1. FIRST FRUITS
a. What was symbolized by the sheaf of grain waved before the Lord at the beginning of the harvest (Leviticus 23:9–11)? Matthew 27:50–53; 1 Corinthians 15:17–20.
“Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord. For more than a thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been performed. From the harvest fields the first heads of ripened grain were gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, the sheaf of first fruits was waved as a thank offering before the Lord. Not until this was presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be gathered into sheaves. The sheaf dedicated to God represented the harvest. So Christ the first fruits represented the great spiritual harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God. His resurrection is the type and pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 785, 786.
“[Christ] presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming.”—Ibid., p. 834.
a. As in Hebrew times there was a celebration of the harvest 50 days after the offering of the wave sheaf, what harvest of souls was gathered at Pentecost (“fiftieth” in Greek)? Acts 2:1, 4, 7, 8, 41.
“The Jewish leaders had supposed that the work of Christ would end with His death; but, instead of this, they witnessed the marvelous scenes of the Day of Pentecost. They heard the disciples, endowed with a power and energy hitherto unknown, preaching Christ, their words confirmed by signs and wonders. In Jerusalem, the stronghold of Judaism, thousands openly declared their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
“The disciples were astonished and overjoyed at the greatness of the harvest of souls.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 44.
“What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. . . .
“They could not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through them, and as they went from place to place, the poor had the gospel preached to them, and miracles of divine grace were wrought.
“So mightily can God work when men give themselves up to the control of His Spirit.”—Ibid., pp. 48, 49.
b. How can this also be an inspiration to us in our day? Acts 5:30–32.
“The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their Redeemer’s love and of His saving grace.”—Ibid., p. 49.
3. THE BLOWING OF TRUMPETS
a. In the Hebrew system, trumpets introduced the solemn day of final atonement. How was this paralleled in the preaching of William Miller? Leviticus 23:23–25; Matthew 24:32, 33.
“[God] sent chosen messengers to make known the nearness of the final judgment.”—The Great Controversy, p. 339.
“In nearly every town there were scores, in some, hundreds, converted as a result of [William Miller’s] preaching. In many places Protestant churches of nearly all denominations were thrown open to him, and the invitations to labor usually came from the ministers of the several congregations. It was his invariable rule not to labor in any place to which he had not been invited, yet he soon found himself unable to comply with half the requests that poured in upon him. Many who did not accept his views as to the exact time of the second advent were convinced of the certainty and nearness of Christ’s coming and their need of preparation. In some of the large cities his work produced a marked impression. Liquor dealers abandoned the traffic and turned their shops into meeting rooms; gambling dens were broken up; infidels, deists, Universalists, and even the most abandoned profligates were reformed, some of whom had not entered a house of worship for years. Prayer meetings were established by the various denominations, in different quarters, at almost every hour, businessmen assembling at midday for prayer and praise. There was no extravagant excitement, but an almost universal solemnity on the minds of the people. His work, like that of the early Reformers, tended rather to convince the understanding and arouse the conscience than merely to excite the emotions.
“In 1833 Miller received a license to preach, from the Baptist Church, of which he was a member. A large number of the ministers of his denomination also approved his work, and it was with their formal sanction that he continued his labors.”—Ibid., pp. 331, 332.
“Those who accepted the advent doctrine were roused to the necessity of repentance and humiliation before God. Many had long been halting between Christ and the world; now they felt that it was time to take a stand. ‘The things of eternity assumed to them an unwonted reality. Heaven was brought near, and they felt themselves guilty before God.’ . . . Christians were quickened to new spiritual life. They were made to feel that time was short, that what they had to do for their fellow men must be done quickly. Earth receded, eternity seemed to open before them, and the soul, with all that pertained to its immortal weal or woe, was felt to eclipse every temporal object.”—Ibid., p. 340.
4. A TIME AND A MESSAGE
a. How do we know that God definitely operates on a distinct timetable? Ecclesiastes 3:1; Mark 1:14, 15.
“The gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The ‘time’ which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 232.
b. What history verifies William Miller’s prophetic research? Daniel 9:24–27.
“The time of the first advent and of some of the chief events clustering about the Saviour’s lifework was made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. [Daniel 9:24 quoted.] A day in prophecy stands for a year. See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given: [Daniel 9:25 quoted] sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, went into effect in the autumn of 457 B.C. See Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A.D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. In A.D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit and soon afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed, ‘The time is fulfilled.’ Mark 1:15.
“Then, said the angel, ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].’ For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself, and afterward by the apostles. ‘In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.’ Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A.D. 31, Christ, the true Sacrifice, was offered on Calvary. . . .
“The one week—seven years—ended in A.D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 698, 699.
5. A SURE PROPHETIC BASIS
a. Although William Miller did not fully comprehend all the phases of Christ’s ministration, on what theme did he base his call to repentance? Daniel 8:14. What is the call for us today? 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
“The seventy weeks—490 days—having been cut off from the 2300, there were 1810 days remaining. After the end of 490 days, the 1810 days were still to be fulfilled. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. Consequently the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 terminate in 1844. At the expiration of this great prophetic period, upon the testimony of the angel of God, ‘the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 328.
“[William Miller] adopted the generally received view that the earth is the sanctuary, and he believed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented the purification of the earth by fire at the coming of the Lord. When, therefore, he found that the close of the 2300 days was definitely foretold, he concluded that this revealed the time of the second advent. His error resulted from accepting the popular view as to what constitutes the sanctuary.”—Ibid., p. 352.
“The great day was at hand, and in [God’s] providence the people were brought to the test of a definite time, in order to reveal to them what was in their hearts. The message was designed for the testing and purification of the church. They were to be led to see whether their affections were set upon this world or upon Christ and heaven. They professed to love the Saviour; now they were to prove their love.”— Ibid., p. 353.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How had the resurrection of Christ and those with Him been symbolized?
2. What evangelistic event revealed the most valuable harvest we can reap?
3. What characterized the meetings of William Miller?
4. Why is it vital for us to understand the Bible prophecies based on time?
5. What discovery was made as a result of William Miller’s research, and how was this a test of the church’s attitude?