Home > Antichrist, Book of Daniel, Book of Isaiah, Book of Revelation, Literalism, The 3 ½ years > E. L. Martin’s doomsday predictions

E. L. Martin’s doomsday predictions

In 1993, Ernest L. Martin of The Associates for Scriptural Knowledge published an article in which he described destruction of the world because of an impact with a comet, or an asteroid. He wrote: [1]

It may come as a surprise to some people but the Holy Scriptures describe a time associated with the Second Advent of Christ that any modern day scientist would attest is a classic description of an asteroid or comet of a moderate size (say a mile or so in diameter) hitting the earth. After mentioning that the mercantile system on earth that provides wealth and prosperity is to be destroyed (read all of Isaiah 23 along with the future prophecies in the Book of Revelation about the same thing — Revelation 18:11-17), the prophet Isaiah continued his description of “Doomsday” by his prophecy recorded in all of Isaiah chapter 24. You should read that chapter and pay attention to every word. It shows, without the slightest doubt, the complete and utter destruction of world civilization. The world will return to a barbaric state with only a few men left over the entirety of the earth, and the wide devastation will last for 70 years (Isaiah 23:17,18).

Martin thought Isaiah’s words describe a world-wide destruction of some sort, and he determined that an asteroid collision was the thing most likely to cause it. He claimed this would be the beginning of a new era, the Millennium of Revelation 20. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 24:1
Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.

What is Isaiah really talking about? Is it the destruction of the world and the “Doomsday” that Martin supposed was meant, or does Isaiah refer to something quite different? Isaiah wrote in the same chapter:

Isaiah 24:5-6
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.

Isaiah spoke of people transgressing God’s laws, and changing them, and breaking the everlasting covenant. This certainly has come true today. The world today abounds with perils such as widespread crime, threats of terrorist attacks, rogue governments developing and exporting nuclear weapons; economic, political, and religious turmoil, immorality, etc. Christian scholars have abandoned the everlasting covenant, and some preachers even teach against following the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Martin was sure that Isaiah’s prophecy meant that the world will become mostly depopulated, at the coming of Christ, and he believed that the Millennium will begin then. He wrote: [2]

Thus, the first 70 years of the Millennium (after Christ comes back to earth with his judgments) will witness the earth in a very devastated state. All civilization as we know it today (or as we have known it for the past 4000 years) will come to a sudden halt. The first 70 years of the Millennium (while the resurrected saints of God are in heaven learning how to adapt to their new spiritual bodies and the new spiritual environment that they find themselves a part of) will witness a time when the few humans left on earth will be struggling even to exist in a wild and uncivilized state in an almost empty earth.

This, of course is a very gloomy and depressing prospect for most people. It seems quite similar in that respect to the scenarios proposed in the “Left Behind” series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and by other dispensationalist prophecy expositors. But, I suggest, Martin may have misinterpreted Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah referred to “the earth,” perhaps the earth is symbolic in this prophecy. Note that if a natural destruction such as Martin outlined in the above quoted paragraphs were to occur, it would violate the covenant God made with mankind in the days of Noah. That covenant is a promise that God will not disrupt the continuity of day and night, or summer and winter, seedtime and harvest.

Genesis 8:20-22
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

In Isaiah’s prophecy, if “earth” refers to the land, as in the promised land, and the prophecy is understood in a spiritual sense, the things that the promised land represents are spiritual in nature. Hebrews 11:16 refers to a “better country” that the saints strive to enter. This heavenly land is better than the literal territory of Canaan promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which none of them possessed during their natural lives. The land the fathers were promised represents something spiritual. Jacob  seems to have alluded to this when he blessed his son Joseph. [Genesis 49:26] He said his blessings prevailed “unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills,” which suggests these blessings were high, and lofty, and durable. In other words, they were spiritual in nature, and eternal. These spiritual things represented by the land of Canaan include the correct understanding of Old Testament prophecies. If the “earth” in Isaiah 24:5-6 is the “land,” and if this “land” is understood spiritually, as representing correctly understanding Scripture, and prophecy, the events that Isaiah described have come to pass already; his prophecy depicts widespread confusion about the proper interpretation of prophecy. In fact, he depicts a time when no one really understands prophecy. Who can deny that this condition prevails today?

The land having no inhabitants left in it may picture the fact that Christians generally have abandoned sound precepts for understanding prophecy. Jesus may have alluded to this, when he said, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8]

Martin’s teachings contributed to the break-up of the Worldwide Church of God, where he was employed, into hundreds of splinter groups, after about 1974. Martin’s exposition of “the mystery” seems to undermine the New Covenant, which perhaps is an example of what Isaiah described, when he said that men have “changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” [3] Martin thought the “mystery” was revealed to Paul in 62 or 63 AD, and he speculated that this may have led to a change in God’s prophetic plan! He wrote: [ 4]

From a strictly chronological point of view, the prophecies of Daniel and those within the Book of Revelation should have occurred in the latter part of the first century. At the very beginning of the Book of Revelation it states that the prophesied events “must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). But in the Sabbatical Year of 62/63 A.D., God delayed the execution of those prophecies (he no doubt designed to delay them in his plan made before the foundation of the world, but he still delayed them from taking place). This gave the opportunity to give the world the grand teaching of “the Mystery” that was given to the apostle Paul and others which was the advanced Christian teaching designed to last until the Second Advent of Christ back to this earth. But God has his limits on this. With those events destined to occur as revealed in Revelation 10, Christ said he would not delay them any longer Revelation 10:6). Yet God has a history of delaying judgments if people respond to him favorably. King Hezekiah was told his time of life had ended in God’s plan, but Hezekiah cried to God for mercy and his death was delayed for fifteen years (Isaiah 38:1-22).

Martin adopted a preterist argument on the date of the book of Revelation, which he said was probably written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The composition of the book of Revelation is usually dated about 95 AD. Martin developed a very curious and strange notion about two different prophetic “plans,” based on the statement of Jesus that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” [Matthew 24:21] Martin called these the”Short Plan,” and the “Long Plan.” Both plans are futuristic scenarios. Martin wrote: [ 5]

God can not only delay all prophesied judgments, he can even shorten their duration from what he originally planned. Christ Jesus said he was going to shorten the time of judgments at the End-Time because of his elect who will be there to witness them. Christ said: “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” (Matt. 24:21,22). This means that in the original plan that the Father and Christ designed, the time of tribulation was to be longer. And what was the Original plan? The apostle John recorded that he saw a seven-sealed prophetic plan of God that only Christ could open and disclose (Revelation 5:1). Though that prophetic plan was only made known to the world with the writings of John, that plan had been written before. James said: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). It implies strongly that the original prophetic plan was mapped out long ago and finally divulged to the apostle John to become known as the Book of Revelation. But Christ Jesus made the emphatic statement that the time of tribulation that had been originally planned was to be shortened. We could legitimately say that the final plan of Christ could be called the “Short Plan” while the original plan could be called the “Long Plan” (its duration was to be longer).

If there are two or more alternate plans, any of which might be chosen on a whim, how could James say, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world”? [Acts 15:18] Martin’s idea makes little sense. The problem, I think, is rooted in his belief that the prophetic time periods in Daniel and Revelation, such as the 1,335 days, the 1,290 days, the 42 months, and the 1,260 days are periods consisting of literal days or months. That assumption is certainly an error; they are symbolic, rather than literal periods. No literal three and a half years corresponds to any of those numbers. They each represent the time, times and a half, of Daniel 7, and 12:7, and Revelation 12:14. This represents the final half of Daniel’s 70th week, when Christ confirms his covenant with many, which includes the New Covenant. It is a diminishing period, so is represented by progressively smaller periods, and ultimately by three days and a half. It may be understood as representing the remaining time of the church. [6]

Martin continued: [7]

The Short Plan and the Long Plan

The End-Time prophetic days of judgment are to be shortened. But by how many days? The Book of Revelation shows a prophetic design of three and a half years for the Two Witnesses to prophesy, followed by a further three and a half years for the Beast and the False Prophet (Revelation chapters 11,12,13). This is a judgment of seven years for the End-Time. These time indications are dear and plain and they are not ambiguous. This can be called “the Long Plan” because it was found in the original scroll of judgment found in the Father’s right hand (Revelation 5:1), and God will use it in a precise way if He has to! But there is also what we can call “the Short Plan” that Christ has presently revealed as the means for judging the world.

Martin appears to have borrowed the idea of a gap in the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel from dispensationalists. Note that he also assumes that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are two human prophets, although they are called candlesticks, and olive trees in John’s prophecy. Martin continued: [8]

What do we mean by “the Short Plan”? That is easy to answer if you will compare the Olivet Prophecy given by Christ as recorded in Matthew 24 with what Daniel said in Daniel 11:30 through 12:1. The time of trouble (called the Great Tribulation) should begin according to the Olivet Prophecy as soon as the Abomination of Desolation is set up in the Temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-22 with Daniel 11:30-32) and continue until the resurrection of the dead at the Second Advent (according to Daniel it is a period of three and a half years — see Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:7 or 1290 days plus a further 45 days). But Christ is going to shorten the days of the final judgment and this will chronologically adjust some of the prophesied events or forgo particular judgments.

Now note this carefully. Though Christ told the future elect to flee Jerusalem and Judaea when the Abomination of Desolation is set up (at the beginning of the three and a half years of the Antichrist’s reign), he also said to pay attention to Daniel (Matthew 24:16) because the real sequence of judgments is going to be shortened in length — and shortened quite considerably (Matthew 24:22). Note what Christ will do as recorded in Daniel. The Short Plan will give the Antichrist a prosperous and peaceful reign of three and a half years (referred to by Paul in II Thessalonians 5:3), then the Antichrist comes to his end (Daniel 11:45). This is when “the Beast of Revelation” (the same man) goes into perdition (Revelation 17:11). But as Daniel 11:45 shows, only AFTER the Antichrist comes to his end (goes to perdition) does Michael stand up and then comes the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:1). The Tribulation comes after the Antichrist’s reign. The Tribulation was originally designed to last for three and a half years starting with the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation (with no prosperous reign of the Antichrist), but the Short Plan delayed the Tribulation 1260 days (even unto 1290 days) allowing for a non-Tribulation rule of the Antichrist. The Tribulation will continue until Daniel stands on his feet (this is the resurrection) which happens 1335 days after the Abomination of Desolation is set up (Daniel 12:11-13). So, the Great Tribulation is to be shortened from three and a half years to a mere forty-five days! One should be guided solely by the Book of Daniel to understand the chronology of the Short Plan (as Christ stated in Matthew 24:15), and not adopt the chronology of the original Long Plan which is given with detail in the Book of Revelation. Still, however, though Christ has now acceded to the Short Plan, he could go back to the Long Plan (28 times longer in duration) if he wishes.

Note that one of the major judgments in the Long Plan is a third of the sea becoming blood with a third part of the sea creatures and ships completely destroyed (Revelation 8:6,9). This is typical of what God prophesied in the time of Amos. “The Lord God showed unto me: and, behold, the Lord God called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and it did eat up a part” (Amos 7:4). But when Amos interceded with God, he revoked that part of the judgment: “The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, says the Lord” (Amos 7:6). And so it can be with the Short Plan when Christ shortens the length of the Great Tribulation from three and a half years to 45 days! He can (as he did with Amos) even eliminate particular judgments if he feels he should. But if the End-Time people continue to do evil, God can return to the original Long Plan. This is what he said he could do in Jeremiah 18:10, and with King Josiah he turned his promise of peace for Josiah back into one of severe judgment.

Martin’s confused ideas on the prophetic future of the world, (which I suppose few people actually understand or believe) are examples of the things Isaiah wrote about in 24:1, and 5-6. Martin embraced the idea of a one-man Antichrist, a belief developed in medieval European monasteries, and promoted by Hugo Ripelin; premillennialism; the notion of a gap in the 70 weeks of Daniel, between the 69th and 70th week; literal day interpretations of the 1,335 days, 1,290 days, and the 1,260 days; and the belief that the two witnesses are two human individuals. Each of these beliefs is based upon literalism, an approach that has led many to absurd conclusions, and no consensus.

References

1. Ernest L. Martin. The Destruction of the World in Prophecy. 1993.

2. Ibid.

3. See Ernest L. Martin. Essentials of New Testament Doctrine; 1999/2001. Ch. 5, Gentiles Must Become Israelites.

4. Ernest L. Martin. Op. Cit., 1993.

5. Ibid.

6. See my post The 70 weeks simplified

7. Ernest L. Martin. Op. Cit., 1993.

8. Ibid.

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