The Agora
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Newton (Isaac) on prophecy

Isaac Newton was born about 350 years ago, in 1643. Though he possessed probably the greatest scientific mind of all time, Newton believed that his expositions in the spiritual realm far outweighed in importance his scientific discoveries of the physical world. Yet his religious writings have been permitted to languish in obscurity and neglect. Today, the greatest part of his historical-theological manuscripts are hidden away in the Jewish National Library and University Library in Jerusalem. Newton believed firmly in the literal Second Coming of Christ and the return of the Jews to their Land. He refuted the "orthodox" opinion that the Judgment is to be accompanied by the literal burning up of the earth. His determination to reconstruct the ancient teaching of the first century church caused him to reject many commonly received church teachings: for example, he saw the "devil" as a term expressing the lusts of the flesh as manifested in various forms.

On the Importance and Significance of Prophecy

Giving ear to the prophets is a fundamental character of the true Church. The authority of councils, synods, bishops, and presbyters is human. The authority of the prophets is divine and comprehends the sum of religion, reckoning Moses and the Apostles amongst the prophets. And if an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel than what they have delivered, let him be accursed.

Daniel was in greatest credit among the Jews, and to reject his prophecies is to reject the Christian religion. For this religion is founded upon his prophecy concerning the Messiah.

For Daniel's prophecies reach unto the end of the world; and there is scarce a prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming.

God gave the Apocalypse [Revelation] and the prophecies of the Old Testament not to gratify men's curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and His own providence, and not the interpreters', be then manifested to the world.

Search the Scriptures thyself. By frequent reading, constant meditation, and earnest prayer, enlighten thine understanding if thou desirest to find the Truth -- to which, if thou shalt at length attain, thou wilt value above all other treasures in the world by reason of the assurance and vigour it will add to thy faith, and steady satisfaction to thy mind which he only can know who shall experience it.

On the Return of the Jews to their Land

It may perhaps come about not from the Jews themselves but from some other kingdom friendly to them.

The return from captivity and coming of the Messiah and his Kingdom are described in Dan 7; Rev 19; Act 1; Mat 24; Joel 3; Eze 36; 37; Isa 60,62,63,65, 66, and many other places of Scripture. The manner of the return I know not. [This was written 300 years ago!] Let time be the interpreter.

On the Millennium as the Fulfillment of the Promises to Abraham

The Kingdom of God on earth involves the coexistence, during that period of one thousand years, of mortals and immortals, the latter in glory as the children of the resurrection. Seeing then this Kingdom outlasts the Millennium in so vast a disproportion of time and its end after that is nowhere predicted, we may well conclude with Jeremiah that it shall last as long as the ordinances of the sun and moon and stars; with Daniel, John and the other prophets that it shall stand for ever and ever, and with Luke that it shall have no end.

This was God's covenant with Abraham when He promised that his seed should inherit the land of Canaan for ever; and on this covenant was founded the Jewish religion as well as the Christian; and therefore this point is of so great moment that it ought to be considered and understood by all men who pretend to [ie, profess] the name of Christians.


"The temporal distance of Newton's conception of the Jewish Restoration from his own time is startling. While Finch thought the conversion of the Jews would begin in 1650, Mede at a date no later than 1715, William Lloyd by 1736, and his own erstwhile protégé Whiston by 1766, Newton saw it as centuries away. There can be no doubt that his vision of the return of the Jews was strong. Few intellectuals of Newton's day could match the vigour of his faith in this prophetic event. Nevertheless, there is no sense of apocalyptic urgency. While the otherwise similarly-minded Whiston preached the nearness of the end, the imminence of the Jewish Restoration and toured the English resort towns with a model of the Millennial Temple, Newton stayed at his desk, communed with his books and worked and reworked prophetic treatises that few in his own lifetime would read. However, while he did not think apocalyptically about his present, he did see an intensely apocalyptic period focused at the end of time. Implicit in this eschatological profile one can also see Newton's inherent religious radicalism. By contending that the true Gospel would not be widely preached until the end, he marginalizes the Reformation and distances himself from the mainstream Protestantism of his day. This belief even leads Newton to read Rom 11 differently: the time when "all Israel shall be saved" was not the time when the converted Jews would be added to already believing Gentiles. Rather, for Newton this referred to the moment at the end when all Israel -- Jew and Gentile alike -- would convert together to true Christianity. Unlike many other Christians, Newton refused to place Jewish faithlessness over Gentile Christian unbelief. Moreover, Newton's prophetic world was a very private one. Unlike so many others of his age, there is no direct political context for his belief in the return of the Jews, no discussion of mercantile interests and no evidence of involvement in efforts to convert the Jews in his time.

"It is difficult to estimate the impact of Newton's published writing on the return of the Jews. While it would be wrong to argue that his influence was great, conservative Protestants nevertheless saw him as an important prophetic authority and recent scholarship has demonstrated that his published Observations -- which includes a detailed section on the return of the Jews -- was a chief source for fundamentalist exegetes of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And, while it is not overly lengthy, the section on the return of the Jews in the Observations is one of the fullest and most detailed articulations of his views on this subject. Nor must we overlook the secondary albeit likely more important influence he exerted through theological disciples such as Whiston, who published several works that deal with the Jewish Restoration. In both cases Newton's exegesis merged with a prophetic tradition that helped create during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the religious and political climates that paved the way for the resettlement of Jews in Palestine -- the longed-for vision of the Restoration. Newton would have approved." (Stephen Snobelen, "Isaac Newton on the Return of the Jews")

"About the time of the End, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist on their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition" (Sir Isaac Newton, 1643–1727).

(From Caribbean Pioneer)

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