Revelation 8:6-13; 9:1-4, 13-19
Rev. 8:6-13. “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third Part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”
Rev. 9:1-4. “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to Him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
Rev. 9:13-19. “And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.”
Ever since John recorded this imposing symbolization, church history has repeatedly throughout her pages had to make the entry that every attempt made to unlock its mystery has but resulted the more in barricading it with mysticism and confusion. It is necessary, therefore, in clearing the mysticism, first of all to find
THE REASON FOR THE CONFUSION.
The very fact that nineteen centuries of prying at the subject to open it up has only made it the more impenetrable, is the strongest possible evidence that God controls the Scriptures and reveals Them only at the divinely appointed time. The truth of this statement is conclusively substantiated by the angel’s words: “I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your Prince.” Dan. 10:21.
And “when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come,” says Christ, in broader statement of this same truth, “He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13.
Having been put forth prematurely and without the prompting of the Spirit of Truth, human efforts have accordingly failed to discover and explain the truth of “the trumpets.” And no scripture ever being unfolded without Inspiration, the expositions of uninspired minds are hence of private interpretation, in forewarning of which the Bible says: “….no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Pet. 1:20.
So before a person can climb the ladder of Truth, he must first of all free himself from erroneous theories, which keep him bound in darkness. And to loose himself from such weights of error so as to reach the top step of the ladder of Truth, he must carefully investigate and “prove all things” in
“Do not read the Word in the light of former opinions; but, with a mind free from prejudice, search it carefully and prayerfully. If, as you read conviction comes, and you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the Word, do not try to make the Word fit these opinions. Make your opinions fit the Word. Do not allow what you have believed or practiced in the past to control your understanding.” — Messages to Young People, p. 260.
This prime necessity urgently confronts those who have been disposed to accept, as unquestionable Bible truths, theories which are the results of
Adding To and Taking From the Scriptures.
Any explanation of a prophecy which adds to or takes from any part of relevant scripture in order to harmonize the interpretation, can only be false. When the Spirit of God interprets the Scriptures, He does not in any way need to alter any part of Them in order to make the explanation fit that which is being unfolded. When, moreover, the true interpretation of a prophecy is made, it always contains a lesson of present truth “adapted to the necessities of God’s people” (The Great Controversy, p. 609) at the time the scripture is revealed. Knowing this, Satan is continually
Paving the Way for Sinning Against the Holy Ghost.
No one is lost for believing a false interpretation of a prophecy before the truth of it is revealed, provided the false interpretation does not draw him away from some other truth. Such individuals, however, are in great danger because, as history reveals, very few who become thus involved in error are willing to humble themselves by renouncing their errors and accepting the truth when it is made known. They are consequently in constant peril of sinning against the Holy Ghost. And being acutely aware of this, Satan misinterprets the prophecies before they are divinely revealed. He realizes full well that many, unwilling to be corrected and to exchange their errors for revealed truth, will thereby be led to eternal ruin. All-important, therefore, is the need that the student of the truth fortify himself with all honesty and humility as the light of truth is now turned searchingly on
To begin with, the reader’s attention is called to Elder Uriah Smith’s book, originally entitled Thoughts on Daniel and The Revelation, and later Daniel and The Revelation, in which is explained, among other subjects, the subject of “the seven trumpets.” Here one will notice that Elder Smith is not the original author of the exposition of the trumpets. The originators were Messrs. Keith, Clark, Barnes, et al. “Thus far,” says Elder Smith, “Keith has furnished us with illustrations of the sounding of the first five trumpets.” — Daniel and The Revelation, p. 506.
Then further in the same chapter, and in explanation of Revelation 9:17, we read: “As the Turks discharged their firearms on horseback, it would appear to the distant beholder, that the fire, smoke and brimstone issued out of the horses’ mouths, as illustrated by the accompanying plate.” — Id., p.510. “Barnes thinks this was the case,” remarks Elder Smith; “and a statement from Gibbon confirms this view.” — ld., p. 510, footnote.
Thus, plainly, the interpretation of the seven trumpets, as it is found in Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, was not originated by the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. But their placing upon it their endorsement makes it appear as Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. In other words, the theories of uninspired men having the S.D.A. stamp of approval, are made to appear to the S.D.A. laity as genuine S.D.A. Bible doctrines. This goes to show that the majority of Seventh-day Adventists, right along with others, do not ask, “Is it true, — in harmony with God’s word? but, By whom is it advocated?” — Testimonies to Ministers, p.106. And if the theory comes through a popular channel, they as a rule unquestionably accept it!
A fair example is their unhesitatingly applauding such manipulations as rationalizing “the heads of lions” (in the symbolism of Revelation 9:17) into heads of Arabian horses, and the serpent-like tails (Rev. 9:19), into common horses’ tails (as evidenced by the accompanying illustration) in order to connect the trumpets with the battles of the Turks!
But even worse, they unhesitatingly agree that the “fire,” “smoke,” and “brimstone” did not issue, as John saw them, from the lion-like mouths, but rather from a gun in the hand of a Turk!
Their accepting these additions and subtractions to and from Holy Writ, a practice condemned by the Scriptures (Rev. 22:18, 19), shows that they are victims of a faulty vision, which causes them to think themselves right when they are all wrong (Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252, 253).
Their subscribing to such a practice, moreover, undermines faith in the Bible, for if the Revelator be wrong in one instance, then can he not be mistaken in other instances also? And if we cannot depend upon the book of The Revelation just as it reads, then how can we put confidence in any of the Bible? And if inspired prophets cannot declare the positive truth of what they see, then how can uninspired students of their writings declare it? So, those who learn “to give an answer to every man that asketh…a reason of the hope that is in” (1 Pet. 3:15) them, will have no trouble answering the question:
Did John See Correctly?
True, the seer of Patmos was an erring human being like ourselves, but the one who dictated His writings — the great and infallible I Am, Overseer and Proof Reader of the Scriptures — was there to see that John made a faithful record of what he saw, for the exact truth of the symbolism means our very life. Indeed, it is not possible that the Lord would jeopardize our salvation by displaying the symbolism so far removed from John’s sight that he could not accurately see and record it, and yet expect to save us by it.
If John failed to see correctly the symbols in the vision, as these supposed-to-be men of learning and experience speciously explain, then does it not imply that God is indifferent as to whether or not He reveals in a misleading way truth which is essential to our salvation? If not, and if John was wrong, why, then, did not God correct him? Was it impossible for Him here to correct His prophet?
“The second angel,” says the Revelator, “poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” Rev. 16:3.
If John could not, as is contended, see exactly where the “fire,” “smoke,” and “brimstone” came from, then how could he see that “every” creature, as he says in the words just quoted, died in the bottom of the sea? Which condition is the more difficult to see with exactness?
The acceptance and the teaching of such interpretations is signboard evidence that there is today gross darkness throughout the church, enveloping both the laity and the watchmen who claim to be the “men of experience” mentioned in Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 293, and elucidated in Tract No. 4, The Latest News for Mother Revised Edition, pp. 32-35. These men, though exceedingly “unskillful in the Word,” as is seen from the foregoing observations, forbid that anything new in which they see no light, be brought before the people. And despite the fact that such utterly unlawful and light-obscuring restrictions are devised to keep the people forever in their errors, the laity nevertheless accept them without question, and esteem those who devise them as wise and true friends. And all who refuse to be bound by such restrictions are “cast out” (Isa. 66:5), while multitudes who disbelieve the Spirit of Prophecy are retained, and other multitudes of like unbelief are accepted as members in approved standing! Thus is reenacted the outstanding sin of the Jews, which called forth from the lips of the Saviour the piercing pronouncement: “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matt. 6:23.
“The enemy,” says the Spirit of Prophecy, “is preparing for his last campaign against the church. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing activity and power. They have to a great extent forgotten his past record, and when he makes another advance move, they will not recognize him as their enemy, that old serpent, but they will consider him a friend, one who is doing a good work.” — Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 294.
O what great darkness has covered the people! Will you, Brother, Sister, sit in calm unconcern, and watch the enemy plunge them blindly into hell? Says the Lord: “I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Rev. 22:16. Then He adds the dread pronouncement: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev. 22:18, 19.
Now, if John failed in his work, and the Scriptures indeed be as imperfectly written as the commentaries herein examined would force one to conclude they are, how, then, dare Christ adjure us, under pain of such fearful penalty, not to tamper with the Holy Word of God? For if John was wrong in what he wrote, we perish. And if we alter his writings, likewise we perish! What! Were the Scriptures devised for our destruction rather than for our salvation? Forbid the thought! The immutable words of Jesus just quoted, certify that His Book is perfect, and that It need not be altered by any man.
Ironically, though, the very ones who usually become involved in the practice of altering the Scriptures, are those who talk the loudest about exercising great care not to be enmeshed by false doctrine. And, to back up their talk, they very carefully keep themselves aloof from everything new which does not come through themselves. Such will never recover from their terrible blindness until they begin to search for “eyesalve” (Inspiration) as they do for gold, for only new truth can open their eyes, unmask their errors, and woo them to the truth. Satan, though, well knowing that their sight will quickly recover if they come with an open heart to the light, consequently fills them with prejudice to keep them from making an unbiased personal investigation of unfolding truths.
Such are the “lukewarm” church members who have not kept pace with the light, and who as a result have been left behind in every advance of truth. Whereas those who have been dissatisfied with their degree of enlightenment, who are “either hot or cold,” have marched on with present truth from generation to generation.
Let the solemn truth never be forgotten, therefore, that never at any time has God’s church been led astray because of investigating new doctrines which knocked at her doors, pleading to be received. On the contrary she has many times been left in darkness because of indolence, indifference, and prejudice in investigating to find out whether or not the so-called “strange teachings” were from God. And sad to say, the same condition exists today.
“We have far more to fear from within,” declares the Spirit of Truth, “than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world.” — Christ Our Righteousness, p. 45.
Now, as in times past, church leaders and ministers are crying out against every increase of light, and are keeping the people away from it. At the same time, they are feeding the flock with so much truth-coated error that the sheep are dying spiritually.
“The food that is being prepared for the flock will cause spiritual consumption, decline, and death. When those who profess to believe present truth come to their senses, when they accept the Word of God just as it reads, when they do not try to wrest the Scriptures, they will bring from the treasure house of the heart things new and old, to strengthen themselves and those for whom they labor.” — Review and Herald, Vol. 78, No. 25, Tuesday, June 18, 1901. (See also Early Writings, p.62.)
Such a right practice, though, not being what he would have, Satan works endlessly to prevent it. And so powerful are his deceptions, that the “goats” among the “sheep” unwittingly and against their own eternal interests lend themselves as instrumentalities for the accomplishing of his deadly designs.
The original title of Elder Smith’s book, Thoughts on Daniel and The Revelation, avows him as undesigning and above-board in writing the book. The word, “thoughts,” denoting an idea, a theory, not an absolute truth, shows that he simply commended the book to its readers for whatever its contents might be worth to them. This he did, of course, with the implicit understanding that at the time of the “unrolling of the scroll” (Testimonies, Vol.6, p.17), when the writings of Daniel and of John the Revelator would be illuminated, the reader should exchange his “thoughts,” if erroneous, for the truth, as the humble follower of Christ ever does.
However, going beyond this modest intention of the author, the denomination omitted from the later editions of the book the word “thoughts,” the first word of the original title. And now some of the leading men try to make us believe that Sister White was shown that an angel was guiding Elder Smith’s hand while he was resetting the theories of uninspired men! Hence it is very evident that though large portions of the book impair the finality of the Scriptures, yet the book’s champions will have the errors at all costs — even at the expense of truth! Indeed, their thus exalting the fabrications of men, and stamping them as bearing the seal of Inspiration, while depreciating the precision of The Revelation, show that Satan is the one who has led them into this rationalizing.
Then, again, while on one hand these commentators profess to know more about John’s vision than did John himself, on the other hand these champions of Uriah Smith’s writings act as though they know more about his experience with Inspiration than did he himself, for he never claimed to be inspired, whereas they aver he was. And now that the apostle John, Elder Smith, and Sister White are dead and unable to defend themselves, the living multitude, asleep under the covers of their sins, are unable to detect the snares of the devil. What a lesson to take the Lord’s advice, to trust His Word even to “one jot or one tittle” (Matt. 5:18), and if necessary to distrust every mortal being (Isa. 2:22)!
If those who have great light, and who profess to “keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus,” dare thus deal with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, is it any wonder, then, that there is so much doubting of the inspiration of the Scriptures and that there are almost innumerable interpretations of them?
Our conduct as S.D.A.’s has all too precisely fulfilled the prophecy against the Laodiceans, thus indelibly labeling us as that people. Let us therefore confess our sins, and gladly accept the Father’s counsel: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Rev. 3:17, 18. With his eyes thus anointed, one will then, as he searches for the truth, find that
Sister White Never Said the Book Is Inspired.
Any last lingering doubt that Sister White did not say and could not have said that the book Thoughts on Daniel and The Revelation is inspired, is completely dissipated by Elder Arthur L. White in the following letter:
“Among our older workers there are a number who have thought that Mrs. White had written words to the effect that she had seen in vision an angel standing by the side of Elder Uriah Smith helping him as he wrote the book above referred to. However, a careful search of her manuscript files has failed to disclose such a statement among her writings, and we believe that there is no such statement in print…. Elder A.C. Bordeau, some years ago made the following statement:
” ‘Many years ago, when the late Elder Uriah Smith was writing “Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation,” while Elder James White and Ellen G. White were at my house in Enosburg, Vt., they received by mail a roll of printed proof-sheets on “Thoughts on Revelation” that Brother Smith had sent to them. Brother White read portions of these to the company, and expressed much pleasure and satisfaction because they were so concisely and clearly written. Then Sister White stated what she had been shown, as follows: —
“‘“The Lord is inspiring Brother Smith — leading his mind by His Spirit, and an angel is guiding his hand in writing these ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.’ “
“‘I was present when these words were spoken.
“‘(Signed) A.C. Bordeau.’ “
“In estimating the accuracy of the words attributed to Mrs. White by Elder Bordeau,” continues Elder Arthur White, in regard to Elder Bordeau’s statement, “one must bear in mind that a number of years had elapsed between the incident related and its recital. We cannot consistently believe that she intended to convey the idea that Elder Smith was inspired to such a degree that his writings were inerrant.
* * *
“Elder W. C. White testifies that he was present when Elder Smith was persuaded to make thirty-eight corrections in the earlier edition of Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, but the knowledge of this does not at all diminish his enthusiasm in behalf of the sale of this wonderful book.
* * *
“Sometimes, when asked to consider some exposition of prophecy,…our brethren have refused to give it a candid hearing and they have mistakenly justified their action by saying that Mrs. White had stamped this book with divine approval. This position is contrary to reason and to the Testimonies.”
In affixing responsibility for the statements just quoted, the letter concludes with the credit line: “Statement prepared by W.C. White and A.L. White, ‘Elmshaven’ Office, St. Helena, Calif., February 22, 1934.”
From what this document inconsistently says regarding the sale of the book, our brethren are once more seen to be not nearly so careful as they are trying to make us believe they are concerning what they teach and hand to the public. Mind what it says: “…but the knowledge of this [the errors] does not at all diminish his [W.C. White’s] enthusiasm in behalf of the sale of this wonderful book”! A clearer confession of one’s blindness, mentally, would be difficult indeed for one to prepare deliberately!
That not only, though, was Elder Smith uninspired, but also that his teachings are in direct opposition to what Sister White was shown in vision, is witnessed by the following statement from an early S.D.A. publication:
“I saw,” says Sister White, “all that ‘would not receive the mark of the Beast, and of his Image, in their foreheads or in their hands,’ could not buy or sell [Rev. 13:15-17]. I saw that the number (666) of the Image Beast [the two-horned beast of verse 11] was made up; and that it was the beast [the ten-horned beast of verse 1] that changed the Sabbath, and the Image Beast [the two-horned beast] had followed on after, and kept the Pope’s and not God’s Sabbath.” — A Word to the Little Flock, p. 19.
Contradicting this heaven-given view Thoughts on Daniel and The Revelation applies the number “666” to the pope.
From this we see that Elder Smith did not share in the same Inspiration which guided Sister White. Though as her follower he was influenced by her yet his book shows that he was also influenced by the writings of uninspired authors. Containing doctrines from her writings as well as from theirs, the book, consequently, is an admixture of truth and error.
But the most inexcusable part of the whole thing is that the leading brethren have entirely disregarded the inspired vision concerning the number 666 (Rev. 13:18), and in its place have almost unanimously accepted these traditions and theories of men. The sad result is that they have become blind to the light, rebellious against the Spirit of Christ, and consequently untrustworthy servants, unfit and disqualified as leaders of His people. And yet, withal, they go on the while complacently assuring themselves that they are the “men of experience,” who alone are capable of investigation and deciding whether or not the messages that come to the people are from God! An arrogation of authority which no one has a right to make unto himself, it is the despotic spawn of egotism and
“Now I think a lot of Sister White and her writings,” begins a certain S.D.A. minister in one of our California conferences, in an attempt to overthrow a certain brother’s confidence in Sister White’s writings. “I read them for myself,” he continues, “but from what I have shown you, neither the General Conference men, or she herself, or anybody else takes her very seriously; they just take what suits them and leave the rest.”
While the S.D.A. officials disfellowship those who accept the Rod, on the contention that it contradicts Sister White’s writings, they wink away such an out and out subversive statement as the one just quoted, and permit its author, while drawing salary, to continue on at his unholy work. Were they sincere in their gesture of disfellowshiping Rod adherents, they would never retain and support ministers who openly teach and write against the writings of Sister White. They would disfellowship them first of all.
Moreover, if the minister here quoted is correct in what he writes about the General Conference men, then for them to disfellowship one for studying The Shepherd’s Rod, on the false count that it contradicts Sister White’s writings, and at the same time keep themselves (with their unbelief in her writings) in office, is, to say the least, glaring inconsistency. Or even if he is falsely accusing them, then for them to keep him in his position, is another and a very strange inconsistency.
The actions of the great majority, fully bearing out the bold confession here cited, inescapably incriminate the leading brethren as not unequivocally accepting, as inspired, Sister White’s writings, but instead as using them merely for convenience and, when expedient, for a cloak with which to fool the laity and thereby shut away the light from them.
Taking to themselves this self-instituted prerogative, they cast out as evil those who do not accept their decisions, while they retain in reputable standing the multitude who, though harboring doubt and unbelief in the Spirit of Prophecy, blindly trust in them and truckle to their wishes. In this disfellowshiping of such as disagree with them, and in this upholding of such as exalt them, though such ones disbelieve the Spirit of Prophecy or break the commandments of God, these men are in effect assuming to set themselves above God! Will not the light on this condition arouse the church to take heed to the following counsel? —
“But beware of rejecting that which is truth. The great danger with our people has been that of depending upon men, and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.” — Testimonies to Ministers, p.106.
“You have no right to manage,” further says the Spirit of Truth, “unless you manage in God’s order. Are you under the control of God? Do you see your responsibility to Him?… That these men should stand in a sacred place to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be, — that is past. What we want now is reorganization” (General Conference Bulletin 34th session, Vol. 4, Extra No. 1, April 3, 1901, p. 25, Cols. 1, 2) rather than time-wasting in asking the question: