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Introduction to the seven trumpets in Revelation

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Introduction to the Seven Trumpets

There are three views of doing prophetical exegesis in the book of Revelation:

  1. Preterist: The book of Revelation is viewed through the eyes of John the disciple and takes place during the first century.
  2. Futurist: The prophecies in the book of Revelation all take place at the end of this world before or during Armageddon.
  3. Historical: The prophecies in the book of Revelation take place during earth´s history from Adam and Eve to the Second Coming of Christ.

I have added a fourth view which is emerging from Seventh Day Adventist theologians and the ecumenical movement.

  1. Ecumenical world view: anything goes, if it fits your exegesis, then use it. This would also include the scientific theory used in Biblical exegesis today. However, do not criticize any church denomination, a method many mega churches use from the pulpit today.

When doing an exegesis using the historical method of the Seven Trumpets in the book Revelation, we find in chapters 10 and 11, the sweet and bitter experience of the Adventist message in 1843. Revelation chapters 10 and 11 reveal the foundation of the Adventist teachings on the heavenly sanctuary from the Bible and Bible only.

However, upon reading Ranco Stefanovic´s commentary: “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” one can see that his analysis of the Seven Trumpets,  especially in chapters 10 and 11 is completely devoid of the early Adventist Bible teachings of the sweet and bitter experience of 1844.

Ranco Stefanovic

He does say however, “Seventh-day Adventist Christians have seen in Revelation 10 a special prophetic significance for their life and mission. In John´s bitter and sweet experience they have seen what is known as the great disappointment experienced by the Millerite movement in 1844.”[1]

When Stafanovic writes about Seventh-day Adventist Christians, he writes in the third person, as if he is not an Adventist or even believes in the 1844 Adventist experience. Upon researching Stefanovic´s background on the internet, we find that he has grown up in a Roman Catholic family. When analyzing the Seven Trumpets in the book of Revelation, we find he is very much pro-Roman Catholic in his teachings. That is he avoids, using negative words pointing to the Roman Catholic Church or the papacy, e.g. The mark of the beast in Rev 13.

The historical method is very clear whom the scriptural text is talking about when referring to the sea beast in Rev 13:1-10 e.g. the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system. However, Stefanovic says in his book, “Whatever the time designation of forty-two months might refer to, in Revelation it is always associated with the wicked who, for a long period, held dominion over God´s faithful people.”[2] He does not name the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system, who held dominion over God´s faithful people, but calls them, “wicked.” This is just one of many statements he uses to avoid using the name papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system.

When referring to the sea beast in Rev 13:1-10, he calls the sea beast a political power through which Satan works actively throughout the earth´s history.[3] This statement is far from the truth as Seventh-day Adventists understand or teach, because we understand the sea beast as both a religious and a political power who did not live throughout earth´s history. Again, we can see Stefanovic is whitewashing Adventists understanding and teachings of prophecy, in the book of Revelation.

In referring to the 1260 day/year prophecy from 538-1798. Rev 12:6.14. 11:3.2. This prophecy is one of the central teachings of the Adventist church, yet we find that Stefanovic does not accept or even believe in this teaching. In referring to antichrist he quotes from Le Roy Froom on page 346, “Le Roy Froom observed that among the historicist interpreters there is a disagreement as to when to begin and when to end the 1,260 day/year period of Antichrist.”[4]

We also find that Stefanovic is not alone in not believing in the 1,260 day/year prophecy. Samuele Bacchiocchi[5] does not believe in this prophecy. Bacchiocchi lists a few other Adventist theologians who agree with him positively on the subject: Hans LaRondelle, Jon Paulien, Ranko Stefanovic, Zdravko Stefanovic, Roy Gane, and Robert Johnson. Jacques Doukhan was the only one who disagreed with Bacchiocchi´s conclusion about the 1260 day/year prophecy.

Stefanovic wrote on Bacchiocchi´s list: “The information presented in your paper are factually documented and the evidences are weighty. I find the concerns you have expressed to be very similar to mine while I was writing my commentary on Revelation. Also, your perception regarding my position is very correct: I avoided assigning any date to the threefold time designation [of the three and half years/1260 days/42 months] in Revelation. I agree with you that A.D. 538 has been exaggerated; in order to get that date, the year 1798 was established first, and then the 1260 years were deducted from it.”[6]

When one makes a statement like this, one questions the beliefs of Stefanovic. Does he believe in the Adventist teachings and prophecies of Daniel and Revelation? Does he believe in the writings of Ellen G. White, especially the book: The Great Controversy? Does he believe in the atrocities of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system during the Dark Middle Ages: that they killed over 50 million Roman Catholic members of the church, because they read the Bible and became Protestants? I have a feeling that this man does not believe in these things and much more. That is why he writes in the third person when referring to Seventh-day Adventists.

On Bacchiocchi´s list of theologians who do not agree with the 1,260 day/year prophecy, is Jon Paulien. Paulien was Stefanovic´s professor, when he did his PhD, dissertation. Therefore, Paulien  has had some influence in the way Stafanovic has written his theological teachings on Revelation.

What kind of influence?

Jon Paulien

Paulien expresses his method of communicating theology in his talk on Revelation 13 and the Papacy [7] at the 12th Annual Seminary Scholarship Symposium at Andrews University Seminary.

Paulien´s views come from his own life´s experience. He starts off with his first evangelistic series in New York. He talks about his experience of presenting the subject: The Mark of the Beast to a group of Roman Catholics in his audience which backfired, and they did not come to his meetings anymore. Hence, the lesson he learned from that experience was to preach the love of Christ and be silent on the teachings causing hostility to the church.

This world view is clearly outlined in Stefanovic´s book: Revelation of Jesus Christ.

What is wrong with this world view, which so many Adventist theologians embrace today?

First of all, the method of evangelism is different to the study of theology when using hermeneutical tools. I have spent over 40 years doing evangelism and have learnt that one can tailor make your evangelistic meetings to suit your audience. If the majority of your audience is Roman Catholic, leave the Mark of the Beast out. If it is a Protestant audience, leave it in. One learns to adapt.

On the other hand, the purpose of theology, especially the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, is to bring the truth out of the text and not to adapt it to suit the reading audience. This is what Paulien and Stefanovic are doing. They are uplifting Christ, which is positive, but they are avoiding the theological texts which bring hostility to the church. They call this exegesis, however this kind of exegesis is based on the world ecumenical view of the Bible, and not the Biblical view. That is they take a common consensus of what the theologians of the world from different denominations have written on a certain text, and express this as theological truth.

The question with this form of theological study is, who knows that these theologians are right in their theological studies. A PhD., degree in theology does not give a guarantee to the Biblical text they are righting on. Furthermore, one can have more than one theologian writing on a given text and they come to two different conclusions. Hence, bringing confusion and ambiguity to the text, e.g. Stefanovic´s book: Revelation of Jesus Christ. As a result, they incorporate quotations saying, “Seventh-day Adventist believe this,” and the message comes through, that they do not believe what the Adventist teach.

This kind of hermeneutical studies does more harm than good and brings confusion to our members in the Adventist church, and trains a new generation of young ministers at our theological institutions to think ecumenically to suit the audience. Hence, neutralizing and dismantling the prophetical teachings of the Adventist church from the books Daniel and Revelation.

The Problem with theologians named by Bacchiocchi and their attitude to the 1,260 day/year prophecy

What these theologians are saying is, we do not believe in the 1,260 year/day prophecy, because it cannot be verified from the Bible or church history. They come to this conclusion, because they have been trained in the PhD., theological program using sources from other theologians of different church denominations e.g. Roman Catholic and Lutheran etc. Many theologians from different church denominations belong to the world ecumenical church view of theology and know nothing about Seventh-day Adventist theology. They use each other’s sources even if they might be wrong, bringing double meanings to the text in question.

These Adventist theologians named by Bacchiocchi have a problem, and that is they do not believe in the writings of Ellen G. White, especially the book The Great Controversy, which gives the opposite explanation to their theological worldview from different denominations. Hence, one finds for example Paulien attacking the book The Great Controversy, by calling it “Roman Catholic bashing,” because it does not belong to his theological worldview from different denominations.

This creates a large problem amongst our theologians in the Adventist church, of which they do not have a solution. If we take this problem to the General Conference, it would be too great for them to handle, because they would be up against the PhD., theological program in the church worldwide.

The solution is, to change the way we do exegesis. We should never start by using sources from theologians from different church denominations, or even our own theologians from the Adventist church. Why? Because they might be wrong also in their exegesis. We should start with our own personal long tedious word studies from the Bible and Bible only, using the Greek and Hebrew when necessary, along with syntax and word analysis and grammatical construction. We should never use the theological dictionaries available because all theologians come to their text with preconceived ideas and beliefs. When we have done our own exegesis, then we can compare our results with other theologians and never before.

The norm today, is to avoid personal exegesis and go straight to the sources of other theologians. This kind of hermeneutics brings double meanings, ambiguity and confusion to the text. In addition, I find doing a correct exegesis gives no problems with the book: The Great Controversy or the writings of Ellen G. White on prophecy. But the ecumenical world view of doing exegesis gives many problems of which Paulien and Stefanovic are encountering.

This ecumenical worldview of exegesis is being taught in our theological institutions around the world today. If this kind of teaching continues as outlined in Stefanovic´s book: “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” then I can see Ellen G. Whites prediction being fulfilled shortly, when over half of our ministers and theologians will leave the Adventist Church during the time of trouble. Why? Because they have failed to learn to do a correct exegesis of the Bible and Bible only. Martin Luther said at Worms, “Her I stand, I can do no other.” This is solar scriptura, the Bible and Bible only in exegesis.

See my website www.ayin.dk Daniel 11: are we doing exegesis or eisegesis? For a further analysis of exegesis in the church.

Rev 8:3-5 And another angel came and stood at the altar (θυσίαστηρίον) golden which is before the throne. And went up smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the angel before God. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

The question is: does Rev 8:3-5, take place during the Day of Atonement or during the (Tamid), that is the daily administration of the sanctuary?

The censor and the altar of incense were both used on the Day of Atonement and the daily administration of the tabernacle. For example:

Lev 16:12.13. Then he (Aaron) shall take a censer full of burning coal of fire from the altar before the Lord (Altar of incense), with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he (Aaron) shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he dies. (Aaron is the High Priest and is the only one to approach the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place. He takes coals from the alter of incense and puts them in his censer. He puts sweet incense in his censer but not on the alter. This is the difference between his work on the Day of Atonement and during the daily administration in the sanctuary).

Ex 30:1.2. You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length and a cubit its width – it shall be square – and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be one piece with it. (One cubit=length of a forearm, about 60 cm or 22”-18”)

Ex 30:7.8. Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it – – -.       (This text Ex 30:1.2.7.8. does not refer to the Day of Atonement but the daily administration in the Holy Place of the sanctuary).

Lev 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded. (The sons of Aaron did not replace their father the High Priest. Aaron´s sons where only priests and officiated only in the Holy apartment of the sanctuary and not in the Most Holy apartment. So their work was only during the daily administration of the sanctuary).

From the texts above the censer was used on the Day of Atonement and during the daily administration in the first apartment in the Holy Place. However, the sweet incense was not used on the altar of incense on the Day of Atonement, but was put in Aaron´s censer, which was taken inside the curtain.

When returning to our text in Rev 8:3-5 And another angel came and stood at the altar (θυσίαστηρίον altar of incense). He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel´s hand.  And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

We are talking about the daily administration in the Holy place of the sanctuary. Because incense was put on the altar of incense and the smoke from the incense represented the prayers of the saints during the daily Tamid administration of the sanctuary. This action occurred only during the daily administration in the Holy Place of the sanctuary.

The act of casting the censer to the ground implies some kind of judgment although there is no text in the Bible to support such an action.

The only place in the Bible were the censer is related to judgment, was the story of Korah and his friends in the book of Numbers 16.

Num 16:1-3. Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron , and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, everyone of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (In other words, Korah was saying that they were just as good leaders and holy as Moses and Aaron. In this statement, Korah was competing with the leadership with Moses and Aaron).

Num 16:16.17. And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord–you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.

Num16:19-21. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”

Num 16:31.32. the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their household and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.

Num 16:35. And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense. (Censers are related to judgment and punishment for sin and open rebellion against God).

Num 16:41. On the next day, all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.”

Num 16:44-46. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense in it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them.” (Censer in this text is used for making atonement).

The censer in this text, is related to the Korah´s rebellion, and was used for making atonement and judgment. OK! When using this information in relation to Rev 8:3-5, we can see that the following chapters on the seven trumpets, have to do with the judgments of God on the church because of rebellion against him and his word from the Bible.

[1] Ranko Stefanovic, Revelation of Jesus Christ (Berrien Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 2009), 340.

[2] Ibid., 347.

[3] Ibid., 410. 411.

[4] Ibid., 346.

[5] Samuele Bacchiocchi, www.biblicalperspectives.com/endtimeissues/eti_90.html

[6] Ibid.

[7] Jon Paulien, www.YouTube.com: Revelation 13 and the Papacy

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