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Where did William Branham say he got his revelation from?
William Branham said this about the source of his understanding of the fifth seal (all quotes from the Fifth Seal):
- And now coming especially on these lessons where we’re just waiting; if He would not reveal It to me, I could not give It to you. I’m not trying to use any of my own thoughts or anything; just as He will give It. That’s right. And I—I’m sure, if I don’t use my own thoughts, and It comes in the way It has. And all through life It’s never been wrong. It won’t be wrong this time.
- And I want to say this, and I want to give thanks to Him Who is omnipresent. And, that, today, not knowing one thing about that Fifth Seal, It came in that same mysterious way, this morning, just about an hour before daybreak, when I was out in prayer. And today… I have just set these last five or six days, just in a little room, don’t see no one. Just go out and eat my meals with a—with a friend, with some of my friends here. And, course, you know who that friend is, it’s Brother and Sister Wood. Yeah. And—and you know, and I went over there and—and stay with them, and everybody has been nice. And there hasn’t been anything, just simply… I’m trying to stay right with that Message of these Seals. Its important. I believe it’s—it’s the hour of Its revealing time, of revelation of It.
- But I’m just taking It from the inspiration, which completely changed my view of It. See?
He definitely didn't get it from men!
William Branham said that ALL of the authors that he read agreed that the souls under the altar were Christian martyrs:
- Now notice, now, in the 9th verse, “Souls under the altar.” Now, here is where I’m going to get some real disagreeings. But you just watch just a minute. And just…See? I thought that, too, but it didn’t come that way. We have… I have always thought that these souls under the altar were the—the—the martyrs of the early Church. And I’m sure that, well, Dr. Uriah Smith, and every one of them, says it is. See? But, I thought so, myself. But when the Holy Spirit showed the vision to it, it wasn’t; it isn’t the souls.
William Branham's Interpretation of the Fifth Seal
William Branham’s essential interpretation of the fifth seal is that the souls under the altar represented past Jewish martyrs and their fellow servants and brethren were Jewish martyrs who would die during the tribulation. His basis for saying they were Jewish martyrs was the fact that the fifth seal was in the sixth chapter of revelation, but the rapture of the church had happened in the fourth chapter.
William Branham explained it as follows:
- Now, for they, at this time, if you notice, this Fifth Seal being opened, see, the Church is gone. It just can’t be, the souls under the—the early Church. Now, now, please, if you ever did give this attention now, ’cause this is a great controver… controversy, so I want you to listen real close now. And you got your papers, and things to write with. Now, I want you to notice. Now, these cannot be them souls. Because, the—the souls of the—of the righteous, martyred, and the righteous people, the Church, the Bride, has done been took up, so they wouldn’t be under the altar. They would be in Glory, with the Bride. Now watch. For, they are gone in the Rapture, in the 4th chapter of Revelation. They was taken up. Now, who are these souls, then? That’s the next thing. Who are they, then, if they’re not the early Church? This is Israel that’s to be saved as a nation, all them that are predestinated. That’s Israel. That’s Israel, itself.
Comparison to the Views of Clarence Larkin
William Branham taught the rapture took place in chapter 4 of Revelation many times, including the quote above from the Fifth Seal. In The Book of Revelation, published in 1919 by Clarence Larkin, note the exact same essential interpretation as William Branham:
- The removal of the Church at the end of the third chapter opens the way for God to renew His dealings with Israel, and take up the broken thread of Jewish History. That the portion of the Book from chapter three to the end of chapter nineteen is largely made up of symbols taken from the Old Testament, as the Tabernacle, Ark of the Covenant, Altar, Censer, Elders, Cherubim, Seals, Trumpets, Plagues, etc., is conclusive evidence that we are here back on Jewish ground, and that the Parenthetical Dispensation of the Church is complete, and that the last or “Seventieth Week” of Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” is in course of fulfilment.
Larkin also taught that souls under the altar were the souls of Jewish Martyrs:
- The fact that their “SOULS” were under the “Sacrificial Altar” is proof that they had been offered as a “Sacrifice,” that is that they were MARTYRS. But they were not the Martyrs of the Christian Church, for they had been resurrected and taken up with the Church. These Martyrs are those who will be killed for the “Word of God” and their “testimony” after the Church is caught out. …Their cry is that of the Imprecatory Psalms (Psa. 35, 55, 59, 94, etc.) and indicates that these Martyrs whose SOULS are seen are mainly JEWS. This is still more likely when we consider that the “Gospel of the Kingdom” is to be preached to the NATIONS, and Israel has never been numbered among the Nations.
William Branham and Clarence Larkin have an identical interpretation of who the souls under the altar are. They both say those are the souls of Jewish martyrs waiting for their brethren and fellow servants (also Jews) to be killed during the tribulation. William Branham and Larkin both use the exact same reasoning to explain how they know they are Jewish martyrs and not Christian martyrs. They both explain the rapture has already happened before the fifth seal, in the fourth chapter, so these souls could not be Christians who were part of the rapture. It is identical. How did Clarence Larkin get that revelation in 1919 when the fifth seal was hidden until 1963?
William Branham also stated multiple times he spent significant time studying Larkin’s books. Here is an example of William Branham explaining the amount of time he spent studying these books:
- This has been a week of tremendous study. Yesterday, all day, I hardly moved from the room, trying to study. And it’s something in the last time, a many of the old-timers here, that I taught, I just said, “In here belongs the seventy weeks of Daniel,” but I did not try to attack it, to explain it. But this time, by the grace of God, I have taken upon myself to try to ask grace before God, that I might bring it to the people. And in here I’m finding things that I do not know one thing about. And, then, I—I’ve been reading Dr. Larkin’s book, Dr. Smith’s book, Dr. Scofield’s notes, different commentaries from men everywhere…
Please note the picture of William Branham’s personal library which includes a clear picture of Larkin’s books: The Book of Revelation and Dispensational Truth. This photo is from Only Believe magazine published by Rebecca Branham Smith when the library was being turned into a memorial after William Branham’s death.
We have overwhelming evidence that William Branham read and studied the books of Larkin and other men from whom he copied his sermons on the seals. Yet, William Branham goes on to make statements like the following when he preached the seals:
Now notice, now, in the 9th verse, “Souls under the altar.” Now, here is where I’m going to get some real disagreeings. But you just watch just a minute. And just…See? I thought that, too, but it didn’t come that way. We have…I have always thought that these souls under the altar were the—the—the martyrs of the early Church. And I’m sure that, well, Dr. Uriah Smith, and every one of them, says it is. See? But, I thought so, myself. But when the Holy Spirit showed the vision to it, it wasn’t.
William Branham misled his audience. Did “every one of them” say the souls under the altar were martyrs of the Christian church? No, and he knew they did not all say that. William Branham was dishonest during the sermon on the fifth seal. He knew Clarence Larkin taught the souls under the altar were Jewish martyrs. Why was he pretending he was teaching the people something never known before? Why was he pretending that he received this knowledge from Holy Spirit when he was clearly repeating what he read in one of his library books.
Confusion - Christians under the Altar?
William Branham then tells a story of how he went to a heavenly place, and saw his own converts under the altar. He tells of the white-robed saints in “that heavenly place” that he saw in a vision. But Jesus was not there! It was a mixture of purgatory, and souls under the altar:
- I want to see Jesus... You can’t see him now, He is still higher... You mean, by being a leader, that He’ll judge me? Said, “Yes” I said, “what about Paul?” He said, “He’ll have to be judged with his.” “Well” I said, if his group goes in, so will mine, ‘cause I’ve preached exactly the same Word.” ...nd millions screamed out, all at once, said, “We’re resting on that!” …See, we was right under the altar.
The most notable person absent from this place was Jesus, making “that heavenly place” a waiting place, while the people wait for William Branham to be judged.
It must have been another altar?
Later in the sermon William Branham talks about two altars in heaven, to diffuse the confusion between the Jews and his followers:
- “The Bride, she was not under the martyrs’ block, not, the sacrifice altar of the martyrs; but had received white robes, by accepting the pardoning grace of the living Word.”
What William Branham does with this statement is commit some major errors:
- He ignores the fact that Revelation 6:9 says that the souls were under “THE” altar (there is only one altar mentioned in this scripture, and a 'martyr's altar' is never mentioned in scriptures);
- He ignores the fact that there were many Christian martyrs, and that the Bride will include many people who were martyred;
- He ignores what he previously said about the souls being Jews; and
- He refers to the “pardoning grace of the living Word”. Just one night prior he had called his own words “spirit and life” as evidenced by his ability to create squirrels (though no-one was around to witness this). That means he is making his own words the door to pardoning grace.
Clear Examples of Direct Plagiarism
William Branham’s secret source of information for this sermon was the writings of Clarence Larkin. Here is a comparison:
|What William Branham Said ||What Clarence Larkin Said |
|They were killed for the Word of God's sake, not for the testimony of Christ. Did you understand that? But remember, the church come in. Also the martyrs of the church was for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. How many knows that here too? All right now... But these didn't have the testimony of Jesus Christ "… Now, notice. These Jews... I have to do this in order to--to let you see the revelation of this Seal, see what it is, these souls under the altar and who they are.||When the Lamb had opened the “FIFTH SEAL,” John saw under the “Sacrificial Altar,” corresponding to the “Burnt Offering Altar,” the “SOULS” of them that were slain for the “Word of God” and for the “testimony they held.” The fact that their “SOULS” were under the “Sacrificial Altar” is proof that they had been offered as a “Sacrifice,” that is that they were MARTYRS. But they were not the Martyrs of the Christian Church... These Martyrs are those who will be killed for the “Word of God”|
|Notice, they asked for revenge. See? Now, if that had been the Bride, it'd been like Stephen: "Father, forgive them," you know. See? But these are Jews that just come in. See? They asked for revenge.||“How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our BLOOD on them that dwell on the earth?” The character of their cry is further proof that they are not the Martyrs of the Christian Church, for they would not cry to be avenged, but like Stephen would say—“Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Acts 7:60.|
|for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held," as Jews.||Their cry is that of the Imprecatory Psalms (Psa. 35, 55, 59, 94, etc.) and indicates that these Martyrs whose SOULS are seen are mainly JEWS.|
|Now, notice. In the time of Daniel, now, the second half of the seventieth week... Now, remember, Messiah was to be cut off in the midst. That's the middle. Well, what's half of seven? Three and a half... But there's determined yet to the people what? Another three and a half year.||These martyred SOULS were comforted, and told that they should rest for a “little season,” about 3½ years, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren (Jews) that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled.|
|It disproves it, the opening of this Seal in this last day; it just takes soul sleeping plumb out of the way. See? They're alive. They're not dead.||That there is no such thing as Soul Sleep, and that disembodied SOULS are conscious and can speak and cry, is clear from what John saw and heard, for these “SOULS” cried with a loud voice|
Questions to ask yourself
William Branham tells that he understood the Fifth Seal that morning:
- “Today, not knowing one thing about that Fifth Seal, It came in that same mysterious way, this morning, just about an hour before daybreak.”
Then he asks God to break the Fifth Seal that evening:
- “O Lamb of God, come forward, we pray. We call on You, Lord, the great Redeemer. Come forth and show us Your plan of redemption that’s been hid through the years, breaking this Fifth Seal for us tonight, Father.”
Why did he ask God to break the Seal when he already knew what he was going to say?
Why are the Seals God’s plan of redemption, when Jesus already redeemed us on the cross?
Why is he calling on the Lamb of God the way a Magician would call out to a spirit behind a curtain?
Jesus' Warning of False Prophets
In this sermon William Branham ties Jesus’ warning about “False Prophets” to the time after the rapture. As such, this scripture naturally does not apply to him.
William Branham also tells a story about Joseph giving his brothers white robes in this sermon. It is likely from this story that some Message Believers think that Moses and Elijah will arise and translate the sermon of the Seven Seals into Hebrew after the rapture. So, perhaps his message really is one of the false ministries to watch for.
Other controversial comments
William Branham also makes some off-topic statements during this sermon that are very strange:
- He talks secretly to the Masons in the crowd when he says, “You Masons, I’ll call your attention. You remember the sign of the cross? Now you – you know what I’m talking about.“
- He brings out a non-Biblical doctrine that Moses resurrected. “Moses actually died. But he rose, ‘ cause he was a perfect type of Christ. ”
- He denies that his vision of heaven was like the Mormon version of Soul Sleep.
- He states that children are bundles of muscles until just before birth, at which time they are given the breath of life. This doctrine is why many Message Believers think that still-born babies will not be in heaven, and why the anti-abortion movement isn’t worth their voice.
Why is William Branham always pointing to himself?
In his sermon on the Fifth Seal, William Branham stated:
- You know, a angel is a messenger, but do you know the messenger was a prophet? You believe that? Let's prove it. Revelation 22: let's see if it was a eagle. See, he was… Sure he was an angel; he was a messenger. But it was a prophet that revealed this whole Book of Revelation to him. Revelation the 22nd chapter and the 19th verse, I believe that's right if I've got it written down here: 22:19. I may be wrong. No, 22:9. That's what it is, I was looking at 22:9. That's right. Oh, yes, here.
- Then said he to me, See thou do it not:… (No true prophet would be worshipped or messenger of any kind. See, see?)… Then said he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keeps the sayings of this book: worship God.
- Now, watch. Isn't the prophet that we're looking to come, some man anointed with the—with the Spirit like Elijah? It won't be Elijah, of course, but it'll be a man like that will come down, and his very ministry is to send, to restore back to this fallen people through these denominational twists, back to the original faith of the fathers.
The KJV is the easiest to be twisted; therefore it is often used by self-appointed "prophets". Here is a more accurate translation:
- But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
This Angel simply compared himself to other servants, prophets, and ALL WHO OBEY what's written in the book; thus declaring that he must not be worshipped. Scripture never says that this angel is a man and never states that he is a prophet who walked on the earth either in the past or future. Why would William Branham think that this was referring to him? Doesn't that come across as being just a little presumptuous?
Moving to the Next Seal
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal, para. 5, 26-28, 40
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal, para. 215
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal
- Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture (Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919), 32.
- Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture (Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919), 59.
- William Branham, 61-0730M - Gabriel's Instructions To Daniel, para. 32
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal, para. 391, 401-404, 410
- William Branham, March 22, 1965, The Fifth Seal
- Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture, 58-59 (Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919)
- William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal
- New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Re 22:9.