Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 5

The Necessity of Studying Context and Association

      Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message? Those just weaned from the milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little. Isaiah 28: 9, 10, 13, N.K.J.V.


Samuel Johnson said:  “Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.” – Bosswell’s Life of Johnson.

Like most aged 67 and over—take it or leave it—we’re already descending the twilight side of the hill we were ascending its sunny side….like only yesterday.

Everyday our youthful energy has been dissipating—normal to mortals. But one thing I am grateful to God for is the desire to understand the present, testing truths of the Bible for these last days remains undiminished, particularly the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, testing them with the rules principle given above by the gospel prophet, and sharing them with as many who are interested.   

I quote once more from Louis F. Were’s book, Certainty of the Third Angel’s Message, chapter “The Necessity of Studying Context and Association,” pp. 241-243:  The following is by no means a quick read. Rather, the FMM has always been meant to be individually read and examined over the weekend, or some time later. Now this:             .

    “Every passage of scripture has to be studied in the light of its context and association. Care needs to be exercised that the symbols of Scripture be interpreted according to Biblical rules. For instance a lion in Holy Writ is used to represent the Assyrians (Nahum 2: 11-13), the kingdom of Babylon (Dan. 7), the princes of Israel (Eze. 19: 2-7), Satan (1 Pet. 5: 8), Christ (Rev. 5: 5), the righteous (Prov. 28: 1), etc.

    “But the context shows why the same symbol is fittingly employed to represent entirely different persons or kingdoms. See Were’s ‘What is Armageddon?’ pp. 57-60, for further instances where the same symbols or illustrations are employed in different ways. The association and context indicate the use in each case—this is true of any part of the Bible, but is especially true of the book of Revelation. As God’s servant has written of the Apocalypse: ‘This books demands close, prayerful study, lest it be interpreted according to the ideas of men, and false construction be given to the sacred word of the Lord which, in its symbols and figures, means so much to us.’

    “A woman in the Bible represents a church. But it would not do to assume that the woman of Revelation 12 represents the same church as the woman of Revelation 17. The setting of the prophetic outline in each case reveals that the woman of Revelation 12 is not the same as the woman of Revelation 17. Similarly, the factors involved show that the Euphrates of Revelation 16 is not to be interpreted in the same national, restricted way, as in Revelation 9.

     “In the Apocalypse stars represent: ‘The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. ‘ (Rev. 1: 16, 20; 2: 10; Jesus (Rev. 22: 16; 2: 28); the twelve Apostles of the Christian church (Rev. 12: 1); Satan working though Mahomet (Rev. 9: 1, 11); the angels of God (Rev. 12: 4); political lights in the Roman heavens (Rev. 8: 12). After obtaining the interpretation of any one of these examples of the use of ‘star,’ we are not to assume that the same interpretations will apply to the others.  Each time the same symbol is employed, we must examine the context and the association to discover the true interpretation.

     “Rev. 9:1 and Rev. 12: 4 both refer to the falling of stars unto the earth. By the contexts we know that those stars refer to persons. Rev. 6: 13 also says: ‘And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth.’ Because of the use of stars in the other passages referred to above some expositors have maintained that these falling stars mentioned in Revelation 6: 13 also refer to people—that is, they interpret these falling stars symbolically, not literally.

     “The belief that Rev. 6: 13 predicts the literal meteoric showers which have fallen within recent centuries is not founded upon supposition, but is supported by the context, the right understanding of which is based upon such Old Testament passages as Zech. 6: 1-7; Ps. 45: 3-5; Joel 2: 30-31; Matt. 24-29, etc. The context and association show why the falling stars in Rev. 6: 13 refer to literal meteoric showers, whereas the stars mentioned in Rev. 12: 4, where we read that ‘the third part of the stars of heaven’ were ‘cast to the earth,’ refer to the coming to this earth of the angels who had joined with Lucifer in his revolt against God.

     “To illustrate the importance of observing the laws of context, association, and type and antitype, attention is directed to the earthquake mentioned in Rev. 11: 13. This is to be symbolically interpreted because it is definitely grouped with ‘the city,’ or spiritual Babylon. See Rev. 16: 19; 17: 18: 18; 18: 10, 16, 18, 21.  But it was not a world-wide earthquake, for it is limited by the expression, ‘and the tenth part of the city fell.’

      “Similarly, by the laws of context and association we know why the sun in Rev. 6: 12 and Rev. 16: 8 refers to the literal sun, but in Rev. 8: 12; 12: 1 to a symbolic sun;

why a literal earthquake is referred to in Rev. 6: 8 and Rev. 16: 18, but a symbolic earthquake in Rev. 11: 13; why the waters in Rev. 12: 15, 16; 13; 1; 16: 12; 17; 1, 15 are symbolic, but the waters in Rev. 16; 3, 4 are literal; why the moon of Rev. 8: 12 does not have the same symbolic meaning as the moon in Rev. 12: 1; why the ‘bottomless pit’ of Rev. 9: 1, 2, 11 is limited to the regions of the Arabian desert, but in Rev. 20: 1-3 refers to the whole world; why the waters of the second and third plagues [Rev. 16: 3, 4) are literal, and the water of the Euphrates in the 6th plague is symbolic.

     “The teaching that the water of the Euphrates in Rev. 16: 12 represents Turkey [the position taken by some of the early pioneers in harmony with expositors from the Christian mainstream] or other nations is a symbolic interpretation.  The teaching that the water of the Euphrates represents the people of spiritual Babylon is also a symbolic interpretation—the difference being that the former applies it in connection with purely national events of a restricted character, whereas, the latter applies it in connection with the world-wide conflict between Christ and Satan. Thus there is agreement that, although the waters of the second and third plagues are to be understood literally, the water of Rev. 16: 12 is to be understood symbolically.

     “But Biblical laws of interpretation show that the water of the Euphrates in Rev. 16: 12 does not symbolize a nation or nations adjacent to the [literal] Euphrates.

    “It should be noted that, although the [seven last] plagues are literal [as the ten plagues poured upon the heaven-daring Pharaoh of ancient Egypt were literal], the people of Babylon who are affected thereby are mentioned under symbols. Notice the following symbols brought to view in the seven last plagues” the mark of the beast, his image, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, the waters of the Euphrates, Armageddon, great Babylon. The dragon in Rev. 16: 13 represents the ‘king, and ruler, and governors’ who enforce [the] Sunday laws. See Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 39, 62). The seven last plagues fall upon spiritual Babylon (Rev. 16: 19), and the symbols employed in picturing the plagues which bring about her doom represents the people and the things of Babylon. As [spiritual] Babylon is world-wide, so, also, the people and the things symbolized in connection with Babylon are, in their widest sense, world-wide.

     “This interpretation is sustained by the law of association in the Book of Revelation itself, but it is primarily supported by the fact that the things mentioned in the Old Testament concerning the overthrow of literal Babylon have a world-wide spiritual application in the Apocalypse.  By the law of type and antitype, the allusion in Rev. 16: 12 to the overthrow of ancient Babylon by Cyrus, who employed the strategy of drying up the waters of the Euphrates, has a world-wide, symbolical application. The water of the Euphrates definitely symbolizes the people of spiritual Babylon. See Jer. 51: 13, which is quoted in Rev. 17: 1, 15.


     ‘That the plagues will be world-wide is evident from the fact that they fall upon those who worship the beast in the homage paid to it by the observance of Sunday [the counterfeit man-made sabbath of the last days, the final world-wide apostasy, starting in America]. rev. 14: 9-11 contains the warning of the Third Angel’s Message against the ‘beast’ (the adherents of which are scattered throughout the world) ‘and his image’ (i.e., wherever church and state unite in enforcing Sunday laws), and ‘whoever receiveth the mark of his name’ (i.e., all who willfully persist in observing the false sabbath—Satan’s day)—these will be found in all parts of the globe.

    “It is true that E. G. White in the Great Controversy(GC) p. 628 says: —‘These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals.’

     “Perhaps Webster’s definition of the word ‘universal’ will assist us to understand the use which the Spirit of Prophecy makes of that word:—Universal: ‘Extending to, including, or affecting, the whole number, quantity, or space, unlimited, general, all-reaching, all-pervading.’


     “If the plagues were universal, every one, without exception, would receive the plagues. As these terrible scourges will result in vast numbers of deaths, it would mean that the first plagues would destroy so many that there would be few, if any, left to receive the plagues that follow. But not all the unrighteous of the world will be simultaneously afflicted with the plagues ‘or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off.’

      “The plagues will be world-wide, for the Third Angel’s Message is world-wide. Rev. 14: 6-14, 7: 1-4, etc. That message warns the world regarding the coming of God’s wrath in the plagues—the world would not be warned if the world was not to suffer the plagues. E.G. White, in Vol. 6 Testimonies p. 18 informs us that:—‘As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the Papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the peoples of every country on the globewill be led to follow her [America’s] example.’

    ‘This means that in ‘every country on the globe’ the beast and his image will be worshipped and the mark of the beast enforced—against which the Third angels Message warns. Consequently, the plagues will fall upon ‘every country on the globe, for there ‘the image of the beast’ and ‘the mark of the beast’ will operate.

     “We need to draw a distinction between ‘world-wide’ and ‘universal.’ Because ‘every country on the globe’ receives the plagues, we speak of them as being world-wide, but some are not universal in regardextensive to each individual of ‘every country on the globe.’  GC 627 speaks of these plagues as ‘extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world before the final deliverance of God’s people [who remain alive at that time when the plagues are falling on those who choose to receive the mark of the beast].

    “The Spirit of Prophecy differentiates between world-wide and universal. Notice the following extract taken from Prophets & Kings p. 171: “Yet this apostasy, widespread as it has come to be, is not universal. Not all in the world are lawless and sinful: not all have taken sides with the enemy.’ In this extract the servant of the Lord refers to ‘widespread apostasy’ which, as yet,’ is not universal’ becausenot all in the world . . .  have taken sides with the enemy.’ (end of quote from The Certainty of the Third Angel’s Message by Louis F. Were)

(To be continued next week)