The Element Of Time In Prophecy -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:48 (Oct 1855)
Article: The Element Of Time In Prophecy
Author: E. P. Barrows

The Element Of Time In Prophecy

E. P. Barrows

The Prophecies of the Old Testament may be distributed into two classes: those in which the succession of events in time is -more or less clearly indicated, and those in which this indication is wanting. Of the former class of prophecies we have a fine illustration in the revelation made to Abraham concerning the servitude of his posterity in Egypt, and their deliverance and return to Canaan: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and

they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”1 Here the element of time makes a prominent part of the revelation. The limit of servitude is exactly specified: “they shall afflict them four hundred years.” The order of events is also distinctly marked. The affliction is not to come in Abraham’s day, but afterwards: “thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age:” it is to be brought to a close by God’s judgments upon the nation whom they shall serve, and “afterward shall they come out with great substance;” and, finally, the time for their return to Canaan is specified: “and in the fourth generation shall they come hither again.”

To the same class may be assigned, also, many of the prophecies recorded in the book of Daniel and in the Apocalypse, as must be plain to the most cursory reader; but upon these we will not dwell.

Of the other class of prophecies, in which the element of time is wanting, a pure specimen may be found in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us examine this magnificent vision of the latter-day glory in connection with the preceding context. In the fifty-ninth chapter the prophet occupies himself with rebuking the sins of God’s ancient covenant people, and shows that these are the occasion of their present distress: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear.”2 Of these sins he gives a long and black catalogue, and then adds: “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in ...

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