LESSON 5 - Principles of Interpretation

In approaching the study of the Bible our method of interpretation is extremely important. This is especially true in the area of prophetic interpretation. The Bible was written in the language of men, but it contains the thoughts of God. In approaching it, man must lay aside the attitudes, the perspectives, the values, the limitations, and especially the traditions of men. The biases of others must not be allowed to constrict our thinking. At the same time we want to be guarded against extreme and fanciful ideas. The question is, how can we achieve both an open mind and a balanced and cautious mind? The secret lies in a conscious and total dependence on God's guidance as we approach the study of the word. God will work outside of our rules of context, grammar, hermeneutics, exegesis, etc. because the understanding of the Scriptures is not for the most learned person, but rather, for the one who is most dependent on, and submissive to God. Dependence on God is the first, the most important and only inflexible rule of biblical interpretation

Part 1: The Harmony of Daniel's Prophecies

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. (Genesis 41:32)
In the experience of Pharaoh we find a principle which is helpful to us in studying the prophecies of Daniel. God gave Pharaoh the same message twice, using two separate dreams with different symbols. In interpreting the dream Joseph stated that both dreams represented the same thing, and that the reason for the dream being repeated was that "the thing is established by God." We can reason then, that one good reason why God would repeat the same lines of prophecy more than once in the book of Daniel is because of the fact that these things are firmly established by God and will surely come to pass.
How many lines of prophecy are there in the book of Daniel? Dan. 2:28; Dan. 7:1; Dan. 8:1; Dan. 10:1
Under the symbols of a great image, four beasts, a ram and a he goat, and the kings of the North and the South, God has given us four lines of prophecy in the book of Daniel. It is easy to see that these four visions cover the same ground, with additional details being given in each succeeding prophecy. Even though the prophecies grow more complicated with each succeeding vision, yet it is possible to follow and understand the events of each prophecy because the information given in the previous prophecy makes it easy to understand the one which follows.
What common elements in all four prophecies indicate that they all cover basically the same events?
       a) The same four great kingdoms are featured in all the prophecies (excepting for Babylon which was not mentioned again after it was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians and so passed from the scene).
       b) The common focus of all the prophecies is on a latter day desolating power. A great antichristian kingdom which would do great harm to God's people and His cause, but which would finally be totally destroyed without human help.
       c) The common end-point of all the prophecies is the intervention of heaven in the affairs of earth. Events take place in heaven which result in the forces of evil being overthrown and the inheriting of an everlasting kingdom by the people of God.
Key Thought
When God repeats a prophecy several times it is an indication that it is very important that we should under

Part 2: The Circumstances of the Jews

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. (Deu 4:26-27)
What important principles of interpretation should we apply as we study the book of Daniel?
"Read the book of Daniel. Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust. . . . "
"The light that Daniel received from God was given especially for these last days. The visions he saw by the banks of the Ulai and the Hiddekel, the great rivers of Shinar, are now in process of fulfillment, and all the events foretold will soon come to pass."
"Consider the circumstances of the Jewish nation when the prophecies of Daniel were given." _ Testimonies To Ministers, p. 112-13
What were the circumstances of the Jews at the time when the prophecies of Daniel were given? Daniel 1: 1,2
The Lord could not work for the prosperity of his people, he could not fulfil his covenant with them, while they were untrue to the principles he had given them to maintain, that they might be kept from the methods and practises of the nations that dishonored him. By their spirit and works the children of Israel misrepresented the righteousness of God's character, and the Lord allowed the Babylonians to take them captive. He left his people to their ways; and in the calamities that befell them the innocent suffered with the guilty. {YI, May 14, 1903 par. 13}
What essential aspects of their identity and existence as a kingdom had the Jews lost? 2 Chron. 36: 15_20
The Jewish kingdom had lost (a) Their king (b)Their country (c) Their worship (the sanctuary) (d) Their people (they were in bondage). In order for true restoration of the kingdom to take place, all these aspects of the kingdom needed to be restored. However, the book of Daniel really speaks of the restoration of the greater kingdom, true spiritual Israel at the end of time. Yet it is evident that these aspects of the kingdom also need to be restored before antitypical Israel can receive their kingdom.
Key Thought
In what ways are the circumstances of the people of God today similar to the circumstances of the Jews at the time of Daniel?

Part 3: The Focus _ The last days

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
In these last days there are many voices claiming to have the truth. Many people are confused and uncertain. Howwever, God has made careful provision that none need be deceived. All who will earnestly, prayerfully and sincerely study the prophecies pertaining to the last days will discern the will and the purposes of God for His people at this time.
What evidence is there that the prophecies of Daniel were intended to apply most fully to the last days? Dan. 8: 17, 19, 26; Dan. 2: 28
" As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures. . . ." _ Prophets and Kings, p. 547
Will there be people in the last days who understand the prophecies of Daniel? Dan. 12:10
" . . . . Satan has led many to believe that the prophetic portions of the writings of Daniel and of John the revelator cannot be understood. But the promise is plain that special blessing will accompany the study of these prophecies. "The wise shall understand" (verse 10), was spoken of the visions of Daniel that were to be unsealed in the latter days; and of the revelation that Christ gave to His servant John for the guidance of God's people all through the centuries, the promise is, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." Revelation 1:3. _ Prophets and Kings, p. 547
What instruction, given to Daniel, assures us that the book was not to be understood in his day? Dan. 12:4,9
Honored by men with the responsibilities of state and with the secrets of kingdoms bearing universal sway, Daniel was honored by God as His ambassador, and was given many revelations of the mysteries of ages to come. His wonderful prophecies, as recorded by him in chapters 7 to 12 of the book bearing his name, were not fully understood even by the prophet himself; but before his life labors closed, he was given the blessed assurance that "at the end of the days"--in the closing period of this world's history--he would again be permitted to stand in his lot and place. It was not given him to understand all that God had revealed of the divine purpose . . . ." _ Prophets and Kings, p. 547
Key Thought
God never changes. If we do not have the same relationship with God as these men did, it is because we

Part 4: Establishing the Context

And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. (John 14:29)
Many of the biblical prophecies have been given by God through His servants in order that the faith of His people might be strengthened at a critical moment in time. The fulfillment of prophecy can be a great source of added strength to those who are facing discouraging circumstances. It makes a great difference when we realize that despite the negative circumstances, the reproaches of the enemy, the fact that the work of God does not seem to be making great progress, God is still in charge. His purposes are being fulfilled. Everything is taking place according to His plans. This is one of the great reasons for Bible prophecy. It helps us to locate our place in time and to recognize our duty.
"Not one cloud has fallen upon the church that God has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork the work of God but He has foreseen. All has taken place as He has predicted through His prophets. He has not left His church in darkness, forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and through His providence, acting in its appointed place in the world's history, He has brought about that which His Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell. All His purposes will be fulfilled and established." _ Maranatha, p. 18
Though all of Daniel's prophecies cover much history, to what point is most attention given? Dan. 12:9
Never are we absent from the mind of God. God is our joy and our salvation. Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours, so that their prophesying is in force for us. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Cor. 10:11). "Not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12). _ Selected Messages bk.3, p. 338
Despite criticisms from liberal scholars, what clear evidence is there that the book of Daniel was written long before the time of Christ (6th Century B.C.)? Matt. 24:15; Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 28:3
Jesus quoted from the book of Daniel and quoted him as an authority. Jesus knew that Daniel was a true prophet. God also spoke by the prophet Ezekiel and referred to Daniel by name, setting him up as an example of a godly man, along with Noah and Job. If we deny that Daniel was an authentic prophet, then we will also have to deny that Jesus knew what He was saying, and also reject the book of Ezekiel.

Key Thought
In light of the fulfillment of so many of these prophecies in our day, is our response in keeping with the light which

Part 5: The Wise Shall Understand

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. (Psa 25:14)
Lot was warned before Sodom was destroyed, Noah was warned before the world was overthrown by the flood, the disciples of Christ escaped the destruction of Jerusalem because of heeding the warning of Christ. God has always made special provision for those who "fear" him and today, in this time of global uncertainty and fear, the voice of God is still speaking to His people. Those who will study the prophecies and believe them will not only have stronger reasons for their faith, but will also be instructed as to how to be prepared to face the coming storm.
What are the necessary qualifications for understanding the prophecies of Daniel? Dan. 12:4
"There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the papacy; but we should call attention to what the prophets and apostles have written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has so shaped matters, both in the giving of the prophecy and in the events portrayed, as to teach that the human agent is to be kept out of sight, hid in Christ, and that the Lord God of heaven and His law are to be exalted. Read the book of Daniel. Call up, point by point, the history of the kingdoms there represented. Behold statesmen, councils, powerful armies, and see how God wrought to abase the pride of men, and lay human glory in the dust. . . ." _ Testimonies to Ministers, p. 112
What method should we use in our study of the Bible? Isa. 28:9,10; Luke 24:27
"The Bible contains all the principles that men need to understand in order to be fitted either for this life or for the life to come. And these principles may be understood by all. No one with a spirit to appreciate its teaching can read a single passage from the Bible without gaining from it some helpful thought. But the most valuable teaching of the Bible is not to be gained by occasional or disconnected study. Its great system of truth is not so presented as to be discerned by the hasty or careless reader. Many of its treasures lie far beneath the surface, and can be obtained only by diligent research and continuous effort. The truths that go to make up the great whole must be searched out and gathered up, "here a little, and there a little." Isaiah 28:10. _ Education, p. 123

Key Thought
The prophecies of the Bible will never be understood by those who are unwilling to spend much time in care

Part 6: Past and Future Applications

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Pet 1:20)
To what event did Jesus apply Daniel's prophecy concerning the "abomination of desolation?" Matt. 24:15 (compare Luke 21:20)
And the Saviour warned his followers: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." [MATT. 24:15, 16; LUKE 21:20.] When the idolatrous standards of the Romans should be set up in the holy ground, which extended some furlongs outside the city walls, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight. When the warning sign should be seen, those who would escape must make no delay. Throughout the land of Judea, as well as in Jerusalem itself, the signal for flight must be immediately obeyed. He who chanced to be upon the housetop must not go down into his house, even to save his most valued treasures. Those who were working in the fields or vineyards must not take time to return for the outer garment laid aside while they should be toiling in the heat of the day. They must not hesitate a moment, lest they be involved in the general destruction." _ The Great Controversy, preface (ix)
What evidence is there that the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel, has another meaning than the one given to it by the Jews? Dan. 8:13, 14; Dan. 11:30, 31
Jesus applied the prophecy of Daniel concerning the abomination of desolation to the approach of the Roman armies in AD 70 just before Jerusalem was destroyed. However, in Daniel 8:17 the angel Gabriel told Daniel, "at the time of the end shall be the vision." It is very clear from the context that he was referring to the vision concerning the transgression of desolation which Daniel had just seen. This is not to suggest that Jesus was wrong in His application but it brings out the point that some prophecies may, in the wisdom of God have more than one fulfillment.
What prophecy concerning the end-time had a partial fulfillment on the day of Pentecost? Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:16,17
"In immediate connection with the scenes of the great day of God, the Lord by the prophet Joel has promised a special manifestation of his Spirit. Joel 2: 28. This prophecy received a partial fulfillment in the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost; but it will reach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of the gospel." _ The Great Controversy, preface (ix)
Key Thought
While some aspects of these prophecies are already past, we must remember that the main application
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Restoration Ministries is dedicated to the promotion of the truths contained in the word of God. In particular to the restoration of those truths which have been cast down to the ground and trampled underfoot by the papacy, and adopted by her daughters.

Our purpose is to motivate men and women to commit themselves wholly to the task of personal preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to the taking of the final warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.


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