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There are significant problems with William Branham's teaching on the Seven Church Ages which you can read about by clicking here.
But the question must be asked - What was the reason that he taught this doctrine? Was it simply another way to point to himself as a great prophet?
The concept of "church ages"
Someone in the message recently asked this question - "How can you deny that In His hands were 7 stars, one star for each age? You are in Laodicea and you are refusing to find the star. Remember the wise men? They followed the star and the star always points to the Word. How can you read the Bible, preach the bible and plainly refuse that there are 7 stars?"
William Branham did not come up with the idea that there were "seven church ages."
Some early dispensationalists (such as Clarence Larkin from whom William Branham copied the idea, including the dates of the ages) interpreted the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 1:4) symbolically as seven “church ages,” or stages of church history, though few hold this view today outside of the message. For the following reasons, this line of interpretation is no more feasible than allegorizing the churches addressed in Paul’s letters:
- There is no reference in the book of Revelation that would suggest that the seven churches are seven church ages. The Bible does not use the word "age" or "ages." This is a construct of early dispensationalists which William Branham copied.
- Abundant evidence suggests that Revelation addresses seven literal church communities, including items of local color that fit each of the seven letters (see Seven Churches In Asia).
- A map shows that Revelation addresses the seven churches in the very sequence that a messenger from John, arriving first in Ephesus near the sea, would travel to each of the cities listed, presumably along the main roads of Asia. The average distance between each city was about thirty to forty-five miles.
- Only a forced reading of church history (regularly revised with the passing of time) has allowed this interpretation.
- One "proof" that we often hear is this - "Simply look around at churches today, they clearly demonstrate that we are in the age of Laodicea." While this sounds like a good argument, as there are many lukewarm churches in North America, it fails to deal with the global church today. There are currently 245 million Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Their churches reflect NONE of the characteristics of Laodicea.
- Finally, if Revelation requires the completion of seven church ages before Jesus’ return, then, in most centuries of church history, Christians had no right to expect the imminent return of the Lord! This would be a curious conclusion for advocates of the seven church ages view, most of whom vehemently emphasize the imminence of Christ’s return.
The burden of proof is clearly upon William Branham to show that these local letters are successive "ages" or "eras".
William Branham believed himself to be a prophet
- To my precious dear brothers and sisters (See?), all of you, as a servant of God… I never said this before in the wor-… in—in this church, I've never said, but as a prophet of the Lord, I say to you, "This is the Light; walk ye in It."
- Listen. Do you believe me to be His prophet? I haven't confessed that before. I believe I stand with people who understand and know what I'm trying to get to you. There's people in here that's professing Christianity, should be right here. Come, won't you? Let me ask you, how are you ever going to? You'll never receive another sign. This is It. THUS SAITH THE LORD. Would a prophet of God make a statement like that if it wasn't true? You're receiving your greatest sign, and your last sign, before the appearing of Christ. Come! The reason I'm saying these things, I've never said this in any other meeting, I feel that right here is opportunity here for something to happen. That's why I'm saying the way I am. I believe you understand. You wouldn't go around, make some kind of a cult, say, "Brother Branham is a god," or something like that. You understand what I'm talking about. Come now. Come. Let me persuade you, in the Name of Christ. Come! 
William Branham believed himself to be the last messenger
Willian Branham believed himself to be the angel of Revelation 10:7 and he tied that in with the messenger to the church of Laodicean:
- God just fools them, every time. It always comes different. It did in Noah's time; did in Moses' time; did in Christ's time; did in John's time; did in disciples' time; did in Wesley's time; did in Luther's time; did in Pentecostal time; and so has it again. It don't change Its pattern. Always comes the same thing. Only reformers through them seven, six ages, till the seventh. And Revelation 10 said, in this hour it'll change. And it did.
- Notice. This last message of the last church age is not a reformer; he is a prophet, not a reformer. Show me where one prophet ever started a church age. He's not a reformer; he is a prophet. Others was reformers but not prophets. If they would've been, the Word of the Lord comes to the prophet; that's the reason they continued on in the baptism in Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and all these other things, because they were reformers and not prophets. But yet they were great men of God and saw the need of the day that they lived in, and God anointed them, and they sent out there and tore those things to pieces. But the full Word of God never come to them, because they was not prophets. They were reformers. But in the last days it'll have to be a prophet to take up the mysteries of God, bring it back, because the mysteries was only re—known by prophets. So it has to be this fellow come. See what I mean now? He can't be a reformer; it's got to be a prophet, because it's got to be somebody that's gifted and set there that catches the Word.
- All right. Now, these messages are all kept up until this earthly vessel, until the time of God's appointed time at the last messenger at the earth, and all that these people had judged at and said, "I know it's there; I believe it's there"; and they'd fought at it, and brought it forth, and produced the things; by faith they believed it. But now it's going to be brought to us in revelations and from the hand of God by vindication. God said so; He promised it.
- Now we're taught, in Revelation the 6th chapter, I believe, yeah, 6th chapter, of the Seven Seals. That's supposed… The Book to be sealed up with seven mysteries, or Seven Seals, Revelation 6. And in the last day, Revelation 10, in Revelation 10, we find out that the Laodicea, last messenger of the last age, and during the time of his prophecy, that the Seven Seals would be opened, the seven mysteries, sevenfold mysteries that had been left off.
- Now this person, who in this verse is called an 'angel' in the King James version is NOT an heavenly being. The sixth trumpeting angel, who is an heavenly being, is in Revelation 9:13, and the seventh of like order is in Revelation 11:15. This one here in Revelation 10:7 is the seventh age messenger and it is a man, and he is to bring a message from God, and his message and ministry is going to finish the mystery of God as declared to His servants, the prophets. God is going to treat this last messenger as a prophet BECAUSE HE IS A PROPHET. That is what Paul was in the first age, and the last age has one, too.
William Branham also wanted to paint himself as being rejected
William Branham found himself increasingly on the outside in the latter days of his ministry, primarily because of his strange doctrinal teachings:
- Now, you might add this in saying that this Brother Branham has been rejected. He's been called anything from a--from a soothsayer, or a Simon the sorcerer, or a regular Beelzebub. But that's exactly what Jesus said would take place.
- 35 As I said last night, the church gets things mixed up and gone out, then He anoints one person. Every man differents from the other. He anoints one. God is one, and so He anoints a person. He never did use a group. He always uses one; always has. He never changes His course. He uses one. And He sends that forth, preaches a Message. It’s rejected, flatly; but all that will come, will come, from that generation. First watch, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, then seventh, and then the Bridegroom come. And we’re in the seventh.
Links to other articles in the series
This article is one in a series of studies on the Seven Church Ages - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
|What do you think? |
The statements by William Branham included in these articles are so strong, they force you to make a conclusion.
(a) Will you accept William Branham's statements and conclude that he was God himself - greater than Jesus, equal to the Holy Spirit, infallible, and above reproach?
(b) Or will you conclude that William Branahm was delusional.
There is no middle ground, because to compromise these statements requires you to deny William Branham's own words. It's time to choose: is William Branham's word Infallible, or was his message fallible?
This article is one in a series of studies on the doctrines of William Branham that pointed to himself - you are currently on the article that is in bold:
- Revelation 10:7
- The Fulfillment of Malachi 4:5
- The Laodicean Church Age Messenger
- Matthew 17:11
- Luke 17:30
- Matthew 24:28
- Zechariah 14:7
- Joel 2:25
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16
- The Importance of a Seven-Lettered Name
- The Prophet and The Eagle
- The Sign of the Messiah
- Two major prophets never ministered at the same time
- William Branham's View of Himself
- William Branham and the Nation of Israel
- Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 74–75.
- William Branham, 61-0813 - Faith
- William Branham, 62-0707 - Jehovah-Jireh #3
- 65-1125 - The Invisible Union Of The Bride Of Christ
- 63-0318 - The First Seal, para. 191-192
- William Branham, 63-0317E - The Breach Between The Seven Church Ages And The Seven Seals
- William Branham, 65-0117 - A Paradox
- William Branham, An Exposition Of The Seven Church Ages - Chapter Nine - The Laodicean Church Age
- William Branham, Audio Letter to Lee Vayle (May 1964, Tucson, AZ)
- William Branham, 64-0410 - Scriptural Signs Of The Time,para. 35