CRACKING THE PROPHETIC CODE
Do not believe the startling predictions being brought to you today, by those who claim that this political event and that war is a fulfillment of Daniel or Revelation.
The truth is that there are no more literal prophetic fulfillments about Palestine, the Jews, Jerusalem, and the Near East in Biblical latter-day prophecies.
Here are the approximate teachings of a number of groups and individuals ("approximate" because the teachings change as world events change):
That listing only touches the surface. There are a hundred other interpretations of Bible prophecy out there which, like these, are based on the theory that final events in the books of Daniel, Revelation, and Matthew 24 focus on specific political events of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Here are some basic principles to keep in mind, when studying the prophecies
Scripture must be compared with Scripture The proper way to understand the prophecies is by adhering to the principle of "turning to and fro in the prophecies."
This is a concept given us by Isaiah:
It is also mentioned by Daniel:
It is generally believed that Daniel 12:4 refers primarily to an increase of general knowledge in the last days. But the angel is actually instructing the prophet that the "shut book" of Daniel will be opened at the end of time. Men will compare Scripture with Scripture.
This is the thought conveyed in the following statement:
The phrase, "many shall run to and fro," is a Hebrew idiom, and means "searching here and there in Scripture."
We are to compare spiritual things with spiritual things.
"No prophecy of the Scriptures is of any private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). This means that we must let Scripture explain Scripture. That is why it is so important to let the Spirit of Prophecy, the only inspired commentary on the Bible, help explain the deep truths of Inspiration.
Unfortunately, this rule has been violated. While other lines of prophecy end in the antichrist being overcome by Christ, it has been said that Daniel 11 ends with the conquest of a minor power of the 19th century: the nation of Turkey.
The explanation of each prophecy will harmonize with the others As an example of this, compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8; Revelation 16:12-16; 17:13-14; 18:1-24; 19:11-21; and Daniel 11:44-45. You can clearly see here the linkage and meaning of these climactic verses.
Interpretations of Biblical last-day events will agree fully with the clear predictions of final events, as given in the Spirit of Prophecy The master book of last-day events is Great Controversy. All interpretations of Bible prophecy should agree with it.
That book does not support any of the startling, new prophetic interpretations which continually arise.
Just as Desire of Ages explains the Gospel writings, and Patriarchs and Prophets and Prophets and Kings explains Old Testament history, so Great Controversy carefully guides us through coming events. Every important issue that we need to know is explained.
We insult the Spirit of God when we do not value what He gives us enough to study and believe it. The God of heaven knew that these final days would be filled with every wind of doctrine and false prophecy. So He mercifully gave us the Spirit of Prophecy, to protect us from taking needless detours and treacherous paths.
Instead of trying to dream up startling new theories about the Bible prophecies,let us accept the ones clearly revealed.
The chain prophecies of Daniel are more concerned with the Christian era and beyond than with the Old Testament eraFor example, in Daniel 7, the prophet quickly passes over the powers symbolized by the lion, bear, and leopard, and then dwells on Rome, pagan and papal, which would span the Christian era. The very wording of Daniel and Revelation indicates that it is the prophecies about final events which are the most crucial and climactic. Daniel 11 introduces the Christian era by its mention of the breaking of the prince of the covenant in verse 22. From that verse onward till the end of chapter 12, events of the Christian age are the focus of attention.
A gap occurs in those prophecies between earlier events and the events of the last daysWe find this pattern in every one of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, even in those which appear to run all the way through to the end.
A description of events generally ends in 1798 or in 1844. After that there is a distinct gap. Then a description of the final crescendo of events is given. Not once in a major chain prophecy, covering the span of many centuries, are we told of events in the latter part of the 19th century or the 20th century.
Prophecies of earlier events are literal, and those of final events deal with major spiritual powers Consider the prophecies of Daniel. In each one a number of literal events in earlier history are mentioned, but final events are symbolically applied to major spiritual forces. The powers of good and evil are pitted against one another: God, in the person of His saints, against Satan and the host of the wicked.
Nations are noticed in prophecy when they become connected with Gods people It is not until a nation decidedly affects Gods children, and the outworking of the great controversy, that the power is noticed. This becomes especially evident as we near the end of time.
That is a remarkable statement, in view of the fact that Uriah Smith wrote it. But he forgot it when he applied Daniel 11:40-45 to the small nation of Turkey. Because of local events in the late 19th century, he imagined those verses might apply to Turkey.
But, in reality, whatever power is the subject of those climactic verses must, in the last days, be leading out in trying to do something to Gods people. In all Daniels previous prophecies, that power was the papacy.
Daniel 10:14 specifically says that this final prophecy of Daniel was given to show what would "befall" Gods people "in the latter days."
Daniels last prophecy was given to him after he had prayed earnestly for three weeks in order to obtain light on the prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9.
Since Turkey had not been mentioned in the earlier prophecies, it could not be the concluding power in Daniels final prophecy.
Correct prophetic interpretations are in agreement with Gods covenant with His people A little thought reveals that many of these imaginative, literal interpretations of final event prophecies are based on Gods covenant with the Jews. According to the prediction in Daniel 9:27, that ended in A.D. 34. We are not now to expect a literal Palestinian fulfillment of such prophecies as Daniel 11:40-45; Ezekiel 38; 39; Joel 3; Zechariah 14; Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:1-8; or Revelation 16:12-16.
All Bible predictions regarding favor to Israel are, in the centuries after Christ, to be fulfilled in Gods church a church composed of men and women of all nationalities and races. The Jews are no longer Gods favored people.
The prophecies which refer to a military conflict, to be waged in Palestine, apply to the great final conflict between God (in His earthly children) and Satan (in his followers).
Daniel 11, which climaxes that conflict, mentions "the covenant" five times (Daniel 11:22, 28, 30, 32). That covenant is made to everyone who, by faith in Christ, will keep the law of God (Deuteronomy 7:9; 11:13, 14; Jeremiah 31:33-37; etc.).
At the height of the coming crisis, will come the deliverance predicted in Daniel 12:1. Commenting on it, we are told:
All that once belonged to literal Israel now belongs to the church. To interpret Scriptures which speak of the last days, as referring to a literal conflict in Palestine or the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem, is to ignore the truths given us in the New Testament, as well as in the Spirit of Prophecy.
The eyes of Evangelicals today are on literal Palestine and Jerusalem. Why should any of our people want to unite with them?
The Apostles applied the prophecies about the Jews to the Christians There are no literal Palestinian or Near Eastern fulfillments to the latter part of any of these major prophecies, because those prophecies extend into and beyond the New Testament transition. Carefully study the sermons of the Apostles. They took Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel and spiritually applied them to the Christians. Jesus was the Son of David (Acts 2:29, 32). Jesus was the promised Messiah (Acts 13:22-23). Christ is Redeemer, saving Israel out of "all people." That salvation is "in Zion" in the church, with Christ as its head (Joel 2:32; Romans 11:26; 9:23; 1 Peter 2:4-7).
Compare Joel 2:32 with Acts 2:21-39:
Let no one turn your eyes to the Jews and Jerusalem as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. We agree that the Evangelicals are doing that, but we do not have to join their company.
A type and antitype pattern runs all through the prophecies, as they take us from ancient fulfillments to later fulfillments From the time of Pentecost, onward, the Old Testament prophecies concerning Zion, Jerusalem, the land of Israel, etc. were interpreted spiritually as applying the preaching and acceptance of the Gospel and redemption in Christ.
When passing over into the Christian era there is an automatic transition from literal to spiritual Babylon, from the literal lands of Israel and Babylon to their spiritual antitypes. What literal Babylon did to the literal Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple was to be done by spiritual Babylon in her spiritual warfare against spiritual Israel.
Nebuchadnezzar was king of literal Babylon, and he called his kingdom "great Babylon" (Daniel 4:30). As he was absolute monarch of the literal kingdom (Daniel 2:38), so spiritual Babylon will also be a vaunted queen (Revelation 18:7)"Great Babylon" (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:2, 10, 16, 18; 19:3)
Daniel 7 begins with literal Babylon (the winged lion) and passes on to spiritual Babylon (the little horn). The pagan principles of those earlier nations and their religions are adopted into the practices and teachings of spiritual Babylon (Revelation 13:2).
We find this same literal to spiritual transition in pagan to papal Rome. The words, "shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people," fit both literal and spiritual Rome, pagan and papal Rome. Both invaded the land and habitations of Gods people, in order to overcome them.
Jesus predicts the coming of "the abomination of desolation" the Roman armies (Luke 21:20; GC 21, 26)to "destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Daniel 9:26-27; Luke 21:20). Then, with hardly a pause, He tells about the destruction of Gods people in the Dark Ages (Matthew 24:15-22). Christ gave a double application, both literal (by pagan Rome against the Jews and Jerusalem), and spiritual (by papal Rome against Gods people and their spiritual city, the church).
Another type-antitype relationship, which we are all well-acquainted with, is the defilement and cleansing of the earthly tabernacle and heavenly Sanctuary (Leviticus 16; Daniel 8:14).
Yet another type-antitype pattern is found in the events of Daniel 1 through 6 and the prophecies of 7 through 12. In those earlier chapters we find the type of the National Sunday Law, the Judgment on the wicked, and much more.
From the last hours of literal Babylon (Daniel 5), we pass on to the last hours of spiritual Babylon (Daniel 11:45). It is a lesson for us to remember, lest we too be "weighed in the balances and found wanting" (Daniel 5:27).
And how was the final judgment upon ancient Babylon accomplished? By the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates (Isaiah 44:27; Jeremiah 50:38)! In what manner will the judgment on spiritual Babylon occur? At the end time, the coming Conqueror will dry up the waters of spiritual Euphrates (Revelation 16:12). These, the waters on which the whore sits (Revelation 17:1), are the multitudes of people (Revelation 17:1, 15; Jeremiah 51:13) which supply Babylon with its wealth and power. We are told, in Great Controversy, how the people will turn on their spiritual leaders.
Who was it that destroyed ancient Babylon? A great king from the East Cyrus (Isaiah 41:2, 25; 46:11; Jeremiah 51:11, 28). Daniels last prophecy begins with Cyrus, the deliverer of ancient Israel (Daniel 10:1) and destroyer of her Babylonian oppressors (Jeremiah 50:33-34; Isaiah 45:13; etc.), and ends with the deliverance of spiritual Israel (Daniel 11:45; 12:1).
The literal fulfillment theories are wrong. No literal last-day Palestinian attacks, returns, or enthronements are predicted in Scripture. The pope will not move to Jerusalem. Satan is not going to be crowned at Jerusalem. The Jews will not rebuild their Temple at Jerusalem. The Middle East no longer literally applies to anything.
The great controversy between Christ and Satan is mirrored in the war over the Sanctuary, as Satan can attack Christ only by attacking His truth and His people. In order to understand exactly what is involved in this final attack, read the book, Great Controversy.
All major prophecies end with the destruction of Rome and the establishment of Christs kingdom This is another key principle in helping us understand the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
In view of this, it would be foolish for Daniel to give a series of prophecies, each one describing the end of the forces of Babylon and then, in the last, climactic vision, to call the final desolating power, little, third-rate Turkey.
Each major prophecy in Daniel helps explain the previous one A divine Mind guided in the writing of the book of Daniel. It is a sound method, gradually building more and more on the instruction earlier given. This is what we find in Daniel and Revelation.
Daniel 7 covers the same ground as chapter 2, but adds to the details.
Daniel 8 deals with the same empires which are still future at the time the prophet writes. Daniel 8 explains more about the persecuting little horn mentioned in Daniel 7.
Daniel 11 and 12 begins where Daniel 8 begins, with Medo-Persia, and then enlarges and adds to it. The future history of Greece, pagan Rome, and the papacy is described in greater detail. The "abomination of desolation," of Daniel 11:31, is an obvious parallel to the power of Daniel 7 and 8 which dares to oppose God.
Each of those chapters leads us to the antichrist and how he is overcome by Christ. In Daniel 7, five verses are given to a description of the antichrist; in Daniel 8, eight verses. And in Daniel 11 there are more than 20 verses.
Here is another comparison. Daniel 8 and 9 have the same five features:
The rise and end of Medo-Persia.
The rise and end of Greece.
The invasion by Rome of the "pleasant" or "glorious land."
Papal Romes war against the people of God.
Both prophecies end with the destruction of the papacy.
The only difference is that Darius was still alive when Daniel 8 was written; but his successor, Cyrus, ruled by the time Daniel 10 was penned.
Last-day applications especially worldwide We have noted that, prior to the death of Christ and the rejection of the Jewish nation as the special people of God, the tendency was for fulfillments of major Bible prophecy to be were literally applied to the Jews and to specific nations. After the time of Christ, the prophecies dealt with Gods people (spiritual Israel) and spiritual Babylon (papal Rome).
But in addition, prophecies which find their complete fulfillment in the last days, tend to have a more universal scope. Although Gods people and the papacy are still the subject of those prophecies, the area of persecution and final battle is worldwide.
And is not that what we see about us today? More than at any other time in history, Gods people are scattered all over the world, and so is the influence of the papacy. As a result of the immense influence of the United States, after enactment of its Sunday Law, similar laws will be soon be passed all over the world and the effect will be a "universal Sunday law."
Just as the final crisis will be worldwide; so also will be the persecution, the loud cry, the close of probation, the plagues, and the final deliverance.
You will not find the slightest hint of Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, the literal Jews, or old Jerusalem in the closing chapters of Great Controversy (chapters 23 to 42).
No return of the Jews to Jerusalem God never predicted that, in the last days, the literal Jews would return to literal Jerusalem. Instead, He predicted they would never again control that city and they never have, they still do not, and they never will. The prediction of God cannot be changed.
The Jews will not have "returned" to Jerusalem until they gain full political control of the city and the temple area, are able to rebuild their Temple, and once again institute sacrifices on the dome of the rock. The "times of the Gentiles" has not ceased; indeed, the Temple Mount swarms daily with thousands of Gentile tourists and heathen Arabs. Ellen White predicted the Temple worship would never be restored (Mount of Blessing, 120).
Read Great Controversy, 36-37. Just as Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70, so the wicked will be destroyed at the end of time. There is no second chance.
More on this in our forthcoming book.
The day-year principle There is literal time and there is prophetic time. We are all acquainted with literal time: days, months, years, as they are applied in the Bible and daily life.
But there is a certain type of prophetic time which is different. It follows a special divinely arranged pattern.
Normal prophetic time periods are based on literal time; whereas non-literal periods employ a day to represent a year.
Normal prophetic time is written as years (example: the 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10 (cf. Daniel 9:2), and means years.
Day-year prophecies are written as days or weeks (example: the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27) and must be changed into years.
Day-year timing is especially found in the figurative prophecies (those which use representations such as beasts, horns, etc.). How do we arrive at the day-year principle?
One key in unraveling this is Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6:
Another key is the use of the word, "time," in certain passages: One time prophecy mentions "an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year" (Revelation 9:15). An hour is obviously the 24th part of a day.
But two questions remain: the length of a year, in prophetic time, and the meaning of "time" in prophecy. Certain passages explain this:
Those are two of the passages, but there are more.
The interrelationship between several different ways God uses to describe the 1260-year prophecy is a powerful key in explaining both the length of the prophetic year and the meaning of "time" in prophecy.
When we compare certain verses, we find that a "time" in prophecy is a year. Notice this:
Three and a half times equals 1260 days:
Forty-two months equals 1260 days:
Therefore, 3 "times" equals 42 months, or 3 12-month years.
Therefore, from the total of 1260 days for this period, it can be figured that one "time," or year, has 360 days; and that the 42 months have 30 days in each of those months. The result is a year of 12 thirty-day months, totaling 360 days.
One might wonder why this is, since neither the Hebrews nor anyone else used a 360-day calendar. The reason is the fact that, because none of the ancients knew the exact starting point of the year, the Hebrews used a lunar calendar. They measured the beginning of the year by when the moon was first seen in the spring. The closest they could come was that it was somewhere between 364 and 366 days in length. The Lord wanted something more exact, so He chose to use a 360-day calendar in computing Bible prophecies.
What about time setting in the last days? Some people take the already fulfilled major time prophecies (1260, 1290, 1335, and 2300 years)and declare that those prophecies will have a second day-day application in the last days.
Later in the book, you will find a large chapterfilled with remarkably urgent Spirit of Prophecy statements, objecting to time setting in these last days.
As we have just noticed, Scripture requires that the day-year (not a day-day) principle be applied to the 1260, 1290, 1335, and 2300 day prophecies.
A secondary day-day application of these time periods, in these last days, would be fallacious; for, over and over again, Ellen White warned us not to set time, any time, after 1844.
Revelation 10:6 predicted that there would be no more time prophecies in the last days. Ellen White confirmed this as the meaning of that verse (7A Bible Commentary, 971).
Our need for divine guidance is urgent as we study Gods Holy Word Here are several passages which will help us develop the proper balance as we carry on our study of the Bible prophecies:
Is it possible that, while we are busily searching Daniel and Revelation for details about political events, we should instead be learning lessons of character development from those books?
Personal character development and a close, daily walk with God is what we need today.
Here are additional counsels on how to properly study the Word of God:
Beware lest you study Gods Word in the wrong way.
How William Miller studied the Bible is very much worth our consideration. Read Great Controversy, p. 320.