DIVIDED VIEWS REGARDING PROPHECY
Biblical Research Monthly, August 1943
Dr. David L. Cooper
ON EVERY HAND ONE hears much of prophecy today. This condition should be, for we are living in prophetic times when God is actually fulfilling predictions made centuries ago. Every child of God should examine carefully the prophecies. To ignore them and to study the Scriptures in spots is an unfortunate practice. God gave the entire Bible for us to study. We should therefore not read it in spots but should study it from Genesis to Revelation, seeking to know the mind of the Lord. When one tunes in on the radio, for example, he can get much prophecy; some that is sane and sound, together with much that is speculative sensational, and misleading. Unfortunately it seems that Satan is exploiting prophecy at the present time to forward his own plans and to detract from the real plans and purposes of the Almighty. Moreover, he is using cults and off-color sects in blinding the eyes of many people and leading them into grave errors.
In view of the great confusion that now exists in the world in regard to prophecy, it behooves every one of us to study most carefully, prayerfully, and thoroughly the predictions found in the Word. They have a very definite, specific meaning. For us to read into the Word something that God did not intend will not change nor alter His message in the least. Let each of us, therefore, as faithful stewards and servants of God study the Word and endeavor to get the prophetic message for today and then give it out to others.
As everyone knows who is familiar with the study of prophecy, there have been many who have set dates for the transpiring of various events. Constantly there are coming to my desk through the mails tracts, pamphlets, and booklets that are of a sensational character and that engage in pure speculation and guesswork. One small booklet that came only a few days ago has the divine program mapped out as definitely as a blueprint indicates everything that is to be done in the construction of a building. If I paid attention to everything that comes to my desk relating to this subject, I would never know what to believe or what to teach. I suspect that many of our readers have experiences similar to my own. I am constantly meeting people who become upset and who are confused with regard to prophecy and the matter of setting dates for the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation.THE ONLY SURE AND SAFE COURSE TO PURSUE IN INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE
There is only one scriptural, sane, sound attitude for us to take in regard to these matters. We are to expect the return of our Lord any day, at any hour. At any moment, so far as we know, He may come for His waiting church. Everyone who understands Matthew 24 and 25 is convinced that we are in the end of the age. About this proposition there can be absolutely no doubt. Knowing this, we should be ready for the Lord to come at any time. On the other hand, we should refrain from speculation, guesswork, and the setting of dates. But, while looking for Him at any moment, we should make our plans as if He were not coming any time in the near future. We should be prepared to continue a long time before He does make His appearance. These two attitudes seem to be diametrically opposed, but they are not, for they harmonize one with the other. If I am busily engaged in the Master's cause, and the Lord comes suddenly, I shall be ready. But if, on the other hand, I set a date for Him to come and make my arrangements accordingly and He does not return within the time set, there will be a great letdown in every way because of bitter disappointment. My affairs will be out of joint, and I cannot function in the way in which I should. Thus it is very detrimental to one's self and to the cause of Christ for His followers to set a date for the Lord's return. Let us be wise, serving the Lord at all times.
ALL OF THE biblical writers had a definite and specific thought in mind when they uttered their predictions, as well as when they recorded historical facts, or gave any specific instructions with reference to the verities of our holy faith. Language is the vehicle of thought. Language consists of various parts. Every word has a definite, specific meaning or shade of meaning and bears a certain relationship to all other words in a given sentence. Sentences are connected and cannot be taken apart from their context. Otherwise a forced meaning may be placed upon the Scriptures. We have been correctly told that "a text apart from its context is a pretext." When one studies the Scriptures, he should, if possible, read all that is being said before stopping. When he has read all, for instance, that Paul says on a given subject in the Roman epistle, he should also study the discussion on the same thing found in other portions of the Word. Knowledge found in one passage sometimes supplements that given in another.THE CRYING NEED OF THE HOUR--PRAYER
We should study the Bible by books. Genesis, for instance, constitutes a literary whole. It has a definite, specific message. The same thing is true with reference to Exodus, Leviticus, and all the books of the Bible. One should also read the entire Bible, from cover to cover, in His quest for the knowledge of God.
One should avail himself of all the light that one can receive from secular writings or archaeology that might throw light upon some historical data referred to in the Scriptures. That method of study which utilizes information found in extra-biblical sources in an effort to arrive at the meaning of the Scriptures, and which adopts a grammatical plan of exegesis is called the historico-grammatical system. It is the only safe method to adopt in our Bible study.
One, of course, should ask the Lord for special understanding. David prayed that the Lord would open his eyes in order that he might see the wonderful things contained in the Word. Paul prayed in behalf of the brethren at Ephesus that they might have that spiritual illumination which is so very necessary in the comprehension of the spiritual message of the Word of God. The Lord granted David's petition on this point and will be delighted to give special assistance and illumination to those who cry to Him for the light in order that they might conform their lives to the pattern set forth in the Word of God.
THE WORLD is lying in the evil one. The forces of darkness seem to be especially active throughout the world at this time. Men are at their wits' end. The fate of the world is hanging in the balances. Although the tide of battle has turned in the favor of the United Nations, our leaders, recognizing the critical situation throughout the world, tell us that the war can still be lost by us. They declare that there is no time for the people of the United Nations to let down for one moment in their efforts to prosecute the war. This, of course, is wisdom.POST-WAR PLANNING
As I have repeatedly said, the determining factor in this and all other struggles is God. There is no king who is delivered by a great host. A horse is a vain thing for safety, declared the psalmist (Ps. 33). The eyes of the Lord are running to and fro throughout the earth, to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him (II Chron. 16:9). His eyes are also upon the righteous and His ears are open to their cry, but His face is against those who do wickedness. What we should do is to be constant in prayer and ask the Lord to give wisdom to the leaders of the United Nations that they may know just how to conduct the present war to the end that our liberties may be preserved and that God in the outcome may be glorified. The prayers of the faithful people of God will accomplish far more than all human efforts combined. The counsel of the nations shall be brought to naught, but the counsel of Jehovah shall stand fast forever.
WE ARE HEARING much these days about post-war planning. When we look back to World War I and the years following that struggle, we see that there was not wise and prudent planning. Many mistakes were made at that time as all people who are familiar with the situation acknowledge. Farsighted people today are urging that there should at the present time be a planning for the post-war period. That is wisdom. But these who are discussing this question are of course thinking in terms of political, economic, and social problems. This is all good and well and necessary. We who are especially interested in the kingdom of God and the advancement of the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ should be doing some planning for the salvation of souls and for the advancement of His cause. Let us ask ourselves, What will we do when this war closes--if Jesus has not already come for His saints? Personally, I have my plans laid for years to come, and I am working toward that end. Yet, as said above, I am looking for the Lord to come at any time for His saints. May we keep looking up, but at the same time be diligent in the Master's cause.
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