by Rosalie Slater and Carole Adams
On October 12, 1492, the providential encounter between two worlds, which up to that time had no knowledge of one another, was an exploit which would revolutionize the entire globe. That feat broke the chains of the Ocean when three Andalusian caravels with their intrepid captain and courageous crew made landfall on the other side of the uncharted “Mar de las Tinieblas” [Sea of Darkness]. It was one of the greatest landmarks of history. It changed the concept people held, up to that time, of the physiognomy of the Earth, and opened up a new stage of God’s plan for the redemption of the world.
In God’s view, human history is not a haphazard series of accidental and unrelated events, but rather is a divine ordering of his plan for the world. God is sovereign over all creation and, as Lord of History, ultimately controls the world’s destiny, and will accomplish his purpose in the course of history.
For our generation, an equally significant landmark of history was the courageous publication of the Columbus Book of Prophecies translated from the original by Kay Brigham in 1991. This translation unveils the previously hidden primary source of the Columbus history in the Admiral’s own indisputable words.
After the third voyage, Columbus and his brothers were returned to Spain in chains as a result of the chaos in Hispaniola. At this time he wrote his Book of Prophecies revealing his extraordinary intellectual and spiritual formation. It explains his vision of history and his enterprise to the Indies and his role in the scheme of world history. He was a prolific writer, and though the Book of Prophecies is a compilation of scripture, his prefatory letter to the sovereigns of Spain clearly explains his goal in the compilation.
At this time I have seen and put in study to look into all the Scriptures, cosmography, histories, chronicles and philosophy and other arts, which our Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense his hand upon me), so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies; and he unlocked within me the determination to execute the idea . . . I have already said that for the execution of the enterprise of the indies neither reason nor mathematics, nor world maps were profitable to me; rather the prophecy of Isaiah was completely fulfilled.—Brigham, p. 53, 54
Consequently the thesis of this book is that the Bible was the principal source of inspiration for the great Columbian enterprise and that for this reason, the Book of Prophecies is an indispensable document for reconstructing the Admiral’s self-image and for understanding his Christian faith, the most powerful incentive in his life. What a person believes determines his or her interpretation of life and of history. And belief, or what is held to be true, is what inspires vision and purpose in life. The Book of Prophecies documents the great Discoverer’s perspective on human existence, the one which motivated him all his life. The Admiral believed in the absolute sovereignty of God over creation and over history. He believed that God has spoken to mankind and has revealed his plan for the world in the Bible, the infallible Word of God. Columbus believed that each child of God has the high mission to be God’s instrument, to collaborate with the Lord in the fulfillment of his purposes.
The working out of all things was entrusted by our Lord to each person, [but it happens] in conformity with his sovereign will, even though he gives advice to many . . . I found our Lord well-disposed toward my heart’s desire, and he gave me the spirit of intelligence for the task . . . Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? He [the Spirit] with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony . . . encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they inflame me with a sense of great urgency.—Brigham, p. 43
The discovery of the New World was not the result of chance or even the result of the genius of the visionary and tenacious Genoese navigator who dared to challenge the mighty Ocean. The Lord chooses nations and individuals to accomplish his purposes in history. And, without a doubt, Christopher Columbus considered himself a divinely chosen man, predestined to carry out God’s designs, and, according to the work of the Lord, “A man to fulfill my purpose” [Isa 46:11].
. . . at a very early age I went to sea and have continued navigating until today. The art of sailing is favorable for anyone who wants to pursue the knowledge of this world’s secrets. I have already been at this business for forty years. I have sailed all the waters which, up to now, have been navigated.
The Book of Prophecies shows repeatedly that the voyage was the fruit of the faith of a man who had an extensive knowledge of God’s plan for the world, revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and of the particular role that he was to play in the fulfillment of the divine purposes. The Discoverer esteemed himself an instrument of God, a man predestined to realize the Great Enterprise of reaching by a western route, the exotic India, Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan) of Marco Polo, and of rescuing Jerusalem and the Holy Places. A self-taught man, Columbus not only profited from the reading of a wide range of books, but also formed the interchange with erudite people of the time.—Brigham, p. 47
I have had dealings and conversations with learned people—clergymen and laymen, Latins and Greeks, Jews and Moors, and with many others of other sects . . .In seamanship I made good use of astrology (practical astronomy of the time) . . . as well as geometry and arithmetic and ingenuity of intellect and of manual skill to draw spherical maps which show the cities, rivers, and mountains, islands, and ports—everything in its proper place.—Brigham, p. 49
Columbus believed that his name “Christopher” was given him, not by accident, but by the will of God to designate his mission. Thus many of Columbus’s writings show this enigmatic signature which consists of letters placed in the shape of a pyramid. The letters of the signature have been interpreted in many ways, but the most probable explanation is the simplest: SSAS [Servant I am of the Most High Savior.]—Brigham p. 144
The Admiral undertook the High Voyage of Faith—faith in God to accomplish the Enterprise of the Indies knowing he would succeed because it was all for God’s glory. He could have turned back when his sailing companions grew fearful of the unknown ocean, refused to take any more risks, and were of a mind to return to Spain; but Columbus sailed on, because his was God’s mission, and there was to be no giving up. His eye of faith saw that just beyond the horizon was landfall. In the style of that intrepid mariner, we too may undertake high voyages of faith, finding in God, through his Word, the guidance and inspiration for out enterprises.
No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior, if it is right and if the purpose is purely for his holy service . . .—Brigham, p. 169, 170
Christopher Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, Reproduction of the Original Manuscript with English Translation, Kay—Brigham, 1991,TSELF, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Christopher Columbus: His Life and Discovery in Light of His Prophecies, Kay—Brigham, 1990, Libros Clie, Terrassa, Spain.
Used by Permission