Keys to Understanding
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 2001
Read the accompanying
Newsletter for December 2001
The Holy Scriptures are the standard guide for the recognition of all knowledge that God has planned for mankind dealing with the past, applying to the present generation and what He has designed for all future eras. All prophetic parameters that are destined to occur are within the power and sovereignty of Godís all-encompassing plan and they are actively placed into force through the divine attributes of Godís authority. God is the one who has determined the outcome of all historical events to occur on earth long before this globe came into being. The apostle James informs us: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). There is nothing that happens on this earth (or in the universe for that matter) that is a surprise to God. This includes all the actions of the holy angels (as well as the evil angels, including Satan), and it embraces all of the activities of human beings no matter in what era they have lived or will live. In bringing things to pass, God has the prerogative of using both good and bad things. We are told in no uncertain terms that God is the author of good and also evil. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7).
This fact of Godís singular manifestation of supreme power is reserved only for Him because He is God in all aspects of the meaning of His divine name and person. And what we are told in Scripture is the truth that God has implemented a purpose and a plan for the salvation of the human race (He has devised a blueprint of a foreordained series of events that includes every single human being who has ever lived on this earth or ever will live within this human environment). Each of us who comprise the human race is a cardinal part of that pre-arranged course of action. There is no doubt that God will see to it that His plan is being performed with precise exactitude according to a pre-ordained series of historical events in a set chronology that God has devised before there ever was a material creation of the earth or the universe. That design of action includes both the method of redemption for the salvation of mankind and that of judgment on the whole of the human race to teach us the qualities of His divine society. The center of the plan involves the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Firstborn Son of God. Christ was the one who created under the authority of the Father the entirety of the earth and universe (Colossians 1:15-20). And, the Father and the Firstborn Son have given to the human race a guide book that provides the standard blueprints for all factors of salvation, history and prophecy. That book is the Holy Scriptures, known in the western world as the Holy Bible. It consists of what we today call the Old and the New Testaments. Let us look at that guide.
The Holy Scriptures Are the Standard to Evaluate All Things ó Including Prophecy
The Holy Bible is actually not a "history book," but it is a book with history as its principal ingredient. This is because everything in the Scriptures was written within an historical environment and all its pages contain historical data. History is a central theme of its revelation. Even the doctrinal issues that are mentioned within its pages have historical meanings associated with them. One of the reasons that so much doctrine is misunderstood today by preachers and theologians is their lack of applying the historical meanings relevant to the contemporary periods to which the writings referred. After all, the early teachings of the prophets and the apostles were written within particular chronological periods and the words they used reflected the meanings of the societies and cultures in which they lived. Writing in this manner is an essential reason why the Holy Bible can be considered an historical book, and the people who study the Bible must be accounted to be "historians." It also requires that humans (to understand the messages of the Bible perfectly) must be fully literate (able to read and write). Indeed, the more astute one is in comprehending the laws of language (whether biblical or modern) the easier it is to realize the truths given by the divine Family. See my book "The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine" for more proofs.
But there is something else that is historical about the Bible. That is the subject of prophecy. A central prophetic teaching that is profoundly evident in scriptural interpretation is what we can call the cyclical theme in prophetic understanding. This is the involvement of set (or standard) chronological periods. In some sections of the Scriptures, this principle of cyclical attribution of time is of paramount importance. This method of revelation is explained in a cardinal book of prophecy. That is the Book of Isaiah 49:9,10.
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." "Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them [Israel] bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the FORMER THINGS, what they be, that we may consider them [the former things], and know the latter end [the future end] of them or declare us things for to come" (Isaiah 41:21,22).
There are three factors emphasized in those two verses of instruction. If the nation of Israel asks God "what will happen in the future," then they are first to study the Holy Scriptures and consider "the former things, what they be, that we may consider them." The fact is, no one will comprehend what the future holds for any generation unless that group of people consider "what the former things are about." Then, God states that there will occur a "latter end of them [a latter end of the former things]" which is a key to comprehending "things for to come." This means that God applies the REPETITION of historical and chronological events as a means to develop a future history. These repetition phases are what Isaiah means.
Other sections illustrate this "repetition theme" of interpretation. Isaiah shows a cyclical nature to events that are destined to repeat themselves in prophetic themes. "Let them [Israel] bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the FORMER THINGS, what they be, that we may consider them [the former things], and know the latter end [the future end] of them or declare [to] us things for to come" (Isaiah 41:21,22) "Behold, the former things are come to pass [earlier things have happened again], and new things [that have not happened before] do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Isaiah 42:9). "I have declared the former things from the beginning [from the beginning of time God showed past things that came to pass]; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass" (Isaiah 48:3). "I have even from the beginning declared it [the prophecy] to thee; before it [the prophecy] came to pass I showed it [to] thee [before the prophecy occurred]" (Isaiah 48:5). And Solomon said (to bring this "repetition theme" of the Bible to its full revelation): "I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be to the eon [for a long time in the future]: nothing can be put [or added] to it, nor anything taken away from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him. That which has been [in the past] IS NOW [it is also in the present]; and that which is to be [in the future] HAS ALREADY BEEN; and God requires that which is past [again God requires the past events to repeat themselves in a future occurrence]." (Ecclesiastes 3:14,15 KJV adjusting the word "forever" to read as is proper: "eon")
Sometimes God does not depend upon past historical events to be repeated in the future, but He simply creates new prophecies (not based on past events) and He gives them anytime He pleases. This means that God also has some brand new predictions to present to Israel and the world that have long been hidden from the knowledge of mankind. "I have showed thee [Israel] new things from this time [from the eighth century B.C. ó in the time of Isaiah the prophet ó God began some entirely NEW prophecies], even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now [these are new prophecies that were not previously given or known], and not from the beginning [these new prophecies were not revealed "at the beginning of time"]; even before the day when thou heardst them not [the prophecies were so new that only the day before no one knew of them]; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them" (Isaiah 48:6,7).
Yet still (and in spite of the fact that some brand new prophecies were given in the eighth century B.C. to Israel), the Israelites had their eyes blinded by God and those who lived at the time were unable to comprehend them. God said: "Yea, thou heardest not [you do not understand the real meaning of the prophecy]; yea, thou knowest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened [by God to understand]" (Isaiah 48:8). Yes, some prophecies were given in the time of Isaiah, but the people of the time did not evaluate the meanings properly because their eyes were blinded by God and their ears stopped up lest they interpret correctly the meanings. The prophecies would have been rather easy to interpret had they applied the proper principles of interpretation. And remember, one of those "keys" to prophetic recognition was given by Isaiah and Solomon. A prime method used by God is His "repetition theme" (that historical and chronological events are applied by God through REPETITION). They repeat themselves in regular cyclical patterns that God has determined. It is up to us (His children) to discover what those patterns are.
The Three Phases of Prophetic Fulfillment
Notice the "key" given by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:14,15 because it will be the determining factor to evaluate correctly what the verses in Isaiah mean in their various contexts. Solomon spoke of events that were happening "NOW" (at the moment he wrote). Those things then occurring were also events that had at some time in the past had "ALREADY BEEN" [they had happened once before], but that was not the end. Those events of the past and the present were also required by God to occur once again in the future. The interpretation of various prophecies involves themes that relate to the PAST, to the PRESENT, and to the FUTURE. Just like any sentence made up of words can be understood in the past tense, present tense or future tense, so prophecies as a whole (Solomon means the events that make up a prophecy) will have a PAST effect, then a PRESENT effect, and finally a FUTURE relevance. It is like having an anchorage in the past regarding events in history that are repeated in the present, and then completed in the FUTURE.
This "repetitive theme" is clearly shown in Daniel Seven in the prophecy about the four beasts. In the first six verses Daniel describes the activities of a lion, then a bear followed by a leopard. Then follows a long section of a future world power called the Composite Beast (he had the characteristics of the previous three beasts, but in a composite fashion). This final Composite Beast was to arise in the future and his demise would see the Kingdom of God emerging on earth. Now note this. At the end (when the End-Time events described by Daniel are to take place), Daniel says: "These great beasts which are four, are four kings, which shall arise [in the future] out of the earth" (Daniel 7:17). In other words, even though the first three beasts (that were soon followed by a fourth Composite Beast) were to have a RENEWAL (or what we would call a REPETITION) at the End of the Age, the third and final part of the THREE-FOLD TYPE of prophecy was to focus on the FUTURE or showing End-Time events in a repetitive manner. So, what happened in the past, has a very definite relevance to what will happen in the future, particularly at the very End that will finally witness the emergence of the Kingdom of God on earth under the leadership of Christ Jesus.
The same prophetic theme is seen in Daniel 10 to 12 that is called "The Scripture of Truth" (see Daniel 10:21). The prophecy starts out in the PAST with the mention of the early empire of Persia (but that theme is in the PRESENT to Daniel), then it mentions Greece, and out of Greece [that is, out of Javan, from the territory of Javan] comes "a mighty king" whose kingdom is divided into the four parts of the earth as viewed from Jerusalem (Daniel 11:4). Then, at verse 6 begins a story of a King of the North and a King of the South who will exist at "the end of years." These earlier kings of the three empires first mentioned will have a FUTURE relevance (with a REPETITIVE power being given to them in a united front against the armies of God at the End-Time). In other words, these nations mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy in Daniel 10 to 12 will once again be in an End-Time existence to fight with Christ when He returns at His Second Advent. The outcome of these End-Time events is given in Daniel chapter 12 with the Kingdom of God then emerging on the earth at the resurrection from the dead (Daniel 12:1-13).
When Does the End-Time Begin for Us Who live in this New Millennium?
In the last paragraph I mentioned the long prophecy titled "The Scripture of Truth" in Daniel 10:21 that has its essential prophetic message from Daniel 11:2 on through and including Daniel 12:4. Indeed, in the prologue to this long prophecy Daniel is told by the angel Gabriel: "Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days [in the future]." In other words, the whole vision is for the End-Time that finally witnesses the Kingdom of God on earth. But there is a "key" given in this single prophecy of Daniel that helps us realize that there is more than one End-Time. The first "end" begins after the Persian empire of the PAST (along with the Grecian and that of the "mighty king") of Daniel 11:1-4 have fallen and a King of the North and a King of the South have come on the prophetic scene. The first "end" in this long prophecy of Daniel begins in Daniel 11:6 where the text states: "And in the end of years they shall join themselves together." But in verse 27, Gabriel informs Daniel that the first "end" was not the actual "end." The text reads: "yet the end [shall be] at the time appointed" (verse 27). That verse points to another "end" that will soon come on the scene. That second "end" is disclosed in verse 40 which relates: "And at the time of the end shall the King of the South push at him" (verse 40). Yet there is still a third "end" mentioned in the same prophecy. That third "end" is when Daniel is promised to stand up [in a resurrection] "at the end of the days" (Daniel 12:13).
The fact is, the Bible shows several prophetic events that will occur in the period just prior to the Second Advent of Christ that will each have their own particular "beginnings" and "ends." When we speak about the End-Time (or, the Time of the End) we must be careful to indicate what prophetic context we are discussing because there are several such periods for various prophecies with most having their conclusions at the resurrection of the dead that occurs at the Second Advent of Christ. In some past articles I have mentioned the End-Time (or, the End of the Age) being associated with certain prophecies that I was discussing and each of those individual prophecies have their own chronological beginnings and endings (some with more than one phase associated with them). In fact, one End of the Age occurred when Christ appeared on earth some 2000 years ago to put away sin and the apostle Paul made reference to it. He said in the Book of Hebrews: "But now once in the End of the World [Age or Eon] hath he [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
In fact, Paul thought several Ages came to an End with the First Advent of Christ. He said in First Corinthians 10:11: "Now all these things happened unto them [the historical events of the PAST that happened to the Old Testament people] for examples [to us]: and they are written [in the Scriptures] for our admonition, upon whom the Ends [note: the PLURAL] of the World [Ages, or Eons] are come." So, there were several "End-Times" that occurred even back in the first century with the First Advent of Christ. Yet, according to the prophetic principles I have been showing you in this article, these PAST "End-Times" are indicative of FUTURE "End-Times" when we find the REPETITION of these prophetic themes in the generation that witnesses the Second Advent of Christ.
The New Testament writers recognized the same principle of interpretation. The Apostle Paul stated in Romans 15:4: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." It was customary for the apostles to refer to the experiences of the earlier prophets and kings as having relevance for people who lived at the End Time period for prophetic fulfillment (whether it was the "End Time" to occur in their days some 2000 years ago, or in the final "End Time" that will undoubtedly happen in the years ahead of us. "Now all these things happened unto them [the earlier biblical people in the PAST] for types and they are written for our admonition [upon Paulís generation of Christians that represented to Paul the PRESENT] upon whom the Ends of the Eons are come" (I Corinthians 10:11 KJV adjusted to read "eons of the eons"). But, that verse also applies equally to us who do in fact live in the "End Time" period (or periods) associated with the Second Advent of Christ. Just when those various "End Times" begin and end are observed accurately when we apply them to the specific prophetic theme. Some we do not understand.
And now to the important question, "When will each of those ĎEnd Timeí periods commence for us who now live at the beginning our new Millennium? To be frank and honest, I do not know any of them with precision! However, if we could have a prophetic conference in which all interested parties could meet to discuss these things (I mean the top professional theologians, historians, chronologists, etc.) in which any of you reading this article could also attend and have a part in the discussion, I could take at least a week of time (lecturing eight hours a day) discussing each issue intelligently. Whether, even then, we could arrive at a precise definition of each of the "End Time" periods that God has disclosed, is whether God in His time schedule has opened up our minds enough to answer these pressing questions (see Daniel 12:4, 9). In the future, I will try to be more definitive in all my research studies on these chronological matters so that there will not be any confusion over which "End of the Age" (or, Ages) I am speaking about.
What I wish to give you now are some points that you should be studying in order for us to know (whenever God opens the door of understanding) the precise chronological meanings to the prophecies. I have no doubt whatever that each prophecy will be fulfilled to the dotting of a letter, but we must remember that even Christ warned us who are the very elect that one of the main prophetic teachings that would long be misunderstood is that concerning chronology (Matthew 24:36-51). However, I believe that time is soon coming when God will dispatch to all of us who are diligently studying His divine word the necessary tools to comprehend these difficult themes. Let me give you some prophetic items that are not yet understood in their fullness. These themes will become known in a profound way at the very end. We should study to comprehend them.
The Following Themes Need Immediate Attention by All Prophetic Interpreters
One of the major principles we need to be assured of is that the Old Testament shows that historical events which were reckoned as having been caused by God were in themselves circular (or REPETITIVE) in occurrence. Remember, the Book of Ecclesiastes states most assuredly: "The thing that has been, it is that which shall be and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And Solomon further said: "I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be to the eon [for a long time in the future]: nothing can be put [or added] to it, nor anything taken away from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him. That which has been IS NOW; and that which is to be HAS ALREADY BEEN; and God requires [again in a future occurrence] that which is past" (Ecclesiastes 3:l4,15 KJV adjusting the word "forever" to read as is proper: "eon").
To King Solomon (whom the Bible shows was the wisest of men and whose writings in the Bible are inspired) believed that all things were to be reckoned in a circular fashion when the ultimate dimensions of things were being discussed. He began his philosophical discourse called Ecclesiastes by referring to the Sun which arises in the East and goes down in the West and then returns underneath the earth to where it started the morning before (Ecclesiastes 1:5). Analogous to the Sun was also the wind, Solomon spoke about it sometimes going toward the South and then turns towards the North and whirls around in circular fashion until it returns to the place where it had once been (Ecclesiastes 1:6). Then he noticed that the rivers run into the oceans yet the sea level did not increase because of the excess waters from the rivers. Indeed, he noticed that clouds formed over the oceans and came over the land. Precipitation came down to the land which formed small streams that turned into rivers which then flowed right back into the ocean from whence the water came. "Thither they return again" (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
This circular phenomenon also applied to the activities of mankind, and this is where Solomon began his long discourse on the fortunes of man by stating the prime principle that all things are circular. This applies to things in history, and also to things in prophecy (which is nothing more than the knowledge of historical events before they happen). Even here, things have the tendency, so Solomon believed (as well as the apostles of Christ) of being circular in occurrence. Every event to happen in the future has a former event that was like it. This is the teaching of the Bible. "The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
There is a prime example in the Bible and history, which demonstrates what Solomon and the prophets/apostles, had in mind when the rule of circularity in history and prophecy came into play. It is remarkable that the Temple of Solomon was destroyed the first time by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon on the evening of the ninth and into the tenth of the Hebrew month of Ab (a month that corresponds closely to our modern month of August) (Jeremiah 52:12-14). Also, the Romans destroyed the Temple that existed in the time of Christ and the apostles on the exact same day of the month and year Josephus, War VI,iv,5 para.250). Will the future fulfillment (that will take place at the Time of the End) also happen on the same day of the year? Remember, we can pretty easily understand the THREE-FOLD aspect of prophetic fulfillment. This is something for us to watch. The problem, of course, will be in recognizing the exact chronological time periods that the THREE-FOLD eras begin and end. Christ stated that none of us will be able to disclose the precise chronological events (Matthew chapters 24 and 25). However, as the Time of the End gets closer, we are told by Daniel that the knowledge of these important prophecies will be made clearer (Daniel 12:4,9).
The exact dating of the year in which the Temple in Jeremiahís time was destroyed (and that same day in the time of apostle John) gives a sufficient "key" to make one believe that the next destruction of the Temple will also occur on that same day of the year. This was a significant occurrence in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and God must have intended it to be so. When the first Temple was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar, we find that Jeremiah the Prophet ordained that the Book of Lamentations was to he read by all Jews on the anniversary date of that occasion. It is interesting that in A.D.70 (almost 600 years after the time of Jeremiah) the Jews throughout the world in which they lived (from Spain to India) were officially reading Lamentations in their synagogues at the very time the Temple and Jerusalem were being destroyed by the Romans. This ruin is what Christ had foretold in his Olivet Prophecy (Matthew 24:14).
Now, you and I (being humans) may not reason in the fashion of the THREE-FOLD fulfillments, but God does. We find that God often does not perform his prophetic teachings in ways that are normal to us humans who are living at any given age or generation. If we wish to comprehend them in their entirety, then we must adopt the manner of interpretation given to us by God, even if it does not square with our usual way of determining things. In almost all occasions, when God wishes to blind people from recognizing the truth of any prophecy, God will cause them to misinterpret the chronology of the prophetic themes. They may not determine the correct application of the PAST to what is happening at the PRESENT, and they may misapply the PRESENT in projecting the complete fulfillment into a proper FUTURE relevance. What is essential to correctly appraise those PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE aspects.
The longer the prophecy, the more its interpretation adheres to this THREE-FOLD scheme of predictive fulfillment. Sometimes we find that an initial portion of the prophecy will occur in the PAST (say before the prophecy was given), and then a further application in what is happening at the PRESENT, but that the final outcome of the single prophecy is to a still FUTURE event or events that completes the prophetic indications intended by the prophetic word. What we are speaking about is a THREE-FOLD aspect to the fulfillment of prophetic events. One of the "folds" was at the beginning of Israelís existence (or at the start of the prophecy itself), followed by a second "fold" which usually refers to New Testament times as was shown by the apostles in the quotes I gave above, and then a third "fold" (making a total of THREE-FOLD) at the End of the Age, or in discussing events when the Messiah will come and establish Godís Kingdom.
What is the Principle of Circularity?
Just how does the biblical teaching of the circularity of history (which we find in several prophetic contexts) actually work so that we can interpret the significance of the teaching? This requires an application of judgment that must be based on biblical principles clearly stated in the Scriptures. One must be careful in such interpretation because some overzealous people have made wrong judgments in this matter without due regard to the proper guidelines for an accurate understanding of Godís prophetic teachings. Indeed, there are several types of criteria for circularity in prophecy and one must be careful to select the correct one that God has in mind for the understanding of such teachings. While it is certain that factors involving intervals of TIME are essential ingredients in comprehending the principle, the interpreter must be careful to appraise correctly the benchmark incidents that begin and end those intervals of TIME. This is where a person needs the Spirit of God to help show what those proper benchmarks are and then one must clearly observe in the Bible what interval of TIME is applicable for the prophecy to occur.
Let me give an example of how the benchmarks of a circularity prophecy can be different from another similar prophecy in the Bible. Some do have different benchmarks. Note that the Flood of Noah happened when the tenth generation of humans existed on earth from the first generation which was Adam and Eve our first parents. This is arrived at by counting the generations of what we might call the "righteous line" which culminated in Noah, the preacher of righteousness. That Flood was a judgment by God on people in the earth for their sins. Now note this factor. In the tenth generation AFTER the Flood, the great destruction by fire took place on the Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah). Since God promised Noah and all humans on earth that there would not be more judgments by a catastrophic unleashing of water on a worldwide scale, the next judgment came in the form of fire. Also, the final judgments on earth are by fire.
From the illustration above, we have the two benchmarks being judgments of destruction both occurring after an interval of ten generations. So, the use of generations is invoked by God (ten generations, in this case) to provide the circularity factor in understanding the prophecy. I mention these prophetic indications as an encouragement to each of you to join me in doing research on these matters so that we might be able to comprehend what significance they may have for our period today. As for me, I do not yet have the answers to assure me that the future applications are now understood. More study will no doubt change my mind, but that is why ASK exists. It is here to provide a vehicle to investigate these biblical matters.
Let us notice what this could mean. It could be interpreted from the above example that God could well bring on similar destruction of civilizations ten generations from the beginning of other new times of civilizations such as those which began with Adam and then Noah. There may be a reflection of this principle in the Law of Moses. We find that God would not allow illegitimate children or those descendants of Moab and Ammon into the civilization of Israel at the beginning of its national existence until the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:13). After that interval of TIME, then the Moabites and Ammonites could enter into the civilization of Israel. It is interesting that in the genealogies of Christ as recorded by Matthew and Luke, the tenth generation from Abraham (who was accounted as the head of the Israelite family) was Salmon who begat Boaz (the eleventh generation) who then married Ruth of Moab, the grandmother of King David. Israelites used inclusive reckoning in such matters and Abraham is to be counted as the first generation in the series. This means that God kept Moabites and Ammonites ten generations out of the official family of Israel. But when would the modern generations begin? This is our job to find out.
New information has come to the fore that may help. Let me give it to you. There is an illustration that may give a person some confidence that God views the tenth generation from the beginning of nations, civilizations, or even important families as a prophetic interval of TIME in the circularity of prophetic (or historical) events. As a matter of interest, note that in the genealogy of Christ in Matthewís Gospel, if one counted David as the first generation, the 10th would be Ahaz who received the grandest prophecy of all about the birth of a virgin to come in the future. Then if you count Ahaz as the first generation of that prophecy, one comes to a man named Eliakim that we know nothing about but it is interesting that a certain Eliakim in Ahazís day is given a sure peg in the House of David and that he will have an immovable "key" that is called "the key of David" (Isaiah 22:20-25). This strange prophecy goes on to say that this Eliakim who receives the "key to the House of David" will have his secure nail fastened in a sure place (Isaiah 22:25) to be uprooted and fall. It is interesting that if one counts the Eliakim of Matthew 1:13 as the first generation, then the 10th generation is Christ Jesus who was indeed the inheritor of the "key to the House of David" (Revelation 3:7) who was indeed "uprooted and fell" when he (Christ Jesus) was crucified on the Mount of Olives. These "tenth generation indications" may mean more for the present than we recognize.
What we have in these indications is type and anti-type, or the DUALITY principle in effect in these prophetic fulfillments (the anti-type is poor in one era, and rich in the final period). Individuals in history and their ministries are shown in this circular fashion. The Bible speaks of the importance of the first Adam and that a second Adam would appear to die for mankind, and at a third time He will be glorified in His world Kingdom. There was a first Moses, and a second Moses when Christ gave His Sermon on the Mount and at a third time when He inherits the glorious Kingdom of God. There was also the first David, the second David when Christ was in the flesh, and at a third time when He comes in His glorious Kingdom. There was also a first Elijah, and also a second Elijah (who was John the Baptist), and there will be a third Elijah at the End of the Age (and just before his Second Advent back to this world) to introduce the glorious Kingdom of God (Matthew 17:1013). The second manifestation is always in the era of Jesusí life.
In the Bible there are two different phases of Christís life that are given (one is His poor and despised phase, and the other His rich and His glorious phase) and each must be distinguished from the other or utter confusion will result. This fact is shown by comparing the prophecy in Isaiah with that of the Psalms. In Isaiah the Messiah (that is, Christ Jesus) is shown to grow up having "no comeliness" or "no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2,3). The earliest scholars of Christendom interpreted this prophecy to mean that Jesus was relatively ugly in his physical appearance while he was in the flesh and up to His crucifixion. But with Psalm 45:2, the apostle Paul referred this Psalm 45 in Hebrews chapter one to Christ before His incarnation (and later after His resurrection from the dead). It is a very different description. The text reads: "Thou art fairer [more good looking in appearance] than the children of men [more than any human ever created]." The later scholars of Christendom applied this condition of beauty to Christís appearance in the flesh, but they were wrong. Even Paul said that Christ emptied Himself and gave up His former beauty to become a human, and even a human who would have no other human desiring Him from a physical point of view (Philippians 2:6-11). But now, Christ has returned to His glorious state and is again handsome.
There Are Many Events Reckoned in the Three-Fold Circular Fashion
We also need to pay attention to what is known as the THREE-FOLD approach to prophetic understanding. Let us notice an example or two. In regard to the destruction of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem by hostile forces, God told the prophet Ezekiel that there would be three such destructions in history. To see this fact, one should read all of Ezekiel chapter 21 because the whole of the chapter contains a prophecy about the overthrow and destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. God told Ezekiel to take a sword (which was to be a symbol of Godís divine judgment upon Jerusalem and the land of Israel). This symbolic sword was to be the instrument of judgment that God would use to destroy Jerusalem and Israel on three different occasions. Note God telling Ezekiel that this "sword" was reckoned as "a trial, and what if the sword contemn [rejects] even the rod? It shall be no more, saith the Lord God. Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled [Hebrew "twice even a"] THIRD TIME, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates?" (Ezekiel 21:12-15).
It should be noted that God told Ezekiel to let the judgment come twice (that is, "doubledí) and that it would finally strike "a third time" (verse 14). So certain was Ezekiel that Jerusalem would be destroyed three times in the manner that he was prophesying that he said the crown and diadem of the King of the Jews would be overthrown and perverted in three "overturns." ĎThus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same [as it had been]: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [to] him" (Ezekiel 21:26,27). Thus, Ezekiel was told that the Temple, Jerusalem and the sovereignty of the Jews (as shown by the king who ruled the nation) would be overthrown by the sword of Godís judgment three times in the future. The first time would be that which would be witnessed by Ezekiel and those contemporaneous to him; the second overthrow would occur at some undesignated time in the future; and the third overthrow at a further undesignated time in the future (but after the third overthrow there would appear the prophesied ruler "whose right it is" to rule over Israel in a proper way). This was to be the rule of the Messiah whose Kingdom would never end (verse 27).
Now look at what happened. For the first fulfillment, the Temple, Jerusalem and the sovereignty of Israel on earth were all destroyed just as Ezekiel said when Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon accomplished the task in the time of Ezekiel. Then, for the second fulfillment, on the exact day of the month and year, the Romans destroyed the Temple that Christ knew (along with the destruction of Jerusalem and the sovereignty of the Jews) in A.D.70. But Ezekiel said there was to be a third time (a third OVERTHROW just like the former "overthrowing") that would occur at a further time in history. It is only logical to believe that the next (and final) destruction will also occur on the same day of the month and year that the former destructions took place. And after this third overthrow, the Messiah will arrive to claim his throne and set up a world kingdom that would never be overthrown again (Ezekiel 21:27).
Other Circular Prophetic Factors
We now come to one of the central prophecies of the Bible where we can begin to apply some of these principles of THREE-FOLD circular fulfillment. Look at the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 6 to 12 inclusively. It has within it a singular chronological prediction involving a period of 65 years (Isaiah 7:8). The first fulfillment of this period of 65 years ended when the enemies of Ahaz (to whom the prophecy was first given) ceased to exist in the time of Esarhaddon of Assyria [the exact dates have yet to be worked out in my new chronology on which I am researching]. The second fulfillment began with the birth of Christ from the virgin Mary in 3 B.C. and ended on the exact year that Paul and others received the teaching of the Mystery in the Sabbatical Year of 62-63 A.D. There will be (it appears) a third fulfillment of this very period of time in our End of the Age. That 65 years will end with the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth with Christ Jesus here in all His glory. But when will that period of 65 years begin? This is the question of questions. Let me state a time that seems proper in every way (though we cannot be sure until a few other associated events take place in tandem to this chronological benchmark). That was the 2000th anniversary of Jesusí birth or starting from the Day of Trumpets in 1998 A.D.
This date has some credentials, but is it a proper date that we can trust for the beginning of the period of 65 years? I am not yet certain, but it is a good date from which more investigation can be done. This is what I am doing at the present. If this date has relevance (and at the moment I am not sure), then there are several other prophetic themes involving other "End Time" phases that fit together and make sense. Let us keep our eyes on these prophetic "keys" that God will open up to our knowledge in the near future. I will be mentioning these various "End Times" in future Prophetic Reports. We have the assurance that God will soon open the doors of understanding on these and other important matters (Daniel 12:4,9).
Ernest L. Martin
© 1976-2014 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions