Editorial – The Meaning of Prophetic Endorsements

The message of William Miller concerning 1843 (the error in the date was later corrected to 1844) was, we believe, the truth of God and was the message He wanted His people to receive. However, this message was eventually rejected by almost the whole religious world of that time, including all of the mainline churches. It was opposed as an erroneous, date-setting message. We still believe in the date 1844 just as much as Miller did. We are certain that the interpretation of Daniel 7, 8, 9, and 12, with the dates of 27 a.d., 31 a.d., 457 b.c., 538 b.c., 538 a.d., 508 a.d., 1798 a.d., and 1844 a.d. is just as true as when he published the 1843 chart.

William Miller has been attacked on several fronts by our theological opponents, past and present, who believe that the historic Adventist theology, which we hold dear, can be destroyed by, first of all, destroying the credibility of William Miller. One of the two issues in the attack on Miller will be briefly discussed in this editorial.

It is thought by many, including former Seventh-day Adventist ministries, that since Ellen White endorsed Miller, if Miller’s exegesis or methodology of Scripture study can be proved wrong, then Ellen White is a false prophet for endorsing him and historic Adventism is no longer credible. As explained in the first paragraph, we still believe the principle thrust of the 1843 chart, though not espousing all data or explanations. Ellen White and our pioneers acknowledged some mistakes in the 1843 chart, too, and yet Ellen White endorsed it and said that it was of God. This is very perplexing to some “black and white” thinkers, including some who used to be Seventh-day Adventist ministers.

So what does a prophetic endorsement mean? We go to the Scriptures to find the highest possible prophetic endorsement for the Christian—that of Jesus Christ Himself. In Matthew 11, Jesus said, concerning John the Baptist, that (1) He endorsed the ministry of John the Baptist; (2) He called him a prophet; (3) he was even more than a prophet; and (4) among those who were born of women there had not arisen one greater than him. It would seem impossible for a human being to obtain a higher endorsement than this or an endorsement based on a higher authority. Was the theology of John the Baptist without any major mistakes or flaws? No, we know that he was mixed up on some major issues, such as his understanding of the work of the Messiah—which caused him to doubt whether Jesus was the Messiah. Without doubt, there were people who rejected Jesus as being the Messiah as a result of their views about John the Baptist. (See Matthew 21.)

We see, in the instance of John the Baptist, that a prophetic or a divine endorsement does not mean that the person endorsed could not have a misunderstanding of prophecy or of some Scriptures. This would be true not only of William Miller but even of John the Baptist! In both cases their work was divinely endorsed, and they were led of God to proclaim the messages they proclaimed—one concerning preparation for the first advent and the other concerning preparation for the second advent. We see, then, that the same methodology by which William Miller was discredited would also, in the hands of a skillful debater, discredit major figures in God’s work in Bible times.

Objectors counter that William Miller used a faulty methodology in Bible study. We will look at that next.

“It is never best for one to think that he understands every phase of truth, for he does not. Then let no man flatter himself that he has a correct understanding of all portions of Scripture and feel it his duty to make everybody else understand them just as he does.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 533, 534.

Editorial – 1843, Pt. III

In the September 2004 issue, four points were presented regarding the interpretation of prophecy given in Daniel 8:13, 14:

  1. Who and what is the little horn in Daniel 8?
  2. Daniel 8:12, 13 speak of two separate rebellions, first the continuance in rebellion and second the desolating or depopulating rebellion.
  3. This is a time prophecy.
  4. This is a time prophecy having to do with end-time events, because the angel said to Daniel, in regard to the 2300 days, that the vision dealt with the time of the end.

Discussion was given on points 4 and 3 and started on point 2. We continue with point #2.

In Daniel 12:11, we see that after the continuance in rebellion is removed and the desolating rebellion is set up in its place, another time period of 1290 days will follow. Any interpretation of the two rebellions in Daniel 8:13, 14 must, in addition to explaining a 2300-day interval between a beginning and a closing event, also be able to explain a 1290-day interval between the time that the continuance in rebellion is removed and the desolating rebellion is set up. When we look at the context of this time prophecy in Daniel 12:4–13, we see that this time prophecy extends until the time of the end. (See especially Daniel 12:4, 6–9, 13.) Thus, for a third time, we see facts from the Scriptures that make it completely impossible for the prophecy to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century b.c. Incidentally, the services in the Jewish sanctuary could never be truly called the “continuance in rebellion,” which is the way the “daily” is described in Daniel 8:12.

Finally, we will look at point #1. Who is the little horn in Daniel 8? Our critics have proclaimed that this little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes, one of about 20 kings of a division of Alexander’s empire in the second century b.c. We will give the characteristics of this little horn from the book of Daniel and let our readers decide if Antiochus Epiphanes fits any of these or not. This little horn is not only greater than the Medo-Persian empire but it is even greater than Alexander the Great! Notice Daniel 8:4, which says literally that the ram (Medo-Persia) was great (or magnified himself), and then Daniel 8:5–8, which shows that the goat (the empire of Alexander the Great) became exceeding great. This is talking about a worldwide power—“the whole earth.” Verse 5. In describing the little horn, the prophet said that it became great beyond measure. (Verse 9.) But this is just the beginning. This little horn power (2) was victorious against some of the army of heaven and cast some of them to the ground. (3) It fought against the commander of the army of heaven. (Verse 11.) (4) It was the power responsible for removing the continuance in rebellion and setting up the desolating rebellion in its place. (Verses 11, 12.) (5) He will destroy many while they are at ease. (Verse 25.) (6) He will be broken or shattered or destroyed without hand, that is without human agency. (Verse 25.)

Was Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed without human hand, that is without human agency, or in other words, by divine intervention? The historical record simply states that he died while on an expedition against the Parthians in 164 b.c.

However, if we look at the Roman power, it fits every single specification of the prophecy.

  1. It was greater than Alexander the Great and the empire he set up.
  2. It was victorious against some of the army of heaven. (God’s people are described as His army. See Exodus 12:41.)
  3. It fought against the Commander of the army of heaven—it was the Roman power, for example, who crucified Jesus.
  4. The Roman power was responsible later for removing the continuance in rebellion and setting up the desolating rebellion.
  5. The Roman power has not yet come to its end, but according to Bible prophecy, it will come to its end by divine intervention and not by any human hand.