Broad counsel to consider for the honest in heart

 

Some sound advice from a concerned Adventist

by Randy Bierwagen

And God Spake all these Words saying, “I Am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other god’s before Me” (Exodus 20:1-3).

 

There are many ways we can have ‘other god’s before Him’. One-way is that we lift up mans ideas or our own above the clear written Word of God. We study to find things that seem to agree with our ideas and instead of counseling first with those of experience, we want to promote those ideas to everyone around us as being worthy of notice. This is happening in God’s Church today. There are a thousand winds of doctrines even in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

We are told in Scripture that “there shall arise false Christ’s and false prophets” and “if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect” (see Matt. 24:24, Mark 13:22). Who are the ‘very elect’? In a Review and Herald article written by Ellen White dated August 1, 1893, she says; “Through all ages and in every nation those that believe that Jesus can and will save them personally from sin, are the elect and chosen of God; they are his peculiar treasure. They obey his call, and come out of the world and separate themselves from every unclean thought and unholy practice…” This tells me that Satan will especially try to deceive those who believe and teach that “Jesus can and will save them personally from sin”.

I’ve often wondered what would keep me from being deceived knowing that Satan’s deceptions are so near the truth. Satan has a deception tailor made for every one of God’s elect. He knows his time is short. The question I had to ask myself is; Must we study every detail of each new idea that is bought into the church to determine whether it is a message from God or not? This could realistically take all our time from now until Jesus comes, and if this is how we spend our time, then how will we ever fulfill the Great Commission of Mark 16:15. Is it possible there are some general principles that could speed the process without going into every detail of each new message? I believe that there are.

I have written this article because of a growing concern I have of a movement that is going on in God’s church, which I believe, ignores certain of these principles that are laid down in the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy. Many of the teachings of this movement seem good and right in themselves, but we must remember that “Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging, though almost imperceptibly, from the right path. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the way which leads to holiness and heaven. My brethren, I warn you to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way” (MS 82, 1894).

Not everything I bring out in this article may apply to every individual who follows this movement, but the movement itself and many of those leading this movement have these characteristics and I would ask each individual to closely examine themselves and determine to follow the counsel given by God to Ellen White, His prophet for His remnant people.

While many of the teachings of this movement are a concern to me, what concerns me most is the attitude and spirit produced by this movement. I will address these concerns first:

 

(1) The first concern I have is how “new light” is arrived at. Ellen White makes this statement: “There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for "in the multitude of counselors there is safety"” (5T 291-293). Not only are we to submit it to the ‘brethren’, but also we are to ‘yield to their judgment’. Furthermore she states: “God has bestowed power on the church and the ministers of the church, and it is not a light matter to resist the authority and despise the judgment of God's ministers… You should have submitted to the judgment of the church. If they decided wrong, God could take hold of this matter in His own time and vindicate the right. He does not lay upon you the responsibility of keeping the church in order” {5MR 297.1}.

God is well able to take care of His church. If there are wrongs in the church, He is capable of taking ‘hold of this matter in His own time’ and vindicating the right. Speaking of Paul, she says, “In the conversion of Paul are given us important principles which we should ever bear in mind. The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church, where He has a church” (CCh 242).

We certainly need to study God’s Word for ourselves and accept the light that it brings into our lives, but there is wisdom and safety in a ‘multitude of counselors’ (Proverbs 24:6).

“The Word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body. There have ever been individuals of independent minds who have claimed that they were right, that God had especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of his own, views peculiar to himself, and each claims that his views are in accordance with the word of God. Each one has a different theory and faith, yet each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body, and each one is a separate church of himself. All these cannot be right, yet they all claim to be led of the Lord.” {CCh 241.5}

“There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.”  {AA 163.2} 

Now, I don’t believe that these quotations mean that we are to go against our consciences and change our beliefs just to go along with the ‘brethren’, but I do believe that we should seriously consider their counsel and take a closer look at what we believe and why and we should not promote our ideas against the will of the church. “If we allow the mind to take its own course, there will be countless points of difference which may be debated by men who make Christ their hope, and who love the truth in sincerity, and yet who hold opposite opinions upon subjects that are not of real importance. These unsettled questions should not be brought to the front, and urged publicly, but should, if held by any, be done quietly and without controversy…”  {Ev 183.1} 

Another aspect of receiving ‘new light’ is in how it is received. Do we come to a conclusion based on a statement or statements made by an individual even an early advent pioneer or Ellen White herself, or should we obtain a ‘thus saith the Lord’ from the Scriptures and from them alone? The early Adventists took the position of ‘the Bible and the Bible only’ and after the Seventh-day Adventist church was organized, that motto continued to be true. Ellen White said, in reflecting back to when they came out of the churches: “We then took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was to be our guide; and we are never to depart from this position…” –Letter 105, 1903.  {CW 145.3}  She also stated that “…God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms…Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord" in its support”.  {GC 595.1}  Concerning the use of her writings in supporting doctrine, she states: “The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed…” {CCh 92.1}

When it comes to accepting or presenting truth we are to “…trust not in man; look to God; trust in his infallible wisdom. Shun as a sin the practice, so common even among Seventh-day Adventists, of becoming the echo of any man, whatever his position. Listen to the voice of the True Shepherd, and you will never be led astray”.  {GW92 390.2}

 

(2) Another area of concern and closely related to my first concern is one of disrespect. God’s appointed leaders and His church are brought into disrepute by leading proponents of this movement. The church is accused of rejecting this movement as well as apostatizing in other areas. Leaders are denounced because they fail to see things in the same light. It is certainly true that there are some unconsecrated leaders in the church and Satan has slipped in some of his sophistries, but that in no way proves that the church itself has apostatized. King Saul was appointed by God to be the first king of Israel. God did not make a mistake in choosing Saul, but Saul by allowing pride to come into his heart eventually was led to allow Satan full control of his life. Yet David, who was anointed of God, always respected him even though Saul was trying to take his life. Saul was anointed by God and even though Saul was eventually rejected of God, David respected him even after Saul’s death.

The Seventh-day Adventist church today, is God’s last day remnant church. The leaders in God’s church are by His appointing. Whether you are a Sabbath school teacher, deacon, deaconess, elder, pastor, conference president or General Conference president, or whatever other position you hold in the church, you are there by God’s appointment, elected by the voice of His church. “God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected” (3T 451). Read in the Bible the stories of Miriam and Aaron speaking against Moses, or the story of the rebellion of Korah. Ellen White in speaking of Miriam and Aaron had this to say: “God had chosen Moses, and had put His Spirit upon him; and Miriam and Aaron, by their murmurings, were guilty of disloyalty, not only to their appointed leader, but to God Himself… It should not be regarded as a light thing to speak evil of others or to make ourselves judges of their motives or actions… There is but one judge–He "who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." 1 Corinthians 4:5. And whoever takes it upon himself to judge and condemn his fellow men is usurping the prerogative of the Creator.” 

The Seventh-day Adventist church is God’s church. It is the Bride of Christ. If you were to say something negative against my wife, I would take great offense. Even if it were true it would better be left unsaid in my presence. We are always in God’s presence. Ellen White had this to say: “Nothing else in this world is so dear to God as His church. Nothing is guarded by Him with such jealous care. Nothing so offends God as an act that injures the influence of those who are doing His service. He will call to account all who aid Satan in his work of criticizing and discouraging.” {CCh 248.5} “God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for in so doing he despises the voice of God”(3T 417). “Wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:8).

No stronger evidence can be given of Satan's delusive power than that many who are thus led by him deceive themselves with the belief that they are in the service of God. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against the authority of Moses, they thought they were opposing only a human leader, a man like themselves; and they came to believe that they were verily doing God service. But in rejecting God's chosen instrument they rejected Christ; they insulted the Spirit of God. So, in the days of Christ, the Jewish scribes and elders, who professed great zeal for the honor of God, crucified His Son. The same spirit still exists in the hearts of those who set themselves to follow their own will in opposition to the will of God.”  {PP 635} 

      “Shall not these lessons be of profit to those who are tempted to criticize, think evil of, speak evil of, and judge and condemn those whom God is leading and favoring? And how much worse it is to criticize and give judgment against the church that God has chosen to magnify his name and vindicate his honor, than to speak simply against an individual member…”{RH, October 3, 1893 par. 6}

She says, “Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard…”  {1NL 49.1}  She went on to say, “Those who start up to proclaim a message on their own individual responsibility, who, while claiming to be taught and led of God, still make it their special work to tear down that which God has been for years building up, are not doing the will of God. Be it known that these men are on the side of the great deceiver. Believe them not. They are allying themselves with the enemies of God and the truth. They will deride the order of the ministry as a system of priestcraft. From such turn away, have no fellowship with their message, however much they may quote the Testimonies and seek to entrench themselves behind them. Receive them not; for God has not given them this work to do. The result of such work will be unbelief in the Testimonies, and as far as possible, they will make of none effect the work that I have for years been doing.  {1NL 50.1}

Ellen White had the utmost confidence in God’s last day church, “enfeebled and defective” as it may be. In a letter to the General Conference representatives of 1913, just two years before her death she said: “"I rejoice," my brethren, "that I have confidence in you in all things." And while I still feel the deepest anxiety over the attitude that some are taking toward important measures connected with the development of the cause of God in the earth, yet I have strong faith in the workers throughout the field, and believe that as they meet together and humble themselves before the Lord and consecrate themselves anew to his service, they will be enabled to do his will. There are some who do not even now view matters in the right light, but these may learn to see eye to eye with their coworkers, and may avoid making serious mistakes, by earnestly seeking the Lord at this time, and by submitting their wills wholly to the will of God.  {RH, May 29, 1913 par. 14} 

She had explicit faith, that even though there were evils in the church in her day, and would be to the end, and knowing that “…Satan's work will be to set brethren at variance…” she said, “…I know [that] the Captain of our salvation stands at the helm to guide the gospel ship into the harbor…” {15MR 26.2} 

She gives the following warning to the “Seventh-day Adventist Church”, which if received, would of itself keep us from joining ourselves to any movement that sets itself up as an ‘accuser of the brethren’.

              “I warn the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be careful how you receive every new notion and those who claim to have great light. The character of their work seems to be to accuse and to tear down.”  {2SM 69.2} 

 

(3) The third area of concern is the lack of unity in the church that this produces. The lack of unity does not come so much from the differences in understanding, but from the fact that these certain teachings are made to be tests. “New and strange things will continually arise to lead God's people into false excitement, religious revivals, and curious developments; but our people should not be subjected to any tests of human invention that will create controversy in any line.”–MS 167, 1897. It will be argued that these aren’t ‘tests of human invention’, but the Spirit of Prophecy is clear that the only tests are on the third angel’s message incorporating the law of God, especially the Sabbath and that “…every discourse that does not enlighten the soul, that does not answer the question, What must I do to be saved? be cut off from your program. Preach the testing message of the third angel …present the subjects in the most simple language. What must I do to be saved, and the righteousness of Christ, are themes that are of vital importance to the people.”– Lt 29, 1895. “We are nearing the close of this world's history. We are face to face with tremendous conflicts, storms of dissension of which few dream; and all our time and power of thought are to be centered on the living issues before us. God has tests for this age, and they are to stand out plain and unmistakable. It is too late now to become enthusiastic over any man-made tests. The great test for this time is on the commandments of God, especially the Sabbath, and nothing is to be brought in to draw the mind and heart from the preparation needed to meet it. The people of God will have all the test that they can bear. The Sabbath question is a test that will come to the whole world. We need nothing to come in now as a test for God's people, that shall make more severe for them the test they already have. . . .”  {SHM 443.1} We need to be careful even with those topics, which God clearly says will be tests for God’s people, that we don’t make them tests, but that we simply give the message and let God administer the test.

The whole theme of the Bible is that God’s people are to be unified. “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). That is true, whether in the home or in the church. “Oh, how many times, when I have seemed to be in the presence of God and holy angels, I have heard the angel voice saying, "Press together, press together, press together. Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength."”  {2SM 374.2} 

 “Things will be constantly arising to cause disunion, to draw away from the truth. This questioning, criticizing, denouncing, passing judgment on others, is not an evidence of the grace of Christ in the heart. It does not produce unity. Such work has been carried on in the past by persons claiming to have wonderful light, when they were deep in sin.”  {Mar 158.5}

Even though you think you are right, you are not to urge your individual ideas to the front, so that they will cause discord. Do not take the position that you cannot err. All are liable to make mistakes; all need to anoint their eyes with the eye-salve spoken of by the True Witness, that they may see themselves as they are in God's sight.”  {HS 125.5}

Here is another statement that in and of itself should show us clearly whether a movement is from God or whether it comes from the enemy of God: When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God's commandment keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgment against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track.”  {3SM 18.4} 

 

(4) Inconsistencies in maintaining certain beliefs are another concern of mine. When questioned about the original text in Leviticus 26 in regard to the ‘seven times’ which this movement believes to mean 2520 years, I was pointed to a statement that Ellen White made concerning William Miller’s ‘Rules of Interpretation’. “Those who are engaged in proclaiming the third angel's message are searching the Scriptures upon the same plan that Father Miller adopted. In the little book entitled "Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology," Father Miller gives the following simple but intelligent and important rules for Bible study and interpretation:–“  {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 23} She then lists 5 of his 14 ‘rules of interpretation’ and then goes on to say, “The above is a portion of these rules; and in our study of the Bible we shall all do well to heed the principles set forth.”  {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 25}  It was pointed out that Miller laid aside all commentaries and studied using only the Bible and Cruden’s Concordance, to explain obscure passages by other passages and that Cruden’s Concordance didn’t contain the original Hebrew meaning, therefore we are to study the scriptures in the same way, simply comparing scripture with scripture without reference to the original language. Unfortunately this idea isn’t carried out when dealing with other areas of scripture such as in the word ‘sanctuary’ in Daniel 8. It is carefully pointed out that there are two Hebrew words, both translated as sanctuary, miqdash and qodesh. Again in Daniel 8:11, 11:31 and 12:11, the word translated ‘take away’ or ‘taken away’ come from two different original words, ‘rum’ and ‘sur’. Again it is stressed that those original words must be understood. In Daniel 8 through 11 the word ‘vision’ is translated in some instances from the original ‘chazon’. In other instances it is translated from the original ‘mareh’, the ‘complete’ vision verses the ‘snapshot’ vision. I’m sure there are many other places where the importance of understanding the original is stressed, so it seems strange that in Leviticus 26, understanding the original text is unimportant.

Other inconsistencies are in taking the words of one pioneer against the word of another and yet when it suits the purpose, the pioneer that was rejected to make one point, will be quoted to make another. William Miller, James White, Uriah Smith and many others were clearly led by God as Ellen White points out, yet their statements are carefully selected to make whatever point that is being made. This is why it is so important to take the Bible, and the Bible only as our creed in establishing doctrine.

 

(5) As stated at the beginning of this article, the actual teachings of this movement are not as much a concern as the other problems I have discussed; yet I see great danger in some of the teachings.

(a) The Latter Rain beginning to fall on 9/11: I will only dwell briefly on this. First of all, I believe that there is a lot of conjecture concerning what took place on 9/11. We are told when the Latter Rain will fall. “It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul-temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost”. {CET 189.2}   Ellen White makes it clear that the Latter rain will fall when the soul-temple is cleansed, not when a certain political or secular event takes place. Also God’s people will be assembled together working for souls when this takes place. “The convocations of the church, as in camp meetings, the assemblies of the home church, and all occasions where there is personal labor for souls, are God's appointed opportunities for giving the early and the latter rain.”–TM 508 (1897).

Here is another statement on the Latter Rain that brings up another question relating to the belief some hold that probation ends at the Sunday law for Seventh-day Adventists. “The great issue so near at hand [enforcement of Sunday laws] will weed out those whom God has not appointed and He will have a pure, true, sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain.”–3SM 385 (1886). It appears to me, that the Latter Rain will fall (1) after the soul temple is cleansed, (2) while God’s people are assembled, working for souls, and (3) after the Sunday law enforcement, “… this great issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us…” {RH, January 1, 1889 par. 18}. The real question each one of us needs to ask is, “Are we daily obtaining clearer light and greater strength, that we may stand in Christ's righteousness? Are we emptying our hearts of all selfishness, and cleansing them, preparatory to receiving the latter rain from heaven”?  {HS 155.1}

(b) The end of probation for SDA’s at the Sunday law: “The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided.”  {2SM 80.4} ‘Clearly’ to me, this statement means that the Sunday law will be enforced before probation closes. Some however don’t see it that clearly. The forming of the image of the beast is not the same as the Sunday law in some minds. There is a splitting of hairs, but let’s take a closer look. She says “for it” (the image of the beast), “is to be the great test for the people of God”. Let’s look at another statement that makes it clear what the great test is upon. “… In this age the great test will be upon the point of Sabbath observance . . . “ {CTr 178.5} The great test comes at the Sunday law, whether we will keep the seventh day Sabbath or not. This great test or great issue will weed out the wheat from the tares in preparation for the outpouring of the Latter rain. When speaking of the two horned beast of Revelation 13, Ellen White states that the beast will say “"to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast;"…” and she says that “…this prophecy will be fulfilled when the United States shall enforce Sunday observance…”{DD 27.1}. In the context of these statements it seems to me that the forming of the image to the beast and the enforcing of Sunday observance are one and the same.

We understand that judgment begins at the house of God (1Pet. 4:17) and when Michael stands up, probation will close for the whole world, but we will not know when that event takes place or when our own probation will close. “The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state–men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above.”–GC 491 (1911). This takes place after the enforcement of the Sunday law. If we believe that our (SDA’s) probation closes at the Sunday law, then we wouldn’t be part of the “all” in the above statement.

     “When the irrevocable decision of the sanctuary has been pronounced, and the destiny of the world has been forever fixed, the inhabitants of the earth will know it not…”GC 615 (1911). At this time, we will still be considered ‘inhabitants of the earth’.

Again, the important thing for each of us is that we are preparing our hearts and purifying our characters by the blood of the Lamb now, so whether our probation closes after the Sunday law or whether it closes tomorrow, we are ready to meet our Saviour face to face.

 (c) The 2520: I don’t know that this teaching is more dangerous than any of the others, but I’ve spent more time on this subject because it seems to be a central teaching with much effort in defending it among this group.

In Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, and 28 the ‘seven times’ spoken of was believed by William Miller to be a time prophecy, each day representing a year, thus 2520 years (see William Millers works Volume 2, Lecture 17 first published in 1836, ‘On the Punishment of the People of God Seven Times for Their Sins’). Miller believed this to begin in the year 677BC at the captivity of the Jews during the reign of Manasseh, and ending (“when captive Zion will go free from all bondage, even from death”) in the year 1843 when he believed that the end of the world would take place and Jesus would come. The ‘seven times’ in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as related in Daniel chapter 4, Miller compared as an ‘allegory or sample’ of the ‘seven times’ of Leviticus 26.

Others during that time period (1840-1844) accepted this understanding and the ‘2520’ was included on the 1843 prophetic chart illustrating the visions of Daniel and Revelation, prepared by Charles Fitch and used by the Millerite preachers. Not all however accepted the ‘2520’. Some of the pre 1844 pioneers make no mention of the ‘2520’ so we cannot say with any certainty that all were united on that view. In an article in the Signs of the Times, October 15, 1840, and edited by Joshua V. Himes, Josiah Litch wrote: “…That the seven times, of Lev. xxvi. signify 2520 years, during which the Jews were to be in captivity, I deny. There is no evidence that the idea of time is included in the expression, at all. The simple and obvious meaning is, that in case of disobedience, God would send on the Jews seven distinct punishments. And no unbiased mind would, on reading the passage, think of any thing else. Until brother C. therefore, produces some evidence of the correctness of his position, I must be allowed to dissent.” {October 15, 1840 JVHe, HST 105.6} He latter changed his views and by 1843 made this statement: “I have long hesitated on the "seven times," whether they are to be understood as a prophetic period; but after years of investigation and earnest study, I am constrained at length to acknowledge it as such, and have accordingly given it in this place. But still I look on the following argument on Dan. viii. 14 {the 2300 days}, as the strong bulwark of the cause.” {1843 JoL, JUO 32.2} It doesn’t appear that any of those early pioneers used the ‘2520’ as a testing argument but that the 2300 days was ‘the strong bulwark of the cause’.

The main argument to day in defense of the ‘2520’ comes from a statement in Early Writings pg. 74, which states: “I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them; that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed.” She also makes this statement: “I saw that the truth should be made plain upon tables, that the earth and the fullness thereof is the Lord's, and that necessary means should not be spared to make it plain. I saw that the old chart was directed by the Lord, and that not a figure of it should be altered except by inspiration. I saw that the figures of the chart were as God would have them, and that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none should see it till His hand was removed”.  {SpM 1.3}  Later, she had this to say: “The hand of the Lord was removed from the figures, and the mistake was explained. They saw that the prophetic periods reached to 1844, and that the same evidence which they had presented to show that the prophetic periods closed in 1843, proved that they would terminate in 1844…”  {EW 236.1} 

What was the mistake that “His hand was over” and what are the prophetic periods she is speaking of? She explains it this way: “It was not at first perceived that if the decree did not go forth at the beginning of the year 457 B. C., the 2300 years would not be completed at the close of 1843. But it was ascertained that the decree was given near the close of the year 457 B. C., and therefore the prophetic period must reach to the fall of the year 1844. …”{CET 50.1}  

     “God tested and proved His people by the passing of the time in 1843. The mistake made in reckoning the prophetic periods was not at once discovered, even by learned men who opposed the views of those who were looking for Christ's coming. …” {CET 50.2}   In this statement, she makes it clear that the ‘mistake’ made in the reckoning of the ‘prophetic periods’ was in counting from the beginning of the year 457 B.C. instead of toward the close of the year 457 B.C. which would necessarily affect the ending date. She is clearly speaking of the 2300-year prophecy and the periods included within that prophecy.

James White had the same understanding of the mistake that was made in the following statement: “Those who gave the cry that the Lord would come at the seventh month, 1844, clearly saw that the prophetic periods reached to that time, therefore, the evidence that had been presented from the periods to prove that the Advent would be in 1843, proved that it would be in 1844. We then saw an error in that manner of reckoning which terminated the 2300 days in 1843. None of those who wrote against the Advent saw it. The hand of Providence covered the mistake until the time came for it to be seen. The error was in taking 457 full years from the 2300, which left 1843, without making any account of the fraction of the year 457 B. C., that had passed, when the commandment went forth, from which the 70 weeks are reckoned. As it takes 457 full years and 1843, to make 2300, the fraction of the year 457, B. C., that had passed when the 70 weeks commenced, should be added to 1843, which brings the termination of the 2300 days in 1844…”  {ND JW, PARA 6.5}

It seems to me that in speaking of the ‘mistake made’ and the ‘prophetic periods’, the context shows that she is speaking specifically of the 2300 day prophecy inclusive of the 70 weeks, and that the ‘mistake made’ was in determining what part of the year 457 the decree was made, which would determine when the prophecy would terminate. No mention is made of the beginning year or termination of the 2520. The fact that the ‘old chart was directed by the Lord’ doesn’t necessarily mean that every detail was absolutely correct, but that the publishing of the chart had the desired effect upon the hearts of the people. Ellen White made similar statements in regard to the book ‘Daniel and the Revelation’ by Uriah Smith. “The light given was that Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, The Great Controversy, and Patriarchs and Prophets, would make their way. They contain the very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people. The angels of God would prepare the way for these books in the hearts of the people. {CEv 21.1} (Just a note: not one of these three books that “contain the very message the people must have” ever mentioned the 2520). She also makes the following statement. “The interest in Daniel and the Revelation is to continue as long as probationary time shall last. God used the author of this book as a channel through which to communicate light to direct minds to the truth. Shall we not appreciate this light, which points us to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our King?”  {1MR 63.1}  In this statement she says that the interest in this book is to continue as long as probation lasts. I am not aware of any such statements concerning the 1843 chart, which did the work God intended during the 1843/1844-time period. It is also stated that ‘God used the author of this book as a ‘channel’ or you could say ‘method’ in which to ‘communicate light’ and ‘direct minds to the truth’. Both the chart and the book are the method to communicate the message. The messages the 1843 chart portrayed, were the 1st and 2nd angels messages. The book ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation’ communicates not only the 1st and 2nd angels messages, but also the 3rd. Again, the ultimate message is ‘get ready, Jesus is coming’. I believe that the great focus some put on the chart and the 2520 is that it is the message instead of the method or channel used to present the true message.

To argue that there were no other mistakes (other then the ‘mistake’ in determining the 457 B.C. starting point) because the ‘old chart was directed by the hand of the Lord’, one would have to argue that in the book ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation’ because it contains the “very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people” must not have any errors either. But we know that there is a contradiction between the ‘chart’ and the book concerning the 2520. The book denies the 2520 while the chart accepts it. Either Ellen White made a mistake in making both of those statements, or her statements are misinterpreted to uphold a certain view. I believe the latter is true. I believe that both the ‘old chart’ and the book ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation’ were ‘directed by the hand of the Lord’ and contain the “very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people”. The message in both the chart and the book was and is: the Lord is coming, let’s get ready!

If Ellen White had the 2520 in mind when she mentioned a ‘mistake’, she would have said ‘mistakes’ because if the end date of the 2520 were to correspond with the end date of the 2300 days, then there would have also been a mistake in the starting point of 677 B.C., which she makes no mention of. If we take the position that she was talking about the chart in general when speaking of a ‘mistake’, then we must assume that the 2520 would still end in 1843 as stated on the chart. If we understand her to be simply speaking in terms of the 2300 day prophesy as the context seems to indicate, and the chart being ‘directed by the hand of the Lord’, to be understood as doing the work that God intended, then we eliminate all seeming discrepancies in her statements.

I will mention another statement concerning the book ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation”: “The great, essential questions which God would have presented to the people are found in Daniel and the Revelation”. She goes on to say that the “interest in Daniel and the Revelation is to continue as long as probationary time shall last…Shall we not appreciate this light, which points us to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our King?”(1MR 61,63) The 2520 is not a teaching of this book and yet she says that “the great, essential questions” are found there, and it’s interest should continue “as long as probationary time shall last”. This tells me that even if the 2520 were found to be a valid prophecy, it is still not a “great, essential question” and should not be treated as such.

  The 2520 time prophecy is based on the warning judgments of Leviticus 26. A close study of Leviticus 26 reveals that the word ‘sheba’, meaning ‘seven’ and translated as ‘seven times’ in these passages refers to intensity, not the passing of time or duration. The word ‘times’ as it comes after the word ‘seven’ is supplied by the translators to help portray it as such. We use the same expression in the same ways today (Your work will be 7 times harder if you don’t do it right the first time, or, I went to the store 7 times today). Look at Psalm 119:164 for another example. “Seven times a day do I praise Thee because of Thy righteous judgments”. Here again the word ‘times’ is added to the word ‘seven’ to help clarify the thought. If we took that word ‘times’ and made it say ‘years’ it would make no sense at all in this passage. If these passages were referring to time as in years, they would have used a separate word after the word ‘sheba’ to give that meaning as are all other passages in the Bible that refer to time (duration). In the original, the exact form of the word ‘sheba’ as used in Leviticus, is found 154 times in the Old Testament, and yet you will find that no where else does it refer to duration except where the word ‘years’ translated from the Hebrew ‘shaneh’ follows it. In all 154 cases where this use of the word is made, any passages that have to do with time include a separate word in the original after the word ‘sheba’. The phrase ‘seven times’ is used 31 times in the Old Testament. The only place the word ‘times’ was used to denote a year is in Daniel 4 and a separate word was used in the original with that meaning; shibah (seven) iddan (times), translated from the Chaldee, meaning literally, ‘seven years’.

If you study the Scriptures themselves, you cannot find a 2520 time prophecy. There is no mention of a 2520 time prophecy in the Spirit of Prophecy. She makes statements that are said to concern the 2520 but there is no support for that in her writings.

I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church in its infancy came to the same conclusion on the 2520, by earnest Bible study and prayer. Ellen White wrote concerning how after the passing of time in 1844, they investigated truth in God’s Word.

“My husband, with Elders Joseph Bates, Stephen Pierce, Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, was among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. {CET 192.3}  

     We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided. One point at a time was made the subject of investigation. The Scriptures were opened with a sense of awe. Often we fasted, that we might be better fitted to understand the truth. After earnest prayer, if any point was not understood, it was discussed and each one expressed his opinion freely; then we would again bow in prayer, and earnest supplications went up to heaven that God would help us to see eye to eye, that we might be one, as Christ and the Father are one. Many tears were shed. {CET 192.4}  

     We spent many hours in this way. Sometimes the entire night was spent in solemn investigation of the Scriptures, that we might understand the truth for our time. On some occasions the Spirit of God would come upon me, and difficult portions were made clear through God's appointed way, and then there was perfect harmony. We were all of one mind and one spirit. {CET 193.1}  

     We sought most earnestly that the Scriptures should not be wrested to suit any man's opinions. We tried to make our differences as slight as possible by not dwelling on points that were of minor importance, upon which there were varying opinions. But the burden of every soul was to bring about a condition among the brethren which would answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He and the Father are one. {CET 193.2}    Sometimes one or two of the brethren would stubbornly set themselves against the view presented, and would act out the natural feelings of the heart; but when this disposition appeared, we suspended our investigations and adjourned our meeting, that each one might have an opportunity to go to God in prayer, and without conversation with others, study the point of difference, asking light from heaven. With expressions of friendliness we parted, to meet again as soon as possible for further investigation. At times the power of God came upon us in a marked manner, and when clear light revealed the points of truth, we would weep and rejoice together. We loved Jesus; we loved one another.” {CET 193.3}

I believe that in all likelihood, the 2520 was one of those subjects studied and discussed.  In an article published in the Review and Herald dated January 26, 1864, James White as editor revealed the view the church, which was newly organized, took on the 2520. Notice the pronoun ‘we’ that is used in the article to represent the church’s position instead of the pronoun ‘I’, which would represent the author’s own opinion. Following is the article in its entirety.

 

The Review and Herald

 

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

BATTLE CREEK, MICH., THIRD-DAY, JANUARY 26, 1864,

JAMES WHITE, EDITOR

 

The Seven Times of Lev. xxvi

 

“The prophetic period of Lev. xxvi, or what has been supposed to be such, has been no small object of study among prophetical expositors. It has been supposed that the expression, "seven times," in verses 18, 21, 24, 28, denoted a prophetic period of 2520 years, and that this period covered the time during which the throne of Israel should be and remain subverted and trodden down by oppressing powers. To rightly fix the commencement and termination of this period, became therefore a matter of consequence. Where does it commence? and where does it end? have been questions of much study, and perhaps some perplexity. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.1}

These are not the questions, however, that we propose here to discuss; for there is a question lying back of these, which demands to be answered first; namely, Is there any prophetic period brought to view at all in Lev. xxvi? We claim that there is not, and will offer a few of what are to us very conclusive reasons for this position: {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.2}

1. A series of judgments is threatened against Israel, in case they hearkened not unto God to do his commandments, before the expression, seven times, is introduced. Verses 14-17. In these judgments is included being slain before their enemies, being reigned over by those that hated them, and fleeing when none pursued them. Now if the seven times were meant to cover the period of God's special judgments against Israel, especially of their captivity by foreign powers, these seven times should have been mentioned in connection with the first threatening of judgments of this kind. But this, as we have seen, is not the case. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.3}

2. After the threatening of these judgments, God says, verse 18, "And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." Then follows an enumeration of the judgments to come upon them in fulfillment of this, different from the items of the first threatening, and increasing in severity. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.4}

3. If they would not for this hearken, seven times more plagues were threatened against them, "according to their sins." Verse 21. Then again follows an enumeration of judgments to correspond, more severe still than any preceding. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.5}

4. If they would not be reformed by these things, God threatened to punish them seven times more for their sins. Verse 24. And in like manner with the foregoing, an enumeration of the judgments to be inflicted in fulfillment, immediately follows, more fearful still. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.6}

5. And if they would not hearken to God for all these things, he makes a final threat that would walk contrary to them in fury, and chastise them seven times for their sins. Verse 28. And an enumeration of the judgments to be inflicted, again immediately follows, outdoing all before, in their terrible severity. Included among them were the eating of the flesh of their sons and daughters, making waste their cities, bringing the land into such desolation that their enemies should be astonished at it, scattering them among all nations, and drawing out a sword after them in all the lands of their dispersion. With fearful minuteness all this has been fulfilled, even to the eating the flesh of their own children, as in the terrible sieges that preceded the downfall of Jerusalem. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.7}

Thus we have, first, a series of judgments threatened against Israel, without the expression, seven times, and then the declaration four times made, that God would punish them seven times for their sins, each one on condition that the former did not lead to repentance, and each one containing its own specific enumeration of judgments, distinct from those that preceded, and regularly increasing in the severity of then denunciations. Now what is meant by this repeated expression of seven times? We reply, It denotes, not the duration of the punishment, but its intensity and severity. It is well expressed in the language of verse 21, thus: "I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins." The number seven denoting perfection, we are undoubtedly to understand by this expression, the fullness of their punishment; that the measure of their national sins, would in every case be fully equaled by the measure of their national calamities. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.8}

And this position is fully sustained by the original, as a brief criticism will show. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.9}

In references to the Hebrew, we learn from the Hebrew Concordance that the expression, seven times, in Lev. xxvi, comes from sheh-vag; and this word is expressly set down by Gesenius, in those texts, as an adverb, also in Ps. cxix, 164; Prov. xxiv, 16. In Dan. iv, 16, 25, the expression, seven times, twice occurs, where beyond question it means duration. Nebuchadnezzar was to be driven from men, and make his dwelling with the beasts of the field, until seven times should pass over him. There can be no mistaking that here the expression means a certain space of time; but here we find, not the adverb as in Lev. xxvi, but the noun, gid-dahn, defined by Gesenius, "Time, in prophetic language, for a year." In Dan. vii, 25, where a prophetic period is brought to view in the expression, "a time and times and the dividing of time," the same word is used. In Dan. xii, 7, where the same period is again brought to view, and in about the same language, we have another word, moh-gehd, defined by Gesenius, "Appointment of time. Spoken of a space of time, appointed and definite. In the prophetic style for a year." It will be seen by this definition, that this word is synonymous with the one used in Dan. vii, 25, as above referred to. Now if a period of time is meant by the expression, seven times, in Lev. xxvi, one of these words should and would most assuredly have been used. And the fact that neither of these words is there used, but another word, and that an adverb, places it beyond question that no such period is there intended. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.10}

The Greek is equally definite. The Septuagint has in Lev. xxvi, heptakis, which is an adverb, signifying seven times. In Dan. iv, 16, 25, for Nebuchadnezzar's seven times we have not heptakis, the adverb, but heptakairoi, a noun and its adjective. And in all cases where the word time occurs, denoting a prophetic period, as in Dan. vii, 25; xii, 7; Rev. xii, 14, it is from the noun kairos. Such a thing as a prophetic period based on an adverb is not to be found. {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.11}

So then, there is no prophetic period in Lev. xxvi; and those who imagine that such a thing exists, and are puzzling themselves over the adjustment of its several dates, are simply beating the air. To ignore, or treat with neglect, a prophetic period where one is plainly given, is censurable in the extreme. It is an equally futile, though not so heinous, a course, to endeavor to create one where none exists.” {January 26, 1864 JWe, ARSH 68.12}

 

James had a heavy responsibility as the editor of the Review for many years, yet he didn’t have that burden alone as Ellen White pointed out:

“…I saw that the papers [The Review and Herald] would go and that it would be the means of bringing souls to a knowledge of the truth. I saw that James had not borne the burden alone, but that the angels of God had assisted and had oversight of the paper.”  {8MR 221.2} 

Some tend to downplay the part of James White in the work, but Ellen White had much to say about his position including this statement, which shows the teamwork they had in the work of building up the church:

“In the work in which my husband and I were called by the providence of God to act a part, even from its very beginning in 1843 and 1844, we have had the Lord to devise and plan for us, and He has worked out His plans through His living agents. False paths have been so often pointed out to us, and the true and safe paths so clearly defined in all the enterprises connected with the work given us to do, that I can say of a truth I am not ignorant of Satan's devices, nor of the ways and works of God. We have had to tax every power of mind, relying upon wisdom from God to guide us in our investigations, as we have had to review the different theories brought to our attention, weighing their merits and defects in the light shining from the Word of God and the things God has revealed to me through His Word and the testimonies, in order that we might not be deceived nor deceive others. We surrendered our will and way to God, and most earnestly supplicated His aid; and we never sought in vain. …”  {2SM 75.1} 

While I’m not sure there is any harm in someone believing in a 2520 time prophecy, I find no support of it in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy. Again, the danger here is making it a testing message. Many have repeatedly accused the church of rejecting the 2520, implying that the church leaders and the church itself are in error. It is true that the church has rejected the 2520, but only because they found no basis for it in the Scriptures. “If we allow the mind to take its own course, there will be countless points of difference which may be debated by men who make Christ their hope, and who love the truth in sincerity, and yet who hold opposite opinions upon subjects that are not of real importance. These unsettled questions should not be brought to the front, and urged publicly, but should, if held by any, be done quietly and without controversy. . . .” She goes on to explain what it is that we should allow the mind to dwell on. “…Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention.” –Review and Herald, Sept. 11, 1888.  {Ev 183} 

This is what she wrote in 1906, and 1907, long after 1844, 1850 and 1864 etc.: “The truths given us after the passing of the time in 1844 are just as certain and unchangeable as when the Lord gave them to us in answer to our urgent prayers. The visions that the Lord has given me are so remarkable that we know that what we have accepted is the truth. This was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit. Light, precious light from God, established the main points of our faith as we hold them today. Letter 50, 1906, pp. 1, 2. (To Elder W. W. Simpson, January 30, 1906.)  {1MR 53.2} 

“The Word of the Lord has guided our steps since the passing of the time in 1844. We have searched the Scriptures; we have built solidly; and we have not had to tear up our foundations and put in new timbers.” Letter 24, 1907, p. 3. (To Elder A. G. Daniells, February 4, 1907.)  {1MR 54.1} 

Again, I believe that the great thrust of this movement is in making the chart, the 2520, the daily etc. the message instead of simply the method that was used to bring people to the message. Even clearly established truths such as the 2300 day prophecy could be misused in the same way. The prophecies should be used to show us where we are in time, but they should never become the message itself. If we are truly giving the message, then we will be giving Jesus to the world through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd angels messages.

My plea to those who are following this movement is this: Put as great a distance between yourself and this movement as possible. If you continue to believe some of the teachings of this movement that are contrary to the rest of the church body, consider heeding the counsel Ellen White gave and let it “be done quietly and without controversy. . . ”  {Ev 183.1}. Come together in harmony with your church. Help to answer Jesus’ prayer that all “may be one even as we are one” (John 17:21,22). I love all of you. Let’s strive not to bring any reproach upon God’s remnant church. Let’s combine our influence and come together in perfect unity and lets all go forward giving the message to the world that we are commissioned to do. When that work is complete, then Jesus can come and we can all go home together with Him!

We need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope… {CEv 60.3}

 

October 21 2011 08:05 pm | Jeff Pippenger

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