In 1951 Bro. William Branham spent three months holding meetings in South Africa and drew a crowd of 200,000 at the largest event. In 1952 Bro. Branham reported a vision he interpreted as a future meeting in Africa with 300,000 attendees. Bro. Branham also reported that as part of the experience he promised to break away from his managers who were controlling his schedule and agenda and preventing him from fully obeying the leadership of God.
Critics allege that the meeting with 300,000 attendees failed to materialize and is ground to reject Bro. Branham as a false prophet. In this article we want to examine the facts around this vision.
Vision as first told
Then just then, He taken me out in the Spirit. Listen, Brother Jackson, you never heard this, none of the rest have. And He set me down at Durban, South Africa, in that same booth, standing there before those tens of thousands, and thousands of people there. And I looked and I seen all that meeting gather together, and fade off to my right. Geographically, I was standing this way. And it faded to the left going this way, turning blue. And then right before me, stood blocked off streets like that, with people standing there, with their hands up praising God. Then He turned me to the east, and looked that way. And I seen people standing there with clouts, like on, like the Indians wear. And there were thousands of them, and they had their hands up air, just a praising God and screaming and praising God. And I couldn’t even see the end of them. And just about that time, come a great Angel from heaven, and stood be–over the top of me here, with a big Light. And that Light like on the end of one of these here operating lights on the front of a–of a big locomotive, and begin to throw. And the hillsides were sitting black and standing with people for a mile away nearly.
And I said, “Oh, are they all black people?” Then He turned my face here in front of me, to Durban again, and there was beautiful white men and women, standing with their hands up in the air, praising God. Then He turned me back again, and the great Light started going way back over the hills and showing. Then the Angel drew near. And I heard Him scream with a Voice, that shook me from the vision. Said, “There’ll be three hundred thousand of them in that meeting. THUS SAITH THE LORD mark it in your book.” I come out of it. I said, “My Lord and my God. Thanks be to You. I appreciate the stripes and the whipping that You give me for disobeying You. But from this on, Lord, knowingly, if I ever know again, I will never tie myself up with a bunch of nobody else preachers, managers, or no one else, but what I will be free to do what You say do. And I will go just where You say go, and do just what You say do the rest of my life. And I will always try to do just as You say do.” And about that time, here He come again. And I seen my Bible rise off the table, and come over to me like this. It was turned over to the place where Paul, in the storm, said, “You should have listened to Me, and not have loosed from Crete, but nevertheless, the Angel of the Lord Who stood by me, and so forth…”
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…And I said, “Sister Broy, the Angel of the Lord has appeared to me and told me, ‘Forget about the ameba. It’s going to be all right. And I’m going to have a meeting that’s going to consist of three hundred thousand people.’ And God,” I said, “my ministry is just now beginning.” I said, “I want to base it; I want to tear that thing out from where it was, and get rid of all these here leeches, and things a hanging on, so I can get to the people and tell them what’s the truth.” And that’s right. I said, “I’m tired of this and the man-made stuff anyhow. And I’m going to be where God can use me. I’m going to live right in that channel, as long as I live.”
From the original telling of the vision, it is clear that there was a contingency attached to it’s fulfillment. God was instructing Bro. Branham to obey him.
Disobedience to God
According to Bro. Branham himself, the vision failed to come to pass because of his own disobedience.
I had been very much constrained to go to–to India. And yet, as many of you might know, the Indian trip wasn’t the success that it should’ve been, because I failed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and never recognized it after He give me a vision to go to Africa first and then to India.INDIA.TRIP.REPORT LIMA.OH 57-0126B
Only last night on the fly leaf of my Bible, when it was sometime ago, in a vision that the Lord had given me and I spoke it to the church… And then He said to me, “Go to Africa then back to India.“
I said, “Yes, Lord.” And when Mr. Baxter told me in Canada, or in Chicago, said, “Let’s go to India. Let them Afrikaans alone. They won’t cooperate with us right.”
“All right,” I said. I forgot it. When I went home, the Angel of the Lord met me between the two rooms, a Pillar of Fire, a Light, the same One there. And He said, “You go to Africa like I said go.“
And a year later they talked me into it again and I forgot it. I didn’t write it down. And I was with my boy there in Portuguese, Lisbon, Portuguese. And I was stricken down sick all night. And the next morning I was going into the bathtub to take a little shower. And on my road in there, there stood the Angel of the Lord, said, “I thought I told you to go to Africa first.”I.STAND.AT.THE.DOOR.AND.KNOCK JEFF.IN 57-1208
The vision of the meeting with 300,000 attendees had the potential to come to pass in 1957, but instead of obeying God and traveling to South Africa, Bro. Branham instead went to India. Bro. Branham died in 1965 with the vision having never been fulfilled. He did however, continue to hope for its fulfillment throughout the remainder of his life.
Is there scriptural precedence?
Critics allege that because this vision failed to come to pass in Bro. Branham’s lifetime, it is proof he is a false prophet. However, we can find similar events in the scripture to use as a guide to interpret Bro. Branham’s situation.
Do not overlook the more important aspect of this vision and its full application: Bro. Branham was not fully doing the will of God in his early ministry. He was allowing men to lead him and set the agenda, rather than God. God was attempting to pull him out of that situation, and get him to change course. As a “carrot” to change course, God showed him if he would travel to Africa, he would have a meeting with 300,000 attendees. This vision was personal leadership for Bro. Branham’s life.
God can show someone a possible future for them, which is contingent on them obeying him. One example is Moses. In Exodus 3:14-17 God plainly says that he was going to take Moses and children of Israel who were living in Egypt into the promised land. But Moses and the children of Israel failed to obey God, and God did not fulfill to Moses what he offered. (Was God lying to Moses when said he would take him to the promised land? God did not even mention a contingency when he spoke the promise to Moses.) Much of what God offers to mankind is in the form of a covenant. Both sides have a responsibility in their covenant. If both sides fulfill their obligation under the covenant, then the promised offered by it is granted. But if one party fails, then the reward offered by the covenant is withheld. Bro. Branham failed to keep his side of the covenant with God and go to Africa, and instead went back on his word and let men convince him to go to India instead.
Can God’s word fail?
Of course, God’s word cannot fail. God told Moses he would take him to the Land of Israel, but he never did during his lifetime. God cannot be a liar. (Titus 1:2) So how can such a thing be reconciled? Very simply: Moses, after his Resurrection, will indeed go to the Land of Israel as promised by God. What God promised to him will be fulfilled – just not as quickly as it could have been. Likewise, there is no reason this vision of Bro. Branham cannot be fulfilled after his resurrection in the Millennium. Bro. Branham will be among the saints who will reign with Christ as Kings and Priests. Could a resurrected Bro. Branham stand before a crowd of 300,000 in Durban during the Millennium? I do not see why not. Someone is going to be teaching the natural people of the earth the gospel during the Millennium, and Bro. Branham will be one of those people, along with all the other resurrected saints.
It is possible to both interpret this vision as having failed due to disobedience, but yet still available to be fulfilled in the future, just like the word of God spoken to Moses promising him that he would enter into the Land of Israel that will one day be fulfilled.
This allegation by the critics is not grounds to declare Bro. Branham a false prophet. If it is, then we must also declare Moses a false prophet because he failed to enter the Land of Israel (along with all the people he had delivered) when he wrote in the bible that God had promised him it would happen.