Love Under Fire


Chapter 22—Prophecies Fulfilled

When the spring of 1844 passed—the time when people first expected the Lord's coming—those who had looked for His appearing experienced doubt and uncertainty. Many continued to search the Scriptures, examining again the evidence for their faith. The prophecies, clear and certain, pointed to the coming of Christ as near. The blessing of the Lord in converting and reviving Christians had testified that the message was from Heaven. Interwoven with prophecies that they thought applied to the time of the Second Advent was instruction encouraging them to wait patiently in faith that what was now unclear to them would be made plain. Among these prophecies was Habakkuk 2:1-4. No one, however, noticed that an apparent delay—a tarrying time—is in the prophecy. After the disappointment, this scripture seemed very significant: “The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.... The just shall live by his faith.” LF 163.1

Ezekiel's prophecy also comforted the believers: “Thus says the Lord GOD: ... ‘The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.... I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed.’” “The word which I speak will be done.” (Ezekiel 12:23, 25, 28.) LF 163.2

Those who were waiting rejoiced. God, who knows the end from the beginning, had given them hope. Without Scriptures like these, their faith would have failed. LF 163.3

The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 also illustrates the experience of the Adventist people. Here we see the church in the last days. Their experience is illustrated by the events of an Eastern marriage: LF 163.4

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’” (Matthew 25:1-6). LF 163.5

The coming of the bridegroom represented the coming of Christ, as announced by the first angel's message. The virgins’ going out to meet the bridegroom corresponded to the widespread reformation that accompanied the message of Christ's soon coming. In this parable, all had taken their lamps, the Bible, and had gone “out to meet the bridegroom.” But while the foolish “took no oil with them,” “the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” They had studied the Scriptures to learn the truth and had a personal experience, a faith in God that disappointment and delay could not overthrow. The others responded to emotion, to their fears that the message stirred up. But they had depended on the faith of the “wise,” satisfied with the flickering light of emotion, without a thorough understanding of truth or a genuine work of grace in the heart. These had gone out “to meet” the Lord, expecting an immediate reward, but they were not prepared for delay and disappointment. Their faith failed. LF 163.6

“While the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” This extended waiting for the bridegroom represents the passing of the time, the disappointment, the seeming delay. Those who based their faith on a personal knowledge of the Bible had a rock to stand on, which the waves of disappointment could not wash away. “They all slumbered and slept,” one class in abandoning their faith, the other patiently waiting till clearer light would come. The superficial ones could no longer lean on the faith of the others. Each must stand or fall for himself. LF 164.1