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Tuesday: William Miller and the Bible — 12 Comments

  1. The understanding of the Word comes to those who humbly look for answers — many years passed after John wrote the Revelation until someone decided to search for meanings. God knows the right time and prepares people with a desire for knowledge to disclose His mysteries. Since we are amid The Great Controversy, what do we do now with all the plain truth before us?

  2. Thank God for William Miller. Of course you may say God would have found someone else who would lead us to the awakening of the Christ 'close' return. Even though he had misinterpreted the coming of Christ for the begining of the investigative judgement, he essentially started the three angels message. At least he sparked deeper study when 1844 came and was gone without Christ return. He was one of those who answered the call of Romans 10:14. Again thank-you Lord. 🙏 🙏

  3. In his Hope360 message, Mark Finley says, "As time went on the Christian Church lost the sense of the 2nd coming of Christ…..they lost the sense of the urgency of His coming and particularly in the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, 538-1798 they lost that sense…"

    Made me think, what about now? Have we in this generation lost the sense of urgency and wanting to share this truth?

    Speaking for Gen X (and maybe Millennials and Gen Z) , I think there are some cultural reasons that the Church universal (all denominations) has shied back from proclaiming the 3rd angel's message loudly:

    (1) We want to have a faith that is not just looking for Jesus to come back and then having a dissonant relationship with caring about life in the present. Christians want to care about the health of the environment and social justice now. The younger generations might say, "We the people who are waiting for Jesus to return at any moment, want people to know that we are loving to everyone and that we care about what goes on in this world. And we're not ignoring this world because we think Jesus is about to come back at any moment." There's that saying "So heavenly minded you're no earthly good".

    An Answer: Tell the gospel and about the return of Jesus in a way doesn't lead people to ignore the suffering and distress of the present, but frames the discussion of the distress and pain that people experience in the present. We live into the expectation of the 2nd Coming of Jesus so that it isn't seen as,...and isn't... escapism from the present. But it actually compels us to have greater hope and faithfulness in the present. We act more deeply in God's love...we feed, clothe, visit, show tenderness...We are more in tune with His mission for us to act.

    We who get involved in social/environmental action need to understand and remember that to some degree, no matter how much we can improve things in the world, it will never be improved in a way that brings about the fullness of the kingdom of God until Jesus himself returns. This is not a reason to throw up our hands, but to keep our eyes on God's mission, just as Jesus did on this Earth.

    Also, for those who are content with life right now, who don't want to "escape" Earth because their own life seems pleasant....it's digging down into our intimacy with God and understanding that our vision is too dim...one-on-one time with God will be more joyous than anything we have ever experienced here! It's having a citizenship in the heavenly city and being ambassadors in our earthly city.

    (2)Another big issue is that of "judgment" and "condemnation" of people who don't agree with you. No one wants to be a "judgmental" person. So to tell the message that God's "hour of judgment has come" can be daunting. People don't want to be seen as a hater...the person non-Christians are allergic to, the angry one who is yelling on a street corner about fire and brimstone. No one wants to say "I'm right, you're wrong. You'll burn up while I enjoy eternity with Jesus." No one wants to be so sure of who is going where.

    An Answer: God gives us His heart to actually care about people. Telling a message of repentance without loving the one(s) we're telling it to is when it comes out as harsh. Noah spoke the truth as he built the Ark. When we are sure of God's promises, we can speak kindly and straightforwardly, both.

    Also, as people who have the love of God in us, we can share that Christ's 2nd coming is the bringing of justice towards the things that have gone wrong. Finally, the vulnerable and misused and abused will have their "day in court". The captives will be released. Those who are "right".... "right" with God.....will be the ones coming out of the courtroom, so to speak, victorious.

    (3) And a final reason why we may lose urgency for Christ's return is just that "it's taking so long!" Like the bridesmaids in Jesus's parable waiting until midnight for the groom, we're getting sleepy.

    The Bible gives us indicators that will provide a sense that He's coming—like there being great wars—but we've had some big wars and he still hasn't returned. We've had earthquakes, and stars falling and all the other signs. Even "the love of many will grow cold"....that one shouts out to me right now... and yet in every generation people probably thought "can human love for each other get colder than this?"

    I remember as a high school girl at an Adventist school, we had a fall retreat where we did an end-time simulation. Apocalypse-style. Climbing over walls, hiding in shelters, pretending what it would be like to escape for your faith. I remember students crying during the debrief afterwards. Now, I know many who are buying properties in the wilderness and storing up food and resources for the time when no more buy-and-sell begins...

    An Answer: Rather than speculation, how do we help people to live with expectation? Jesus is coming back and how does that affect how we live our lives in the world? Jesus prayed that we be not taken out of the world (Jn.17:15), but that we let our light shine in the world ....and that we be salt, mingling in where salt is needed (Matt.5:13-16).

  4. I'm uncomfortable with using Isaiah 28 as proof of principles of Bible interpretation - if you read the chapter is not talking about that at all. "Line upon line, precept upon precept" is related to the wicked, not Bible students and I have read that many interpret these verses to mean gibberish or baby talk. With that in mind, context is very crucial in interpretation. We have not always done so well to interpret according to context and while proof texts may fool some people, they actually discredit us among more serious Bible students.

    I do believe in the principle of comparing scripture to scripture as long as we remember that different authors used words in different ways and translations of words can be faulty. That doesn't mean you need to know Greek and Hebrew to understand the Bible, but you do need to take the time to compare words using the whole Bible. My pastor explained it this way - Start by looking at the way the word is used in a particular book, then how it's used by the author in other books (ie. Paul or John) and then expand to the whole Bible. This principle is more likely to lead to sound interpretation.

    • Hi Christina,
      To be fair, the lesson author referred to the Isaiah passage only in passing:

      Read Isaiah 28:9-10; Proverbs 8:8-9; John 16:13; and 2 Peter 1:19-21. What principles of Bible interpretation do you discover in these passages?

      He's asking what principle we find in these passages.

      In the NLT version, the passage gives a different slant - rather than exhorting readers to build truth "one line at a time," the passage suggests that's how the Lord is dealing with the people at the time:

      9 “Who does the Lord think we are?” they ask.
      “Why does he speak to us like this?
      Are we little children,
      just recently weaned?
      10 He tells us everything over and over—
      one line at a time,
      one line at a time,
      a little here,
      and a little there!”

      11 So now God will have to speak to his people
      through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language!
      12 God has told his people,
      “Here is a place of rest;
      let the weary rest here.
      This is a place of quiet rest.”
      But they would not listen.
      13 So the Lord will spell out his message for them again,
      one line at a time,
      one line at a time,
      a little here,
      and a little there,
      so that they will stumble and fall.
      They will be injured, trapped, and captured.

      14 Therefore, listen to this message from the Lord,
      you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem.
      15 You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death
      and have made a deal to dodge the grave.[c]
      The coming destruction can never touch us,
      for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”

      16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
      “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,[d]
      a firm and tested stone.
      It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
      Whoever believes need never be shaken.[ (Isaiah 28:9-16 NLT)

      For interest's sake, compare this with the Amplified Version:

      They say “To whom would He teach knowledge?
      And to whom would He explain the message?
      Those just weaned from milk?
      Those just taken from the breast?
      “For He says,
      ‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
      Rule upon rule, rule upon rule,
      Here a little, there a little.’”
      Indeed, the Lord will teach this people [in a more humiliating way]
      By [men with] stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
      He who said to them, “This is the place of quiet, give rest to the weary,”
      And, “This is the resting place,” yet they would not listen.
      Therefore the word of the Lord to them will be [merely monotonous repetitions]:
      “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
      Rule upon rule, rule upon rule,
      Here a little, there a little.”
      That they may go and stumble backward, and be broken, ensnared, and taken captive.
      16 Therefore the Lord God says this,

      “Listen carefully, I am laying in Zion a Stone, a tested Stone,
      A precious Cornerstone for the [secure] foundation, firmly placed.
      He who believes [who trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone] will not be disturbed or give way [in sudden panic].
      (Isaiah 28:9-16 AMP)

      Clearly this was said in a particular context that is different from ours, but it seems to me that the principle of building up truth little by little, block by block, so to speak, is valid and may be inferred from the passage - not that it matters, because it's a logical way of studying. Perhaps, because the meaning is not totally clear, it may be best to not use the text to support the process of comparing Scripture with Scripture to arrive at truth.

      That said, I believe we can not truly know truth by simply reading/memorizing Bible studies that rely on "proof texts." We need to read the Bible for ourselves, regularly, prayerfully - a whole book at a time - however long it may take us to get through that book. I believe there's also a place for relatively quick reading to get an overview, followed up by a more thorough, slow study to dig into the details.

      I remember H.M.S. Richards, Sr. (founder of The Voice of Prophecy) preaching at a very advanced age, with eyes no longer clear, opening up the Bible to what looked like the right place from the audience view (providing they didn't notice it was upside-down) and "reading" whole passages from memory. He could do that all through the Bible. But he got to that place by reading the Bible through every year for probably 65 years or more and reading the New Testament through every month. He knew the context of every verse!

      • Yes, I'm not necessarily opposed to the principle - it's better than a lot of ways to study. I just was disappointed that verse was quoted the way it was as it leads "lazy" Bible students to just read the verse without thinking about it. But everyone is at different places and I suppose no harm is done, really.

    • I totally agree with Christine and think the GNT captures the context and sense of the Isaiah 28:7-13:

      Isaiah and the Drunken Prophets of Judah

      7 Even the prophets and the priests are so drunk that they stagger. They have drunk so much wine and liquor that they stumble in confusion. The prophets are too drunk to understand the visions that God sends, and the priests are too drunk to decide the cases that are brought to them. 8 The tables where they sit are all covered with vomit, and not a clean spot is left.

      9 They complain about me. They say, “Who does that man think he's teaching? Who needs his message? It's only good for babies that have just stopped nursing! 10 He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”

      11 If you won't listen to me, then God will use foreigners speaking some strange-sounding language to teach you a lesson. 12 He offered rest and comfort to all of you, but you refused to listen to him. 13 That is why the Lord is going to teach you letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson. Then you will stumble with every step you take. You will be wounded, trapped, and taken prisoner.

      This is warning to priests and prophets of the northern kingdom of Israel to stop misusing religion to misrepresent God. It is definitely not advocating for a proof-text method of bible study, as I have seen the text used in traditional Adventist evangelism. To cite the text for this purpose adversely impacts the credibility of the one who uses it.

  5. I am immensely grateful for every dedicated, principled believer searching to understand the Truth of Scripture plainly stated as well as those passages that circumscribe prophetic messages and sharing it with us.

    Researching Scripture can be tedious, but when done meticulously and with the fervor to better understand the Word of our heavenly Father, it yields great treasures of satisfaction for the seeking heart and mind. The Book of Revelation gives God's prophetic Word to the Ecclesia present at that time, but everyone who believes will benefit as well.

    In our days, I am not aware of anyone claiming to be a prophet addressing the time of Christ’s return. There are many interpretations, but none speak affirmatively to the time or day. So, I want to conclude that John the Revelator is the last prophet God used to speak His prophetic Word to all who ‘have an ear to hear’ - Rev.2:11.

    I appreciate William Miller’s work to help us better understand God’s prophetic Word, though also he had to eventually acknowledge that “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father … Matt.24:36; Acts 1:7.

    I am content with knowing about the signs of the time of the end; it spures me on to be vigilant. Everything else which I might be privileged to know would be provided by the Holy Spirit at the time it becomes needful. So, we continue to love God with all our heart and pray and do right by our fellow man until Christ's Return.

  6. Someone help answer the question at the end of today's lesson.Understanding prophetic symbolism in relation to our faith.

    • A couple ideas, Elsie...

      If the Jewish people had better understood the prophecies about the Messiah, they would have been looking for a servant-God who would die for their sins, and not a conquering king over the Romans. Their faith would have grown if they had recognized that God had predicted Jesus in so much detail- His birthplace, His looks, His character, the way He would be treated, etc. There were so many symbols in Isaiah 53, for example....like that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter and yet not defend Himself.

      We see that those of great faith are let into an understanding of prophecy by God's Holy Spirit. Biblical examples I can think of are Simeon and Anna in the Temple who were able to hold baby Jesus, the Wise Men, Daniel and John. Even Enoch, who walked so intimately with God that he was translated instead of dying...Enoch was given a prophecy about Christ's coming (Jude 14). I see John the Baptist in prison beginning to doubt and then Jesus pointed Him back to how He was fulfilling prophecy (Is.35:5; Luke 7:22).

      Specifically about prophetic symbols, if we understand the symbols correctly we will better understand the prophecy...for example the day-year symbolism. Again, when we see prophecy fulfilled we know the Bible as God's Word can be trusted.

  7. "A loving God has given us His prophetic Word to prepare us for the climatic events soon to unfold in this world."

    Knowing what is going to happen, and/or what is happening around us, helps build our faith in God. Our faith naturally wanes when we have troublesome times happening around us. Our faith strengthens as we see prophecy fulfilled. And as we read about the history provided in the OT and the NT, reading the Great Controversy, Love Under Fire, condensed or adapted to today's language, provides history to confirm prophecy. Books like Daniel and Revelation, the Response of History Through the Voice of Prophecy by Uriah Smith, Daniel and Revelation by SN Haskell, Hope Through Prophecy by Dustin Pestlin, and Youtube channel Hope Through Prophecy, are faith builders too. I don't know about you, but I need all the faith strengthening I can get, it puts my trust in God on an upward course.

    Many years ago an elder of our church told me to read the Bible and the illumination of the Bible given our church, John it sthrengthens you. She was right. The Bible and the understanding of it of not only the promises, but also prophecy are faith builders.

    If we genuinly love the Lord, we will want everything in the Bible to help us on our spiritual journey. The Holy Spirit uses us, we don't use the Holy Spirit. How can the Holy Spirit use us if we don't study the whole Bible?

    Believe me troublesome times are here, filling mans hearts with fear, not so much in the Bible Belt, but look at world news. Again I want all the faith builders I can get. All the Sabbath School lessons are faith builders for me, including this quarter.

    We hope you are reading all the blogs and posts at ssnet.org. There is alot of faith building in them as we discuss history and prophecy. Yes questions to stimulate going to the Source is present too.


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