Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission

B. The Millerite Apocalyptic-Eschatological Motives for Mission

This section discusses Miller’s hermeneutical principles without which it is impossible to understand the biblical motives underlying the mission thrust of the Millerite movement. In the exposition of the motives for mission references to these principles will be made. This study has been confined to apocalyptic-eschatological motives because these were overwhelmingly dominant in the Millerite literature. The concept of “the time of the end” provided a general motivation for Millerites based on the theological significance of certain historical incidents, while concepts such as the time of the Second Advent, the Midnight Cry, and the Judgment Hour message characterized their specific mission motivation. Several of these concepts were also prevalent in the circle of evangelical Christianity. However, it was especially the view of an imminent premillennial parousia associated with a definite time setting that made the following apocalyptic views an integral part of the Millerite mission thrust. FSDA 16.2

1. Hermeneutical principles

The two major published sources enumerating Miller’s hermeneutical principles are the introduction to his lectures and a letter he wrote regarding principles of biblical interpretation. The introduction to his lectures discussed especially the principles of interpreting apocalyptic-eschatology, which he considered as predictive prophecy. In 1840, however, one of Miller’s letters summarizing his rules of hermeneutic was published. 1 These rules came to be known as “Miller’s Rules of Bible Interpretation.” 2 The major part of the following discussion is based on these rules as they were published by Apollos Hale (see Appendix 1). 3 FSDA 16.3

In general Miller’s hermeneutical principles were a part of the Protestant hermeneutical tradition which can be traced back to the primitive church. 4 His hermeneutic was based on the presuppositions of the sola scriptura principle and the unity and self-authentication of Scripture. 5 The first four hermeneutical rules dealt with general rules of interpretation. Miller indicated that the Christian canon provided the context for interpretation and that Scripture can be understood 7 (Rule I). He advocated the hermeneutical rule that Scripture is its own expositor, and based it on the concept of the Bible as an ultimate norm (Rule III). The principle of the analogy of Scripture and its application to a particular subject he frequently used as a means to understand Scripture (Rule IV). As to its application he stressed that the importance of “every word” had to be taken into consideration (Rules II, IV). Not only a word but also a sentence had its importance: “Let every word have its own scriptural meaning, every sentence its proper bearing, and have no contradiction, and your theory will and must of necessity be correct.” 1 He also suggested that when all scriptural passages related to a particular subject were brought together, each word and sentence should have “its proper bearing and force in the grand whole.” 2 FSDA 17.1

The remaining rules were predominantly concerned with principles of interpreting apocalyptic-eschatology. This, according to Miller, included visions, symbols, and parables, and had prophetic significance. He referred to existing prophetic parallels which were complements to each other requiring integration to achieve their full understanding 3 (Rule V). This rule led ro the important question: Do the words of Scripture have a literal or nonliteral sense? Miller’s hermeneutic gave preference to a literal interpretation of a word as long as it contextually made “good sense.” But, if its literal meaning violated “the simple laws of nature” the word had to be interpreted in a figurative sense (Rule VII). 4 FSDA 18.1

Miller devoted special attention to interpreting symbols. According to him, symbols always had a “figurative meaning,” explaining that, when used in prophecy, symbols could have, for example, the following significance: mountains, meaning governments; beasts, kingdoms; waters, people; lamp, Word of God; day, year 5 (Rule VIII). However, he acknowledged that symbols had also a “metaphorical meaning” which signified “some peculiar quality of the thing prophecied of—by the most prominent feature or quality of the figure used, as beasts; if a lion, power and rule; if a leopard, celerity; if a bear voracious; [if] an ox, submissive.” 6 He, therefore, remarked that “almost all figures used in prophecy have their literal and metaphorical meaning; as beasts denote, literally, a kingdom; so metaphorically good and bad, as the case may be, to be understood by the subject in connection.” 8 The meaning of symbols could be obtained through the use of the principle of analogy of Scripture and the “good sense” idea within the Context of the canon (Rule IX). He recognized the importance of the immediate context by indicating that because of different contextual situations a particular symbol could have different significance 1 especially, reference was made to the various symbolic meanings of the word “day” (Rule XI). Frequently Miller and most of his contemporaries 2 made use of the so-called “year-day” principle which had been employed by interpreters for many centuries 4 as a key to determine the time element in symbolic prophecy. This principle indicated that a prophetic day stood symbolically for a literal solar year, a prophetic month for 30 literal years, and a prophetic year for 360 literal years. On the basis of the analogy-of-Scripture principle, the biblical evidence for this approach was found in Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6, and the fulfillment of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9. Parables, Miller said, should be interpreted like symbols through the application of the analogy-of-Scripture principle to a particular subject within the context of the canon (Rule XI). FSDA 18.2

In determining the fulfillment of prophecies he employed the hermeneutical principle that symbols were not to be fulfilled in a figurative manner but stood for a historical reality. For example, the symbols in the books of Daniel and Revelation were seen to depict the history of God’s people from the time of their inception till the end of the world. Thus Miller might be classified with the “historicists”-a term used by some scholars to designate this hermeneutic. 6 Miller’s procedure in discovering the predicted event was first to determine the meaning of the symbol, then to locate a historical event which would literally fulfill “every word” of the passage (Rule XII). 7 This approach to symbolic prophecy, which will be designated by the term “historicization,” did not originate with Miller but had deep roots in the Christian tradition. 8 FSDA 19.1

In prophetic interpretation Miller also used the principle of typology, employing it to bring out the fuller import of a text. He rationalized such methodology through the following reasoning: FSDA 19.2

Prophecy is sometimes typical, that is, partially fulfilled in one event, but completely only in the last. Such was the prophecy concerning Isaac, partly fulfilled in him, wholly so in Christ; likewise the prophecies concerning the Jewish captivity in Babylon, and their return, are only partly accomplished in the history of those events; the description of these things in the prophets, are so august and magnificent, that if only applicable to the Jews’ return, the exposition would be weak, inefficient and barren. Therefore I humbly believe, that the exact fulfillment can only be looked for in the captivity of the church, destruction of mystical Babylon, and final glorification of the saints in the new Jerusalem state. 1 FSDA 20.1

In this context he pointed to the intimate relationship between the Old and New Testament, particularly referring to a continuity of symbolism between these two books. 2 FSDA 20.2

Miller’s final and most important hermeneutical rule was that the interpreter of Scripture must have a faith that would not question or doubt “any part of God’s word” (Rule XIII). 3 It was his conviction that the biblical motives for his mission efforts rested solidly on these principles of interpretation. It will be seen that the following motives, which were the results of this hermeneutic, indeed framed the basic pillars of the Advent or Millerite movement. FSDA 20.3

2. The “time of the end.”

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Daniel 12:4. FSDA 20.4

The expression “the time of the end” was taken from Daniel 12:4, 9 and characterized all missionary motives of the Millerites. It was frequently used in the polemic against postmillennialists. In describing the era in which he was living, Miller wrote in 1831 that they were “almost on the threshold of Eternity when the Gospel dispensation is closing up”; this was “the last state of the Church militant.” 4 FSDA 20.5

The Millerite concept of “the time of the end” was determined by use of a historicist hermeneutic which interpreted a number of transpiring historical events during the 18th and 19th centuries as fulfillment of Bible prophecy. To some Millerites this concept signified a point of time, others felt it was a period of time. Miller himself said that the “time of the end” meant the end of the power of the pope “to tread on the Church by his civil authority, or reign over the kings of the earth, and to dispose of lands for gain.” 1 Papal power came to an end during the French Revolution when, “in the beginning of the year 1798, on the fifteenth of February, a French general, Berthier, entered Rome with a French army without resistance, deposed the Pope, abolished the Papal government and erected the republic of Italy.” 2 Other Millerites, although adhering to the principal event of 1798, expanded this concept. Some years later Josiah Litch wrote that the time of the end had begun at the time of the unsealing of the book of Daniel in 1798. 4 By this he meant that in that year the significance of the time element of “a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25) became clear. Litch stated that the time of the end was “not a single point of time, but a period, extending from 1798 to the end itself.” FSDA 20.6

The next section deals with the Millerite theological interpretation of historical events such as the captivity of the pope, cosmic phenomena, and the decline of the Ottoman empire which were basic to their understanding of the time of the end. FSDA 21.1

a. The end of the 1260 days. FSDA 21.2

The approach to the different apocalyptic passages in Daniel and Revelation was based upon the idea held by a long tradition of historicist interpreters 5 that these passages represented a symbolic prophetic time-sequence parallelism, 6 covering approximately the same period in history. Each prophecy explained this period in different symbolic imagery and was complementary to the others. Thus, the image of Daniel 2 was seen as a symbolic picture of salvation-historical events covering the time from the sixth century B.C. to the Second Advent; Daniel 7, 8, 11, 12 were thought to cover the same historical territory, and taken together they seemed to complement and confirm each other. Similar symbolic prophetic parallelism was found in Revelation, describing in symbols the history of the Christian church till the restoration of all things. During the time of the Millerites, many other evangelical Christians held somewhat similar views on prophecy. 7 FSDA 21.3

William Miller, when applying his hermeneutic, noticed in the various apocalyptic passages a recurring theme of controversy between the people of God and their enemies. In his analysis of the persecuting powers of God’s people throughout the ages he developed the concept of the two abominations, defined as paganism (the first abomination) symbolizing the persecuting force outside the church, and the papacy (the second abomination) representing the persecuting power within the church. 1 It was the motif of the two abominations that characterized most of his following prophetic interpretations. FSDA 21.4

The image of Daniel 2 Miller interpreted as a “prophecy of the four kingdoms which would arise in the world, from that same time, until the end of all earthly kingdoms.” 2 The golden head of the image was a symbol of the “Chaldean kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar,” the breast and arms denoted the “Mede and Persian kingdom which began [with] Cyrus after the destruction of the Babylonish kingdom,” the belly and thighs represented the “Grecian monarchy,” the legs and feet of the image indicated the Roman empire, and the kingdom of Christ was signified by the stone that destroyed the image and filled the whole earth. 3 In a later publication his interpretation of the “Roman Kingdom,” iron-clay phase, reflected the two-abominations motif. Thus he could refer to the mixture of the iron and clay in the feet and toes of the image as “pagan” and “papal” Rome “both ‘mixing themselves with the seed of man,’ [2:43] that is uniting church and state, ecclesiastical and civil, in government. 1 FSDA 22.1

Miller interpreted the “four great beasts” of Daniel 7 similarly. The lion stood for Babylon, the bear for the Medo-Persian kingdom, the leopard for the Grecian kingdom under Alexander, and the fourth beast represented the Roman empire. In the interpretation of the fourth beast the two-abominations motif was again manifested. The ten horns of this beast, which were compared with the ten toes of the image, alluded to “the ten kingdoms, in which the Western or Roman Empire was divided about A.D. 476 by the Goths, Huns, and Vandals. 2 The ten kingdoms he considered to be “England, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Prussia, Ravenna, Lombardy, and Rome.” 3 Josiah Litch felt, however, that the ten horns signified the Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi and Alans, the Burgundians, the Heruli and “Rugii or Thuringi,” the Saxons and Angles, and the Lombards. 5 The little horn was interpreted by Miller, as was done by many other evangelical Protestants, as the papal power which arose among these ten kingdoms. Litch designated the three horns that were plucked up as the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Vandals. According to Miller they represented Ravenna, Lombardy, and Rome and were called the “states of the Church” by the pope’s authority. The reign of papal Rome, which was to be destroyed at Christ’s return, was given in 7:25 as “a time and times and the dividing of times.” Miller’s application of the year-day principle to this expression resulted in the following calculation: “time” was considered as one prophetic year, or 360 prophetic days; “times” as 2 prophetic years, or 720 prophetic days; “dividing of time” as a half prophetic year, or 180 prophetic days. The sum total amounted to 1260 prophetic days or 1260 literal years. 1 The 1260-year period began in 538 when he thought Justinian, the emperor of the Eastern empire, made the bishop of Rome universal bishop. 2 According to Litch, 4 538 saw the lifting of the Ostrogoth’s siege of Rome and their overthrow by Justinian’s General Belisarius, resulting in the restoration of the city of Rome to the emperor and contributing to the rise of papal authority. The end of the 1260 years’ reign of the little horn Miller calculated as 1798 when during the French Revolution “the pope lost his power to tread the Church underfoot, and to reign over the kings of the earth.” FSDA 23.1

Another prophetic parallelism, related to the 1260-day period and interpreted in the context of the second abomination, was found in Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. In 11:2, 3 it was stated that “the court which is without the temple ... is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.” The two witnesses Miller believed to be the Scriptures with its two covenants or testaments. 5 The court was seen as the Christian church, trodden down for forty-two months or 1260 prophetic days which, according to the year-day principle, signified 1260 actual years. During this period, the Scriptures prophesied while in sackcloth. Again, Miller applied it to the period 538 to 1798, during which the Christian church was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and the reading of Scripture by laymen was suppressed. 6 The next prophetic parallel covering the same period was seen in 12:6, “the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Miller identified the woman as the church, cared for by God during the 1260 days. The designated period was again from 538 till 1798 “during which time, the true church, or those who believed in Jesus Christ, and would not bow down and worship Papacy, were not permitted any civil rights, under any of the governments composing the Roman kingdom.” 1 The last parallel passage was placed in the context of a beast which emerged out of the sea (13:1). In his early period this imagery signified to Miller the development of the papacy. 2 The blasphemous acts of the beast and the forty-two months duration of its power (13:5, 6) were interpreted as symbols of the blasphemous claims of the papacy and its period of domination during “forty-two prophetic months, which is 1260 years” from 538 to 1798. 3 FSDA 24.1

Thus, it was obvious that the year 1798 was of special significance to those who accepted this method of apocalyptic interpretation. The recent events of the French Revolution in relation to the Roman Catholic Church were seen as the fulfillment of Daniel 12:4. The time of the end had arrived, for the apocalyptic passages had been unsealed, and their significance had become clear. FSDA 25.1

b. Cosmic signs. FSDA 25.2

During the last decades of the 18th century and the early decades of the 19th century, certain phenomena occurred in nature that were interpreted by various evangelical Christians as signs of the approaching end of the world. Several Millerites had identified “the great tribulation” of Mt. 24:21 as the church suffering under the persecution of pagan and papal Rome, 4 the two abominations. The Reformation they recognized as the instrument to shorten the days of this tribulation (Mt. 24:27). 5 Then their minds had been directed to the cosmic signs of Matthew 24:29 which were to take place after the tribulation. The sudden darkening of the sun and full moon in a section of the eastern part of the North American continent on May 19, 1780 was seen as a fulfillment of Mt. 24:29, Revelation 6:12, and Joel 2:31. In America many had interpreted this event as a sign of the Second Advent, later literature referring to the day as the “Dark Day of May 19, 1780.” 1 The next sign to be expected, according to Mt. 24:29 and Revelation 6:13, was that of the falling of the stars. When the most spectacular meteoric shower on record occurred over the Western Hemisphere on November 15, 1833, it was seen as the fulfillment of these texts. 2 Such events, coupled in at least one editorial with the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, 4 were frequently mentioned in Millerite literature. During the year 1843 the most brilliant comet of the century appeared and an increase in celestial phenomena was reported in the newspapers. These phenomena were another indication to believers that they were living in the time of the end. Miller himself, however, seemed to favor a nonliteral interpretation of these signs. FSDA 25.3

c. The fall of the Turkish or Ottoman empire. FSDA 26.1

The events that occurred on August 11, 1840 were an important boost to the missionary enthusiasm of the Millerite movement. The significance of this date was based on the historicist view of the seven trumpets of Revelation 8 and Revelation 9. According to Litch the sounding of the seven trumpets symbolized “the instrumentalities by which the Roman empire was to be overthrown and subverted, and finally ruined.” 1 He indicated that under the first four trumpets (Revelation 8) the western part of the Roman empire fell, under the fifth and sixth trumpet (Revelation 9) “the eastern empire was crushed,” and finally under the seventh trumpet “great Babylon entire will sink to rise no more at all.” 2 Many of Litch’s contemporaries applied the fifth and sixth trumpet to Muhammadanism, or Islam, and the Ottoman empire arising out of that religious system. 4 In Revelation 9:3, 5, 10 the Turkish empire was symbolized as locusts commissioned to torment men for five months or 150 prophetic days, representing 150 actual years according to the year-day principle. Litch accepted the idea that the Ottoman empire was to torment the “Greek empire.” The crucial question was the precise time when the tormenting began. Litch’s authority for his answer was Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, according to which the Ottoman Turks first entered the territory of Nicomedia and attacked the Greeks on July 27, 1299. From this, Litch inferred that the 150 years would finish in 1449 when the fifth trumpet would end and the sixth begin to sound (9:13), and indicated that from 1299 to 1449 the Turks were continually tormenting the Greeks by wars without conquering them. The events related to the succession of the Greek throne in Constantinople in 1449 were interpreted as the fulfillment of the 150 years. In that year the Greek emperor died and left the throne to his brother, Deacozes. But before Deacozes dared ascend the throne, he sent ambassadors to Anereth, the Turkish Sultan, to request his permission. Thus, according to Litch, his independence was gone before the fall of the city in 1453 and the “Turkish nations were therefore loosed by divine command.” FSDA 26.2

The sixth trumpet of Revelation 9 depicted the conquest and killing done by the Ottoman empire. The duration of the supremacy of this power was “an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” (9:15). The actual time was again found by using the year-day principle. An hour was 15 days; a day, one year; a month, 30 years; and a year, 360 literal years, the whole amounting to 391 years and 15 days. Thus, to Litch the completion of the sixth trumpet, or the end of the Ottoman supremacy, should occur “150 years” and “391 years and 15 days” after July 27, 1299, that is, precisely on August 11, 1840. To this conclusion he arrived about two weeks before the expected event. 1 Several months later another article by Litch on the Eastern question appeared in which he claimed that the latest political developments were a confirmation of his prediction. The Sultan of the empire had been engaged in a quarrel with Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt. The Pasha rebelled against the Sultan, declared his independence, and conquered a large part of the Ottoman empire and fleet. This aroused the Western European powers, who wanted to restore the balance of power. A conference was held in London on July 15, 1840 and an ultimatum was drawn up demanding the Pasha to return part of his conquests and the Sultan’s fleet. Rifaat Bey, the Sultan’s envoy, was sent to Alexandria to communicate the ultimatum to the Pasha. Litch felt that the end of the prophetic period of Revelation 9:15 and the end of the supremacy of the Sultan were inseparably connected with the ultimatum of the great powers to Mehemet Ali. As long as the decision of that conference remained in the hands of Rifaat Bey, the Sultan maintained his independence. But when the ultimatum had been passed into the Pasha’s hands, the question of war or peace was beyond the Sultan’s control. This happened, Litch said, when “Rifaat Bey arrived at Alexandria on the 11th of August and threw the decision of the affair into the hands of Mehemet Ali. And from that time it was out of the sultan’s power to control the affairs. It lay with Mehemet Ali to say whether there should be war or peace.” 2 According to Litch, this was the conclusion of the sixth trumpet, and since the 11th of August the Ottoman power in Constantinople had been “entirely under the dictation of the great Christian powers of Europe.” 3 He concluded his remarks by stressing the urgency of the times: FSDA 27.1

I am entirely satisfied that on the 11th of August, 1840, The Ottoman power according to previous calculation DEPARTED TO RETURN NO MORE. I can now say with utmost confidence, “The second woe is past and behold the third woe cometh quickly [Revelation 11:14].” “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments lest he walk naked and they see his shame [[16:15].” 1 FSDA 28.1

Litch’s most complete exposition of the Eastern question was published more than a year later. 2 From additional evidence he concluded that on the same 11th of August the Sultan applied in Constantinople to the ambassadors of the major powers for information in case the Pasha should reject the ultimatum. The requested information was not given, on the basis that provision had already been made. Litch reacted by asking, “Where was the sultan’s independence that day? GONE. Who had the supremacy of the Ottoman empire in their hands? The great powers.3 FSDA 29.1

This interpretation of Revelation 9 contributed considerably to the awareness of the time of the end because they thought that one of the last signs of the times had taken place. An editorial comment on Litch’s findings stated that if the Ottoman supremacy had departed, then the end of the world was imminent. 4 Litch’s prediction was a great stimulus to the missionary zeal of the Millerite movement. Years later a participant commented that it was to “the advent movement what the power of steam is on the machinery of the railroad locomotive. So from the 11th day of August, 1840, the advent cause and message, or angel, careered on its way with greater power than ever before.5 FSDA 29.2

3. The time of the Second Advent

In the first half of the 19th century in America and Europe there was among historicists a gradual shift of interest from Daniel 7 and the 1260 days to Daniel 8, leading to an upsurge of Second Advent expectancy throughout Christendom. The focal point of their attention was the “two thousand and three hundred days” (Daniel 8:14), which was interpreted by many Protestant commentators with the year-day principle. 6 The reason for this shift in prophetic interest seems to have been that they were satisfied with the view that the 1260 days had been fulfilled sometime during the French Revolution, while the end of the 2300 days was to be expected in the immediate future. 1 FSDA 29.3

Contemporary commentators who considered Daniel 8:14 as predictive prophecy but did not apply the year-day principle to the 2300 days interpreted this period as literal days fulfilled in the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV, Epiphanes. 2 Most contemporary American and European historicists, however, were convinced that this period began sometime between 457 and 453 B.C. and would end between A.D. 1843 and 1847. 3 The application of the year-day principle generally resulted in two interpretations of the little horn (8:9-14): (1) Pagan and papal Rome; (2) Muhammadanism (Islam). 5 Yet, many historicists looked to the end of the 2300 days as the inauguration of some significant event such as the cleansing or purification of the church, the restoration of true worship, the destruction of antichrist or papacy, the liberation of Palestine or Jerusalem from the Muslims, the dissolution of Islam, the fall of Turkey, the beginning of the millennium, the establishment of the kingdom, the Day of Judgment, or the Second Advent. FSDA 30.1

Postmillennialists generally expected the establishment of a millennial kingdom and a gradual conversion of the world for 1000 years, at the end of which Christ would return. 6 Litch designated such persons as “Millennists.” 7 Premillennialists, however, looked for Christ’s coming at the beginning of His millennial reign on earth with His saints. Litch distinguished two categories of premillennialists, Adventists (Millerites) 8 and Millenarians, their major distinctions being that FSDA 30.2

the Millennarians [sic] believe in the premillennial advent of Christ, and his personal reign for a thousand years before the consummation or the end of the present world, and creation of the new heavens and earth, and the descent of the New Jerusalem. While the Adventists believe in the end of the world or age, the destruction of the wicked, the dissolution of the earth, the renovation of nature, and the descent of New Jerusalem will be at the beginning of the thousand years. The Millennarians believe in the return of the Jews, as such, either before, at, or after the advent of Christ, to Palestine, to possess that land a thousand years, while the Adventists believe that all the return of the Jews to that country, will be the return of all pious Jews who have ever lived, to the inheritance of the new earth, in their resurrection state. FSDA 30.3

The Millennarians believe a part of the heathen world will be left on the earth, to multiply and increase, during the one thousand years, and to be converted and governed by the glorified saints during that period; while the Adventists believe that when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, then he shall be seated on the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from the other, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.... They cannot see any probation for any nation, either Jew or Gentile, after the Son of Man comes in his glory, and takes out his own saints from among all nations. 1 FSDA 31.1

To Millerite Adventists there was no distinction between the general character of the millennium and the eternal glory except for some events around the resurrection and judgment of the righteous at the beginning of the millennium and the resurrection and judgment of the wicked at the end of the millennium. 2 FSDA 31.2

a. The sanctuary of Daniel 8:14. FSDA 31.3

Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spoke, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said to me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:13, 14. FSDA 31.4

The center of Millerite missionary motivation lay in their position on Daniel 8. The vision described in this chapter was considered to be another element in the series of prophetic passages covering approximately the same time period as Daniel 2:1 and Daniel 7:1, its different symbolism being considered as a confirming complement. The ram and goat in the vision were identified within the chapter itself as “the kings of Media and Persia” and “the king of Grecia.” Miller interpreted the great horn of 8:21 as Alexander the Great, whose conquest of the Persian empire was considered fulfilling the goat’s victory over the ram (8:5-7). The breaking of the goat’s great horn and its being replaced by four other horns (8:8, 22) was seen as the death of Alexander at the height of his power and a subsequent division of the empire by his principal generals into four parts. The little horn, which was generally interpreted as coming out of one of the four horns, 1 was identified in the context of the two abominations as a persecuting power against God’s people and represented two different successive powers in history. The first persecuting phase of the little horn (8:9-11) was identified by Miller with the Roman empire which made Macedonia, the first of the four divisions of the Greek empire, a Roman province. From there the Roman empire extended itself toward the South, the East, and the pleasant land, Palestine (8:9). Daniel 8:10, 11 pictured the struggle between the Jews and the Romans. The specific actions of the little horn against “the prince of the host” and the system of worship so that “the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (8:11) he interpreted as the actions of the Roman empire which “would magnify itself even against Christ the prince of his people, and be the instrument of destroying the Jewish ceremonial law, and finally Jerusalem itself, the place of Christ’s sanctuary.” 2 FSDA 31.5

In Daniel 8:12 Miller saw the emergence of the second persecuting phase of the little horn which followed the persecution under the Roman empire and was identified with the period of the little horn of Daniel 7. This verse, he said, signified “the Papal power or abomination that maketh desolate, by reason of departing from the truth and leading off an host with them; they cast out and trampled on the true followers of Christ, and practiced and prospered in their iniquity.” 3 Daniel 8:24-26 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 were also applied in this context. Because the second dimension of the little horn of Daniel 8 was interpreted as the papacy, the sanctuary against which the little horn had directed its activities was given a meaning that was relevant for both phases of the persecution period. FSDA 32.1

The dual significance of the sanctuary was of vital importance for the understanding of why Millerites believed that Christ’s coming was imminent. Because of the pagan and papal dimensions of the little horn, it was impossible to interpret the sanctuary against which its activities were directed as the Jewish sanctuary in Jerusalem, for such a view had no relevance for the papal dimension. Miller, therefore, viewed the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14, which was to be “cleansed” or “justified,” as the church, “the people of God in all the World, and among all nations.” 1 Daniel 8:13 he interpreted in the context of the two abominations, remarking that the “daily sacrifice” referred to “the completion of the typical priesthood, or seventy weeks; the other [transgression of desolation] to the sufferings of the people of God, under the abominations of the fourth kingdom, both pagan and papal, when they should be trodden under foot, until Christ should be revealed in his glory.” 2 A few years later Miller seemed to have harmonized his exposition of the “daily sacrifice” of 8:13 with the daily sacrifice exposition of 12:11 in the context of the two-abominations motif. 4 In a similar context he explained the expression “the sanctuary and the host” (8:13): In the light of the first abomination the “sanctuary” was seen as “the temple at Jerusalem and those who worship therein, which was trodden under foot by the Pagan kingdoms of the world, since the days of Daniel”; in reference to the second abomination the “host” was identified as “the people who worship in the outer court, and fitly represents the Christian church [Revelation 11:2, 3].” The sanctuary of 8:14 Miller interpreted as “the true sanctuary which God has built of lively stones to his own acceptance, through Christ, of which the temple at Jerusalem was but a type.” Regarding its cleansing or justification, he stated that “when that New Jerusalem is perfected, then shall we be cleansed and justified” and added that “the spiritual sanctuary will not be cleansed until Christ’s second coming, and then all Israel shall be raised, judged and justified in his sight.” 1 Separate from this cleansing of the sanctuary, he distinguished a cleansing of the earth by fire when Christ returns. 2 FSDA 33.1

In his most extensive exposition of the sanctuary, published in 1842, Miller indicated that the word “sanctuary” could mean: (1) Jesus Christ (Isaiah 8:14; Ezek. 11:16); (2) heaven (Psalm 102:19, 202); (3) Judah (Psalm 114:2); (4) the temple of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 22:19; Exodus 25:8); (5) the holy of holies (1 Chronicles 28:10; Leviticus 4:6); (6) the earth (Isaiah 60:13; 1 Kings 8:27; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6; Matthew 6:20; Psalm 82:8; Revelation 11:15; Psalm 96:6-13); (7) the saints (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22). 3 The question of which sanctuary was meant in Daniel 8:14 was intimately related to the question of its cleansing. With this in mind Miller analyzed the seven different meanings of the word “sanctuary,” showing that it could not be Christ, for He was not impure, or heaven, for that was not unclean; it could not be literal Judah, for that was cut off and was no more a nation; it could not be the temple nor the holy of holies in the temple of Jerusalem, for they were destroyed. He concluded that only two things could be called a sanctuary: “the EARTH and the CHURCH: when these are cleansed, then, and not until then, will the entire Sanctuary of God be cleansed and justified (as it reads in the margin).” 4 The earth, he felt, would be cleansed by fire when the Lord should come, and at that time the saints would be cleansed or justified, adding that “the whole church will then be cleansed from all uncleanness, and presented without spot or wrinkle [Ephesians 5:27], and will then be clothed with fine linen, clean and white [Revelation 19:8].... ‘Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,’ when the will of God is done in earth as in heaven.” 6 Thus by expanding the concept of the sanctuary, he unified his previous separate cleansings of the church and the earth. This seems to have become the predominant view among the Millerites. FSDA 34.1

Hale arrived at a different interpretation of the sanctuary. According to him, the sanctuary was the promised land, for “the sanctuary here spoken of must be capable of being ‘trodden underfoot’, and of being ‘cleansed’, and ... Of being cleansed at the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the righteous dead.7 In this context the cleansing of the sanctuary meant “1. Its purification from the wicked agents of its desolation, and, 2. The removal of the curse which is upon it, at the termination of its predicted desolation. Isaiah 1:27, 28; 49:13-17, 19.” 1 FSDA 34.2

There were others who referred to the sanctuary as a place of worship. They reasoned that under the Jewish dispensation it meant the tabernacle, the temple, and Jerusalem itself, but under the Christian dispensation the place of worship was not restricted to a particular place. It was the world itself. Thus, the earth had to be purified. 2 FSDA 35.1

Although there was some difference as to the meaning of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 and its cleansing, those divergences did not seem to interfere with the importance of the time of the cleansing at the end of the 2300 days. Furthermore, it seems that whether the Millerites interpreted the sanctuary as the church, the promised land of Palestine, or the earth, they were united on the fact that either cleansing of the sanctuary could only take place at the end of the world. 3 FSDA 35.2

This view became an important argument in the hands of believers to combat the popular postmillennial views. Litch formulated the contemporary polemic in an “Address to the Clergy,” remarking that the issue was whether the “termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 will introduce a temporal millennium, and the literal restoration of the Jews ‘or’ the establishment of a glorious and everlasting kingdom of God on earth, at the resurrection of the just.” 4 FSDA 35.3

b. The end of the “two thousand and three hundred days.” FSDA 35.4

There were quite a few of Miller’s contemporaries who had attempted to determine the time of the sanctuary cleansing of Daniel 8:14. 5 The earliest expositors were to be found in Europe; later Americans followed their example. Like many other Christians 6 Miller assumed that the prophecy of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 provided the key for determining the commencement of the sanctuary cleansing of 8:14: The 70 weeks and the 2300 days shared the same starting point. 1 The year 457 B.C. was accepted as the time when the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem was issued (Daniel 9:25). 2 His presupposition was that the 70 weeks or 490 prophetic days terminated at the time of the crucifixion of Christ. Miller dated this event in A.D. 33. 4 Thus, it seemed that there were exactly 490 years between 457 B.C. and A.D. 33. Having determined this, Miller proceeded by stating, “take 457 from 2300 years, and you leave us A.D. 1843 when the vision will end, and the sanctuary shall be cleansed. Or take 490, which is the 70 weeks, from 2300, and it will leave us 1810 after Christ’s crucifixion; and then by adding the life of Christ which is 33 years we make the same, 1843, as before.” As a result the hopes of many were directed to the year 1843 as the year of the Second Advent. FSDA 35.5

Miller hesitated to confine himself to a specific date. His caution was reflected in the title of his popular lecture book, Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ; About the year 1843. Others were even more cautious. At the First General Conference of Advent believers in Boston, 1840, there was no general agreement in regard to fixing the year of Christ’s coming, though all felt that the coming was “nigh at hand.” 5 In 1841 Dr. Henry D. Ward wrote to Miller: “I think you wrong in urging the matter of the date; but I honor your zeal, your fidelity, your learning, your industry.” 6 He wrote also to the Signs of the Times, asking them to publish his views against a definite time seeking, for “it is not for you to know the time, or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power [Acts 1:7].” 1 FSDA 36.1

Up until 1842 the adherence to a definite time for the parousia was still an open question, but as the year 1843 approached, there was in the mission motivation of those who accepted the doctrine of an imminent Second Advent an increasing emphasis on time. From then on the “non-timeists” receded into the background. At the Boston Second Advent Conference (May 24, 1842) the time element came definitely to the front, and it was resolved that in the opinion of this conference, there are most serious and important reasons for believing that God has revealed the time of the end of the world and that that time is 1843.” 2 The emphasis on a definite time was also defended on the grounds that it produced results. 3 The preaching of the date 1843 had stirred the churches. This would have been unlikely if there had not been anything definite about the time of Christ’s return. 4 Two months before the year 1843 began, one of the major Millerite papers still cautioned against the setting of a definite hour, day, or month: FSDA 37.1

The editors ... solemnly PROTEST against the setting of the hour, day, or month, of the end of the world. There are various events, the anniversaries of which, within the year, may be the end of all things, but we have never fixed on any particular day. Different individuals have fixed upon several different days, and it has gone forth to the world that we have fixed the day. This has only been done by individuals upon their own responsibility, and contrary to our knowledge. Neither does Mr. Miller or the principal lecturers look to any particular time in 1843. That, we are willing to leave in the hands of God, and will endeavor to be ready whenever he may come. 5 FSDA 37.2

On January 1, 1843 Miller wrote a fourteen-point synopsis of his views in which he became more specific on the time by determining the limits of the year 1843. He wrote: “I am fully convinced that sometime between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844, according to Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come and bring all His saints with Him; and that then he will reward every man as his work shall be.” 1 This statement was followed by fifteen different biblical proofs 2 that seemed to point to 1843 as the year of the Second Advent and the end of the world. FSDA 37.3

c. The year of the resurrection. FSDA 38.1

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. Daniel 12:11, 12. FSDA 38.2

Another frequently used passage which seemed to verify the above mentioned date of 1843 was Daniel 12:11, 12. Characteristic for the interpretation of these texts was the significance of the “taking away of the daily sacrifice.” 3 Miller’s interpretation of this text was based on the hermeneutical principle of the analogy of Scripture. He made a comparison between Daniel 12:11, 12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “for the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [hinders] will let [hinder], until he be taken out of the way.” As other commentators had done for centuries, he identified the mystery of iniquity as papal Rome while the hindering power in the development of the papacy was interpreted as paganism. 4 Through analogous reasoning Miller concluded that the daily sacrifice also signified paganism which gave way to papal Rome. 5 The application of this view to Daniel 12:11 had as a result that the term “daily sacrifice” generally was interpreted by Millerites as the “daily sacrifice abomination” or first abomination and was represented as paganism in general or pagan Rome more specifically. 1 The “abomination that maketh desolate” was seen as the last abomination, or specifically papal Rome. Thus, Daniel 12:11 indicated that the paganism of the Roman empire would be taken away, and papal Rome would be set up. FSDA 38.3

To determine the period of the 1290 days a starting point had to be found. Miller’s rendering of Daniel 12:11, together with the year-day principle, provided a point of contact with the period of the 1260 years. He understood the text to mean that “from the taking away of the first abomination, which may be properly called ‘the daily sacrifice of abomination,’ to the end of the last abomination that maketh desolate, should be 1290 years” 2 The termination of the last abomination, papal Rome, had already been established on the basis of the 1260 days. 3 Thus, the termination dates for the 1260 and 1290 days were identical-1798. By subtracting 1290 from 1798 Miller came to 508 as the commencement of the 1290 years, 5 when the daily abomination, pagan Rome, was taken away. He concluded that the difference between the 1290 years and 1260 years was a period of thirty years between the time that pagan Rome was destroyed in 508 and papal Rome was set up in 538. FSDA 39.1

In determining the meaning of Daniel 12:12 Miller identified “blessed is he that waiteth and cometh” with “blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” of Revelation 20:6, leading him to conclude that Daniel 12:12 referred to the Resurrection, which would take place at the end of the 1335 prophetic days (years). Assuming that the 1290 days and 1335 days both began in 508, Miller concluded that the Resurrection would occur in 1843 1 a confirmation of his previous conclusions that Daniel 8:14 pointed to 1843 as the year of the parousia and final destruction of the world by fire. FSDA 39.2

The interpretation of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 and of the various time calculations pointing to 1843 for Christ’s return to earth was the core of the Millerite theology of mission, without which the movement would never have come into existence. The Second Advent seemed to be within sight and the cry “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” was heard throughout Christendom. FSDA 40.1

4. The “Midnight Cry.”

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Mt. 25:6. FSDA 40.2

The expression “the Midnight Cry” had been derived from the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13) in Jesus’ eschatological discourse and was seen by Millerites as the symbol of their missionary activity. This parable was historicized 2 by applying it specifically to the contemporary setting of the Advent movement. Its eschatological dimension came to be perceived as a present reality. The kingdom of heaven in the parable was interpreted by Miller as the “gospel day or circle of God’s government under the gospel dispensation” (Mt. 3:1, 2; Luke 16:16); the ten virgins as “mankind in general, in a probationary state,” including both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 52:1-5); the five wise virgins as “the believers in God, or the children of the kingdom” (Psalm 45:13, 14; Lamentations 2:13); the five foolish virgins as the “unbelieving class of mankind, while in this probationary state under the means of grace” (Isaiah 47: l; Jeremiah 46:11); the lamps as a “figure of the word of God” (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23); the oil as a “representation or emblem of faith, as oil produces light by burning, so does faith in exercise by the fire of love produce more light and gives comfort in adversity, hope in darkness, love for the coming bridegroom” (Songs 1:2; 1 Jn. 2:27). 3 Furthermore, he identified the vessels with the “persons or mind that believes or disbelieves in the word of God” (1 Thes. 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:21) and the bridegroom with Christ (Isaiah 62:5 Matthew 9:15). 4 The marriage he saw as the time when Christ shall come the second time to this earth to present the church as His bride to the Father and marry her so that she will be forever with Him in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2-4). 1 FSDA 40.3

The Midnight Cry (Mt. 25:6) Miller defined as “the watchmen, or some of them, who by the word of God discover the time as revealed, and immediately give the warning voice, ‘Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.’” 2 This fulfillment he saw being accomplished in the current widespread preaching on the imminence of the Second Advent based on the exposition of the 2300 days: “This has been fulfilled in a most remarkable manner. One or two on every quarter of the globe have proclaimed the news, and agree in the time. [Joseph] Wolff, of Asia; [Edward] Irving, late of England; [Archibald] Mason of Scotland; [William C.] Davis of South Carolina; and quite a number in this region, are, or have been giving the cry.” 3 FSDA 41.1

Miller identified the Midnight Cry of the parable with the loud voice of the angel of Revelation 14:9 who was “giving due notice to the world of the near approach of the judgment day.” 4 However, the Midnight Cry was more frequently identified by others with the loud voice of the angel of Revelation 14:6, 7 who was “flying thro’ the midst of heaven and proclaiming the hour of his judgment come.” 5 Joshua V. Himes, chief promoter and organizer of the Millerite missionary efforts, saw in the Midnight Cry a symbol for their activities in the time of the end. 7 The cry symbolized very aptly the sense of urgency of their mission and provided, according to Himes, the only answer to the objections against the personal return of Christ in 1843. FSDA 41.2

The timeliness of the Midnight Cry was especially seen in the fact that the cry was made at midnight while all the virgins slept. According to Miller, this sleeping condition was shown in the apathy and ignorance on the subject of Christ’s return at the time of His coming. Evaluating the contemporary situation, he commented: “Can we not bear witness that this has been the true state of the church for a number of years past? The writers on the word of God have adopted in their creeds, that there would be a temporal millennium before Christ would come.” 1 FSDA 41.3

In the parable the proclamation of the Midnight Cry aroused the virgins to trim their lamps (Mt. 25:7). Miller saw this fulfilled in contemporary events. In the translation and distribution of the Bible he saw that “the world for a number of years have been trimming their lamps, and the wise and the foolish have been engaged in translating the word of God into almost every language known unto us upon the earth ... and we are informed that part if not all of the word of God is now given to all nations in their own language.” 2 All societies for moral reform and Bible societies appeared to Miller also as fulfilling the parable, whether organized through the agency of the church, or through “political men, men of the world, the great men, merchants of the earth and those who trade in ships; all who live under the influence of the gospel, the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ have been engaged in the work.” 3 Tract societies, too, which had been established to remove prejudice against the Bible and to explain biblical truths, were considered a part of the trimming of lamps, “harbingers of light, the forerunners of the Bible.” 4 Missionary societies were especially clear fulfillments of the awakening of the virgins: FSDA 42.1

See [said Miller] the missionary spirit extending from east to west and from north to south, warming the breast of the philanthropist, giving life and vigour to the cold hearted moralist, and animating and enlivening the social circle of the pious devotee. Every nation, from India to Oregon, from Kamskatka to New Zealand, have been visited by these wise servants (as we hope) of the cross, proclaiming “the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God,” carrying the lamp, the word of God in their hands, and oil, faith in God, in their hearts. 5 FSDA 42.2

The “Sabbath schools and Bible classes” were to Miller also an indication of the trimming of the lamps, especially of those of the youth. 6 Finally, he saw in the current temperance societies one of the last attempts of the virgins to awaken the people to the Midnight Cry. His argument was that in previous decades drinking was a real problem, its dangers were not realized, and people were totally unprepared to accept the Midnight Cry. He remarked: FSDA 42.3

Therefore, in order that men might be in a suitable frame of mind to receive instruction at the close of this dispensation, and be in a situation to listen to the midnight cry, God ordered the virgins, and they arose and trimmed their lamps, and in all human probability thousands who would have met a drunkard’s grave if this society had not arose [sic], are now watching, with their lamps trimmed and burning, ready to meet the bridegroom at his coming. 1 FSDA 42.4

The reaction of the public to the Midnight Cry Miller viewed as a division between the foolish and the wise virgins, 2 the culmination of which would take place when the “door was shut” (Mt. 25:10). This closed door signified to Miller the “closing up of the mediatorial kingdom, and finishing the gospel period” 3 when the time of grace and mercy for the world was expected to end some time before Christ’s return, a view he supported with Revelation 10:5-7: FSDA 43.1

And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever ... that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. FSDA 43.2

Identifying the angel who swore that “there should be time no longer” as Christ, 4 Miller commented that it pointed to the moment when FSDA 43.3

the gospel or mediatorial time should cease. No more time for mercy, no more Spirit to strive with you, sinner, no more means of grace, no more repentance with life, no more hopes for heaven, for Jesus has sworn by himself, because he could swear by no greater, that your day of probation “should be no longer.” For “he that is filthy shall be filthy still” [Revelation 22:11]. The bridegroom has come and shut to the door. 5 FSDA 43.4

The time that this event would take place Miller saw “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel,” after the sixth trumpet-the fall of the Ottoman empire-would have been fulfilled. Then, he said, “will the seventh trump and last woe begin, under which the kingdoms of the earth, and the anti-christian beast will be destroyed, the powers of darkness chained, the world cleansed and the church purified.” 6 No wonder that in 1840 the subject of the shut door drew the attention of many Millerites. The issue of the Signs of the Times which published Litch’s prediction of the exact date of the fall of the Ottoman empire included the opinion that at that event probation would close. 1 Commenting on the same event, Litch said, “there is no certainty that the day of grace will be continued for one hour” after the empire had fallen. 2 However, on the basis of Revelation 11:14, “The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly,” he refused to define a specific date for the close of probation in absolute terms. He stated that “when any one can prove to me satisfactory how long a period ‘quickly’ is ... I will tell them how long the day of grace will last.” 4 It seems that Miller also thought that the door of mercy would close in the month of August 1840. However, in September 1840 Miller commented that he could not say positively when the door would be shut, for he did not know how much time might be included in the words “when the seventh trump begins to sound” and he added “that the seventh trump has begun to sound I have little or no doubt; and how long beginning to sound may last, whether one month, six months, or a year, I cannot tell.” FSDA 43.5

Thus to many Millerites the door of the parable of Mt. 25 became a symbol of the door of mercy, the closing of which was interpreted in the light of Revelation 10:5-7 and Revelation 22:11 as signifying the finishing of the “mystery of God,” the preaching of the gospel to the world. Although this solemn and final moment could take place any time after the fall of the Ottoman empire, the subject receded into the background until it became of great importance in 1844. FSDA 44.1

The parable of Mt. 25 was considered by the Millerites as a present reality predicted by Jesus Himself. Yet, there were some slight differences in the interpretation. While Miller applied the parable to the general widespread expectation of the Second Advent, others historicized the parable more in the light of the specific experience of the Millerites. This was done especially during the years 1843 and 1844 when the realization that they were proclaiming the Midnight Cry to awaken the sleeping virgins provided one of the major motivations in their theology of mission. At that time, most Millerites came to see their missionary activity as a fulfillment of a part of salvation history predicted in Christ’s eschatological discourse and the Apocalypse of John. FSDA 44.2

5. The Judgment Hour message

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. Revelation 14:6, 7. FSDA 45.1

In the early beginnings of the Millerite movement, through historicist hermeneutic this apocalyptic passage was more considered a sign of the times than a strong motive for mission. Miller believed that he was living in the time “when the angel having the everlasting Gospel to preach, is flying through the midst of heaven and God by his holy spirit is accomplishing the last great work on earth.” 1 Litch interpreted the angel as the “missionary angel, which has so swiftly flown through the earth for the last forty years, scattering light and life in all his path. These extraordinary efforts commenced about the time of the fall of popery, 1798, and have been gaining strength and influence from that to the present time.” 2 The proclamation of “the hour of his judgment is come” he identified with the judgment scene in Daniel 7:9, 10 when the dominion of the beast was to be taken away and given to the saints. This judgment he considered a past event, associated with the judgment on the papacy under the French Revolution. 4 Miller recognized also the missionary nature of this first angel of Revelation 14, which signified “the sending out of Missionaries and Bibles into every part of the world, which began about 1798.” However, he identified Revelation 14:6 more specifically with the spreading of the gospel so that “those who hear and believe may and will be harvested for eternal life,” while Revelation 14:7 “contains the new song, sung by those that are brought in by the gospel.” Since the 18th century the association of this angel with the contemporary missionary movement was quite common. FSDA 45.2

When the time came closer to the judgment year of 1843, the passage of Revelation 14:6, 7 took its place in the Millerite missionary thrust, becoming an effective argument in the polemic against postmillennialism. The phrase “the hour of his judgment is come” was interpreted as referring to the Day of Judgment and emphasis shifted from Revelation 14:6 to Revelation 14:7. For example, Ward said: FSDA 45.3

The flying angel carries the gospel to all nations, for a warning to them that dwell on the face of the earth. The angel does not say, “Give glory to God for the time of this world’s conversion is come!”-although this is the idea the God of this world contrives to infuse into the hearts of the Lord’s people.... But this is the word of the flying angel, uttered with a loud voice, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.” 1 FSDA 45.4

The message of the angel he interpreted as “the doctrine of the judgment to come.” 2 “The hour of his judgment” soon came to be considered an indispensable aspect of the “everlasting gospel,” 3 and its fulfillment was discerned in the Judgment Hour message then being preached. Thus, it was in the context of the contemporary polemical situation that the message of the first angel of Revelation 14 was historicized and considered as a symbolic representation of the Millerite missionary experience. FSDA 46.1

The preaching of such a message just before the expected Day of Judgment in 1843 was recognized as timely and as an evidence of the Midnight Cry. 4 This was understandable because it was only when the cry “Behold the bridegroom cometh” had been interpreted as a present reality in the Millerite experience and was placed in the judgment-hour setting, that both the parable of Mt. 25:1-13 and the judgment-hour angel became such a strong eschatological motivation for the Millerite mission. FSDA 46.2