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Daniel’s Prophecy, and Revisiting B.W. Newton

July 28, 2021 7 comments

Recently I read (at least most of it) a book co-authored by two well-known Reformed Theology authors, a  short book that had been a Logos monthly free offer.  Much of the content was decent, general thoughts about Christ, and exalting Him and our giving Him thanks.  Then I came to a part where they took an eschatological passage, Daniel 7:13, and turned it completely around — to fit into their theology about Christ’s intercession and ‘reigning now’ — to say that the scene of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven was not at all about His Second Coming, but a reference to the Ascension:  Christ coming to His Father (First Coming) after the Resurrection. 

In all this discourse, nothing was mentioned about the very next verse — the Son of Man receiving a kingdom.  They also omitted the many other later references to this particular passage.

  • Jesus’ own reference to the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven in Matthew 24:30
  • Christ’s words to Caiphas, that Caiphas would see the Son of Man coming, an indication of judgement
  • and Revelation 1:7, which also describes this as future, and that every eye will see Him

Such writing — which sounds very spiritual and God-honoring — shows that even the best of Christian teachers can have blind spots, completely missing the real point of a text in order to advance their own idea of amillennialism (Christ is now reigning) and their desire to fully praise God for all the great, present blessings that we now have in Christ.

It also shows that teachers can be correct and solid in some areas of doctrine, and helpful for some areas of overall Reformed theology.  Yet, there comes a time — after having studied Reformed theology to get a good grasp of covenant theology, the moral law and the Sabbath, and the important doctrines taught in the Reformed confessions — to return to the writings of the classic Historic Premillennialists, and particularly to what they said regarding the prophetic passages of Scripture.  

It’s been several years since I first discovered B.W. Newton, George Mueller, and S.P. Tregelles, and read a few of their works such as Newton’s “Thoughts on the Apocalypse,” (previous post).   So I recently read the online PDF of Newton’s “Babylon: Its Revival and Final Desolation” (part 2 in his series on Prophetic Enquiry).

The historical detail is interesting in itself, but I find Newton’s commentary quite interesting and, yes, prophetic, as he described the world state of his day, over 170 years ago, and considered characteristics of government and economies in the future days of the last events.  Remarking on Zechariah 5 and the significance of the ephah, Newton noted the commercial interests of his day, and a then-recent trend, of the commercial wealth, the businesses of society, becoming the controllers of morality:

Few, I suppose, will question that in this country at least, commercial wealth is becoming the great controlling centre of society. The producing power of manufacture, the distributing skill of the merchange, the controlling power of those who trade in money and command the circulating medium of commerce–these, and similar interests, when combined, are able to speak with a voice which no government can refuse to hear. Their will is potent. Legislation and government accommodate themselves to their demands.

Sure enough, this trend has developed, far beyond what Newton saw in his day.  We’re familiar with the 1984 Orwellian idea of government being the one censoring and restricting people; and yet Newton, 170 years ago, saw the implications of Zechariah 5 along with the early development of commercial power, and recognized the real power of such censorship.  We now see the advance of “big tech” and its “censorship” of contrary ideas.  One clear example from a few months ago: a best-seller book that had been out a few years suddenly, one day, completely disappeared from Amazon’s site; and when that company has over 80% of all book sales in the country, it indeed has a powerful influence over which books will be published, and power to suppress the morality that it objects to.

This is just one of several books on prophecy from B.W. Newton, and soon I plan to read the other volumes of his “Aids to Prophetic Enquiry.”  At the moment I’m reading S.P. Tregelles’  “Remarks on The Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel, another of these great works with plenty of insights, along with observations on the value of studying the Prophetic Word.

God’s Unfailing Purpose: A Study in Daniel, from Covenantal Premillennialist Michael Barrett

June 20, 2016 Leave a comment

A few months ago I read Michael P.V. Barrett’s “Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament,” a well-written, layperson-level book from a current-day covenantal premillennialist.  Now I am enjoying another of his books, also available on Kindle for 99 cents:  God’s Unfailing Purpose: The Message of Daniel.

This one is shorter (198 pages) but similar style of a well-written layperson book on an always relevant topic: God’s sovereignty over the nations and over history, as seen especially in the book of Daniel.  The focus here is not a sensationalist-type prophecy book, nor the specifically premillennial emphasis of Robert Culver’s “Daniel and the Latter Days”  (see this previous post), but more of a straight-forward commentary overview (not verse-by-verse) look at the theme of the book of Daniel.  Topics presented include a look at Daniel himself (the facts), the basics of reading prophecy including the nature of history and the nature of prophecy, and detailed consideration of several items brought out in Daniel’s prophecies.

Barrett explains the features of prophecy and types, how prophecy differs from history – progressive prediction or prophetic telescoping, in which the focus is on the events’ certainty rather than their timing.  Barrett acknowledges the never-ending debate over “partial, single, or double fulfillment—or even multiple fulfilments,” stating simply his own view of single-fulfillment of prophecy:

A single prophecy has a single fulfillment… the single fulfillment axiom works well in almost every instance. … The temporal ambiguity guarantees its relevance; one fulfillment is all that is necessary.

He provides examples from specific scriptures, as with the comparison of Isaac to Christ:

The fulfillment of the prophecy develops progressively from element to element until the completion of the whole.  For instance, both Isaac and Christ constitute Abraham’s promised Seed. Obviously, Christ was the main issue, but there had to be an Isaac before there could be the Christ.  Isaac marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy.  I prefer phrasing it that way rather than that the promise was fulfilled in Isaac and then again in Christ.

A later chapter considers the parallel prophecies in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 – pagan man’s viewpoint of a figure with gold and other metals, versus God’s view of four monsters – and brings out some interesting observations.  I knew the main points from these texts, about each type of metal or creature representing each of the successive kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Barrett goes beyond this, to note the description of the lion that “was made to stand upon the feet as a man, and man’s heart was given to it” as a reference to the individual Babylonian ruler, Nebuchadnezzar.  He brings together the prophecies given in Daniel 2 and 7, along with the events of Daniel 4 – subsequent events, the later dream to Nebuchadnezzar and what it took for God to teach the lesson to Nebuchadnezzar.

Ironically, God put a man’s heart into the beast [Daniel 7 vision] by putting a beast’s heart into a man (4:16). … The humanizing of the lion symbolized the gracious conversion of the king.

The above is just a brief sampling, from the first third of the book (my reading of it still in progress).  I recommend this book from Barrett, as one that I appreciate and enjoy: an easy, straightforward reading style, while also instructive and helpful, providing depth of material and many scripture points to study.

The Future Restoration of Israel: 12 Points In the Biblical Argument

September 9, 2013 8 comments

From Robert D. Culver’s “Daniel and the Latter Days”, the following list of 12 related points: what the scriptures say regarding “the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the Millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation.”

1.  Numerous Old Testament predictions which treat of a repentance and restoration of Israel in eschatological times which is distinct and separate from that which followed the Babylonian captivity.  Reference:  Hosea 3:4-5; Ezekiel 37:11-28

2.  The perpetuity of the nation of Israel, in spite of repeated apostasies and restorations after divine chastening.  Reference:  Lev. 26:44-45; Numbers 23:9; Jeremiah 30:10-11; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Amos 9:8-11

3.  Isaiah 11:1-12:6an Old Testament prophecy which in unmistakable and utterly unambiguous language predicts a national restoration of Israel in yet future Messianic times.

Verses six to nine following describe conditions in that final kingdom of earth’s history, the Millennial kingdom. It is a time of universal peace and prosperity among all of God’s creatures. Verse 10 adds that the peoples of the earth shall seek Christ, in that day–something, by the way, which can never, and will never, take place during this present age.

4. The Scriptures speak of a restoration of Israel which will be absolute and permanent.  Amos 9:14-15

5.  Jesus predicted events in the future which presuppose the restoration of Israel to Canaan and the re-establishment of the ancient tribal organization of the nation.  Reference Matt. 19:28 and Luke 22:28-29Unless the nation of Israel is to be revived and restored, this prophecy has no meaning at all.

6.  In his most important eschatological address, Jesus suggested that a period of Jewish rulership of their ancient city, Jerusalem, would follow on the conclusion of this age, which He called “the times of the Gentiles.”  Luke 21:24

7.  It was the plain belief of the apostles, even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that the kingdom would be restored, as of old, to Israel.  Acts 1:6

8. The Apostle Paul declared that a time is coming in which “all Israel shall be saved” and that in such a context that the national repentance and conversion of the nation, if not national restoration, is a necessary inference.  Romans 11:25-26

9.  The Scriptures describe a future time when a temple of God in the Jewish city of Jerusalem shall be appropriated by God as His own and be misappropriated by Antichrist.  Revelation 11:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:3-4

10. The Revelation predicts a resumption of God’s dealing with Israel in the sealing of 144,000 Israelites, organized according to their tribal divisions.  Revelation 7:1-8

11.  The prophets speak as if the honor of Jehovah God is at stake in the restoration of Israel in a final and permanent way.  Ezekiel 36:21-22

12. The Bible reveals that the very worthiness of God as the object of the faith of the patriarchs, requires that He yet restore Israel and fulfill the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Romans 11:28; Lev. 26:40, 42-45; Jer. 33:25-26