of those attributes, which He possessed, and which would be manifested during His millennial reign. Since these events occurred on a Sabbath, Jesus seemed to imply that His reign would be a time of Sabbatical rest — the seventh millennium.

A Blind Man Healed Near Siloam

Another healing took place on a Sabbath, recorded in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus made clay, put it upon the eyes of a blind man and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, he was healed.

“And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay” (John 9:14).

This healing took place on the Sabbath, and is another reminder of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ. Blind eyes will be made to see, withered limbs will be made whole, leprous diseases will be made clean, and evil spirits will be cast out. Yes, those events recorded in the Gospel narratives that occurred on Sabbaths seem to be prophetic of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ.

Also, there are certain events in the Bible that occurred over a period of two or three days.

The Story of Jonah

Jonah spent three days and three nights in the stomach of a giant fish, and, in like manner, Jesus spent a similar time in the heart of the earth. These two events could be a prophetic picture of three thousand years wherein God has dealt with His Chosen People. Like Jonah, the nation of Israel had refused to take the message of God’s judgment and mercy to the Gentiles. As Jonah spent three days in the whale’s belly, so have the Jewish people been judged of God for the past three millennia.

The Story of Saul

There is another story given in the book of Acts that also may offer a prophetic scenario. It is the story of Saul on his way to Damascus and seeing the Lord in the midst of a brilliant light. When the light was gone, Saul was blind. He had to be led by the hand into the city of Damascus. Please note, he was blind for three days. This may be a prophetic picture of the history of Israel over a period of about three millennia. In I Corinthians Paul referred to this experience:

“… last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15:8).

According to Dr. C. I. Scofield, Paul represented the nation as a whole. His experience of conversion was a prophetic picture of the future national conversion of Israel. His healing after three days of darkness, could represent that future time when Israel’s national conversion would take place.

Joseph and Mary Searched For Three Days

Now let’s go back to the Gospel narrative and pick up a few more events which seem to have prophetic implication when viewed from a millennial day perspective. In Luke chapter 2, Joseph and Mary searched for the twelve year old Jesus. On the third day, they found Him in the temple:

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

If the Dispensation of Grace covers a period of 2,000 years, and if the millennial reign of Christ covers the third 1,000 year period, then the finding of Jesus in the temple on the third day may well represent His being about the Father’s business during the coming millennium.

Feeding the 4,000

The story of the feeding of the 4,000 is recorded in Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Please note that the multitude had followed Him for three days. It was on that third day that Jesus fed the multitude. Prophetically, it may refer to the millennium when hunger is eradicated.

In Luke 13, some Pharisees came to Jesus saying,

“Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee” (Luke 13:31).

Jesus replied, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (verse 32).

Three days later, Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. These verses seem to have a powerful prophetic implication. They may refer to the third millennium, when Jesus will make yet another triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

The Wedding at Cana

In the Gospel of John, Jesus attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee” (John 2:1).

Please note, that the wedding took place on the third day. Again, this may be a prophetic implication of the future marriage of the Lamb to His bride, New Testament Christianity. The Scripture implies that it will take place after two millennia, on the third day!

The Money Changers

In the latter part of that chapter, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Upon entering the temple, He found moneychangers selling oxen, sheep, and doves. He drove them out and said:

“Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16).

When the Jews asked Him why He had done these things and what sign He could show them that He had the authority to cleanse the sanctuary, Jesus answered:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (verse 19).

Now, to be sure, He was speaking of the temple of His body, which they did destroy and which He did raise up the third day. Prophetically, however, it may be a picture of the future temple, which the Messiah will build when He returns. It may be that the three days listed in verse 19 represent three millennial days. The statement made by Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem may be far more profound than we might think.

One of these days, the Savior will come again and drive the moneychangers out. Those moneychangers may well represent a prophecy of the future one-world monetary system through which men will be required to receive a mark in the flesh in order to buy or sell. They may represent the abomination of desolation, which is predicted to take place on the temple site in the midst of the Tribulation Period.

Perhaps the Antichrist will set up an image to the beast in the temple itself, thus committing the abomination of desolation. At the end of the Tribulation Period, however, Christ will return to this earth to destroy the Antichrist and the image that will have desecrated the sanctuary during the last half of the Tribulation Period.

When He returns, He will cleanse the sanctuary, drive out those future moneychangers, and will build a magnificent millennial temple. Remember, He said that day, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Trial of Christ

That statement, by the way, is also referred to in Mark 14:58. When Jesus was arrested and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin court, certain false witnesses came to testify:

“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

Those people never forgot the statement made by the Savior. In Luke 15:29, we find the Savior hanging upon the cross. Those who passed by:

“… railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross” (Luke 15:29).

Even in the last hours of His life the people mocked Him about the promise He made that He could rebuild the temple after three days. Those three days, however, may refer to three millennia, three 1,000-year periods. The prediction will yet be fulfilled, just as Jesus said it would!

The Story of the Samaritans

There is another story given in John 4, which may also lend support to the prophetic implication that a day could equal a thousand years:

“So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

“And many more believed because of his own word;

“And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

“Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee” (John 4:40-43).

Jesus spent two days among the Samaritans. This may represent the two millennia we call the dispensation of Grace. It has been a time of Gentile conversions. The New Testament church may be prophetically typified by the Samaritans, among whom Jesus stayed for two days.

The story begins with Jesus and His disciples passing through the country of Samaria. As they came near to a city called Sychar, Jesus stopped at a well and sent His disciples into town to buy bread. While He was there, a Samaritan woman came out to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink and then told her how she could receive living water to quench her spiritual thirst. This is a prophetic picture of the Dispensation of Grace. When the woman replied that Jews worship at Jerusalem and the Samaritans worship at Mt. Gerizim, Jesus said:

“Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21,23).

Jesus introduces the dispensation of Grace. It began with the First Advent of Christ and shall be concluded when He comes back. Meanwhile, just as He spent two days with the Samaritans, He has spent two millennia among the Gentiles.

The Story of Lazarus

There is another story recorded in the Gospels which seems to bear a prophetic implication to the teaching that one day equals a thousand years. It is the story of Lazarus. When he came down with the illness, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that he was sick:

“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

“Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again” (John 11:6-7).

Please note, that Jesus delayed His trip to Bethany for two days. When He finally came, Lazarus was already in the grave. Obviously, however, He planned it that way. Prophetically, it may imply two millennial days before He comes again. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, one of these days He is coming to raise all believers from the dead. His two-day delay in coming to Lazarus may well represent the prophetic time schedule when the great resurrection will take place.

The Transfiguration

Finally, the story is given in Matthew 17, of the Transfiguration. On a high mountain, somewhere out of the land, Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. The event was a prophetic picture of the Tribulation Period, and of the Second Coming of Christ in glory:

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart” (Matthew 17:1).

This event took place on the sixth day. It may well be a prophetic scenario of that which shall occur at the end of the sixth millennium of human history! Time after time after time, throughout the Gospel narratives, we find prophetic implications which lend support to the teaching that a day equals a thousand years, and that after six thousand years of human history, the Savior will return to this earth, raise the dead, eradicate hunger and disease, establish a millennial kingdom, and rule over the earth during the seventh 1,000 year period of human history. That is the doctrine of the great Sabbath Rest!

Go to Lesson 5: The Secrets of Psalm 90

Go to Lesson 7: Dispensationalism and the Menorah

The Secrets of Psalm 90

By on May 6, 2010

The 17 verses in Psalm 90 divide naturally into seven parts, corresponding to the six days of Creation and the seventh day wherein God rested. But more than that, each division also contains an overview of those events, which marked each of six millennia. The seventh millennium is depicted in the final division as the kingdom of our Lord.

An outline of Psalm 90 is as follows:

Creation Day One - vv. 1-4

Creation Day Two - vs. 5a

Creation Day Three - vv. 5b-7

Creation Day Four - vv. 8-10a

Creation Day Five - vv. 10-11

Creation Day Six - vv. 12-13

The Sabbath Rest - vv. 14-17

This structural design of Psalm 90 offers convincing proof that the millennial-day theory is a viable concept. It was introduced by Moses and held by the other prophets who followed him. Therefore, let us review this remarkable structural design of Psalm 90:

Creation Day One (vv. 1-4)

“LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:1-4).

Psalm 90:1

“LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

In verse 1, we are reminded that God created our dwelling place. “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This planet was specifically made for mankind. It could not have just happened by accident. There are too many complicated designs in the atmosphere, vegetation, climate, etc., for our planet to be the product of chance evolution. In that famous sermon on Mars Hill, Paul concurred with Moses that “God made the world and all things therein…” (vs. 24).

Furthermore, Paul noted that God “hath determined the times before appointed” (vs. 26). The six days of Creation were given their particular order by divine appointment so that they could be a prophetic overview of the following 6,000 years. The seventh day was predetermined to represent the seventh millennium. There can be no doubt — once we view the accuracy of the previous six days. They are convincing proof that the great Sabbath Rest lies ahead in our immediate future.

Moses opened Psalm 90:1 with the term “all generations.” He also closed his eleven stanzas in Psalm 100:5 with “all generations.” He didn’t leave out a single generation. All of human history is covered in the Song of Moses. Psalm 90, in particular, gives us the guidelines for this teaching.

Psalm 90:2

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world…” Verse 2 clearly alludes to the opening verses of Genesis:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

There are two things about this first day of Creation of which we should take note.  First, God said, “Let there be light,” and second, He “divided the light from the darkness.” He called the light “good,” implying that darkness represents evil.

In like manner, God put man in the Garden of Eden, and gave him a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God made the first day of Creation to represent the first millennium of human history. “Let there be lightand it was good.”

Therefore, the events of the first day of Creation are typical of those events that happened in the first millennium.

Adam’s Fall

“Thou turnest man to destruction and sayest, Return, ye children of men” (Psalm 90:3).

Psalm 90:3 reveals the main event, which characterized the first day of Creation — namely, the fall of Adam. Moses wrote, “Thou turnest man to destruction.” This is the single event, which characterized the first millennium. It was in the plan of God for Adam and Eve to be tested. Otherwise, He would not have placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden. Nor would He have allowed Satan in the form of a serpent to beguile Eve. The purpose can be seen in the phrase “Return, ye children of men.” Redemption was at the heart of God’s plan.

As soon as the fall occurred, God was on the scene to instruct Adam and Eve. He promised them that the seed of the woman would come and have his heel bruised. This prophecy was fulfilled at Calvary.

God also promised them that Christ would bruise the head of the seed of the serpent. This prophecy will be fulfilled at His Second Coming. From that day, the Chosen People have been looking for the Messiah. They do not understand that He came the first time 2,000 years ago, and that He will soon return.

The Call for Repentance

Psalm 90 was dedicated to Reuben and its theme is repentance: “Return, ye children of men” (Psalm 90:3b).

A Jewish commentary on Psalm 90 says, “In his blessings, Moses blessed Reuben first, saying, ‘Let Reuben live and not die’ (Deuteronomy 33:6), referring to Reuben’s sin and to his subsequent repentance (Genesis 35:22). With his sincere remorse and penitence, Reuben introduced the principle of complete repentance to the world (Bereishis Rabba 84:19). Thus, this psalm relates to Reuben, the symbol of repentance.”

Psalm 90:4

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer cites ancient rabbinical thought on the concept that each day of Creation prophetically represents a thousand years of human history and that the seventh day of rest represents the Messianic age — a thousand year reign of the Messiah:

“It is both unreasonable and unwise to pass judgment on a work of art before it has been completed; even a masterpiece may look like a grotesque mass of strokes and colors, prior to its completion. Human history is God’s masterpiece. Physical creation was completed at the end of the sixth day, but the spiritual development of mankind will continue until this world ends, at the close of the sixth millennium. Thus it is both unfair and impossible to judge God’s equity before the denouement of human history, despite the fact that history appears to be a long series of tragic injustices. On the seventh day of the first week of creation, on the Sabbath, Adam surveyed God’s completed work and he was stirred to sing of the marvelous perfection, which his eyes beheld. Similarly, when the panorama of human history is completed, the seventh millennium will be ushered in as the day of everlasting Sabbath. At that time all Adam’s descendants will look back and admire God’s completed masterpiece.”

The teaching of the rabbi will either come to pass, or we will soon know that he was wrong.

A Thief in the Night

“…and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4b).

Moses divided the millennium into two parts, most of which is taken up in the “yesterday.” But the rest of it concludes with “a watch in the night.”

“Rashi maintains that one day of God consists of less than one thousand years, for God warned Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge, saying, ‘For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’ (Genesis 2:17), which implies that Adam’s entire life span was considered a single day in God’s eyes. When Adam’s life ended after 930 years (Genesis 3:5), it was the end of God’s day. Thus, one thousand years in God’s eyes are like one yesterday plus a short watch in the night composed of seventy years.”

Peter further explains his “millennial day” concept by addressing the “watch in the night:”

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (II Peter 3:10).

Paul also writes about the Second Coming in terms reminiscent of this “watch in the night:”

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:1-2).

John also added to this concept:

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth” (Revelation 16:15).

Our Savior was not merely using a colloquialism when he referred to this same concept:

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42-44).

In respect to these passages, it is essential that we view Psalm 90 and its “watch in the night” as prophetic and that we are busy watching!

Creation Day Two (vs. 5)

“Thou carriest them away as with a flood. They are as a sleep” (Psalm 90:5a).

Moses alludes to the second day of Creation and at the same time gives its prophetic implication — representing that which occurred in the second millennium. On the second day, God divided the waters from the waters.

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

“And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

“And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).

In this prophetic scenario, we can see the great deluge, which covered the earth in the days of Noah. On the second day of creation God divided the waters above the firmament from the waters under the firmament and in like manner, we are told that in the time of Noah, the waters in the firmament above rained down upon the earth for forty days.

Please note that on the second day of Creation, God did not say that it was good. This alludes to the fact that in the second millennium, the flood came as a judgment upon an unbelieving human race. I am convinced that the great Flood of Noah’s day was predicted by the events of the second day of Creation. This is clearly implied by Moses statement, “Thou carriest them away as with a flood.”

Creation Day Three (vv. 5b-7)

“In the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

“In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

“For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled” (Psalm 90:5b-7).

That brings us to the third day of Creation when God called forth the dry land and the grass:

“And God said, Let the water under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:9-13).

He caused the land to be fruitful and multiply. In like manner, God caused the waters of the great deluge to be abated and gave Noah the command to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Just as on that third day of Creation the earth brought forth grass and vegetation, in like manner, during the third millennium the earth again produced vegetation to replace that, which was destroyed by the Flood.

At the beginning of the third millennium, God told Abraham that his progeny would end up in Egypt, but that, in 430 years, they would return to possess the Promised Land.

Egyptian Bondage

“In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

“For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled” (Psalm 90:6-7).

Verses 6 and 7 allude to the years spent in Egypt before the Exodus. Furthermore, history attests to the fact that eventually God drove Israel from their land to dwell among the nations. Generation after generation have come and gone. Indeed, Israel’s days were passed under the wrath of God. Unlike other nations, their years have been like “a tale that is told.” Stories of Jewish suffering make a heart rending and seemingly never-ending series of sorrow!

Rabbi Feuer addresses Jewish suffering in his commentary on this passage, “we are consumed by your fury” and “we are terrified by your wrath:”

“Now the Psalmist turns his attention to the special perils of the exile (Radak), for if mortal men are vulnerable in times of tranquility, they are certainly in even greater danger when they are exposed to the Divine fury unleashed in exile (Eitz Yosef). Rashi explains that the word ‘fury’ also means nose. Among the most prominent physical manifestations of anger are flaring nostrils and heavy nasal breathing. In contrast, ‘wrath’ is a hostile, violent feeling which is kept inside (Malbim).”

Concerning the statement, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance,” the rabbinical commentary says that God remembers everything forever (Rabbi Yoseif Titzak). Since our past sins remain before You eternally, You never stop punishing us for them (Radak). The term, “secret sins,” refers to immaturity or youth. The psalmist refers to sins committed in the immaturity of youth.

It is apparent that Israel is the subject of this passage, having suffered God’s judgment over the centuries. Jewish scholars, however, attribute the sins of ancient Israel to a national adolescent immaturity. For this reason, God will not punish them forever, but will be reconciled to Israel when they reach maturity.

Creation Day Four (vv. 8-10a)

“Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

“For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.”

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten…”(Psalm 90:8-10a).

The “light,” “days,” and “years,” in these verses allude to the fourth day of Creation. It was on that fourth day that God created the sun, moon, and stars to give “light” and to mark the “days” and “years”:

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19).

On the fourth day God created two great lights in the firmament of the heaven — the sun and moon. He created the stars and set them in the heavens for signs. They conform to the Gospel message found in Scripture.

Beginning with Virgo, they tell the story of the virgin who bore the Christ child. Concluding with Leo, they tell of the Lion of the tribe of Judah who will destroy the dragon symbolized by Hydra. It is a powerful story given to early civilizations during those 2,500 years from Adam to Moses.

This fourth day of Creation also gives a prophetic overview of the fourth millennium of human history. This is a picture of those days, which began with the building of Solomon’s temple.

Psalm 90:8-9

Now let us return to Psalm 90:

“Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

“For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:8-9).

These two verses in Psalm 90 seem to reflect the judgment of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities that took place in the fourth millennium. Indeed, it could be said of the Chosen people, “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.”

Psalm 90:10a

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten…” (Psalm 90:10a).

The opening statement of verse 10 may be a reference to the seventy years duration of the Babylonian captivity: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten…” Or, they may be linked to the fifth millennium and the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. For that reason, I have included it in the next division of this psalm as well. Either way, the statement fits the prophetic scenario laid out by Moses. It may also set the definition of a generation. Jesus could have referred to this “generation” (Mt.24:34).

Creation Day Five (vv. 10-11)

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

“Who knoweth the power of thine anger: even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath” (Psalm 90:10-11).

The reference to “fly away” alludes to the fifth day of Creation when God made the birds to fly in the sky.

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

“And the evening and the morning were the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23).

This division of Psalm 90 not only alludes to the fifth day of Creation, but also represents events that characterized the fifth millennium. In A.D. 70, Herod’s Temple was destroyed and over a hundred thousand Jews were massacred. It was perhaps the most dreadful event in Jewish history. In the years that followed, the Romans emptied the Promised Land of its Chosen People and scattered them to the slave markets of the world. The Jew has suffered more than any race or nation in history. They became the wandering Jew — with only a hope that someday they would rise again. With that promise of restoration, Moses’ Song prepared the Jew for their modern return to the land of his forefathers.

Creation Day Six (vv. 12-13)

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

“Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants” (Psalm 90:12-13).

Just as God began to punish the Chosen People at the beginning of the fifth millennium, He has restored them at the close of this sixth millennium. In 1948, God kept His promise. The nation of Israel was reborn. As verse 13 suggests, “let it repent thee concerning thy servants.” Fallen Israel is rising again. Soon, the Messiah will return as verse 13 pleads, “Return, O LORD.”

Moses alludes to the sixth day of Creation as implied in verse 12, “So teach us to numbers our days.” It was on the sixth day of Creation that the Lord brought forth the “living creature after his kind.” It is a picture of redemption and soul winning.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply …

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:24-27).

As we have previously stated, in both the fifth and sixth days of Creation God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” In like manner, the Church has been busy for the past 2,000 years witnessing and winning people to Christ.

It was also on the sixth day of Creation that God made man in His own image. In like manner, all who have received Christ as Savior will someday be resurrected or translated — made again in His image.

Psalm 90:12

“So teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12).

In 1990, leading rabbis concluded that the year was very significant. Their calendar year for 1990 was 5750 — five thousand, seven hundred fifty years since the creation of Adam. Rabbis noted that each millennium was represented by a day of Creation. They concluded that 5750 marked the three-quarter point of the sixth day. They said it represented 3:00 on Friday afternoon. They got that idea from Psalm 90. Their proposed millennial day began at 6 A.M. The 9:00 position corresponded to the 250-year point; 12:00 noon marked the 500-year point; and 3:00 in the afternoon suggested the 750-year point of the millennium.

Since 5,000 years had come and gone (corresponding to Sunday through Thursday) and since 750 years of the sixth day (Friday) had come and gone, the Jewish calendar year 5750 (1990) represented 3:00 on Friday afternoon. That is the hour each Friday when the first Sabbath candle is lit. Rabbis reported that religious Jews did not need to wait another 250 years for the prophetic Sabbath (the seventh millennium) to begin. They said it was time for the Messiah to come and establish the Messianic era — just as verse 13 pleads, “Return, O LORD.”

A Jewish interpretation of verse 12 says, “According to the count of our days so make known, then we shall acquire a heart of wisdom.” The word “So…” is translated from a Hebrew term pronounced, “kane,” which has a numerical value of 70 and compares to the previous teaching in verse 10, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten …” These rabbinical interpretations give a prophetic view to the passage. Since God cast Israel into exile, there should come a day when God will restore the nation. The count of “our days” is made to refer to national Israel, not just those of a single individual. The prayer for “wisdom” to “number our days” seems to be that of the generation upon whom the restoration will come. Since Israel has been revived in this century, after two thousand years of exile, we suggest that the prayer is about to be answered!

The statement, “… that we may apply our hearts to wisdom,” was interpreted by Rabbi Radak (twelfth century) to have a prophetic meaning. He said that the word “apply” translated from the Hebrew root word “bow” functions as a noun — “the prophet.” Radak gives this interpretation:

“When the days of this world are finally counted out, we will witness the advent of the prophet Elijah, who will herald the advent of Messiah. The enlightened teachings of the prophet will bring a heart of wisdom to mankind, as Scripture states, ‘The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of HASHEM [the LORD] as water covers the sea’ (Isaiah 1l:9).”

This astounding interpretation by a twelfth-century rabbi reflects the teaching of historic Judaism about Psalm 90. The implication of this part of the Song of Moses is overwhelming — that its message should be applied to the concluding days of the sixth millennium!

Psalm 90:13

“Return, O LORD How long? let it repent thee concerning thy servants” (Psalm 90:13).

Note, though the Jews do not believe that their Messiah has ever come before, the verse asks Him to “return.” They are looking for the First Coming of Messiah. But Moses wrote that He would “return.”

The question, “How long?” is especially significant. This question appears 18 times in 12 passages in the Psalms. If the question is to be asked at all, it is at least the prerogative of the Jews. They are the Chosen People. Though they have suffered as no other nation, they have not been forever forsaken. The promise of deliverance will come. Messiah will appear to establish a millennium of peace. God will keep His promise.

The Sabbath Rest (vv. 14-17)

“O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

“Make us glad according to the days wherein thou has afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

“Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalm 90:14-17).

Before we look at the seventh millennium, let us review the account of Creation week. On the seventh day, God rested:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

God resting on the seventh day following Creation was the leading prophetic theme of the Genesis account. It was a clear promise that the seventh millennium of human history would be a time of utopia for redeemed mankind. It will be a thousand years of rest from the continuing temptations of the serpent. The devil will be restrained from the planet during the reign of Christ. What a wonderful prospect!

When Christ returns to reign, Israel will be set at the head of the nations and Christ will rule from Jerusalem. The suffering of the Jew will finally be understood — as verses 14 and 15 suggest: “O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days [concerning all seven millennial days]. Make us glad according to the days [the past millennial days] wherein thou has afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.”

During the kingdom reign of Christ, God’s work concerning the Jew will be explained. They will at last understand why they were made to suffer — as verse 16 implies, “Let thy work appear unto thy servants.” God’s glory will return to the Temple Mount as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the righteous remnant — as verse 16 concludes, “and thy glory unto their children [the offspring of those earlier generations].”

Psalm 90:14

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

Radak observes this verse as “a reference to the dawn of the Messianic era, which will shine as brilliantly as the morning sun. At that time, we will be sated [gratified with more than enough] by God’s kindness and we will never again experience any misery. Then we shall sing out and rejoice all our days.”

Psalm 90:15

Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil” (Psalm 90:15).

Rashi comments, “Make us glad in the Messianic era of the future for a duration of time which will equal the length of time that we suffered in exile in this world.” Many opinions are offered by the Talmud (Sanhedrin 99a) to determine the duration of the Messianic era. Some say that it will last forty years corresponding to the number of years the Jews suffered in the wilderness… or 400 years corresponding to the years of the Egyptian bondage… or 365 years corresponding to the days of the solar year, for the burning sun is a symbol of fiery Divine retribution, … or 7000 years like the days of the week, and each day of God is 1000 years.”

Jewish scholars have been hard at work for centuries trying to determine the time for the coming of the Messiah. Psalm 90 appears to be one of those special passages studied by the rabbis. They seem to be convinced that it refers to the conclusion of the sixth millennium!

Psalm 90:16-17

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalm 90:16-17).

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, in his commentary on the Psalms, wrote:

“Specifically, we await the most monumental accomplishment of Jewish history: the final reconstruction of the third Beis HaMikdash [Temple]. Actually, since the destruction of the second Temple, God has been slowly reconstructing the edifice in heaven. When it is completed, God will display His works by bringing the celestial Temple down to earth (Dorash Moshe).

“After God returns His presence to earth, we ask that He continue to dwell here for future generations so that our children and descendants will enjoy His glory. Indeed, we hope that His glory will be apparent soon!”

Dorash Moshe observes: “After the Temple is reconstructed, God will gather in the scattered exiles, and Israel will return to the Holy Land.”

Moses prays for God to establish “the work of our hands.” The rabbinical interpretation says, “The blessing of the Temple and the Tabernacle is not confined to Israel. Rather, it is the factor, which lends solidarity and prosperity to the entire world. We pray that God will return to this world and establish His blessed presence for all time (Dorash Moshe).”

This verse-by-verse commentary on Psalm 90, quoting rabbinical theology, offers us a rare opportunity to see this stanza of the Song of Moses in a special prophetic light.

We may, indeed, be the generation targeted by the prophecies of this outstanding psalm. Every phrase of every verse appears to give a prophetic view of a Chosen People who are approaching the end of 6,000 years and the anticipation of the millennial reign of Christ!

Go to Lesson 4: The Millennial Day Concept

Go to Lesson 6: The Doctrine of the Great Sabbath

The Millennial Day Concept

By on April 5, 2010

Each of the Six Days of Creation Represents a thousand years of Human activity on this Earth – then the Judgment will come.
It has been six thousand years since the creation of Adam and the seventh millennium is rolling in upon us. The twentieth century was beset with two world wars, widespread famine and disease, an increase in earthquake activity, and the revival of Israel. It seems more than a coincidence that these events occurred around the dawning of the seventh millennium.

Some first, second and third-century theologians taught that Christ would return at the end of 6,000 years, and though He has not yet come, many Christians still agree. Not enough years have passed since the turn of the millennium to dissuade us of that view. Even if we considered the proposed timing of the early church fathers to be only approxi-mate, we are still inclined to agree. We can see the prophetic Scriptures being fulfilled around us today.

Irenaeus

Irenaeus (born A.D. 140) wrote a treatise on the virtues of the Christian faith, in which is found this statement:

“For in so many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded … and God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works He made … This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come … in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end after six thousand years.”

According to Irenaeus (one among many who held this view) the history of the human race from creation to the consummation will span a 7,000-year period of time. The seventh millennium is to be the reign of Christ.

Irenaeus was not alone in this belief. There are several other ancient writings that concur. Among them are The Secrets of Enoch, The Epistle of Barnabas, The Testament of Adam and other writings of early Christian and Jewish scholars.

The Secrets of Enoch

The Secrets of Enoch, dating from at least the first century A.D. (also called II Enoch), was trans-lated from Slavonic. In this ancient writing, God is said to have shown Enoch the age of the world and its existence over a period of 7,000 years:

“And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first-created after my work, and that the first seven revolve in the form of the seventh thousand, and that at the beginning of the eighth thousand there should be a time of not-counting — endless ….”

The Epistle of Barnabas

The Epistle of Barnabas was found among a col-lection of New Testament books, bound in a single volume, and dubbed, “The Sinaiticus.” It was discovered in 1844 at the monastery of Saint Catherine, located at the foot of the traditional Mount Sinai. It dates to at least the fourth century A.D. and reflects the views of many early Christian theologians:

“And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and sanctified it. Consider, my children, what that signifies, he fin-ished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is a thousand years; as himself testifieth, saying, Be-hold this day shall be as a thousand years. There-fore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day: he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon, and the stars; then shall gloriously rest in that seventh day.”

The Testament of Adam

In The Testament of Adam (dating back to the middle or late third century) the career of the world is said to last for 6,000 years after the Flood, or, presumably, for 7,000 years in all. Seth, the supposed author, writes about the deathbed testimony of his father Adam:

“You have heard, my son Seth, that a Flood is coming and will wash the whole Earth because of the daughters of Cain, your brother, who killed your brother Abel out of passion for your sister Lebuda, since sins had been created through your mother, Eve. And after the Flood there will be six thousand years (left) to the form of the world, and then its end will come.”

Talmudic Writings

In an article entitled “Chronomessianism,” pub-lished in 1976 in the Hebrew Union College an-nual yearbook, Rabbi Ben Zion Wacholder quoted a statement from the ancient Talmud: “Just as the seventh offers a release to the Jew, so the world will be released during the seventh millennium.”

The Jewish Talmud, written in the second century A.D., records the following: “The world is to stand 6,000 years, viz., 2,000 confusion and void, 2,000 with the law, and 2,000 as the time of the Messiah.”

The seventh millennium was predicted to be the “exaltation of Messiah.” When this prediction was recorded, rabbis noted that the third 2,000-year period had arrived and the Messiah had not come. The question “Where is the Messiah?” was answered in the same Talmudic passage: “He did come, but because of our sins, he went away.”

Rashi, an eleventh-century rabbi said, “After the second 2,000 years, the Messiah must have come and the wicked kingdom should have been destroyed.” Around the beginning of the third 2,000-year period, Bar Kochba led a Jewish revolt against the Romans (A.D. 135). Israel’s high priest was convinced that Bar Kochba was the Messiah. Unfortunately, Kochba was killed; the revolt was crushed; and the Jews were scattered to the slave markets of the world.

The Millennial Day

According to these early Jewish sages, seven mil-lennia of world history are somehow related to the seven days of Creation. Those days were thought to prophetically represent seven one-thou-sand-year periods of human history. Moses, who gave us the story of the Creation week, established the concept of the millennial day in Psalm 90:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yes-terday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

The Apostle Peter was evidently drawing upon this verse when he wrote in the third chapter of his second epistle that the “day of the Lord” was rep-resented by 1,000 years duration:

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:8,10).

The “day of the Lord” implies a final Sabbath, the seventh millennium of human history. According to Peter, it should begin as “a thief in the night” and conclude 1,000 years later as “the heavens pass away and the elements melt with fervent heat.” This is consistent with other prophecies in the Bible and the book of Revelation in particular. After the millennial reign of Christ, God will renovate the Earth and the heavens with fire. He will create new heavens and a new Earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

Peter spoke about scoffers who would deny the millennial/day concept:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Pe-ter 3:3-4).

Notice, he used the words “last days.” Perhaps these represent the last two “days” of human history just before the seventh “day” (or “day of the Lord”) takes effect. This appears to be a clue that the dispensa-tion of Grace will last for two thousand years. It has been almost 2,000 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Soon we shall know if those early theolo-gians were correct.

Peter seemed to be referring to these “last days” as representing two millennia by saying: “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thou-sand years as one day.” We have only to check the calendar to see that it has indeed been the case.

Listed Six Times in Revelation 20

In the book of Revelation, the millennial reign of Christ is stated six times to be 1,000 years in length:

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years [number 1],

“And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should de-ceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled [number 2]: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not wor-shipped the beast, neither his image, neither had re-ceived his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years [number 3].

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished [number 4]. This is the first resurrection.

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years [number 5].

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison [number 6]” (Revelation 20:2-7).

It seems to be more than a coincidence that the mil-lennial reign of Christ is repeated six times. The implication is obvious. From the creation of Adam to the Second Coming of Christ, God has apparently de-termined six 1,000-year periods of human history.

Peter’s reference to the “day of the Lord” was also used by nine Old Testament prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and Malachi. Some examples are:

“Behold the day of the LORD cometh” (Zechariah 14:1).

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (Joel 2:1).

“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it” (Isaiah 13:9).

“For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the hea-then” (Ezekiel 30:3).

In Hebrews 4, this future millennium is re-ferred to as a Sabbath rest:

“For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

“And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

“Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must en-ter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:4-6).

According to these verses, the millennial reign is considered to be more than just a rest. It is a Sabbath rest. Furthermore, the Jewish people in Jesus’ day were not allowed to enter into that rest because of their unbelief:

“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day” (Hebrews 4:8).

They must await the duration of what the Bible calls “the last days.” That would be at least two millennial days — the dispensation of Grace. Days FIVE and SIX must transpire before day SEVEN can begin. Bear in mind, each of these days are considered to be 1,000 years in length. Hebrews 4 leads us to only one conclusion — from the time of the creation of Adam until the end of the “day of the Lord” must be 7,000 years. That great Sabbath rest is implied to be the SEVENTH millennium.

Creation Week

Let us, therefore, consider the six days of Cre-ation recorded in the first chapter of Genesis to see what kind of prophetic scenario we can find taught by each of these days. If early theologians were correct, we should be able to point out a prophetic overview of each millennium of human history.

The First Day

Let us begin with the first Creation day:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:2-5).

There are two things about this first day of Cre-ation of which we should take note.  First, God said, “Let there be light,” and second, He divided the light from the darkness. He called the light good, implying that darkness represents evil.

In like manner, God put man in the Garden of Eden, and gave him a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Light Represents Good

Consider the definition of “light.” I think it will explain why light is a type of that which is good and why darkness is a type of evil.

The entrance of light into the universe came at the instant God spoke. It was an active energy issu-ing from the voice of God. According to scientific definition, there are two possible explanations: First, light could be a disturbance of the continuum. Perhaps it can best be described as the effect one gets when a pebble is dropped into a pond of water. The impact of the pebble upon the pond creates a set of waves, issuing from the point of impact — a disturbance of the continuum.

Another theory is that light is made up of parti-cles with each little package being jostled against the other creating a domino effect — as one domino would fall against the other and so on down the line. Perhaps, it can best be understood by saying that the dominoes represent the continuum and the entrance of light creates a disturbance of that continuum. Perhaps the dominoes do not repre-sent the light, they simply represent the contin-uum. The knocking over of the first domino repre-sents the entrance of a disturbance to that contin-uum — active energy.

Light, therefore, is the creation of energy. As long as the continuum remains undisturbed, there is no light. Once the continuum is disturbed, however, that energy source becomes measurable. Perhaps that is why the Scripture says, “The en-trance of thy word giveth light.” That is why Jesus, who is the logos, the Word of God, said, “I am the light of the world.” The Gospel of John puts it this way:

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4,5).

In the beginning of Creation, the Earth was with-out form and void. Darkness was upon the face of the deep. There was no disturbance for the contin-uum of the universe, when suddenly God spoke, and the very entrance of His word gave light! It was a disturbance of the continuum, the entrance of an energy source — and it was good!

This teaches us that good is active and the oppo-site of good (evil) is simply a lack of activity. For example, if you are active, you are happy and productive. But if you are lazy, then you are neither happy nor productive. When God spoke on that first Creation day, the entrance of His word into the continuum of this universe cre-ated an active energy source. The Bible calls it “light.” But, of course, this was no ordinary light. The rabbis have written that God produced the “Primeval Light” — an extension of all that He is, and the source of all life. This Primeval Light was used for the first three days of the Creation week, until God replaced it with the light of the sun and stars. At that time, God withdrew the Primeval Light from this universe. However, it remains the unseen source of all life.

Light is far more than meets the eye. The visible light spectrum is but a tiny portion of the overall definition of what we call energy. The visible light spectrum could be explained as follows: Suppose one unrolled a strip of paper forty miles long rep-resenting the overall spectrum of energy. Suppose that person walked down the strip for about thirty miles, knelt down and drew a pencil line across the paper! The line would represent the visible light spectrum as it compares to the overall set of frequencies we call energy.

Both time and space are involved in this contin-uum. It is thought that God can look down upon time as we would look down upon a pond of water. God does not see our continuum as a past, present, and future, but as an eternal now! He can see the end from the beginning. Thus, it is feasible that God could lay out the history of the human race over a predetermined period of 7,000 years. Fur-thermore, He could tell us what would take place in that part of the continuum we call the future.

Therefore, God, who knows the future, could make the first day of Creation to represent the first millennium of human history. “Let there be light [the entrance of activity] … and it was good.”

In like manner, God created Adam and Eve, placed them in a beautiful garden, and gave them a job to do. He told Adam to tend the garden. “Be fruitful and multiply.” But that’s not all. Just as God divided the light from the darkness, He gave Adam and Eve a choice between good and evil. Over the course of the first millennium (of which Adam lived 930 years) mankind grappled with the question of good and evil. Since the first millennium was established with the creation of Adam, he becomes the first millennium man.

The Second Day

The second day of Creation represents the second millennium of history. God divided the waters from the waters. In this prophetic scenario, we can see the great deluge, which covered the Earth in the days of Noah:

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

“And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

“And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).

God divided the firmament, and it rained for forty days. Please note that God did not say that it was good. As a matter of fact, it came as judgment upon an unbelieving human race. It is evident that the great Flood of Noah’s day was predicted by the events of the second day of Creation. Noah was 600 years old when the Flood came. With the Flood dated around 1,656 years after Adam, that shows Noah being born about 1056 years after the creation of Adam — only 126 years after Adam’s death. Therefore, Noah becomes the second millennium man, after whom the second millennium was established.

The Third Day

That brings us to the third day of Creation when God called forth the dry land:

“And God said, Let the water under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gath-ering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit af-ter his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yield-ing seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:9-13).

He caused the land to be fruitful and multiply. In like manner, God caused the waters of the great deluge to be abated and gave the com-mand to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Just as on that third day of Creation the Earth brought forth vegetation; in like manner, during the third millennium the Earth again pro-duced vegetation to replace that, which was de-stroyed by the Flood.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the third millennium, God called Abraham, born 2,008 years after Adam, to produce a Chosen People who would love and serve God, and produce the Messiah. Abraham was the third millennium man, after whom the millennium was established. He made a covenant, which sets up an organized system of religion — a way by which the human race can be spiritually fruitful. We can see it at Sinai when God established the Mosaic covenant with the de-scendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Fourth Day

The fourth day of Creation gives a prophetic overview of the fourth millennium of human his-tory.

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

“And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

“And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

“And the evening and the morning were the fourth day” (Genesis 1:14-19).

On that day God created lights in the firmament of the heaven. He created stars and set them in the heavens for signs. This is a prophetic overview of those days that began with the kingdom of David. Born around the turn of the fourth millennium, David becomes the fourth millennium man, after whom the millennium was established. In the years that followed, most of the Old Testament books were written. Isa-iah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Joel, Amos, Zechariah, and others were surely lights set in the firmament of human history to give us prophetic signs.

The fourth millennium concluded with the intro-duction of another great light. When the fullness of time was come, thus ending the fourth millennium, God sent His Son, “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4,5). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). The sun is a type of Jesus Christ. But then Jesus turned to His disciples, who represented New Testament Christianity, and said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, New Testament Christianity should reflect the glory of our Savior.

The Fifth Day

Christ was born at the beginning of the fifth millennium, making Him the fifth special person born around the turn of the millennium, and after whom the millennium was established. After Jesus, there are no more millennium men. No one can compare to Him. The fifth day of Creation represents the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (typified by water) and the de-velopment of Christianity, as the early church be-came “fishers of men.”

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abun-dantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the Earth in the open firmament of heaven.

“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

“And the evening and the morning were the fifth day” (Genesis 1:20-23).

The water appears to be a type of the Holy Spirit and the term, “bring forth abundantly,” seems to be a picture of the great commission. On this fifth day God called forth the fish.

You may recall, Jesus told His disciples that He would make them to be “fishers of men.” And the insignia of the early church was a fish. The phrase, “be fruitful and multiply” is a prophetic picture of our responsibility as New Testament Chris-tians. We are to take the message of the Gospel to every creature.

The Sixth Day

This great commission spills over into the sixth day of Creation where the Lord brought forth the “living creature after his kind.” It is a picture of soul winning.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, af-ter our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“So God created man in his own image, in the im-age of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply …

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:24-28,31).

On the fifth and sixth days of Creation God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” It was also on the sixth day that God made man in His own image. In like manner, many Christians are looking for the resurrection and rapture around the end of the sixth millennium — to be made again like unto His image. As far as I know, there was no significant individual born around A.D. 1000 to set the theme for the sixth millennium.

The fall of Adam may be a prophetic type of the battle of Armageddon when an unbelieving human race will be judged of God. After the fall, God predicted that Eve would travail in childbirth. In like manner, the sixth millennium concluded with a series of the prophetic “birthpangs of travail.” These birth pangs, how-ever, will bring forth a new humanity recreated in the image of God. The Apostle Paul wrote: “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:53). That’s what the rapture and the resurrection is all about.

The Seventh Day

That brings us to the seventh day, when God ended His work and rested. Here is a prophetic view of the great Sabbath rest — the seventh millennium of human history. From the very dawning of human history, one can follow God’s plan of the ages through the Genesis account of the Creation week. This must be what is meant in Isaiah 46:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:9,10).

God did not wait until the days of Christ, or David, or Moses, or even Noah to present His plan, He laid it out from the very beginning. God declared the end from the beginning.

Go to Lesson 3: Literal Versus Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture

Literal Versus Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture

By on March 6, 2010

If you are concerned about rightly dividing the Word of God, then you are involved with a subject biblical scholars call hermeneutics. According to Dr. A. Berkely Mickelsen, hermeneutics “designates both the science and art of interpretation. The Greek verb hermeneuo means ‘to interpret or explain.’ The Greek noun hermeneia means ‘interpretation.’ In both the Greek counterpart and the contemporary technical term, interpretation has to do with meaning” (A. Berkely Mickelsen, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963, p. 3).

Dr. Bernard Ramm, author of the book, Protestant Biblical Interpretation.

So then, hermeneutics is simply interpretation — hopefully, correct interpretation. But in the matter of hermeneutics, there is one important question: Whose hermeneutics are to be used? More specifically, is there a system of hermeneutics that will legitimately interpret the prophecies in the Bible? Guidelines must be found that will bring the confident assurance that Scripture is not being violated.

A few moments’ thought will bring to mind the paramount fact that everyone who enters into a system of ideas brings with him a body of assumptions. One’s thoughts and expectations are inevitably colored by a lifetime of experience, teaching and emotions.

An excellent example of this fact is the way some theologians of the early church age viewed the Old Testament. Dr. Bernard Ramm writes: “The early Christian Fathers had as their Bible the Old Testament in Greek translation. This had been the Bible of Christ and the Apostles, judging from their citations of the Old Testament in the New.  One of the most basic convictions of the early church was that the Old Testament was a Christian document” (Bernard Ramm, PROTESTANT BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1970, pp. 28,29).

As the fathers of the early church looked into the ancient Jewish books, they claimed to be able to look beneath the plain sense of the Word, and see hidden meanings in it that referred to the church. They claimed that they could see the church in Jewish histories, personalities and commentaries. They disregarded the historical sense of the Old Testament, using what has come to be called the “allegorical method” of interpretation.

Dr. Ramm writes, “Two things may be said for the allegorizing of the Fathers: (i) They were seeking to make the Old Testament a Christian document … (ii) They did emphasize the truths of the Gospel in their fancies.”

Seeds of Replacement Theology

The allegorical method of interpreting Scripture became an attempt to replace Israel with the church. Those early church theologians adopted God’s promises made to Israel and claimed them for the church, saying that the Jews were no longer the Chosen People. Such rendering of the Old Testament fuels anti-Semitic feelings. Today, some people have been led to doubt that the Jews are Jews. They claim that people of white European descent are the true Jews, and that the rebirth of the state of Israel has nothing to do with the fulfillment of prophecy. Some even claim that Israel does not have a right to exist. But, I can tell you, that when Hitler looked for Jews to kill, he knew where they were!

In the eyes of modern conservative interpreters, the real effect of these early commentators was to forever discredit the allegorical method of interpretation. It became a violation of hermeneutics to look beneath the surface of the Word for secondary or hidden narratives that have spiritual or prophetic significance. Most theologians shy away from using the very term “allegory,” but instead, refer to certain allegorical passages as “types and symbols.”

The problem with the allegorical method used in the early centuries, is that the literal meaning of the passage was disregarded in favor of the allegory. This is dangerous. It leads to fanciful interpretations that have no basis in fact. All biblical passages must follow the guidelines set forth in the plain meaning of the Word. A type or symbol must ring true to the context of Scripture.

The Literal Method

The literal method of interpretation “gives to each word the same exact basic meaning it would have in normal, ordinary, customary usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking” (Ramm, p. 53).

Ramm defends the literal approach:

(a) The literal meaning of sentences is the normal approach in all languages.

(b) All secondary meanings of documents, parables, types, allegories, and symbols, depend for their very existence on the previous literal meaning of the terms.

(c) The greater part of the Bible makes adequate sense when interpreted literally.

The literalistic approach does not blindly rule out figures of speech, symbols, allegories, and types; but if the nature of the sentence so demands, it readily yields to the literal sense.

The literal method is the only sane and safe check on the imaginations of man.

The literal method is the only one consonant with the nature of inspiration. The plenary inspiration of the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit guided men into truth and away from error. In this process the Spirit of God used language, and the units of language are words and thoughts. The thought is the thread that strings the words together. Therefore, our very exegesis must commence with a study of words and grammar, the two fundamentals of all meaningful speech” (Ramm, pp. 54 ff).

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, in his book, THINGS TO COME, wrote: “No prophecy which has been completely fulfilled has been fulfilled any way but literally.”

The Advantages of the Literal Method

There are advantages to the literal method of interpretation:

(a) It grounds interpretation in fact. It seeks to establish itself in objective data — grammar, logic, etymology, history, geography, archeology, and theology.

(b) It exercises a kind of control over interpretation, similar to what experimentation does for the scientific method.

(c) It has had the greatest success in opening up the Word of God.

The literal method recognizes that types, symbols, metaphors and allegories are found throughout the Bible. However, these are used to expound upon and explain the literal message of Scripture.

John 1:6 says, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” That is literal. But John 1:29 shows John pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.” That is figurative or symbolic.

Pentecost writes: “The literalist does not deny the existence of figurative language. The literalist does, however deny that such figures must be interpreted so as to destroy the literal truth intended through the employment of the figures” (p. 13).

Type, Symbol or Allegory?

Do we find stories in the Old Testament writings that, in addition to being historical accounts, are also symbolic of the future? Quite obviously, we do. As told in Genesis, the life of Joseph is generally regarded as a “type” of the life of Christ. He was supremely loved by his father and hated by his brothers, who didn’t want him to reign over them. He was sold into slavery, and lived among Gentiles in Egypt (a type of the world) for 20 years. There, he came into rulership and took a Gentile bride. Finally, he revealed himself to his brothers, who acknowledged their wrong and pledged their faith to him. His life literally becomes a story from the past, about the future of the Messiah and His relationship with Israel. It is not considered faulty interpretation to suggest this possibility.

And what about other illustrious Old Testament characters? Does the life of Joshua say anything about the future? In the Hebrew, his name is basically the same as Jesus (Yeshua). And remarkably, we find the ministry of Jesus mirrored in the events of his life. What about the story of Ruth, the Gentile — and Boaz, the kinsman redeemer who took her as his bride? Again, we have a story that throws prophetic light on the future Messiah and His relationship to New Testament Christianity.

And then there is Samuel, whose miracle birth to the barren Hannah gave Israel one of its greatest prophets. His birth foreshadowed the virgin birth of Christ. In fact, the barren Sarah and the barren Rachel also alluded to the future miracle birth of Abraham’s promised Messiah. These stories are prophecies to the spiritual eye that can see it.

Then, there is Solomon. Without a doubt, he is a type of Christ. As the royal son of David, he was a prophetic type of the greater Son in the Davidic lineage.

The stories go on and on. The sagas of King David provide a wonderful overview of God’s plan for Israel. Many of the Psalms form a kind of autobiography of his life. To be sure, they are historical accounts. But they are stories with a familiar ring, as once again today, Israel transitions toward its millennial position as head of the nations.

The Prophetic View of the Psalms

Psalm 22 offers us a classic example of the prophetic nature of the Psalms. It is the familiar, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”

Even though the psalmist does not specifically say that the statement is a prophecy, which someday would be uttered by the Messiah, he nevertheless reflected the heart-cry of the one who would bear the sins of humanity. So it is throughout the Psalms. Each of those ancient songs reflects a similar prophetic view.

In each case, the psalmist pours forth the hopes and dreams, the desires and aspirations, the heartaches and frustrations of someone other than himself. Sometimes, as in the case of Psalm 22, it is the Messiah. But the psalmist also reflects the heartbeat of the Chosen People who would live in the last days — at the close of Israel’s long exile.

Jewish scholar Avrohom Chaim Feuer wrote that David “caught a glimpse of the ultimate triumph and redemption of his people. He had the ability and genius to be stimulated and inspired so profoundly by events that he could soar above the boundaries of time; and sing of past, present, and future in the same breath, with the same words” (Feuer, TEHILLIM, Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Pub., 1985, p. 65).

The Teachings of F. W. Grant

I found a remarkable study in a nineteenth century book by F. W. Grant entitled, THE NUMERICAL STRUCTURE OF SCRIPTURE, first published in October of 1887 (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers). He felt there was something special about the order of the Psalms. He believed that they were thoroughly prophetic. However, living before the onset of the 20th century, he could not understand how the prophecies implied in each psalm would eventually relate to events. He expressed his view of the prophetic Psalms by using the description of a coastline lying in a fog. He wrote:

“I have often compared the view I had to what one might have of a line of coast lying in a fog, points sticking out here and there, sunny and attractive, and you are sure there is connecting land between, only you do not see it. I longed for this fog to rise, and took up the book to seek out more the connection of psalm with psalm, and thus, as I believed, the place and power of each.”

This nineteenth-century theologian could see prophetic points of interest. His proverbial “fog” began to lift with the turn of the twentieth century — some 13 years after the publication of his book. I am convinced that the Psalms reflect the heartbeat of the Jew in his quest to return to the Promised Land. Furthermore, the events along that road seem to be depicted in the Psalms. Each psalm appears to contain prophetic implications to events that occurred in the years of the twentieth century — reflected even in the number of its corresponding psalm.

Grant felt that this numerical order in the Psalms had a special meaning, but he did not have the advantage of hindsight. He wrote:

“Here, then, is a new thought gained: the structure of the psalm has impressed upon it a number in harmony with its spiritual meaning. If this be a law of Scripture, how important to have reached this law!”

This numerical order in the Psalms had been observed by earlier theologians and caught the interest of F. W. Grant. He quoted Franz Delitzsch, a nineteenth-century German theologian who, in turn, quoted Gregory of Nyssa, an earlier scholar, who expressed a frustration at trying to break the numerical code in the Psalms:

“‘Among the fathers,’ writes Delitzsch, ‘Gregory of Nyssa (c. A.D. 372) has attempted to show that the Psalter, in its five books, leads upward, as by five steps, to moral perfection; and down to the most recent times, attempts have been made to trace in the five books a gradation of principal thoughts, which run through the whole collection. We fear that in this direction, investigation has set before itself an unattainable end.’”

Grant reported that this numerical order was referred to as a “gradation of principal thoughts.” I call it “chronological order.” For example, the liberation of Jerusalem by the British in 1917 is reflected in Psalm 17. The holocaust, which cost the lives of six million Jews from 1939 to 1945, is alluded to in Psalms 39-45. The successful quest for their homeland in 1946-47 may be observed in Psalms 46-47. The birth of Israel in 1948 can be readily seen in Psalm 48. In fact, at least each of the first 100 psalms shows the flow of events in each year of the twentieth century — in chronological order.

Dr. Grant expressed his frustration with Delitzsch not pursuing this observation about the Psalms:

“The resemblance is fuller than Delitzsch makes it; but seeing so much, is it not a wonder to find him stop and look no further into the matter? He is on a track which would open the Psalms to him from end to end: what hinders him from pursuing it?”

I think the answer to Grant’s question can simply be found in the fact that these men did not have the privilege of hindsight as we have today. Nineteenth-century scholarship could not see that the prophetic implication found in Psalm 48 would be fulfilled in 1948. But I am convinced that Grant was right on the edge of this concept, which we detected only after the prophecies in each of 83 psalms had come to pass. It is amazing to me that no one saw the prophetic design before our discovery in September of 1983. Grant wrote:

“I began to see that there was a methodical structure throughout, and that this had to do with the meaning of what was there.”

This “gradation of principle thoughts” is no mere twisting of Scripture. The evidence is overwhelming that God had prewritten the chronology of this modern exodus of world Jewry in order to document its year-by-year fulfillment. It is the ultimate documentation of Jeremiah’s prophecy:

“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

“But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

Jeremiah’s prophecy is more than just a return following the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century B.C. The prophet clearly describes Israel’s exile as worldwide. Furthermore, he especially takes note of the “land of the north.” This can only be a reference to Jewish immigration from Russia over the past century. Also, Jeremiah implies that the final exodus will be so great; the exodus out of Egypt will pale in comparison.

Israel — The Super Sign

The final return of Israel was so important; God laid out its chronology in the Psalms. Furthermore, the Lord saw to it that this book ended up as the 19th book of the Bible. Therefore, book 19, psalm 48, reveals an event that came to pass in 1948! The Psalter is juxtapositioned as both the 19th book counting from Genesis and the 48th book counting back from Revelation. Its theme, the birth of Israel, came to pass in 1948! Some theologians may be willing to call that a coincidence, but I prefer to believe that there is a God in heaven superintending the whole Bible.

Grant noted that the Psalms are not normally considered as prophetic. The Psalmist does not take the time to announce his psalm as a prophecy. Nevertheless, the prophetic implication is apparent. The prophetic nature in each psalm must be observed by “faith.” Grant wrote:

“Take for example the twenty-second psalm. It is not a direct prediction, but the Spirit of God leading the Psalmist, in the expression of personal feelings, to go beyond himself, so as to become, whether consciously or not, the representative of One greater than himself. The psalm is thus left as a divine secret, a mystery to be unraveled by faith…. But so also in many another psalm, in which not Messiah but a saint of the latter days is put before us in an exactly similar manner; so that the experiences, feelings, and exercises proper to the people of God then are found in the outpourings of the heart of an Asaph, a Heman, an Ethan, a son Korah, or even of David himself…. The people so taken up is Israel — seen in sorrows which will come upon them in the great time of Jacob’s trouble, out of which he will be delivered and brought into lasting blessing” (pp. 109,110).

It is important to note that just as Psalm 22 reflected the sorrow of the Messiah on the day of His suffering, these psalms also reflect the sorrow of Israel in the day of its suffering. Grant goes on to call the Psalms a view of Israel’s sorrow in the “great time of Jacob’s trouble.” His concept agrees with what we have found in the Psalms. The prophetic nature is clear enough for us to conclude that we live in that special generation which will experience the biblical Tribulation Period.

Though F. W. Grant did not have the privilege of hindsight, he nevertheless concluded that Psalms 42-72 were prophecies of the suffering of Israel in the “last days.” He wrote:

“The second book (Psalms 42-72) carries us on fully to the last days, and shows us their deliverance by Christ when in the sorrows of their final trial…” (p. 113).

Grant referred to the “final trial” of Israel. And it is important to note that the birth of the Jewish nation followed immediately on the heels of the suffering of the holocaust. Though he could not foresee the exact way in which the prophecy would be fulfilled, he was correct as to their prophetic implications.

Grant’s profound insight into the prophetic implications of Psalms 94-100 are also worthy of note. He saw them as a single group with a cohesive prophetic pattern. He wrote: “The following psalms — seven in number [94-100] — then give the coming of Jehovah to the earth, and how all things break into song before Him” (p. 115).

Grant’s observation of Psalms 101-106 is interesting. He wrote: “But the second division [101-106] has a deeper secret yet to tell: Jehovah and this Second Man are one!” (p. 115).

Grant refers to the Messiah when he speaks of this “Second Man.” He notes that this is no mere man. He is deity: “It is here that the amazing secret is discovered. This humbled Man is owned in His humiliation as Jehovah’s Fellow. ‘Of old hast Thou laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands: they shall perish, but Thou endurest!’ How wonderful is this! And how great are its consequences! Creator and Redeemer are one: the hands that receive the government of the earth are almighty ones: there is an indefectible Head of blessing: God and man are brought how unutterably near! Thus the hundred and third psalm begins now its tale of grace and blessing; the hundred and fourth celebrates Jehovah — the Redeemer — as the Creator; the hundred and fifth is His appeal to Israel, and the final psalm their confession and repentance.” (p. 116).

Psalms 101 and following seem to follow on with those events begun in the previous 100 psalms — a chronology which leads up to the final confrontation with the Antichrist and his proposed world government. Also, he wrote that the following psalms (107-150) alluded to Israel standing on the threshold of the Messiah’s kingdom. He wrote: “And now the fifth book begins — Israel just ready to take possession of the land after their long dispersion. Of Psalm 107, at the beginning of the fifth book, he [Delitzsch] also says, ‘Now, just as in the book of Deuteronomy Israel stands on the threshold of the land of promise … so at the beginning of this fifth book of the Psalter we see Israel restored to the soil of its fatherland. There, it is the Israel redeemed out of Egypt; here, it is the Israel redeemed out of the land of the exile. There, the lawgiver once more admonishes Israel to yield the obedience of love to the law of Jehovah; here, the Psalmist calls upon Israel to show gratitude toward Him who has redeemed it from exile, and distress, and death’” (p. 116).

If Rev. Grant were alive today, I think he would be delighted with the way the Psalter discloses a chronology of events in this century — year-by-year — as numbered by each succeeding psalm. That is not to say that the most significant prophetic fulfillment — the long awaited advent of the Messiah — must come to pass in the very year numbered by the psalm in which the prophetic passage appears. Why not? Because this divine dream of Israel is offered in almost every psalm.

For example, Psalm 2:6 alludes to Christ’s kingdom being established on Mt. Zion. But when one reads the entire psalm, it becomes obvious that the earlier events alluded to in the psalm — leading up to the coronation of the King will necessarily require several years to develop, beginning with, “Why do the heathen rage?” Indeed, such political upheavals herein described were in full force in 1902. That development is what the psalm foresees. What we see in the psalms are the various events that ultimately lead up to His eventual appearance.

Psalm 19:5 alludes to a “bridegroom coming out of his chamber,” but that does not mean Christ must come in 1919. Psalm 89:51 speaks of the “footsteps of thine anointed,” but does not mean that He should have appeared in 1989. These passages simply imply that His coming is in view as these psalms take their place in the grand scheme. There are prophetic views in psalms 19 and 89 that were fulfilled in 1919 and 1989. The development of the Jewish state in the twentieth century is the overwhelming theme that must be considered. There is no rapture date-setting intended, only the saga of Israel’s long exile ended, the return to their Promised Land, and the subsequent development toward the messianic kingdom. Such a prophetic view of the Psalms certainly conforms to the literal interpretation of Scripture.

One must be careful, however, not to become dogmatic when interpreting prophetic types and symbols. They may have more than one meaning. Furthermore, no implied prophetic passage should be used to set any specific dates for future events.

All prophetic interpretation must conform to the same prophetic scenario that can be derived from plain and literal Scriptures. If speculation is called for, it must be made clear that it is mere speculation and not something upon which one can depend. υ

Go to Lesson 2: Levels of Biblical Interpretation

Go to Lesson 4: The Millennial Day Concept

Levels of Biblical Interpretation

By on February 6, 2010

There are three basic levels of biblical structure – primary interpretation, practical application and prophetic implication. Most Christians are aware of the primary interpretation and practical application of Scripture, but shy away from studying prophecy. Too many fail to understand its importance in our personal spiritual development.

According to a November 1999 poll by Newsweek magazine, 40% of American adults believe the world will end as the Bible predicts, with the Battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ. That is commendable. We are encouraged that so many Americans believe in the prophecies of the Bible. So why aren’t people more deeply involved in the study of biblical prophecy?

The fall of Adam was just the beginning of the rebellion that has taken the human race through 6,000 years of failure. Yet, the Bible offers a bright future.

Most elementary Sunday school lessons are built around primary interpretation – the plain simple message of the Bible. Most intermediate and adult Sunday school lessons are designed to teach practical application – how to live godly in this present world. It is also a fact that most sermons deal with practical application themes. These are necessary foundations for the believer. Their importance cannot be minimized. However, most Christians do not graduate beyond these levels of biblical studies.

The Apostle Paul must have taught the deeper levels of prophecy to the people at Thessalonica. John surely taught an advanced course in the book of Revelation to his congregation at Ephesus. Yet, today’s average modern congregation is woefully lacking in this area.

Mainstream Christianity treats the study of prophecy at arm’s length. In most sermons, a general view of prophecy is usually presented in some abbreviated form. The Christian is left quite unaware of those vast fields of biblical knowledge that lie within the pages of the Bible.

Futurist Views

The Bible is structurally designed to take us on a journey from the past, through the present, into the future. God, Who shows us where we came from and how to live while we are here, does not leave us without some direction of where we are going.

The Bible, as a whole, carries this design. The Old Testament begins with the primary view of the past, whereas the New Testament promises us a bright and eternal future. Note the design: the primary or historical view always opens and the prophetic or futurist view always concludes the work.

The structure of the Old Testament opens with the historical view in Genesis through Deuteronomy and concludes with the futurist view in the prophets – Isaiah through Malachi. The New Testament opens with the historical view of the First Advent of Christ in the Gospels and concludes with a futurist view of the Second Advent of Christ in Revelation.

The Torah

This is also true in the structure of most of the individual books in the Bible. For example, Genesis begins with a primary interpretation, as seen in the Creation and fall of Adam; continues through practical application, as seen in the stories of faith and obedience; and concludes with prophetic implication, as seen in the early rejection and later recognition of Joseph. When we read the story of Joseph we can see the prophetic significance of his rejection; his ascendancy to the governorship of Egypt; and the final redemption of his family. This is clearly prophetic of Jesus Christ – written centuries before His birth and rejection. Furthermore, the story of Joseph leaves us with a view toward the future redemption of Israel.

The book of Genesis concludes with the prophecies of the dying Jacob. We are plainly told that he gave his sons a series of prophecies “… of that which shall befall you in the last days” (Gen. 49:1).

Exodus is another excellent example of a book that begins with the historical account of Jewish slavery in Egypt and concludes with a futurist view of the Tabernacle – a sacred abode being set up in the midst of the camp and the glory of God entering to dwell among His people. It offers prophetic implications of the coming kingdom of heaven.

Leviticus opens with a primary view of various sacrifices, continues with practical lessons for the congregation and concludes in chapters 23-27 with a futurist view of the holy days and what they mean for the nation.

Numbers opens with the beginning of the wilderness journey, takes us through ten tests of faith, and concludes with deep prophetic implications. Balaam is a type of the Antichrist. Their wars against Arad, Og and Sihon are typical of the future conflicts that lead to Armageddon. These concluding chapters in the book of Numbers are clearly prophetic of the end times.

Deuteronomy opens with a review of forty years in the wilderness and concludes with the prophetic implications of chapters 29-34. Chapters 29 and 30 tell of a covenant of Grace, which will be embraced once the chosen people return to their homeland after many years of exile. Chapter 32 gives the Song of Moses – a song sung by the saints in Revelation 15. It is plainly prophetic.

The Prophets

The Old Testament opens with the books of history and concludes with the futurist view of the prophets. We cannot merely study the books of history and leave the prophets to gather dust. Modern theologians cannot honestly dismiss their work as books that were written in later centuries to parade as attempts at prophecy. For example, some would have Daniel’s book to be written in later centuries — after the Ptolemy and Seleucid dynasties had run their course. The preterist would have the book of Revelation as a metaphoric work that saw its final fulfillments in the first century.

We cannot divorce a portion of Scripture from its context in the whole work and fully understand its intended theme. In his introductory remarks to the Scofield Study Bible entitled, A Panoramic View of the Bible, C. I. Scofield wrote:

“The Bible, incomparably the most widely circulated of books, at once provokes and baffles study. Even the non-believer in its authority rightly feels that it is unintelligent to remain in almost total ignorance of the most famous and ancient of books. And yet most, even of sincere believers, soon retire from any serious effort to master the content of the sacred writings. The reason is not far to seek. It is found in the fact that no particular portion of Scripture is to be intelligently comprehended apart from some conception of its place in the whole. For the Bible story and message is like a picture wrought out in mosaic; each book, chapter, verse, and even word forms a necessary part, and has its own appointed place. It is, therefore, indispensable to any interesting and fruitful study of the Bible that a general knowledge of it be gained.”

If we are to understand and believe the opening chapters of Genesis, then we must also give attention to the concluding books of the Old Testament – the prophets. As we review a few of these prophets in order to make our point, let us note that even they begin with the simple level and quickly move toward the more complex. They open with the historical and conclude with the prophetic.

Isaiah

Isaiah begins with the historical view of Israel’s impending judgment and concludes with the two advents of the Messiah. The book is divided into two sections. Generally speaking, the first 39 chapters deal with the events of Isaiah’s day.

There are a few exceptions, such as Isaiah 6:9, where the prophet is told to tell the people that they will become spiritually blind and deaf. As a result of the prophecy, Israel did not recognize their Messiah when He came. This is a prophetic view that continues unto this day.

In Isaiah 7:14 we are told that “… a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In Isaiah 9:6 we are told that the child will be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” and that He will eventually take the reigns of government. In Isaiah 13:6 the prophet transports us into the future – to the days that introduce the seventh millennium:

“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand.”

In Isaiah 27:1, we are given a glimpse of the Tribulation Period and the destruction of the dragon that rises out of the sea. When we come to chapters 40-66, our attention is decidedly turned toward the future. In these 27 chapters, we can see both the crucifixion of Christ in chapter 53 and His victorious return in chapter 63. The book concludes with such futurist statements as:

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth …” (Isaiah 65:17).

The 66 books of Isaiah generally follow the themes given in each of the 66 books of the Bible. It is virtually a miniature Bible.

Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah lived almost a century after Isaiah. He witnessed the Babylonian destruction of Solomon’s Temple and wrote the book of Lamentations to memorialize the catastrophe. His greater work of 52 chapters opens with the impending destruction of Jerusalem — obviously historical in context. However, he moves toward the futurist view as he deals with the Babylonian captivity. Amidst his prophecies, he looks to the far future in chapters 30 and 31:

“For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it” (Jeremiah 30:3).

Alluding to the Tribulation Period, Jeremiah writes:

“Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7).

In the next chapter, he describes that final future return to their promised land:

“Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither” (Jeremiah 31:8).

I am convinced by the context of these chapters that the “north country” must be Russia. That is where it all started in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1991, the Ethiopian Jews were rescued in a dramatic airlift. Huge 747 Jumbo Jets were used to transport 14,400 black Jews from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The seats were removed in order to get 1,080 people into a single airplane. But during the three-hour journey to Tel Aviv, one expectant mother couldn’t wait. Though 1,080 people boarded the flight, 1,081 people landed at the Ben Gurion airport – just as Jeremiah predicted!

We now await the fulfillment of the rest of his prophecy. Jeremiah promises a spiritual redemption:

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

“Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

These verses refer to nothing less than the covenant of Grace established through the death of Christ upon the cross. This is the same covenant that Gentile Christianity has enjoyed over the past two millennia. Now that the Jew is back in his land, we can expect Jewish eyes to soon be opened and Jewish ears to be unstopped. It should not be long now until Jeremiah’s prophecy sees its ultimate fulfillment.

Ezekiel

Here is another marvelous example of a prophet that opens his work with the historical view and moves the reader into the future as he concludes his prophecy. Ezekiel was among the captives taken into Babylon. The first several chapters describe his depression and frustration. But when we get over to the concluding chapters (37-48), the prophet turns his attention toward the future resurrection of his beloved nation. He begins with a vision of the dry bones in chapter 37; moves quickly to the battle of Gog and Magog in chapters 38-39; describes the rebuilt the Temple in chapters 40-42; and welcomes the Messiah in chapter 43 to set up the kingdom. It is decidedly futurist.

Daniel

One more example will suffice. Daniel opens with the history of the Babylonian captivity, and his own enslavement. But in chapters 7-12 he turns our attention toward the final days in which a restored Israel will face the harassment of the Antichrist. Even the Old Testament prophets moved the reader from the past to the future. It is no wonder then, that every Christian should be involved in the study of prophecy.

We cannot simply ignore the last chapters of every book in the Bible. I am sure that the preterist would counter my concerns by reassuring me that they study all the chapters. But my point is that, in truth, they don’t. They simply interpret the prophecies from the viewpoint of a practical application and ignore their prophetic implication. I say it is not fair to the great Author who laid out the futurist view of Scripture. It is time we paid more attention to the prophecies of God’s Word.

Jewish Levels of Interpretation

Our suggestion of three basic levels in biblical interpretation gives us a grasp of the past, present and future. Rabbinical views, however, divide these levels of biblical studies into four areas. They are:

Peshat – the simple level,

Remez – the hint level,

Drosh – the regal level and

Sohd – the secret level.

The first letter in each of these four methods of interpretation – PRDS (xsrp) – combine to spell out the Hebrew word for Paradise. In other words, these Jewish levels of interpretation are designed to take the student back into the garden – past the flaming sword – to reach the tree of life.

Peshat – the Simple Level

Peshat refers to the elementary level – the plain writing of the Scriptures. This is the same method we call primary interpretation. We must begin by reading the book! Read the Bible! Remember that Scofield wrote: “… no particular portion of Scripture is to be intelligently comprehended … apart from its place in the whole.” We cannot fully understand the reading of a single chapter until we have become familiar with the context of all 66 books. We must read the Bible from cover to cover continually until every individual chapter is finally opened to us. Many read it through every year. Some read it through even more often than that. We offer a set of 48 cassette tapes that will recite the entire KJV Bible to you in a matter of only a few days – provided you get no sleep! My point is this. There is no excuse why every Christian cannot become familiar with the Bible in a relatively short period of time. Only then can the serious student of the Word move to the second level of biblical interpretation. We must master the peshat or simple level of understanding.

The Jewish commentary that deals with the peshat level is called the Mishnah, meaning “second to the Torah.” It offers simple explanations of the various Mosaic Laws and rituals. Coupled with the Gamara, the two commentaries make up the Talmud. The Gamara is the commentary used in the Remez or hint level of interpretation.

The four Gospels were written to conform to these Jewish levels of biblical studies. Among the four, Mark fits the Peshat or simple view. It has been called the businessman’s Gospel or the condensed Gospel. One term often used in the book is “straightway.” Mark was simply laying out the historical facts on the life of Christ.

Remez – The Hint Level

Remez is similar to what we call the practical application of Scripture. It is the hint level. If I quote a portion of Scripture, but do not tell you where it is located, you are supposed to know. I don’t have to explain everything to you because you can take the hint. You already have a working knowledge of Scripture. Remez might be explained as, “a word to the wise is sufficient.”

This is also the allegorical and philosophical level. It goes beyond mere elementary knowledge and imparts wisdom – the ability to assimilate knowledge and apply it to our daily living as we develop integrity and character.

The remez level was written for the aristocracy and was higher in its goals and more polished in its content. It was the level of the professional – the doctor, lawyer, philosopher and teacher. This level did not replace the simple peshat, but rather added a philosophical flavoring or seasoning to it.

The Gospel of Luke was written to conform to this philosophical level. He addressed his treatise to a friend named Theophilus – the “beloved theologian.” You can tell from reading Luke’s style of writing that it is more sophisticated and detailed than Mark’s simple style.

Luke records the genealogy of Mary. The aristocratic community would normally be interested in the pedigree of the mother. Mark, writing in the style of the common man, does not bother with genealogy. In Mark, Jesus is presented as a servant, whereas Luke presents the lineage of Mary back to Adam, demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the predicted Messiah “Ben-Adom” — the Son of Adam.

Drosh – the Regal Level

The commentary for the drosh level is called Midrash. The term comes from the process of thrashing grain – separating the kernel from the chaff. It is a far more sophisticated method of interpretation than the remez level. Remez may be allegorical, but drosh deals with parables or riddles.

It is said that Solomon and Hiram, king of Tyre, enjoyed sending each other riddles. It was the game of kings. Solomon’s wisdom gave him a keen ability to find the meanings of riddles, thus gaining him even more fame as the wisest man of his generation. Allegories are simply metaphoric stories that teach a practical lesson. Riddles, on the other hand, are far more difficult to understand.

The drosh level of biblical interpretation is decidedly political. The Jews have always held to the divine promise that they were chosen to produce the Messiah – scion of David.

Someday, our royal descendant of David will establish a world kingdom and bring about utopia upon the earth. This was the promise set forth in God’s covenant with Abraham. It was passed on to Isaac, then to Jacob, Judah and David.

The concept that Christ would become King of kings is the subject of the drosh level of interpretation. Therefore, drosh not only represents the highest form of wisdom or what we might call advanced practical application, but also spills over into the prophetic implications of Scripture.

The prophetic significance of drosh offers the promise of an earthly kingdom. As we shall see, the sohd level is also prophetic, but is distinctly metaphysical – not of this world. Drosh, though prophetic, is of this world.

For royal reasons, Matthew is placed first in the New Testament, ahead of Mark and Luke. Matthew’s introduction of the New Testament presents the regal side of Christ. The concluding book of the New Testament finally unveils Christ as the King of kings.

The term “testament” actually refers to the divine covenant made with Abraham – the covenant that promises a kingdom and a king. Though we are given eternal life through faith in Christ, we should not forget that we will return to this earth to “reign” with Him.

Matthew’s drosh level presents the regal view of Christ by giving the royal generations from Abraham, David and Solomon. The riddle aspects of drosh can be seen in Matthew’s twenty parables about the kingdom of heaven. Luke’s stories take the form of allegory, whereas Matthew’s use of parables or riddles is both prophetic and mysterious.

In Matthew 13, the disciples question the use of these riddles. They ask Jesus to speak more plainly so that the multitudes might understand. To this, Jesus replies that the parable was designed so that the average person could not understand.

In Matthew 24 and 25, Christ discusses the prophetic aspects of drosh. He tells about His future kingdom and the events that will attend its establishment.

Sohd – the Secret Level

The sohd level of biblical interpretation goes beyond this realm of existence. It lifts us into heavenly places to view God’s glory aspects of Scripture. Sohd is not of this world. We can see the sohd level in the story of the flaming sword at the east gate of Eden; Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush and later atop Mount Sinai for 40 days; the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that led the Israelites through the wilderness; Elijah’s heavenly chariot; Ezekiel’s view of a celestial vehicle; Daniel’s encounters with angels; and John’s description of the New Jerusalem. The sohd level is definitely prophetic.

The rabbis describe it as one standing in the darkness of the early morning and seeing the finger-like radiance of the sun that announces its imminent rising. Once the sun lifts above the eastern horizon, the radiance disappears. It is the radiance or aura that speaks of sohd – the secret level. It can best be seen if one does not look directly at it, but rather catches it out of the corner of the eye.

John is the Gospel that presents the sohd level of Christ. He opens his view by telling us that Jesus was the personification of the “Word” of God, that He is the “Light” that shines in the darkness that cannot comprehend it. These are teachings that cannot be scientifically explained. They are not of this world. However, if you read the sages of Israel, though they may deny the deity of Christ, they go to great lengths to discuss these aspects of their Scriptures.

Conclusion

Eschatology is a subject that requires a solid foundation in the primary interpretation and practical applications of Scripture. It is a post-graduate study. It may not be for the novice, but is required for the serious student of the Bible.

If we stop short of prophetic studies; if we are content with practical application; if we view eschatology as a mere spiritual aberration; then we deprive ourselves of seeing the bigger picture. We fail to view life from God’s perspective. It was Paul who wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19).

Are we so spiritually lazy that we shun the subject lest we show our ignorance? Then I challenge you to “… study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

Since the prophets gave us the opportunity to see into the future through their writings, we should not fear taking a peek now and then.

We should be smart enough to differentiate between crystal ball gazing and biblical prophecy. We should not be intimidated into laying aside one of our most rewarding areas of biblical studies.

Go back to Lesson 1: The Importance of Prophetic Studies

Go to Lesson 3: Literal Versus Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture

The Importance of Prophetic Studies

By on January 6, 2010

Eschatology can be one of the most rewarding and worthwhile adventures in the Christian life. The Bible offers an inexhaustible supply of types and symbols. It seems that every chapter in the Old and New Testaments contains prophetic implications. Over and over again the same prophetic patterns seem to emerge. God’s plan of the ages is taught throughout on several different levels.

However, some Christians don’t believe that such a study is worthwhile. They think that the prophecies of the Bible are too uncertain, and vulnerable to different interpretations. They feel that Christians would be better off to concentrate on the historic value and practical application of Scripture. One can hardly blame them. Clearly, some well meaning, but ill informed people have cast clouds of suspicion over the study of prophecy.

For instance, a few years ago a group of deluded people barricaded themselves in a house and took a policeman hostage. It was reported that they had set a date for the end of the world and that they considered all policemen to be antichrists. After several days of confrontation with the police, the hostage was killed. The police stormed the house, and all seven members of the religious cult were killed. How sad that such deluded people could hurt the cause of Christ.

We should not let such irrational behavior discredit Christianity or the legitimate study of eschatology. What they did was not Christ honoring, nor was it in keeping with the teachings of the Bible. Because of events like that, some Christians relegate the study of prophecy to that kind of mentality. It should not be so. Those who wrote the Bible would not have included so much information regarding last-day events if God did not intend for those subjects to be studied.

God did not inspire His Word to confuse people. He included the prophetic passages to help us understand His great plan of the ages. He did not want to leave us groping in the darkness of human experience without a light at the end of the tunnel.

If Christians and pastors omit the study of prophecy, then they overlook the importance, which the Bible itself places upon the subject. Over and over again the Bible warns us to watch and be prepared for last-day events. How can we be prepared if we do not study those great signs of the times predicted in the Bible.

According to the Scripture, there are certain specific benefits that can be obtained through the study of prophecy.

I. Spiritual Stimulation

First of all, it can bring spiritual stimulation. That is, it can cause us to want to lead a life pleasing to God. The Apostle John told what the study of prophecy could do for us:

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3).

A study of prophecy will cause a man to purify himself — to live a clean and godly life. Again, Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Then the Savior followed that statement with this prophetic incentive: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul urged Christians to mortify our “…members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” giving this prophetic incentive: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4,5).

The fact that there is a close relationship between a study of prophecy and godliness of life is verified throughout the New Testament. Furthermore, it can be observed in the average church congregation. Pastors regularly testify that the most devoted and faithful workers are those who are knowledgeable concerning last-day events. Those who expect Christ to come again are the ones who seem to be busy about the Master’s business.

Some pastors feel that the subject causes Christians to despair, to slack off in their missionary giving and in their soul-winning efforts. Quite the contrary, the opposite is true. Those churches that are experiencing revival today and are doing a great work across America are the churches that believe in the pre-millennial Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Church after church, whose ministers teach an amillennial view, are dwindling in membership and dying spiritually. The Christian who believes in the Blessed Hope and the soon return of Jesus Christ feels a sense of closeness to Him. This air of expectancy leads to a greater love and a deeper devotion. In Hebrews 10:25 Christians are commanded to do “so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Yes, there is a spiritual stimulation to be gained from the study of biblical prophecy.

II. Mental Satisfaction

Then second, eschatology offers a certain mental satisfaction. God has endowed man with a quest for knowledge about the future, which can only be satisfied through a study of the prophetic Scriptures. It is natural for men to want to know the future. For instance, in the last chapter of his book, the prophet Daniel asked, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders” (Daniel 12:6).

Again, in Matthew 24:3, as Jesus and His disciples encamped one evening along the western slopes of the Mount of Olives, they asked, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

And again, Jesus and the disciples went out to the Mount of Olives on the day of His ascension, where they enquired, “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

Yes, there is a natural curiosity for men to want to know the future. There is a certain mental and emotional satisfaction in knowing that in the midst of trouble and persecution, our Savior has everything under control and that He will emerge triumphant. In Matthew 24:6 our Savior encouraged us to: “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.”

We can rejoice that we have read the last chapter in the great drama, and we know that we are on the winning side.

For the non-Christian the future is highly threatening. Will he keep his job? Will he maintain his health? Will an accident take the life of a member of his family? Still more uncertain for him is death. Though he may try to hide these uncertainties under a facade of false confidence, he knows that the questions are very real.

The answer to those questions (and the peace of mind he needs so much) lies only in a saving relationship with Christ. No matter what life may hold today, the Christian can understand the basic plan in God’s program and know that his personal welfare is secure.

III. Comfort in Sorrow

Then third, a study of biblical prophecy can give the Christian comfort in times of sorrow. When a family member dies, that feeling of bereavement can be cushioned by knowledge that one day we shall see our loved-ones again. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:13-18).

In times of bereavement we can be comforted with that “blessed hope” obtained through a study of prophecy.

Sometimes our suffering comes in the form of persecution. At such times knowledge of prophecy can help us through that difficult experience. The Apostle Peter wrote: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).

IV. Conviction for Service

Then fourth, knowledge of Bible prophecy can give us conviction for service. Knowing that one day we must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, we should not only live properly, but we should serve diligently. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:9,10).

The study of prophecy will cause us to be diligent about our service to the Savior. Furthermore, we are promised a “crown of righteousness” which is laid up for all those who “love His appearing” (II Timothy 4:8). We are promised a “crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Even though we cannot know the day nor the hour of our Savior’s return, we are commanded to be aware of those signs which will attend the end. In fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in His day for not recognizing the signs of our Savior’s First Advent. He said in Matthew 16:3: “… O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

Let us not be guilty of being like the Pharisees, who evidently adopted an attitude against the study of prophecy and, therefore, did not recognize the Messiah when He came and fulfilled those very prophecies.

There are two extremes when it comes to the study of prophecy. There are those who attempt to prognosticate by setting dates for the fulfillment of certain events, and there are those who shy away from the study of prophecy altogether for fear that they would be in some way associated with those prognosticators. Let us not be guilty of either extreme. Let us study the prophecies of the Bible and not be afraid to probe those difficult portions of Scripture. But at the same time, let us recognize that there are many unknown factors, which God has chosen to remain a mystery.

Prophecy is a progressive study, which cannot be fully understood before the fulfillment of each predicted event. Eschatology constitutes a study of those mysteries which are revealed in their appointed times. For example, during the days of Christ the rabbis were well aware of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, but were confused as to the development of those events.

There were some prophecies, which spoke of the suffering of the Messiah, such as Isaiah 53, and others that spoke of the conquering and reigning Messiah, such as Isaiah 63. The rabbis, however, could not understand that those prophecies referred to one Messiah appearing at two different points in history. They were expecting the Messiah to come the first time in power and great glory. Contrary to that, however, He was born of a virgin in a lowly stable. This kind of appearance was not comprehended, though the rabbis knew of Isaiah 7:14, which spoke of His virgin birth, and of Micah 5:2, which spoke of Bethlehem, His place of birth. Peter addressed the problem when he wrote:

“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (I Peter 1:10,11).

The concept that our Savior would come the first time to suffer, and then would come again one day to conquer remained a mystery. In Daniel 12:4 the Lord told Daniel to: “…shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

According to this verse, the study of prophecy is not an exacting science. Though we are admonished in the Bible to study the prophecies, we are not promised a breakthrough on the complete understanding of them. Many of the prophecies being fulfilled in our generation had remained a mystery down through the pages of history.

Jesus gave some insight on the subject when He predicted His own death.  During a conversation with His disciples, He assured them that they would not understand the prediction until after it had come to pass. He told them to remember that it had been previously predicted. The account is found in John 16:4: “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.”

To a large degree, prophecy cannot be completely understood until after it has come to pass. This should not, however, keep us from applying ourselves to its study, for if we did not address the subject, we would not know when the time was near for its fulfillment.

In the 24th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples asked the Savior, “When shall these things be?” Note that they were neither condemned nor admonished. Quite the contrary, Jesus spent a good deal of time answering their questions. He spoke of “wars and rumors of wars” and about a time when “nation shall rise against nation” and “kingdom against kingdom.” He spoke of certain signs that would attend the end, such as “famine, disease, and earthquakes in divers places.”

But then he gave one clear sign that would herald the fulfillment of end-time prophecies. It was the return of the Jews to the land of their ancient heritage. Using the fig tree, an Old Testament symbol for the nation of Israel, He indicated that a certain generation would see the unfolding of the mystery:

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:32-34).

There is the one big clue to let us know when we are approaching the end of this dispensation. That one prophecy has marked our generation as the one to see the fulfillment of those predictions, which have been, heretofore, not understood. Israel is alive again. The fig tree has shot forth its leaves. That is why Eschatology is important. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Cor. 15:51,52).

Following the giving of that prophecy, the Apostle Paul concluded with verse 58:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

That’s the essence of our blessed hope. Why should we study prophecy? To prepare ourselves to be diligent in the service of our Savior; to be steadfast and unmovable in our faith; to be abounding in the work of the Lord; and “so much the more as you see the day approaching.”

In Defense of Prophetic Studies

The Bible is composed of 66 books, written over a period of 1,500 years, penned by 44 men from many different walks of life. It is divided into two collections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

It is, without doubt, the verbally inspired Word of God, without error in its original autographs. The Old Testament was, for the most part, preserved in Hebrew, while the New Testament was, for the most part, preserved in Greek.

The Bible is written to tell us where we came from, how to live while we’re here, and how we can have a glorious future. It is the story of conflict between good and evil, God and the devil, the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It tells us about our fall through Adam and our redemption through Jesus Christ.

Beginning with Adam, the first human being, the Scriptures follow the selection of a Chosen People, Israel. They were a genetically pure race through which God’s promised Savior was to come.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Out of the chaos of 2,000 years of human corruption, God called Abram, changed his name to Abraham, and gave him a special covenant — promising a homeland, a Chosen People, and a Messiah who would carry out that promised covenant. Through the Messiah, God evidently promised Abraham that eternal life in a heavenly city would become available to all who believe. Yes, the Abrahamic covenant was based upon belief, not performance — redemption by grace through faith and faith alone.

All of this was fulfilled in Jesus. What was promised and prepared throughout the Old Testament, became the central theme of the New Testament. This Abrahamic covenant was prepared in the Old Testament, manifested in the Gospels; propagated in the book of Acts; explained in the Epistles, and fulfilled in the book of Revelation.

In Genesis 22:8, Isaac was told that God would provide “himself a lamb” for a sacrifice. Throughout the centuries, it was understood that the “lamb” would die to take away the sins of the people. And in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ is referred to as that Lamb. In Hebrews 11:10, we are told that Abraham looked for a city “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” In the closing chapters of Revelation, the Holy City, New Jerusalem, descends from God out of heaven “as a bride adorned for her husband.” That is Abraham’s city.

God’s covenant with Abraham was the only covenant that promised eternal life. But it could not become a reality until the death of the “Testator” — the one who drafted the covenant. It was like a Last Will and Testament. It promised an inheritance of eternal life, but had to await the crucifixion before it could become effective. And that is the story of the New Testament.

The Old Covenant of Law made with Moses, with its Ten Commandments and its 613 laws, never promised eternal life. It could only condemn a man for his failure to keep its laws. Furthermore, it was a covenant made only with Israel — that special Chosen People that would one day produce Abraham’s “lamb.”

Early Israel never hoped for eternal life through the Mosaic covenant. They never looked to the Law to bring them the Messianic kingdom. Throughout the centuries, they looked to the Abrahamic covenant and its promise of a Messiah. That is the grand plan of the Bible.

Reading the Bible Is Essential

Before understanding any part of the Bible, one must read it all. There is no story, chapter or verse that can be properly comprehended until the last chapter in the book of Revelation is read. No chapter can be left out of our reading.

There is no excuse for the Christian who has not mastered the entire Bible. In our generation, education is available to all. No one has the excuse that he cannot read. Furthermore, in an age of technology, with cassette tapes and CD players, a reading of the Bible can be heard over and over again, until a full knowledge of it is gained.

There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New Testament, for a total of 1,189 chapters. A continuous reading of it would only take a matter of days to completely read it through. Therefore, no one should claim ignorance of the world’s most famous book. I challenge you to read the Bible. Read it all! Leave nothing out.

The Fearful Few

During the course of my ministry, I have traveled to hundreds of churches across America holding prophetic conferences at the invitation of pastors. Sometimes a pastor will tell me (with a heavy heart) that some of his members have stayed away from the meeting because of the gloom and doom nature of prophecy.

Prophetic studies seem to scare them. They don’t understand that the prophets of the Bible were not pessimists. The prophets looked beyond the judgment of God upon a wicked and unbelieving human race, and saw the glories of His kingdom.

Sometimes young people will say, “I want the Lord to come someday but not now, for I have a life to live, things to do, places to go.”

I can understand their concern, but, may I say, the coming of Christ will not put an end to activities. In fact, the opportunities of life will only be enhanced when Christ returns. The sorrows of this life will fade in the light and joy of His glory. The suffering of this world will be turned into rejoicing.

I have had some to tell me that they watch our television program. “But,” they confess, “Prophecy scares me.” To those, may I say, your only fear is that of the unknown. A study of prophecy, on the other hand, will enlighten you and let you know what to expect in the future. There is no need for fear if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He will take care of you. In fact, one day Jesus allayed the fears of His disciples on this very subject when He said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul …” (Matthew 10:28) Furthermore, He said, “But there shall not a hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:18).

Because of the nature of a prophetic research ministry, I understand a few people — even some pastors — have expressed reservations on the validity of prophetic studies. Frankly, I think their fears are unfounded. Christians should eagerly approach the subject — knowing that in the last days (just before the coming of Christ) there should be an explosion of knowledge on prophetic subjects along with an increased interest by Christians around the world. Just because there are heretical views surfacing today, does not mean that all prophetic probes are unworthy of our attention.

Is not history strewn with all manner of doctrinal viewpoints hatched by heretics? Yet they do not dissuade us from a study of the other great doctrines of the Bible. Then let us not shun Eschatology during these most crucial days in the history of the world.

Christians do not need to fear the future for our faith in Christ releases us from the judgment to come and gives us an incentive to live a victorious Christian life. Only those who do not live by the standards taught in the Bible need to fear. The Word of God was not written to depress the believer with scathing condemnation, but rather to release the heart and mind from such mental anguish by teaching us about the grace of God and His forgiveness.

In I Thessalonians 5:1-11, the apostle Paul addressed the study of prophecy. He declared that we are children of the day, not of the night. And that we should comfort ourselves with a study of prophecy:

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (I Thes. 5:1-6).

There is no need for us to fear the future. We should be excited about the prospects of salvation — for we have been saved from that judgment to come.

In the previous chapter, Paul had described the “blessed hope” when he wrote about the Rapture and Resurrection, adding that we should “comfort one another with these words.”

Paul wrote:

“God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (I Thes. 5:9-11).

He said that we should rejoice in the study of prophecy, knowing that our future is secure in Jesus Christ. Fear of the unknown vanishes when the unknown becomes known. There are some who believe that a study of prophecy curtails soul winning activity and missionary endeavor. Quite the contrary — the very opposite is true. When people study prophecy, they do not despair. They are motivated to increase their efforts. Moses wrote about this when he penned Psalm 90:12-13:

“So teach us to number our days that we might apply our hearts unto wisdom.

“Return, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 90:12-13).

He wrote, that if we knew how long it would be until the return of Christ, we could apply our hearts unto wisdom so as not to waste a single precious moment. It is becoming more and more evident, with the passing of each day that we live in that special generation destined to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, I believe we live in a day of greater soul winning activity than ever before in history.

Don’t be willingly ignorant of the prophecies to be found in the Bible. It is an inexhaustible paradise of prophetic truth. Dig in today and begin your quest for the great treasures to be found in a consistent study of biblical prophecy.

Eschatology Was Not An Afterthought

From the earliest pages of the Bible, God proclaimed His prophetic plan of the ages. Eschatology was not an afterthought. God did not wait until after Calvary to reveal His plan for the end of the world. There is nothing so meticulous as the grand design found in a study of the Old Testament prophets. In Isaiah 46:9-10 the Lord declared:

“I am God, and there is none like me …

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

From the very beginning of the human race God revealed the future to His people. Furthermore, God was motivated by His pleasure. It was for His own pleasure that God guided the men who penned the prophecies.

The Bible in the Stars

For the first 2,500 years of human history, long before Moses penned the first five books of the Bible, God had a prophetic message presented in the constellations. The story given from Virgo, the Virgin, to Leo, the Lion, represented events that would take place in the future. They were prophecies that would begin in Bethlehem and end with the Second Coming. They told the story of the dispensation of Grace. There is nothing in the constellations that speak of Adam and the Garden of Eden; nothing there about the Flood of Noah; and nothing there about Moses and the Exodus. It all begins with Virgo and her virgin-born Son.

One night God spoke to Abraham and told him to look up into the stars. He said, “If thou be able to tell the stars, so shall thy seed be.” It is easy to see from the structure of the sentence that the seed of Abraham refers to an event which was to occur in the future — “so SHALL thy seed be” — for at that time Abraham had no children.

Declaring the End From the Beginning

God has declared the end from the beginning. When Moses began to write the story of Genesis under Divine inspiration, at that same time, in the halls of heaven, the Great Creator had already prepared for the writing of the book of Revelation.

Though the Bible was penned over a period of 1,500 years, it is one book with a single basic theme. It contains, from cover to cover, a plan for the redemption of man.

If the Bible was written by mere men, we would long ago have exhausted a study of its contents. But that is not the case. The Bible was written with an intricate and inexhaustible design. Theologians have studied it for centuries and are still uncovering new insights. I would have to say that I have found no accomplished scholars of this book — only students. After a lifetime of study, one can only admit that he remains a student in search of the infinite variety of truth to be revealed in the wisdom of the Great Creator.

None of the Wicked Shall Understand

Concerning a study of prophecy, it was to Daniel that God said, “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10).

Prophecies were written in such a way that those who have only a casual interest in the book will overlook them and will not understand.

In fact, even the parables of Jesus are prophecies. Understand this. A parable is a riddle — nothing more, nothing less. It is not for children. It is not simply an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. It is a riddle, couched in a symbolic shroud to hide its underlying meaning from those who could not comprehend it.

When our Savior would tell a parable, He would preface it by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto…” That prepares us to accept the parable as a prophetic riddle. They were prophetic scenarios deliberately veiled in metaphoric language so that the average person could not understand it. Only the “wise” can understand.

When making that statement, the Bible does not mean that all who do not understand are fools. I think the Lord simply meant that only those, whose time has come, will understand. Our Savior said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). So, even among Christians there is only a select group who will be able to grasp the eternal verity of a prophetic passage.

Only the Wise Shall Understand

For example, those who are involved in soul winning have an interest in the events of the future. Daniel wrote:

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

The soul winner is a person who lives for the future. That kind of person is more likely to be interested in a study of prophecy.

The average Christian who lives only for today and not tomorrow is sometimes plagued by the thought that one day his world might be upset. His lifestyle might be affected. These people may be Christians, but they just don’t understand the prophetic significance of God’s message. God knows the future from the beginning and has declared it in His eternal Word.

In II Peter 3:3-5, the apostle warned about skeptics who would try to divert attention away from the study of prophecy. He wrote:

“… there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

“For this they are willingly ignorant …” (II Peter 3:3-5).

Scoffers simply cannot comprehend the prophetic nature of the Bible. They can’t seem to understand that God has planned for a glorious conclusion to the history of the human race. His Son shall come to establish a golden age and rule over the world for 1,000 wonderful years.

When the rabbis compiled the books of the Old Testament, they separated them into two major divisions — the Law and the Prophets. There is no hope in the Law, but there is a “blessed hope” in the Prophets. The Law declares our hopeless condition. It describes our sinfulness, our suffering, and the inevitable judgment of God. Paul explained this in Romans 3:20:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

On the other hand, the prophets wrote about the glory to come. Paul continues in verse 21:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.”

There it is! Paul looks beyond the Law to the message of the prophets and declares that we have received the righteousness of God. Any thinking Christian should be vitally interested in a study of the prophets — for they declare the “blessed hope.”

Daniel Enjoyed the Study of Prophecy

Daniel is a good example of why we should study prophecy. In Daniel 9:2, he studied the prophecies of Jeremiah and came to an incredible understanding. He wrote:

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Daniel was a man who studied the prophecies of the Bible! He enjoyed searching out treasures of truth — and was delighted when he discovered how long the captivity would last. Not only was Daniel impressed with his find, but God was impressed with his diligent digging into the prophetic Word. Once Daniel had found his golden nugget of prophetic truth, God opened the door for Daniel to receive another — even greater — prophetic announcement.

The angel, Gabriel, was sent to reward Daniel with the prophecy of the seventy weeks. It is one of the most important prophecies on the subject of “times” to be found in the Bible. This chapter seems to set a pattern for the way the Lord rewards those who study the prophecies of the Bible. It has been true in my own ministry. When I come to an understanding of one thing, God allows me to understand something further. It seems to be a never-ending spiritual treasure hunt.

Whenever I find some special prophetic nugget hidden in God’s great treasure trove of truth, He rewards my effort by opening a related Scripture that leads me deeper into the maze of His infinite design — to probe further into the complexities of the pattern of His inexhaustible plan of the ages. There is nothing quite so exciting as a consistent study of the prophecies of the Bible.

It is quite possible that the world may someday face the devastation of a nuclear war. But what should our attitude be toward such a grim prospect? Well, the apostle Peter answered the question for us in his second epistle:

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (II Peter 3:11-14).

Let us live godly lives, witnessing and winning as many people to Christ as we can. Let us take this golden opportunity to reach out to those people who are fearful. Let us give them God’s wonderful plan of escape. Now is the time to win people to Christ!

Go to Lesson 2: Levels of Biblical Interpretation