Who was William Miller - The Story - The Best Man Available
In the 1830’s and 1840’s there was a movement known as the Millerite Movement. This was named after William Miller. Miller would be chosen by God as the Best Man Available, to alert America to the judgment hour significance of 1844.
Bill as he was known as a child, was born in 1782 in Pittsfield, Mass. At four years old the family moved to rural Low Hampton, NY and he grew up in New York.
His father was William Miller also, an American Revolutionary War Veteran, but not very religious. Bill learned duty, honor and love of country from his father. From his mother, he learned about Jesus and prayer and faith. He grew up in a divided family. His mother Paulina Phelps Miller was the daughter of a Baptist minister.
He grew up in this rural area where hardly anybody lived. And as he grew up, he wanted to get an education. School was only a 3-5 months out of the year during the winter as the children had to help out on the family farm. Bill was the oldest of 16 children. He wanted to learn more than what was available to him, more than just those 3 to 5 months out of the year.
So he would borrow books from physicians, lawyers or anybody that would have an extra book. The family only owned three books, a Bible, a prayer book and a songbook. And Bill devoured those. So Bill’s fascination with learning developed thru reading more and more books.
About 5 or 6 miles away going east from Low Hampton is Poultney, Vermont. And around 1798 or 1799, he went over there one summer to work and he met a young lady. He couldn’t find enough excuses to get over to Poultney. All of a sudden life wasn’t all about books anymore. At 21 years old in 1803, he married this lady named Lucy Smith. They moved together to Poultney.
Now if can you imagine, this town was the first village in the whole state of Vermont to have a free public library. So now he didn’t have to scrounge around borrowing books.
He has a new wife, and has access to a free library. Lucy knew she had a great man since he had such ambitions to further educate himself outside of just farming.
Lucy knew that if she allowed Bill to read, educate himself further, that she would have a better husband, and a better father as they would go on to have ten children of their own. Two of them died young, eight made it to adulthood.
So as time goes on, Bill begins to read history books. As the story of Bill’s life unfolds, the reading of ancient history is going to help provide Bill with help in the future. With what, he doesn’t know yet.
The library offered a modest upstairs hall where the local intellectuals gathered to debate. These folks were called and known as deists. He had to battle thru arguments that the Bible was full of contradictions and insoluble puzzles.
So here he is, he’s absorbing history. He also begins reading deistic writers of the time and takes on some of their philosophy, and begins to become a skeptic fixing in on their views.
Deism: "The belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge." - Wikipedia.org
Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during the "Age of Enlightenment," in Britain, France, Germany and the U.S. among intellectuals raised as Christians who believed in one God, but found fault with organized religion and did not believe in supernatural events such as miracles, or the thought of the Bible scriptures being free from error of any kind.
Bill would partake in a local debate society that at times would blast conventional Christian faith himself. They met on the second floor of the Union Academy building. This building was to commemorate the year Vermont became a member of the union as it was constructed in 1791. Today it is owned by the local historical society.
These locals knew Miller’s grandfather was a Baptist preacher, and so was his uncle, and they would love to get Miller riled up. Not only was Miller’s mother a Baptist, but his wife was a Christian as well.
Miller was up and coming within the society, as he became a Deputy Sheriff, then the Sheriff. He took the 1810 census, became a Chief Justice and a tax collector.
He also had an interesting nickname, the Scribler General. Some of the local men who weren’t educated like he was, would come to him and describe a local lady that they liked and he would write a love poem on their behalf.
Miller would further his studies, and the more he read and studied, the more corrupt man and his character would appear. He desired to find one bright spot at least in human character as a star of hope. A love of country. Patriotism.
In 1810, Miller joined the state Militia in Vermont as a Lieutenant. Two years later, the war of 1812 comes along. He was a son of a Patriot who was a War Veteran, so it was a natural that he would be right there in the mix.
Now remember he was a tax collector. He must have been a fair and honest collector because 47 men in Poultney volunteered to that unit to defend the country but under one condition. That William Miller was appointed their officer. Can you imagine today, as that would be your IRS agent, or your NYS Dept of Revenue officer?
So here we have this man, who is raised partially as a Christian, he becomes a skeptic, then a deist, and he is off in war.
Now those that signed up to serve got pretty good money back then. First, you had to meet the age requirement; 18 to 40. You had to be desirous to live the life of an active soldier and defend the freedom of the nation. You had to enlist for five years, and at any time, answer the call to go to war with Great Britain.
And for this, you would receive 50 dollars when you signed up, and 50 dollars when you joined your regiment. That was like a signing bonus. Today in sports, sometimes they get millions.
And then your monthly wages were EIGHT dollars per month. You were also provided with a liberal supply of clothing and rations at all times. But you had a future to look forward to.
When you were done with all of your service time, you would receive 24 dollars, and 160 acres of land. And for those that didn’t serve, they had to live with the guilt that the nation could come under defeat and slavery by another nation.
Miller would only come into one real battle in Plattsburgh, NY at Lake Champlain. It is one of the crucial battles that will take place as the Battle of Plattsburgh, and it happened on September 11th in 1814.
The British had amassed a large ground and naval force located on the Canadian side of the border, just north of Lake Champlain. They were just miles away but reluctant to attack. On the American side, they had about 5500 troops, which was largely made up of farmers or volunteers, and the rest Army regulars. The American scouts saw that the British had about 15,000 of the best-trained troops, including ships, and these guys were not farmers or volunteers. And it wasn’t that long ago, that Britain had defeated Napoleon from France, so they were quite a confident bunch.
So the Americans are looking at 3 to 1 odds, NOT in their favor. And Miller is writing home, expelling his thoughts that he is a Patriot, and he is going to defend with honor to the death, his country. And he mentions that he thinks he just might die.
So the battle begins. And the battle lasted only about three hours. And close to the time the battle was almost over, right near where William Miller was standing, a cannon ball comes flying from one of the ships and it blasts 2 or 3 feet away from where he is.
Fragments go flying every which way and a few of the American troops around him are hit. He isn’t even scratched. He doesn’t have time to think about how significant that is because there is a battle going on.
The British ships never make it thru to the Southern most part of Lake Champlain before they end up giving up their colors surrendering to the American flag. William Miller can’t believe it. The Americans can’t believe it.
The commanding field Captain, Thomas McDonough in his first official report to the government gave credit to the Almighty God for this victory. This is thought to be the first and only battle in the history of the U.S. where the commanding officer when he filed his official report to the government gave credit to the Almighty God.
“The Almighty has been pleased to grant us a signal victory on Lake Champlain, in the capture of one frigate, one brig, and two sloops of war of the enemy.” — Commodore MacDonough, commander of U.S. Naval forces announcement to the Department of War.
Meanwhile, Miller is caught up in the euphoria, he pens a letter to a friend back in Poultney, Vermont, Judge Stanley:
“Sir, it is over! It is done! The British fleet has struck to the American flag! Great slaughter on both sides. They are in plain view, where I am now writing. My God! The sight was majestic, it was nolve. It was a very heavy and destructive fire upon us, both by water and land; their Congreve rockets flew like hailstones about us, and round shot and grape from every quarter. You have no idea of the battle. Our force was small, but how bravely they fought! Sir Lord George Provost feels bad His land force may expect to meet their fate, if our militia do their duty; but in time of action, they were not to be seen. The action on water only lasted two hours and ten minutes; the firing from their batteries has but just ceased—ours is still continuing; the small arms now are just coming to action.”
“I have no time to write any more; you must conceive what I feel, for a cannot describe it. I am satisfied that I can fight; I know I am no coward; therefore, call on Mr. Loomis and drink my health, and I will pay the shot. Three of my men are wounded—by a shell which burst within two feet of me. The boat from the fleet, which has just landed under our fort, says the British commodore is killed. Out of 300 on board their ship, 25 remain alive. Some of our officers, who have been on board, say the blood is knee deep. Their force we have taken consists of one ship, 36 guns; one brig of 18 guns, and two sloops.“
“Huzza! Huzza! Twenty of thirty British prisoners, taken by our militia, have just arrived in fort. I can write no more, for the time grows dubious.”
“Yours forever, Wm. Miller. Give my compliments to all, and send this to my wife.” — Fort Scott, September 11, 1814, 20 minutes past 2 o’clock, P.M.
When William returns home after the war, he begins to think about what there is to life. He saw bloodshed and death. He wondered there must be more to life. This idea of being a deist, there is no afterlife. In this annihilation that he witnessed, it was a cold and chilling thought. Death, what is it? Eternity, what is it? He is trying to make sense of all of this. Is there really more?
And in this internal struggle he began to think about the battle and the cannon ball and why wasn’t he hit, or why wasn’t he killed? Is there really, maybe a God that actually looks out for us. And why did the Americans win? From a rational, logical thinking deist, when you have 5500 to 15,000, there is no way the American side would win.
He’s thinking now. Could it be? He’s not ready to be converted or anything, but…..Is there a God that actually takes an interest in the affairs of nations?
So he returns from war, and sadly, his Father had passed away while he was away fighting. He inherits the farm in Low Hampton, but gives it to his Mother. But he is able to pay off the mortgage, something his Father wasn’t able to do. And he buys the adjoining property right next to her, 25 acres.
So he starts to go to church, but he is not quite sold on God entirely. His Uncle Eli-who is a Baptist minister was the Pastor. Some Sundays Miller is in church, some he isn’t. When his Uncle is going to speak, he goes and listens to him. Other weeks, his Uncle is a circuit-riding preacher and has to minister to other churches in neighboring towns.
So during these weeks you would have different church Deacons getting up there and stuttering their way thru the sermon books; because some of these guys weren’t well educated.
And William would have trouble sticking around listening to this, especially when he hardly believed in it to begin with. And his Mother would ask him why he is THERE some Sundays, and not THERE on others?
So he says to his mother, if Uncle Eli-who is away, and if I was asked to read the sermon, I would be there. So on the 2nd anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh he is there in church and he is reading the sermon to the congregation. Something comes over him and he begins to weep. Something in the message came over him from the Holy Spirit.
He now wants to study the Bible and wants to find out what kind of God is revealed in scripture. Is there really a God that I can trust, he wonders?
So he takes all that is available at that time, a Cruden’s Concordance and the Bible, and starts with Genesis 1. Every time he came across a word he didn’t understand, he would look it up in the Concordance. He wanted to know how the Bible describes that word. And then he would look up the other scripture references next to it. And by doing this, he would begin to understand how the Bible would define it. He is trying to find out what kind of God is in the Scripture.
Now, keep in mind he was a student of history. And just before he was born, there was a large disaster that happened along with other amazing signs for it’s time.
November 1st, 1755 was the date of an incredible earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal. It was so powerful, that if it happened in San Francisco instead, using the same geographical area and transplanting it over the United States, it would have not only shaken Seattle (A), but it would have destroyed Los Angeles (B). This quake was a magnitude of about a 9.0.
On May 19, 1780, it was known as the "Dark day over New England." You see, events didn’t have to be global in order to have a universal significance.
For people that had been exposed to Bible prophecy, this day was perceived at once as fulfillment of the signs that we were in the end time, and Christ's second coming could be anticipated. Right in the middle of the Revolutionary War, we have a total sky blackout.
People needed to eat their midday meals by candlelight. But it wasn’t until a few days later, that it was confirmed, that a very large forest fire in Ontario Canada had caused the black out in the sky all the way down to New Jersey thru thick combinations of smoke.
On November 13, 1833, stars were falling; up to 60,000 meteorites falling an hour for hours throughout the night. Many were exploding into sub-showers of stars. It was a shimmering spectacle. This event started a whole new science in studying meteorites.
The Great Comet of 1843 was a long-period comet which started in early February passing closest to the earth on March 6th and was last observed on April 19th.
Now if we reference the Bible, in Matthew 24:29, it says:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”
What do you think people of that day were thinking? What do you think Miller was thinking when he started to connect the dots?
During the next two years, Miller is studying the Scriptures doing a deep study, verse by verse along with his Cruden's Concordance. And about 1818 or so, he comes across the text in Daniel 8:14.
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
He sits there and thinks about the sanctuary, and all these different definitions. The body is referred to….the Old Testament sanctuary….the earth is….and then in heaven there’s a sanctuary……
By this time he has already fallen in love with Jesus, and he is feeling a real meaningful relationship with our Saviour.
He is quoted as saying, “ I was constrained to admit that the scriptures must be a revelation from God. They became my delight, and in Jesus I found a friend. The savior became to me the chiefest among ten thousand, and the scriptures which before were dark and contradictory, now became the lamp to my feet and the light to my path.”
So now he is struggling with this text in Daniel 8:14 and the different meanings of the sanctuary.
And he comes to the conclusion that it must be the earth and it is going to be destroyed by fire when Jesus comes.
It’s thru his relationship of Jesus Christ and with all the studying of history back there at the free library, he can pinpoint the beginning and the end of the 2300 days.
Miller cautiously arrived at the astonishing conclusion that around the year of 1843, Jesus would come on the clouds to purify the earth with flaming fire and introduce the millennium. His understanding is the earth is the sanctuary and it needs to be cleansed. He can’t believe it. This is going to be great!
If that is true, then everybody needs to know! A disturbing conviction caught fire in Miller’s mind:
“Go and tell it to the world.” He wasn’t sure how to get the word out as he considered himself just an old farmer.
How can I preach he asked himself? Nobody is going to listen to me. What will I say for two hours, as that was how long sermons were back then? What would I talk about, he asked himself again. But what he would have to do, is sell himself and the interpretation of the Bible over the next 20 years or so. So he began witnessing one on one.
It’s now August 1831, and he is still doing one on one Bible studies. But he didn’t have the nerve to go public just yet. The Holy Spirit is moving in on him to go tell the world. He is 49 years old at this point.
So he says to God, I will go and give a sermon…if I’m asked. In thirty minutes, his nephew comes and knocks on the door. The nephew came to ask Uncle William to give a sermon at their church, because their minister is not available to speak at the service the next day.
He is asked to speak about the prophecies and the second coming of Christ that he has been talking to others about.
Fifteen years go by and William Miller has been studying all the while, so he has a lot to speak about. And because of Miller’s shyness, this service actually takes place in William Miller’s sisters’ house, the Guilford home.
The local Baptist members had him stick around all week. When he arrived back home a week later, there was an invitation waiting for him from the Baptist church in Poultney asking to know about these prophecies and the coming of Jesus that he’d been studying.
William Miller storms out of the house, thru the woods and into a nearby maple grove, wrestling with the obligation that now God has bestowed upon him.
That day, William Miller went into that maple grove a farmer, and came out of it a preacher. You see, this was God who wanted William Miller to preach, not Miller himself. William Miller was the BEST MAN AVAILABLE.
And that is how the Millerite movement began, with just a farmer. His emphasis was not all chronology and beasts, but also revival, salvation and Jesus. And so he would begin to preach at one church after another and the circle became larger and larger in outreaching New England.
In June 1835, he is up in Canada and a lady from Quebec gave him two half dollars. That is the first time since he began in four years that anyone thought to ever give him any money for his trouble or travel expenses. Back on his farm, his family, his wife, and sons and daughters supported him so he could go preach.
Over time, articles and journals are published to tell of the great news. Hundreds of ministers joined in on the movement, spreading the word.
William’s message to those that wanted to leave their own church to follow the movement was, “stay in you’re church and witness to others.” Coming up just ahead in 1844, Jesus was planning to commence a work of salvation so absolutely vital and so magnificent that the world must be alerted to it!!! And William Miller was the best man available to do the job.
This fever spread throughout New England. From Maine to Vermont, to Upstate New York down to Newark, NJ, to Philadelphia, and then it worked it’s way to St. Louis.
Small companies of Millerite Adventists would form. As time went by and it got closer to 1843, various churches of other denominations would get nervous, so they would start to dis-fellowship those members who wanted to follow in William Miller’s footsteps.
The term Adventist back them were those that believed in the soon return of Jesus. But they were nicknamed Millerites, hence the term Millerite Adventist. And some of them went by the name Second Adventists as well.
But the closer you got to 1843, the term Millerite was a put down of a name because of all the criticism. You had animosity coming from all directions; Atheists, Deists and even other Christians.
You have to realize some Pastors and scholars in Miller’s day, had nothing to say at all about the second coming of Christ. You also had some that taught the literal return of Christ would not happen until after the end of the millennium.
In 1839 Miller gets his first invitation to preach in a major city, Boston. And it wouldn’t be his last. The fever spreads and more ministers join the cause, warning folks to get right and be ready. Even previous non-believers catch the fever and get involved with the cause. One of those we will mention later.
William knew his bible backwards and forwards and knew the verse in Matthew 24:36: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
William thought for sure he knew the year based on the 2300 days in Daniel. He also cross-referenced this time with the ancient Jewish calendar.
Understanding that the beginning of the year based on this ancient calendar was what is known as March, that is how the anticipation originally began for a date of March 21st, 1843. William picked this date as the estimated date of Jesus’ return. After this first date passed and went, on April 5th, he wrote a letter to a friend.
He is thinking that Jesus would return sometime within that year’s period, between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He was focused a little more on years than a specific date. But what he doesn’t know is the actual event that will take place, will be different than what he expects.
Miller was incorrect when he assumed that the “Sanctuary” to be “Cleansed” at the end of the 2300 years (Daniel 8:14) was the earth rather than the sanctuary in heaven. But no one challenged him on this error. He knew there was a sanctuary in heaven as mentioned in Hebrews and Revelation, but never conceived that the heavenly sanctuary would ever be defiled or in need of cleansing.
Lets take a look at Hebrews 9:22-23:
"v22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. v23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these."
This passage uses things in the heavens and purified instead of sanctuary and cleansed.
Whereas the earthly sacrifice was purified by animal sacrifices, the heavenly sacrifice requires purification with “better sacrifices”, that is with the sacrifice of Jesus!
v22 And almost all things (in the earthy sanctuary system) are by the law (the ceremonial law) purged with blood (with animal sacrifice); and without shedding of blood is no remission (of sin).
v23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens (the earthly sanctuary as a pattern of the heavenly sanctuary) should be purified with these (that is, with animal sacrifices); but the heavenly things themselves (the heavenly sanctuary itself) with better sacrifices than these (with the sacrifice of Jesus).
When Miller was studying the words in Daniel 8:14, he was using his Concordance to look up the use of sanctuary and cleansed in other parts of the Bible. However, his Concordance did not lead him to this text in Hebrews.
When we think about Miller and how he was wrong, one can only keep in mind a verse found in John 16:12:
"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."
Too much light blinds a person! Perhaps God knew that either Miller or his followers would be confused rather than guided by getting too much light all at once. After all, that happened to many in the Reformation movement like
Jan Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin and many others.
The second Advent movement, also known as Second Adventists had grown to 150,000+ followers. This movement was not a church, but many followers found in all kinds of denominations. Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Calvinists, Congregationalists, Quakers, non-denominational.
Pastors felt honored to have Miller come and hold meetings for them.
When buildings weren’t big enough to hold the growing crowds and attendance, tents were stretched to the largest size ever made in their time to cover the size of thousands when meetings were held.
As time grew on, some of these vast meetings were so large, there was barely standing room. Many camp meeting type revivals had to be held as open-air events, just about anywhere.
At these camp meetings, and in many publications of the day, the Millerites saw themselves as fulfilling “the Midnight cry” of Matthew 25:6.
In the parable of the virgins, the bridegroom finally shows up at the hour of midnight and a cry goes up, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”
When Jesus didn’t come in March of 1843, Miller had to rethink this second coming and analyze what is referred to as Typology. Miller expected Jesus originally in the spring of 1843, suggesting that he would fulfill the spring types of His first coming again. But that didn’t take place, so now he is thinking he should expect to see Jesus fulfill the autumn types in connection with His second coming.
Within Typology, we have what is called “types and anti-types”. As described in a recent Sabbath School lesson, this involves two corresponding historical realities. They are called a TYPE, which is the original occurrence, and an
ANTI-TYPE which is a copy, or a shadow of that event.
Miller never set a specific date in the fall or autumn, perhaps because he was stung a little from being wrong about March. But there was a new date in the fall discovered by a man named Samuel Sheffield Snow.
Snow was a skeptic. A complete card carrying atheist working for an atheist newspaper. But after reading a copy of William Miller’s lectures from his brother, he turned into a full-fledged Millerite in 1839. A year later he would join the local Congregational Church.
In 1842, he joined in and helped spread the good news that the Saviour was coming real soon. He devoted himself head over heels looking forward to Christ’s return like the others, working full time in 1842 preaching the Millerite message.
Samuel Snow assisted Miller and brought this expectation to logic, that Jesus would not only fulfill the autumn type of the Day of Atonement in the year of the 2300 day prophecy, but on the actual DATE of the Day of Atonement.
In 1844, according to the extremely careful reckoning of the Karaite Jews, the tenth day of the seventh ancient Jewish month, the Day of Atonement, was to fall on October 22nd. This was based on the ancient Jewish calendar and revealed by Samuel S. Snow. These Jews were the most careful and known for preserving the Bible calendar. And that was where they got the date, October 22, 1844.
On the Day of Atonement in the Bible, God specified that it was to be observed as a day for sincere self-examination and soul searching, a day for repentance and making things right. The high priest completed the work of Atonement in the most holy place of the earthly tabernacle and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Then he would come out to bless the waiting people, the congregation of Israel.
Snow’s logic was that Jesus would leave heaven to come and bless his people on the tenth day of the seven month; hence October 22nd. This was discovered at an enormous camp meeting held in Exeter, New Hampshire in August of that year.
This became known as the “Seventh-Month Movement” aka The True Midnight Cry. A quote from Joseph Bates when he realized the new date: “Behold the bridegroom cometh! Christ is coming on the tenth day of the seventh month! Time is short, get ready! Get ready!”
Miller at first was not sold on this revelation. But with more study and deep searching of heart and humiliation of soul, he began to be on board with this date. But you must understand, Miller was deeply moved and took this seriously. He was breaking down before God, soul searching in a sense, asking for pardon and acceptance before God.
A quote from Miller after the Camp Meeting revelation in August 1844, he writes, “I see a glory in the seventh month that I never saw before. We are almost home. Glory! Glory!"
The Millerites restudied the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-10, and this time they paid special attention to the words, “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”
They saw themselves in the tarrying time….or, in the idiom of the day, in the actual “tarry”…and longed more than ever for the true Midnight Cry. Now I’m going to let you in on a few other tidbits about the Millerites, the Second Adventists.
Did you know that after Jesus did not come, most people could not return to their churches? They were excommuni-cated. Miller had told them to stay in their churches and witness to others.
Published in papers were these two cartoons among others. The ridicule begins, especially from non-believers from the start, as there are jokes about the saints. Negative cartoons about Miller and his followers. As the cartoon illustration on the above right shows, the papers would construct false stories that the Millerites were dressed in white "Ascension Robes" waiting for Christ to return. In the years to follow, this was so bad that Second Advent preacher and future co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church put together a pamphlet advertising a reward of fifty dollars to anyone with solid proof that anyone was wearing these robes. James wrote that "for more than twenty-five years of traveling and preaching in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Canada, he has never met a person who has seen an Adventist thus attired, or one that was able to give better proofs that anything of the kind did occur than vague reports."
The preachers from the mainline churches were even putting the Millerites down. These are the same preachers that never got involved, and never spoke about the second coming of our Lord.
Families were separated and divided. Some thought that they would never see their loved ones again. Imagine being a believer and leaving your spouse or child, brother or sister behind to go somewhere on that day to wait out for the return of Jesus in peace away from the noise of that day. Some had given away their money, their possessions. Some had not even planned to deal with their crops, or plant for the new harvest in the spring.
Let me ask you, to think about this yourself. In comparing your life to this story. Could you take a stand against persecution, being belittled?
Would you stand tall and strong? How’s your faith? How would you handle being the butt of jokes? What would you, have done after Jesus didn’t show up? People who just days earlier were begging for their salvation, crying out to be saved, are now turning on them like an evil spirit with the wrath of ridicule.
A young 16 year old Ellen Harmon who would later become Ellen G. White stated from this experience:
“It was a bitter disappointment that fell upon the little flock whose faith had been so strong and whose hope had been so high. But we were surprised that we felt so free in the Lord, and were so strongly sustained by His strength and grace….We were disappointed, but not disheartened.”
Habakkuk 2:3 became the explanation for their disappointment, and the promise of their vindication. They were in the tarrying time.
"For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
There is a revelation that awaits an appointed time. It speaks of the end and will not prove to be false. Though it lingers, wait for it. It will certainly come and when it does, it won’t delay.
According to oral family tradition, some believers waited on this rock on October 22, 1844, for the Second Coming of Jesus in the clouds of Heaven. Here they waited for that first bean of glory coming out of the Heavens. But Jesus did not appear.
You see, this is what they were hoping for; waiting for. But……..
“We were still in this world, there had been no deliverance, our Lord had not come. No words could express the feelings of disappointment of a true Adventist.” -- Luther Buetel
"When Elder Himes visited Portland Maine after the passing of the time, he stated that the brethren should prepare for another cold winter. My feelings were almost uncontrollable. I left the place of meeting and wept like a child." -- James White
“God has brought us thru a most trying ordeal. We have seen and felt our own nothingness. We have found the grace of God sufficient to sustain us, even in such a time. While the unbelieving world treated us with contempt and scorn, even with violence, we had been enabled to endure this also with uncomplaining patience.” -- Joshua Himes
Friends, we have text in both Revelation and 1 Thessalonians that give us a glimpse of what the saints and believers of those days were longing for. We have the same connection as them. We have the same longing to be taken from the earth and caught up with our glorious King to have everlasting life.
This is an aerial view of Miller’s property today with the exception of a visitors bathroom that was built in recent years. The local Baptist Meetinghouse dis-fellowshipped Miller in January 1845 for continuing to believe that Jesus was coming soon. Miller held steadfast in his faith and belief and thought that maybe he was just in error in his calculation by just a few years.
This is where Miller had constructed a chapel on his property where believers could worship in peace from the persecution of the day. The Baptist meetinghouse disappeared in a few decades. Miller’s Chapel is still there in Low Hampton, New York waiting for you to visit today.
From the book of Daniel, inscribed on the chapel wall, “For at the time appointed, the end shall be."
At this point many people would ask Brother Miller, what now?
“Brethren, although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged. My mind is perfectly calm and my hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever. Brethren hold fast, let no man take your crown. I have fixed my mind on another time. And here I need to stand until God gives me more light, and that is today, today, and today until he comes.” -- William Miller
Just a few years ahead, Miller’s health started to decline. He died on Thursday, December 20, 1849 at the age of 67. He is buried in a nearby small cemetery right down the road from his house.
1844 was about Jesus. To those on earth, it was about his coming to redeem his people. But Jesus had to minister on our behalf. How’s Your Faith? The Son of Man is arriving at last to vindicate once and for all, His victorious, downtrodden saints. BE….YE…READY!