SIR ISSAC NEWTON 1642 – 1727
Isaac Newton 1689 by Godfrey Kneller
Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John
“ The folly of Interpreters has been, to foretell times and things by this Prophecy, as if God designed to make them Prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the Prophecy also into contempt. The design of God was much otherwise. He gave this and the Prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own Providence, not the Interpreters, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by providence.” pg. 251
“For understanding the Prophecies, we are, in the first place, to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the Prophets. This language is taken from the analogy between the world natural, and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic.” pg. 16
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.”Deut 18:21-22 RSV
Or THE INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY
There are four main schemes of interpretation regarding the book of The Revelation:
(1) the spiritual — the events described are only symbols of spiritual realities and struggles without any literal or historical application; (2) the preterit — everything has already been fulfilled; (3) the futurist — all predictions are in the future; (4) the historical — the predictions are in the process of fulfillment.
These four interpretations fall under three hermeneutical (science of interpretation) schools of thought.
I Covenant Theology Interprets all scripture from the point of view that there are only two
covenants. This came from Gal 4:22-31. There are several names for these two covenant, but no matter what the individual author may call them there are only two, the Covenant of Law and the Covenant of Grace. This view spiritualize nearly all prophecy making The Revelation to be about the churches struggle with apostasy. All the promises God made to the Jews are for the church either literally or figuratively. The doctrine of election is emphasized.
A Spiritualist The book of The Revelation represents the battle between good and evil
in which good ultimately wins over evil. Nothing is literal or historical. This interpretation takes a mystical or allegorical approach to most of the book. Because of this spiritualization they of necessity do not hold to a literal millennium. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and later Augustine and Jerome followed this viewpoint. Recent interpreters who accept this view finds the book dealing primarily with the general struggle between the church and evil throughout the entire age, thereby giving encouragement to tested saints.
Such an interpretation, however, fails to expound the book meaningfully, and practically ignores the claims to its prophetic nature (Rev 1:3; 10:11; 22:7; 10; 18-19). It fails to recognize the interpretive key to the book (Rev 1:19) and focus on the second advent, including the climactic events which follow (Rev 1:7; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7; 12).
B Preterit All or most of The Revelation is fulfilled. Promulgated by a Spanish Jesuit
Monk by the name of Alcazar around the close of the 16th century, this was a Roman Catholic view, with the Pope as Christ on earth; making the dark ages the millennium. This view maintains that the prophecy was fulfilled with the defeat of the Jews, the enemies of the early church. Nero is considered the antichrist. The last half of The Revelation being vaguely future. From the 17th century on, preterits have held that the church’s conflict with Judaism is represented in Rev 4-11 and the churches conflict with paganism is depicted in chapters 12-19. Chapters 20 thru 22 describe her present triumph.
This position ignores the interpretive key of Rev 1:19, “Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter” (RSV). It gives arbitrary meanings to the symbols found in the book, and fails to account for the indications of a short span of time covering the events of ch. 4 thru 10 preceding the second advent. Variations of this view are used by many modern day cults who claim their leader is Christ on earth and they are about to enter their millennium.
II Dispensationalism A modern interpretation that views scripture through seven dispensations
of covenants corresponding to human history.Although there are numerous views of salvation the redemption of Jews, distinctive from that of gentiles, is a primary feature. Promoted by John Nelson Darby, Edward Irving and C.I. Scofield, the foundations originated with 16th century Jesuit Priest Ribera.
Ribera’s writings were a Roman Catholic rebuttal to the Reformers view of the office of Pope as the “antichrist”. The Futurist view of a secretrapture was first taught in England by Presbyterian Minister Irving. He translated another Jesuit Priest’s futurist writings, which followed the same distinctives. Irving’s preaching upon them eventually led to his dismissal from the church. A series of ecstatic utterances breaking out in his and other London churches disseminated the revelation of a future yet seven year tribulation.
Dispensationalists, in stark contrast to the Reformers, hold to the following positions:
- Covenantal promises to Israel will be restored, including a Temple to be built and animal sacrifices reinstated.
- Jews are God’s chosen people; gentiles are distinctive and experience redemption apart from Jews.
- All Jews will be saved.
- The Church age is a gap (before the 70th week of Dan 9:24-27) occurring between Israel’s rejection of Christ and national restoration.
- Christ’s present Kingship has no relationship to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and His Messianic rule; and the Church has no relationship to the Kingdom of God on earth.
- Hyper-literal interpretation of symbolism in prophecy which allows little figure of speech, typology or foreshadowing of the Church as the mystery made manifest.
A Futurist See nearly everything as being yet future. The most popular view, in modern evangelical circles holds to various dispensations regarding salvation, and gaps in the prophetic scriptures.
- There is a gap between verse one and two of Genesis.
- There is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9.
- Many groups have a gap between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.
- There is a gap between chapters 3 and 4 of The Revelation, making the bulk of that book apply to a short period of 7 years at the end of this age.
There are many variations in this viewpoint. Interestingly enough, the theory was first presented by a Jesuit Priest Rebera who lived near the end of the 16th century. Originally it was a 3 1/2 year tribulation, but by the time it came into the Protestant church it had grown to 7 years. It was introduced to Protestants in the 1820’s, from ecstatic visions claimed by Margret MacDonald, then to the Darbyites (Plymouth Brethren), followed by Scofield who incorporated the view into the Scofield Reference Bible.
III Progressive Revelation God reveals himself to man in a series of Progressive Revelation. These revelations have been made though His work: Ps. 19:1, Rom 1:18-23, His Word: Jn 1:1-5, and His Son: Heb 1:1-4ff. A fourth revelation of God, His Glory: fuller and more perfect than any other, is yet given Rev 22:4.
Progressive revelation is like an artist painting a picture. He knows what His painting will look like when finished, however the onlookers see the work as it progresses. “One stroke” or revelation at a time, the Lord brings into sharper focus the final image or a fuller understanding of prophetic events.
One example of fulfilled revelation is in the Messianic prophecies:
A Gen 3:15 Enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s.
B Gen 9:25-27 Blessed be Shem.
C Gen 12:3 By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.
D Gen 49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah.
E Deut 32:18 The Rock that begot you.
F Ps 118:22 The rejected cornerstone.
G Isa 7:14 Virgin birth.
H Isa 11:1 Coming from Jesse.
I Isa 42:2-3 A willing sacrifice.
J Isa 53:4-6 Our iniquity fell upon Him.
K Isa 55:3-5 He will come from David.
L Isa 59:20 He comes to Zion as Redeemer.
M Dan 9:24-27 Daniel revels the timing of the Messiah.
N Hos 11:1 Messiah comes out of Egypt.
O Zech 9:9 Describes the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
It is not surprising that in all of Israel there were only two people (Simeon and Anna Lk 2:25-38) waiting in the Temple when Jesus arrived to be circumcised. If you had only these prophetic artist’s strokes, could you have recognized the complete picture and been waiting with Simeon and Anna?
A HistoricistThe Historical or Historicist view interprets the book of The Revelation as symbolic and in the process of fulfillment. It sees the fulfillment of prophesies in the history of the church beginning in John’s day thru this present age of time. The view has been popular since the time of Berengaud (9th cen.), and Joachim (12th cen.). Wycliffe, Luther, Joseph Mede, John Foxe, John Bunyan, Sir. Isaac Newton, Bengel, Barnes, Rev. Edward Bishop Elliott A.M., H. Grattan Guinness, F.R.G.S. and others held to it. Most would agree that the Bishop of Rome is the “Antichrist” and that “Babylon the Great” is the Roman Catholic church. This way of understanding the book was held by every commentator who wrote upon it until the end of the sixteenth century.
“Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” Luke 21:24
The Historicist views the prophecies of Daniel and The Revelation as the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great, metallic statue. The image symbolically portrays four gentile empires beginning with Babylon, each empire giving way to the next, progressively unfolding without gaps in time. God’s sovereignty over human history is chronicled in amazing detail. The great image of gold, silver, brass, iron and iron and clay was interpreted by Daniel to be the “image of the beast” kingdoms of Babylon, Medio-Persia and Greece. The fourth “terrifying” beast of iron is generally accepted as Rome. The feet of iron and clay would rule until the “stone not made of human hands” would crush the empires and our Lord’s kingdom begins to fill the earth. These gentile kingdoms are assigned a duration of seven times or 2520 years and are referred to as The Full Times of the Gentiles.
Daniel’s prophecies are chillingly accurate and are told from the perspective of the nation of Israel. Several prophecies, most notably the “Seventy Weeks” are written to the Jews specifically. From Babylon to the “fatal wound” of the fourth beast, Rome, the time designated is called time, times and half a time, or 1260 years. Daniel is told at the end of his prophecies to “seal up the scroll”. Further explanation of the Full Times of the Gentiles was concealed until the time of the end. In the book of The Revelation, John is taken to the throne room and sees the “Lamb that had been slain” “unseal the scroll”. What follows is the remainder of the prophecy of the gentile kingdoms.
The book of The Revelation opens with a special message to seven churches, the Israel of God, fixing the remainder of the times within the Church age. John describes the beast out of the sea, the beast of iron, in similar manner as is found in the book of Daniel, and therefore makes the connection to the Full Times of the Gentiles. It is John’s visions however, that provide the identity of the beast out of the earth, or the clay, in the feet of iron and clay. The majority of the prophecy of The Revelation concentrates on the 10 kingdoms, the little horn out of Rome, and the whore of Babylon which appear after the fall of Rome. The “beast out of the earth” makes war against the saints for a “time, times, and half a time”, or 1260 years.
PROPHETIC DAY PUT FOR A YEAR
Moses forewarned the Israelites that because of breaking covenants, especially the Sabbaths, sudden terror (The Babylonian Captivity) would come upon them. When they returned, if idolatry continued, the punishment would be seven times [Lev 26]. Ezekiel is told the punishment will be for 360 years; given as a day put for a year. Israel’s subjection to the gentile kingdoms is assigned chronological limits of seven times 360 years of punishment or 2520 years. Prophetic language of this gentile rule is mentioned in the book of Daniel as time, times, and half a time, 1290 days, 1335 days, and 2300 evenings and mornings. In The Revelation it is written as 1260 days, 42 months or time, times and half a time. The most convincing evidence for this is the historical record itself. It must be remembered that we are looking at possibilities. While God is precise, we lack all the knowledge, especially the conclusion of the prophecy fulfilled to make a precise declaration of the Full Times of the Gentiles.
Time, Times and half a time: Time, times and half a time:
Captivity Era 1260 Lunar Years 2520 Lunar Years
747 BC ——————————- 476 AD —————————- 1699 AD
The first possibility of a time frame for the Full Times of the Gentiles is the initial date of the captivity era of Israel and Judah in 747BC with Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon. Twelve hundred sixty lunar years (1222 1/2 solar years) forward brings us to the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the apostate Roman Church, the whore of Babylon!
From the fall of Rome in 476AD to the Treaty of Ryswick in 1699AD is the last half of the time, times and half a time. Another period of 1260 lunar years from the rise of the apostate church, the Church of Rome, brings us to the beginning of the termination of the power and authority of the papacy. the Treaty of Ryswick, 1697AD politically established the Protestant religion.
The final possibility of a time frame for the Full Times of the Gentiles is the last dating of the captivity era of Israel and Judah in 587BC.
587BC——————————– 637AD——————————– 1860AD
The last dating of the captivity era in 587BC was the final fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Time, times, and half a time or 1260 lunar years (1222 1/2 solar years) forward leads us to the eastern empire and a date connected to the rise of Mohammedan power in 637AD Omar, a Caliph, took Jerusalem and by 691AD had built the Dome of the Rock that stands on the Temple site to this day.
From the rise of the eastern Mohammedan powers over the land of Israel in 637AD, to 1260 lunar years forward we arrive at a date of 1860AD. The Peace of Carlowitz stripped the Ottomans of much of their power and territory in the Middle East. In addition, the formation of the Universal Israelite Alliance marked the beginning stages of the Jewish renaissance and return to her homeland as predicted in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones.
When these times end, an unspecified stretch of time leads to the Jew’s regathering to Israel, repentance, acceptance of their Messiah, and His (second) coming restores all things. At the end of this epoch, the “sanctuary” or the place where Messiah himself will reign from will be (becoming) cleansed. These time periods only indirectly imply a soon return of Messiah after the close of the full times of the gentiles.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue kingdoms are ultimately destroyed by “the stone, not made of human hands” that crushes the feet and cause all the kingdoms of the world to fall.
It must be remembered throughout the study of this prophecy: the 2520 years is the time of the gentile’s domination over Israel, not a prediction of the second coming of Jesus Christ. While it is tempting to speculate as to what the future will bring, prophecy is clearest when fulfilled. Date setting is fraught with many difficulties; chief among them is seemingly discrediting the Word of God.
We hope to show in the following study of Daniel and The Revelation, the historical fulfillment of the majority of the Full Times of the Gentiles.
THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS
1 That in symbolic prophecy a “day” is put for a year and a “time” of 360 years.
2 That Daniel’s prophetic vision of the fourfold metallic image and of the four beasts have been fulfilled in the histories of the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian and Roman Empires.
3 That “Babylon the Great” in Rev 17 is the Roman Catholic Church.
4 That the little horn of Daniel 7 represents the Papal dynasty, and the little horn of Chapter 8 is, as to its final form, the Mohammedan power, the one arising out of the Roman Empire, and ruling in Western Europe; the other arising out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire, and ruling in Eastern Europe and in Asia.
out of Light for the Last Days pg 17
by H. Grattan Guinness in 1887
We Do Not Believe:
1 In a 7 year tribulation at the end of the Church age and preceding the millennium. Therefore, there is no separation between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week.
2 That the “abomination of desolation” will be fulfilled in a future antichrist who declares himself god in a rebuilt temple.
3 That most of the book of The Revelation is future, yet to come.
4 In wild speculation concerning future events, dates, etc.
Or HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE
The Bible is an ancient book with languages and customs unlike our own. It is essential to the understanding of the reader to be acquainted with basic rules of interpretation (hermeneutics) and recognized resources which aid in study.
I General Principles:
A Context: All passages must be read in their full context. The Bible as a whole is unified in its teachings and any part must support the doctrine of the whole.
B Normal usage of words requires:
- Understanding of cultural idioms (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek)
- Type of literature: poetry, history, parable, literal, symbolic, etc.
C Understanding the history and geography of the writer as well as cultural and religious contexts.
II Literary devices:
A Similes; a figure of speech comparing one thing, often with as or like, to something of a different kind or quality.
B Metaphors; a word or phrase denoting on the kind of object or idea used in place of another suggesting a likeness between the two.
C Hyperbole; extravagant exaggeration of statement; a statement exaggerated fancifully, as for effect.
D Rhetoric; skillful or artistic use of speech.
E Paradox; an assertion or sentiment seemingly contradictory, or opposed to common sense, but that yet may be true in fact.
II Special Interpretation:
Prophecy like science has its own peculiar language: “for understanding the prophecies, therefore”, as Sir Isaac Newton justly observes, “we are in the first place to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the prophets.”
A Promises and warnings are often told through the use of prophetic language.
- The Lord gives prophecy through dreams, visions and direct communications to His prophets
- The next historical event which appears to fulfill the prophecy is most likely the fulfillment.
- In all cases prophecy has specific meaning intended for our understanding.
- The prophecy is often hidden from the unsaved (see Jesus explanation of why He spoke in parables – Matt13:9-17; Rev 13:10-17; Daniel 12:10 :none of the wicked will understand”).
- Apocryphal language (such as in Revelation) contains a sense of unusual word combinations or unusual phenomenon.
B Most prophecy contains literal and symbolic language:
- Narrative is generally non-mythological and is historical:
- Who: name(s) of individuals or nation(s)
- What: event(s) foretold
- Where: geography described
- When: time references
2 Figurative or veiled language is truth told through symbolic speech, in which one object is representative of another.
- Symbols have a generalized definition that is consistent throughout scripture.
- The immediate context surrounding the symbol can help determine a specific meaning but must fall within the general definition.
- Symbolic language uses imagery of the natural world; i.e. beasts representing real kingdoms as in Daniel 7.
- Symbols can have an heavenly manifestation ( Rev. 1:20 stars = angels) or an earthly manifestation (Rev. 1:20 lampstands = churches)
3 Symbolic language is often interpreted by scripture:
- A prophet may ask for understanding and receive it as in Daniel 9:1-3.
- A prophet may be given interpretation within the prophecy as in Rev 1:20.
- Symbols may be defined elsewhere in scripture.
4 Consistent use of figurative language is essential:
- Literal interpretation of figurative language and visa-versa will lead to faulty conclusions.
- If a symbol is used in a passage, the other events in that same passage most likely will also be symbolic.
- The Lord has done unusual things to natural phenomenon, but has never created unnatural phenomenon. Scripture is not a” science fiction movie”.
- Parallel accounts of the same prophecy may exist in scripture but allegory (Gal. 4: 24-31) and types (Heb. 8:5, 1Cor. 10:6) must be used carefully and not as strict parallels.
III Typology: Sometimes called Double Prophecy
Excessive dependence on typology can lead one to neglect the plain meaning of the text.
1 Definition of Type:
The Greek term ”tupos”, occurs 16 times in the New Testament. [Jn 20:25; Acts 7:43; 7:44; 23:25; Ro 5:14; 6:17; 1 Cor 10:6,11; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:7; 2 Thess 3:9; 1 Tim 4:12; Tit 2:7; Heb 8:5; 1 Pet 5:3]. A person, event or thing resembling another; they are called type and antitype; and the link which binds them together is their similarity. You might say that Types are pictures or object-lessons, by which God taught His people concerning His grace and saving power. The first [type] is usually physical and the second [antitype] is usually spiritual.
- The rejecting of Joseph by his brothers is the type [physical] to the Jews antitype rejection of The Messiah kingdom [spiritual].
- The sacrifice of Isaac is the type [physical] of Christ death on the cross as the Ultimate Sacrifice, antitype [spiritual].
- Isaiah’s son Immanuel/ Mahershalalhashbaz [Isa 7:14; 8:3] is the physical type of a boy born to an Almeh [virgin/ young woman]; antitype being The Messiah’s birth.
Next Chapter: Daniel Chapter 2