A farmer-preacher named William Miller came to New York from his home state of Massachusetts. He became interested in biblical prophecy. He created his own method to interpret Scripture. As a result, he decided in 1818 that in the year 1843 Jesus would come back to earth. For the next twenty-five years he preached and published pamphlets. As the predicted date drew closer his followers increased to between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
These followers made preparations for The End. They climbed onto house top dressed in dictated garb, they closed stores and broke up homes. It was reported that there were eleven cases of suicide and insanity. By the proclaimed date of March 21, 1843, thousands of people looked to the clouds.
With disappointment afterwards came recalculations of the figures and it was decided that there was an error because the real date should have been October 22, 1844. Later, it was decided that, even though Christ did not physically return to the earth, a reinterpretation of certain information declared Christ did come in 1844 but it was not to earth. Instead, it was a transfer of heavenly location and a shift of ministry.
Let us try to understand what we have here. This and other similar cases are an example of the danger of a little bit of knowledge. William Miller read into the Bible what he wanted and made it say what he desired. For some reason because people reinterpret the Bible, Scripture seems less believable to others.
Does this not point to our own vulnerabilities and spiritual hunger? More honest and introspective people will admit to a spiritual search. We have a vacuum, avoid, an emptiness in our lives that can only be filled by God. Many people try to fill it was pleasurable distractions or unique lifestyles. Some go to the brink of compromising common sense and available knowledge.
What mistakes do the William Miller’s and their followers of this world make? The Bible says Jesus will physically return to this earth, but in his time and at a time that no one knows and when no one is expecting. Any prediction for the return of Christ is therefore not biblical. Our concern is not to set a date, but to live a daily life of joy and love because God forgave us of our sin. Any teaching of doom, gloom, or death is not biblical.
Whatever happens at The End Time for the believer will be a glorious experience. Jesus tells us that “many will come in my name” and that we are not to believe them because they are false prophets.
Any distraction away from Jesus is not biblical. The person who says he is a modern Jesus is a false prophet because there is only one Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God. To the Searcher or the One Discourage with Formalized Religion this Prophecy-Making is another distraction away from the good intended by God for mankind.
The Bible encourages us to study the Scriptures and ask questions by “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” There is nothing wrong with studying and questioning if it is done in a humble spirit consistent with the whole teachings of God and not by selecting referred verses that support a certain preconceived notion. When Jesus does return to this earth it will be to take his children into the presence of the Loving Heavenly Father. Look for Jesus not by reinterpretation of Scripture but by preparing our lives to join him when he returns.