Lesson 25 - From Disappointment to Triumph
Can we really be sure of truth? Does God have a true church on earth today? Is it possible to know which church is His true church?
The book of Revelation is designed to give us certainty. It is designed to provide definite, concrete answers to these questions. Revelation’s chapter 10 is one of the most thrilling chapters in all of the Bible. It vividly and accurately describes the miraculous rise of God’s last-day church. It reveals that God’s last-day movement is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It distinguishes God’s true church from all counterfeit movements by clearly showing just how God’s church would come into existence.
CERTAINTY OF THE ADVENT MOVEMENT
1. Can an individual really know what is truth? John 8:3
Answer: And ye shall know the truth.
2. Some feel we can never be certain about anything, yet what counsel does Luke give Theophilus regarding the purpose of the Gospel? Luke 1:3, 4Answer: That you might know the certainty of those things.
The book of Revelation contains three specific chapters designed to give certainty regarding the identity of the true church. Revelation 14 clearly reveals the true church will proclaim the message of the three angels. Revelation 12 describes the true church as leading men and women back to obedience to the commandments of God. Revelation 12 also describes the true church as having the gift of prophecy. Revelation 10 describes the historical rise of the true church. As each of these chapters is carefully studied, God's identity of His true church is clear.
3. In Revelation an angel descending from the presence of God represents a heavenly message of utmost importance for all inhabitants of Planet Earth. What does this angel have in his hand? Revelation 10:2
Answer: A little book.
4. Which is the only Bible book ever said to be closed or sealed until the time of the end? Daniel 12:4
Answer: O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book.
5. What particular portion of Daniel's message does the angel of Revelation emphasize? Revelation 10:6
Answer: There should be time no longer.
The little book opened reveals that "there should be delay no longer." It clearly focuses on the time prophecies of Daniel. Since no one knows the day or hour of Christ's coming (Matthew 24:36), the expression "delay no longer" cannot relate to a literal date for Christ's return.
6. What time prophecy in Daniel points to the time of the end? Daniel 8:14,17
Answer: At the time of the end shall be the vision.
As we have studied in a previous lesson, the 2,300 prophetic days of Daniel 8:14 equal 2,300 literal years. The expression "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" refers to the opening of the judgment in the year 1844.
7. When the little book (Daniel) was eaten (studied, particularly the 2300-year prophecy pointing to 1844) what experience would occur for those who studied these prophecies? Revelation 10:10, 11
Answer: It was in my mouth as sweet as honey...my belly was bitter.
When did this bittersweet experience occur? In the late 1700s and early 1800s, independent of one another, scores of religious leaders around the world began a renewed study of the prophecies of Daniel. This interest in prophecy led honest-hearted men and women of God to abandon the popular belief that the world would soon enter a 1,000-year period of peace known as the millennium. They saw that prophecy clearly taught that the destinies of all were decided before Christ's return. Consequently, they understood there is no second chance for salvation when Jesus comes.
Overjoyed with prophecies that seemed to indicate the coming of Jesus, they went forth to warn the world. Among them were people such as Edward Irving and 700 preachers of the church of England; Joseph Wolff, missionary to India; Manuel Lacunza, a serious Bible student from South America; Johann Bengel of Germany, and many others. Foremost in the United States was William Miller. In a period of personal despair he began to study the Scriptures. There Miller found new hope and courage as an uplifted Saviour was presented before him. Accepting Jesus as his personal Saviour, he began carefully to study the Scriptures.
Dispensing with all Bible commentaries and using only his Bible and a concordance, Miller began at Genesis and studied the Scriptures verse by verse, comparing scripture with scripture. As he studied the prophetic portions of Daniel he arrived at the same conclusion as did a host of other serious Bible students. Independent of each other, they arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was coming, and coming soon.
As Miller studied the 2300-year prophecy of Daniel, chapter 8, he saw that it was explained in Daniel 9. Amazed at the precision of Daniel 9:24-27, he concluded that Daniel 8:14 was just as accurate. When he discovered, according to Daniel 9:24-27, that Jesus was to be baptized in A.D. 27, crucified in A.D. 31, and the gospel was to go to the Gentiles in A.D. 34, and that these events had been fulfilled exactly on time, he marveled. He reasoned that since these events had been fulfilled, and since Daniel 9 is an explanation of Daniel 8, both prophecies start at the same time.
Since Daniel 8 begins at the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem in 457 B.C., Daniel 9 begins there also. Figuring 2300 years from 457 B.C., Miller arrived at the date of A.D. 1844. Misunderstanding the subject of the sanctuary, he understood the words "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" to refer to the cleansing of the earth by fire. He thought Christ would return in 1844.
The preaching of a specific date for Christ's return sparked one of the greatest religious revivals in American history. Thousands were converted. Church bells throughout America tolled for noon prayer meetings. In anticipation of the coming of the Lord, debts were paid, family differences settled, and saloons closed. The moving of the Spirit of God led to deep repentance for sin, earnest prayer, and serious Bible study.
As multitudes anticipated the arrival of Jesus, they settled on the date October 22, 1844. As Revelation 10 predicted, a study of Daniel's prophecy was "sweet...in my mouth," yet when Jesus did not return, it was "bitter" (verse 10, NKJV). * Their bitter disappointment of 1844 left them downhearted and discouraged. As they rechecked the prophetic evidence, they realized that the date was right. The hour of their disappointment was the hour of God's appointment. The sanctuary to be cleansed was not the earth, but rather the heavenly sanctuary. The prediction "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" refers to Christ's work of judgment preliminary to His return to earth
8. In what work does the prophet Daniel describe the Father and Son participating before Jesus' return? Daniel 7:9-11
Answer: Thrones were set in place; the court was seated, and the books were opened-the heavenly judgment.
The heavenly judgment deals with the final solution to the sin problem. As the heavenly record books are opened, God's mercy and justice, His love and law, are seen in His dealing with every human being.
Just as the early disciples anticipated Christ's setting up an earthly kingdom in A.D. 31 and were bitterly disappointed at His crucifixion, His last-day followers anticipated His coming to earth in 1844 and were bitterly disappointed. Notice these striking similar parallels:
New Testament Church Last-Day Church
1. Students of prophecy 1. Students of prophecy
2. Believed Christ would set up an earthly kingdom 2. Believed Christ would set up an earthly kingdom
3. Bitterly disappointed 3. Bitterly disappointed
4. Directed attention to ministry of Christ in sanctuary 4. Directed attention to ministry of Christ in sanctuary
5. Preached message of Christ's ministry to world 5. Preached message of Christ's ministry to world
According to Scripture this disappointed group would be molded into Christ's last-day church to carry His message to the world.
9. What was the key that unlocked their disappointment? Revelation 11:18, 19 (first part)
Answer: And the temple of God was opened in heaven.
These disappointed followers sensed that the temple of God was opened in heaven. Jesus had begun a special work in the heavenly sanctuary preliminary to His return to earth.
10. What did they see when the temple of heaven was opened? Revelation 11:19 (last part)
Answer: The ark of his testament.
11. What is contained in the ark of the covenant? Deuteronomy 10:2; Exodus 3:16-18
Answer: The tables...thou shalt put them in the ark.
These Advent believers understood for the first time that we are living in the judgment hour. They sensed God's call for obedience. The ark of the covenant in heaven's sanctuary revealed God's law. Love leads to obedience. The law which Jesus died to preserve would be enshrined in the hearts of His followers through grace.
12. What command did Jesus give the disappointed group of Advent believers? Revelation 10:11; Revelation 14:6
Answer: Thou must prophesy again before many people.
Following the disappointment in 1844, Jesus raised up a dynamic, divine movement on earth, a movement that ultimately would span the globe. It would proclaim that Jesus is coming again and urge men and women to surrender their lives to Him and respond in loving obedience. It is indeed thrilling to sense that God has such a divine movement of destiny in the last days of earth's history. This unique prophetic movement has been especially raised up by God to prepare a world for His soon return. Today in over 200 nations of the world, in every major language, the message of God's love and truth is being proclaimed in the Advent movement. God has especially raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a powerful last-day prophetic movement to impact the world. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not just another denomination-it is a God-ordained-divinely called-prophetic movement for these last days.
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.