Love Under Fire


The Disciples’ Message Compared to the 1844 Message

The experience of the disciples at the first coming of Christ had its counterpart in the experience of those who announced His second coming. As the disciples preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the last prophetic period in the Bible was about to end, that the judgment was about to take place, and that the everlasting kingdom would soon be established. The disciples’ preaching about the time was based on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The message that Miller and his associates gave announced the end of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based on the fulfillment of a different part of the same prophetic period. LF 147.4

Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not fully understand the message they carried. Long established errors in the church prevented them from correctly interpreting an important point in the prophecy. So although they gave the message God had committed to them, yet because of a misunderstanding of its meaning they suffered disappointment. LF 147.5

Miller adopted the widely held view that the earth is the “sanctuary,” and he believed that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” represented the purification of the earth by fire when Jesus would return. Therefore, he concluded, the close of the 2,300 days revealed the time of the Second Advent. LF 148.1

The cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service the high priest performed in the yearly cycle of worship. It was the closing work of the atonement—a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It illustrated beforehand the closing work of our High Priest in heaven in removing or blotting out the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves investigation, a work of judgment, and it takes place just before the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, for when He comes, every case has been decided. Jesus says, “My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12). This is the work of judgment that the first angel's message of Revelation 14:7 announces: “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come.” LF 148.2

Those who proclaimed this warning gave the right message at the right time. As the disciples were mistaken about the kingdom to be set up at the end of the “seventy weeks,” so Adventists were mistaken about the event to take place at the end of the “2,300 days.” In both cases popular errors blinded the mind to truth. Both groups fulfilled the will of God in delivering the message He wanted given, and both experienced disappointment through misunderstanding their message. LF 148.3

Yet God accomplished His will in permitting the judgment warning to be given as it was. In His plan the message was to test and purify the church. Were their hearts set on this world or on Christ and heaven? Were they ready to turn away from their worldly ambitions and welcome the advent of their Lord? LF 148.4

The disappointment would also test the hearts of those who had claimed to receive the warning. Would they rashly give up their experience and throw away their confidence in God's Word when called to endure the scorn of the world and the test of delay and disappointment? Because they did not immediately understand God's dealings, would they reject truths that the clear testimony of His Word upheld? LF 148.5

This test would teach them the danger of accepting human interpretations instead of making the Bible its own interpreter. It would lead the children of faith to a closer study of the Word, to examine the foundation of their faith more carefully and to reject everything, no matter how widely accepted by the Christian world, that was not based on Scripture. LF 148.6

The things that seemed dark in the hour of trial would later be made plain. Despite the ordeal resulting from their errors, they would learn by a blessed experience that the Lord is “very compassionate and merciful,” and that all His paths “are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (James 5:11; Psalm 25:10). LF 148.7