The foundational method that Seventh-day Adventists apply for studying Bible prophecies is called historicism. It’s the idea that many of the major prophecies in the Bible follow an unbroken linear flow of history, from past to present, and to future. It’s similar to how you might study history in school. We do it this way because that is how the Bible itself interprets these prophecies for us.
Read Daniel 2:27-45. What aspects of the dream indicate a continuous, uninterrupted succession of powers throughout history? In what way, do we have the Bible itself showing us how to interpret apocalyptic (end-time) prophecy?
Note that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom is recognized as the head of gold. Thus, Daniel identifies Babylon as the first kingdom (Dan. 2:38). Then Daniel says, “But after you shall arise another kingdom … then another, a third kingdom” (Dan. 2:39, NKJV) and then a fourth (Dan. 2:40). That these are in succession one after another without any gaps is also implied in the image itself, for each of the kingdoms is represented in parts of a larger body moving from the head down to the toes. They are connected, just as time and history are connected.
In Daniel chapters 7 and 8, instead of an image, specific beast symbols are used, but the same thing is taught. We are given an unbroken sequence of four earthly kingdoms (three in Daniel chapter 8). They start in antiquity, and go through history, up to the present and into the future, when Christ returns and God establishes His eternal kingdom.
Thus, the image of Daniel chapter 2 and the successive visions of Daniel chapters 7 and 8 provided the basis for the Protestant historicist interpretation of prophecy, which Seventh-day Adventists still uphold today.
Read John 14:29. What does Jesus say that helps us understand how prophecy can function?
|What great advantage do we have today, living when so much history has already unfolded, that someone living in the time of Babylon would not have had?|