Believe His Prophets


Chapter 5—The Gift of Prophecy in the Advent Movement

Let us now project ourselves in imagination back to the year 1844. Many, with William Miller in the lead, were fervently preaching that the coming of Christ and the end of the world would be on October 22, 1844. Excitement ran high. Thousands upon thousands were seriously preparing to meet Christ as He would come in the clouds of heaven. Hundreds of thousands stood by a bit restless and uncertain, but hoping to make the right decision by the fateful day, afraid that He might come, and at the same time hoping that He would not come. BHP 58.1

Several years ago D. E. Robinson, my wife, and I made a tour into New England, visiting those old places of historical interest connected with the Advent Movement, and in our travels we came to William Miller’s old farm. It was just about sundown when we went out back of the barn to a big flat rock that juts out like a dome in the old field. On that rock we stood that evening and watched the sun go down, but we thought of that little group of Advent people who assembled there on October 22, 1844. BHP 58.2

Elder Robinson told the story in great detail. I wish you could have been there to hear that thrilling narrative. I have never heard it before or since in such detail and with such feeling as he told it that evening. Standing out there on that dome-shaped rock, we could see in all directions, and the sky appeared most beautiful. We could see in all four directions without any obstructions to our view. In the stillness of eventide, as he recounted the story, I could almost feel myself among that group on October 22, looking at the sky, watching for the appearance of Christ, as a small cloud, which would come closer and closer. But the sun went down that fateful evening and He did not come. I could actually sense the disappointment of that early Advent group. My heart went out to them in their bitter disappointment. BHP 59.1

The evening wore on, and they waited far into the night before they fully realized that they had fixed their hopes upon something that had not been fulfilled; it was indeed a terrible disappointment. Out of that disappointment on October 22 came confusion, and a scattering of the Advent believers. It was not long until nearly everybody had a different idea, or reason, for the apparent failure of their hope, and out of that failure came much sadness and discontent. BHP 59.2

To the Advent believers the passing of October 22 without incident was indeed a terrible disappointment, resulting in frustration, confusion, division, fanaticism, and a sense of defeat and loneliness. This was heightened by the taunts of their enemies. Something indeed had gone wrong. As was to be expected, many Advent believers slipped back into the world and walked no more with God’s peculiar people. Many others figured that the event was right but that the time was wrong, and formed a group that set one date after another. A very small number of Advent believers studied the question through again and concluded that the time was right but the event was wrong. And so it was in the latter part of 1844. BHP 59.3