Proceed with caution - scripture is sacred
(Plus some material about President John Taylor)
This web site contains scriptural interpretation. If I faithfully reflect the words of the prophets, then I may perhaps bring someone to Christ. But if on the other hand I add my own ideas as scripture, then I risk being a false prophet. This page, then, is all about treading very carefully.
A man once said that the book of Revelation as the plainest of any book of scripture. He also said that the Mormon church was the church of the Bible, and all other churches had strayed from that truth. Another man once declared that Daniel's "little horn" prophecy has been fulfilled by the Dark Ages, and that the Mormon church was the kingdom of God spoken of in Daniel 2 and 7. This web site looks closely at those claims, and shows how these statements are not only valid interpretations, but the only sensible conclusion given the evidence.
See also: the William Smith Bible Dictionary
|Why not leave these subjects alone?|
At the time of writing, there are several other detailed analyses of these prophecies on the web. But none of them take account of the latter day restoration. What is the honest non-LDS student to do? Whatever this web site's errors and mistakes, it cannot be as bad as those who miss the whole point of the prophecies! In the words of John Taylor:
"I have never said much about the beasts, etc., in my preaching. When I have done it, it has been to attract attention and keep the people from running after a greater fool than myself."
(John Taylor, General conference April 1843, History of the Church, Vol.5, p.345)
For John Taylor's conversion story, see below.
|I am not calculating a date for Second Coming!|
No man knows the day or hour (or presumably the year either) of Jesus' return. But the Bible does contain dates for other events associated with the "last days" in general. The precisely dated prophecies have already passed, exactly as predicted. So this web site does not predict the date for the second coming of Christ or the end of the world. The Bible is careful not to give that information.
Does the Bible forbid us to calculate "end time" dates from it? Quite the opposite - it gives us a number of end-time dates, and even offers explanations for them. It is true that nobody knows the date that Christ will return, but that is a different thing.
|I am not claiming world- class scholarship|
I don't claim to be a great scholar - thankfully, the Bible does not ask you to be. All the interpretations in this web site are based on taking the simplest possible explanation that is consistent with the facts. I do not claim that these are a new, inspired explanation. If anyone with a better education than me can find any errors in my interpretation, I shall personally thank you. I have been wrong before over this kind of thing, and I dare say I could be wrong again. But I would like to see where - I have studied this one carefully for a number of years.
|When is it legitimate to interpret scripture?|
LDS publications do not give an interpretation where God has not given one. However, they do quote from scholars about what a difficult passage might mean. It is in that spirit that I offer this web site.
God holds himself responsible for interpreting his word. Scripture readers have no right to say what it means unless God has said so. However, for the following reasons, I believe that we can and should interpret it for ourselves:
- Even the plainest verse can be innocently interpreted in more than one way, especially if the reader comes from a different background and sees it in a different context. So to some extent we all have to interpret. I had a friend at university who studied media and philosophy, and he made a great point of this: he argued forcefully that it was impossible for two people to read a book and understand exactly the same thing.
- Most of us read the Bible in English, or some language other than the original. Most Bible translations were not completed by prophets, so we all rely on human interpretation of words from an ancient culture.
- So I believe that the Biblical warning against "private interpretation" is against presenting this human reason as divine revelation. I present my theories as reasonable. I do not claim that they are revelation. So (of course) you are free to disagree if you can find a simpler or more inspired interpretation.
|Most Bible commentaries are cursed.|
Most Bible commentaries tell you what difficult verses mean, but without saying "this is only what scholars think - they could be wrong". In other words, they are setting their words to be just as true as the Bible. Revelation 22:18 states that man should not add to the Bible (although God of course can add what he wishes). Curses (plagues) are promised to men who add to scripture.
When I see study Bibles with footnotes that confidently say "this means such and such", especially when some popular interpretations are extremely dubious, I just hope that the authors have life insurance that covers plagues.
So let me say once and for all. The prophets' words are the word of God. My words are not!
|Biblically, only an LDS interpretation can even hope to be correct|
"No prophecy is of private interpretation" - this is another great strength of the LDS church. As the only church that claims to have modern prophets who carry the same authority as Biblical prophets, it is the only church that can even claim that a particular ambiguous verse means this or that.
I have learned to respect the words of LDS prophets, and as far as I know, this web site agrees with all the known statements of modern prophets (although it goes further than they do). I would appreciate an e-mail if you find anything that does not agree. That said, you will see from the evidence presented that I do not base my interpretations on prophecy. For the sake of non-LDS readers, I base my conclusions on the Bible and external evidence alone.
|The Bible can help people come to the truth. Take
John Taylor, for example.
John Taylor, a nineteenth
century saint, is of unique interest to students of
Biblical prophecy. He was a convert who joined the
church, and was later called to be its president (or
Prophet). No other church president had a better
understanding of the Bible before hearing of the
restored gospel. He also made the
clearest statements regarding the 1260 years of
His story illustrates not only the testimony of the Bible, but also the opposition that can come from the established churches, who are only too happy to fulfil the Lord's prophecies about "saying all manner of evil against you falsely".
We shall take up his story at the time when he was becoming disenchanted with traditional churches.
" a number of us met together for the purpose of searching the scriptures and we found that certain doctrines were taught by Jesus and the apostles, which neither the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, nor any of the religious sects taught. We concluded that if the Bible was true, the doctrines of modern Christendom were not true; or if they were true, the Bible was false. "
John Taylor, "The Gospel Kingdom", chapter XXVI
(after hearing about the Mormons)
"The first thing that I heard from a priest . . . was the cry, "Delusion! " I was immediately informed that "Joe Smith was a money-digger, " that he tried to deceive people by walking on planks laid under the water, and that he was a wicked and corrupt man, a deceiver, and one of the biggest fools in creation, and so forth. I heard every kind of story; and the priests have kept up the same things, pretty much, to the present day.
"From the report which I had heard of Mormonism, I thought it was anything but a religious system. I was told about the French prophets. I was told about Mattias, Johanna Southcote, and of all the follies that had existed for centuries; and then they put Mormonism at the end of them all.
"I remember, when I first had an elder introduced to me, I said to him, "I do not know what to think about you Mormons. I do not believe any kind of fanaticism. I profess to be acquainted with the Bible; and, Sir, " said I, "in any conversation we may have, I wish you to confine yourself to the Bible, for I tell you I shall not listen to anything in opposition to that word. "
"In my researches, I examined things very carefully and critically . . . in order that I might compare them with the Bible, and I could not find any difference. I could easily controvert any other doctrine, but I could not overturn one principle of Mormonism."
John Taylor, " Journal of Discourses ", 5:239
|Talking about the numbers and times is a pointless task because everyone disagrees?|
(See also John Taylor's comments on the 1260 "days")
People who have used the Bible for predicting dates agree more often than you might think. For example, one date was agreed on more than any other. That date was 1844. It was international news at the time, and millions took it seriously. The Bible apparently does link 1844 with the last days, but nowhere does the bible say that it was the second coming, or the end of the world. So the people were right when they spotted the date 1844 in the Bible, but they missed the other prophecies that filled in the details.
Similarly, other churches (non-LDS) have come to broadly similar conclusions. For example, Wesley is alleged to have concluded that the "1260" prophecies referred to the period AD 567 to 1827. The Seventh Day Adventists (with links to the Millerites, above), have at times published the period 538 to 1798 for the same period.
Calculating dates is a pointless task because the Bible is ambiguous?
While is is true that most prophetic numbers are mentioned only once, there is an exception to the rule that provides the key to all the others. One period of prophecy is mentioned more times than any other. The number is 1260. 1260 "days" are spoken of no less than six times in a prophetic context. All the references are consistent, so we know we are talking about the same period. Each time, more detail is given. Taken together, the meaning of the 1260 is clear.
|How this web site moves very cautiously|
Let us not look at the obscure numbers and difficult prophecies first. We should start with prophecies that are repeated again and again, to minimize the possibility that we misunderstand them. Let us look at the most often repeated period in all of scripture: 1260 "days".
Six times, 1260 "days" is used to describe a historical period when Satan defeats the earthly kingdom of God. Each time, more and more background information is given, so we cannot misunderstand this vital prophecy.
The references are as follows:
|My promise to you|
I do not claim to be a prophet, a genius, or a world class scholar. So, regarding the dated prophecies, I promise to only consider the most important events in sacred history as possible fulfillmen's. That helps to keep it simple. If a prophecy has not been fulfilled by an event of eternal significance, and to the precise year, I will give up looking.
As it happens, all the major prophecies have major fulfillments. I can only see one reason why interpreters have not spotted these before: The implications, involving the Great Apostasy, are fatal to every Christian church - except one.
the bottom line...
I don't claim to be a prophet. If this web site makes sense to you, great. But if a prophet says different, then follow the prophet.