Isaac Newton on the end times and Revelation

Isaac Newton on the end times and Revelation

This post originally appeared on the ZeMing M. Gao’s website, and we republished with permission from the author. Read the full piece here.

Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist the world has known, spent more time studying the Bible than the science, and left voluminous writings.

Few know this, and even fewer have actually paid any attention to what Newton wrote about Bible and his faith.

I have long heard of Newton’s so-called “religious writings” but never was interested in reading any of them because I had assumed that Newton, being such an extremely smart “science man”, must have approached the Bible with his human intelligence and wisdom, and took Bible as some kind of “secret codes” trying to decipher it. I would not be interested in any of that at all.

Until I actually read some of Newton’s writings recently.

To say the least, I was taken by a great surprise, joyful surprise that is.

Newton didn’t study the Bible as a “decoder” nor even a scholar. He did it as a devout Christian, a true believer, placing his faith in God and in the Savior Jesus Christ.

His intelligence and insights on interpreting biblical prophecies was indeed exceptional. Especially, he gave the world the original and foundational interpretation concerning the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation concerning the important prophecy of 70 Sevens (70 seven years) in relation to the birth of Christ and the end of the time. But more important, his understanding of the Scripture was highly spiritual, unpolluted, unmanipulated, and full of sincerity, humility and life. His devotion to the biblical truth and faith, and courage not to comply with religious authorities and popular views, far surpass that of the most Bible readers and Christians.

I revere him as the greatest scientist ever lived, and love him as a dear brother in Christ.

On the other hand, I did not get an impression that Newton had a good understanding of the relation between Jesus the Man, the Christ, the church as the body of Christ – these being in time, and the Lamb and the Bride – these being in eternity. That spiritual revelation was given to other brothers, especially Plymouth brethren.

Newton lived from 1643-1727, more than 100 years before Plymouth brethren. I could see a spiritual connection between them. Weather the connection was personal or not, I don’t know, but it is certainly spiritual and real.

What a blessed man Newton was. And what a blessed nation and people England is (was).

I have always been uncomfortable with using celebrities to “stage” for God. God does not need people’s fame to “stage” for Him. The truth is that much of the “so-and-so great scientist believes in God” propaganda is exaggerated, some not even true. Not only does it not bear witness to the Lord, but it can actually be used by Satan.

But the faith of Isaac Newton can stand a close examination.

The following is an excerpt from the introductory chapter of Isaac Newton’s Treatise on the book of Revelation. The text is modestly rewritten in modern English (without any substantive changes). For the original text, see The Newton Project).

The introductory chapter of Isaac Newton’s Treatise on the Book of Revelation

Having searched after knowledge in the prophetic scriptures, I have thought myself bound to communicate it for the benefit of others, remembering the judgment of him who hid his talent in a napkin (Luke 19: 20). For I am persuaded that this will prove to be of great benefit to those who think it not enough for a sincere Christian to sit down contented with the basic principles of the doctrine of Christ such as the Apostle accounts the doctrine of Baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, but leaving these and the like principles, desire to go on unto perfection until they become of full age and, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 6:1; 5: 12.

I would not have been discouraged in any way by the difficulty and failures that men have formally met with in these attempts. This is nothing but what ought to have been. For it was revealed to Daniel that the prophecies concerning the last times should be closed up and sealed until the time of the end: but then the wise should understand, and knowledge should be increased. Daniel 12:4, 9, 10. And therefore the longer they have continued in obscurity, the more hopes there is that the time is at hand in which they are to be made manifest. If they are never to be understood, to what end did God reveal them? Certainly He did it for the edification of the church; and if so, then it is as certain that the church shall at length attain to the understanding of such. I do not mean all who call themselves Christians, but a remnant, a few scattered ones who God has chosen, such as those that are without being blinded, led by interest, education, or human authorities, and can set themselves sincerely and earnestly to search after truth. For as Daniel has said that the wise shall understand, so he has also said that none of the wicked shall understand.

Let me therefore beg of you not to trust to the opinion of any man concerning these things, for so it is at great odds that you shall be deceived; and much less ought you to rely upon the judgment of the multitude, for if you do you shall certainly be deceived. But search the scriptures yourself and that by frequent reading and constant meditation upon what you read, and earnest prayer to God, to enlighten your understanding if you desire to find the truth, which, if you shall at length attain, you will value above all other treasures in the world by reason of the assurance and vigor, and will add to your faith, and secure satisfaction to your mind. Only those who know how to estimate it shall experience it.

[Skipping half a paragraph]… the Apostles and those who in the first ages propagated the gospel urged chiefly these Prophecies and exhorted their hearers to search and see whether all things concerning our Saviour ought not to have been as they fell out. And in a word, it was the ignorance of the Jews in these Prophecies which caused them to reject their Messiah and consequentially to be not only captivated by the Romans but also to incur eternal damnation. Luke 19: 42, 44.

If then the Prophecies that concerned the Apostolic age were given for the conversion of the men of that age to the truth and for the establishment of their faith, and if it was their duty to search diligently into those Prophecies : why should we not think that the Prophecies which concern the latter times into which we are fallen were in like manner intended for us to use, such that in the midst of Apostacies we might be able to discern the truth and be established in the faith in the truth, and consequently that it is also our duty to search with all diligence into these Prophecies. And If God was so angry with the Jews for not searching more diligently into the Prophecies which He had given them to know Christ by: why should we think He will excuse us for not searching into the Prophecies which He has given us to know Antichrist by? For certainly it must be as dangerous and as easy an error for Christians to adhere to Antichrist as it was for the Jews to reject Christ. And therefore, it is as much our duty to endeavor to know Antichrist that we might resist him, as it was theirs to know Christ that they might follow him.

You see therefore that this is no idle speculation, no matters of indifference but a duty of the greatest moment. As a result, it concerns you to look about you narrowly, lest you should be dangerously seduced in so degenerate an age and not know it. Antichrist was to seduce the whole Christian world and therefore he may easily seduce you if you are not well prepared to discern him. But even if he has not yet come into the world, yet amidst so many religions of which there can be only one true, and perhaps none of those that you are acquainted with is true, it is of great odds that you may be deceived, and therefore you must be very circumspect.

Consider… [Skipping several paragraphs]

Lastly consider the Blessing which is promised to them who read and study and keep the things which are written in this Prophecy. Blessed is he who reads and he who hears the words of this Prophecy and keeps the things that which are written in them, for the time is at hand. Revelation 1:3. And again to reinforce the invitation to take these things into consideration, the same Blessing is repeated in Chapter 22:7. And does God ever annex His blessings to trifles or things of indifference? Therefore, be not overwise in your own eyes and conceit, but as you desire to inherit this blessing, consider and search into these Scriptures which God has given to be a guide in these latter times, and be not discouraged by the gainsaying which the Blessing will meet with in the world.

They will call you a Hot-headed fellow, a Bigot, a Fanatic, a Heretic: And tell you of the uncertainty of these interpretations, and vanity of attending to them, not considering that the prophecies concerning our Saviour’s first coming were of more difficult interpretation, and yet God rejected the Jews for not attending better to them. And whether they will believe it or not, there are greater judgments hang over the Christians for their remissness than the Jews ever felt. But the world loves to be deceived, they will not understand, they never consider equally, but are wholly led by prejudice, interest, the praise of men, and authority of the Church they live in: as it is plain because all parties keep close to the Religion they have been brought up in, and yet in all parties there are wise and learned as well as fools and ignorant. There are but few that seek to understand the religion they profess, and those that study for understanding of it, do it rather for worldly ends, or so that they may defend it, than examine whether it be true with a resolution to choose and profess that faith which in their judgment appears the truest. And as is their faith, so is their practice. For where are the men that never yield to anger nor seek revenge, nor disobey governors, nor censure and speak evil of them, nor cheat, nor lie, nor swear, nor use God’s name idly in their common talk, nor are proud nor ambitious nor covetous, nor unchaste, nor drink immoderately? Where are they who live like the early Christians, who love God with all their hearts and with all their souls and with all their might, and their neighbor as their selves; and who in what they do well are led by faith, rather than by fashions and principles of Gentility, and where who disagree do not account it rudeness to depart from the former? I fear there are but very few whose righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5: 20).

This is the guise of the world, and therefore trust it not, nor value their censures and contempt. But rather consider that it is the wisdom of God that His Church should appear despicable to the world, in order to try the faithful. For this end He made it a curse under Law to hang upon a tree that the scandal of the Cross might be a trial to the Jews; and for the like trial of the Christians, He has suffered the Apostacy of the latter times, as is declared in calling it the hour of temptation which should come upon all the world, to try them who dwell upon the earth. Revelation 3: 10.

Be not therefore scandalized at the reproaches of the world, but rather look upon them as a mark of the true church.

And when you are convinced, be not ashamed to profess the truth, for otherwise you may become a stumbling block to others, and inherit the portion of those Rulers of the Jews who believed in Christ but yet were afraid to confess him lest they should be put out of the Synagogue. Therefore, when you are convinced, be not ashamed of the truth but profess it openly and endeavor to convince your Brother also, so that you may inherit at the resurrection the promise made in Daniel 12:3, that those who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. And rejoice if you are counted worthy to suffer in your reputation or any other way for the sake of the Gospel, for then great is your reward.

But yet I would not have you too forward in becoming a teacher, like those men who catch at a few similitudes and scripture phrases, and for lack of further knowledge make use of them to censure and reproach superiors and rail at all things that displease them. Be not heady like them, but first be yourself thoroughly instructed not only in the prophetic Scriptures but more especially in the plain doctrines delivered in Scriptures so as to put them in practice and make them familiar and habitual to yourself. And when you have thus pulled out the beam out of your own eye then shall you see clearly to pull out the mote out of your Brother’s eye. Otherwise how will you say to your Brother, let me pull out the mote out of your eye and behold a beam is in your own eye?

Some I know will be offended that I propound these things so earnestly to all men, as if they’d think these things were fit only for the contemplation of the learned. But they should consider that God who best knows the capacities of men does hide His mysteries from the wise and prudent of this world and reveal them unto babes. They were not the Scribes and Pharisees but the lowly people who believed on Christ and apprehended the true meaning of his Parables and of the Prophecies in the Old Testament concerning him. The wise men of the world are often too much pre-possessed with their own imaginations and too much entangled in designs for this life. One has bought a piece of ground, another has bought five yokes of Oxen, a third has married a wife (Luke 14: 18-20), and therefore since they are for the most part otherwise engaged, it was fit that the poor and the crippled and the lame and the blind and those who are in the highways and hedges should be also invited (Luke 14: 21-23). And God who intended this Prophecy chiefly for their sakes is able to fit their understandings to it. And it is the gift of God and not of human wisdom, so to understand it one has to believe it.

[Three paragraphs skipped]

I testify unto every man who hears the words of the Prophecy of this book; If any man shall add unto these things God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this Prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book (Revelation 22: 18-19).

For to frame false interpretations is to prejudice men and divert them from the right understanding of this book. And this is a corruption equivalent to the adding or taking from it, since it equally deprives men of the use and benefit of the book. But yet I hope they did it neither out of the vanity of appearing to be somebody in the world, nor out of design to promote the external splendor and felicity of Churches rather than the internal purity which is of infinitely more value, nor out of any other temporal ends, but with an upright heart that God may not lay it to their charge.

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