Prophecy Fulfilled Three Times

5 09 2009

A well accepted maxim by erudites of all ages and cultures is that history repeats. If that is true, then it stands to reason that some prophecies, relating to the consequences of some chain of events would also have repeated fulfilments.

Many things are repeated three times in the Bible such as the coming of Elijah (Mal 4:5), the three times in the year that the Israelites were to appear before the Lord (Exo 23:17) Balaam blessed Israel three times and hit the ass three times. Samuel thought Eli had called him three times, the three signs that the Lord gave Gideon, Elijah stretched himself on the widow’s dead child three times and had water poured over the altar three times, Jesus prayed three times in Gethsemane and was found innocent by Pilate three times, Peter was asked three times if he loved Jesus and the vision of the sheet descending from heaven was thrice repeated. The message that “Babylon is fallen is fallen” is given three times (Isa 21:9; Rev 14:8; 18:2). The number three must also have some special meaning. We notice that something done two or three times is established, but we shall show that something is divinely established if it occurs three times:

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Gen 41:32

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2Co 13:1

The ministry of Christ was confirmed three times by a voice from heaven. (Mat 3:17, 17:5; John 12:28) Christ raised three people from the dead. Christ was one of three persons crucified at the third hour (Mar 15:25) with a superscription written in three languages. At the sixth hour darkness covered the land and at the ninth hour He cried out “it is finished” and died. On the third day Christ rose from the grave being the day on which he was “perfected” (Luke 13:32). The Lord overturned three empires to confirm the coming of the Messiah.

I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him. (Eze 21:27)

Things of divine origin are almost always confirmed three times. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost and three that bear witness in the earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood.” (1 Jo 5:7-8) The number three is especially related with the sealing work of the Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Godhead. God the Father is the focus of the Old Testament; Jesus the focus of the Gospels and after His ascension the work of the Holy Spirit is brought into view in the remainder of the New Testament (and especially in the book of Revelation). The work of the Holy Spirit is threefold, to convict of sin, of righteousness and judgement to come.

We observe that all intelligent capabilities are summed up in three aspects – thought, word and deed. God first purposes something, then speaks it and finally does it. It is interesting to observe that the beast power described in both Daniel and Revelation that claims to be God also exercises these same three capabilities:

I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. (Isa 46:9-11)

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws. (Dan 7:25)

From all this we conclude that God’s work is completed and perfected the third time. That is to say that if something is established of God then it is repeated three times. There may be some minor differences each time the work is undertaken but it is essentially the same work. The first time we see the hand of the Father, the second time the hand of Christ (who is the Word of God) and the third time the hand of the Holy Spirit (who is the finger of God Ex 8:19; Luke 11:20). For example the message of Elijah comes three times. The first time revealed the almighty power of Jehovah in bringing down fire from heaven, the second time it revealed the power of Christ in the flesh and the final time will reveal the power of the Holy Spirit. The work of the prophetic beast power and its unholy trinity composed of the kings of the earth, the harlot woman and the false prophet is also repeated and perfected the third time. In the work of the Beast the first time it appears in history we see the hand of the King, the second the hand of the Harlot Woman (Babylon) and the last time the hand of the daughter (False Prophet).

Furthermore there are three divisions of time – past present and future. In the book of Revelation Jesus is presented as the one who was, that is and which is to come. That this is confirmed a total of three times in the book of Revelation means that it is very significant. This fact is so important that it is confirmed again by a second witness in the book of Hebrews:

Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; Rev 1:4

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Rev 1:8

The four beasts… rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Rev 4:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Heb 13:8

We note that the beast power is also similarly described four times in Revelation:

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. Rev 17:8

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. Rev 17:10

And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. Rev 17:11

There is much more that could be said about the significance of the number three in Bible prophecy. The essential fact is that things are divinely confirmed / sealed / completed as each member of the Godhead acts their part. This threefold repetition is fundamental to understanding many mysteries in the Scriptures. In this light we see that the history of Daniel’s four great prophetic kingdoms and their culmination in the Apocalypse as described in the book of Revelation must be fulfilled (or repeated) three times, during the Jewish, Christian and Secular eras. Thus the four horsemen and the seven trumpets have had three fulfilments. The final apocalypse is just now opening up before us. Click on the chart below to read about the fulfilment in each era.

Jewish Era

Christian Era

Secular Era

Final Apocalypse

Four Horsemen

Seven Trumpets

Four Horsemen

Seven Trumpets

Four Horsemen

Seven Trumpets

Four Horsemen

Seven Trumpets

605 BC 170 BC 70AD 490 1798 1914 2013? 2017?

First Kingdom
Gold Head  –  Lion

Second Kingdom
Silver Chest  –  Bear

Third Kingdom
Brass Thigh – Leopard

Fourth Kingdom
Iron Legs – Dragon

Sumer (Babel)

Gutia – Elam

Egyptian Empire

Assyria

Babylon

Medes – Persians

Greek Empire

Rome

Holy Roman Empire

Early Modern Europe

Modern Europe

America

This threefold repetition is proclaimed by the wisdom of Solomon who wrote that God not only allows the events of the past to be fulfilled in the present, but requires them to take place again in the future.

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. Ecc 3:15 

This is confirmed by the testimony of both the apostle Peter who stated that what the prophets wrote are more applicable to us today than for those to whom they were written, and Paul who wrote that the experience of God’s people in past ages is an example to us in the last days:

Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 1Pe 1:12

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1Co 10:11

Thus Preterism, Historicism and Futurism all converge as each age has had its Apocalypse. Yet the final apocalypse will be different. It will not just be the passing of a historical era, it will bring about the end of human civilisation as we know it. The sweeping away of the current world order by those (the beast and his image) who have worked tirelessly to restore the institions of the dark ages but now with far more sophisticated technological capabilities for controlling social, economic and religious activities will introduce a state of things that God will rapidly bring to an end

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Mat 24:21-22)

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6 responses

22 09 2009
John

Can you site a single example (two or three examples would be even better) where a predictive prophecy in the Bible was later said elsewhere in the Bible to have had a double (or triple, or quadruple) historical fulfillment? If the ‘double fulfillment’ hermeneutic (method of interpretation) is authoritative, then ought it not to be able to be shown to have been in use by one of the writers of the Bible itself? If the hermeneutic is of extra-Biblical origin, then how much weight can we lean on it?

29 09 2009
finalapocalipse

You can’t get more authoritative than Jesus who specifically said that the prophecied coming of Elijah was still in the future yet had already come in the person of John. You can read the details and see other examples of this principle by clicking here .

The bible itself tells us that it need not explicitly state that something is to have multiple fulfilments or even be prophetic for something to have a prophetic application. This is clearly seen when we consider the words of Matthew: “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Mat 2:15) There was no indication that this scripture was prophetic when it was originally written “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
(Hos 11:1) yet Matthew clearly indicates that it had a dual application that was prophetic.

23 09 2009
John

Luke 7:27 Jesus said, “This (John) is he…” Jesus didn’t say, “John is one of two (or more) fulfillments: He said John was it. If Jesus wanted to set a precedent for the double-fulfillment hermeneutic, this would have been a good place for Him to do it, but He didn’t. He simply said John was it. No mention of a future double fulfillment here.

23 09 2009
finalapocalipse

It’s all a matter of how you interpret Jesus’ words. The scriptures are open to interpretation as they themselves state (see Rom 14:5). Some interpret one way and others another way. I understand the words of Christ to support the hermeneutic. Yet if you can not see the hermeneutic explicitly stated as such to your satisfaction in the scriptures, or even if, as you say there was to be no such hermeneutic, the external evidence presented in this blog in well accepted historical facts shows that the hermeneutic is at the very least plausible if not proven. If you don’t believe me do the research yourself. The many historical parallels are more than just an interesting curiosity. Yet even if they are just an interesting curiosity, it is one well worth thinking about.

27 03 2013
Maciej

I really like the way you presented a triple fullfilment of Daniel’s visions regarding the four kingdoms. Have you ever considered Gen 14 regarding the aliance of 4 kings against another 5. These 4 kings are somehow a thumbnail of the statue from Daniel 2. Two of them had fallen and remaining three are pointing typically to the remnant.

3 08 2013
finalapocalipse

No I hadn’t come across this idea, it is interesting at the 50,000 ft level but its not completely clear to me how it fits in detail. The 4 kings are those of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and “nations” (considered by some to be the Hittites); technically only represent 3 lands since Shinar and Ellasar (near Ur) had both been part of Nimrod’s kingdom. On the other side, I have difficulty fitting the idea of any Canaanites as representing the remnant since God appointed what remained of them for destruction at the time of the conquest of Canaan by Israel.

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