The Abiding Gift of Prophecy


Chapter 23—The Awakening Advent Hope

Throughout the long, dismal centuries of papal dominion, covering the Middle Ages, which we have traversed in these studies, the Bible was kept locked in the Latin tongue, or in the original Hebrew and Greek in which it had been written. Thus it was unavailable to the masses in their mother tongue. Its study was not encouraged, and especially was delving into its prophecies regarded unprofitable and improper. AGP 239.1

The unspiritual ecclesiastics were baffled by the mystic symbolism of the prophetic books of Daniel and John. But this obscurity served as a divinely appointed means of preserving the prophetic word. The real intent of these messages from God was providentially concealed by these very symbols in the days when the truth of God was well-nigh suppressed among men. AGP 239.2

But in time the Spirit-impelled Wycliffe began to translate the Scriptures into the language of the people, and to encourage their reading and study. By the time of the flood tide of the Reformation, Luther and others brought forth the Bible in several of the common languages. Once again the Scriptures were lifted to their rightful place as the very word of God. They were accepted as the foundation of all true faith and doctrine, the arbiter for every theological difference, and the end of all controversy. They were exalted as revealing the mind and lofty purpose of God. They were received as recording the past without error, and as divinely portraying the present and the future. AGP 239.3

As a result of the Reformation, the veil that had obscured the hallowed pages of Holy Writ began to be lifted. There soon came a wide rift in the cloud that concealed its divine symbols, and the simpler and more fundamental of the outlines of prophecy began to be understood and explained. Noted scholars like the illustrious Joseph Mede (1586-1638), who made long strides in reviving interest in prophecy and laying the foundations for sound interpretation; the celebrated dissenter, Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), who advocated the indispensable “year-day” principle AGP 239.4

ciple of interpretation; the great philosopher and scientist, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), whose understanding of the prophetic symbols was remarkably clear for the time in which he lived and wrote; and Johann Albrecht Bengel, the eminent German theologian—these were among the great pioneer students and interpreters of Bible prophecy in the seventeenth century, and on to the threshold of the eighteenth. AGP 240.1

Slowly the list grows throughout the eighteenth century, until we come to the predicted “time of the end,” concerning which it was foretold that men should run “to and fro” in the “book” of Daniel that had been “sealed” until the hour should come for those features of its divine message, applicable to the last days, to be understood and applied. There then followed a most remarkable bursting forth of exposition of Bible prophecy. Thus it came literally to pass that men “ran” to and fro in the prophecy, comparing part with part and principle with principle. AGP 240.2