Love Under Fire


In Different Countries Simultaneously

Like the Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Advent movement appeared in different countries at the same time. God led people of faith to study the prophecies, and they saw convincing evidence that the end was near. Isolated groups of Christians arrived at the belief that the Savior's coming was near, just by studying the Scriptures. LF 149.6

Three years after Miller had arrived at his understanding of the prophecies, Dr. Joseph Wolff, “the missionary to the world,” began to proclaim the Lord's soon coming. Born in Germany of Hebrew parents, he was convinced while very young that the Christian religion was true. He had listened eagerly to conversations in his father's house as devout Hebrews came together to discuss the hopes of their people, the glory of the coming Messiah, and the restoration of Israel. One day, hearing Jesus of Nazareth mentioned, the boy inquired who He was. “A Jew of the greatest talent,” was his father's answer; “but because He pretended to be the Messiah, the Jewish tribunal sentenced Him to death.” LF 150.1

“Why,” the boy asked, “is Jerusalem destroyed, and why are we in captivity?” LF 150.2

“Alas, alas!” answered his father, “because the Jews murdered the prophets.” The thought immediately came to the child, “Perhaps Jesus was also a prophet, and the Jews killed Him when He was innocent.” Although he was forbidden to enter a Christian church, he often lingered outside to listen to the preaching. When only seven years old, he was boasting to a Christian neighbor of Israel's future triumph when the Messiah would come. The old man said kindly: “Dear boy, I will tell you who the real Messiah was. He was Jesus of Nazareth, ... whom your ancestors have crucified.... Go home and read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and you will be convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”1 LF 150.3

He went home and read the scripture, amazed to see how perfectly it had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Were the words of the Christian true? The boy asked his father for an explanation of the prophecy but was met with silence so stern that he never again dared to refer to the subject. LF 150.4

When only eleven years old, he went out into the world to gain an education, to choose his religion and his lifework. Alone and with no money, he had to make his own way. He studied diligently, supporting himself by teaching Hebrew. He came to accept the Catholic faith and went to pursue his studies in the College of the Propaganda at Rome. Here he openly attacked the abuses of the church and urged reform. After a time, he was sent away from Rome. It became clear that he could never be brought to submit to the rule of Romanism. He was declared to be beyond hope and was allowed to go where he pleased. He made his way to England and joined the English Church. After two years’ study, in 1821 he set out on his mission. LF 150.5

Wolff saw that the prophecies point to Christ's second coming with power and glory. While he tried to lead his people to Jesus of Nazareth as the Promised One, to point them to His first coming as a sacrifice for sin, he also taught them about His second coming. LF 150.6

Wolff believed the coming of the Lord was very near. His interpretation of the prophetic periods placed it within a few years of the time that Miller pointed out. “Did our Lord ... not give us signs of the times, so that we may know at least the approach of His coming, as one knows the approach of the summer by the fig tree putting forth its leaves? Enough ... shall be known by the signs of the times to persuade us to prepare for His coming, as Noah prepared the ark.”2 LF 151.1