- Contact Us
The Great Disappointment and the Birth of Adventism
Publish date: Jul 7, 2011
Summary: The 1800s were a period of intense disappointment—and intense growth—for God's Church.
|Share with others:||
In the early 1800s, a young Baptist farmer named William Miller (1782-1849) published a series of articles in the Baptist weekly Vermont Telegraph about the prophecies of Daniel. He used a simple set of rules to unravel the great themes of prophecy:
- The New Testament is the expositor of the Old Testament
- Scripture must be its own expositor
- The symbolism of type and antitype
- Every word must be taken into consideration
- Prophecy compliments prophecy
Miller's study of Daniel 8 led him to believe that the cleansing of the sanctuary, which was to take place at the end of the 2300-year period (Daniel 8:14), referred to the cleansing of the earth from sin. He concluded that this meant Christ would return at that time.
Miller was just beginning to understand the sanctuary message, and misunderstood its connection to the 2300-day prophecy. He believed that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary—the cleansing of the Church at the return of Christ. However, the sanctuary referred to here is instead the heavenly sanctuary.
Using the day-year principle, he at first calculated that Christ would return in 1843. He believed the “spiritual sanctuary,” the Church, would be cleansed at that time.
Miller rejected the popular interpretations of the day such as futurism, preterism, and dispensationalism. He stressed the premillennial return of Christ, and reintroduced the old Protestant, Christ-centered interpretation, which saw the followers of Jesus at the heart of the end-time prophecies. And even though Scripture tells us that we cannot know the hour of Christ's return (see Matthew 24:36 and Luke 12:40), Miller eventually set a definite date for this event: October 22, 1844.i
The Great Disappointment
Miller, together with some 100,000 others were expelled from their churches for their beliefs. These believers in the soon advent of Christ came from all denominations, and included at least 200 ministers from prominent Protestant churches.
Drawing from the parable of the ten virgins, Miller's message became known as the “midnight cry," the return of the bridegroom. There was a return to primitive godliness, as the various groups of believers awaited the return of the Lord.
As we know, Jesus did not return to this earth in 1844. Those that eagerly awaited His return were devastated, and the day became known as the Great Disappointment. Many were disillusioned and left the movement. Those that remained were ridiculed and became objects of scorn.
Rediscovering the Truth
Centuries before the Great Disappointment, the Church experienced a similar disappointment. The followers of Christ had awaited His coronation as the Messiah in Jerusalem. They had hailed Him as their King and thrown palm branches before His feet (John 12:12-13). But instead of a coronation, they had to witness a crucifixion. Their disappointment was real, and many lost their faith. Even the disciples were filled with fear and hid themselves “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
Two followers of Jesus were contemplating His death when Jesus Himself joined them and, "beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27 NKJV).
Similarly, the Great Disappointment of 1844 led to ardent study of the Scriptures and the truths uncovered by the Reformation. Those who remained in the Advent movement after 1844 considered themselves “the remnant.” The prophecies of Daniel were reexamined and a number of believers discovered that the books of Hebrews and Revelation are full of references to a sanctuary in heaven—the very topic of Daniel's sealed prophecy in Daniel 8.
They rediscovered the great doctrine of the sanctuary. The role of Jesus as our sacrificial lamb and high priest in heaven were understood in the correct context. The typology of the Jewish feasts and their meaning and fulfillment were also uncovered.
Along with this breakthrough in understanding came the realization of what the ancient Day of Atonement symbolized, and what its relevance was in terms of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary or the judgment in heaven. The standard of judgment—the law—and its significance was also understood in its relationship to the plan of salvation. The truths that had served as a guard against evil were being rebuilt, as Isaiah had prophesied.
The law and the Sabbath were rediscovered, as was the correct relationship between the law and grace. The commandments of God and faith in Jesus Christ became pillars on which the faith of the remnant rested, fulfilling Revelation 12:17's description of the last generation of believers before the return of Christ:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Birth of Adventism
Out of the ashes of the Millerite movement grew the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They adopted, coordinated, and continued reforms that had been lost since the Reformation. These doctrines were grounded on Scriptural teaching about the following concepts:
- The Second Coming of Christ
- The binding claims of the Seventh-day Sabbath
- The Third Angel’s Message in relation to the First and Second Angels' Messages
- The ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary
- The non-immortality of the soul
i. Miller originally calculated the end of the 2300-day prophecy to be in 1843. However, he was a year off because he had not considered the transitional year when the calendar moved from BC to AD. This is why, upon recalculation, Miller's date was moved to 1844.
This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
Is there evidence for Creation science? How does it compare to evolution? The following articles give insight in to these questions and more.
Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
What does the fossil record show us? Is it all random or a defined science that we can understand? Where does evolution fit? Uncover mysteries in the history of the Earth.
As we study the genome, the molecule, and the atom, we see a vast network of intricate systems beyond our understanding. Were these systems really formed by chance?
How did this world change from the perfection depicted in Genesis to a world full of thorns, thistles, parasites, and death? If God made everything perfect, how could it have all been so changed?
Archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true. But what's so special about the Bible that makes it a point of so much controversy?
Music is a powerful emotional motivator that crosses cultural and language barriers. Its message can be understood by every culture and people across the planet.
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
This book "Cross and Crown" is a powerful and thrilling recital of the most romantic and dramatic incidents in history to be found on record, told in the simplest, most graphic, and entertaining form.
The historian Ranke says this about Protestant-Catholic relations: "In the year 1617, everything betokened a decisive conflict between them. The Catholic party appears to have felt itself the superior. At all events it was the first to take up arms."
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
Dive into history to uncover the remarkable stories of faith and passion in early Protestantism.
Language can be used to communicate both truth and lies. Learn about the religious doublespeak being used to pull the wool over the eyes of the world.
Hegelian dialectic thinking is applied in many situations in world politics. Often the ordinary people are used as pawns in the game of Hegelian psychology played by those who pull the strings of world control.
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
If archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true, then why is it a point of so much controversy?
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life with author Wendy Goubej.
Did God create sin? If not, where did it come from?
Have you taken a day to recreate lately?
Since the beginning of time, God has communicated timely messages to the inhabitants of planet Earth. It all started in Eden, with the first Gospel announcement.
Are miraculous signs the best way to be sure that God exists?
Dive into prophecy and history in this chapter-by-chapter commentary of the book of Daniel.
Join us on a journey through the pages of this letter from Christ to His people.
The greatest deceptions are still being formed in society today. Secret international alliances, the mark of the Beast, the New Age, and other issues are discussed.
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Learn about the Bible's prophecies on God's judgment, deliverance, Armageddon, and the earth made new.
Learn from Paul as he teaches the Corinthian Church about spiritual gifts.
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life?
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
From mammograms to prescription drugs, the modern medical industry is always presenting a new way to diagnose and solve health issues. But are these new treatments really healing anything?
There isn't one person I have ever met who knew anything about cosmetics, and that is because the chemistry of cosmetics has always been cloaked in secrecy.
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.