Guests: and

Opening Question
If you knew someone was a prophet sent from god, would you want to be their friend?

This lesson approaches Bible prophecy deductively from an already-formed theological position in order to defend certain conclusions, rather than a more inductive approach of discovering the positions through deep study of the text. This doesn’t mean the conclusions are wrong, only that the quarterly’s approach will certainly be less attractive to younger people, and maybe thinking people in general. It feels more like propaganda than exciting study of Scripture. Nevertheless, here we go: the lesson tackles the following subjects under the title, “Tools of Prophetic Interpretation”: Historicism, Year-day principle, The Little Horn, The Investigative Judgment, and Typology as Prophecy

Historicism: Daniel 2, 7, 8, and 10-11, and Revelation
About 150 years ago, many North American Protestants used the historicist method for interpreting Daniel and Revelation. Exploring the passages of Daniel listed above gave the rise and fall of a historical sequence of nations: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, division of Rome, and God’s Eternal Kingdom. Without any gaps between these nations, the sequence begins with the time of the Biblical writer (Daniel, or John for Revelation) and continues until God establishes His Kingdom on earth.

That Historicism fits with Daniel is fairly clear. Where it becomes less obvious is trying to use it with prophecies outside of Daniel, and parts of Revelation. For instance, attempting to apply a historicist method to Isaiah 61, which Jesus quoted was about Himself being anointed as Messiah, would yield strange results.

When applied to Revelation, there are also challenges. The book is not exactly like Daniel, but rather functions through cycles of sevens (churches, seals, trumpets, Angels, Plague, etc.). Most Adventists have not read the 7 plagues from a historicist method. Why not? What also makes Revelation unique is that the sanctuary structure is also sequential through the entire book, thus it functions in a historicist manner within the Great Controversy narrative of the High Priesthood of Christ.

Is it fair to say Adventists are “historicist” in their interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, and ignore the meaning of the books—especially Revelation—for the first audience? After all, John clearly writes to and for 7 literal congregations in Asia Minor, as stated in chapter 1.

Year-Day Principle
The common verses use to defend the year-day principle are Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. The argument is that there is congruence between these two time-periods and thus we can apply them to apocalyptic prophecy as well. Is that fair when they are not the same genre? Both are actually narrative, not prophecy, after all. Is there more to this idea than just these two verses? Actually, the answer is yes. Throughout the Old Testament days and years are often used interchangeably or in highly connected ways. This isn’t just some kind of code for which these two verses provide the interpretive key; far from it. Rather, this is a broader Hebrew way of thinking, as for example Gen 5:4 and following verses (in the NASB, KJV, NKJV, or NRS) versions where days of a person were so many years. Coupled with the symbolic and strange way of enumerating time with prophecies like the 1,260 days or 2,300 evening-mornings, we seem justified in using a prophetic interpretation that takes us well beyond the days of the prophet.

What happens to some of these prophecies if we apply them as literal time, rather than prophetic years?

The Investigative Judgment
Christians outside of Adventism and some Adventists have struggled with the idea of God judging His people before Christ returns, and knowing who is for Him and who is against. Yet there seems good support Biblically for it. We see this in Genesis 6 before the flood where God investigates the earth, finds its wickedness, and brings an end. It is significant that Noah and his family are safe inside the Ark before the end actually comes. They were “sealed” inside, and the wicked were outside, well before deliverance came.

Another example using the same language is God’s investigation of Babel in Gen. 11. God comes to see the high-handed rebellion of the people violating His command to multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Thus, God decided ahead of time what He would do, and how to complete it.

Why do some Adventists push so hard against the idea of the Investigative Judgment? What are they worried it does, especially to the Gospel, or to the doctrine of sanctification?

An entire quarter or more could be spent just looking at the types of Christ, His church, and last-day events found in the Old Testament. Since we already looked at some of these earlier in the quarter, we’ll leave with a couple hints: examine the Hebrew Sanctuary in Exodus and the Priesthood in Leviticus, then read the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews reveals how the earthly is a symbol, or pattern of the heavenly.

How many stories in the Old Testament can you think of that hint at Jesus, who He was, His work, ministry, death, resurrection, and final redemption of His church?

Closing Comments
Adventism’s high calling has been tied to its prophetic interpretation, and the clear message of the final day-of-the-Lord judgment of God having begun, that time is running out for people to side with Christ in the Great Controversy. Without this unique calling, Adventism has very little reason for existing as a unique denomination or part of Christianity.

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