How are we to acquaint ourselves with prophecy? The best way to become familiar with the prophecies of the Bible is to repeatedly read through Daniel and Revelation.
Reading the prophecies is easy to do, it just takes time. But once we become familiar with the visions, what then? How will we ever be able to understand what we are reading? People have been studying Daniel and Revelation for thousands of years yet there does not seem to be any earth shattering breakthroughs in its understanding; In fact, there seems to be a lot of confusion concerning Daniel and Revelation. Many even think these books cannot be understood!
There are two basic reasons why Daniel and Revelation are not better understood:
- People have basically compartmentalized the book. There has been no great effort to compare one vision with another so each vision is usually viewed separately.
- Daniel and Revelation were written for the last days. Those not living in the last days may not have sufficient information to decipher the book.
God has designed that prophecy would be written for the last days, and that it would not be fully understood until the time of the end. So, those who have studied prophecy in the past, could not have known the proper meaning of the text. It is true that they could put together things that made sense to them; However, they could not have known the political conditions and dangers of the last days because in their day, things were very different. They did not have atomic weapons, nor did they have laser guided, radar guided, even GPS guided weapons of mass destruction. The idea of having a vial containing a biological hazard so powerful that it could make thousands or even millions of people sick and die was unthinkable. To say nothing of the communication, computers, and extremely fast transportation systems that would allow a world-wide governing system to control and keep track of the populous of the whole world. What about the future? What about the control of whole populations? Could we see issues such as the environment and changing weather patterns be used to scare people into doing what is wanted? We might see in the future, the organized control of all the people groups of the world!
In addition, readers of prophecy in the past, could not tie large portions of prophecy together because they simply did not fit. There was nothing in their day that would tie them together. They could only adapt portions of prophecy applying them to specific events that they were familiar with in their day. More specifically, the daily news did not provide any idea as to how the different visions could be tied together. It is only in the last days, possibly in our day, that the current events in the news will show how the different visions in prophecy will fit together into a single picture, just like a jig-saw puzzle.
Some argue that the idea of not being able to understand the Bible by simply reading it, is not true at all. They say the books of the Bible were designed specifically to be read through from beginning to the end without referring to chapter and verse because there were no such thing as chapters and verses when they were written so long ago.
This notion is false. It is true that we can gain much from the simple reading of the passage; However, neither John nor Daniel were able to arrange the visions into an organized package. This is because they did not really understand what they saw or what they wrote. They only knew that Jesus was coming soon and that terrible and fearful events were soon to happen.
Revelation is topically driven instead of being event driven. Instead of having a list of events, John the Revelator discusses different topics of note. So, Revelation is composed of a series of verbal pictures or subjects or themes. John discusses every thing within a single topic before approaching another topic. Because of this the timing of the events between two different topics cannot easily be placed, indeed one is not often sure how these series of events or pictures relate to one another; they definitely seem to be far more theme orientated than time orientated.
The Five subjects which I have coined as pictures are as follows:
- Rev. 4-6 Opening of Judgment, ending with the Second Coming of Christ
- Rev. 7-11 Close of probation, ending with the Second Coming of Christ
- Rev. 12-13 Activities of the Dragon (Satan)
- Rev. 14-16 The Loud Cry followed by the Wrath of God upon the Wicked
- Rev. 17-22 Punishment of the great whore; Rejoicing in Heaven; The complete destruction of evil; and the New Jerusalem and the New World.
Read through Revelation with these themes in mind. Determine for yourself whether Revelation is broken up into themes. You need to determine for your self whether this is a reasonable plan for approaching Revelation in study.
Daniel is composed of four different visions. They are found in Daniel 7, 8, 9, and 10-12.
- Daniel 7 Is an over-view of the time of trouble including not only the trouble in this world but Judgment and the Second Coming of Christ.
- Daniel 8 Focuses more closely on the Ram and the he goat that act just prior to the scenes described in Daniel 7 (This is easily placed by comparing Daniel 8:8 "Four notable ones came up toward the four winds of Heaven" and Daniel 7:3). The rest of Daniel 8 concentrates on the power that will persecute God's people.
- Daniel 9 Concentrates on the seventy-Weeks Prophecy which is concerning God's People.
- Daniel 10-12 Starts where Daniel 8 starts, Afterwards, Chapter 11 especially looks at the rising of the little horn (the prince of the original king of the south) and also the activities of the little horn (who became one of the two kings of the south. It ends with Michael standing up and taking His rightful position when the little horn stands where he should not stand.
It seems that God gave the prophecies in a manner that would obscure its true meaning. How else could we explain the way that the prophecies are organized. There is no place in the Bible where a synopsis of the prophecies are given. In addition, the prophecies themselves are written in a symbolic language that is hard to understand.
Maybe God purposefully designed the prophecies so that they could not be understood before they were needed. This purpose could also allow people not living at the end of time to apply the prophecies to their time. They used the events of their time to explain the prophecies. This purpose would allow those people to have evidence that they were living at the time of the end even though it wasn't the end of time.
Here is an example of prophecy being used before its time: when Peter in Acts 2:12-47 quoted Joel 2:28-32, he said that the speaking in tongues that they were experiencing so long ago, was a sign that they were living in the last days. In so doing, he ignored many of the other parts of that prophecy that were never fulfilled in his day.
In the final fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, we should expect a complete fulfillment of all that is written in the prophecy. We also would expect that final fulfillment to occur in the last days, just as the prophecy states.
This is the main difference between an application and a fulfillment. Previous fulfillments have only been partial fulfillments. The student of Bible prophecy must only wonder what these extra elements in the prophecy point to unless they do indeed point to some final complete fulfillment in the future at the time of the end.
So how can we understand prophecy? How can we even approach the problem of seeing how all the different prophecies relate? It looks like we will have to do some kind of comparative study in order to understand the relationships of the different visions. Only when we make careful comparisons of scripture will we be able to fit the prophecies together.
These are the kinds of questions I want to try to answer:
- How do the different visions relate to each other?
- How are we to organize the prophecies in our minds? What are the clues that tie the different visions together?
The visions and topics (pictures) of Daniel and Revelation each have their own characteristics. However, there are certain aspects that tie them together. Indeed, the understanding that these topics and visions are related, and that they are all describing the same events; is reaffirmed by descriptions of specific actions committed by Satan against God and His people. These similar descriptions of specific actions are what positively tie these two books together.
When these themes or pictures are studied, familiar phrases keep coming to the surface. These familiar phrases are another indication that these are parallel passages. A few examples of similar phrases that have been found are as follows:
- He wears out the saints Daniel 7
- Rules over the Host Daniel 8
- He wars on the saints Daniel 11
- This power roars on saints Revelation 13
- Casts down the sanctuary Daniel 8
- He pollutes the sanctuary Daniel 11
- Blasphemes God's tabernacle Revelation 13
- Time, times and a part Daniel 7
- Time, times and a part Daniel 12
- 2,300 Evening/morning Daniel 8
- 1290 and 1335 days daniel 12
- 42 months Revelation 13
- Stamped the residue with his feet Daniel 7
- and went to make war with the remnant of her seed Revelation 12
- And the remnant were slain with the sword Revelation 19
We now have a new way of looking at prophecy. If all the visions in Daniel and Revelation are related, then the complete fulfillment of one vision will also include the fulfillment of other visions as well. All of prophecy will be completely fulfilled together, as a group, not separately. This aspect of prophecy has never been experienced nor realized before; However, It will very likely be a reality in the final fulfillment of all the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation at the end of time.
There is no question about it. We must understand these things!
A harmony is a rearrangement of scripture allowing parallel passages to be compared and analyzed. It is a reorganization of scripture that allows a comparative study of the people and events in the Bible.
A harmony of the Gospels, for instance, places the four Gospels in a format that allows the same scenes of Christ to be placed side by side.
By using one of these harmonies, one can compare in a glance, all that is written on a specific story or sermon of Christ. Parallel passages containing the same specific act or words of Jesus can be studied as a unit rather than having to page through the different Gospels to find the same place in the different accounts.
Look at this small Harmony of the Gospels example:
Example of a Harmony "False Christs"
22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
A harmony of end time prophecy serves the same purpose. However, instead of covering Christ's past life here on Earth, it covers the events that will occur at the close of this world's history. These are the events that lead up to the second coming of Jesus Christ and beyond. More specifically, it places parallel visions of last day events side by side. Sometimes the descriptions are very similar, sometimes they are not.
There is, however, a major functional difference between this Harmony of Prophecy and the usual Harmony of the Gospels. A Harmony of the Gospels is merely a convenience, a time saver. Most with a little reading can find the parallel verses in the four Gospels. All that is saved is time. Yet because most are unwilling to spend that time in a comparative study, and also because others might not have the time to spend in looking up parallel passages, a Harmony becomes extremely useful.
A Harmony of End Time Prophecy puts together verses which are not always as easy to understand, nor are they as easy to match up. So you, the reader, have in your hands a study that will allow you to make associations that are usually apparent only after years of study. What you have in your hands (or on the computer screen) is a gateway to greater understanding of the prophecies because you have the chance to see the books of Daniel and Revelation as a whole rather than in parts. You will see how all the parts can come together to form a more cohesive unity of thought.
This harmony endeavors to bring together passages that are not always recognizable as being related to the same time activities. Yet you will see the elements that actually link them together. The harmony highlights these linking elements in various colors so that you, the reader can see that there is indeed a connection between the parallel scripture. There are some passages that are found more than once in the harmony. This allows for multiple possibilities.
Here is a small section of the End of Time Harmony.
3.3 Initial Breakup of The Powerful World Power
The Unified New World Order is broken?
Creates a New Window for Side-by-side Viewing
Daniel 8 8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
Daniel 11 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
In addition to placing passages side-by-side, another important aspect is the order of presentation. As you read through the sections of this harmony, I hope you will see a natural progression of thought. The organization of the sections in this harmony should help you, the reader, to see the organization in Daniel and Revelation in a clearer light.
For this harmony to be successful, the reader on reading this work should see new and sometimes surprising connections between different visions of prophecies that were originally thought to be quite different in reference to time or place. This is the main purpose of this harmony.
Lastly it is my hope that a greater understanding of the prophecies will result in a greater appreciation of God's love for us. I think that to understand what God will do to get us out of this world will help us grow in grace and love toward God and His creations.
Often passages like the following put fear into the minds and hearts of man.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10
"Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." Revelation 1:7
But if they can know the whole picture from reading all the other parallel passages a more complete understand of the purpose of God is obtainable. In Revelation, for example, we see God waiting for the response of the righteous people on Earth and the righteous angels in Heaven before acting. Satan, on the other hand, only wants glory for himself. He does not wait for anyone to say he is doing right before he does it.
Satan only wants to act selfishly because of his evil intentions. He waits for no one to cheer him forward. But God waits for the inhabitants of the Universe to respond to what He is about to do because He only does righteously.
This point should be clear to anyone reading through Revelation. God is the winner of the war in Heaven because He has won the hearts of the whole Universe through love and righteousness. Only those who are completely unsavable, who are bent on destruction, who choose hatred rather than love, are destroyed.
There are seven major themes in this harmony:
- When is the Vision of The End, and When Will it be Understood?
- The Experience of the Saints: Getting Ready
- A Time of Trouble: Satan Tries to Take Over the World!
- The Books of Judgment are Opened! Get Out of Babylon!
- When Satan Sits Down as God, God's Judgment is poured out on the Earth: Jesus Comes Setting Things Right!
- Heaven Rejoices, Evil is Destroyed
The first theme, theme 0, does not deal specifically with the end of time; however, it does contains introductory material and other prophecies, such as the 7 churches that had their main focus in the past. The other six themes, 1 through 6, contain visions that specify end time events.
Each theme contains visions that are organized into one or more topics. The example toward the top of this web page is a shortened example of a topic called: False Christs 2.1.
Similar passages are placed adjacently in a side by side manner. This allows for an easy textual comparison. The examples toward the top of this web page illustrates the organization of this harmony.
There can be many parallel passages within a single topic in this harmony. The heading 2.1 False Christs, contains four different parallel texts. Scripture separated in this manner indicates that they are parallel texts. This organization allows one to see at a glance, the general topic of each text. In addition, direct comparisons can be easily made.
Some passages are printed with an altered verse order (this is especially prevalent in Daniel). This was done because of the way Daniel chose to write the descriptions of his visions. Daniel describes his vision in the same order that was presented to him. He first had the visual sighting of the vision (For example, he saw a terrible beast stamping the residue with his feet). Later when he would ask the angel what it all meant, the angel would explain a little of what he saw. This harmony places the verses together. The angel's explanation is placed next to Daniel's description of what he saw with his eyes in the vision. In doing this we are forced to analyze the text more carefully and at the same time we are able to group descriptions together for greater understanding.
You will often see specific elements that are underlined and/or colored in a way as to highlight the fact that these same elements are found in the parallel passages. This will allow the tying features of different visions to jump right out at you. Often years of reading the prophecies are needed before it is realized that there are similarities between the prophecies. This harmony is designed to bring out these linking elements of the prophecies in various colors so that you, the reader can see that there is indeed a connection between the parallel scripture.