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The Essence of Seventh-day Adventist Eschatology

 

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Eugene Shubert
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Registered: Jul 2002
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  References to the Historic Proclamation of the Gospel in Revelation

The book of Revelation is both cyclical and climactic. There are three climactic epochs [1]. The rider on the white horse, the two ascending witnesses and the three angels' messages, all refer to the gospel being proclaimed with power and glory at three major epochs in world history. The basic structure of Revelation is that God is revealing multiple scenarios. The seals repeat the Olivet Discourse and indicate that Matt 24:34 was a conditional prophecy. Jesus offered a true possibility. The world was scheduled to end in the first century. However joyous that promise was to the apostolic church [2], the immediate return of Jesus was delayed.

The two witnesses are the power of the gospel during the time of papal persecution. Their death was the end result of evil's power over God's word. Their resurrection followed the deadly wound of the papacy and the ascension of the two witnesses was the glorious elevation and circulation of the Bible from the many Bible societies that came into existence following the deadly wound of the beast. The mighty angel in Rev 10 who planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, giving a loud shout like the roar of a lion, is Jesus speaking through the Millerite movement in 1844. The little book in his hand is the book of Daniel. The seven trumpet judgments were scheduled to follow the Millerite's message but that conclusion was canceled also (Rev 10:11). We are now in the final scenario. All that remains is for us to preach the three angels' messages and to witness the complete fall of spiritual Babylon. There is very little time remaining.

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 10-30-2002 06:28 PM
       
Naldacon
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Registered: Mar 2001
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Gene wrote:

quote:
The world was scheduled to end in the first century.
What caused God to change his plans?

Pardon my ignorance, but what was the Millerite movement and what happened in 1844 that was so special? Can you give a brief synopsis? (I don't really have time to sift through any more huge websites trying to understand obscure sects and their beliefs. I've already wasted enough time at the Christadelphian site trying to find an answer to what they think Satan is. All I ever found is what they think Satan isn't. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.)

 11-03-2002 12:05 AM
     
Eugene Shubert
Silver Member

Registered: Jul 2002
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Posts: 69

quote:
Originally posted by Naldacon
What caused God to change his plans?
God delayed the immediate return of Christ for the same reason that God always changes His timetable. The answer reminds me of a complaint I remember hearing from a Jewish woman about her Old Testament Scriptures. "Why is it that God's predictions of disasters always come true but never any of the good stuff?" The answer to this riddle is stated as a principle in Jeremiah 18:7-10:

quote:
If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
Why didn't Christ's immediate eschatological return happen in the first century, as promised? I believe Revelation, chapters 2 & 3, provides the answer. The church at Ephesus left their first love. The church in Pergamum allowed the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. The church in Thyatira tolerated a false prophetess named Jezebel. The church in Sardis was dead. The church in Laodicea was lukewarm. I don't believe that Jesus will return until God's people preach the gospel with decided force, compelling the world to make a decided choice for or against it.

quote:
Originally posted by Naldacon
What was the Millerite movement and what happened in 1844 that was so special? Can you give a brief synopsis?
I fear that my answer wouldn't sound very meaningful unless you have a reasonable understanding of the context that I wish to give to my answer, which is the book of Revelation. Did you understand my claim that the book of Revelation has three major scenarios? Do you acknowledge the strong parallels between the 7 seals and the Olivet Discourse? Do you agree that the New Testament writers expected a first century end of the world? Didn't Jesus say that everything would take place in generation of his contemporaries? (Matt 24:34). Is it possible that Rev 8-11 cancels that conclusion and unfolds a second and more distant scenario? (The importance of 1844 and the Millerite movement, I believe, is that the book of Revelation devotes a considerable block of text to a movement just like it). Do you agree that Rev 12 starts a third scenario, beginning with the Christ event, yet unfolds history to an even more distant future? There is no use getting into the smallest details until we understand the larger picture first.

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 11-04-2002 12:09 AM
       
Naldacon
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Registered: Mar 2001
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Gene asked:

quote:
Did you understand my claim that the book of Revelation has three major scenarios?
The idea that there might actually be different scenarios in Revelation is interesting. I had not heard that before.

However, in going back over Revelation, I have to disagree with the way you've divided it. It seems to me that the scrolls with the seven seals scenario continues into Rev 8. The seven trumpets seem to simply be a continuation of the seven seal scenario - I see no break in the continuity until the end of Rev 9. Even there, the break is not definite since Rev 10 and Rev 11 refer to the angel with the 7th trumpet. In other words, it's all one scenario from Rev 5 to the end of Rev 11.

Gene wrote:
quote:
Do you acknowledge the strong parallels between the 7 seals and the Olivet Discourse?
Yes. The parallels are clear.

Gene wrote:
quote:
Do you agree that the New Testament writers expected a first century end of the world?
Absolutely. It's clear in some of the letters of Paul. It's very clear in 1 John.

Gene wrote:
quote:
Didn't Jesus say that everything would take place in generation of his contemporaries? (Matt 24:34).
Yes.


Gene wrote:
quote:
Is it possible that Rev 8-11 cancels that conclusion and unfolds a second and more distant scenario?
Since I don't see Rev 8 as the start of a new scenario, I don't see how.

Perhaps the sealing of the 144,000 is taking longer than God anticipated. That would cause a delay between the breaking of the sixth and seventh seals.

Gene wrote:
quote:
(The importance of 1844 and the Millerite movement, I believe, is that the book of Revelation devotes a considerable block of text to a movement just like it).
What block of text is that? Could it be simple vanity that tells you it is your movement that is being described?

Gene wrote:
quote:
Do you agree that Rev 12 starts a third scenario, beginning with the Christ event, yet unfolds history to an even more distant future?
I think a case for a new scenario starting at Rev 12 can be made. However, I see it as the second scenario since I see no reason to divide up the seven seals prophecies into two separate scenarios.

Also, I don't see that Rev 12 starts with the Christ event. It parallels the birth of Christ only insofar as a male child is born of a woman. The woman in Rev 12 is clearly not Mary. If the woman is the church, then how can the church give birth to Jesus?

 11-04-2002 01:59 PM
     
Eugene Shubert
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Registered: Jul 2002
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chronological correctness

Naldacon,

I thank you for your detailed reply. I also appreciate you recognizing a discontinuity beginning with Rev 10. What you've noticed, in part, is that there is an interlude between the 6th and 7th seal (chapter 7), the 6th and 7th trumpet (Rev 10:1--11:13) and an interlude between the 6th and 7th vial (Rev 16:13-16). If you're familiar with the book of Revelation, you know that I'm addressing a fundamental question in understanding the book. The issue is chronological correctness. In other words, what are the natural chronological sequences in the book and what seems to be out of natural chronological order from the surrounding text? I agree that the seals are in proper order, as are the seven trumpets and the seven last plagues. Enters now the concept of a scenario. A scenario is "an outline or model of an expected or supposed sequence of events." Before we interpret the major, natural, chronologically well-ordered sequences (i.e., scenarios), it's clear that we need to identify the obvious, chronologically well-ordered sequences. Only then could we address questions such as, are these scenarios cyclical and repetitive (covering the same period of time) or are they consecutive (as one sequence is fulfilled in history, another beings).

You have already acknowledged the strong parallels between the 7 seals and the Olivet Discourse. The 6th seal reaches to the appearance of Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb just before the final judgment. We're quickly coming to a natural end to this scenario. The Interpreter's Bible Commentary (Volume XII p. 425) paints the scene correctly: "After these two interludes the Lamb now opens the seventh seal. The stage is set for the culminating act in the apocalyptic drama, for the reader might reasonably expect that the catastrophes following the opening of the first six seals would be followed immediately by the conquest of Satan, the end of this age, the resurrection, and final judgment." Yet such is not the case. Many commentaries confess to this discontinuity. Albert Barnes writes, "One seal of the mysterious roll (chap. v. 1) remains to be broken... It was natural that the opening of the seventh, and the last, should be attended with circumstances of peculiar solemnity. ...the events thus far had been evidently preparatory to some great catastrophe. ... At the opening of the sixth seal (chap. vi. 12, seq.) the grand catastrophe of the world's history seemed about to occur. This had been suspended for a time." Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, p. 1608.

Of the three interludes I mentioned I believe it's clear that the first interlude breaks the natural continuity of the seals.

I believe that there's a strong literary and conceptual basis for understanding that Revelation 7:1-3 is the beginning of a second scenario. The overlap and interlude hides the transition a bit and I'm sure you'll agree that the 7th seal is a natural end to the first scenario if it refers to the judgment scene described in the Olivet Discourse. See Matt 25.

Take a look at Revelation 7:1-3:

quote:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Rev 7:1-3.
I believe that the four angels represent divine agencies in the world holding back the forces of evil until the work of God on human hearts is complete.

From Mt 24:15-21,29-31 it's clear that the great tribulation began in the first century and was to continue to the very end of time. Also, the winds of strife never cease to blow in Rev 6. We can't assume that there are gaps; we should allow the impact of all seven seals to have the full weight of their intended meaning; they're a unit. Where, then, do we place Revelation 7:1-3, a scene of relative calm? This is clearly the beginning of a different scenario.

Note my approach: At this point I'm not interpreting multiple scenarios. My only concern, at this juncture, is in connecting prominent literary segments into an obvious chronological order. I'm not presupposing that there will be only one scenario at the end. If a bunch of jigsaw pieces come together in a unique way creating multiple scenarios, that's fine too. I believe that I am able to interpret multiple scenarios.

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 11-05-2002 03:11 PM
       
Naldacon
Gold Member

Registered: Mar 2001
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Posts: 163

What you are saying is making more and more sense.

Should I be worried?

I think one problem I'm still having is in understanding how and why the shift from one scenario to the next.

First of all, the Olivet discourse does lay out a scenario that parallels the seals. Early Christians believed that the world was coming to an end soon. Preterists believe that it did happen. Some of the events prophesized came to pass - but, as you assert, failures among the early churches brought a stop the completion of all of them. In other words the scenario of the seven seals was aborted in your view. That seems reasonable if we interpret prophecies conditionally. Am I understanding you so far?

How far did the world come? Was the sixth seal opened before God decided that the seven churches in Revelation had failed or was that scenario halted at an earlier seal? Is this where we jump to a different scenario? Is the different scenario simply a continuation of the seven seals prophecy after a delay during which certain conditions are finally met or does it represent a completely different track that was skipped to when the prophecies of the seals were aborted?

 11-05-2002 04:49 PM
     
Eugene Shubert
Silver Member

Registered: Jul 2002
Location:
Posts: 69

quote:
Originally posted by Naldacon
I think one problem I'm still having is in understanding how and why the shift from one scenario to the next.
A similar problem is the reading of Hebrew. There is simply no way to know how to pronounce a Hebrew word without the dots and dashes. Prior familiarity with the word is required. The missing dots and dashes of the book of Revelation can be found elsewhere in the Bible. Understanding the language is easy once you master the prophecies of the primer called Daniel. Have you ever studied the two major scenarios of Daniel the prophet?

quote:
Originally posted by Naldacon
The Olivet discourse does lay out a scenario that parallels the seals. Early Christians believed that the world was coming to an end soon. Preterists believe that it did happen. Some of the events prophesized came to pass - but, as you assert, failures among the early churches brought a stop the completion of all of them. In other words the scenario of the seven seals was aborted in your view. That seems reasonable if we interpret prophecies conditionally. Am I understanding you so far?
I believe that you understand me perfectly. I would stress however that the first and second scenarios do have significant partial fulfillments in history.

quote:
Originally posted by Naldacon
How far did the world come?
I could specify our current location precisely but how meaningful would my answer be without showing a map of three prophetic timelines? And how meaningful could my answer be without giving you an understanding of each timeline, an interpretation to each prophetic event and a catalogue to every complete and partial fulfillment?

I'm guessing that you want a response as short as possible. I'll answer with a crude approximation. The first and second scenarios are cancelled conclusions. These scenarios have stunning prophetic fulfillments in history. We are now in the final scenario.

As indicated previously, the opening of the seventh seal is the judgment scene of Matthew 25. That's the conclusion to the first scenario. Because the seventh seal is so precariously placed, I see it as also belonging to the second scenario. I give it a different meaning there. I affirm that the opening of the seven-sealed scroll in heaven (Rev 8:1) is the great pre-advent judgment scene of Daniel 7:9-10.

In Revelation there is both the progressive unfolding of events and cancelled conclusions. In the first scenario, the scroll is being opened. In the second scenario, the scroll is open. In the third scenario the message is, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7).

The judgment that has come, as announced in Rev 14:7, is the great pre-advent judgment (Daniel 7:9-10). The scroll is open. Destiny is being determined. The entire end-time gospel of the third scenario is being proclaimed (Revelation 14:6-12). The essence of Revelation 14:6-12 is revealed at my web page: http://everythingimportant.org/

Does that answer your question?

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This revelation was brought to you by

Eugene Shubert

 12-01-2002 04:40 PM
      

 

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