Part 2, An Analysis of Jeff Pippenger’s Principles of Prophetic Interpretation, by Norman McNulty, MD

 

An Analysis of Jeff Pippenger’s Principles of Prophetic Interpretation With Respect to September 11, 2001, the Seven Trumpets and Three Woes of Revelation, Islam, the 2520, and the Loud Cry Message

By Norman McNulty, MD

PART TWO (of 5): Pippenger’s Variant View of the Trumpets, Woes, and Islam

Now that we have established a brief understanding of the historicist viewpoint of the trumpets and woes, we will take a look at a more recently developed understanding of the trumpets and woes. This second viewpoint is identical, or nearly identical, to the historicist understanding of the first four trumpets with respect to the four barbaric tribes bringing down the Catholic western Roman empire which culminated in 476 A.D.

There is also agreement that the Ottoman empire represents the Islamic world in Bible prophecy, that it attacked the Catholic eastern Roman empire as represented by the fifth and sixth trumpets and the parallel first and second woes, and there is agreement to the timing of the prophecy of the five months (150 years) seen in Revelation 9:5 and 9:10, and the prophecy of the one hour, one day, one month, and one year (391 years and 15 days) seen in Revelation 9:15.

It is at the understanding of the third woe that the newer viewpoint varies from the historicist interpretation. The conclusion of the newer viewpoint is the belief that the third woe began in history on September 11, 2001. Those who promote this viewpoint base it partly on their teaching of a so-called “triple application” of Bible prophecy.

For example, there are three Elijahs. Elijah, John the Baptist, and the last-day Elijah. The characteristics of the first two Elijahs will be combined into the third Elijah. The first Elijah was translated without seeing death. The second Elijah, as John the Baptist, was beheaded. Thus, in the third Elijah, some will be translated as the 144,000 without seeing death and others will be martyrs for the faith.

Proponents of this view believe that the three woes follow this triple application of Bible prophecy. In the first two woes, Islam struck Rome in their words “quickly, unexpectedly, with explosives.” Therefore, the third woe must also involve modern Islam striking modern Rome “quickly, unexpectedly, with explosives.” The United States of America is seen to be modern Rome.

If we accept the premise that Islam must be part of the third woe and that America is modern Rome, then the next step appears obvious. Then modern Islam attacked modern America “quickly, unexpectedly, with explosives” on September 11, 2001. Thus, this viewpoint holds that the third woe began in history on this date.

There are some significant issues with this understanding. While I believe that those who promote these views are honest and sincere, we must apply careful, biblical scrutiny to see whether these teachings are sound. First of all, the use of the “triple application of Bible prophecy” to show that Islam is part of the third woe is not the best argument from the passage describing the third woe. Clearly, we can see Islam in the fifth and sixth trumpets (or first and second woes) of Revelation 9. However, when we take a detailed look at the third woe, or seventh trumpet, in Revelation 11:14-19, as we did in the section above, there is no clear evidence of modern Islam playing a key role.

We saw from Ellen White in The Great Controversy, p. 334, that the second woe, or sixth trumpet, ended on August 11, 1840. Revelation 11:14 shows that the third woe comes “quickly” after August 11, 1840. In Revelation 8 and 9, the woes and the trumpets were parallel and concurrent. Revelation 11:19 shows that the seventh trumpet began sounding on October 22, 1844, and therefore, the third woe clearly began in history on October 22, 1844 as it runs parallel and concurrent with the seventh trumpet just as the first and second woes ran concurrent and parallel with the fifth and sixth trumpets. Therefore, the third woe definitely did not begin on September 11, 2001, and the claim that it did begin on September 11, 2001 is a false teaching.

As noted in the discussion of the seven trumpets above, the seventh trumpet (or third woe) is a judgment on papal Rome and all of spiritual Babylon. The culmination of this judgment comes with the outpouring of His wrath in the seven last plagues and the executive judgment at the end of the millennium. The idea that the third woe began in history on September 11, 2001 is a flawed concept, and the truth is that it began in history on October 22, 1844 when the seventh trumpet began sounding and the judgment began.

The third woe has already started, of which the angering of the nations forms a part, and will steadily build as the four winds of strife are released. It will culminate in God pouring out the seven last plagues on Rome before His Second Coming and executing judgment against the wicked at the end of the millennium.

To add to the idea of the third woe beginning on September 11, 2001, the same group believes that the phrase “the nations were angry” found in Revelation 11:18 refers to Islam.Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 174 is quoted:

Abraham’s early teachings had not been without effect upon Ishmael, but the influence of his wives resulted in establishing idolatry in his family. Separated from his father, and embittered by the strife and contention of a home destitute of the love and fear of God, Ishmael was driven to choose the wild, marauding life of the desert chief, ‘his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him.’ Genesis 16:12. In his latter days he repented of his evil ways and returned to his father’s God, but the stamp of character given to his posterity remained. The powerful nation descended from him were a turbulent, heathen people, who were ever an annoyance and affliction to the descendants of Isaac.

They show, on the basis of this quote, that Ishmael, the father of Islam, became embittered and fought “against every man, and every man against him,” and that this stamp of his embittered character was passed along to his posterity. Thus, they equate Islam with “the angry horse” represented by the four winds in the quote from My Life Today, p. 308, and with the “angry nations” of Revelation 11:18. Therefore, they believe the Islamic terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 is the beginning of the “restraint” of the four winds, the beginning of the angering of the nations, and the beginning of the third woe in history.

While it is true that many modern terrorists are equated with Islamic extremists, we must make sure that Islamic extremism fits the characteristics of the angering of the nations in Revelation 11:18. As we demonstrated in our discussion of Revelation 11:18, Ellen White indicates in Review and Herald, January 28, 1909 and Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 14 that the angering of the nations has already begun. Furthermore, we have seen that World War I and World War II perfectly fit the descriptions she made of “preparations for war.” It would not be unreasonable to say that what happened on September 11, 2001 fits within the overall picture of the angering of the nations, but it certainly is not the beginning nor the culmination of this concept but rather, at best, a small part of it.

In addition to advocating that the third woe began in history on September 11, 2001 and that Islam represents the angering of the nations, Pippenger also teaches that Islam is part of the “tidings out of the east and north“ of Daniel 11:44. While he also holds to the view that these “tidings” represents the loud cry message, he bases his belief that the east also represents Islam on passages such as Ezekiel 37:9 which speaks of the four winds that bring life to the dead bones of Israel and Isaiah 27:8 speaks of the rough wind, or the “east” wind. He also uses the following quote from Ellen White found in Manuscript Releases, Volume 20, p. 217:

Angels are holding the four winds, represented as an angry horse seeking to break loose and rush over the face of the whole earth, bearing destruction and death in its path.

Shall we sleep on the very verge of the eternal world? Shall we be dull and cold and dead? Oh, that we might have in our churches the Spirit and breath of God breathed into His people, that they might stand upon their feet and live. We need to see that the way is narrow, and the gate strait. But as we pass through the strait gate, its wideness is without limit.

This quote is very similar to the one seen in My Life Today, p. 308. We again see Ellen White referring to the four winds as an “angry horse.” When she says “Oh, that we might have in our churches the Spirit and breath of God breathed into His people,” she is making a direct reference to Ezekiel 37:9. On the basis of this quote, Pippenger believes that Islam, is represented by the angry horse of the four winds (and specifically that Islam is the east wind of the four winds). Furthermore, he believes that Islam is being restrained, and that God’s people are beginning to receive the outpouring of the Latter Rain as God breathes His Spirit into the churches and that the Latter Rain will be poured out without measure once the Sunday Law begins. He believes that Islam, as the angry horse, has been in restraint since September 11, 2001 and that the early sprinklings of the Latter Rain have been falling since then.

First of all, it has already been made clear that the angering of the nations had already begun by at least 1900. Thus, it is incorrect and arbitrary to limit the angering of the nations to Islam beginning in 2001 with the terrorist attacks. This could be a small part of the angering of the nations, but it is certainly not the key that unlocks the understanding of this concept, nor the beginning of the third woe in history considering that the third woe began on October 22, 1844. The quotes from Ellen White and the passages from Genesis and Ezekiel do not prove that just because Ishmael was “embittered,” his descendants (Islam) must necessarily be the “angry horse” of the four winds, or the angry nations of Revelation 11:18.

Furthermore, whether or not Islam really can be described as “children of the east,” it is quite unusual to believe that the “tidings of the east” of Daniel 11:44 can be both the loud cry empowered by the Latter Rain and Islam at the same time. Ironically, Pippenger takes a decided view that the “daily” of Daniel is paganism and uses strong language of criticism for those who believe that the “daily” is the heavenly ministry of Christ. It is inconsistent to criticize people for believing, in his words, a “Satanic power,” or the daily, is wrongly believed to be the ministry of Christ, while at the same time he claims that “tidings from the east” can actually represent both the loud cry of the third angel's message and Islam.

Jeff Pippenger makes prominent use of Isaiah 27:5-10 (quoted below) to give weight to the assertion that Islam is the east wind and that the Latter Rain has been falling in measure since 9/11.

5. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. 6. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. 7. Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? 8. In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. 9. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up. 10. Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.

Notice how Jeff Pippenger explains this passage in his own words. All Bible passages, Spirit of Prophecy quotes, and italicized statements are directly from Pippenger in his explanation of Isaiah 27:5-10:

Verse 5 is the Laodicean message, for God is willing to make peace to any who will receive that message. But that message is the last call for Adventism. Either we make peace or we are spewed out of His mouth.

Verse 6 is a promise that He will then cause those Adventists who receive His peace (the Laodicean message) to bud and thereafter fill the world with fruit. That which causes the trees to bud out in the Scriptures is the latter rain (the spring time) and the fruit is developed in the harvest (the summer). The budding out is the sprinkling of the latter rain that precedes the full outpouring of His Spirit at the Sunday law. This two step outpouring has been specifically identified within Inspiration.

‘The act of Christ in breathing upon His disciples the Holy Ghost, and in imparting His peace to them, was as a few drops before the plentiful shower to be given on the day of Pentecost.’ The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 244.

On 9/11, when the angry horse, or the four winds or the angry nations were restrained the latter rain began to sprinkle.

‘Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.’ Testimonies to Ministers, p. 507.

On 9/11 the latter rain was poured out with measure (paralleling Christ’s act of breathing upon the disciples), but at the Sunday law (paralleling Pentecost) it is poured out without measure. Measure represents the outpouring of the Spirit.

‘For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.’ John 3:34, 35.

Verse four is the Laodicean message, verse five the promise of the latter rain, both the sprinkling and full outpouring, the bud and the fruit. Verse six is referencing judgment, which here is identifying the judgment of the living and then in verse seven and eight it states:

‘In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.’

When the Spirit is poured out in measure (causing the budding or shooting forth), when He stayeth (restrains) His rough wind (the four winds of strife) in the day (9/11) of the east (Islam, i.e. third woe) wind the debate of the latter rain will begin within Adventism. That debate has been prefigured by the Pharisees in the time of Christ and the history of 1888. By this very debate over the restraining of the east wind and the concept of the sprinkling of the latter rain shall the iniquity of God's people be purged. This is the debate that brings the judgment of the living within Adventism to a conclusion, just prior to the Sunday law.

This is a very questionable interpretation of Isaiah 27. In fact, if there was ever a private interpretation of Scripture, Pippenger’s interpretation of Isaiah 27 certainly is just that. To use “the day of the east wind” in verse 8 as Islam of the east attacking America on 9/11 and to say the “debate” in verse 8 is the debate over Islam that is current among some Seventh-day Adventists, is actually a very irresponsible interpretation of the passage.

With respect to the passage from Isaiah 27, there could be some elements that have an end-time fulfillment in the Seventh-day Adventist Church (i.e. the promise of Israel blossoming and filling the face of the world with fruit as seen in verse 6 could possibly describe Revelation 18:1 where it is prophesied that the earth will be lightened with the glory of God or the ripening of the harvest in Revelation 14:15; also the iniquity of Judah being purged in verse 9 could represent the blotting out of sins in the judgment). However, the east wind and the debate most certainly have a different meaning than Pippenger ascribes to them.

Notice what the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 207 says on verse 8 regarding the meaning of the phrase “he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.”

Literally, ‘he expelled [her, that is, Judah] with his vehement breath,’ or ‘he expelled his stern breath.’ The meaning is not altogether clear. The east wind was a hot dry, suffocating wind, blowing in from the desert, a fit symbol of death and destruction . . . Figuratively, this wind represents judgments God permits to come upon His people. The ‘east wind’ is said to be the ‘breath’ of God. Punishment appeared to come from natural causes, though in reality it was ordained, or permitted, by God.

Here it can be seen that this phrase “stayeth his rough wind” can mean that Judah is expelled by God’s breath or that God is expelling His own breath on Judah. Furthermore, the east wind is seen to be a judgment on God’s people. Pippenger claims that the “day” of the east wind is 9/11. However, 9/11 was an attack on America, not a judgment on Seventh-day Adventists. While the exact meaning of some elements in the passage may not be known with exact certainty, surely it can be seen that 9/11 and Islam have nothing to with this passage. The fact that Pippenger goes so far off on his interpretation of this passage shows that he is an unreliable interpreter of Scripture. It will be demonstrated that he uses similar questionable methods in interpreting the writings of Ellen White.

Furthermore, it can clearly be seen that Pippenger believes the judgment of the living within Adventism began on 9/11. In his presentations, he teaches that when the National Sunday Law is passed, the judgment of the living in Adventism will be complete. We have seen that Pippenger uses illogical and irrational methods of Scripture interpretation in Isaiah 27 to reach the conclusion that the judgment of the living has begun. This is strong evidence that his claims about 9/11 are also a deception.

March 01 2012 08:22 am | Jeff Pippenger

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