The Timing of Cloud Events
On September 12, 2020, the first-ever English language debate between a message pastor (Jesse Smith of Akron, OH) and an ex-message Christian (Rod Bergen from the Off The Shelf podcast) took place. The discussion was moderated by Jay Cox and Tim Kraus.
|Read the Only Believe article "Road to Sunset" written by William Branham's daughter.|
This article is one in a series on the Cloud:
- The Facts on the Cloud
- An Introduction to the Cloud
- Was the Cloud Prophesied?
- The Cloud's Location
- The Cause of the Cloud
- The Timing of Cloud Events
Rebekah Branham Smith, William Branham's daughter, also wrote on the Cloud and specifically details the timing of the events surrounding the appearance of the Cloud in the Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset".
- Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset", Page 1
- Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset", Page 2
- Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset", Page 3
- Only Believe Magazine, "Road to Sunset", Page 4
You are currently on the page that is in bold.
For years, followers of William Branham believed that he was hunting on February 28, 1963, the day the cloud appeared over Flagstaff.
The timing of the Hunt and the Cloud
Based on the following testimonies of William Branham and his daughter, he met angels while hunting with Gene Norman and Fred Sothmann after March 4th, 1963:
- On March 4, 1963, William Branham preached a sermon called “A Absolute” in Houston, Texas, during which he talks about having to drive back to Arizona that night after interceding for a boy on death row.
- In the sermon “Trying to do God a Service” (Shreveport, LA, 11/27/65) William Branham says that he went hunting with Fred Sothmann and Gene Norman after he returned from pleading for the life of a boy on death row in Texas.
- In the Sermon “The Seventh Seal”, preached on March 24, 1963, William Branham says that he was hunting with Fred Sothman and Gene Norman when the Angels appeared.
- Rebekah Smith (William Branham’s daughter) wrote an article called “Road to Sunset” in the final issue of the “Only Believe” magazine where she confirms that William Branham’s hunting trip occurred from March 6th to 8th, 1963.
In the sermon “Shalom” (January 19, 1964), William Branham said that the picture of a large, mysterious cloud in the May 1963 issue of Life magazine caught the Angels’ flight (or evidence of the angel’s flight) on camera. This statement does not seem to agree with the facts as:
- The Angels appeared to William Branham in the morning time.
- The cloud appeared over Flagstaff in the evening time.
- Life magazine reported that the cloud appeared just north of Flagstaff (but was visible as far as Mexico) on the evening of February 28, 1963.
- William Branham went hunting after March 4th, 1963.
Another interesting fact is that there was not just one cloud, but two. The second cloud is noted in the Life Magazine, and appears in a smaller photograph off to the north-west.
From The Legend of the Fall by Peter Duyzer
Peter Duyzer is the author of the book, Legend of the Fall. This is required reading for any true student of William Branham's life and ministry. The following are excerpts from Peter Duyzer's book relating to the timing of the Cloud and are used by permission of the author:
The next event used by WMB, and continuing to be used by his followers, is the much publicized story surrounding WMB’s messages series called The Revelation of the Seven Seals. On Feb. 28, 1963, a cloud was seen high in the skies over Arizona. At first no one knew what caused the cloud, though science later established it was caused by debris of a detonated rocket. ...In essence, WMB claimed that, on Feb. 28, 1963, he was picked up by a constellation of seven angels, while hunting Javelinas. He was thereby commissioned to reveal the mysteries of the Seven Seals. This claim cannot be substantiated. WMB was in Houston, TX, and he had no idea about any “mystery” cloud until after he preached his series. Here is how that looks:
- Cloud seen on Feb. 28, 1963 were 7 Angels who picked WMB up while hunting
- Javelina hunting season was from March 01 through March 10, 1963
- WMB was in Houston Texas on March 04, 1963. He traveled Mar. 05- Mar. 06
- WMB started hunting March 07, 1963 and shot his Javelina on Mar. 08, 1963
- This means that WMB was NOT hunting on Feb. 28, 1963. Claim is invalid.
Already in 1978, this author published a series of pamphlets. One of which, A Cloud Of Mystery?, challenged the dates of WMB hunting trip and the seven angels picking WMB up. There has since been a “spiritualization” of the events. WMB’s daughter Rebekah Branham Smith, now deceased, in Only Believe, states that her father experienced this in the spirit before it happened on earth.
- “Before God does anything in the earth, He always declares it in the heavens, and then on the earth," is something that a fortune teller told WMB.
Next to examine is this date of Feb. 28, 1963. Was WMB hunting and being picked up in this constellation of angels on Thursday, Feb. 28, 1963?
Here is what is known: WMB was in Houston, TX, on Monday night, March 4, 1963. This is his testimony:
- Good evening to Houston...It's been many years since I've had the privilege of being here... I had arrangements made for something else another place…
What were those other arrangements? By Branham's own admission it was the Javelina hunt. On July, 25, 1965 he said,
- I was going hunting with a friend...and someone called me...I had to go to Houston about his son, for he was going in the death-row and was going to be killed in a few days...(they) ...give me what they call an Oscar, or whatever you want to call it, for saving a life. Then we went
back. I went up the mountain to hunt.
WMB was hunting Javelina hogs. ...This author testifies here that he, upon hearing what WMB said, was in shock. He realized that what he had heard had serious consequences for WMB and for himself as a follower. He phoned the [Arizona Game and Fish Department] and personally spoke to a Ms. Maria Rodriguez. This was done to see if there were exceptions made to the regulations, or if perhaps someone could have had a special Javelina permit. According to Ms. Rodriguez, that year no special permits were granted. The Javelina season was from March 1 through March 10, 1963, inclusive.
This was a life changing discovery for this author. WMB drove back from Houston to Tucson right after he preached, which brought him back to Tucson, in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 6, 1963. After all, it is about 1,100 miles (1,760 KMs). On the second day of his hunt, Thursday, March 7, 1963, WMB shot his hog, and on the third day, Friday, March 8, 1963, he claimed the angels appeared. This has now been confirmed by an article in Only Believe, Vol. 5, No. 1. As stated earlier, On March 17, he mentioned another "vision" he had in Sabino Canyon. He said the "vision" occurred a "week, or ten days ago..." or around March 7, to March 10, which would fit the hunting dates. Again, as shown earlier, on March 24, 1963 the vision is once again mentioned: Notice, there's witnesses of three sitting here, that a week ago,(a little over a week ago) I was up way back into the mountains, nearly to Mexico...
When the date of Feb. 28, 1963, is used, there are a number of serious problems. One, of course, is that WMB would've been hunting one day out of season, which is a serious offence. This author judges that WMB, as an ex-game warden and an avid outdoorsman, would not have poached. This is what WMB said on March 23, 1963, about poachers, There's some genuine men, but there's just one of a thousand that you can find. Shoot anything that they can see, anyway they want to, that's right-that's a murderer. That's right. He's heartless. He'll shoot out of season.
WMB said the blast took place in the morning. Yet the actual cloud appeared in theevening. On June 23, 1963, WMB preached a message, in which he said, I had to go to Houston about getting that little boy saved from the electric chair. And then I wentback and I went hunting up there with the brethren. And that morning, I was standing there picking ...burrs off of my trouser leg. And the blast did just exactly the way it is said ...and just above me was the Angels of the Lord that sent Message back, for me to come here to break theSeals...I didn't know at the time, that they were taking pictures of that...I didn't know they were taking a picture of It, 'cause immediately I hurried east.
WMB left Tucson on March 13, to return to Jeffersonville. This date fits with the more realistic hunting date of March 8. The cloud appeared over Flagstaff, which is about 260 miles NNW of Tucson. From where WMB was hunting, 40 miles NE of Tucson, which is 200+ miles away, the cloud appears quite flat. A photo of the cloud taken from about 160 SE from Flagstaff does not at all look like the picture in Life Magazine.
What is known, so far?
- The cloud appeared after sunset on Feb. 28, 1963, but not until Nov. 10, 1963, 8 months later, does WMB connect the vision with the cloud. WMB was hunting Javelinas after he came back from Houston, Texas, on March 4, 1963. He got his hog on March 7, 1963.
- WMB "experienced" his angelic visitation on the morning of the third day of the hunt, which would have been the morning of March 8, 1963. WMB had his Sabino Canyon vision around March 7 to 10. It is clear from the story that at that time he had not yet 'experienced' the angels picking him up into the constellation.
- WMB preached the Seven Seals staring March 17, 1963. No mention is made of the cloud of Feb. 28, 1963.
- WMB later claimed that the picture vindicates the Message to be the truth, and in 1965, he was given a picture of the cloud, into which someone had inserted Hoffmann's 'Head of Christ'.
This author first challenged the hunting dates back in 1978. ...Subsequent to publishing of the pamphlets, some of WMB’s followers have changed the story. It is now agreed that WMB, on Feb. 28, 1963, was not near the site where the constellation appeared. Now it is stated that WMB had his ' angelic' experience on March 8, 1963, which flies in the face of what WMB himself always said. WMB tied his experience to the cloud of Feb. 28, 1963. Only Believe now has WMB saying that the cloud appeared before the actual event. God always shows His major events first in the heavens. That means the ‘angels’ did not, on Feb. 28, 1963, pick him up into the constellation. Thus, they did not then give him the revelation of the Seven Seals. Some of those present during these alleged events were phoned by this author and a friend. When asked if they had seen anything, they replied in the negative. They were truthful. WMB had his alleged Sabino Canyon experience subsequent to the hunt. In this vision he cried out, unsuccessfully, to know the meaning of the vision of the angels. Shortly thereafter, on March 13, 1963, he left to preach the Seven Seals in Jeffersonville, IN. WMB, already in late January, had told his son Billy Paul to start mailing out notices for a series of services on 'The Revelation Of The Seven Seals' to be held at the Branham Tabernacle during the week of Mar. 17 – Mar. 24, 1963.
The general attitude of WMB was that these revelations were "THUS SAITH THE LORD", and thus vindicated his ministry. That makes it difficult for some to judge those revelations objectively, by the Bible. However, believers like the Bereans, ought to check if these things line up with Scripture. The above discussions regarding the cloud raise some real difficulties with this being the vindication to WMB's ministry. They neither establish him, nor his claims, as true. Followers of WMB have a host of ‘supernatural’ pictures of the ‘pillar of fire’ or ‘the angel’. Some of them appear to simply be reflections of camera flashes in windows. Others appear to be caused by ‘leakage’ in the cameras taking the pictures. None of them would suggest anything supernatural. The ninth alleged angelic commissions, occurring as a “halo” in 1950, and his tenth of being taken up in a constellation of seven angels in 1963, cannot be substantiated by his own messages. That, in turn, means that not a single one of his ten commissions can be substantiated. WMB based his ministry claims on these and that is a serious problem. If there is no messenger there is no message. WMB’s ministry is without foundation.
[In his book, Peter Duyzer reproduces a copy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Javelina hunt regulations for March 1 through March 10, 1963.] As stated prior, this author has personally spoken to Ms. Maria Rodriguez at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and Ms. Rodriguez stated that, “No exceptions were made to the regulations and no special permits were granted and the regular Javalina season was from March 1 through March 10, 1963. That this is, in fact, a scanned document and can be verified by the spelling mistake of the word “license,”* which has been left as is. The original is in the author’s possession.
Previous Errors Relating to the Timing of the Cloud
Here is what Billy Paul said in the original preface to the book, The Revelation of the Seven Seals:
- The Word of the Lord has promised that He would send to the earth once again the spirit of Elijah in the form of that End Time Messenger who was the Angel to the Seventh Church Age in these final closing days of time. We believe firmly that this promise was fulfilled in the vindicated ministry of our precious brother, William Marrion Branham. Throughout the life of this humble servant of the Lord, who so epitomized the Spirit of Christ, we find manifestations of God, which were so perfectly vindicated that they cannot be explained away by any natural reasoning. Of the hundreds of thousands of visions which the Lord gave to Brother Branham around the world, not one time has there ever occurred a vision which was not confirmed and attested to be the Word of the Lord. On December 30, 1962 at the Branham Tabernacle, Jeffersonville, Indiana, Brother Branham brought a message entitled Sirs, Is This The Time? [The Spoken Word Vol. II No.11] In this Message he told of a vision that instructed him to move to Tucson, Arizona with his family. This vision foretold a blast that would take place, the force of which would shake the whole country. This vision was fulfilled on Feb. 28, 1963 when 40 miles northeast of Tucson, Brother Branham was caught up in a constellation of seven angels and was told to return to his church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where the mysteries of the Seven Seals would be revealed to him.