WHAT DOES AN ALASKAN GLACIER HAVE TO DO WITH PROPHECY?
Every winter I take my snow machine up on Valdez Glacier. Maybe a strange place for it, but one can get prophetic inspiration even on a glacier. I began to see that prophecy is very much like the glacier I was riding on.
Glaciers are massive flowing rivers of solid ice, this one thirty miles long and hundreds of feet thick. They are very ancient and move exceeding slow. The foot of this glacier was once high in the mountains, formed over a thousand years ago, formed probably around the time when Jesus walked the earth, but has since flowed downwards until that same ice formed high in the mountains is now at the foot of the glacier, its terminus.
The glacier is flowing, or is fluid, but the mountains on both sides of the glacier are anything but fluid. The glacier’s path is determined by the towering peaks standing on both sides of it. The mountains are fixed points of reference. While the glacier flowing between them is always changing... as it slowly, and I mean very slowly, flows along.
I began to see the glacier as Bible prophecy flowing inexorably forward, the mountains as prophetic doctrine, fixed and unchangeable. The “mountains:” the doctrines of the singular post-tribulational, premillennial, second coming of Jesus Christ, New Testament election, and the New Covenant. Fixed and unchanging. While the movement of prophecy itself with all its many details is quite another matter, always fluid, moving always forward, howbeit, like this glacier, very slowly.
Every winter, I encounter new changes in the glacier. New crevasses open up, great gaping chasms posing great danger to life and limb. Last year, where there were crevasses and gigantic slabs of ice the size of houses, they had disappeared. Where last year I had good solid footing, now new slabs of ice and dangerous crevasses that were not there before. The glacier has moved along. The perspective has changed.
Prophecy as it flows along is, like this glacier, of a very solid, yet strangely fluid, nature. Those who follow prophecy have probably figured out by now that in dealing with prophecy he is dealing with divine stuff, something strangely solid and fluid.
A certain amount of flexibility must be allowed in prophecy. If we be honest, we’ve all had to modify some of our prophetic views at one time or another. Those who claim infallibility in these areas are not fooling anybody. Those of us who have been around for a while, know better.
1 Corinthians 14
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying…
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
It is the fluid, or flowing forward nature of prophecy (not the “mountains” or fixed doctrines), of which is said in 1 Cor. 13:9-12, “we know in part, and prophesy in part,” our knowledge is partial and imperfect. "We see through a glass darkly.” We call things as we see them, but always with the realization that this is may just be the way it seems at the present, it may not look like this several years from now, we may have to modify our views. The surface of the glacier changes as it slowly flows along. Where once we saw crevasses and scary areas, they have disappeared, only to appear somewhere else, the perspective has changed.
Note how the verses above confirm this. They do not present a picture of infallible prophecy preachers, inflexible in their spirit, inflexible in how they see prophecy unfolding. Else why verse 29?
The nature of prophecy being what it is, prophecy conferences should afford prophecy preachers freedom to present their views. And in the process, maybe learn from each other. The other preacher may bring forth things that the others have never considered. So that others might weigh it out, possibly weighed and found wanting, but that is for the others to determine.
Per our passage above, meetings like this should have an eye towards edification, v. 26, comfort, v. 31, ministerial subjection to one another, v. 32, and peace, v. 33. All within the general guidelines of faith, hope, and charity, 13:8-13. Peace, v. 33, not confusion: “God is not the author of confusion, but peace.” Which is why such gatherings should be conducted within certain guidelines. It of necessity has to exclude the outright confusion and chaos wrought were Pretrib and Amillennial systems thrown into the mix.
Glaciers are gigantic, slow, unrelenting things, crushing everything in their path. No man-made structure, whether buildings, bridges, or highways, can stand before a glacier. The lesson being, of course, that all man-made prophetic notions are going to ultimately be crushed to smithereens by the truth. “The truth is marching on,” in this case, prophetic truth.
One who has lived around glaciers knows the surface of a glacier as it flows along has its dangerous areas, crevasses, etc., but they are nothing compared to its terminus. Its end. On a snowmachine, it is a real trial and tribulation trying to work your way through the massive jumble of gigantic pieces of ice where the glacier ends. [The picture at the top of this page is the terminus. If a human being were in the picture he would be but a tiny speck.] The lesson here: history has had its antichrist deceivers, wars, famines, pestilences, plagues, and earthquakes (Matt. 24:5-8), but they are minor compared to what we will see at the terminus, the great tribulation. Jesus said it would be a time such as none other, unprecedented, Matt. 24:21.
Prophecy preachers are characterized for proclaiming “the end is upon us.” Some, like Irvin Baxter, for instance, have had us in the sixth seal and trumpet, the last seven years of his seven year great tribulation, etc., for thirty years now. He has been consistently wrong, his prognostications have been way premature, these things haven’t happened yet.
And then there is the Antichrist. Preachers have preached that various Popes, Mussolini, Hitler, Kissinger, and Gorbachev were surely him. Just a few short years ago, some said it was George Bush. And now, enter stage left, many are thinking it may be the Communist Kenyan. Obviously, at some point we will have antichrist upon us, when it happens we will know what we thought was the antichrist was but a crevasse, here this winter gone the next, not its terminus.
We human beings, it seems, tend to interpret things prophesied in the Bible prematurely. Perhaps a certain amount of latitude should be allowed for this sort of thing - however misleading. But how much latitude is to be given preachers who use these things as gimmicks to gain a following? Whatever view or position one may hold, one thing for sure, it is going to be tested by the truth. The truth, like a slow, inexorably moving, grinding glacier, is going to crush every petty little man-made and premature theory. Peter called them, “private interpretations,” 2 Pet. 1:20.
We have all made mistakes interpreting some things prematurely. Most of my mistakes were as a Pretribber before I became a Post-tribber. Even as a Post-tribber, I have interpreted some things prematurely, I attribute them to some Historicist and even Preterist notions I had entertained and mixed in. A fully Futurist, Post-trib, Premillennial position is least likely to prematurely interpret prophecy. Which is the position I now hold. The position I now hold fits the glacier metaphor I am presenting here.
Some may object, it is better to prematurely interpret the signs than to miss them altogether (usually said by Pretribs against Post-trib). However, I don’t think Post-tribbers who are watching in accordance with the signs Jesus gave, Matt. 24:42, will miss it when the real thing gets here. Jesus warned of premature interpretation in Matt. 24, the general tone of which was to not be deceived by premature interpretation: “the end is not yet” (v. 4-6). His command to "watch" includes the necessity of correctly interpreting the signs. Premature interpretation is not interpreting them correctly. Preterism and Pretribism, of course, the former far worse than the latter, disregard Jesus' warnings against premature interpretation, they are entire prophetic systems based on a premature second coming of Jesus Christ, the former in 70 AD, the latter at an alleged pretribulation rapture. Their premature hermeneutic is read into everything Jesus said in Matt. 24 - disregarding his warnings about premature interpretation.
Some who read this might have a problem with my metaphor of an extremely slow moving glacier equated to prophecy. And when I say slow, I really mean slow! You can’t actually see these glaciers move. But they assuredly are. Doesn’t Revelation say that the events of Revelation and Jesus’ second coming are to happen “shortly, soon, quickly?” Doesn’t sound like a glacier does it? However, here it is, almost 2,000 years now since Revelation was written, and we haven’t gotten to the terminus yet. Futurists understand "shortly, soon, quickly," to mean once the key event happens that initiates the tribulational series of events, the rest will follow soon thereafter, in short order, quickly, in other words.
That event, according to 2 Thess. 2:3, is the revelation of the man of sin, or, per the imagery of Rev. 6:2, the riding forth of the antichrist in seal one. Despite the temptation to run with the sensationalists and label the current situation as that event, as sinister as the present situation is, I don't see it as happening yet. I base my opinion on other prophetic considerations. (There is the very real possibility, however, that the current Communistic regime could continue its reign, by rigged elections or whatever, for 20 years or so. Long enough for our current "Comrade" to fulfill certain prophetic timing considerations.)
The mills of God grind slow, but sure.
Postscript: "Communist Kenyan." "Communist" needs no explanation, since taking office it has become obvious. "Kenyan" has to do with qualification. He has avoided, so far, to provide proof that he was actually born in America. The evidence points to Kenya.
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K. Kirkland, Pastor - This article is Copyright © 2009, All rights reserved.