Sabbath, January 6, 2007
The theme of these Sabbath School Lessons is the historical identity of our Reform Movement. We start with a great Second Advent Movement in the time of William Miller, and end in 1925. The purpose of this study is not so much to learn the doctrinal questions, but rather to learn how all doctrinal questions were developed during this period of time. It was not a simple thing for our pioneers to come to any conclusion in their study, because they were coming from different religious denominations, which were established during the Middle Ages and after the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Many ideas were introduced into these religious bodies, and when the end of the time came, after the book of Daniel was unsealed, these were days to find the truth for the present time. And this task was given to the people who were interested in serving God with all their heart and soul and might. Yet they did not have sufficient experience to formulate these ‘new’ teachings, so God in His mercy sent them a wonderful help through the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy.
Some of those who were at one time foremost in the service of God abandoned their positions, and God found others who accepted these responsibilities with an open heart and mind.
After the Millerite Movement suffered a great disappointment in 1844, another movement came into existence: the Seventh-day Adventist people. For those pioneers it was even more difficult to continue their study because they had to build completely from the very beginning, on a new foundation, with no means available and with not many interested people to support their work. Then when Seventh-day Adventists were at their pinnacle, they ran into apostasy. But God found others–humble servants who were ready to sacrifice everything for the truth, including their own lives, proving that they did not live and work for their own glory, but for the glory of the One who lives forever.
We appeal to all our members and interested people to earnestly study these lessons so that everyone can know where we came from, and at what price all these wonderful doctrines and the system of organization, which we now enjoy and by which we greatly differ from all other religious denominations, came to us.
Many Bible verses given here are not a direct answer to a given question, but they are related as closely as possible to the subject under consideration. Many answers are in the quoted statements from the Spirit of Prophecy and historical books available to us.
We wish you God’s blessings in this epochal study.
– The Brethren of the General Conference
THE SIXTH SEAL
1. What one specific prophecy was given by Christ on two different occasions?
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
Revelation 6:12, 13 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
2. What would precede the fulfillment of this prophecy?
Matthew 24:21, 22 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
“The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A.D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. At that time a French army entered Rome and made the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new pope was soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which it before possessed.
“The persecution of the church did not continue throughout the entire period of the 1260 years. God in mercy to his people cut short the time of their fiery trial. In foretelling the ‘great tribulation’ to befall the church, the Saviour said, ‘Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.’ Matthew 24:22. Through the influence of the Reformation the persecution was brought to an end prior to 1798.” –The Great Controversy, p. 266.
3. When did these signs in nature begin to appear?
Mark 13:24, 25 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
“These signs were witnessed before the opening of the nineteenth century. In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America.” –The Great Controversy, p. 304.
4. What other natural sign followed this earthquake?
Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
“May 19, 1780, stands in history as ‘The Dark Day.’ Since the time of Moses no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration, has ever been recorded. The description of this event, as given by eyewitnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by the prophet Joel, twenty-five hundred years previous to their fulfillment: ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.’ Joel 2:31.” –The Great Controversy, p. 308.
5. When did the last predicted sign take place?
Mark 13:25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
Revelation 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
“In 1833, two years after Miller began to present in public the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appeared which were promised by the Saviour as tokens of his second advent.” –The Great Controversy, p. 333.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
6. To what glorious event did these natural phenomena point?
Matthew 24:30-33 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
“One of the most solemn and yet most glorious truths revealed in the Bible is that of Christ’s second coming to complete the great work of redemption. To God’s pilgrim people, so long left to sojourn in ‘the region and shadow of death,’ a precious, joy-inspiring hope is given in the promise of His appearing, who is ‘the resurrection and the life,’ to ‘bring home again ’”–The Great Controversy, p. 299.
7. What advice did Christ give His followers?
Luke 21:28-31 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
“Christ had bidden His people watch for the signs of His advent and rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King.” –The Great Controversy, p. 308.
8. What other sign of His return was introduced by Christ?
Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
“When the Saviour pointed out to His followers the signs of his return, He foretold the state of backsliding that would exist just prior to His second advent. There would be, as in the days of Noah, the activity and stir of worldly business and pleasure seeking–buying, selling, planting, building, marrying, and giving in marriage–with forgetfulness of God and the future life. For those living at this time, Christ’s admonition is: ‘Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.’ ‘Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.’ Luke 21:34, 36.” –The Great Controversy, p. 309.