Look for the Waymarks

RH.1905-10-12.022 The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant. In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history. ............................................................................ A few years ago I was surprised to learn how little real truth was known about the roots of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I learned that many believed that the church was begun and founded simply on the visions of Ellen White. Although God gave her visions to confirm their studies, it was through much Bible study and prayer that most of these Bible truths were discovered. Recently, I had the privilege again, to visit Battle Creek, MI, what is now known as the birthplace of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. It was here that its name was chosen in 1860, and here the General Conference of SDA was organized in 1863. It was here that the Church had its first venture in tent evangelism in 1854, first 'Review' office building in1855. The first health institution in 1866, first official SDA school 1872, and first college in 1874. The world-wide headquarters of the Church remained in Battle Creek until 1903. Although Battle Creek was the birthplace of the organized Seventh-Day Adventist Church, it was in the granite hills of New England that the Three Angels' Message began to be preached in 1831 by a man named William Miller. In this study, we will look at many interesting people and their stories, which went into the organization and development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

William Miller was brought up as a Baptist on a farm in Low Hampton,

New York. But, Miller was no ordinary farmer, for after the family was asleep at night, he read by the light of pitch knots in the fireplace of their log cabin. Even after his marriage, and move to the Green Mountains in Vermont, he continued to read; and soon exhausted the public library. The books William Miller read included Voltaire, and Thomas Paine, and it was not long before he adopted Deism. In other words, he believed that God created the world and set it in operation under unalterable laws of cause and effect. He believed men ought to live clean, kindly, and honest lives, but, to believe in prayer, a Saviour, or life after death, he thought to be only superstition.

But, some things he experienced in the war of 1812 began to cause Miller to wonder. Could it be that God had taken a personal interest in America? What about the shell that had exploded at his feet without hurting him or killing his friends? Was there a God who cared? He began to have doubts about Deism, and soon, Miller started to study the Bible in earnest.

“If the Bible is the Word of God,” Miller said, “then everything it contains can be understood, and all its parts made to harmonize.” In that intensive study, he found a wonderful promise. Jesus, who by now, he knew as his wonderful Friend and Saviour, had promised to come again to earth!

Correctly, he determined, (using Ezekiel 4:6 and other texts) that the 2300 days were 2300 years, and that they began in 457 BC. Incorrectly, as we now know, he assumed that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” was the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. After about two years of study, he came to the startling conclusion that Christ would return “about the year 1843”…that was only about 25 years away.

What to do? Why, others must be warned!! A voice burned in his soul, “Go and tell it to the world.”

For eight years, Miller preached mostly in small churches in little towns.  So, Miller went to Dresden, and the people there persuaded him to stay and preach every night for a week.  As soon as he returned home, an invitation waited him to preach at another place.  He Then he met Joshua V. Himes, and he had his first invitation to preach in the large city of Boston.  Miller’s message was not “a lot of fuss about a date.”  It was the first angel’s message: “the everlasting gospel” and “the hour of His judgment is come.” Rev.14:6, 7.  These intense evangelistic efforts were seeking to prepare a people to meet the Lord.


Other notable leaders joined miller, including Josiah Litch, a Methodist, Charles Fitch, a Congregationalist pastor, who had worked with Charles G. Finney.  There were James white and Joseph Bates, from the Christian Connection.  Altogether, there were 174 known ministers, and about half were Methodists, a fourth were Baptists, the rest included Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Quakers, and several others.  Miller was not the only leading “Millerite.”  And everywhere this message was preached, thousands attended…there was no time to lose, for Christ was coming in or about the year 1843.  Fitch even prepared a chart, showing the Bible prophecies.  This was what most of the lecturers used, along with the Daniel 2 image.


But, Jesus did not come in 1843, nor even in the early summer of 1844. As yet, there had been no positive time declared for His return. But, in August, at a camp meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, a Millerite minister, S.S. Snow showed through his mathematical calculations that the fulfillment of the 2300-day prophecy of Dan. 8:14 would take place in the autumn of 1844.  Snow believed from his studies that Daniel’s prophecy about the cleansing of the sanctuary would be completed on the Jewish Day of Atonement. 


Snow claimed that he had calculated the exact day for the cleansing, which the Millerites still universally interpreted as the second coming of Christ.  That day in 1844, according to Karaite Jewish reckoning, fell on October 22.


The camp meeting audience was electrified, as they listened to this urgent message.  Why, that was only about two months away!  Although Miller, Himes and some other leading Adventist hesitated to fix their hopes on a definite day, the enthusiasm soon spread like fire in stubble.  Eventually, Miller, Himes and other Millerite leaders gave in to the belief.  Christ was coming!! Get ready!  Get ready!


In their excitement and conviction, the believers put everything into a final effort to warn the world of Christ’s soon coming! They didn’t even think in terms of a future here on earth—they didn’t need to! Some left their crops unharvested, closed their shops, and resigned from their jobs. Jesus was coming! Wonderful expectation! Blessed Hope fulfilled! What they did not realize that although the thought was like ‘honey in the mouth,’ it would soon be ‘bitter in the belly.’ (Rev.10:8-10)