Our Past History – The Times of the Second Angel

In the book Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 196, she says, “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.” With this in mind, we began to study a subject that is very broad and complex, namely, the Three Angels’ Messages. In part one [LandMarks, July, 2011] we reflected upon the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:6, 7. We learned that the first angel’s message proclaims the hour of God’s judgment. This message was proclaimed by William Miller in the early 1830s. The movement that followed became known as the Millerite movement and later on as the Advent movement. The Millerites discovered that God’s judgment was to begin in A.D. 1844. Now this is the first angel that proclaims the everlasting gospel, but it is not the last. The message of judgment was to be followed by another message, and both messages were to be proclaimed together. Here we will study the second angel’s message.

“And there followed another angel …” Revelation 14:8. Before we continue reading, I want to emphasize the word “followed.” The Greek word for follow means to accompany. It means to go with someone as an associate or companion. For example, in Mark 1:17, 18, we read, “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.” Notice, they followed or went along with Jesus. They accompanied Him. So, the second angel accompanied the first angel. That means that the first angel was joined by the second angel, and both were to fly in the midst of heaven together. What is the message that was to accompany the first angel?

“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 14:8. Notice, the second angel follows or accompanies the first angel with the message that Babylon is fallen. What is Babylon depicted as in the Bible? Revelation 17:3, 5 says, “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast. … And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Here we see that Babylon is depicted as a woman, and in Bible prophecy what does a woman represent? Let’s examine three passages. “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; II Corinthians 11:2. Notice, the Bible depicts God’s church as a woman. Therefore, in Bible prophecy a woman symbolizes the church.

So the message that Babylon is fallen reveals to us a church and her daughters that are fallen. In II Thessalonians 2:3, the apostle Paul prophesied about this. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” We understand this falling away to apply to the great apostasy of the Church of Rome in the third century. As soon as the Roman church adopted pagan practices, she, as a religious system, fell from the grace of God. However, the message of her fall was not widely proclaimed until the early 1840s when her daughters rejected the first angel’s message of God’s judgment. Remember, Revelation 17:5 says that Babylon is the mother of harlots. Therefore, she has daughter churches that are also corrupt. By the 1840s, as the first angel’s message was gaining strength and converts, Babylon’s daughters, which refer to the various Protestant churches, began to greatly oppose the advent message. As that opposition grew, the people who believed the message of reform were forced to either leave the advent movement and remain with their respective churches or leave their churches and hold fast to their advent beliefs.

Francis Nichol, the author of the book The Midnight Cry (Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D. C., 1945) writes about the development of the second angel’s message. “There comes a time in the history of almost every religious movement when the distinctive teachings or convictions that set it in motion, result in friction and opposition in the church or churches from which it sprang. …

“In many instances the believers in Miller’s teachings were not permitted to express themselves on the subject in any way in their own churches. They felt repressed and spiritually suffocated. In the Millerite meetings they had found their hearts strangely warmed and their spiritual natures quickened as they listened to the prophecies expounded, and pictured in their minds the stimulating thought of the soon coming of Christ. To go from such a series of meetings back to their own churches and find there an atmosphere of coldness toward the whole subject of the advent, could not fail to lead many to question the wisdom of remaining in those churches. Some felt that to stay in their church would really be to deny their faith. Others were not quite sure.” Ibid., 145, 147. So, as a result of rejecting the first angel’s message of judgment, the Babylonian churches fell, and the believers were forced to leave the fallen churches.

The prophetic Scripture that was laid at the foundation of the first angel’s message was Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” The early Adventist Christians believed that the earth was the sanctuary and that the year 1844 was the end of the 2,300 symbolic days. Therefore, they thought that Jesus was going to return in 1844 and bring an end to sin. But after the passing of October 22, 1844, the Adventist believers became greatly disappointed when Jesus did not return to this earth to cleanse it as they expected. Hiram Edson, one of the Adventist lecturers, gives an account of the grief felt by those who were expecting Jesus to come in 1844. He said, “Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn. I mused in my own heart, saying, My advent experience has been the richest and brightest of all my Christian experience. If this had proved a failure, what was the rest of my Christian experience worth? Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there no God, no heaven, no golden home city, no paradise? Is all this but a cunningly devised fable? Is there no reality to our fondest hope and expectation of these things? And thus we had something to grieve and weep over, if all our fond hopes were lost. And as I said, we wept till the day dawn.” Ibid., 247, 248.

Now this is only a glimpse into the grief experienced by the advent believers in 1844. It was a time of gloom and sadness; a time when all hope seemed hopeless. However, Psalm 30:5 tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” And on the day after the disappointment, Hiram Edson received a vision that revealed the real event that transpired on the day before. The following is his own account of the vision: “After breakfast I said to one of my brethren, ‘Let us go and see, and encourage some of our brethren.’ We started, and while passing through a large field I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our great High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2,300 days, He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary; and that He had a work to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth. That He came to the marriage at the time [as mentioned in the parable of the Ten Virgins]; in other words, to the Ancient of days to receive a kingdom, dominion, and glory; and we must wait for His return from the wedding.” Ibid., 458.

Notice what Inspiration says regarding the great disappointment and the hope that followed: “Jesus did not come to the earth as the waiting, joyful company expected, to cleanse the sanctuary by purifying the earth by fire. I saw that they were correct in their reckoning of the prophetic periods; prophetic time closed in 1844, and Jesus entered the Most Holy Place to cleanse the sanctuary at the ending of the days. …

“… and He sent His angels to direct their minds that they might follow Him where He was. He showed them that this earth is not the sanctuary, but that He must enter the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary to make an atonement for His people and to receive the kingdom from His Father, and that He would then return to the earth and take them to dwell with Him forever.” Early Writings, 243, 244.

Hope began to swell once again in the hearts of the believers. They received a better understanding of the experience they had just passed through. Instead of coming to this earth in 1844 as they expected, Jesus entered into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary to begin His last intercessory work for humanity. This brings us to the last angel of the three. So far we have two angels flying together—the first angel accompanied by the second angel. Two messages are proclaimed at the same time—a message of judgment and a message of a fallen church. However, these angels were not to be alone. In Revelation 14:9, it says, “And the third angel followed them.” In our final part we will reflect upon the third angel. But for now remember, “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.”

Demario Carter is currently working as a Bible worker for Steps to Life.