“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19
 This edition of The Lampstand has for its feature section a series of articles on prophecy. There is a two-fold reason for this. First on account of the dramatic events that are leading us to the dawning of that great day when the day star shall arise, and secondly to register our opinion as to the dangers that can accrue from the spate of alternate views of prophecy that deviate from the general thrust of our pioneer writings. In expressing our viewpoint, we are not advocating a slavish deference to the writings of our ‘Pioneers’, just because they are our pioneers. Like all of us they were fallible men, but we believe that in the end the general thrust of their prognostications, based upon the Word of God, will prove correct.

 Because a definite view of Bible prophecy is not included in our Statement of Faith (and we are not advocating that it should be), some brethren have regarded this as an open field for the expression of independent thinking. For those who engage in this exchange of alternative views it may be, in their opinion, a spiritually stimu­lating exercise, creating discussion on the Word. But consider the impact on the minds of those, whose lack of ability make them dependant on the ‘independent thinkers’! It has been the experience of a number of our brethren to witness first hand the confusion, and the subsequent sorrow and doubt in the minds of those who are disillusioned by the prospect that “the sure word of prophecyis not so sure after all!

It must be conceded that God’s foreknowledge and control, as expressed in prophecy, must above all else be “sure” or it ceases to have any impact. This is the thrust of Peter’s comment quoted above: his purpose was to inspire confidence, not confu­sion. What he and his two companions had seen on that holy mount of transfiguration was confirma­tion of what the Word of God had with certainty predicted.

The Olivet Prophecy

Consider what impact ‘alternative’ views would  have had upon the understanding of the Olivet prophecy! There were only four of the disciples who sat with the Lord on the Mount of Olives and listened to this most critically important prophecy, that would mean for them life or death (Mark 13:3). Jesus, taking his lead from the prophecy of Daniel 9:27, warned of the abomination of desolationthat would converge on, and overspread the Holy City of Jerusalem. There was not a shadow of doubt that this prophecy concerned the Iron Dominion of Rome, the little horn of the Goat, developing in association with the unimaginable horror of the fourth beast of the same prophecy (Dan 7,8). It was this fearsome power that would sack and burn Jerusalem, and ring it with crucifixes, with those impaled thereon who could not discern the times to which they stood related.

Luke’s record confirms this interpretation when he reported the Lord’s words as when ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies(Luke 21: 20). However it is obvious that Luke is interpreting the Lord’s meaning, whilst Mark is reporting his actual comment. So it was left to the four friends of the Lord to work it out for themselves, and understandably Jesus was most anxious that they get it right—let him that readeth understand”!! (Mark 13:14)

What if there had been four opinions among them as to who or what was the abomination of desolation? What if there was uncertainty as to whether it was in the next generation or the distant future? Truly there was no room for alternative views on the outcome of Daniel’s prophecy!

I Say Unto All, Watch!

Jesus warned us all, And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch(Mark 13:37). It will greatly help if we are all looking in the right direction! It is admitted that mistakes have been made, especially in the matter of predicting actual dates for the Lord’s stealthy advent, and we can perhaps excuse these, for if nothing else they reveal an anxious desire for the Lord’s presence, but it is certain that world events have been steadily moving in the general direction expected by the interpretation of our pioneer brethren. Consider the emerging Rus­sian dominance, with Europe uniting and ready to co-operate with the Autocrat, backed by Papal influ­ence, whilst Britain increasingly becomes isolated from European opinion. Israel lives dangerously, but planted firmly on the mountains of Israel, with Arab nations paralysed by internal divisions ineffective to achieve their desire to destroy God’s national people.

Daniel, the Key to the Apocalypse

Furthermore the ‘continuous historical’ interpreta­tion of prophecy, as seen in the writings of our faith­ful brethren of the past, has the advantage of being continually checked and confirmed by reference to the monumental prophecy of Daniel chapter 2. The metallic image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is Bible prophecy epitomised; the ultimate coalescing of world powers, just prior to their being ground to powder by the little stone power of Jesus Christ and the Saints.

From there on, the image representation is ex­panded, first into the four beasts of Daniel 7, with each of the four beasts answering to its equivalent in the four metals of Daniel 2. Because the latter day manifestation of the fourth beast would see the advent of the Son of manwho would subject its body to the burning flame of extinction, Daniel was most anxious to know the truth of the fourth beast(Dan 7:19). His burning desire was partly satisfied with the details of Rome’s gradual infiltration into God’s land by the symbolism of the “little horn of the goat” (Dan 8:9, 23–25). He was shown that it would destroy the sanctuary, take captive the holy people, magnify itself against the Prince of the host (the Lord Jesus) and, in the process, overspread the holy city with its abominable presence.

But, indeed, the vision is for many days(Dan 10:14); so Daniel is left with as much information as was necessary for him to know, and the book was sealed until further expansion till the time of the end(Dan 12:9). To the apostle John then, the same one that had lifted up his hands to heaven and sware by God that it would be a time, times, and a half(Dan 12:7) now lifts up his hands in the sight of John and swears again by God that there should be time no longer(Rev 10:5,6).

So the Apocalypse enlarges details of the hor­rible fourth beast, with additional detail, right up to the time of its destruction by the Lamb of God, against whom it will even dare to make war in its ignorance of who he is (Rev 17:14).

Thus the telescope has been extended out from the image of Daniel 2 to examine in minute fashion the details contained in the metallic representation, and if we should become somewhat confused in the detail we can but retract the telescope back to the image and have yet another look at the divine artist’s impression of the latter day crisis of history.

Our articles this issue look at the significance of prophecy in the life of the faithful. The first three examine the power of the prophetic word in the lives of the faithful in both Old and New Testa­ments. We will see how faith in God’s predictions encouraged them along the way and how the gospel was preached in conjunction with prophecy. The fourth will demonstrate the stabilising effect that prophecy can achieve in our lives and the last one will outline a simple argument for embracing the continuous historical approach towards the book of Revelation.

Our Appeal

Our appeal, then, is for a unified approach to this vital subject. Not just for the sake of conformity to traditional views, but for the reason we believe them to be substantially correct. Our motive is to spare our brotherhood the confusion that arises when respected brethren differ, which does not inspire confidence but creates doubt. At this critical time in history when our brotherhood needs every encouragement it can get, let us avoid creating a situation where this cry could again be made, “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long(Psa 74:9).