September, 2017

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The Advent Movement and Bible Prophecy

The Advent Movement started with the preaching of William Miller around the year 1831.  Based on Miller’s interpretation of Bible prophecy (mainly Daniel 8:14“Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”), there was an expectation that Christ would return in 1844.  With the passing of the time and Christ did not return, Miller gave up, but others continued and later adopted the name Seventh-day Adventists in 1860.  Those who continued, accepted the year 1844 as a valid interpretation of the time prophesied by Daniel but held that the event prophesied – the cleansing of the sanctuary, was not the second coming of Christ as was previously thought, but another activity.  There has been much debate as to what that other activity is.

 

In considering the Advent Movement, it’s continuation beyond 1844 and whether or not there is a prophetic basis for it, the following should be considered:

 

  1. Prophecy of Messiah’s coming. Daniel was shown the exact time that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would appear – “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks” – Daniel 9:25.  Based on the interpretation that a day in the prophecy was equal to literal a year, the exact time of Christ being anointed Messiah was established and was fulfilled accordingly.

 

  1. Endorsement of Daniel. Jesus confirmed that Daniel was a prophet – But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains.” – Mark 13:14.

 

  1. Link between Messiah and 2300 days prophecy. Daniel’s prophecy of the time of Messiah’s coming was given as a part of the explanation of a prophecy regarding the cleansing (some say “restoration”) of the sanctuary after it was being trodden down for two thousand three hundred (2300) prophetic days by a power called the “abomination of desolation”.

 

  1. Day-for-a-year principle. Up to the time of Christ, the 2300 prophetic days that started at the same time as the prophecy that foretold Messiah’s coming had not yet expired, because Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem (which had not yet taken place) as being a part of the activity of the “abomination of desolation”, whose treading down of the sanctuary would be addressed by the cleansing (or restoration) of the sanctuary.  Hence, the 2300 days duration of the desolating work prior to the cleansing of the sanctuary had not yet finished.  The 2300 days must, therefore, also be based on the same interpretation that one prophetic day equals one literal year.

 

  1. End point of the 2300 days. On the basis of one prophetic day being equal to one literal year, from the same starting point (457 BC) that identifies the time of Messiah’s appearance (anointing), the 2300 prophetic days end in 1844.

 

  1. Cleansing of the sanctuary. God revealed that after 2300 prophetic days (ending in 1844), “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”.  He did not say how long that cleansing process would last.

 

  1. Fulfillment of Daniel’s Prophecy. The question is, did such a thing as the cleansing of the sanctuary, as God indicated would have happened, start in 1844 or not?  If the Word of God’s prophet is true – and we saw that it was true in relation to the time of Messiah’s coming, then the cleansing of the sanctuary (whatever it is) must have started.  What then was the manifestation of it?  The answer is that the manifestation of it was the Advent Movement that was calling the world’s attention to it.

 

  1. Advent Movement and God’s leading. The Advent Movement that continued beyond 1844 was the only witness calling the world’s attention to the fulfilment of God’s Word that the cleansing of the sanctuary had started.  Some people are now claiming that they were misled.  If they were misled, then it means God’s Word through His prophet Daniel, which had already proven its validity in relation to Messiah’s coming, was false.  Clearly, that was not the case.  The Advent Movement was being led by God.  One very clear evidence was the fact that God raised up a prophet among them.  God said: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” – 12:16.  In 1844, shortly after it was understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary was not the second coming of Christ, Ellen Gould White (née Harmon), one of the Advent believers, had her first of many visions.  These visions continued for many years until she died in 1915.

 

  1. Endorsement of James White. Among the testimonies that she bore, Ellen G. White had this to say about her husband, James White:

 

“I was shown that the work was not left in the hands of any one upon earth.  Angels of God have charge of the work, and they counsel and direct God’s people through chosen agents, and thus the work moves forward.  I was shown that God in his own wise providence raised my husband above dependence and want that his testimony and influence might not be crippled by the galling sense of dependence. . . . . I was pointed back and saw that amid all the hatred and devices of Satan, God had spared the life of my husband, although Satan pressed him sore to take it away a few years since. . . .  I saw that God had stayed him on the right hand and on the left that he should not go to extremes.  This has not been the work of man, but the mark of God’s hand is seen in it.  His work will go forward”Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts (Vol. II) – My Christian Experience, Views and Labors in Connection with the Rise and Progress of the Third Angel’s Message, Battle Creek, Mich., 1860, pgs 282-283.

 

  1. Warning against turning away. The prophet also warned against a turning away from the foundation beliefs that were established by the pioneers of the Advent Movement. She said that such a turning away would not be of God.  She said: “The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced.”  Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, pgs 54, 55.  {Selected Messages Vol. I, p 204}.

 

Some persons would interpret Ellen G. White, on some subjects, in ways that would give the impression that she differed from the other pioneers in the beliefs that were generally endorsed by the Advent believers during her lifetime.  This was clearly not the case.  The 28 “Fundamental Principles of Seventh Day Adventists”, published in the 1889 Year Book (http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1889.pdf) was the defining statement of beliefs of the Seventh Day Adventist Church from 1888 to 1930.  These beliefs reflect what Ellen G. White, James White and the other pioneers of the Advent Movement advocated and believed up until 1930, some 15 years after the death of Ellen G. White.

 

In the final analysis, it is clear that the Advent Movement was raised up by God, in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel.  Those who would boldly declare that the Advent Movement was not raised up by God or that the pioneers of the Advent Movement were misled in relation to the positions they conscientiously took that were different from the popular beliefs that existed, should reconsider.  Does present truth lie in rejecting the beliefs of the pioneers and returning to some of the beliefs of the other churches that the pioneers had rejected?

 

At the very minimum, before determining that the pioneers were misled, it would be wise to read their writings and hear what they had to say.  The writings of James White, who it was revealed to the prophet, that he was one who was specially led by God, would be a good place to start.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Avoiding confusion in Galatians

Sometimes it is almost painful to see what appears to be an attempt to walk through the raindrops when persons try to explain Paul’s message in the book of Galatians.  One simple clarification can assist us in avoiding confusion.

There is much confusion in the popular explanations that are given.  On the one hand, there is an assertion that Paul is teaching that New Testament Christians are no longer “under a schoolmaster”, where the schoolmaster in this case is “the law”.  But on the other hand there is an unwillingness to appear to be attributing to Paul the advocacy of lawlessness, which clearly would be erroneous.

So, what is the reason for the apparent conflict?  We are not under the law but at the same time we are not supposed to be lawless.

The answer lies in the perception of what Paul is speaking about when he refers to “the law”.  Many people say that Paul was speaking about the Ten Commandments law.  So, they use that interpretation to conclude that New Testament Christians do not need to keep the Sabbath – the fourth of the Ten Commandments.  Interestingly, they do not conclude that we are free to disregard any of the other nine.

Sabbath-keepers on the other hand (excepting the Seventh-day Adventist Pioneers), while agreeing with others that Paul was referring to the moral law or Ten Commandments, justify their Sabbath-keeping by saying that Paul was really speaking about a legalistic approach to keeping the commandments as a means to salvation.  They conclude that we are no longer under the schoolmaster in the sense that we do not keep the law to be saved.  Rather, we keep the law because we are saved.  The problem with that is that it gives the impression that before Christ came, people were saved in one way but since Christ came, the way of salvation has changed.  Further, since God was the author of the Old Covenant, He would have been the one to have instituted such a faulty approach to salvation by works – the schoolmaster arrangement, and then had to change it.

 The Jewish system

Some people will insist that they are not really saying that the way to salvation has changed, even though their argument seems to imply that.  So, they appear to be trying to walk through the raindrops.

The need to be trying to balance so delicately (or appearing to contradict oneself) is completely removed if one understands that Paul, in speaking of “the law” was not speaking about moral principles that are applicable universally, and neither was he speaking about the Ten Commandments.  Rather, Paul was speaking about the “book of the law” (Gal. 3:10) that summarized the entire system of the Jewish religion.  Paul was making a very simple point that the Jewish system was no longer the governing system.  The specific aspect of the Jewish system that was in question was circumcision.  But Paul went beyond the immediate matter of circumcision to make a general point that the unique elements of the Jewish system were not applicable to Christians as Christians were not required to become Jews.

This point was necessary because prior to Christ’s coming, Gentiles were required to become Jews (proselytes) if they accepted the God of the Jews.

Isaiah 56:3-7 explains that the Jewish religion was open to “strangers” and “eunuchs” but they had to become a part of the Jewish system.  This arrangement became a barrier to Jews and Gentiles being equals within that system because God’s purpose was not fully understood.  But it was the best arrangement that could have been made at the time because Abraham’s descendants at the time had the revelation of truth handed down to them from generations and provided the best nucleus that could preserve the truth and disseminate it to the pagans around them.  But, God revealed to Paul (Eph. 3:1-6) that He wanted Jews and Gentiles to be “fellowheirs” and “of the same body” – a new body, “the church” (verse 10).

Free from enforced system

Paul’s entire Epistle to the Galatians was an effort to correct the notion, which Jewish converts to Christianity were seeking to advance, that Gentile Christians needed to become Jews.  The arrangements governing the Jews were not only moral and ceremonial, but they were also civil and included penalties and punishments, even to the extent of the death penalty, for breaches of the legal arrangements.  If we understand this, the entire Epistle to the Galatians becomes easy to understand.  The Jewish system was “a schoolmaster” – a system of enforced practices that was put in place for a time until Christ should come.  After Christ came, there was no more need for an externally enforced system as Christ provided a better revelation of God than that which humanity, in their spiritual state as “children”, had previously been exposed to.

The bottom line is that when Paul speaks about “the law” in Galatians, he is speaking about the Jewish system as a whole, with its unique arrangements for enforcement.  He is not speaking about any specific moral principle that may have been a part of those arrangements and which may have been of universal significance.  He was not speaking about the seventh-day Sabbath, for example, which existed from creation and was established by God as a reminder that He is the Creator (Gen. 2:2, 3; Ex. 20:8-11).  Rather, he was speaking about such things as circumcision, which, in this case, was given specifically to Abraham’s descendants as a sign of God’s promise that God would multiply Abraham’s lineage and make of them a great nation (Gen. 17:4-16).

Within that context, it is easy to understand why Paul spoke of us being made “free”, whereas before, people were “shut up” and “kept under the law”.  Paul referred to the previous arrangements as “the law”, which was “added because of transgressions, till the seed should come” (Gal. 3:19).  The reference to “the law” was not addressing the matter of general moral principles or saying that obeying God is irrelevant to salvation.  Quite to the contrary, the New Covenant arrangements that govern the Church, has the moral law being written on our hearts, as opposed to being set aside or being enforced externally (Heb. 8:10).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

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