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 Vol. 6, No. 9 

September 2004

~ Page 12 ~

History and the Bible

By D. Gene West

Image In 1830 John Nelson Darby, the dictatorial leader of a religious group in England called "The Plymouth Brethren," began to preach the doctrines that are now known as Dispensational Premillennialism. His preaching of these doctrines split The Plymouth Brethren into two groups  with Darby's group being called the "exclusive assembly," and those who opposed him were called the "open assembly" of The Plymouth Brethren. Darby preached his five-point platform of Premillennialism with a zeal that defied imagination, especially for a man of such frail physical nature as his was. He took some very stubborn stands on issues regarding the Scriptures and one of those was that he would not allow history, which he held in deep contempt, to enter into his study of the Bible. From him, O.T. Allis, in his book Prophecy and the Church (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., Phillipsburg, NJ, 1978, p. 26) quoted the following: "I do not admit history to be, in any sense, necessary to the understanding of prophecy. I do not want history to tell me Nineveh or Babylon is ruined or Jerusalem in the hands of the Gentiles."

Herein lies one of the greatest problems in any attempt to deal with Dispensationalists, and that is they either wish to ignore history all together, or they want to create their own. They simply will not admit that the history that the Bible itself records, or with which the people of the Bible were involved, ever even happened. They wish to make all Bible prophecy future to us because they will not admit any historical event, though the Bible clearly shows the interaction between heaven and earth in history. The reason for that is if they admit that any prophecy of the Bible can apply to any nation of people who were ever on earth, they know their whole system of Premillennialism falls under its own weight. And the reason they move indiscriminately between the Old and New Testaments, making little distinction between the prophecies of the two, is that they simply will not recognize what has happened in the history of Israel and the other nations of the world.

Though Dispensationalists do not want to admit "...history to be in any sense necessary to  understanding prophecy...," the plain fact of the matter is that one can read of the fulfillment of the prophecy in the history of this world both sacred and secular. The nations mentioned in the Bible did exist and they did interact with the people of God as history says they did, and that cannot be denied by anyone, including Dispensationalists. Their theology does not allow them to admit that the ruins of Nineveh, Babylon and Jerusalem exist because they use the prophecies that spoke of the destruction of these and other cities in attempting to prove some kind of a future Utopian millennium for us.

However, God said through his inspired prophet Nahum that Nineveh would be destroyed never to rise again, and it happened. The evidence of it can be seen today. Babylon lies in ruins today, never to be rebuilt, just as such great prophets as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel said would come to pass; and the prophecies applied to them cannot legitimately be applied to the "end of time." One may certainly ignore a thing, but that does not mean it did not happen! The manner in which these theologians deal with history, by denying that it ever happened, or that it has any bearing in any way upon what the Bible teaches, is disingenuous to say the very least.

Friends, God has always interacted with man in history. That is the only way he can interact. When Israel was called out of Egypt to be formed into the nation through whom the Messiah would come, that was history. When God had Nebuchadnezzar destroy Jerusalem in 586 B.C. in order to keep a pure remnant of people through whom the Messiah could be born, that was history. When Jesus established his kingdom on the earth in 30 A.D., that was history, history that can never be destroyed no matter how much it is ignored. The Bible cannot be separated from history!Image

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