There is a wind of doctrine blowing within all groups of Adventism today that is deceiving many. Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian church that there would arise among them people speaking perverse things and that they would draw disciples after themselves. (See Acts 20:28–30.) One sign of apostasy is people arise with some teaching and want people to follow them. Paul set us an example and was not ashamed to declare the whole counsel of God to meet these heresies. We also should not be afraid to stand up for what we know is right.
Fanaticism today is rampant among us and is destroying the reformation movement. Ellen White said that fanatics almost destroyed the sixteenth century reformation. (See The Great Controversy, 204, 205.) Martin Luther was more afraid of some of his friends from within, the fanatics, than those without. It makes no difference to the devil which side of the ditch you fall into, the ice of indifference or the fire of fanaticism—both end up lost. Our only safety is to be alert and diligent in the study of our Bibles so we can know and understand what is truth and be able to discern error. There are many eloquent preachers that seem very convincing, but every teaching or miracle and every spirit must be tested against the word of God.
Revelation 10 describes the rise of a church which would be organized to finish the work of the Reformation that started in the sixteenth century and take the true gospel to the world. We need to clearly understand that this prophecy which describes a movement would take the message of Revelation 14:6–12 to all the world. Any message which does not align with these messages needs to be discarded.
“In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go, and take the little book [the book of Daniel] which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up.” The Advent movement began to study this book that had been shrouded in mystery for centuries. “Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. … And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” Verses 7–10, last part.
These verses describe the rise of the Advent movement as they looked forward to Jesus’ coming on October 22, 1844. It was sweet as honey to know that Jesus was going to come soon, that families would be reunited once again and that sin and suffering was going to be over. I hope that sweetness of Jesus’ Second Coming is still in your mouth! But at the passing of the time in 1844, when Jesus did not come, it was a bitter experience that hit God’s people hard. Verse 11 shows the work that must still be done: “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” There is our work—clearly a movement to “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
God’s last day church is a movement and God called a man by the name of William Miller to especially awaken the people here in the United States. To clarify a point, William Miller did not have everything figured out, but that did not make him ungodly, and it does not mean that he was not led by the Holy Spirit to come up with the belief that he had. William Miller is going to be in heaven. Ellen White says that God laid him to rest so He could save him. He is going to be in heaven, but he did not have everything figured out just as Martin Luther also did not have everything figured out. Truth is progressive. The light of the gospel continues to move. Some things they thought were true are not true. William Miller was called from his plow to give a warning message of the coming judgment to awaken people, and this he did.
I tell you this because I do not want to be accused of attacking William Miller. I believe what Ellen White said about William Miller: “But from the first his labors were blessed in a remarkable manner to the salvation of souls.” The Great Controversy, 331. We will never know how many souls William Miller won to the Lord. There were thousands of people who came to hear him, many more than we see at religious meetings today. “His first lecture was followed by a religious awakening in which thirteen entire families, with the exception of two persons, were converted. He was immediately urged to speak in other places, and in nearly every place his labor resulted in a revival of the work of God. Sinners were converted, Christians were roused to greater consecration, and deists and infidels were led to acknowledge the truth of the Bible and the Christian religion.” Ibid.
William Miller had a good study plan. He started in Genesis 1:1 and then read through the Bible. Any text he came to that he did not understand, he would stop and ponder that text, studying it out text upon text, line upon line, until he understood its meaning before moving on.
“When, therefore, he found, in his study of the Bible, various chronological periods that, according to his understanding of them, extended to the second coming of Christ, he could not but regard them as the ‘times before appointed’ (Acts 17:26), which God had revealed unto His servants.” Ibid., 324. Notice Ellen White did not say that this is absolutely Biblical, but she said that this was his understanding of these chronological periods. William Miller, as he went through Genesis, saw chronological periods. He saw the flood, pharaoh, the baker, the butler and their dreams. He saw Joseph’s dreams; he saw a beginning and an end. Then He came to Leviticus.
In Leviticus 26:18–21 it says, “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: and your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.” As William Miller read these texts in Scripture, he understood that the seven times was a time prophecy that calculated down to 2520.
As he read these chronological periods, according to his understanding, they would terminate in 1843. He thought things were going to end and Jesus was going to come in 1843, but his calculation proved wrong. Ellen White mentions Habakkuk 2 in reference to Miller and his associates, especially Hiram Edson, as they were studying and this is the conclusion that they came to. Habakkuk 2:2, 3. says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 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.” So, the thought came into Hiram Edson’s mind to make up a chart for everybody to see the time prophesies, resulting in the 1843 chart developed by Charles Fitch. (See Ibid., 392.)
Until recently I have never thought much about the 2520, because I have never read anything about it in the Spirit of Prophecy. But now it has become a teaching and those not believing it are being accused of being in apostasy. “Numerous charts, antedating the famous 1843 chart, appeared in varying forms in different periodicals and books of the movement. These pictorial charts and diagrams not only afforded the best exhibitions offered of the main Millerite expositions of prophecies, but the progressive movements of the interpretations is clearly reflected in these designs.” Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 1954, vol. 4, 720. As the early seekers continued to study, improvements or changes were made to these charts and by comparison, the frank correction of earlier inaccuracies can be seen at the glance. The earlier individual charts were largely an extension of Miller’s views. Remember, this is not an attack on William Miller, but simply a look at truth. When Charles Fitch developed this chart the following are some of the things that were corrected from the errors in William Miller’s earlier charts:
- He believed the three horns in Daniel 7:8, 20, 24 were Lombardi, Rome and Revina. We understand them now to be the Herulli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths which finally fell in 538.
- He believed that the little horn in Daniel 8 was both Antiochus Epiphanies and Mohammedism. That was corrected to the understanding that the little horn was both pagan and papal Rome.
- He believed that the crucifixion of Christ occurred in A.D. 33. Today, we believe by studying Daniel 9 in comparison with Ezra 6 and 7 that the starting date is A.D. 457 and ending at Christ’s crucifixion. A careful study of Daniel 9 proves that Jesus died in A.D. 31.
- He believed that the 666 years in Revelation 13:18, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” was the time period of the pagan Roman rule. Today we have a totally different understanding.
The proponents of the early 2520 charts almost idolize them and have made them the standard of understanding prophecy today.
Studying the Spirit of Prophecy should be in the same manner that you study the Bible, by comparing passage with passage.
Ellen White said: “The Lord showed me that the 1843 chart was directed by His hand, and that no part of it should be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them. That His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed.” The Review and Herald, November 1, 1850.
Now notice the difference between this last quotation with another passage that is almost identical, but there is something added that I believe is very important.
“I saw that the old chart [the 1843 chart] was directed by the Lord, and that not a figure of it should be altered except by inspiration.” [Emphasis added.] Spaulding and Magan Collection, 1. Notice that the only thing that could change these charts was Inspiration, which, at that time period, was the Bible and the inspired writings of Ellen White. This means that if you see any change on that chart, Divine authority through either the Spirit of Prophecy or the Bible had better back it up. As we have seen, Ellen White said: “I saw that the figures of the chart were as God would have them, and that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none should see it till His hand was removed.” Ibid. That is a very interesting statement!
Remember, light is progressive and truth continues to move. In 1850 the chart was changed. The 2520 chart was still there, but it was less obscure; it no longer seemed to be the prominent teaching. This is very fascinating because the leaders of the pioneer movement had begun to restudy and rethink everything they had thus far understood.
It seems that many people are continually looking for something new, but we need to go back and restudy the fundamental beliefs, because we do not even have them figured out. Restudy them and know them for yourself.
James White began reviewing the doctrine of the 2520. In Leviticus 26:3–13, you will notice the blessings that come with walking in the commandments of God, and then verses 15–33 describe the curses for disobeying His commandments. Verses 14–16 say, “But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that ye will do all My commandments, but that ye break My covenant: I also will do this unto you.” He then begins enumerating these things. “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. … And if ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me; I will bring seven times more plagues.” Verses 18, 21. These verses do not sound like a time prophecy.
The Hebrew word for seven is sheba, which means complete. God said, “I’m going to completely punish you.” He was not talking about a time prophecy as William Miller thought. As we continue to study we see that what he believed about the “seven times” was not truth.
Again, in verse 24, He tells us: “Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times more for your sins.” It says the same thing in verse 28. The Bible is consistent with itself in all its manifestation.
“All truth, whether in prophecy or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 114. The Bible is always consistent, so if we were to remain consistent with Scripture, if seven times is a time prophecy in these texts, then when you read seven times in another passage, does it always refer to a time prophecy? Think it through; if in the book of Numbers or in the book of Jeremiah you read seven times, you will look at that as a time prophecy. You will become very confused, because there are four time prophecies within this one chapter.
Notice what James White said as he began examining these texts in the Scriptures: “So then, there is no prophetic period in Leviticus 26; and those who imagine that such a thing exists, and are puzzling themselves over the adjustment of its several dates, are simply beating the air. To ignore, or to treat with neglect, a prophetic period where one is plainly given, is censurable in the extreme. It is an equally futile, though not so heinous, a course, to endeavor to create one where none exists.” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 26, 1864. His statement is very plain and his wife [Ellen White] never once rebuked him for saying this.
The “seven times” mentioned means the severity and intensity of the punishments God would bring upon Israel. Now what is interesting is that the 1843 chart prominently displayed the 2520; in the 1850 chart it was not so prominent, and by the time the 1863 chart was made, you will not find one mention of it. Remember, Ellen White said that the charts were not to be changed “except by inspiration.” They were not going contrary to the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible to use a chart that was totally contrary to prior teachings. This tells us that Inspiration had changed the charts, because they were not correct to begin with.
In 1870, it was the 1863 chart that was being used for evangelism. Endorsing this chart, Ellen White wrote: “You can hang up the charts, and show them the truth, as it is there illustrated. You can teach them, if you have a mind thus to do, by explaining prophetic history, and tracing down prophecies, that the end of all things is at hand. You can impress them with the sacredness of the law of God, and show them its claims upon them.” The Review and Herald, March 29, 1870.
Quoting from the introduction of The Golden Thread of Prophecy, which is a book about the study of the 2520, the publishers say: “Few in our time have heard of this prophecy, it has dropped from our understanding, but it was a very integral part of the Prophecy Chart of 1843, in fact, when you understand the 2520, all the lines of time prophecy—all of it—can be found within it. Neither we, nor the pioneers, have seen in the Bible anything longer than the 2520, so we can safely say this is the longest time prophecy in Scripture.”
I hope by now your mind is reeling, because the prophet told us: “Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible was about to expire.” The Great Controversy, 351. The longest time prophecy referred to was the 2300 days. This should be end of argument!
“The message given by Miller and his associates announced the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14.” Ibid.
“After this period of time, reaching from 1842 to 1844, there can be no definite tracing of the prophetic time. The longest reckoning reaches to the autumn of 1844.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 971. The 2520 prophecy reaches only to 1843. It is very plain that this cannot be a teaching we can adhere to.
It is also interesting to note that as you look at these charts closely, William Miller and Hiram Edson differed in their understanding on the 2520. Proponents of the 2520 today claim that they were both right.
To indicate a prophecy in Leviticus 26 there would have to be something in these passages giving a starting date, but there is none. You can’t just say, “If they don’t hearken unto Me” with no timing. When did that happen? When did they stop keeping the commandments of God and when did these judgments start coming upon them? There would have to be clear-cut evidence from this chapter, or someplace else, to tell us that this “seven times” is a time prophecy, but there is none.
None, who have not studied their Bibles like ever before, will be able to stand in the great time of trouble. They will be blown about and misled by all kinds of false teachers. Ellen White says, “If men are so easily misled now, how will they stand when Satan shall personate Christ, and work miracles?” Last Day Events, 162.
If we can be blown from one doctrine to the next so easily, we will not make it to the end. If we knew the word of God as we should, we would not be blown about by every wind of doctrine that comes around and get swayed so easily by preaching that which appears so convincing. We are called to be like the Bereans, who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11.
It would have been a real temptation to listen to Paul and not just believe what he said as gospel. He was a scholar and a godly man. He knew multiple languages, and he knew the Bible inside and out, but still the Bereans searched the Scriptures for themselves, and they were commended for it.
We must study as never before and know without a doubt what we believe. Fanaticism is sweeping through our ranks, scattering us and splintering us because we do not take the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as it reads, and we are blown about by every wind of doctrine.
Waste no more time; reconsecrate yourself now to the study of God’s word daily to fortify your mind so that you will be able to stand in the last great conflict with the powers of darkness.
Mike Bauler was ordained into the ministry in 2005 and serves as pastor of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. Prior to locating in Portland, Pastor Bauler served as a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministries. His goal is to help give the gospel to the greater Portland area with an emphasis in helping his Bible students discover the truths in Bible prophecy, which are so often neglected today. He is assisted in his ministry by his wife, Amanda, a family nurse practitioner, and their daughters Hannah, Esther and Abigail.