The second event in the ministry of Christ that is identified as an important parallel in the second advent movement is brought to light in John 5:1–15. John says that this event occurred at a feast of the Jews. By putting a few references together from this gospel and The Desire of Ages, we can identify this feast as the second Passover during the ministry of Jesus. John goes on to explain the ensuing controversy between Jesus and the Sanhedrin.
We want to look carefully at the attitude of the priests and rulers toward the work of Jesus at this time, just a year following the first cleansing of the temple at which Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from sin. “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. . . . For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him.” John 5:16, 18, NIV.
We see that their attitude has changed from challenging Jesus, as revealed at the first cleansing of the temple, to open rejection and plans for murder a year later. Chapter 21 of The Desire of Ages, entitled “Bethesda and the Sanhedrin,” provides further insights into this incident. Ellen White explains the reason Jesus performed this healing on the Sabbath. “He [Jesus] had come to free the Sabbath from those burdensome requirements that had made it a curse instead of a blessing.
“For this reason He had chosen the Sabbath upon which to perform the act of healing at Bethesda. . . . A wise purpose underlay every act of Christ’s life on earth. . . . Among the afflicted ones at the pool He selected the worst case upon whom to exercise His healing power, and bade the man carry his bed through the city in order to publish the great work that had been wrought upon him. This would raise the question of what it was lawful to do on the Sabbath, and would open the way for Him to denounce the restrictions of the Jews in regard to the Lord’s day, and to declare their traditions void.” The Desire of Ages, 206.
Mrs. White spends much time in this chapter providing insights on the attitudes of the priests and rabbis, but we will cite only two statements.
“The priests and rabbis were taking the Son of God to task for the very work He had been sent into the world to do. By their sins they had separated themselves from God, and in their pride were moving independently of Him.” Ibid., 208.
This is a profound statement. Only one year after Jesus began His ministry, the priests and rabbis had separated themselves from God and were working independently of Him. They had completely rejected the work of Jesus to cleanse the heart from sin. Here we see a church that the great majority of the people regarded as the chosen of God. During the next 40 years, the people looked to this church for their spiritual guidance while at the same time it was totally separated from God.
The second reference is: “But Israel knew not the time of her visitation. The jealousy and distrust of the Jewish leaders had ripened into open hatred, and the hearts of the people were turned away from Jesus.” Ibid., 232.
Not only did the priests and rulers turn away from Jesus themselves, but they also led the people away from Jesus. Because the Jews rejected Christ and His work to cleanse the heart from sin, a very interesting development now takes place.
“The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message . . . .” Ibid.
Because of their rejection of Him, Jesus now turns to another class and begins a ministry independent of the organization. This was just one year after He announced the beginning of His work.
The Sanhedrin’s rejection of Jesus at the time of the second Passover can now be entered as “2F” on the First Advent Time Line.
Now let’s look at the second advent movement and the parallel attitudes, as documented in the Spirit of Prophecy. Although there are many quotations that could be studied, we will review only five. Four of these five references give specific dates as to when these attitudes were revealed.
By 1879, only 16 years after the church was organized, God sent the following message to those in responsible positions in Battle Creek, Michigan. At this time in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the General Conference headquarters were located in Battle Creek. So testimonies given to the Battle Creek church must be understood as referring to those in denominational leadership positions.
“For years the Lord has been presenting the situation of the church before you. Again and again reproofs and warnings have been given. October 23, 1879, the Lord gave me a most impressive testimony in regard to the church in Battle Creek.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 63. [Emphasis supplied.]
As the Jewish leaders began taking a position of opposition to Jesus from the beginning of His ministry, so we see that the leaders in the second advent movement set themselves on the same course of rejection of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy from the beginning.
“I had no confidence in the course which many were pursuing, for they were doing the very things which the Lord had warned them not to do.
“That God who knows their spiritual condition declares: They have cherished evil and separated from Me. They have gone astray, every one of them. Not one is guiltless. They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters. . . .
“Many excused their disregard of the testimonies by saying: ‘Sister White is influenced by her husband; the testimonies are molded by his spirit and judgment.’ . . . Repeated warnings have been given, yet there has been no decided change.
“I saw that the frown of God was upon His people for their assimilation to the world. . . . Yet now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have thereby insulted the Spirit of God.” Ibid., 63, 64.
In the first advent, we saw that it was the rejection of Jesus that separated the leaders and people from Him. In the second advent movement, it is the rejection of the instruction given in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy that separated the ministers and the people from God by 1879. Three years later the following warning was written concerning the second advent church.
“The light has been shining clear and definite upon her [the church’s] pathway, and the light of 1882 calls her to an account. . . . The knowledge of our state as God views it, seems to be hidden from us. . . . We profess to know God, and to believe the truth, but in works deny Him. Our deeds are directly adverse to the principles of truth and righteousness, by which we profess to be governed.” Ibid., 84. [Emphasis supplied.]
Our Father in heaven has given us a report of how He viewed the condition of the church by 1885. It is found in the Review and Herald, May 5, 1885: “Like ancient Israel, the church has dishonored her God by departing from the light, neglecting her duties, and abusing her high and exalted privilege of being peculiar and holy in character. Her members have violated their covenant to live for God and Him only. They have joined with the selfish and world-loving. Pride, the love of pleasure, and sin have been cherished, and Christ has departed. His Spirit has been quenched in the church. . . .
“Their only hope of salvation is to separate from the world, and zealously maintain their separate, holy, and peculiar character. . . .
“Perfection, holiness, nothing short of this, would give them success in carrying out the principles he has given them.”
Herein is the reason the people of God are still on this earth over 100 years later. They have not chosen to abide by the principles of truth and righteousness—that is perfection and holiness. The people of God who reach this exalted standard will have complete unity and harmony among them.
There are two more references concerning the direction the church has taken. Several years following the 1882 statement we referred to earlier, Sister White was shown that the attitude of the leaders had developed into hatred against those that God had appointed to bring a special message to the 1888 General Conference session. Later they even hated the message.
“Some have been cultivating hatred against the men whom God has commissioned to bear a special message to the world. They began this Satanic work at Minneapolis . Afterward, when they saw and felt the demonstration of the Holy Spirit testifying that the message was of God, they hated it the more, because it was a testimony against them. They would not humble their hearts to repent. . . . They went on in their own spirit, filled with envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings, as did the Jews. . . . Yet these men have been holding positions of trust, and have been molding the work after their own similitude.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 79, 80.
I would like to emphasize that I am not presenting these parallels to criticize the leaders or ministers, but to reveal how God views the condition of the church and the direction it is taking. We need to understand the similarities in the attitudes of the people in the two advent movements. The satanic rejection of the testimonies was so entrenched in the minds of those who held responsible positions that in 1902 God burned down two of the church’s major institutions—the Review and Herald building and the Battle Creek Sanitarium—to try to correct the situation. These judgments of God were not accepted as such, and the rejection continued. The next references we will look at were written in 1903.
“One day at noon I was writing of the work that might have been done at the last General Conference if the men in positions of trust had followed the will and way of God. Those who have had great light have not walked in the light. The meeting was closed, and the break was not made. Men did not humble themselves before the Lord as they should have done, and the Holy Spirit was not imparted. I had written thus far when I lost consciousness, and I seemed to be witnessing a scene in Battle Creek.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 104.
The above statement was written in St. Helena, California, January 5, 1903, and had reference to the 1901 General Conference session. Later that year, at the 1903 General Conference session during March and April, she repeated the theme of this vision that revealed what might have been done.
“The Lord has shown me what might have been had the work been done that ought to have been done. In the night season I was present in a meeting where brother was confessing to brother. Those present fell upon one another’s necks, and made heart-broken confessions. The Spirit and power of God were revealed. No one seemed too proud to bow before God in humility and contrition. Those who led in this work were the ones who had not before had the courage to confess their sins.
“This might have been. All this the Lord was waiting to do for His people. All heaven was waiting to be gracious.
“God is in earnest with us. If the heart is pure, there will be purity of action and nobility of purpose in all the work done. Every mind is to be cleansed, every heart purified.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1903.
These six statements, written between 1879 and 1903, reveal a trend in the leaders to reject the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and to mold the work of the church according to their own ideas. By 1888, Mrs. White refers to this attitude of rejection as “satanic,” and after the 1901 General Conference, the observation is “that no change was made.” On April 1 at the 1903 General Conference, Ellen White referred to the January 3, 1903, vision and said that there was still no change in the attitudes of the leaders and ministers, even after the two fires in 1902.
We see that, as the Jews rejected Jesus and His word in the first advent movement, the leaders, ministers, and people rejected the testimonies of God’s spirit in the second advent movement.
“When the Jews took the first step in the rejection of Christ, they took a dangerous step. When afterward evidence accumulated that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, they were too proud to acknowledge that they had erred. So with the people of our day who reject the truth. They do not take time to investigate candidly, with earnest prayer, the evidences of the truth, and they oppose that which they do not understand. Just like the Jews, they take it for granted they have all the truth, and feel a sort of contempt for anyone who should suppose they had more correct ideas than themselves of what is truth. All the evidence produced they decide shall not weigh a straw with them, and . . . afterward, when they see light as evidence they were so forward to condemn, they have too much pride to say ‘I was wrong’; they still cherish doubt and unbelief, and are too proud to acknowledge their convictions.” Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 1, 169, 170.
As Jesus began an independent work among another class of people in Galilee, so in the second advent movement, God used Edward A. Sutherland and Percy T. Magan to begin an independent ministry that was not to come under the control of the conference.
In writing about this, Ellen White stated: “When my advice was asked in reference to the Madison school, I said, Remain as you are. There is danger in binding every working agency under the dictation of the conference. . . . The burden bearers in the Madison school could not bind up their work with the conference. . . . I was shown that they would not be helped by making themselves amenable to the conference. They had better remain as led by God, amenable to Him, to work out His plans.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 202, 203.
It is clear from this statement that Sutherland and Magan could not work under the direction of the conference and still be amenable to God. They must work independent of the organization, as Jesus did. From this small beginning the independent movement now encircles the globe.
With this information, we add the second parallel as “2S” to the Second Advent Time Line.
Maurice Hoppe is Director of Revelation Ministry, which is dedicated to helping people prepare for the soon coming of Jesus. His special emphasis is the closing scenes of this earth’s history, the parallels between the first and second advents, and the need for unity among the people of God. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at: P. O. Box 184, Days Creek, Oregon 97429.