I've been a Seventh-day Adventist since birth--and I've been a baptized member for nine of my 22 years. For all those years I've heard my pastors, teachers, and parents say "Jesus is coming again!" or "Jesus is coming soon!"
I've sung all the songs, watched the lectures, taken the classes, and visited all the Adventist Historical sites. I am the perfect, stereotypical Adventist. The date October 22 has always had an ominous ring to it, though nothing bad has ever happened to me on it.
Then today in my Old Testament Studies class, I was given a new way to look at this date. October 22nd wasn't the Great Disappointment, as all of us in the church call it. It was the Great Anticipation. Our ancestors believed that Jesus was going to come back to earth, to take them out of this sin sick world.
October 23rd was the day of disappointment. When the clock stuck midnight on that cold morning the hopes of many were crushed. Hiram Edson said, "We wept and wept until the day dawn." Many of these early Adventists left the movement. They had been disappointed several times earlier, and this was the final straw.
But the reason I know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is on a mission sent from God is this: we still exist. We shouldn't. Everyone should have given up after October 22, 1844, but they didn't. In December of 1844 William Miller wrote in the Midnight Cry, "I have set my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. And that [the time God gives me more light] is today, Today, and TODAY until He comes."
In the days surrounding the Disappointment God's truth was given to many, and shared with all who would listen. They had the right day, but the wrong event. Jesus wasn't supposed to come to earth that day, but instead was to enter the Most Holy Place in Heaven to act as our Lawyer.
F. E. Beldon's song says it best:
We know not the hour of the Master's appearing;
But signs all foretell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return--'tis the promise most cheering--
But we know not the hour.
He will come, [He will come]
Let us watch and be ready
He will come, [He will come]d
He will come in the clouds of His Father's bright glory
But we know not the hour.
We don't know when Christ will return, but that doesn't matter. We know THAT He will come, and that's all that matters.
Father, we know that Your Son has promised to come back to this earth to take us to Heaven to live with You there. May that coming be soon, but more importantly, may we be ready for His coming. This is my prayer for all those who read this. I pray this in the name of Jesus--He who came to earth, died as a the substitution for our death penalty, rose again on the third day, and is now in Heaven as our advocate. Amen.
Date: Sabbath, July 12, 2014
Time: 8:35 pm local time (2:35 pm EST)
Place: Leiden, the Netherlands
I’m very overjoyed to let you know that I’m caught up with my blogging. I’m writing today’s post today. How cool is that?!
We started our day quite late today—it was almost 10 o’clock by the time we left our hotel this morning. We walked for about 20 minutes until we got to a place called De Brucht, which was an old fortress. It was fairly private and had steps to sit on, so it was a great place for us to have church, which was put on by Sharon, both Laughlins, and Kathy. I was pulled in to help teach/line out a song. They wanted to sing “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” but no one knew it. We did managed to get a good chunk to sing it though, and I was very glad of that.
Kathy talked for a while, asking us to look at the characteristics and ideas that we’ve been learning about this month. Specifically the idea of all the enemies. Religious enemies, political enemies—no one was free of enemies it seemed. One innocent Hungarian after World War II was called in for questioning. “Who are your enemies?” he was asked. “I don’t have any enemies,” he replied. “No enemies?” demanded the incredulous guard, “How can you have no enemies?” Then she compared it to what Jesus tells us to do to and for our enemies. We are instructed to pray for them and love them.
Dr. Wohlers walked us into the oldest parts of Leiden after church, where we got to see a church where John Robinson, one of the Puritans, was buried at 49 years. He also showed us the alms house where they lived. Then we took the train a few stops (about 30 minutes or so) to Haarlem.
We got off the train and walked for 15 minutes or so until we found the blue awning with Ten Boom Juweliers written on it. We were finally on Barteljorisstraat! I’ve wanted to come here for most of my life! It was still too early go get into the museum, so we walked through the market square and entered St. Baavo’s church where we got to see the King of all Organs (which is already the king of the instruments). It’s a beautiful, extremely tall and ornate structure, with red wood and gold leaf. Simply gorgeous.
We were given some time to find food and were told to get back to the Beje (ten Boom house) by quarter of one. I managed to get myself separated from everyone else in the group, so I walked around, thinking I knew how to get back (it was only a couple of blocks), but about 12 minutes later I had to go into a shop and ask for directions. It turns out I went the wrong direction out of the market square. But I made it in time.
We entered the Beje and were ushered up to the second floor (Tante Jans’ rooms) and told to sit in her sitting room. There our guide told us their story and showed us pictures of the family. At one point she gave us a chance to stretch our legs, and Dr. Laughlin spied a copy of the words to “You are my hiding place.” I played their piano, and our group sang it. What a perfect song to sing in that place.
We were able to go up to Corrie’s room and see the hidden room. The opening is in the closet, behind the bottom shelf. There is enough standing room behind the wall for eight people, but it would be very tight. There is exactly enough room for them to stand in a line, no movement, no sitting, and no bathroom facilities.
They have removed part of the wall to the hidden room, so I climbed in that way and have my picture taken in the room. I didn’t want to smile, since it’s not a happy room, but it was a place of safety.
Our tour ended in the dining room where every morning and evening Father ten Boom read from the Bible to his family. The family motto, Jesus is Overwinnaar (Jesus is Victorious) is embroidered on a sampler and hanging on the wall. Corrie made another piece of embroidery, which is displayed backward at the beginning of the tour. You see a mess of tangled threads. Then this poem is read:
My life is but a weaving
At this point the sampler is turned over, showing a brilliant crown, revealing God’s ultimate plan for His children.
After the ten Boom house we were released and allowed to go back to the hotel if we wished. Dr. Wohlers had found us an organ concert, though, and both Laughlins, Kathy, Chris Dant, and I went to it. It was all late Romantic/early 20th century French organ works, so not exactly my favorite repertoire, but such a blessing on this Sabbath. The music was simply beautiful and it allowed me to retreat into my thoughts and experience a blessing.
After the concert I got permission to go up into the organ loft to look at the console. When I got up there, there were two organists up there (neither one had played in the concert), and they seemed slightly annoyed that I was there. I was polite and friendly, and they let me look (not play) at the console for a few minutes. Then the male organist walked me down. As we walked down the stairs I dropped the name John Brombaugh (who built the organ) and described the five organs on campus. He was thrilled and said he would look them up. He also said (I think) that he is the organist at the Adventist church in town, which is really quite amazing! It’s a small, small world!
I’m back at the hotel right now, and am trying to stay awake long enough so I can sleep tonight.
Love to all, and I miss you! I’ll be home Tuesday evening!
The orchestra starts. Strings and a few winds and brass. It sounds like a great multitude is walking--almost marching. Then the choir comes in:
The men and altos sing above Philipp Nicolai's chorale tune: Wachet auf! Wachet auf! Wake up! Wake up!
It's the story of the ten wise virgins from Matthew 25. They all had their lamps, but fell asleep when the Bridgroom failed to come when expected. When the Bridegroom finally did appear, only 5 of the virgins had enough oil.
I write this on October 22nd, a day that will mean a lot to my Seventh-day Adventist friends and readers, but not a lot to anyone else. The short version of the story says that William Miller, a Deist turned Baptist preacher studied the Bible extensively and came to the conclusion that Jesus would return to this earth to cleanse the sanctuary (see Daniel 8:14) somewhere around 1843, finally settling on Samuel Snow's date of October 22, 1844. That day, Yom Kippur, was the fulfillment of the 2300 day prophecy.
But Jesus didn't come. Later revelations showed that Jesus wasn't supposed to come that day, but instead moved on to the heavenly judgment, actively proving to the universe that God is just and that sinners who ask for his cleansing blood will receive it.
Bach to Bach...
We're in the middle movement now of the cantata no. 140. It's the very familiar "Sleepers Awake."
William Miller was the watchman. He said that Jesus was coming! With the best light he had, he even tried to set a date. But most importantly he shared the love of Jesus. That was his main point. He said "Jesus is coming," but also, more importantly, shared the love of Christ and the importance of having a saving relationship with him.
Adventists learned not to set dates. We learned that setting the date isn't important. It's just important to be ready, to have our lamps trimmed and burning.
After the Great Disappointment, William Miller didn't give up hope! He wrote in "The Midnight Cry" on December 5, 1855 the following note, "Although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged... I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light--and that is Today, TODAY, and TODAY until He comes, and I see Him for whom my soul yearns."
I think my favorite (or at least one of my favorite) old Advent songs is "We Know Not the Hour" (SDAH 604), especially the refrain. The women and men split several times, though only for a few notes each time. The women sing "He will come" with a dotted crunch of a full step and the men sing quarter notes in octaves "He will come." To me those quarter notes are as effective as any Baroque motor rhythm to keep the assurance of Christ's soon coming.
The Adventist pionners had faith in Jesus coming, even when their hearts had been broken by his failure to appear on October 22, 1844. But their faith never wavered. "He will come" was their eternal song.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.