The 2300-Day vision and prophecy of Daniel 8:13-14 has been misunderstood to have been fulfilled in 1844. This document contains some thoughts on Mrs. White’s references to the completion of the 2300 Days in 1844 and the interpretations of William Miller and Uriah Smith that have influenced the prophetic views of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We will also define the “Judgment of the Living” and show how it is not restricted to 1844, but is an end-time event.
Summary and Controversy – Between the years of 1842 and 1844, a man named William Miller was studying the book of Daniel. He reached the conclusion that the words of Daniel 8:13-14 referred to his day and the reference to the “2300 Days” pointed to the Second Coming of Christ to “cleanse the earth.” How exciting it must have been for Miller to think that Christ would return in his own day! He read this:
“‘How long will the vision be, concerning the daily and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?’ And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’”(Daniel 8:13-14)
Mr. Miller believed these words in the Bible held a 2300-year time prophecy leading from 457 BC to AD 1844. Thinking the reference to the “sanctuary” represented the earth, he and his followers expected Christ to return to earth and cleanse it. Christ did not come. The people were disappointed. This event became known as The Great Disappointment of 1844.
After various recalculations and several dates had passed, Miller and his followers determined that Christ had entered into an invisible work of Judgment which He began at that time. They claimed He entered the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary and began the work of Atonement, also called the “cleansing of the sanctuary.” Miller’s time-line and both the proposed outcomes were unsupported by Scripture. This was pointed out to them by other denominations in the following years, but, to save face, they clung to the theory that some phase of the Atonement began in 1844. They called this phase, “The Judgment of the Living.”
The following passage from Mrs. Ellen G. White has been argued to “prove” that Miller’s theory about the 2300-Day prophecy, pointing to 1844, is “unimpeachable.” Is that what it actually says?
“The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, in the giving of the first message, was ordered by God. The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment. The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and close of the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary to sustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the present truth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies. The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great advent movement of 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upon a date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they will be led to rest in a false security, and many will not be undeceived until it is too late.” White, The Great Controversy, p. 457.1
The opening quotation here is from The Great Controversy, Chapter 26, “A Work of Reform” and has been used to conclude that there is no room for error in Miller’s time computations. And yet Miller’s theories are full of error from the beginning to the end. If Ellen White was truly supporting Miller’s view of the 2300-Day time prophecy, and the subsequent interpretation of the Millerites when Christ did not return, then she is in the wrong according to Scripture. But it is possible that she does not actually support this view. Her statement above may not be saying what we think it says, since that would be in opposition to the Bible. In fairness, let’s take a closer look at this particular passage and see if there is a different way to look at it than we have assumed.
Historic Background – This chapter in The Great Controversy relates to the early history of the Advent revival. The “first message” that Mrs. White refers to was at the beginning of the Millerite movement when Mr. Miller set the date for Christ’s coming in 1843. Finding that it did not happen at that time, Miller went back and recalculated his dates until he determined in his mind that the correct date would be in January of 1844.
When Miller and his followers discovered that there is a Biblical Calendar which begins the year in the Spring, they refocused their attention on the Spring season in 1844. After this they discovered that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” related to the Fall Feast of Atonement and they revised their date again to the Autumn. After this, they were informed that the Karaite Jews had a better understanding of the Biblical Calendar and they said the start of the year usually comes one month later than decreed by the Rabbinical court. They based this on the ripening of the barley crop in Jerusalem in the years leading up to that time (which may be different than we see today). So the Millerites again revised the start of the year, leaving behind the Rabbanite date in March and following the Karaite date of April 19 that year. In April they followed the Karaite advice and based the New Year on the visual sighting of the crescent new moon instead of on the astronomical conjunction as the Rabbis were doing. This allowed them to count forward to October as the seventh month when the Day of Atonement would fall.
By this time Miller and his friends had learned a lot of things that they had not previously known. But when it came time to establish the correct date for the Day of Atonement in 1844, they failed to follow through with the Karaite dating which again would have led them to observe the new moon in the seventh month in the same way that they did in the first month. Instead of sighting the moon to establish the first day of the seventh month, they merely calculated a number of days starting with the New Year. This mistake led them to set the wrong date for the Atonement that year. They expected the Day of Atonement to fall on October 22 but it would have actually occurred on October 23 in their location. At this point they still lacked much understanding about their topic. They still did not know that the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14 is in heaven, that Christ had become our High Priest on the day of His resurrection or that the “cleansing” comes at the end of the age.
But they had been pointed to several key facts that have been brought back to our attention today. Perhaps it would have been well for them to follow up with these points in continuing their search for truth. These important points include:
- God has a calendar. (Genesis 1:14; Exodus 12:2.)
- God has scheduled yearly Feasts that explain end-time events and continue to be valid days of worship throughout the Gospel Dispensation. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
- The sighting of the new crescent moon is critical to God’s true Calendar and God’s Feasts are counted from this observation. (Deuteronomy 16:1; Leviticus 23)
- The Rabbinic Calendar sets the start of the New Year too early in the Spring. The Passover season should correspond to the ripening of the barley in April – May and not March – April. (Deuteronomy 16:9; Exodus 12:4; Exodus 9:31)
- The Sanctuary has been relocated to the heavenly realm. (Acts 7:48-50; Hebrews 8:1-2)
- Christ is the High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
- The “cleansing of the sanctuary” refers to a Day of Atonement event to happen at the end of the age. (Revelation 8:1-5)
Context – Immediately following The Great Disappointment of October 1844, there were specific events occurring among the believers that caused concern. Primarily, after the time passed for the expected coming of Christ, there were people who pressed on, trying repeatedly to set new dates for the Second Coming.
“Some were led into the error of repeatedly fixing upon a definite time for the coming of Christ. The light which was now shining on the subject of the sanctuary should have shown them that no prophetic period extends to the second advent; that the exact time of this advent is not foretold. But, turning from the light, they continued to set time after time for the Lord to come, and as often they were disappointed.” White, The Great Controversy, p. 456.1
Mrs. White counseled that setting new dates, re-computing Miller’s timeline and trying to find the exact date of the Second Coming should not be done. This is the context in which she wrote the previous quotation regarding Miller’s “computation of the prophetic periods.” Without being seen in this context, Mrs. White’s statement, that Miller’s dates were not to be impeached, might easily be viewed as validating Miller’s predictions. However, we cannot ignore the context of this statement within its surrounding paragraphs where she emphasizes that other people continued trying to set more and more dates for the Second Coming in the years following 1844.
Explanation of the Passage – Mrs. White says that God ordered the work of preaching a time of Judgment and there is to be no question that God was behind the 1843 revival.
“The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, … was ordered by God.”
This statement does not say that God approved of the date that they set in 1844 as either the Second Coming or the Day of Judgment, but only that God ordained that it was time for mankind to preach a message of impending judgment beginning in 1843.
The next sentence has been thought to say that Miller’s theory was true, but considering the surrounding context, this is not what it says. Evaluate the key statement carefully, noting the subject and verb:
“The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment.” (GC 457.1)
Grammatically, Mrs. White’s statement actually says: William Miller’s “computation … stands without impeachment.” What this statement does not say is that Miller’s conclusions, based on these computations, were without flaw. She pointed out that Miller’s dates were exactly as he had set them and no one was to go back and re-compute Miller’s dates in order to set other dates. This is what we realize when we look at the entire context of this passage. She does not say that Miller’s theory was correct.
Mrs. White’s statement also does not say that the 2300-Day prophecy ended in 1844, but that William Miller placed the close of the 2300 Days in the Autumn of 1844. Whether he was right or wrong, that was what he did.
It does say, however, that they had “new light” after the passing of 1844, (“the light which was now shining.”) And this “new light” revealed to them that “no prophetic period extends to the second advent.” In another place she said,
“Christ gave to His disciples truths whose breadth and depth and value they little appreciated, or even comprehended, and the same condition exists among the people of God today. We too have failed to take in the greatness, to perceive the beauty of the truth which God has entrusted to us today. Should we advance in spiritual knowledge, we would see the truth developing and expanding in lines of which we have little dreamed, but it will never develop in any line that will lead us to imagine that we may know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power. Again and again have I been warned in regard to time-setting. There will never again be a message for the people of God that will be based on time. We are not to know the definite time either for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or for the coming of Christ (The Review and Herald, March 22, 1892).” White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 1052.4
This phrase, “a message … based on time,” has been overused to say that there will be no more time prophecies at the end of time. But to the contrary, Scripture tells us there are still many time prophecies and emerging information reserved for the time of the end. But there will never be another time-line like Miller attempted for establishing the date of the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit nor of the Second Coming. The Bible contains no continuum leading from any event in Scripture to Christ’s Advent.
Sister White very pointedly addressed the problem of that day: people were taking Miller’s timeline and reworking it to predict different dates for the Second Coming. After Miller’s theory failed, they learned that there is no way to calculate the coming of Christ by reviewing past prophecies. The people of her day were to stop trying to do so by reworking Miller’s numbers with the hope of finding a date hidden in the prophetic books.
It could be very damaging to continue trying to predict Christ’s return. It would cast doubt on the 1844 revival, it would lead people to distrust other prophetic teachings and it would eventually cause the church to procrastinate their preparation for Christ’s return.
These two supporting statements:
- that they were not to continue in date-setting,
- that Scripture does not give a definite date for the Second Coming,
should verify that Mrs. White was not supporting Miller’s theories, but rather she was counseling the people of that day to leave Miller’s timeline alone and move on to something else for their studies. Good advice for us today.
Scripture is our Safeguard – Mrs. White further explained how we can inadvertently arrive at the wrong conclusions regarding Scripture. This is critically true for us today.
“Those who did not search the Scriptures for themselves were content to accept conclusions that were in accordance with their desires. By argument, sophistry, the traditions of the Fathers, and the authority of the church, many endeavored to overthrow the truth.” White, The Great Controversy, p. 455.1
Her statement becomes a timely message for us. Without a careful study of Scripture, we can continue to be misled to believe that Miller’s prophetic timeline was without error. But Scripture shows that he was absolutely incorrect in everything that he theorized, from blending two texts in Daniel that had no business being combined, to his belief that “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” meant that Christ was coming to cleanse the earth. The only truth of the 1844 movement was that it was a spiritual revival that was orchestrated by God. They, and we, need to move on from that starting point and not let Miller’s theories become the end of our growth. We should avoid contention over this topic and work together as a body to discover whatever truths God has for us at this time. Praise God for the words of advice found in Ephesians 4. Christ has given each of us a measure of the Holy Spirit to equip us for our unique role in helping the body come together in unity and love. This should be our primary focus in these days of sealing.
“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, … but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
Finding the Truth – Ellen White has proven herself to be a faithful witness to the Scriptures, but if we find an apparent discrepancy, how do we deal with it? The Bible alone is our safeguard against error. We need to go back, read more, look at the context and let the Bible have the final word. After we understand the Bible truth, we can look at what Mrs. White said and we will usually find that it will harmonize with the Bible. But it may not always say what we thought it said before we knew the Bible truth! We may need to distrust what we have been taught by others and cling to the Bible as our guide.
A full and complete knowledge of Scripture is the only thing that can settle this dispute over the 2300 Days. It is only in knowing the truth from Scripture that the errors in this doctrine can be identified. If we do not know the Word of God, we could believe the error about the 2300 Days and accept that the popular Adventist view is set in concrete, even when the Word of God says otherwise.
It is interesting that within this same passage in The Great Controversy, Mrs. White says there was sophistry that kept the people from seeing and accepting the new light. She also reminds us that the Children of Israel did not enter the promised land because of unbelief. In these two seemingly unrelated topics—sophistry and unbelief—she has brought our precise situation to light. The Lord may have been responsible for opening the subject of judgment in 1843, but because the people of that generation did not follow through and press on in faith until His coming, He did not come. Because of their lack of faith and follow-through, they have been left with error and sophistry that is still dragging us backwards. Here we are again today, coming back around to a time of judgment and all these same topics are brought up again. Will it be said of our people as it was in Jeremiah’s day, “My people know not the judgment of the Lord?” (Jeremiah 8:7) Or in Hosea’s day, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge?”
Errors. “You must prophecy again.” – The Bible shows us that Miller’s view of the 2300 Days is incorrect in both its timing and event. But does that pull down our whole house of cards? No, it does not. Miller’s views on Daniel are not a doctrinal pillar of our church, despite what many of today’s church leaders are saying. Bringing up questions about Miller’s theories should send us back to the Bible to discover the truth. Do we prefer Bible truth? Or a belief based on “what we think Ellen White said?” What is most worrisome is that we are clinging to many incorrect beliefs that have come down from that day and we have stopped looking at Scripture! Miller may have made mistakes, but at least he was looking!
- One of the errors that came out of the Disappointment is the assumption that Christ entered the Most Holy Place in 1844. Scripture says differently. It says that He entered into the presence of His Father, in the Most Holy Place, at His Ascension.
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:11-12)
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
As Christ was lifted up in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11), He was brought right into the presence of the Father.
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” (Daniel 7:13)
Are we to think that there continued to be a veil between Father and Son as was in the earthly sanctuary? Does Christ need to be shielded from the glory of God? Are there actually two separate apartments in the heavenly sanctuary? Or rather, do we believe in the words of the author of Hebrews who said, “He entered the Most Holy Place,” “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us?” (Hebrews 9:24) Heaven IS the Most Holy Place.
From where did they get this theory that Christ began the Atonement in 1844? A follower of Miller, Hiram Edson was given a vision by God on the morning of October 23. He saw Christ standing at the golden altar of incense and dressed in priestly attire—in essence the view of Christ described in Revelation 8:3. Another man, his name unknown to me, reached the conclusion that this meant Christ entered into the work of Atonement in 1844. But they interpreted the meaning of this vision incorrectly. Just because 1844 was the time when they first discovered that Christ was our High Priest, did not mean that this was the time that He newly began that work. This thinking reflected their immature understanding of the Scriptures.
In Edson’s vision was another element that came to the forefront. God pointed him to Revelation 10. There are two key passages in that chapter that apply to this topic. First, God was showing them that they could not truly understand the prophecies of Daniel until the book was fully opened—and that was not going to happen until the time of the 7th Seal.
“He had in His hand a little book, opened.… and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, … that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the Seventh Angel, when he is about to sound [the 7th Trumpet], the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:2, 6-7)
So they were not to know about the contents of the little book of Daniel in 1844. But the other passage explained to them what they were supposed to do next. It says,
“And he said unto me, ‘Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.’” (Revelation 10:11)
Right up front God told them that they were going to have to revise their prophecy once the book of Daniel was opened. They should have taken that as a warning that Miller had drawn the wrong conclusions. Then they should have pressed into the minds of our people that God would someday give us a new understanding of Daniel’s 2300-Day Vision and at that time we would preach a new message. Instead, they have preached Miller’s prophetic timeline for 175 years as though it were gospel and the church has dug in her heels, resisting any correction. Now, as we approach the “time of the end,” and the time for the book of Daniel to be opened, our people cling dogmatically to error and have no room to accept the truth of Daniel. Individually we need to be willing to lay down everything we know about Bible prophecy and pick back up again only that which is in accord with Scripture.
- Miller was also incorrect in the way that he merged the verses of Daniel 8:14 with a different vision—the vision of the 70 Weeks of Daniel 9:24. Miller was wrong in his assumption that the word “cut off” (Daniel 9:24) meant that there was one time prophecy that was cut off from another. These two prophetic timelines had no business being blended together. The prophecy of Daniel 8 relates to a Little Horn Antichrist who appears at the end of time, just before the Second Coming of Christ when the Saints will be given the kingdom.
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:21-22)
In contrast, the prophetic time period of the 70 Weeks related to the Jews as they came out of their captivity in Babylon. It spans the 490 years from their release until the coming of Messiah to the earth at His First Coming.
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, … from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince.…” (Daniel 9:24-25)
These two time prophecies are completely unrelated to each other! One points to the time of Christ’s first coming, the other to the Atonement and His second coming.
- Miller’s theory of the 2300 Days does not even take into account the Little Horn and the surrounding context in which the verse is found. The 2300-Day prophecy of Daniel 8 is an end-time message. The question regards the Little Horn and so must be the answer. The Little Horn is the end-time Antichrist and the “2300 days” explain the duration of his reign of terror.
At that time, people will be in great distress and asking, “How long?” View this prophecy in its context.
“And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
“Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, ‘How long will the vision be,concerning the daily and the transgression of desolation, giving both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?’ And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.’” (Daniel 8:9-14)
The sanctuary of God, the truth and the host of heaven are trampled under foot for 2300 days. And they are trampled by the Little Horn who will exalt himself “as high as the Prince of the host” and take away the “daily.” As we read in Daniel 7:21-22, this same Little Horn will persecute the Saints until the Ancient of Days intervenes and gives the kingdom to the Saints. This leads us right up to the Second Coming of Christ and not to some forgotten revival in 1844. And remember, we are not to attempt establishing a date for the Second Coming connected to any past prophetic timelines. But when that 2300 days begins, be sure that the Saints will know it and begin the countdown.
- The 2300 Days are not to be interpreted as “day-for-a-year.” The 2300 “Days” of Daniel are in Hebrew, ereb boqer, evening-mornings. This is the precise phrase that is used in Genesis when God created the earth. “And the evening and the morning (ereb boqer) were the first day.” We believe that God created the earth in 7 literal days, so why is this ereb boqer no longer pointing to literal days in Daniel 8? We have done malice to the Scriptures to insist on using a day-for-a-year calculations where Scripture does not tell us to do so. These are days, literal days, which account for about 6.5 years. This becomes important to us when we find out what these days are counting towards.
- The Advent Pioneers may have entered into the “judgment of the living” around the time of 1844, but it is absolutely incorrect for the church today to continue teaching that the judgment should be looked at as having happened in 1844. Their judgment is not our judgment. And as long as we are preoccupied with looking backwards at the judgment of 1844, we will be oblivious to the judgment that must take place for us—or for the end-time people.
What is the “Judgment of the Living?” And how can I say this didn’t happen in 1844? Christ must enter into a time of judgment for the people who will be alive at the time of His Second Coming. These people do not have their entire lifespan to linger in making their decision, so the decision must be forced. Joel 3 gives us an accurate picture, “Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision. … For there will I sit to judge the heathen all around.” (Joel 3:12, 14) This definition of the word “judgment” describes a time for everyone to make their final decision whether they will serve God or not.
Another explanation of this time of judgment is found within both the Feast of Trumpets and the Seven Trumpets of Revelation. The Feast of Trumpets comes 10 days before the Day of Atonement to announce that it is time to prepare for the judgment. Following this same pattern, the 7 Trumpets of Revelation are the “shaking of the powers of heaven” happening during the 6th Seal, and announcing the Atonement in the 7th Seal. (Revelation 6:12-13, Shaking of the powers of heaven. Revelation 8:1-12, the act of the Atonement. Revelation 11:15, 19, at the 7th Trumpet, the sanctuary and Atonement are finished.) The 7 Trumpets of Revelation are a loud wake-up alarm to the world that the time of Atonement and the Day of the Lord is nearing. Again we can see this in Joel.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the LORD.” (Joel 2:30-31)
It is true that in opening up the work of judgment during the Advent movement, God had brought the people to understand that it was time to get the sin out of their lives, out of their hearts and out of His church. This can be considered as “cleansing the sanctuary.” But did they persist until this work was done? If so, they would have gone home shortly afterwards. But they did not cleanse their hearts as an act of Atonement. This leaves the final Atonement to happen to a different people at a different time. So maybe it can be said in a way that Christ started the work of Atonement for that generation of people—as in, He started to cleanse them. But this does not mean that He entered the Most Holy Place, or that He began His priestly work, or that the time of the Atonement happened in 1844. But one thing is true. He is still trying to find a people who will be cleansed of sin.
Since Christ did not come to the 1844 generation, it should go without saying that the entire “judgment of the living,” including the 3 Angels’ Messages, would have to start again in the final generation that would live to see Him come. These concepts have not rightly been interpreted by our people as applying to the final days, but are still taught as having happened in the 19th century. Mrs. White’s writings continue to be misapplied because they “do not search the Scriptures for themselves.”
- Our assumption that the 3 Angels’ Messages are linked to the time of the Advent movement is also untrue. These messages began to sound in the days of the early SDA church with the call to restore the seventh-day Sabbath. The cry of the First Angel, to return to the worship of the One True God, has continued to reverberate since it was first given in that day. “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,” (Revelation 14:7) But when the Pioneers did not follow through to the Second Coming, the messages of the last 2 Angels were never given. Babylon didn’t fall and the Mark of the Beast didn’t materialize. All three of these messages are to sound again in the last days.
The 3 Angels give an end-time message that takes place during the “Battle of Armageddon,” the Loud Cry and the 7 Trumpets. It is the final testimony that is given to the world. God is still waiting for the fullness of the Sabbath to be accepted by the church and for God’s true worship to be restored. Can we hear God issuing a call today to return to His true worship?
We have not accurately placed the timing of the 3 Angels and their messages into today’s time-frame. This error is due in part to our stubborn refusal to accept God’s Feast Days. Along with the 7th-day Sabbath, these Feasts form the heart of the First Angel’s Message, calling God’s people to return to true worship. Fear the true God, give Him glory, for the hour of His judgment is here! Worship the Creator in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. Don’t believe this is their message? Compare it with the 3rd Angel and you will see that the entire message is a battle over worship and which god will be obeyed.
- A significant factor that kept the early church from discovering the truth was the part played by several key men in the early years following 1844. Uriah Smith, being key among these, had researched earlier writings regarding the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and came to his own suppositions regarding these prophetic books. He published his ideas under the title The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation and every SDA household in North America has at least one copy of this book gathering dust on their shelves. (Southern Publishing Association, revised 1944.)
Despite some serious flaws, Smith’s theories form the foundation for our Daniel and Revelation seminars and are still taught today in our schools and seminaries. His views are also used to explain the books of Daniel and Revelation in our SDA Bible Commentary series. His book formed the foundation for the “Historicist View” of Bible Prophecy. Being the best theory that they had in the early days, some of his ideas also show up in Mrs. White’s writings as well. When we think we are clinging to “what the church believes,” we are actually fighting tooth and nail to hold onto what Uriah Smith believed in 1900.
In writing his book on Daniel and Revelation, Smith formed his main basis for the overall view of the kingdoms of Daniel 2, 7 and 8 based on the writings of Saint Hippolytus of Rome’s Commentary on Daniel. What is the problem with Hippolytus’ theory of Daniel? It was actually pretty good for having been written in 211 AD, but Scripture says the book of Daniel is both closed and sealed until the time of the end. In 200 AD, Hippolytus could not have understood the true interpretation of Daniel any more than did Miller or Smith or even Ellen White.
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
“And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9)
This same Uriah Smith became the Managing Editor in charge of the publishing house in Battle Creek where he worked for 50 years. Smith was influential in the publishing work and was possibly even more influential in making sure that his theories of Daniel, Revelation—and his pet project, 1844—were more than generously displayed in any writings that he came in contact with. I am not prone to conspiracy theories, but I do suspect that he had a heavy hand when it came to inserting the phrase “in 1844” every time there is a mention of the 2300 Days. And I believe many of these usages are uncalled for—especially in light of Scripture which discounts his theory. Smith was continually at odds with Ellen White and historic accounts reveal that she did not trust him to stand up for right.
Conclusion – Mrs. White has many references to the close of the 2300 Days in 1844. Many of these can be convincing as they appear to support our assumption that the Atonement began in 1844. But Daniel was sealed to her comprehension as well as to everyone else’s. As a true spokesman for God, once the truth about Daniel is revealed, Sister White would be quick to admit that some of her prophetic interpretations were influenced by the men in her day and may not appear accurate in the full light of Scripture.
Over the years we have developed very bad habits when handling Ellen White’s writings. We don’t take the counsel that she offers on Righteousness, which fills over three quarters of her writings, but we are quick to use her as a club against our brethren. We like what she says about “new light,” but we are quick to condemn any new light before examining the Scriptures behind it. We have formed theories about what she said without understanding the Bible truth behind the passages. And we have become very lazy in our own studies because we think that Mrs. White has everything nailed down to our satisfaction; thus we supplant God as our teacher. In a way, we have begun to form many of the same attitudes that were exhibited by the Pharisees in rejecting Christ’s words and making a god of their traditions. I say this with all respect for Mrs. White as well as for those of you who are resisting the traditional mindset.
The 2300-Day prophetic interpretation of William Miller was completely incorrect in all of its aspects. This does not pull down our house around our heads because the SDA belief on this topic was never a doctrinal foundation of this church. It should never become a point of contention between believers. If we do not understand it fully, then we should either dig in and study the Scriptures regarding this prophecy, or let it go and move on to other topics. We need to learn the lessons that were brought to us by inspiration. We are not to continue trying to find the date for Christ’s Second Coming. We are to rely on Scripture as our guidepost. We must recognize that, no matter how sincere our ministers have been in the days following 1844, the book of Daniel is sealed and closed until the time of the end, and only then will it be opened by none other than Jesus Christ Himself as He stands above the earth and roars with the voice of the Lion of Judah.
I just hope and pray that the message of 1844 can be appreciated for its true value as a revival and that today we are not blinded to the truth that is vital to our time. Let us not cling to the thought that all these great and marvelous events were preserved in history for an ancient people, leaving us with no prophetic message to look forward to. If the events were great and awesome for the Advent Heralds in 1844, how much more fantastic will they be for the people who will heed the message of revival, have the faith to go through to the end, allow the Lord to cleanse them of their sins and become the Army of God proclaiming the final message of salvation to a thirsty and dying world.
“And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:9-10)
 “There was a difference of reckoning between two classes of Jews, the rabbinical and the Karaite. The rabbinical Jews followed tradition. In the early centuries they conformed their reckoning of time to harmonize with that of the Roman church, when it ruled that Easter should always be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21.
“Mr. Miller had followed them in beginning and ending the year with March 21. Some of his associates, however, after carefully studying the two systems, found the Karaite reckoning to be in harmony with the Scriptures and the seasons in Palestine, and concluded that the Jewish year would end with the new moon, April 17. The crescent of the new moon could not actually be seen by an observer until two days later, April 19. According to the ancient Jewish reckoning this later date became the first day of the new year. These facts had great significance later when the Millerites suffered their first disappointment and were seeking an explanation for it.” [Lessons in Denominational History, Department of Education, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Washington D.C., second edition 1944, p. 88]
 “They had added six Jewish months, or 177 days, and obtained the date October 13 as the first day of the seventh month. The tenth day of that month was October 22.” [Lessons, p. 90.]
 In an attempt to understand what went wrong in October of 1844, three of Miller’s followers set out to study the Scriptures and discover their errors. O.R.L. Crosier was one of these three men and he wrote a 4-part synopsis of their discoveries. One aspect of the truth that they gleaned over the next two years was that all the Biblical holy days, including the seventh-day Sabbath, were not ended at the Cross and do not reach their fulfillment until the Second Coming or afterwards. We will allow Crosier to explain the ongoing nature of God’s Feasts. Here are some excerpts from his work.
“We have evidently erred in circumscribing the latitude of their fulfillment, they being fulfilled during the Gospel Dispensation.” … “It is ascertained that the Paschal antitype began at the crucifixion; but where must it end? Let the Saviour answer. [Luke 22:15-18 quoted] The Paschal feast must be ‘fulfilled in the Kingdom of God,’ which according to verse 18, was then and is yet to ‘come.’ … One extreme of the Paschal antitype is His death, and the other His second coming, hence it spans and is fulfilled during the Gospel Dispensation.”… “ It must now appear evident that the vernal (1st advent) antitypes having begun with the opening of the Gospel Dispensation will close with its close.” … “The autumnal types were none of them fulfilled at the first advent.” … “The last act of deliverance will be at the end of the 1000 years.”[O.R.L. Crosier, “The Sanctuary,” published in The Day Star Extra, Feb. 7, 1846.] [Note: Crosier’s meaning here of “the Gospel Dispensation” is that period of time between Christ’s first coming and His second.]
 To Brother Uriah Smith, Mrs. White wrote: “We do not expect you will have any more light nor as much as you have had. We cannot trust you. We can but expect if any doubtful circumstance should arise … you would be found on the wrong side every time. … Nothing has cut me like this to find Brother Uriah and [his wife] Sister Harriet where we found them. I said in my mind, There is nothing to hope for there, no backbone to stand by the right. Uriah dumb, Harriet with her strong spirit on the wrong side, unconsecrated, controlled by evil angels in a great measure. Could we expect anything else but the same we have received? I do not.” [Letters and Manuscripts, Volume 22. Letter 3, 1869, par. 23.]