On October 22, 1844, William Miller and his congregation of over 50,000 Advent believers, including Ellen Harmon, were sorely disappointed. Over ten years had been spent in careful study to pinpoint this event in history. Years of labor and means were spent to tell the world of Jesus’ imminent return. And yet, He did not appear.
It has been 175 years since the Great Disappointment. Adventism has gone through many stages since that time. New and important light was received on the Sabbath and other pillars of our faith. Yet, a lesson we can learn when we remember our forefathers in the faith is their humility and willingness to return to the Scriptures after their disappointment to find the Truth.
“Hiram Edson and few other believers were still trying to understand what had really happened. The prophetic computing had been entirely accurate. Where, then, was Jesus?
“While crossing a cornfield, Edson had a vision of the heavenly sanctuary. Yes, Jesus had indeed come—but not to the earth as they were expecting—but rather to the most holy place of the sanctuary.”1
Hope renewed! Christ is returning, yet He must finish His work in the most holy place.
“In 1844, according to the prophecy of 2, Christ entered upon the second and final phase of His ministry in the most holy place to cleanse it from the sins of the repentant sinners. This work is also called the investigative judgment ( , ; ; ).”
What does this mean? Why is October 22, 1844 relevant 175 years later? Actually, the start of the Investigative Judgement is one of the most important things for Christians in 2019 to understand.
During the Investigative Judgement, Christ is examining the life of every soul who has had their name recorded in the book of life. “Although the lives of all who have their names written in the book of life, both from among the dead and the living, are to be examined, only the ones who have confessed and forsaken their sins will have their names retained in the book of life and their sins blotted out from the books of record (2; , ).”
When will our name come up for examination? We do not know. But we know that every moment is precious. Every day we must intentionally confess and forsake our sins.
“…while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."—The Great Controversy, pp. 489-490.
In view of the solemn events now taking place in heaven, we can take assurance from the promise of Jesus found in:
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
May God help us look forward to Christ’s Second Coming with hope and solemnity.