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Example of Bible Study by Joshua Himes 1840

Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 17, 2009


October 1, 1840

Joseph Himes

Joseph Himes

 

VOL. I. BOSTON, NO. 13

Joshua V. Himes

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

of the Second Coming of Christ.

“The Time is at Hand.”

ILLUSTRATION OF PROPHECY

LITERAL INTERPRETATION

criticism on Rev. xi. 8.–True Principles of Bible Interpretation–By a Bible Reader. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.1}

Mr. Editor:–The inquiry is often sincerely made by those who are beginning the study of Prophecy “How is the Bible to be interpreted?” I would honestly propose the solution of the above momentous question, and say, that the Bible is to be interpreted by itself. It comes to us as the revelation of God, and like the sun, shines and is alone visible by its own light. The man who cannot see the sun, in its daily course, cannot be made to see it, though he could summon to his aid all the torches and telescopes ever made or lighted. “In thy light shall we see light.” “Thy word is a light to my feet and a lamp to my paths.” “We have a more sure word of prophecy unto which ye do well to take heed as to a light shining in a dark place.” How long shall we take heed to this light? As long as the darkness lasts; even until the day dawn and the day star arise.” (See Rev. xxii. 16.) Hence the man who thinks he so understands the Bible as to supersede his necessity to make it still his daily study as a learner, a disciple, and who receives not its teachings as a little child with unquestioning, though wondering faith, is like the man who thinks because he has minutely analized the properties of light, now no longer needs the sun to direct his footsteps; or like the mariner, who, because he has sailed by celestial observations over 359 degrees of earth’s circumference, thinks he can complete the remaining degree, regardless of the same assistance. The Christian is one who walks not by experience, but by faith: “against hope, believes in hope.” Faith and hope always relate to things unseen, and future, and are supported and nourished only by a firm persuasion of the truth revealed. There was no other ground of confidence to the Israelite, that the supply of manna would be renewed on the morrow, as he saw the sun melt away what had not been gathered, even after feeding upon it 39 years, than the simple word of God: but his difficulty in crediting God’s word might have been lessened, because they had so frequently experienced the truth of that word and had never once known it to fail. “But are there no principles of interpretation?” I proceed to notice the rule laid down by the Holy Spirit as the first principle, and I think the only principle to be carefully attended to by all who would interpret the prophetic word aright. “KNOWING this FIRST, that no prophecy is of any private (Greek, one’s own) interpretation.” 2 Peter i. 20. We ought to be at no loss to know what the Holy Spirit means by “private, (one’s own) interpretation,” seeing he opposes “the will of man” to the “Holy Ghost.” “No prophecy is of any one’s own interpretation, for the prophecy came not of old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” As the Holy Ghost, and not the will of man, gave the prophecy, so, not any one’s private will, but the Holy Spirit alone, can give us the interpretation. “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” As the Prophets had no will or choice as to what they should prophesy, so we are to have no will or choice as to the interpretation of these prophecies: as their prophecies were not their shrewd opinion, sagacious guesses, well constructed theories, or sincere hopes, but God’s word, but God’s mind; so our interpretation of the same must be by the same Divine word, and not human opinion. As their prophecies were not their understanding or knowledge of the meaning of what these holy men prophesied, but simply the mind and meaning of the Holy Ghost, transmitted often through the dark and ignorant mind of the prophet, (unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister.” 1 Peter, i. 12.) so we are not to put upon their prophecies our own (private) meaning, and call it an interpretation; but we are to let the Holy Ghost teach us what the Holy Spirit “which moved the prophets,” means. That, and that only is true interpretation. Such interpretation will be as commanding upon the believer’s conscience as the word of God itself–It is God, speaking upon, and expounding his own word. If we disregard such interpretation, no marvel if we understand not unfulfilled truths, as like the Jews, we may have even fulfilled prophecies “hid from our eyes?” Luke xix. 42. “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not, might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” See John ix. 40. Permit me to give an illustration of the difference between a private and a Divine interpretation of Rev. xi. 8: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt; where also our Lord was crucified.” Most commentators interpret this city to mean Rome, France, or some other place than “where also our Lord was crucified,” because it is spiritually, or as they say “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt.” Private interpretation says that the word “spiritually” means, figuratively. The Holy Spirit says, that “spiritually” means spiritually. How shall we know? Ans. “To the law and to the testimony.” Pneumatikos, the adverb translated in the text “spiritually” (and derived from Pneuma) is but once elsewhere used in the New Testament, viz. 1 Cor. ii. 14. Let us read from the 10th verse substituting the private word, figure and its derivatives for the inspired word spirit and its derivatives. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Figure (Pneumatos) for the Figure (Pneuma) searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man save the figure (Pneuma) of a man which is in him, even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Figure (Pneuma) of God. Now we have not received the Figure (Pneuma) of the world, but the figure (Pneuma) which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God. Which things we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Figure (Pneuma) teacheth; comparing figurative (Pneumatika) things with figurative, (Pneumatika) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Figure (Pneumatos) of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know, because they are figuratively (Pneumatikos) discerned.” 1 Cor. ii. 14. Am I not then bound to reject the word figuratively as a private interpretation, and firmly adhere to designate that “spiritually called or named” which the spirit has so called? Still it is asked, “what place is meant in Rev. xi. 8?” Private interpretation says Rome–France, etc. The Spirit says Jerusalem. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.2}

Because, 1. In the inspired text it is said “their dead bodies lie where also our Lord was crucified.” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.3}

2. The Spirit, in Isa. i. 10. calls Jerusalem Sodom: “Hear the word of the Lord ye rulers of Sodom.” See 1st verse. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.4}

Himes  Prophecy Chart

Himes Prophecy Chart

3. And in Isa. xix. the Spirit has revealed “that when the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud and shall come into Egypt, in that day there shall be an highway (or street,) out of Egypt into Assyria (Judah and Jerusalem lie between) and in that day Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord shall bless saying, “Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria the work of my hands and Israel mine inheritance.” Again I would solemnly ask if I am not bound to reject the interpretations generally given of this street and city, as private, as only human opinion; and as firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is the best interpreter of his own words; that the place is Jerusalem, and that Sodom and Egypt are other names by which the Spirit, in his wisdom, has seen fit to designate “the place where our Lord was crucified?” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.5}

But it may be said, “All that is but verbal criticism, and of no practical use whatever; as the meaning is virtually the same.” Let us see. Private interpretation having converted the place where “these dead bodies shall lie,” into a figure, has thereby turned the whole revealed transaction into a figure, and is compelled to go on, and not only guess, when these two prophets were slain, (for almost to a man, private interpreters have concluded that they have been slain) but also to guess, to whom they belong. Yet more, having conjectured that these witnesses are slain, private opinion conjectures, that the beast who kills them, has also been revealed, and is being rapidly consumed. Hence, some are confidently looking for a glorious time of peace–a millennium of ecclesiastical and national prosperity, and for the speedy conversion of the world to Christ by the means now using, as the day of miracles is past. While on the same conclusions of private interpretation others are as confidently looking for, not a conversion, but a sudden destruction of the world by an universal conflagration. Allow the first step of private interpretation, and one or the other of these confident expectations, is irresistible: and this text and chapter belong to fulfilled prophecy. But can I, dare I allow that a prophecy, acknowledged by all, to be a revelation given by the Holy Ghost, is to be expounded by human conjecture–made to bow to a creature’s opinion, in order to verify the guessings of fallible worms!!! What if these two prophets have not yet visited our earth–have not yet been slain–and the terrible beast who kills them has not yet arisen? Reader, it is always safe to know the truth; will you hear the Holy Ghost on those points–and then, tell me, is this an unprofitable criticism? Does not this text and chapter look like unfulfilled prophecy? {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 97.6}

1. The Where? “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city where also our Lord was crucified,” and where was that? How readest thou? Luke xiii. 33: “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Who testifies this? “The faithful and true witness” (Rev. iii. 14.) and remember that at the time John penned Rev. xi. 8, Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.1}

2. When? “And when they shall have finished their testimony (of 1260 days, or 42 months,) the Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit (and to continue 42 months, or 1260 days, Rev. xiii. 6,) shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.2}

3. Whose are these dead bodies? One private interpretation says “the martyrs in every age;” another, ‘The Waldenses and Albigenses;’ another, “The Old and New Testaments,” etc. Whose are these dead bodies? Is not one of them Elijah’s? “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Heb. ix. “Behold! I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Mal. iv. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1260 days (or 42 months) clothed in sackcloth; and if any man hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies, and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and shall send gifts one to another because these two prophets tormented them who dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half, the Spirit of Life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them that saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying unto them, Come up hither! And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake and the tenth part of the city fell, (doubtless Jerusalem) and in the earthquake were slain of men 7000; and the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of Heaven.” Reader, have you just been reading figures or realities? Permit me again solemnly to inquire, have these astounding predictions ever been so fulfilled? If so, Who has seen them? When? Where? Can the church or world have been so asleep, indifferent, or occupied as not to have noticed, or recorded these amazing wonders? May it not be, too, that these two prophets, if they have come–prophesied–died–arisen and gone to Heaven, have also expounded for us, “the things which those 7 thunders uttered but which John, when about to write them, was commanded to seal up, and write them not?” (Rev. x. 4.) And may we not demand of private interpretation, their import and meaning? {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.3}

Finally. The grand difficulty to a right understanding of the mind of the Spirit–a difficulty, ever recurring to the student of prophecy, is his experience or reason; or, how the prediction shall be brought about? How can these things be? This is founded upon ignorance, and often upon culpable ignorance of what is revealed; for often, the things he thinks revealed, have never been revealed. As for example, our blessed Lord had never revealed to Nicodemus, or to us, that “a man should enter a second time into his mother’s womb (according to the flesh) and so be born again.” John iii. Or, that John should not die. John xxi. 23. Or that Rev. vii. does not apply to the Jews. Or, that the street in which the two prophets were to be slain, was not where our Lord was also crucified, or, that the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel and St. John are the same. Ezk. xxxviii. Rev. xx; or, that the cities, they respectively describe, are the same. Our ignorance often substitutes, human inference for divine truth; and hence, it is no wonder that our minds should see difficulties in the accomplishment of what is not even prophesied. And whenever we suffer our minds to dwell upon the posibility or the manner of accomplishment, rather than upon who speaks, and what is spoken, we shall soon be beyond our depth, and without chart or compass, sun or star. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” “Lord increase our faith.” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.4}

A few plain counsels and I have done. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.5}

1. As you read through your whole Bible write in one column every prophecy you find. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.6}

2. Note on an opposite column each fulfilment you can discover. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.7}

3. Mark! How, and how often, God has made good his word–then ask yourself, “How the Holy Ghost has taught you to expect those to be made good, which are yet future?” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.8}

4. Make a table of prophetic words, as explained in the Bible. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.9}

5. With “Cruden’s” Concordance, search out every verse in the Bible, containing the word, or subject upon which you wish light–after reading not only the verse but the chapter in which such word, or subject stands. Frequent reading over what is dark will give you light. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.10}

6. Read, and Believe as a little child, taking the plainest and most palpable meaning of each word. (See Acts i. 3, 11.) {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.11}

7. Read your Bible much and with care, looking out every marginal reference, and making your own. {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.12}

8. Whenever you take your Bible, pray for Light–Faith–Patience Perseverance. Pray while you read–pray whenever you think of what you have read. “Pray without ceasing.” Finally, Live what you know. “Walk even as Christ walked.” “Imitate God, as a dear child.” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.13}

Persevere in this course and it will not be long before God will bless, honor, and comfort you. You will believe–your faith will be like that in 1 Cor. ii. 5, and 2 Thes. ii. 13. The once dry portions of God’s word will become like the smitten rock in the desert; and you will find that man lives indeed “not by bread alone.” Darkness–doubt–dissatisfaction, will give place to light–certainty–joy–joy in the Holy Ghost. You will find that the whole Bible is a prophecy fulfilled and fulfilling of Christ. “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit (the Soul) of Prophecy.” {October 1, 1840 JVHe, HST 98.14}

 

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