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Thursday: The Year 1844 — 15 Comments

  1. For me an important take-away from this week's lesson is that God guides us and warns us before we see the "handwriting on the wall". God wants us to watch and be ready (Matt. 24:42,44). Watch and be ready for what? For Jesus' return to Earth, yes, and also to help to let everyone know that now is the time to decide about Jesus. Everyone must decide about Him before we see Him coming again in His glory.

    Just in case that idiomatic phrase is new to anyone, to see the "handwriting on the wall" means when it is clear that something bad will happen soon. And you might recall that it actually comes from a true story in the Bible. The proud Babylonian king Belshazzar made a feast one night to celebrate, with a reckless feeling of security, how invincible Babylon was. The Medes and Persians were camped outside the city, but he thought his wall could withstand any attack that might be made. While he was drunk, he blasphemously ordered that the gold and silver that his father had stolen from the temple in Jerusalem be brought forth so that he and his guests could flaunt themselves and prove that no thing was too sacred for them to handle. At that moment, when the revelry was at its height, a bloodless hand began to write on the wall. All the partying stopped as they read, MENE (God has numbered your kingdom) TEKEL (You are weighed in the balances and found wanting) PERES (Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians)...Dan. 5:26-28.

    The weighing in the balances had already been done, and the decision reached...in a moment during which Belshazzar was totally unaware. The writing on the wall was an announcement that the decision had been made. It was not a warning or an invitation to repent. At that very moment, the Medes and Persians were entering the city through the riverbed and gates that had been left unlocked, and soon they were storming the palace. And Belshazzar lost his life.

    It was also like that in Noah's time. Jesus said that people were partying right up until the moment the flood came and washed them away (Matt. 24:39). They had been warned for 120 years. After Noah made his final appeal, he and his family went into the ship, along with the animals. Then in Gen. 7:16, it says that "the Lord shut him in". The huge door swung in place by unseen hands. The remnant was sealed in the Ark; the mocking world was shut out. Gen. 7:10 tells us that they waited for 7 days with nothing happening, no rain. The sun shone as usual and everything seemed normal. Then the flood came. But no one could enter the Ark after the door had been shut; their destiny had been sealed seven days before.

    This week we see that the life-and-death decisions are not to be made when Jesus appears in the skies, but are being made now. We each don't know when our names have come up in Heaven's court, or will come up. But we do know that the judgment has already begun and is now in session. The hour of judgment is come. Our words and actions are being considered, not to embarrass us before the universe, but to show what decision we have made about Jesus, and to show how Jesus has dealt with each one of us. The big question in this trial is: "What have you done with Jesus?"

    Just like on Earth, in many of the courts that we know, there are 3 phases to legal proceedings - (1) an investigative trial based on evidence and verdict reached, (2) then sentencing, which may come weeks or months later, (3) the execution of the sentence - there are the same phases to processing each person's case in Heaven. Jesus is letting us know about the current courtroom scene in heaven (Dan. 7:9-13) before we "see the handwriting on the wall". (I read an interesting idea about "thrones were cast down" in Dan. 7:9...this could mean pillows placed down on the floor, as in ancient times, in preparation for a judgment session.)

    Just like with Belshazzar, and in Noah's time, there is no signal when our case is being reviewed and decided. We know God is allowing us to split atoms, build bombs, tamper with mysteries of life itself...knowledge is quickly increasing (Dan. 12:4)... How far will God permit things to go - like the tower of Babel - before He calls a halt to it all? We also know the Holy Spirit is urging us on to holier lives right now. And we know that because we have placed our "case", our lives, in Jesus' work and God's heart of Love. We will be safe with Him when He again says, "it is finished" (John 19:30; Rev. 22:11-12).

    • Thank you, Esther, for the thought-provoking contribution. Help us, Lord, not to be caught unawares.

      • While we wait, we should humble ourselves, examine our hearts, confess our sins, repent, and ask God to cleanse us.

        • Yes, Amen, Sarah! Good question about what we should be doing. Your list reminds me of John the Baptist telling everyone to prepare for the coming of Jesus by making "straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23).

          How do we make a straight path for God to reach us? One of my favorite texts, Prov. 3:5-7, tells me something like: (1) be honest and humble with God in my heart, (2) exercise faith by telling myself true, hope-filled stories in my thoughts, that match the promises of God's Word, and (3) lean not on what I think I know, but run to Him for advice and support in every action, (4) turn away from evil...oh, and also (5) remember to acknowledge and give Him credit openly in all my ways...and the result will be that He will direct my paths.

          Straight paths don't just happen; they're made. I know I can't make a straight path. (It's tricky to even make straight rows in the garden.) Straight paths are made by someone with a bird's-eye view, clear direction and purposeful destination, like an interstate highway. God helps us to stay on the straight path He's made for us.

          We know that disruption of our personal comfort, while on our pathways, is not a bend in the road, but maybe more like a speed bump...used by God to develop His character of patience in us. What a gift to be living between what Christ has already accomplished for us and what is still yet to be done... on a path made by Him, running straight to 100% intimacy with God and all His creation, forever!

  2. What happened in 1844? The inference from our interpretation of prophecy is that Christ started a new phase of his ministry. The problem that we have is that it is a fairly lengthy procedure to lay out the maths, read all the texts and look at all the historical waypoints. And it is not as though the judgement/ministry.investigation is live streamed or available on CCTV. Whatever is happening is a matter of faith.

    However, the tangible event of 1844 is that a group of people who were disappointed that Jesus had not come at that time were smart enough to do some study and come up with the realisation that they had the opportunity to preach the Gospel. They formed the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and in spite of not having a perfect understanding of the task, have done a credible job of preaching the Gospel. Not everyone in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church agrees with the "official" interpretation of 1844, but there is strong agreement that we must make a difference by sharing the Gospel.

    Sometimes we get a bit arrogant about it and think that it is our job to "finish the work", when it is our commission to "continue the work".

    Paul said:

    For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
    And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 2 Cor 5:14,15 KJV

    I love the quote that Michael Fracker puts at the end of his teaching plans because it gives a perspective that is important to all our lesson study:

    (Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

  3. The time we are living is an opportunity for us to prepare. All of us will have to face judgment somehow. Everyone here lives on a day of trial; thus, how do we present ourselves before the Judge? We can't hide anything from Him. How can we clean or fix our clothes? Our claim has to be no other than the blood of the Lamb! Because there is absolutely nothing we can do to deserve innocence! But the love of God materialized on the cross is the only way to be saved from the consequences of blame.

  4. Thanks, Esther, for your elaborate post and good ideas on the subject of today‘s lesson. There‘s not much to add, really.

    God bless.

  5. At the end of today's lesson the question is asked, how then do we afflict our souls? I believe a wonderful answer comes to us from Micah 6:8 which says in the New Living Translation "O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. That's how I believe Christians must live in this "anti-typical day" of atonement.

    • Isaiah 58 is also helpful here. The references to fasting (and on a particular day) throughout this chapter indicate that it is likely referring to the Day of Atonement. And what's the true fast God wants? To loose the chains of oppression and share with those in need (i.e. Matthew 25). I think that's relevant to us today.

  6. The lesson writer makes the point which I consider to be the most important aspect of the timeline culminating with 1844: “In light of the cleansing or restoration of the truth about the sanctuary and heaven’s end-time judgment, God makes His final appeal to all humanity – Rev. 14:6-7.” If we consider the truth of all of the Scriptures in this context, we are well advised to take its warnings seriously.

    Jer. 51:1-10 and Rev. 18:3-5 reveal what once was and is still taking place - the effort to deceive mankind into thinking that man is merely a physical being. God did not allow ‘Babylon’ to gain power uncontrolled and outside of His providence; He had a greater, spiritual purpose for allowing this kingdom to rise to such great power.

    I think that it was allowed to prosper to demonstrate to all the world what it would look like when the greatest manifestations of the powers of man come to an end. Its reign and fall exemplify the spiritual battle taking place for the heart and mind of humanity – worldly power and riches used for self-indulgence, or spiritual purity – 'coming out of her' and renouncing self and its works as defiled and dead.

    1844 is the milestone to remind mankind of the futility of its efforts to establish life on its own terms. As it was then it is now - man chooses sides. Does he seek gratification now, participating in spiritual Babylon’s quest to establish security through material riches, or does he heed the call to ”come out of her”, deferring gratification through accepting to live according to the Word of God and His righteousness?

    Then, the call went out to Israel; now, the call goes out to all the world - 'afflict your souls because the hour of judgment has come'. Then, God called an end to the kingdom of Babylon and its great city, as it "is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird." - Rev. 18:2 - ; now, the whole earth and all that is within will perish to make room for the new earth and heaven.

    God declares to all that the end has come for the 'power of the spirit of Babylon' to deceive the nations; it has served its purpose to expose all the haughtiness and depravities of the spirit of the great deceiver - Lucifer. The time is now to choose sides.

  7. A starting point for other faiths understanding Daniel's amazing prophecies, would be Daniel 2. It is so faith affirming. And then move on from there. We have a Church of England believer attending our church and he says that they never study prophecy. John is finding these lessons fascinating.

  8. The lesson says that the people were to confess their sins on the Day of Atonement, but looking at the texts, I don't see that. They were told to do two things, deny themselves (which seems to indicate fasting) and not work. Yes, there were sacrifices but they were collective, for the nation. There is no record of people bringing individual sacrifices.

    I say this because I don't get a very nice feeling thinking of asking for forgiveness for sins that have already been confessed. If God throws our sins in the depths of the sea, why do they need to be confessed again?

    I believe in the Investigative Judgment, but I've heard people who reject it because it seems to them like a perpetual state of limbo (Purgatory even) where their past sins are just waiting to get them. If that is the reality of the judgment, that's downright scary. I don't blame them for rejecting it.

    I've also heard of people in the past talking like living in the time of judgment necessitates a perpetual state of gloom and seriousness due to the times we live in. In a sense that makes sense, but I don't know how realistic it is. One can fast and be serious for a day, but asking that of someone for possibly a full life-time. I'm not sure that's reasonable.

    So what does God want from us in the judgment? I look at the two commands and to me they both tell us to move away from self-sufficiency and depend on God to save us. That's why we don't work on Sabbath and it's the same here. Acknowledge we are dependent on Jesus' work from start to finish. Fast and depend on God. That's how I see it.

    • I was wondering the same thing, Christina, about why the need to confess sins on the Day of Atonement that have already been confessed and forgiven throughout the year?

      I’m wondering if for believers it’s a call to greater rest in the cleansing of Jesus. A time to be more introspective, a time to check inside and see if we are harboring sin or harboring old guilt. If so, it’s time to unload it again onto Jesus. He wants us to trust that we are literally new creatures in Him.

      Another question is why is there still a record of our sins in heaven if we’ve asked for forgiveness? I’ve heard that it’s for heavenly beings to review the whole record of our life and be assured of the genuineness of our confessions against the record of our actions.

      The investigation is also into God’s character by heavenly beings, they are also making their final decisions about Him and His government, and our lives are evidence in the courtroom that God is just and not in any way responsible for sin.

      John introduced Jesus as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Our sin was transferred onto Jesus….Jesus “took away” our sin. But we can see that sin still exists. It’s my understanding that when Jesus is all done with His work of reconciliation for humankind, after the heavenly Day of Atonement is finished, Jesus will place the guilt and weight of all sins that He has carried for us upon Satan and fully eradicate sin forever.

      *In the Courtyard, God deals with the penalty of sin and pardons us: justification

      *In the Holy Place, God deals with the power of sin: sanctification

      *In the Most Holy Place, God deals with the presence of sin and seals our characters with His character: glorification

      One more thing, because I was wondering about the presence of two chambers in the heavenly sanctuary, being that the Temple veil tore from top to bottom when Jesus was crucified, indicating no more division between the two compartments…

      It may be that saying Jesus “entered” the Most Holy Place in heaven is not a physical walking from one place to another, but an entering into a new time period. Like a person entering their Golden Years.

    • Those are powerful points you raise, Christina. Some versions of Leviticus 23:26–29 translate as “deny yourself” and others as “And you shall afflict your souls" – (Repeated Lev. 16:29). It goes further to say that “Any person not afflicted in soul on that day shall be cut off from his people” It is that important! I do not think this refers merely to fasting from food. Isaiah 58: 3-7 tells us what is an acceptable fast to God. Afflicting our souls, to me, implies a true repentance and turning to God. If we don’t turn to God and we choose to hold on to our sin, our sin keeps us from being a part of God’s people – sinners saved by grace.

      The scripture also says on the day of atonement, “You shall do no work on that day”. Yet the priest was hard at work (Lev 16). This is a reminder that our High Priest works for us; Jesus is our rest. The themes of the gospel are repeated here- salvation rests in our repentance and turning to God. Jesus works on our behalf and makes us at one with God through his atoning sacrifice. Having a solemn day to remind themselves of this does not negate the salvation work God did for the Israelites throughout the year, even as keeping the Sabbath day holy does not negate Jesus being our rest every day of the week.

      • I see what you're saying, but the reality is on the literal day of atonement there would be no way to know if someone was really repentant. That is something private that only God would know. They would not be bringing offerings to confess sins on that day. The people would be judged and "cut off" only if they violated the outer requirements which would be fasting and not working. Nor is there any record that God suddenly "zapped" those who were not truly repentant on the Day of Atonement. So I'm still uncomfortable with reading confession of past sins into this account.

        I think of this in reference to a family. Imagine a family where the kids say they're sorry for various wrongs, but mom and dad are writing them down and at the end of the year they bring out the record of all these wrongs and say "Look, you said you were sorry for talking back to me in March, but you did it again 5 times after that and you did it again last week. I can see you aren't really sorry and now you will be punished." Doesn't that seem sadistic? And would a child look forward to this reckoning? No, they would live in terror of it. It's an imperfect analogy, but still, I refuse to believe God is even meaner than these hypothetical parents.

        I believe the universe does need to be satisfied of God's justice and so the investigative judgment is necessary, but in the end I think the other beings will be looking more for evidence that we are connected to and trusting in God (which fits with the fasting and not working) than poring over our list of sins. After all, they can see our sins and actions without help. What they can't see is our hearts.


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