Wednesday, November 23, 2011
After fourteen years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would be returning to the earth on April 3, 1843. The Millerite Movement came into existence as a result of his ministry. As people bought into what he was preaching, they sold possessions which were not going to be needed. On the appointed day, groups put on white robes, climbed high places, and waited to see Jesus in the clouds. Others went to graveyards to ascend with departed loved ones. And, in Philadelphia, some society folks went out to the edge of town to avoid going with the common riff-raff of the city. Of course, nothing happened. William Miller did some more figuring, but after two more prophesied dates were set and passed, the Millerite Movement lost much of its momentum.
Miller had it right that Christ would return. The gospel writer Luke enables us to hear Jesus saying, "Then they will see the Son of Man, coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:27) Miller got that part right. What he missed was a Word of Jesus found in Mark. "But, about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32) Miller's mistake was the mistake of human arrogance which causes us to think we can know what only God knows.
Of course, Miller was not the first, nor has he been the last to make such a monumental error. The scripture is clear that the "when" of the coming of Christ is unknown and can never be known by anyone of us. But, it does not change the reality that there will come a dawn unlike any others in that it will usher in the moment in history when the book will be closed on human history as we know it. In the meantime Advent calls us to live today as if the sun has dawned on the day of His coming.