Isaac Newton and Prophecy – Foundations in Science
In addition to his scientific work, Isaac Newton devoted a substantial portion of his enormous energy to the study of the Bible, history, and prophecy. He read the Bible daily throughout his life and wrote over a million words of notes regarding his study of it. Isaac Newton believed that the Bible is literally true in every respect. Throughout his life, he continually tested biblical truth against the physical truths of experimental and theoretical science. He never observed a contradiction. In fact, he viewed his own scientific work as a method by which to reinforce belief in biblical truth.
Isaac Newton was a formidable biblical scholar, was fluent in the ancient languages, and had extensive knowledge of ancient history. He believed that each person should read the Bible and, through that reading, establish for himself an understanding of the universal truths it contains.
Newton's strong belief in individual freedom to learn about God without restraints from any other individual or church or government, once almost cost him his position as Lucasian Professor at Cambridge. The matter was resolved when King Charles II made the exceptional ruling that Isaac Newton would not be required to become a member of the Church of England.
Isaac Newton and Prophecy – Rare Publication
Regarding science, Christianity and prophecy, Isaac Newton spent his life in intense scholarship, but he left the publication of his work to Providence. Much of what he wrote has still never been published. His (and the world's) greatest scientific work, the Principia, was published only after his friend, Edmund Halley, accidentally learned of the existence of Part I which Isaac Newton had written 10 years earlier and put in a drawer. Halley convinced him to finish Parts II and III and allow Halley to publish the work.
Only one of Newton’s books about the Bible was ever published. In 1733, six years after his death, J. Darby and T. Browne, published Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John.
In 1988, having learned of this book in the rare books card catalogue of the Library of Congress, I asked to read it. I was astonished when, a few minutes later, I was handed Thomas Jefferson's personal copy. (The book is in excellent condition and has Thomas Jefferson's initials on pages 57 and 137. Two hundred and fifty years ago it was common practice for printers to label the page signatures with capital letters at the bottom of the actual text. Jefferson would turn to the "J" signature and add a "T" before the "J" and then turn to the "T" signature and add a "J" after the "T." In this way he identified his personal books.)
Isaac Newton and Prophecy – The Prophecies of Daniel and John
With his prodigious knowledge of ancient history and languages and his unequaled mental powers, Isaac Newton is the best qualified individual in this millennium to have written about biblical prophecy. His study of the book of Daniel began at the age of twelve and continued to be a special interest throughout his life. Moreover, he writes of the prophecies with a modesty that indicates that he, himself, is in awe of the words he has been given an opportunity to read.
Isaac Newton concluded that it is intended that Revelation will be understood by very few until near the end of history, the time of judgment, and the beginning of the everlasting kingdom of the Saints of the Most High.
Isaac Newton states his belief that these books of prophecy were provided so that, as they are historically fulfilled, they provide a continuing testimony to the fact that the world is governed by the Providence of God. He objected to the use of the prophecies in attempts to predict the future.
On page 251, for example, he writes:
"The folly of Interpreters has been, to foretell times and things by this Prophecy, as if God designed to make them Prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the Prophecy also into contempt."
Through these 323 pages, he traces human history since the writing of the prophecies. He shows that, according to his scholarship and at his time in the early 18th Century, part of the prophecies had been fulfilled and part remained to be fulfilled. In accordance with his evaluation, this is still true in 1991.
Decorated (as are his scientific works) with interesting asides such as derivations of the exact dates of Christmas and Easter and of the number of years during which Jesus taught, and permeated with a depth of scholarship that no longer exists among modern scholars, this book by Isaac Newton may be the most important work of its kind ever written.
Isaac Newton and Prophecy – Scientific Evaluation of Biblical Truth
The central message of Isaac Newton’s prophecy book for modern readers may not be so much in what it says but in what it is. During his entire life, Isaac Newton continually compared his experimental and theoretical understanding of science with his reading of the Bible. He found the content of these two sources of truth to be so completely compatible that he regarded every word in the Bible to be as correct as the equations of mathematics and physics.
Therefore, throughout this book, Isaac Newton takes each word of the prophecies to be exactly correct. He never doubts the content. He only seeks to understand it.
He never strays from his determination not to present predictions of the future based upon the biblical prophecies. On pages 113 and 114, he does give an identification of the last horn of the Beast and a numerical evaluation of his reign. He also gives the approximate time of the beginning of this reign, but does not add the numbers or make a prediction.
Addition of these numbers, however, places the time of judgment and the beginning of the everlasting reign of the Saints of the Most High approximately in the time period between the years 2000 and 2050.
Are there errors in Isaac Newton's evaluation of Bible Prophecy? He would reply that he would not have written this evaluation unless he believed it to be without error, but that it is the obligation of Christians to study the Bible and to reach their own conclusions.
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