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Q17. Is it true that the Spanish Jesuits Alcazar and Ribera formulated respectively the Preterist and Futurist interpretations of the book of Revelation?

 

Burning Questions answered by Rev Colin Le Noury.
Q17. Is it true that the Spanish Jesuits Alcazar and Ribera formulated respectively the Preterist and Futurist interpretations of the book of Revelation?
 

 Is it true that the doctrine of the Secret Rapture’ arose in the 19th century as new ideas spread by Maitland, Darby and Irving, who absorbed the Jesuit teachings of Ribera and Lacunza?
 
I AM grateful to Mr. Bertram Lewis of Exeter for posing the above questions, which enable me to paint some of the background to prophetic teaching and to dispel some of the myths regarding the prophetic truths that we believe.
 
The two questions are addressing separate issues but as they are closely linked together we will treat them as two parts to one question. The first part has to do with the various viewpoints on the interpretation of prophecy and centres particularly on our approach to interpreting and understanding the books of Daniel and the Revelation.

Study 7 - The Disclosure Of The Seventy Weeks

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 7 - The Disclosure Of The Seventy Weeks

 

 Daniel 9 has been called "the backbone of prophecy". The understanding of this most important prophecy is essential to a correct appreciation of the divine programme for the ages. Here we have the key to the under-standing of all New Testament prophecy. It is an amazing prophecy, given to Daniel, who was not only a prophet, but a student of prophecy. In the first year of Darius (v1), a fact which shows that the final six chapters of this prophecy are not chronologically arranged, Daniel was studying the Old Testament Scriptures available to him, probably (Jer. 25:9-14 and 29:10-14), when he was stabbed awake by the discovery that the 70 years captivity had well-nigh run its course.

This sent Daniel to seek the Lord, and the Rev. Geoffrey R. King remarks, "I believe with all my heart that the reason why Advent Testimony is not being blessed today in most places as it should be is because the people of God are simply taking prophecy as a thrill and are not doing what Daniel did. Daniel was thrilled by the prophecy, but it brought him to his knees."

So Daniel 9 contains both a prayer and a prophecy, and two-and-a-half millennia nearer the goal of his prophecies, these two great subjects are still intimately linked together. While the lessons we could learn from this chapter about prayer are tremendous, our main consideration must be the vision of the seventy weeks.

Study 7a - The Seventieth Week

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 7a - The Seventieth Week

 

An interesting point emerges here when we read in the A.V. "After three-score years shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself." The authorities agree that the phrase "but not for himself" is inaccurate. The R.V. changes it to "and shall have nothing".

The late Dr. Campbell Morgan argued that this was a mistranslation duly corrected in the R.V. The revised phrase "and shall have nothing" means that He would not possess the Kingdom and be acknowledged King. G. H. Lang adds a timely note here: "His career had commenced in a borrowed manger. It closed in a borrowed grave.

Study 8 - The Great Tribulation

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 8 - The Great Tribulation

 

Having already concentrated on events in heaven following the rapture of the church, we now turn our attention to events on earth following that great day.

This period of unprecedented judgment will immediately precede the arrival of Christ on earth, and will coincide with the reign of the Man of Sin, the Antichrist, This dreadful drama is referred to quite clearly in the Bible, and it is our task to relate this era of divine wrath to God's prophetic programme and discover something of God's design to be accomplished in the day when the earth is completely in the hands of the "devil's messiah".

Study 9 - The King of the North

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 9 - The King of the North

 

Turning our attention to the age of Gentile dominion, we must take a look at the expression "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). This phrase refers to the era of Gentile world domination, which commenced with the ascendancy of Nebuchadnezzar, and will terminate with the advent of Christ to reign. The time limit of this dominion is lucidly denned in the Scofield Reference Bible. It reads: "The times of the Gentiles is that long period beginning with the Babylonian captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, and to be brought to an end by the destruction of Gentile world-power by the 'stone cut out without hands' (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44) i.e. the coming of the Lord in glory (Rev. 19:11,21), until which time Jerusalem is politically subject to Gentile rule".

During the closing stages of this period, when man is doing his best to govern, the Bible predicts world chaos, with wars on a universal scale, and men's hearts failing them for fear as they contemplate international confusion and economic crisis. Indeed the Bible confirms that "mystery of iniquity" doth already work (2 Thess. 2:7), but as noted in the last study, there is a restraining hand. When the church is taken out of this world, that hindering influence will be removed, and out of the confusion and turmoil there will emerge the devil's superman, the "future Fuehrer" or the Antichrist. He will be the head of a ten-nation confederacy, or the resuscitated Roman Empire. Beyond this ten-kingdom federation of other nations under the dominion of the Beast (Rev. 13 : 1-10), there will be a federation of other nations which will contest the Antichrist's rulership of the Holy Land.

Study 10 - The King of the South

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 10 - The King of the South

 

There is general agreement among prophetic scholars that the "King of the South" has reference to Egypt, inasmuch as this power is referred to as that south of Israel (Dan. 11:5, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15, 25, 29, 40). Indeed it is not possible to understand the history of Palestine without a knowledge of the history of Egypt. If we take a careful look at (Dan. 11:40) it becomes evident that we are dealing with prophecy. "At the time of the end" are words, which allude to a time beyond the day of Daniel. At this time after the close of the present church age, when a dark power will rule over Israel (Dan. 11:36-45), this "king of the south shall push at him". Edward J. Young in his commentary on this Danielic prophecy argues that this king of the south typified ancient rulers in Egypt from the time of Alexander the Great and will be a ruler at the end time. Indeed it is evident from (11:43) that he will wield great influence at the end time, in confederation with other powers, Arabic and African. Dr. Tatford argues very convincingly in his excellent commentary on Daniel that "This powerful league may well think itself capable of teaching the northern ruler a well-deserved lesson and the assault upon Palestine may be the first step in a planned campaign against the king of the north".

Study 11 - The Kings of the East

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 11 - The Kings of the East

 

The two previous studies dealt with the northern confederacy, or the "King of the north," and the "King of the south", which by general agreement has reference to Egypt. We come now to examine the federation of the Far East, the vast oriental armies of S.E. Asia, referred to in (Rev. 17:12) as the "Kings of the east". The word "east" comes from the Greek "the rising of the sun". This seems to have undoubted reference to oriental races and nations, and Prof. Walvoord says, "the rising powers of parts of the orient in our day in countries such as Japan, China, India, as well as lesser nations, makes such an invasion a reasonable prediction". It is reasonable to conclude that any future consideration of events on a cosmic scale would include the orient with its teeming millions. Indeed, "the real sleeping giant of Asia is awakening".

Study 12 - The Future of Israel

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 12 - The Future of Israel

 

To emphasise the importance of this study we must remember that we are considering a unique race. The Jews form a large part in the purpose of God. In fact, states Alan Hayward in PLANET EARTH'S LAST HOPE, "the whole history of mankind, both past and future, revolves around the history of Israel." John Urquhart, a writer of a much earlier day, put it very succinctly when he said, "The Bible lives in the Jew. His whole history is a testimony to the historic truth."

God has not finished with Israel. Liberal theologians ignore any reference to Israel, while others, some within the ranks of conservative evangelicalism, aver that God is through with Israel, and that the Jews have been set aside and superseded by the church composed of Jews and Gentiles. Says one such thinker, making reference to the words of Jesus in (John 4:21), "Jerusalem in Palestine was abolished for ever as to its spiritual significance." He continues in his thesis to argue that the "Zion" referred to in (Isa. 59:20, 21 and Rom. 11:26, 27) can only refer to the New Testament Zion, i.e. the church of our Saviour Jesus Christ." To argue in this fashion betokens a failure to differentiate between Israel and the church, resulting in theological confusion. Prof. Dwight Pentecost states that "these two groups cannot be united into one, but that they must be distinguished as two separate entities with whom God is dealing in a special programme." Any attempt to interpret certain Old and New Testament prophecies relative to Israel, otherwise than literally is not sound, and the idea of spiritualising such prophecies and applying them to the church makes nonsense of Scripture.

Study 13 - The Beast and the False Prophet

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 13 - The Beast and the False Prophet
 

The passage of Scripture dealing specifically with this study is found in Revelation 13. The first ten verses deal with "a beast", a character who will figure prominently in the Great Tribulation, the subject, of study 8. This beast emerges from "the sea", which in Biblical usage indicates that he will spring from the great mass of humanity. A. J. Pollock comments, "the sand of the sea referring to the multitudes of mankind, the sea to the unstable and revolutionary forces at work." A reference to (Rev. 17:15) will explain the type used. It will be from the chaos and confusion of the nations in the end-time that this vile personality will rise. Prof. Dwight Pentecost says that "the sea" depicts Gentile nations.

Study 14 - The Rise and Fall of Babylon

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 14 - The Rise and Fall of Babylon
 

In this study we will be forced to take a look into the distant past while at the same time we penetrate the future when, in a world without the church, an idolatrous system will appear upon the scene, linked with an apostate religious system with extensive influence. So modern Babylon in its wider applications, suggests Oliver Boyt, ". . . incorporates the whole of apostate Christendom, wherever her priestcraft, ritual and idolatry are practised or her superstitions penetrate."

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