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    Whiston’s Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies {Part II}

    May 18, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    As I’m perusing these sermons, I find myself wondering what it was like to sit through one. They are quite lengthy, and something tells me seats were not cushioned and coffee was not handed out liberally back in 1708. No matter. It is interesting to read the particular interpretations of Whiston, as few men have had a more intimate acquaintance with primary sources than he.

    More notes:

    In addition to Whiston’s Eight Principles {which were apparently published elsewhere prior to giving these sermons, and that is why he spends only brief time on them}, he adds a few additional principles for this particular set of sermons:

    1. Prophetic language is very peculiar to itself. It is mysterious, and the meanings are hidden. However, the language has its own internal logic, which Whiston calls “stile” {style} and so it is still capable of being understood through the use of reason. He gives these examples:
      • It is initially strange to our ears to have Daniel use four great beasts to illustrate four nations that tyrannize the people of God. However, he says, when one recalls that a Beast always denotes an empire in prophetic style, this seems more natural. So though it is initally strange, it is true to the style of literature.
      • Joel speaks of the characteristics of four small insects {small beasts}, the palmer-worm, locusts, canker-worm, and caterpillar, which, says Whiston, illustrated that the heritage of the Jews was given to reproach and they would be ruled over by the heathen. He goes on to say these four small beasts of Joel contrast nicely with the four large beasts of Daniel, both explaining the same thing, which is to say the tyrannical rule of heathen nations over the Jewish people.
      • 400 years subsequent to to King David’s death, Ezekiel is still prophesying that David would sit on the throne and rule and shepherd God’s people forever. But once we understand that the name “David” has become a prophetic name {the most commonly used in the Old Testament, he says} for the Messiah Himself {in my head I consider it a “code word”, this is not so strange}.
      • Isaiah prophesies against seemingly inanimate objects: the Cedars of Lebanon, the Oaks of Bashan, and so on. But, says Whiston, the prophet, just prior to saying such things, himself explained the metaphor. Namely, that everything will be put in its rightful place: kneeling to Jehovah. God is not actually angry with a bunch of trees.
      • We can learn the meanings of these various words and then read consistently with understanding. Even though the language is an enigma, it has its own logic.
    2. Prophetic language always has a single meaning. Whiston compares it to history in this: a history of an event details exactly one event in the past while a prophecy details {in an enigmatical, concealed manner} exactly one event in the future. As evidence that this assertion is true, he lists:
      • A single, determinate sense is the natural reading. This makes more sense to me now that I’ve been studying Latin. The tense of the word gives instruction as to how the word is to be taken. So when Whiston says that the natural reading is such, he is referring to the structure of the language itself.
      • If prophecies be allowed to have more than one meaning or fulfillment, there is no limit to their number. There could be fulfillments every century.
      • Multiple fulfillments weakens the case for Jesus as Messiah which the disciples themselves made to the Jews. Christians then find themselves apologizing for the way the Apostles spoke of fulfillments in the singular sense in Scripture.
      • There is no precedent set by the Apostles and early church leaders for allowing multiple meanings or fulfillments. As examples, he uses the Jewish evangelism of Peter, Paul, and even Philip found in Acts.
      • There is also no precedent for multiple meanings or fulfillment in the recorded works of the early Church Fathers.

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