THE LAW OF “DOUBLE REFERENCE”
Many of you are familiar with the fact that my view of Bible prophecy is quite different from what is commonly preached and written by others on this subject. This is not because I just want to be different or argumentative but because many Scriptures have generated certain insights which I had not found to be presented by other authors.
A fundamental concept of my thinking is that the book of Revelation and other prophetic Scriptures not only contain literal day-for-a-day, end-of-the-age, prophetic information, but with the same words, I believe God also presents us with a long-range picture of the entire Christian era! Only an omnipotent, omniscient God could have done such a thing. The God of the Bible.
Interestingly, and somewhat paradoxically, many commentators are familiar with this reality, but they do not usually relate it to prophecy. In the passages where dual meanings and multiple applications have been seen and are acknowledged, it has become so common that many Bible expositors refer to the principle with a special name — The Law of Double Reference. I agree with the term, but see absolutely no reason not to apply the principle where prophecy is concerned. In fact, I think prophecy is perhaps the most prominent subject where this hermeneutical rule should be used.
Many genuinely-intrigued, “Berean” Christians on this subject have asked me questions and make statements like — “How can this be?” or, “Show me what you mean.” Whereas skeptics, particularly the “experts”, especially like to assert — “Surely each passage of God’s Word has one primary meaning, and once you’ve found that meaning, seek no other understanding.” Or they may say, “To look for allegory, foreshadowings, and/or implied meanings in Scripture opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ to all kinds of weird conjecture.” And because of this fear, they tend to shy away from this approach to Bible study, and needless to say, strongly criticize those who don’t share their fear.
Actually though, I favor honest skepticism and critical assessment because, as a matter of fact, there surely are all kinds of weird interpretations ‘out there’ as to what the Bible tells us about the future. I’ve read, heard preached, and rejected a bunch of the stuff through the years. So, with the reality of my own skepticism, why then do I continue to pursue this subject so strongly and even go so far as to attempt teaching the body of Christ in my circles about it?
The answer to this question is twofold: One, I’ve learned through many experiences that there is indeed great value in not “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. That is, just because there are perversions which abound, regarding deeper truths in Scripture than what appears on the surface, Christians shouldn’t omit applying the Law of Double Reference relative to prophecy. Interpretations can be very wrong even though a particular method of study, like the LODR, is correct. Secondly, I’ve not sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to stop exploring God’s Word with eyes prepared to see other relevant things in a passage in addition to the literal, plain-sense-only meaning.
Based on growing evidences acquired through Bible study and listening for the Holy Spirit speaking affirmations to my spirit and mind, I become increasingly convinced of the truth of The Law of Double Reference. Probably the most outstanding thing which influences, substantiates and encourages the thrust of my thinking is based on events that are occurring in our day which are falling into line with insights and predictions as recorded long ago in my book The Two Witnesses. (The first edition of TTW came out in 1990, the 2nd edition and currently available text was published in 1994, but basically the content hasn’t changed since the first manuscript was completed.)
It’s important for the reader to understand that when the first glimpse of something beneath the surface struck my ‘spiritual eye’ back in the late 70s, I was as stunned as you may be right now to even consider such a thing as double meanings being contained in the very same words of the prophetic Scriptures, which are normally limited to a literal, day-for-a-day mind-set.
In fact, early on there were many times I tended to reject and “run away” from the duality concept. At that time, I had read enough commentary, heard sermons aplenty on Bible prophecy, and attended sufficient prophecy conferences to have a pretty good picture of what is commonly believed by most Christians in the evangelical Church about Bible prophecy as it applies to our day and the short-range future. So I’m serious when I say that I didn’t need or want anything new to confuse me. However, because of what began to open up to me, beginning then and continuing up to the present hour, I have to believe that God was not really all that impressed with my former knowledge!
Once the idea took root that perhaps I could be onto something of importance when I thought that I was seeing slightly hidden truths in a particular passage of Scripture, I believe my spirit prompted my mind to consider the next logical conclusion — i.e., that likely the surrounding passages would also have dual meanings. It made sense to me that if the LODR is a Biblical truth, then we shouldn’t be surprised to find the pattern repeatedly throughout Scripture.
TWO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES:
(1) A primary point that was finally impressed upon my mind was that the book of Revelation is a mosaic of the entire Christian era, not just a picture of the final, seven year “Tribulation” period as commonly believed and taught by Futurists, the concepts of which I too had believed and followed up to that time. (Def: the literal-only prophetic folks are known as Futurists.)
(2) In order to make good sense of the book of Revelation with true, Godly insight, one should be somewhat familiar with the pictures and patterns God has already established among the prophets of the Old Testament. For example, God gave us a prophetic principle of a “day” symbolizing one year of time through the prophet Ezekiel: “...I have laid on you a day for each year.” (See Ezek. 4:6.)
When the Bible is seriously studied — topically or otherwise — we must keep in mind everything else we can learn about what the Bible says on that subject. Now I’m very familiar with how many expositors fear and falter when they hear that kind of statement. Some will scream statements like — “You can’t do that, Johnson! You must keep your focus within the context of the passage you’re reading.” What is surprising about this criticism is that these same teachers unashamedly support their perspective relative to passages they are comfortable with, using many other supportive Scriptures from other places in the Bible! Double standards such as this should have no place among serious students of the Bible.
The truth is, brothers and sisters, God expects us to search, study, remember, and use, all we know about His Word when we evaluate Biblical meaning. Now, with that admittedly-lengthy introduction, let me come to this newsletter’s main topic.
THE RED HORSE & ITS RIDER
One of the most prominent passages during those early days of my study (around 1978-79) dealt with the rider of the red horse as presented in Revelation 6:3&4:
“When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see’. And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”
Now the typical, Futuristic approach to this passage places this Red Horse Rider strictly in the yet-future time zone. In fact, they place nearly everything in the book of Revelation beyond the present day, commencing at Rev. 4:1, which they see as the point when the Church will be raptured — i.e., removed from the earth. (You will need to read the entire commentary of The Two Witnesses to get a fuller picture of the distinction between the Futuristic and Historical perspectives of prophecy.)
(I must state another word of caution here. It is extremely important for the reader to understand that my perspective of prophecy does not mean that the book of Revelation is a Historical-only picture and that the Futuristic view is untrue. This is not an “either-or” scenerio, i.e., that you must take one view or the other. No! Both concepts can be true and understood by applying the same Biblical passages. But to grasp how the “Law of Double Reference” works, you must put on a different “thinking cap” as you consider each perspective. One reference — the Historical — pertains approximately to the past two millennia; it is a long-range picture, which I primarily write about. This approach starts when John was on the isle of Patmos when an angel of God came to him and revealed the book of Revelation, and leads up to the beginning of the second reference — the Futuristic. This second reference pertains to the short-range, end-of-the-age approach, as seen by most prophetic authors. How all of this can be capsuled into the same word package is nothing short of miraculous. But then, that’s exactly the kind of God Christians serve.)
I apologize for all the long explanations, but if you don’t understand these fundamental guidelines, the reader will become very confused trying to figure out how this all works. Actually, once you get the hang of it, the LODR concept is not hard to understand if your heart is open to it. I promise to stay on course for the remainder of this rather long newsletter. Let me now proceed, from here on limiting my thoughts to Rev. 6:3&4.
When I first placed this passage under my new “microscope”, I had already concluded that some parts of Revelation presents us with facts of past history, including specific people and specific events. For example, in the long-range sense, the first White Horse and its Rider seemed to be fulfilled by Constantine, leader of the Roman Empire in his day. (See the text in chapter 6 of TTW for the full report of this understanding.
So, when I began to study the Red Horse, I thought that if Constantine was truly the White Horse Rider, then logically and chronologically, the Red Horse and its Rider would fall in line subsequently. The outstanding mark of identification of this man is that he would be given a “great sword”. There is no one in the Christian age who more aptly fits this description than Mohammad, who in a widespread way fulfilled the above Scripture by taking “...peace from the earth”, and causing people to “...kill one another”.
The historical record reveals that Mohammad and his followers used the sword to carve out for themselves a huge empire in the Middle East, history also revealing that his intent was to engulf all of Europe as well. Of course this eventually led to what are called The Crusades which went on for several centuries after Mohammad’s lifetime. This man took “peace from the earth” and caused people to “kill one another”, just as God’s Word said would happen.
According to his followers, Mohammad also supernaturally received a book known as the Koran, which is the “holy” book of the religion of Islam, the followers of which are known as Muslims. More on this later.
It seems rather clear that in order to establish and demonstrate that their religion was supreme, Muslims placed one of their most revered religious shrines where King Solomon’s Temple once stood. (Archaeological Christians differ as to whether the placement of the mosque was precise or not but the Islamic intent is obvious; some researchers say that the mosque is probably located in the original Temple courtyard vicinity). This building is known as The Dome of The Rock. Muslims believe that a “rock” at the site was supposedly the stone from which Mohammad ascended. (This was obviously an attempt to present a parallel to the ascension of Jesus.)
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
I believe the Dome of The Rock was identified by both Daniel and Jesus, referring to the edifice as “the abomination of desolation”, which would someday be “...standing in the holy place”.
Futurists say the “abomination of desolation” is a reference to the coming Antichrist who will someday enter a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem claiming to be God. My perspective of the Dome of The Rock being the Historical, foreshadowing fulfillment of this Scripture does not negate the possibility of this Futuristic viewpoint. But neither is the Historical understanding presented above negated by the possibility of how the coming Antichrist system may work out on the literal day-for-a-day fulfillment of these Scriptures. Keep the Law of Double Reference always in mind as you consider the Historical presentation.
THE JEWISH TEMPLE vs. ISLAM’S DOME OF THE ROCK
An excellent way to promote understanding the historical side of prophecy is to think reasonably and logically about a few historical facts and a few statements Jesus made regarding these facts. I know of no better place than to look at passages which discuss the Jewish temple which stood in Jerusalem when Jesus was on earth during His first advent.
Matthew 24 is one of the most significant prophetic passages in the entire Bible. Let me start with verse 1. It’s important to get the setting vivid in your mind:
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple.”
Now picture this scene: Jesus and the apostles are now outside the temple and they are showing Him the Jewish temple! Everybody’s looking up at the buildings, especially the temple itself. Please remember this.
Jesus goes on:
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Virtually all commentators agree on the outcome of this prophetic statement Jesus made — that He was referring to Titus and his Roman army who would come and destroy the temple in 70 A.D. It is a well-documented fact of history.
After, making the above prediction, Jesus goes on explaining many things which would happen in the future up to and including the time of His return to earth. But I want to draw your attention to one particular area which involves today’s topic.
It’s extremely important that you still have in your mind’s eye where the apostles are as Jesus continues with His explanation of the apostles’ question in verse 3:
“...Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
A huge aspect of the way Jesus went about answering this question relates to the fact that the apostles were looking at the temple when this conversation first started. In that context Jesus drew their attention to something else which would someday link to the temple site by saying:
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...”
First of all, we must understand that those who would see the thing Jesus called an “abomination of desolation” would not be those who were standing with Him at the time, i.e., the apostles, but would rather be His disciples at some future time. This has to be so because nothing else “stood” there to represent an “abomination of desolation” during their lifetimes. But something most certainly has stood there for many centuries now! Modern photographs and video reveal that it is indeed the most prominent building in Jerusalem.
The thing which would someday stand in the very place Jesus and the apostles were looking about 1970 years ago would be the Dome of the Rock which was completed in 688 A.D. That it was called an “abomination” was a perfectly-appropriate description of a building sitting where the God-given, Jewish temple once stood, this replacement blatantly broadcasting for all to see for approximately 2/3 of the Christian age the greatest anti-Jew, anti-Christ, forceful systems of all time.
Today there are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, roughly 1/6 of the planet’s population, and growing by staggering numbers as I speak. Quite amazingly, the sword is often seen to be the symbol by which the Islamic forces are identified, especially by the Islamic terrorist communities. If you will open your eyes and mind and think hard about this reality all of a sudden the meaning of what John predicted in Rev. 6:4 becomes exceedingly clear:
“...And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”
Yes indeed, Mohammad was given a great sword. And he did indeed take peace from the earth. And many people both then and throughout the Christian age have been killed because of this man’s ruthless attempts to rule the world with his destructive armies and new religion.
To believe that the Islamic religion is now or ever has been a peaceful movement is one of the most absurd lies ever promoted. It’s too ridiculous to even consider the possibility.
Muslims believe Mohammad received the KORAN supernaturally. I totally agree with that! But where did the inspiration come from?
Well, I’ve never read the Koran but am aware of some of its teachings. A few central facts about what the book says is all Christians need to know in order to establish who you believe inspired the work. The Koran says that Jesus was “a prophet”. Nowhere does it teach that He is the only Savior of mankind and that only through Him can one know God, the heavenly Father. The Koran teaches that Mohammad was God’s final messenger to mankind, more important than Jesus. Well, here’s what the Bible says about all those like Mohammad:
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either, he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:20-23.
Either the author of the Bible is a liar or the author of the Koran is a liar. Both books cannot be telling the truth because what they teach is totally contradictory. If Mohammad told the truth then one would have to conclude that Jesus was a liar and all followers of Him are living in delusion and following a false Messiah. If the apostle John told the truth about Jesus and the Father, then Mohammad is a liar and all his followers are following a false messenger and false doctrines.
Also, if the apostle John told the truth, one must conclude Allah cannot be the true and living God no matter how much nor how many people revere him. I say this because of verse 23: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either”. This is very plain. If one denies the Son He does not know the heavenly Father, who is the only God in existence. The Koran denies the Son. So Allah and the Biblical Father cannot be one and the same God. These are pure and simple truths, brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t ever forget them.
ISAAC and ISHMAEL
Abraham fathered two important sons, the first coming through his wife Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar. His name was Ishmael. The second came through his wife, Sarah, just as God had promised Abraham and Sarah would be the case. His name was Isaac. Jesus Christ came through the “loins” of Isaac, Jacob, Judah...and so on through many Jewish sons and daughters over the next (approximately) 2,000 years until a Jewish man named Joseph came on the scene, who was espoused to Mary. However, before Joseph and Mary had physical relations, the Holy Spirit of God came upon Mary and caused Jesus, the Son of God, to be placed into her womb Whom she bore nine months later in a normal way. This is called the Incarnation. God was the designer, creator and cause of this whole process, the natural as well as the supernatural. These last few statements are but a brief summary of what the Bible teaches of how God would bring salvation to mankind; it is foundational to the Christian faith.
Jews and Christians see Abraham as the father of their faith. Of course in modern Judaism, Jesus is not seen as Israel’s long-promised Messiah. Modern Jews still look forward to the coming of their messiah. (Who they will eventually accept as their messiah is a whole other subject which will not be covered here.) But Abraham is definitely seen by Jews and Christians as the father of faith in the God of the Bible.
But God didn’t leave Ishmael out of the picture even though his birth came about as a result of wrong-doing on Abraham and Sarah’s part. Here’s what God’s word says about it:
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you (God was speaking to Abraham). Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” Genesis 17:20.
Well, God certainly fulfilled this promise, didn’t He? The vast populations of Arabic nations in the Middle East are the outcome of what God meant when He said “...will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly...”. I have read that Islamic scholars have traced Mohammad’s lineage back to Ishmael. I would believe this. And, Muslims are taught that God made his covenant with Ishmael and not Isaac. But what does the Bible say:
“But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you (Abraham) at this set time next year.” Genesis 17:21.
Muslims have great confidence in Abraham, believing him to be the father of their religion, Islam. But there is a great contradiction between what Islamic tradition says and what the Bible emphatically states. Of course, Muslims are taught that the Bible has been perverted and that what modern translations say about Ishmael and Isaac is not true. They say God established his covenant with his first born son, Ishmael. Well, if this were true, then one would certainly have a marvelous new basis for a new religion, wouldn’t he?
And that’s precisely what happened. A new messenger coming along some time after Jesus’ first advent to set the record straight would be just the ticket to present to the “multitudes” which God forecast would be upon the earth in future generations commencing with Ishmael. (By the way, that God said Ishmael’s nation would be “great” does not denote “goodness”. According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew meaning of the word used here is — mighty, more, exceeding, proud thing....etc. God wants us to know that Ishmael’s nation would be huge and have terrific power behind it. Does it ever!)
I find it so amazing that the basis of many religions and perversions of basic Christianity always begins with a particular “chosen person” coming along at some major turning point in history. Invariably a “god” or an “angel” has manifested himself to and spoken wonderful new words of “wisdom” to this person.
Interestingly, and consistently, new religious information will in some way either deny the identity of Christ and/or condemn or weaken what He came and did 2,000 years ago — i.e., the giving of His perfect life and the shedding of His precious blood as an atonement for sin, which was God’s requirement for the redemption of those sinful men and women who would be willing to believe in Christ, repent and receive the forgiveness for their sins and their sinful nature. The Bible teaches that God the Father did all this out of love for mankind; and He did it all through Jesus.
The new and final “messenger” out of Ishmael’s “loins” who came on the scene to “set the record straight” (i.e., correct the Bible) was none other than Mohammad. But, in addition to denying the Bible as God’s perfectly kept Word, this particular “god-seeker” was given a whole new book, the Koran. I would not be at all surprised to learn that the book would have many “good” teachings in it. I mean, after all, if it didn’t, Mohammad wouldn’t have been able to get many people to follow him and His Allah god.
The main thing Christians need to remember are the central issues which have been discussed throughout this article. If the Bible is true as Christians believe, then texts which contradict it must be rejected. It’s that simple. Thus, I must reject the Koran and the whole religion of Islam. The Koran is not of the living God of the Bible who sets men and women free from their sins as they trust in the Savior He sent into the world to save man — the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Make no mistake, the terrorism that has originated in the Middle East, affecting especially the USA and Great Britain, has definitely risen out of the religion of Islam. Islamic leaders and the media’s attempt to keep mainline Islam separate from radical Islamics is an absurdity of the highest order. Of course one can easily see why Islamic religious leaders would desire to dissociate themselves from the terrorists — they must wear a cloak of public decency in order to sustain order among mainstream Muslims, and to further their cause of bringing in new members to their organization.
I would even go so far as to say that mainline Islamic leaders, and perhaps most of the Muslim followers, honestly believe that the destructive forces of “radical” terrorists is wrongdoing . And most certainly they know nothing about the fact that terror movements which are associated with the Rider of the Red Horse is related to Islam. However, as I see it, whether or not Islamics understand that their Biblical identity is related to the Red Horse and its Rider, and that they carry his “great sword”, it must be concluded that the whole religion of Islam, not just the radical terrorists, is responsible for fulfilling what the apostle John said they would do:
“...And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword”.
This is what happened in Mohammad’s day, and it happened repeatedly for several centuries during the Crusades, and it is beginning to happen again now.
DOES GOD HATE MUSLIMS?
Of course not. God loves Muslims. So do I. I’ve had a few fairly close friends who were Muslim. But God does not love what Muslims believe about Christ, the one He sent to save them. Muslims can be saved just like any other person. But they must see themselves as the sinners they are, be willing to turn from their sinful ways, and turn to Christ for forgiveness who will deliver them from the bondage of personal sin. God will receive and forgive a repentant Muslim just like He forgave you and I, brothers and sisters in Christ. And, like you and I, once saved, they can be forever bound to the eternal God of the universe and spend eternity with Him and Christ and all other saved children of God.
However, even though God is very willing to save them, receiving Christ as personal Savior will likely be more difficult for a Muslim than for other “Gentiles”. Why so? Well, pride is the central obstacle which keeps all unbelievers from turning to Christ for forgiveness, but I think especially so for an Arabic Muslim. The extreme pride issue stems from this central Islamic affirmation: that Ishmael was God’s next anointed man of God after Abraham. Breaking from a conviction of this magnitude is not an easy thing to do.
But, if some Muslim friends read this, it will be worth every effort you can muster to shake the shackles than bind you. Look to the one who came and gave His life and shed His precious blood for you. I can personally guarantee that if you do this, you will be set free in your spirit and soul to a degree never before realized. You’ll be amazed at what happens to you. God will take up residence in your heart and soul. You’ll then know and know that you know you have found the true and living God for He will manifest Himself to you in ways you’ve never experienced! Put your trust in Christ today and be delivered from your bondage to sin, lies and deception.
The Holy Scriptures of the Bible are clear. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man. (See I Timothy 2:5.)
HOW MANY GODS ARE THERE?
Muslims are right on this point: there is but one God. But Muslims mistakenly think that Christianity has embraced three gods. True, that the one God of the Bible is presented as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a great mystery. However, the Bible clearly teaches this truth. And we must also say that, according to the Bible, his name is not Allah. Sorry, Muslim friends, I’ve no desire to offend you, but that’s just the way it is.
Somehow within the nature of the one God there are three persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I won’t go into all the Scriptures in this study which absolutely demand this understanding but am willing to do so at a later time if readers request it.
God’s best to you, my friend,