Article written by Douglas D. Stauffer
Many Bible teachers believe and teach that if the First Century “church fathers” did not teach, preach, or write concerning any particular matter, then it lacks credibility. These Bible teachers surmise that anything new must be false. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, history reveals a progressive illumination born from a practical application of the word of God. God has always progressively revealed His truths as the need arose for man to know any particular truth.
Progressive illumination explains why the current generation has focused on end times’ events more than all preceding generations combined.
Think about it. Could anyone in the first, or even the nineteenth, century have taught that the Mark of the Beast would likely be a computer chip placed IN the right hand or IN one’s forehead? Yet, the Bible has always taught that the mark will be both UPON the forehead (Revelation 20:4) and IN the right hand or IN the forehead.
Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
What could the Bible mean by saying the mark will be “in” the individual’s forehead or right hand? The answer is quite simple. The writers nor prophetic teachers had no concept over the last 1,900 years of computer chips as the likely fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the Mark of the Beast.
In fact, no writer for the last 5,900 years ever wrote about other current spectacles. No writer mentioned prior to the last 100 years mentioned Social Security numbers, computer chips, RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) chips, verichips, cashless societies, brain scans or biometrics, so how could these serve as a fulfillment of end-times’ prophecy since these concepts do not precede the current or last century?
Christians prior to the current generation had no concept of satellites or surveillance cameras and drones used to spy and remotely kill. All of these gadgets have emerged to help prepare the world for the end times. However interesting these new developments, it is just as likely that the world could experience a high altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse (HEMP), wiping out all electronic equipment, necessitating the return of swords, horses and maybe even guillotines as possibly alluded to in scripture.
Ezekiel 38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: 4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
Ezekiel could simply have used this description to represent a mechanized military force or maybe a HEMP device will necessitate a return to primitive weaponry. In that case, Ezekiel would have prophesied an accurate description of the necessity of beheadings of the followers of Christ during the tribulation.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
The beheadings could infer the return to antiquated weaponry or even point to the chosen method of Muslim execution. Regardless of the significance of the future beheadings, the book of Daniel offers further insights into the effects of progressive illumination.
Prophets Prophesy But Do Not Understand
Daniel, along with other Old Testament prophets, wrote about things he did not understand though he prayed for understanding.
Daniel 12:8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
According to Daniel, prophesies and their meanings were closed to the prophet who prophesied them. In fact, the Bible reveals that the illumination of these things will not take place until the time of the end. Praise the Lord for grace since this situation must have been most frustrating for the prophet to speak and not understand whereof he spoke.
Peter’s first epistle further reveals that the prophet Daniel was not alone in his desire and maybe even frustration in not understanding the revelation of these prophecies. Similar to Daniel, other of the prophets, inquired and searched for answers concerning their prophesies.
1 Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that 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.
Peter reveals that the meaning of the prophecies were not for the prophets but intended for future generations. Since some prophecies are not revealed outside of God’s timing, claiming that things revealed in the end times can’t be true, contradicts the plain teaching of scripture.
Paul Confirms Progressive Illumination
Paul quotes the book of Isaiah mentioning that some of the Old Testament prophecies would be revealed to the Church and through the Church. First, consider that the Old Testament prophet Isaiah pointed out that men did not hear or see some of the things prepared for God’s children.
Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, he quotes from this passage in Isaiah chapter 64 and follows it up with a textbook display of progressive illumination. Like Isaiah, he mentions the eye not seeing and the ear not hearing directly attaching these truths back to the book of Isaiah.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Paul quotes Isaiah chapter 64 mentioning the eye not seeing and the ear not hearing, but then appends further clarification to these truths. He points out that these truths did not enter into the heart of man. Yet, the next two words are so exciting to read as Paul reveals the working of the indwelling Spirit within the Christian.
1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Paul writes, “But God…” God’s word reveals that the Spirit reveals these truths previously hidden from all preceding generations. It is the Spirit indwelling in believers that searches the deep things of God and reveals these truths to those whom He indwells. Jesus promised as much during His earthly ministry.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
While walking this earth as the God-man, Jesus said He had to leave so that the Spirit of truth (the Comforter) could come. It would be the Comforter’s job and purpose to guide Christians into all truth and show us things to come. This is the primary characteristic of prophecy being revealed.
The World Worships What it Sees
The Bible says that the beast will have a deadly wound that will be healed. For the first twenty centuries, people may have wondered how the beast’s healing could deceive the whole world.
Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Of course, television, satellites and the internet make all of this possible. The advent of television did not take place until the end of the twentieth century. However, satellites and the internet have made covering news events an instantaneous worldwide phenomenon. This is another example of progressive illumination. The prophesy may have been written almost twenty centuries earlier, but not until this generation do people have the understanding of the prophecy’s fulfillment.
Another extraordinary example of progressive illumination springs forth from the most unlikely source. Although the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts did not contain chapter and verse divisions, they were added as the word of God was being translated into English. The following example from the book of Joshua proves how God allowed some truths to remain completely hidden until the Lord divided His word into chapters and verses.
Background: God used Wycliffe to produce the first English Bible in 1384, yet it contained no verse divisions. English translations for the next two centuries following Wycliffe did not contain these important tools. In fact, the Old Testament was not divided into verses until around 1445, and the New Testament verse divisions were not competed until 1555. In 1560, the Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to incorporate Stephanus’ verse divisions along with the chapter divisions.
The chapter and verse divisions testify to God’s sovereign design by providing another example of progressive illumination. God sometimes uses the most unlikely source to verify topics that the Bible critics twist. Without these important divisions man would have one less testimony to God’s supernatural design.
Joshua chapter six uses the number of man (#6) and the Old Testament to validate the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. Joshua is the sixth (#6) book of the Bible and the first book to be named after a man. Interestingly, this name consists of six letters. Due to chapter and verse divisions, this is the first time numerically that the Mark of the Beast appears in scripture. The Mark of the Beast shows up numerically as the sixth book (6), sixth chapter (6), sixth verse (6), or (666):
Joshua 6:6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.
If Joshua 6:6 symbolically and numerically represents the Mark of the Beast (the sixth book (6), sixth chapter (6) and sixth verse (6) = 666), a pre-tribulationist (or futurist) would expect to find a depiction of the Rapture of the Church (in type) PRIOR to the occurrence of this 666. The Bible never disappoints the Bible Believer and always confounds the Bible critic. The verse just before the 666 arrives on the scene depicts the Rapture described in first Thessalonians chapter 4.
Joshua 6:5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
Compare the trumpet in Joshua 6 to the “trump” in Thessalonians, the shout to the “shout” and the people shall ascend up to Christians “caught up… to meet the Lord in the air.” The Bible critic shouts mere coincidence as the Bible Believer bows his head in reverence to God’s divine design two millennium after Isaiah penned his book.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Is all of this mere coincidence, or is God sovereign when it comes to the English Bible and His desire to use any and all means to display His glory? One should not fail to take note of the seven trumpets mentioned in Joshua 6:6. These seven trumpets correspond to the Tribulation’s seven trumpets in Revelation.
Revelation 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The Plot Thickens…
This study also presents another interesting truth. The harlot Rahab serves as a picture of the believing Jew during the Tribulation who refuses to submit to the demands of the rulers to disobey God. Joshua serves as a type of Christ with Joshua chapter six developing the story of Rahab and her supernatural protection.
Joshua 6:25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive…
Joshua saved Rahab in Jericho similar to the supernatural protection afforded the Jews in the Tribulation.
Revelation 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Joshua saves Rahab and Jesus saves Israel. The Bible refers to Rahab as “the harlot.” God repeatedly refers to backsliding Israel and Judah as a harlot (Jeremiah 3:6-8). Notice that Israel is also referred to as “the woman.” The complete deliverance follows the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
Joshua 6:16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
Joshua sent two men after “the woman” to remove her from the city. These two spies were on par with the two angels who removed Lot and his family from Sodom before the city’s compete destruction. Both sets of two prefigure the Two Witnesses during the tribulation. Notice Joshua told them to bring out “the woman.”
Joshua 6:22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
The walls were compassed for seven days and the harlot woman who received the spies was delivered.
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
All of these pictures and types serve a purpose. God gives the illumination of His truths when the need arises. People today are more interested in end times’ prophecy because we are living in those days. Daniel is no longer a sealed book; but it was to Daniel.