"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.I Pg.10-11a
August 1942

Giant-Killers At Work

T. B. Wilkinson

Old Caleb, hale and hearty at eighty-five, wanted the land where the giants lived as his portion in Canaan. This was commendable in old Caleb, and must have put many of the younger men to shame. We still have some giants to kill, spiritual giants, and we still have giant killers looking for a job.

The book of Revelation is one of these giants, and many giant killers are hacking away at its battered carcass. Strange as it may seem, each young giant killer considers himself a young David with his slingshot and able to crack the skull of Goliath. Young men just out of school, and who have not yet reached the whisker age, but full of ego, make the best giant killers; they are so sure of themselves. Like Joe Smith of Mormon fame, they have found a golden key, and that is all they need. Age, experience, wisdom, study, maturity, these do not count in giant killing; they have found the key and with it they unlock all the mysteries of Revelation.

Eugene S. Smith is one of these giant killers and he proposes to kill this giant over his radio just as long as the brethren are willing to pay the bill. Like an old fogey will, I listened to his broadcast, decided he did not understand the book he was trying to explain, and wrote him a letter in which I pointed out some of the reasons why he should defer these lectures until he had time to study the book a little longer. I suggested that with further study he might wish to modify some of his conclusions, and even hinted that men might be held responsible for teaching error on this book.

He did not bother to answer my letter, thinking no doubt that I was just another of these old fogies who have outlived their usefulness to the church, and should be shipped away to some happy hunting ground to make more room for young men who are doing things, even if they ask the brethren to pay well for it. I do not object to his broadcast, nor to brethren who pay the bill, just as long as the gospel is preached over it, but the book of Revelation is a different matter. If he will wait twenty years and study the book prayerfully all the time, he will then understand what I mean. But he has a key and it requires no great wisdom to use a key, just slip it in, give a turn, and there you are—it is very simple.

I quote from his folder as follows:

"There is no doubt that in the study of this book a key is needed, and I am sure that one of the essential things is to remember that the book does not run consecutively from first to last. Instead we have three series of seven symbols and then a final summing up of the matter. Thus as we come to the seventh symbol we have come to the fullness, or completion, of the age, and the narrative drops back again to begin at the first and traces a parallel line through the history of the world. More than this, it is apparent that in doing so the narrator many times goes back to things which had already happened and speaks of them in introducing the events which are to come. Thus the book is a study of things which were, which are, and which shall be as of the time of the writing."

This is the key by means of which Brother Smith means to open up the mysteries of John's book to us, and make it plain. If it is the right key he might open up something, but if not then the things he does open up will be the wrong things. I propose now to show that his key is wrong in every essential point.

First, it is essential, he says, to note that the book does not run through consecutively from first to last. He offers no proof on this point, and I wonder why he is so sure of the fact. This will enable him when he gets bogged down in some swamp of speculation to go back to the beginning, or to some other point along the line, and make a new beginning by finding something back there that his theory will fit into.

But I find the book does have a beginning point, there with John on Patmos, and runs through to an end, the end of all things, and to the judgment day. There is no other way a story could be told so that it can be understood. If the story does not run consecutively, then it skips, and hops, turns back, twists, advances, and then retreats, weaves in a little history covered up in symbols, mixed in with prophecy, also covered in symbols, and one man's guess would be as good as any other as to what the writer is talking about. This skip and hop method of studying the book is responsible for most of the confusion that we meet from men who try to explain Revelation.

Why mix history with prophecy and cover the whole with symbolic language, anyway. I think even a natural man would know better how to write a book of prophecy than to make such a mess of it as to mix up history with his prophecies, much less an inspired man like John. He says the book treats of things that "were, which are, and which shall be." But where did he get that word "were," which we admit is essential to his theory? Not from John, or Jesus—he just had a need for it and slipped it in.

John was to write the things "which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter," but not one word about him writing some history of past events. The things which John saw that he was to write were the visions shown to him, the things which are, that he was to write were the things concerning the seven churches at that very time, and the things that shall be hereafter, are the prophecies that begin with chapter four, verse one: "Come up hither and I will show thee things that shall be hereafter." Now I am sure that both Jesus and John knew better what they would write than Brother Smith does, and this is a fundamental error in his key that will lead him into confusion and bog him down.

John is not writing history, not even the history of the church back of the day the book was written got into it. Jesus took the church just as it was that day, good and bad, told John what it was like, had him write it out, and told him how the errors could be cured, and then began with its future. (Rev. 4:1.) It is there and you need no golden key to find it.

But this is not the worst feature of this key as I see it. He says further:

"We have three series of seven symbols and then a summing up of the matter. Thus as each time we come to the seventh symbol we have come to the fullness, or completion, of the age, and the narrative drops back again to begin at the first and trace a parallel line through the history of the world."

Naming these three series of sevens for him they are first, the book with seven seals, then seven angels with golden trumpets, and lastly seven angels with seven vials filled with the last plagues, and each of these, he says, begins at the beginning, and some of them even lap back farther in some points, and gathers up a little history, and end at the completion of the age. If he is correct, John told the same story over three times, but under different pictures. I think he would also have to admit that John made a different story of it each time he tried to tell it!

If he is correct in this key then the numbers in the three different series of seven would correspond with each other, the first seal would tell the same story told by the first trumpet, and both of these the same one told when the first plague is poured out, and this same agreement must run through all the numbers for there are only seven in each of them. Try making this comparison yourself and see how badly Brother Smith will become tangled through his key.

But this theory of a thrice-told story is without one word of proof and the figures not only will not fit each other but will also contradict the facts, which a very little study will show. (See Rev. 8:1-2.) "When he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. And I saw seven angels which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." Here it is positively stated that the angels with the seven trumpets do not come until the seventh seal is opened, and they are the things that happened under the seventh seal. All of the seals up to the seventh belong to the period of history covered by pagan Rome.

Then the seventh seal comes this side of that point and deals with the period of history covered by papal Rome, and it is subdivided, like the first, into seven periods, but it is told under the symbols of the seven trumpets. These seven trumpets take us through the Middle Ages and under the trumpets we see the rise of the great apostasy.

The seventh trumpets, like the seventh seal, is a long one, and covers the whole of time to the end. But it is also subdivided like the other two periods for our convenience into sevens, and we find this story symbolized by the seven angels with their plagues, and the seventh in this series also reaches to the end of time. Thus we see how they all can end concurrently, but did not begin concurrently, and therefore did not run concurrently.

But when it came time for the seventh trumpet to begin to sound John holds up the story while he gives us some other pictures of the great apostasy which could not be told under either of these symbols for the simple reason that it runs through most all of them, and was the chief factor in making world history what it has been so far as the church of the Lord is concerned.

The apostasy was a movement that could not be discerned at first for it was a gradual drift in the church, and such drifts are very hard to see even in our day.

The book of seven seals covers the first struggles of the church under pagan Rome, the seven trumpets cover the Middle Ages, and the seven last plagues cover modern history, and the seventh plague will bring an end to these wicked powers, and we hope a better time for the world. But none of this will work under Brother Smith's key, and I apologize for having taken this much of your valuable time to mention these facts.