Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Originally written 12 June, 2013 (updated 2019)
But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase. Daniel 12:4
Imagine if you will that one-day scientists abandon the flawed and completely illogical theory of Darwinian Evolution. Imagine all that science could accomplish without having that biased monkey hanging on its neck like a dead albatross?
For many of these men and women, it would revolutionize the way they analyze a problem. Rapid advances in our civilization came because men like Isaac Newton, Nicolai Tesla, and Albert Einstein did not follow the status quo.
Like the harnessing of electricity or the invention of the printing press…mankind’s great leaps forward in time propelled understanding to a new level. A new paradigm opens up and thus spins off subsequent discoveries like an endless Fibonacci Spiral. What has largely kept men at bay was our own preconceived notions about what was logical, feasible, and possible. Because of that reason, knowledge was often bottlenecked at various points throughout the course of human history.
A great discovery is made, and there is an explosion of new ideas that spiral out from that one and continue until it reaches a point when further progress becomes frustrated or stifled. And whether that roadblock comes in the form of a government, a church, or just our preconceived notions about how to do something. It would seem that man’s capacity for increased knowledge comes in brilliant, brief flashes…followed by long periods of darkness.
A great example of this is in our understanding of the prophetic scriptures, or in how we have come to know what we know.
Most of the Early Church Fathers (ECF) believed in a literal return of Christ and a literal kingdom that He would establish one day in the end times. (Daniel 2:44-45, Isaiah 65:17-25, Revelation 20). I imagine we would have had considerable more information about what their thoughts on the prophetic texts were, but the ECF soon became valiantly engaged in battling the Gnostics, Judaizers, pagans, and skeptics for the better part of 250 years against them making inroads into the Church. They fought just to keep the basic tenets of Christianity intact.
They were able to do all that, and still face ten periods of intense persecution by a pagan Roman Empire. (Smyrna)
However, beginning in the year 313, Constantine legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan. Christianity went from being persecuted and fringe, to being accepted and legal. Over the course of the rest of that century, instead of Christianity going out into the world, the world would come into Christianity. (Pergamum)
As Christianity became more acceptable to the establishment (Roman Empire), political correctness got its toe in the door of the church. I imagine it was not very popular to be preaching that Christ would soon return and destroy all the kings and kingdoms of the world, while under the watchful eye of an Emperor. Allegorizing scriptures provided a way for priests and bishops to remain politically correct and still keep their jobs. This had begun in earnest by an early “Christian” mystic named Origen in the 3rd Century. A century later, a Christian priest named Jerome was commissioned to translate the Bible into Latin, finishing around the year 405 A.D. Around that same time, a Christian theologian named Augustine of Hippo (who had been influenced by Origen), had begun applying that same method of allegorizing the scriptures to all of his interpretations of the Bible. This type of hermeneutics would create a new strain in Eschatology called ‘Amillennialism’. Like Darwinian Evolution, Amillennialism (a= negative) clung around the neck of that Middle-Ages church like dead weight. For centuries, Amillennialism stifled the prophetic understanding of the Scriptures by dissuading the literal interpretation of the prophetic texts. It denied that Christ would literally return to earth, but that the Kingdom was spiritual and ever-present. Since Augustine was in large part, the ‘doctrinal-father’ for the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), ‘Amillennialism’ became THE eschatology for most of Christendom. Moreover, as the RCC gained power and authority, they retained their clerical power by making the Latin Vulgate the only legal and acceptable translation of the Bible. The only people still able to read and speak Latin were the clergy within the RCC, which ensured that they would have a monopoly on anything that was called “Christian” for the better part of 1,000 years. (Thyatira)
Removing the Veil
However, the times they were a-changing. A scholar named John Wycliffe in the 1380s had handwritten a new translation in English. He quickly came under the ire of the Roman Catholic Church. After his death, his works were burned and he was declared a heretic. Another man followed Wycliffe not long after named John Hus who also began handwriting Bibles in English. He did not fare so well as he was arrested and burned at the stake in Germany.
The first printing press was invented around 1450 (Guttenberg) and the first book to ever be printed was the Guttenberg Bible in 1455 (in Latin). (The first English Bible ever printed was the Tyndale Bible ) Now that the Bible was becoming more accessible, and eventually available in something other than Latin, there was an explosion of interest in Christianity. For the first time in over millennia, people could finally read the Bible in their own language. They did not have to rely on a priest to tell them what a Bible said.
The early 1500s brought about a long-overdue desire for change within Roman Catholicism. The Reformation began as a protest movement led by a Catholic monk named Martin Luther who was sick of how corrupted the system had become. With the selling of indulgences for the absolution of sins, the “good works” salvation system, and the abuses by RCC clergy, Luther had finally had enough. On October 31st, 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. The rest as they say is history. Protestant groups began popping up all over Europe as the word was put into the vernacular of the common man. Although the “protesters” may have corrected many of the doctrinal abuses on orthodox Christianity by the RCC, their major failing was that they kept the Catholic Eschatological viewpoint of Amillennialism. (Sardis)
The First Great Awakening occurred toward the end of the 1700s, and Protestant Missionaries were being sent out around the world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An evangelistic movement broke out in Ireland in the early-1800s called the ‘Plymouth Brethren’. They came together and began to study their Bibles in a literal manner shaking off the confines of dead denominationalism altogether.
Just as Martin Luther rediscovered the soteriological doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, so too did these Plymouth Brethren rediscover some long, lost truths. The result of returning to a literal understanding of the entire Bible, led them to the conclusion that the Bible is a) dispensational, b) Pre-Millennial, and c) that they were somewhere near the end times.
Therefore, it wasn’t that John N. Darby and company created Pre-Millennial Eschatology out of thin air, but really, only rediscovered what had been hidden in plain sight for almost 2,000 years. (Philadelphia)
“About the Time of the End, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the Prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition” Sir Isaac Newton
Precept upon Precept
Sir Isaac Newton wrote more about biblical prophecy than he did on any other topic. He was particularly fascinated by the books of Daniel and Revelation. Nevertheless, even with all his mental genius and boundless energy to write and study the prophetic word, he remained largely “ignorant” of prophetic events that even the average Bible prophecy student today takes for granted.
Back when I was at the Omega Letter where I had written for a number of years, many of us had looked (and still do) up to Jack Kinsella as not only a pastor but also a mentor. He provided a straightforward and simple understanding of not only Bible Prophecy, but of what it means to be a Christian living in these last days. Jack’s mentor was Hal Lindsey. Hal’s mentors were most likely men like Lewis Sperry Chaffer, Cyrus Scofield, and Clarence Larkin. Larkin and Scofield picked up on what the Plymouth Brethren had been doing decades earlier, which was simply returning to a literal understanding of the Bible. Thanks to those men, we know that we are in that last church age that precedes the coming of our Lord. (Laodicea)
Each group or generation of men learned from the previous, and that knowledge was passed on, built upon, and measured against the current events of that day. So we here today, are the recipients of over 150 years of accumulated learning and study. This learning has been greatly accelerated by the use of the Internet, study bibles, commentaries and teachings. What had been hidden to many in Christianity only a century ago, has come to light with the return of national Israel to their ancestral homeland.
But even as early as 1919, Cyrus Scofield noted in his Scofield Study Bible, that Israel HAD to become a nation again because a literal reading of Ezekiel 36-37 demanded it. I imagine he caught a lot of grief for including that in his Bible back then…that was…until 1948.
However, we only know what we know today because we have stood on the shoulders of giants. Not only do we benefit from their diligent study and willingness to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but also we have accumulated more history than them. We have had the privilege to see Israel become a nation again. We have seen the formation of revived Roman Empire via the European Union, coming together into a single political and economic body. We have seen the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reemergence of Russia. We are now seeing Red China rising and the US declining. We are seeing the push for a New World Order that will one day lead to a one-world currency, religion, and political body. We are seeing the signs of increasing natural disasters in both frequency and intensity. We are seeing technology moving at a frightening pace that allows men to play god and computers to become like men. Communications have become global with an instantaneous reach. Artificial intelligence is leaving the realms of science fiction and becoming reality. There is an increased fascination with the supernatural, occultic, and unexplainable.
Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. Daniel 12:8-10
Once again we are reaching that point in time where the prophetic text has been studied, preached, taught, and dissected so many ways…by so many great teachers, that it seems impossible that we could still pull any new information out of what we already know. Any study, about any verse of the Bible, is available many times over in either written, audio, or video formats. I do not know what else can be brought out of the most intensely studied book in the history of the world.
These are indeed exciting times, but the watchmen can grow very weary in seeing how rapidly the world is sinking into spiritual and moral depravity. It weighs heavy on our hearts. We are instructed to be ready, to watch, and to lift our heads up when these things begin to happen.
Nevertheless, there is one other thing I do know, and that is we will have the privilege of seeing what the prophets, apostles, early church fathers, and those godly men of old, longed to see. If we are patient and watching, we will be that generation in the not too distant future who hears the shout, the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God calling us home.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!