Question 33 (ABM) - The Prophecy of the Seven Angels
The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's credibility. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 33 - The The Prophecy of the Seven Angels
The next subject I want to cover relates to William Branham's vision prior to him giving the series on the seven seals.
The following quotes are taken from the sermon entitled "Reproach for the cause of the Word"( December 23, 1962 spoken in Jeffersonville, Indiana)...
Talking to his Son
The Cloud was not prophesied
There is no mention in the vision of a cloud or any other sign in the heavens that would be seen by the general public.
Why Did the Number of Angels Change?'
The question must be asked: Why did the number of angels change over the period of a week?
In his book, "The Twentieth Century Prophet", Lee Vayle writes that he met with William Branham on December 26, 1962 and speculated whether the vision could relate to an unveiling of the seven thunders of Revelation 10.
QUESTION: Did William Branahm's discussion with Lee Vayle impact William Branham's recollection of the vision? Why did the number of angels change from clearly being five to being seven?
It is also possible that William Branham changed the number of angels in his vision to tie in more closely with the upcoming series of meetings on the Seven Seals
Other Questions about the Vision
Response from ABM
Why Did the Number of Angels Change?
I believe we just disagree with how we assess his statements. It is not clear to me that the number was ever firm to begin with. I think the number was always ambiguous. As you go through his multiple telling of it, he says he was not just sure how many he saw in the vision.
And way off into eternity I saw a constellation of something coming. It looked like that it might've been little dots. There could've been no less than five, and not more than seven. - 62-1230E IS.THIS.THE.SIGN.OF.THE.END.SIR
Did William Branahm's discussion with Lee Vayle impact William Branham's recollection of the vision?
One can only speculate on this. It seems odd that he would change it only because Lee Vayle speculated about the seven thunders. Especially given that the sermons which Bro. Branham subsequently connected to this vision were not an explanation of the topic of the seven thunders, but instead were on the topic of the seven seals. Because there seems to be no connection on that level, I find it doubtful that there is a direct connection between Vayle's speculation and Bro. Branham's recollection. There is nothing to suggest this is the case beyond speculation. It is entirely possible Bro. Branham was able to recall the vision more clearly, or recall more details over time as he pondered on it. It is not uncommon to be able to recall something more clearly if you dwell on the thought for a time and try to call it all back to mind.
I think perhaps also you are confusing the thunder of Rev 6:1 (which was fulfilled) and the thunders of Rev 10:3-4 (which are unfulfilled).
His son, Joseph appears in the vision, yet has no part in its apparent fulfillment.
I think you are misreading his statement. Joseph was not in the vision or connected to it. He is stating that as the vision started, he was in the process of speaking with or calling out to his son Jospeh, who was in another room. He is communicating the sudden nature and unexpected manner in which the vision overtook him.
The Cloud figures very prominently as a sign that accompanied the visitation of the seven angels. Why is it never mentioned in the vision if it is so important?
Message believers would argue that the "constellation" and the "cloud" are referring to the same thing. Or that the cloud was (at least partially) the fulfillment of the constellation. So in that light, I consider it to have been mentioned. I think you already know this though. You also say the cloud figures very prominently as a sign, but Bro. Branham preached the sermons on the seals and the people accepted his teaching on the seals before there was ever a picture of a cloud. Isn't the fact he did not mention it during the sermon on the seals an indication it was not of critical importance? Some have certainly treated it as great sign after it came out, and Bro. Branham believed it was an important sign at the time it came out. I would argue the cloud was never more than "extra" vindication on top of the supernatural signs Bro. Branham had already related (vision of the King's sword, etc). While prominent, it is not critical to any scriptural interpretation (except to believers in the "Perusia" false doctrine). Bro. Branham's sermons on the seals can stand with or without the cloud. I agree it is prominent, but I think you perhaps overstate the importance of the cloud to message believers.
Some sects have certainly taught that this cloud was connected to Christ coming back to earth, or the Millennium beginning, or Bro. Branham becoming God incarnate at that time, or other silly ideas. But this is all just silliness, and always has been. Ministers have been pointing out it was silliness since the 1960s when they started coming up with that crazy stuff. Who ever went down the path of believing that stuff anyway? The nuts. I think you know that to be true. It is not really fair to try and lump the entire movement into that category.
Why did the visitation of the angels center around Tucson while the cloud appeared over Flagstaff (over 200 miles away)?
Why did Gabriel show up in Sushan? Because that is where Daniel was. The visitation of the angels centered near Tuscon because that is where Bro. Branham was at when he met them on March 9 (the generally accepted, but not universally accepted, date). Beyond that, we would have to ask God why it happened near Tuscon? There is nothing special about Tuscon otherwise that I know of.
The photographed cloud appeared over more than just Flagstaff (on Feb 28), it was visible for hundreds of miles around, and some of the pictures of the cloud were taken in Tuscon. So to say it appeared over Flagstaff (and imply it was not clearly visible elsewhere) is a bit misleading. Besides, these things did not happen on the same day, so it is not really implicit or logical that they must necessarily happen at the same place. It seems like you are conflating two different events... I can understand how the reality of this would damage the ones who believe in the "Perusia" doctrine, but I have been a little puzzled though why this would be impactful to anyone else?
Follow up by BTS
Your comment is interesting. Are you familiar with the concept of confirmation bias?
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Confirmation bias is also important in belief perseverance, which is when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false.
I run into confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance with virtually every message follower I talk to.
From my ongoing study of William Branham, it is clear that the farther he gets from the date of any story, the more exaggerated the story. As an example, his initial telling of the healing of Congressman Upshaw agrees quite well with the story that Upshaw told himself. But a bit later, William Branham's story bears almost no relation to either Upshaw's testimony or William Branham's first account of the story. It becomes a complete lie.
It appears that as William Branham thinks about things, he tends to spin them into exaggerated tales that better suit his purpose.
You stated: "It is not clear to me that the number was ever firm to begin with. I think the number was always ambiguous."
I would ask the simple question: From William Branham's first telling of the vision on December 23, 1962, what would make you think that the number of angels was other than five?
Response from ABM
I did not personally witness the vision, so my only knowledge of it is what Bro. Branham chose to share.
He says specifically says in the first telling of the vision he actually could not see the angels. So on what he based the number on is hard to say. he never related that. If he could not see them, he was clearly guessing or estimating when he said there was five.
They were around me. I couldn't see them, but I'd been brought into this constellation of a pyramid of them, inside this constellation of--of Angels, of five. And I thought, "Now, a death angel would be one, five would be grace."
So if he could not see them, what was his basis for saying there were five? It seems like he had visible indication of perhaps three. Then he speculated based in his numerological views that there was actually five.
In his first telling, he is relating the vision just after he had it, and was no doubt still processing what he experienced. Thinking over it as time passed could have caused him to recall something which helped him realize there were seven.
I can appreciate that you may think I have confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. I can definitely confirm I look at what Bro. Branham said with the intent of making sense of it. Just as I look at the bible with the intent of making sense of it as well.
But let's take your position. The implication of your position is that he was making up, at least parts, of the vision. If he was the kind of person who would just make things like that up, then why would he not make it up to be seven from the beginning? Why make up five, and then remake it to seven? What was there to gain in doing that? If what he was trying to make the vision point to was predetermined before the vision, why would he not make it point as clearly as possible to what he had predetermined? The ultimate conclusion of your position is not logical. You have evidence to suggest a potential problem, but there is no logical motive to explain it. I would suggest facts actually point to the vision being genuine.
I do not reject your evidence and question, they are perfectly fine questions to have, but I cannot find a logical way to understand your conclusion. If it was a hoax or a fake, why not fake it to be what he wanted from the beginning?
Follow up by BTS
And, with respect, I really do think this is a clear example of confirmation bias on your part.
Please look closely at what William Branham said on Christmas Eve, 1962:
He said that he couldn't see them when he was inside the constellation. That makes sense. But he also states repeatedly that he counted them and that there were FIVE... He said this clearly - "...one, two; three, four; and then one right at the top, see, making five."
How do you see that as being unclear? Because, honestly, if that is unclear, then there is nothing else he said in his entire life that could be viewed as being clear.
Response by ABM
Let me just explore the different options here, and maybe help explain how I arrive at my conclusion.
In the space of one week, he went from saying five to maybe seven. You are correct in your fact. We just draw a different conclusion. You draw the conclusion that he must have changed it to better suit some predetermined aim. That only make sense if the vision itself as described the first time actually happened. Do you actually believe he had the vision as first described? Because if he had fabricated the original vision, why not fabricate it "right"?
So to me, the lack of clarity and the shifting number is itself evidence that points to the original vision itself being real. So then on that basis I have to deal with the question of why the number of angels seemed to change. If I take your conclusion that he changed to suit a sermon he was planning on the seals, then at most, I can put this in the category of exaggerations. I do not see how changing the vision has any negative impact on anything beyond another hit against hit already known weakness of exaggerations. So that is worst case scenario, in my view. Still not grounds to reject him as a false prophet.
I however, after reviewing all of his quotes related to the vision, draw the conclusion he must have not been sure what he saw the first time he related it. He makes conflicting statements in his original vision about whether he actually saw the angels or not. That seems like a plausible explanation to explain why the number shifted. If you don't like that answer, that is ok. We can disagree. But it does not really seem to be a major problem to me whichever way we answer the question.
For me, motive plays an important role. What was he saying and doing these things for? If it was in his mind that he was going to let this lead the sermon of the seals, why not just fake it correctly from the start? I see no reason to doubt he had a legitimate and real vision.