(page 89 of Standard Edition)
Historicism and Prophecy
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 continu-
ous, 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
also is implied in the image itself, for each of the kingdoms is repre-
sented 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 7 and Daniel 8, instead of an image, specific beast sym-
bols are used, but the same thing is taught. We are given an unbroken
sequence of four earthly kingdoms (three in Daniel 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 2 and the successive visions of Daniel 7
and Daniel 8 provided the basis for the Protestant historicist interpreta-
tion of prophecy, which Seventh-day Adventists still uphold today.
Read John 14:29. What does Jesus say that helps us to understand how
prophecy can function?
What great advantage do we have today, living when so much
history already has unfolded, that someone living in the time of
Babylon would not have had?