Bible Studies

Harmony of the Scriptures

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It is not the intention of this article to establish a doctrinal position. Its aim is to show that any seeming contradictions that may exist between the writings of Sister White and Brother Houteff can be easily cleared by anyone who is sound in his reasoning, logical in his thinking, thoughtful in his studying, and above all, by anyone who asks for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The controversial subject of the opened/closed "fountain" of Zechariah 13:1, is a classic example of seeming discrepancy, since both prophets wrote differently on the subject. As both prophets are dead and are unable to further clarify the matter, it then rests with you and me to harmonize their seemingly opposing truths.

Before we look at Zechariah's fountain, let us analyze a few of the many seeming contradictions that's found in the Bible. An understanding of the method used to harmonize Bible discrepancy is relevant to our understanding of seeming contradictions found in the writings of our end-time prophets.

Proverbs 26:4, 5

"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him" Verse 4.

"Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit" Verse 5.

To the casual reader, it would be apparent that these verses present opposing concepts. But do they? Let us with great care harmonize them.

"Answer not a fool according to his folly,..." because your answer may make you look like a fool.

"Answer a fool according to his folly, . . ." because your answer may very well help him. Coming from your lips, his own exact words may be better judged by him than when he speaks the, thus he discovers his own folly.

Have you ever tried to reason with an unreasonable person? After you realize the futility of your situation you become cautious of how you answer that person. Both proverbs are saying that you must be cautious how you answer unreasonable people--fools. Do you see the harmony? One thing is certain though, no fool will ever see the underlying harmony.

How many demoniac did Jesus heal at Gadara?

"And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit." Mark 5:2

"And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." Matt 8:28

Which of the above accounts is correct? Both are. We sometimes use logic to reinforce certain truths, such as, "there can be no first-fruits without second-fruits", and "a second death implies a first death", etc. Now let us apply a similar logic to Matthew and Mark accounts: where there are two, there is always one.

If Mark had said that there was only one demoniac then the contradiction would be justified, he said "a demoniac", Matthew says there were two. Evidently, Mark highlights one because he was more outstanding.

The blind men at Jericho

How many blind men were healed at Jericho?

"And, behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David." Matt 20:30

"And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me." Mark 10:46.

Here again we must apply the fundamental mathematical law: where there are two, there is always one. Mark focused on one of the blind men--Bartimeus. The fact that Bartimeus and his father are mentioned indicates that Mark took more than just a casual interest in Bartimeus; he was made the focal figure of the occasion, even though there was another like himself who had been healed by Jesus. No discrepancy here!

So as the Apostles and prophets of old, focused on aspects of truths or events that were more prominent and meaningful to them; they placed emphasis on themes with which they could identify.

Ellen White puts it this way:

"Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in rank and occupation, and in mental and spiritual endowments, the books of the Bible present a wide contrast in style, as well as a diversity in the nature of the subjects unfolded. Different forms of expression are employed by different writers; often the truth is more strikingly presented by one than by another. And as several writers present a subject under varied aspects and relations, there may appear, to the superficial, careless, or prejudiced reader, to be discrepancy or contradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, discerns the underlying harmony.

"As presented through different individuals, the truth is brought out in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize with his experience or with his power of perception and appreciation; another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcible impressed upon his own mind--a different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through all. And the truth thus revealed unite to form a perfect whole, adapted to meet the wants of men in all the circumstances and experiences of life." The Great Controversy, p. vi.

The phrases "different forms of expression", "truths is more strikingly presented by one than the other", "several writers present a subject under varied aspects", "one writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject", apply just as strongly to our last day prophets (Victor Houteff and Ellen White) as they did to the prophets of old.

It is so easy for the careless and spiritually uncultured mind to gravitate to one aspect of a truth as presented by one writer, while he fails to appreciate another phase by another writer that is equally grand and important. As you look at the varied aspects of the fountain do not let partiality to one aspect rob you of a thorough understand that can only be achieved by a willingness to see the oneness in a multifaceted truth.

Zechariah's Fountain

"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness." Zechariah 13:1.

There are two schools of thought on this subject. (1) This symbolical fountain is closed and will only be opened in the time of the kingdom. (2) The fountain is opened for sin now, while another phase will be fulfilled in the kingdom. Let us hear the prophets:

Victor Houteff

"When this thorough reformation takes place then the cleansing fountain shall be opened to the whole house of David." 2 Timely Greetings, No. 44, p. 48.

"Two things now stand out clearly in these verses: (1) that the house of David must come into existence before the cleansing fountain is opened; (2) that the cleansing begins with cutting off the names of the idols, and throwing out of the land the false prophets and the unclean spirits." 1 Timely Greetings, No. 18, p. 14.

"When this fountain 'for sin and for uncleanness' is finally opened 'to the house of David,' the crowning evidence will be seen that the consolidation of the two kingdoms is an accomplished fact..." 8 Tract, p. 18.

Ellen White

"These words mean more than bodily cleanliness. Christ is still speaking of the higher cleansing as illustrated by the lower. He who came from the bath was clean, but the sandaled feet soon became dusty, and again needed to be washed. So Peter and his brethren had been washed in the great fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Christ acknowledged them as His. But temptation had led them into evil, and they still needed His cleansing grace. The Desire of Ages, p. 646.

Brother Houteff places the opening of the fountain in the future while sister White says it is already opened. Which is correct? Both are.

Like the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy is a product of Divine revelation--God is the Author. Therefore, there can exist no inconsistences in its truths! Since He allowed the statements to be written, it suggest there must be harmony somewhere. It is, however, our duty to see and understand the harmony here as it is for us to understand any other truth in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy.

In order to harmonize the two truths we need to understand what the fountain is.

"God is able to heal the soul and the body; but He will not heal the latter before He has heal the former--'sin' first, then 'uncleanness.' 'I will also save you from all your uncleanness: and I will call for corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.' (Ezek. 36:29.) The power that is able to wash away the filthiness of any man, is 'opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem' and is represented by the 'fountain' of Zechariah's prophecy." 2 Shepherds Rod, p. 291.

The "fountain" represents "the power that is able to wash away the filthiness of any man." What exactly is this power?

"Like Peter and his brethren, we too have been washed in the blood of Christ, yet often through contact with evil the heart's purity is soiled. We must come to Christ for His cleansing grace. . . . He alone can wash us clean." The Desire of Ages, p. 649.

The blood of Christ alone is able to cleanse any man. Therefore, the "fountain" is a symbol of the blood of Jesus! The song says: What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. And another declares: There is power, power, wonder- working-power, in the precious blood of the lamb.

To say that the fountain will only be opened in the kingdom, is to say that our sins cannot be forgiven now. And further, that Peter and his brethren were not washed; their sins not forgiven; that sister White was mistaken when she declared that the fountain is now opened.

Note what Inspiration says: "He will not heal the latter before He has healed the former--'sin' first, then 'uncleanness.'" 2 Shepherds Rod, p. 291.

Plainly then, the fountain is open for sin now, but in the kingdom it will be opened for uncleanness. In other words, the power that is able to heal both body and soul will be made available in a significant way to the house of David. This is the phase to which brother Houteff referred. When does this phase begin? "(2) that the cleansing begins with cutting off the names of idols, and throwing out of the land the false prophets and the unclean spirits [Ezekiel nine]." 1Timely Greetings, No. 18, p. 14.

Obvious it is that Sister White is focused on that facet of the fountain that has to do with cleansing from sin now, so much so that she says: "Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them." 5T 214. While brother Houteff emphasized another phase that will commence with the purification of the church. Do you see the harmony? The prophets emphasized different aspects of the same fountain. Remember, "the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, discerns the underlying harmony." The Great Controversy, p. Vi.

[Emphasis supplied]

 

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