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THE GREAT AWAKENING
The First Angel
God saw that many of His professed people were not building for eternity, and in His mercy He was about to send a message of warning. This threefold message is brought to view in Revelation 14.
The first of these warnings announces the approaching judgment. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, Saving with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come. and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Rev. 14:6, 7.
Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the advent movement appeared in different countries of Christendom at the same time. In both Europe and America men of faith and prayer were led to the study of the prophecies, and, tracing down the inspired record, they saw convincing evidence that the end of all things was at hand. In different lands there were isolated bodies of Christians who, solely by the study of the Scriptures, arrived at the belief that the Savior's advent was near.
In 1821 Dr. Joseph Wolff began to proclaim the Lord's soon coming. During the twenty-four years from 1821 to 1845, Wolff traveled extensively in Africa and Asia. He persevered in his labors until the message of the judgment had been carried to a large part of the habitable globe.
About seven hundred ministers of the Church of England were engaged in preaching the message pointing to the time of the Lord's coming. In South America, Germany, France and Switzerland the light shone. The advent message was also proclaimed in Scandinavia, and a widespread interest was kindled. But the clergy of the state church opposed the movement. In many places where the preachers of the Lord's soon coming were silenced, God was pleased to send the message through little children. As they were under age, the law of the state could not restrain them, and they were permitted to speak unmolested. It was evident that they were moved by an influence beyond their own natural gifts. Tone and manner changed, and with solemn power they gave the warning of the judgment, employing the very words of Scripture: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
The people heard with trembling; the convicting Spirit of God spoke to their hearts. Many were led to search the Scriptures with new and deeper interest, the intemperate and immoral were reformed, others abandoned their dishonest practices, and a work was done so marked that even ministers of the state church were forced to acknowledge that the hand of God was in the movement.
To William Miller and his colaborers it was given to preach the warning in America. This country became the center of the great advent movement. It was here that the prophecy of the first angel's message had its most direct fulfillment.
Miller found the literal, personal coming of Christ to be plainly taught tin the Scriptures. Furthermore, all the signs of the times and the condition of the world corresponded to the prophetic description of the last days. He was forced to the conclusion from the study of Scripture alone, that the period allotted for the continuance of the earth in its present state was about to close.
In nearly every place Miller's labor resulted in a revival. In nearly every town there were scores, in some, hundreds, converted as a result of his preaching. In many places Protestant churches of nearly all denominations were thrown open to him.
All classes flocked to the meetings. Rich and poor, high and low, were anxious to hear for themselves the doctrine of the second advent. The Spirit of God, gave power to His truth. The presence of holy angels was felt in these assemblies, and many were daily added to the believers. Their denominational barriers were hurled to the ground; pride and conformity to the world were swept away.
As Miller's work tended to build up the churches, it was for a time regarded with favor. But as ministers and religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine and desired to suppress all agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit, but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching upon the second advent, or of speaking of their hope in the meetings of the church.
Thus the believers found themselves in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their churches and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw the testimony of God's word suppressed and their right to investigate the prophecies denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches.
The churches had spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world. In that year there were evidences of a sudden and marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land.
The Second Angel
In Revelation 14 the first angel is followed by a second proclaiming: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Rev. 14:8.
In Revelation 17 Babylon is represented as a woman-a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of a church; a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.
“And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots... And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Rev. 17:5, 6.
No other power could be so truly declared “drunken with the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruelly persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with the sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It was by alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation.
Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world.
The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon, must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries.
Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome's example of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”- the state churches. by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world.
In nearly every church calling itself Protestant, as the founders, those who possessed the true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants, while blindly clinging to the creed of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of what they saw, depart widely from their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the world. Thus a worldly flood flowing into the church, carries “with it its customs, practices, and idols.” --Gavazzi, Lectures, p. 278.
Unless the church will follow on in God's opening providence, accepting every ray of light, performing every duty which may be revealed, religion will inevitably degenerate into the observance of forms, and the spirit of vital godliness will disappear. This truth has been repeatedly illustrated in the history of the church.
The great sin charged against Babylon is that she “made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This cup represents the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ.
The second angel's message of Revelation 14 was first preached in the summer of 1844. But the message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject truths they have fallen lower and lower. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thes. 2:9-11. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in the churches which constitute Babylon.
The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen ,... come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev. 18:2,4.
The finite minds of men are inadequate to enter into the counsels of the Infinite One, or to understand fully the working out of His purposes. Not infrequently the minds of the people, and even of God's servants, are so blinded by human opinions, the traditions and false teaching of men, that they are able only partially to grasp the great things which He has revealed in His word. Thus it was with the disciples of Christ.
Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” They preached the message which Christ had committed to them, though they themselves misunderstood its meaning. And then, at the very time when they expected to see their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seized as a malefactor, scourged, derided, condemned, and lifted up on the cross of Calvary. What despair and anguish wrung the hearts of those disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in the tomb!
The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel of the kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart in the experience of those who proclaimed the message of His second advent. Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not, themselves, fully comprehend the import of the message which they bore. Therefore, though they proclaimed the message which God had committed to them to be given to the world, yet through a misapprehension of its meaning they suffered disappointment.
The time of expectation passed, and Christ did not appear for the deliverance of His people. Those who with sincere faith and love had looked for their Savior, experienced a bitter disappointment. Yet the purposes of God were being accomplished. It would teach them, as only such an experience could, the danger of accepting the theories and interpretations of men. They would be taught to examine more carefully the foundation of their faith, and to reject everything, however widely accepted by the Christian world, that was not founded upon the Scriptures of truth.
Some renounced their faith in their former reckoning of the prophetic periods and ascribed to human or satanic agencies the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit which had attended the advent movement. Another class firmly held that the Lord had led them in their past experience; they waited and watched and prayed to know the will of God.
God did not forsake His people; His Spirit still abode with those who did not rashly deny the light which they had received. His power and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment.
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
With earnest prayer they reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary.
They learned that there is no Scripture evidence sustaining the popular view that the earth is the sanctuary; but they found in the Bible a full explanation of the subject of the sanctuary.
The apostle Paul, in Hebrews, says: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” Heb. 9:1. The sanctuary to which Paul here refers was the tabernacle built by Moses at the command of God. After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple of Solomon. In this form the sanctuary existed-except while it lay in ruins in Daniel's time-until its destruction by the Romans, in AD. 70.
The existence of a second, or new-covenant sanctuary, was implied in the words of Paul already quoted. Turning back to the beginning of the previous chapter, they read: “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Heb. 8:1, 2.
Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service: in this, Christ, our great High Priest, ministers at God's right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in heaven.
Further, the tabernacle built by Moses was made after a pattern. “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof even so shall ye make it.” Ex. 25:9. And Paul says that the first tabernacle “was a figure;” that its holy places were “patterns of things in the heavens;” and that “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Heb. 9:9,23.24.
The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy.
In vision the apostle John was granted a view of the temple of God in heaven. See Rev. 8:3: 11:19.
Thus those who were studying the subject found indisputable proof of the existence of a sanctuary in heaven. Moses made the earthly sanctuary after a pattern which was shown him. Paul teaches that that pattern was the true sanctuary which is in heaven. And John testifies that he saw it in heaven.
Thus the prophecy, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven.
But the most important question remains to he answered: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? That there was such a service in connection with the earthly sanctuary is stated in the Old Testament Scriptures. But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed? In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary is plainly taught. “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [the blood of animals]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” Heb. 9:22, 23, even the precious blood of Christ.
But how could there be sin connected with the sanctuary, either in heaven or upon the earth?
The ministration of the earthly sanctuary consisted of two divisions; the priests ministered daily in the holy place, while once a year the high priest performed a special work of atonement in the most holy, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victim's head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. The animal was then slain. The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary. In some cases the blood was not taken into the holy place; but the flesh was then to be eaten by the priest, as Moses directed the sons of Aaron, saying:
“God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.” Lev. 10:17. Both ceremonies alike symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary. Throughout the year the sins of Israel were thus transferred to the sanctuary, and a special work became necessary for their removal.
Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary.
On the Day of Atonement two kids of the goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle, and lots were cast upon them, “one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” Lev. 16:8. The goat upon which fell the lot for the Lord was to be slain as a sin offering for the people.
“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Lev. 16:21, 22.
A substitute was accepted in the sinner's stead; but the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come; but he was not yet entirely released from the condemnation of the law.
On the Day of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of this offering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in his character of mediator, he took the sins upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.
After His ascension our Savior began His work as our High Priest. Says Paul: “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself; now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Heb. 9.24.
The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Heb. 9.12.
For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record.
As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ's work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work-to cleanse the sanctuary.
The actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation-a work of judgment (Dan 7:9,10). This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. See Rev. 22:12.
It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. When the high priest, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, removed the sins from the sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty. The scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. So will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and His people, and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners.
The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. The mistake had not been in the reckoning of the prophetic periods, but in the event to take place at the end of the 2300 days.
The Law of Love
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” Rev. 11:19.
As they studied the subject of the sanctuary they saw within the holy of holies, in the sanctuary in heaven, the divine law sacredly enshrined.
The ark in the tabernacle on earth contained the two tables of stone, upon which were inscribed the law of God. When the temple of God was opened in heaven, the ark of His testament was seen. The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original, of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recorded by Moses were an unerring transcript.
A man who does not love the law does not love the gospel; for the law, as well as the gospel, is a mirror reflecting the true character of God.
Many religious teachers assert that Christ by His death abolished the law, and men are henceforth free from its requirements.
The claim that Christ by His death abolished His Father's law is without foundation. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or set aside, then Christ need not have died to save man from the penalty of sin. The death of Christ, so far from abolishing the law, proves that it is immutable, from its very nature unchangeable. It is a revelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Rom. 13:10.
Without the law, men have no just conception of the purity and holiness of God or of their own guilt and uncleanness. They have no true conviction of sin and feel no need of repentance. Not seeing their lost condition as violators of God's law, they do not realize their need of the atoning blood of Christ.
Wherever the divine precepts are rejected, sin ceases to appear sinful or righteousness desirable.
“He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” 1 Jn. 2:4, 5.
“This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” 1 Jn. 5:3.
The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin.
“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3:20.
From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan's purpose to overthrow the law of God. To deceive men, and lead them to transgress God's law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same.
In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Law-giver.
No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven, none is more directly opposed to the dictates of reason, none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine, so rapidly gaining ground, that God's law is no longer binding.
Those who teach the people to regard lightly the commandments of God sow disobedience to reap disobedience.
Already the doctrine that men are released from obedience to God's requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation and opened the floodgates of iniquity upon the world.
Those who had accepted the light concerning the mediation of Christ and the perpetuity of the law of God were thus led to see the sacred, unchanging character of the divine law. They saw, as never before, the force of the Savior's words: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.” Mt. 5:18. The law of God, being a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, must forever endure. Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed.
In the very bosom of the Decalogue is the fourth commandment, as it was first proclaimed: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: .., for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Ex. 20:8-11.
The Spirit of God impressed the hearts of those students of His word. The conviction was urged upon them that they had ignorantly transgressed this precept by disregarding the Creator's rest day. They began to examine the reasons for observing the first day of the week instead of the day which God had sanctified. They could find no evidence in the Scriptures that the fourth commandment had been abolished, or that the Sabbath had been changed; the blessing which first hallowed the seventh day had never been removed. They had been honestly seeking to know and to do God's will; now, as they saw themselves transgressors of His law, sorrow filled their hearts, and they manifested their loyalty to God by keeping His Sabbath holy.
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Created: 11/12/02 Updated: 5/24/04