September 14, 2023 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Greetings, friends. In our journey through The Great Controversy, we have seen how a man named William Miller, who lived in the northeastern part of the United States, studied Bible prophecy and had come to the conclusion that judgment was near and Jesus was coming soon.
While Miller may be the most well-known of the early Advent preachers, at about the same time there was a great religious awakening taking place in many parts of the world.
This worldwide proclamation should not be surprising as we read the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:6,7—“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
This message is to be given with a loud voice by a worldwide movement. Notice also that the message points to the hour of God’s judgment. As we read in The Great Controversy, “The message itself sheds light as to the time when this movement is to take place. It is declared to be a part of the ‘everlasting gospel;’ and it announces the opening of the judgment. The message of salvation has been preached in all ages; but this message is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour of judgment had come” (pp. 355, 356).
Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Advent movement appeared in different countries at the same time. In Europe and America people were led to study the prophecies, and there were groups of Christians in different lands who, by simply studying the Scriptures, arrived at the belief that Jesus was coming soon.
One such person was Dr. Joseph Wolff, from Germany. Dr. Wolff was of Jewish descent, and his father was a rabbi. In 1821, just three years after Miller arrived at his conclusions, Dr. Wolff began preaching the Lord’s soon coming.
Even as a child, Wolff had been interested in Bible study, which led him to accept Jesus as his Savior. Later as an adult, he studied the prophecies more deeply and discovered that not only did they point to Jesus as the promised Messiah, but also pointed to His Second Coming as a King and Deliverer. As he continued studying, he concluded that the coming of Jesus was very near–in fact he placed the time very close to the time pointed out by William Miller.
For 24 years, from 1821 to 1845, Wolff traveled extensively, sharing the message of Jesus’ soon return. He traveled to countries in Africa and Asia. He went to Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Persia, India, and more.
Interestingly, he said, “The Arabs of Yemen . . . are in possession of a book called Seera, which gives notice of the second coming of Christ and His reign in glory; and they expect great events to take place in the year 1840” (The Great Controversy, p. 362).
Wolff also traveled to the United States, where he spoke in New York City. While in Washington, D.C. he gave a powerful address on prophecy to the United States Congress.
Wherever he went, Wolff carried the Bible in Hebrew and English. “I . . . kept the Bible open in my hand,” he said. “I felt my power was in the Book, and that its might would sustain me” (The Great Controversy, p. 361).
In the Scandinavian countries of Europe, when Advent preachers were arrested and put in[q prison for their prophetic teachings of Christ’s soon return, God raised up children, some as young as 6 years old, to sound the alarm. Since they were under-age, the law could not touch them, and they were permitted to speak.
Of these children we read, “They ordinarily manifested only the intelligence and ability usually seen in children of that age. When standing before the people, however, 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 Great Controversy, pp. 366, 367).
In South America, a Jesuit known as Lacunza, originally from Spain, found his way to the Scriptures and received the truth of Christ’s soon return. Impelled to give the warning but fearful of what Rome might do to him, he published his views under the pen name of “Rabbi Ben-Ezra.”
Around the world, the convicting Spirit of God spoke to the hearts of the people. Many were led to search the Scriptures with new and deeper interest.
Truly the Lord’s message sounded with a loud, clear voice, as people heard, perhaps for the first time, the message of the first angel of Revelation 14. And while the anticipated event of Christ’s return did not happen at that time, the message was a clarion call for people to study God’s Word deeply and learn the truth for themselves.
Friends, God’s Word has never failed. We can be sure that what He says will happen, will happen. I invite you to continue reading through The Great Controversy as we see how God’s plans continue to unfold.
Let’s pray together just now.
Father in Heaven, Thank you for the amazing way in which you touched many people’s lives. Not only to study your Word, but then to proclaim your Word. These wonderful manifests oceans of people all over this globe who were proclaiming the soon return of Jesus. After studying the prophets, this is a definite indication that the Holy Spirit was guiding and leading, pointing people to something very cataclysmic that would happen. And now, Lord, we understand, as we have reviewed further, that Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent, and that in 1844 he entered the most holy place in a literal, most holy place in heaven. Now, Lord, we ask that you will help us to understand that soon He will take off those priestly robes and put on his kingly robes and come to take us home and thus will be fulfilled what all of these individuals were preaching about – the Second Coming of Jesus. We thank you for this assurance and for the prophecies of the Bible, which are absolutely accurate and sure. In Christ’s name we ask it. Amen.