These aforementioned sources, along with people's visions, dreams, prophecies, appearances of Mary (which I address in this article MaryWorshipandAppearances) and other spirits, seem to be a growing source of references for people's beliefs and doctrines and those who are preaching eschatology on the internet. Because these things are starting to become a major obstacle for Christians who are trying to teach the truth based on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures alone, I thought it might be a good idea to address whether or not these extra-Biblical sources are of use in trying to determine what will happen in the days ahead.
A good place to start seems to be first determining if what we know as the Old Testament is the only Scriptures that we should accept before the Gospels. The easiest way to determine this is to see what Christ accepted as the Old Testament Scriptures. That would be the Tanakh or the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). In the Tanakh we find the following books.
The Torah (Teachings) or Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
The Nevi'im (Prophets): Joshua, Judges, Samuel (I & II), Kings (I & II), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
The Ketuvim (Writings): )Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Song of Songs (Solomon), Ruth, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah (they count this as one book), Chronicles (I & II), and Daniel.
These are the books that are accepted as canon by Judaism. These are the books that would have comprised the Tanakh when Yeshua walked on earth. Of the Old Testament apocryphal books that exist, the one which comes most into question is the Book of Enoch, although one of the books of the Maccabees is also considered truth. While the first book of the Maccabees seems to be a historical record and can be used for historical reference, it is not considered divinely inspired by Judaism. The second book is partially a revised version of some of the history given in 1 Maccabees, and then it presents some questionable Pharisaic traditions and teachings, which are not in agreement with Scripture, making it suspect. The Book of Enoch, while having one verse quoted by Jude, has some things in it which are clearly refuted by the Scriptures (such as the antediluvian world having rain before the Flood, which Scripture said it did not have Genesis 2:5 "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground." While some of what the Book of Enoch tells may indeed be historical (we can't know for sure), again it is suspect and not to be trusted as truth, even though very interesting and seemingly plausible in many respects. And as it is in disagreement in places with Scripture, it is clearly not divinely inspired. The rest of the apocryphal books were excluded from the canon for the same reasons. That Yeshua quotes from the rest of the Tanakh, but never quotes from the apocryphal books, nor does he ever indicate in any way that these excluded books should be considered equal with the books of the Tanakh, makes it clear that they are not divinely inspired and should therefore not be used to determine truth. This does not mean that some of them may not have some truth in them, but they are not to be trusted in the same way that we can trust the canon. We cannot be sure what is truth and what is not.
Now we come to the New Testament apocryphal books. We do not have Yeshua to guide us in the matter of what can be trusted to be canon and what cannot, as these books came after His sojourn on earth. We do know that Judaism does not accept any of them, but that is irrelevant as they do not accept Yeshua either. So, we must now look to the people who convened to determine what the canon would be. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament - the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles (which is really part two of the book of Luke), the epistles, and Revelation were written mostly in the first century A.D. and universally accepted by the time of the 300's A.D. Over the centuries there were debates and councils to officially determine if these twenty-seven books all belonged in the canon and were the only books that should be in the canon, and they stood the test of each challenge. The apocryphal books did not stand up to this test. But, some may argue, may these men not have been wrong? While we have Yeshua's judgment to rely upon for the Old Testament, dare we trust men to determine the validity of what books belong in the New Testament? Fortunately we do not have to trust men. We can trust God.
Psalm 12:6-7,”The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.”
Psalm 119:89, 152, 160, For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Deut. 4:2, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
Prov. 30:5-6, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Rev. 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Prov. 13:13, “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”
All of these verses tell us that 1) God can and will preserve His Word, 2) anyone that adds or deletes from God's Word will suffer tremendously and 3) if a person despises God's Word, he will be destroyed. So we know that God has promised us that He will make sure we have all of His Word, not be missing any of it, and that He will make sure that anyone who tries to add or delete from the canon will suffer for it. He also says that anyone who despises His Word (tries to remove or change it from what God intends) will be destroyed. We can assume from this that their effort to destroy His Word will also be thwarted. While Satan will try to add, delete, and corrupt God's Word through new revelations, bad translations, and edited versions, I believe God has promised that His pure Word can be found somewhere. That is why you need to really be careful of the Bible version you use. People do not give God enough credit to think that He can and will make sure that we have all His Word and nothing but His Word in a book that is known to be His Word. In fact, this warning applies not only to apocryphal books, but to books such as the Book of Mormon, writings by Ellen G. White, Charles Taze Russell, or anyone else who claims to have a new revelation from God and writes a new book. Nothing, and I repeat NOTHING was to be added after the book of Revelation. God made this quite clear. The same applies to deletions such as Thomas Jefferson's scissored version of the Bible, or newer translations that eliminate entire verses or passages from the Bible. To repeat once more, Rev. 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Now we come to a much more difficult thing to discern. That is the subject of dreams, visions, prophecies, appearances, etc. When it comes to appearances, the rule is to 1) test the spirits according to the command given in 1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist." 2)makes sure that anything that is said is in agreement with Scripture, and 3) If a spirit pretends to be someone who was a human (as opposed to an angel or "alien") it can be immediately assumed to be a fallen angel or demon, as human beings upon death either go immediately to be with the Lord or to hell. As true appearances by angels of God are rare to non-existent these days, most spirits that appear will not pass rule number one. The problem is, most people just accept these appearances and never challenge the spirit with this test.
Dreams, visions, prophecies, and "new revelations" are much harder to pinpoint. The only guideline we have for these things is to examine them very carefully against Scripture and see if they agree or disagree, or in the case of prophecies, whether or not they come true. As most people either do not know their Scriptures, or handle Scripture in the most careless way, this becomes a real problem, as they may validate and accept dreams, visions, prophecies, and especially new revelations that are not Scriptural. This new revelation is then passed on to others as truth, which then leads others astray. A prime example of this is Harold Camping. He has not been satisfied to accept God's Word at face value. He had to come up with hidden knowledge (something Satan loves to use to deceive people) by way of a math language and formula, rather than merely reading what God has to say. This is a common theme with people who start new cults or belief systems. They claim to have discovered "hidden" knowledge that nobody has ever had before. God does not work with hidden things. God is out in the open. Satan is the one who loves to hide things. The Babylonian mysteries were hidden from everyone but the initiated. The occult is all about hidden knowledge. The secret societies that worship Satan all have hidden agendas, hidden codes, hidden writings, and hidden rituals. So anytime someone claims to have discovered hidden knowledge, one should immediately start running the other direction. The only thing that God hid, He actually told us He was hiding until the time was right for it to be finally opened and understood. That hidden knowledge is the book of Daniel, but it is no longer hidden, as we are now in the end times when the book has been opened to understanding.
As for the Bible Codes, while God has many layers of understanding in His Word, a brief examination of this process immediately makes one discount it. First, it seems that these codes prophesy multiple futures. That renders it unacceptable right at the start, as the future is clearly and openly outlined for us in the Book of Revelation, as well as the Old Testament prophets. There is only one future and we are told what it will be. Second, while I do not understand Hebrew, it seems very questionable how they come up with these words that they supposedly find in the texts. People seem to be finding words that are English in the Hebrew text. I find that a little unbelievable. People say they are finding their names. Really? What is your name in Hebrew, do you know? How do you know it is you to whom it refers? How can you say that it is your name spelled out using Hebrew letters when Hebrew has no vowels. For instance, if we were to look up our president's name, without vowels it would be "Brk bm". Now are we too look for the equivalent Hebrew letters of Brkbm and assume if we can find those letters it is referring to the president? Maybe it stands for Eber Kabim, whose name would also be "brkbm"? How about cities? I have heard they have found Los Angeles mentioned. Would that be "Lsngls"? Maybe the letters before and after the "l" and "s" should be included. There are unlimited ways to do this and "see" something there. Plus you can go up, down, back and forth, and probably diagonally. If you search long enough you could find anything. People see what they want to see. In fact, this "code" can be carried out on any lengthy work of literature. Shakespeare is a great source for this sort of thing. In fact, it would seem like finding English words in an English text that would actually spell them out would be easier and more believable. This practice is actually an occult practice which was no doubt brought back from Babylon by the Kabbalistic Jews when they returned to Judah. Again, God is very open with us and tells us a great deal in His Word quite openly. We just don't study enough to understand it all. While He is certainly capable of having the layers of His Word be quite deep and remarkable, it is not His intention that we get our information that way. He wants us to study the Word as is.
Rather than looking for new revelations or hidden knowledge, people need to get into their Bibles and learn what God has to say. To follow any religion or theology that is based upon extra-Biblical revelations is to turn from what is known to be truth to what is most likely lies.