A Brief History of the Seventh Day Adventist Church for Lay people.
I write this blog as we commemorate the 167th Anniversary of the Great Disappointment of 1844. Before I get into the details of the Disappointment, it becomes necessary to understand who are Adventists? Christian Principles and doctrines may seem very simple on the face of it but is very complex when you begin to study it.
Many people ask me, who are Adventists? Are they Christians, Jews or is Seventh Day Adventism a religion by itself? To begin with, the Seventh Day Adventist community is an offspring of the Millerite movement.
Our story begins around the nineteenth century when William Miller a Baptist preacher in the United States began to study and decipher the hidden truths and prophesies in the Bible. For those unaware of this fact, a common Christian belief is that the Bible apart from being the book of Fundamental principles of leading a Good Christian Life, also contains certain prophecies dealing with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ will come the Second time and the righteous will be saved.
William Miller continued to study the Bible and it was then that he tried to decipher the meaning of the book of Daniel. (Also considered as one of the difficult books to understand). William Miller continued to study the Bible and as he did he was moved by the Spirit of God along with fellow followers of Christ. It was around this time that Daniel 8: 14 picked up significance.
The verse reads: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
Steeped in significance, it became a matter of concern to Miller who interpreted this verse to be '2300 years' calculating the same according to the ‘day- year principle’. Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-year_principle
According to Miller the 2300 year period was to end in the year 1844. Miller interpreted it to be the year of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and this stirred up the faith of many Christian believers. It is said that it was around this time, many people sold off their lands and began a sort of penance in order that they might be saved.
The Great Disappointment:
So what happened? Why are we still on earth? Although Miller never acknowledged a particular date of Christ’s Second Coming, he did narrow the time frame of the same to be between March 1843 and March 1844. Later, it was Samuel Snow a skeptic turned Preacher who announced that 22nd October, 1844 would indeed be the closest accurate date for the Second Coming.
Now, if there is one prophesy that has consistently been hidden by the Scripture is the actual date of the Lord’s arrival. In Matthew 24: 36-39 it clearly states on the Lord’s Arrival, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
This is why perhaps the presumption of Samuel Snow that October 22nd, 1844 would indeed be the Judgment Day failed.
These events gave rise to three kinds of Believers. The first of these believers are those who were not Disappointed at all. These were believers whose sole basis was Fear. The fact that the Lord had not come, gave them reason to go back to their wayward ways. The second type of Believers was those who had truly believed that the Lord would come but the fact that He had not only disappointed but left them embittered. The third and perhaps the strongest in their faith returned to the Scriptures for a better study of the Bible. This included the Adventist founder Mrs. Ellen G White. Most leaders and believers like Miller and Mrs. White began to study the Bible more intently.
The Most Holy Place & The Great Advocate
It was in these testing times that it was propounded vehemently that 1844 was indeed a year of significance, not solely because of the Great Disappointment. It was a year of significance as it was the year when Christ was elevated from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place. It was also stated that the Judgement process had begun with Jesus mediating as the Advocate on behalf of each living person so that maximum people would be saved.
Adventist Mission founded:
It is on this background that the Seventh Day Adventist Church was founded on 21st May, 1863. It was an offshoot of the same Millerite Movement.
The Aims of the Seventh Day Adventist Church may be best summarised in three words: Preaching Teaching and Healing.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church is the largest of the Adventist groups in the world.
· Saturday is the Sabbath. The most important of all the Teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists is their belief that Saturday is the Sabbath.
Ref: Genesis 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
· No Papal hierarchy.
· Important Health Principles : Special emphasis on natural remedies, vegetarianism and simple and plain foods and fruits.
· Abstention from Meat and Alcohol.
· Connection between Health principles and Christian duty
· Strict adherence to the Principles (especially asbtention from certain types of foods) as laid down in Leviticus 11.
In totality, the Seventh Day Adventist Church has left an indelible mark on world society especially in the field of Medical Sciences and Preaching with A- grade hospitals and excellent Universities like St. Andrews that impart knowledge and faith. It is the faith and the undying desire to come Face to Face with the Saviour that keeps the Adventists to lead lives that are different from their counterparts.
All we can hope is that at the time of the Second Coming we are found worthy enough to be saved!