Remembering the Great Disappointment


173 years ago today, the Millerite Adventists and Christians around the world, from every denomination, were disappointed.

Like the followers of Jesus at His triumphal entry, at His death on the cross, and at the time before the Pentecost,  they were at the right place at the right time (Lk. 19:30-44, 24:13-21; Acts 1:6-8). But in misunderstanding the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, the foundational text of their movement, prepared for the wrong event. They were convicted by the signs Jesus said would happen before His Coming and the increase of the knowledge of Bible prophecy that their deliverance was near (Matt. 24:6, 7, 29).

1755 Lisbon earthquake

New England’s Dark Day

1833 Meteor Storm Started Citizen Science

In that conviction, they put their feet where their faith was and labored to spread the everlasting gospel that the hour of His judgment had come (Jn. 14:6,7).

But the promised time came and left and when it did, the true character of those in the Advent movement in America came to the light. Many departed from the Advent faith and joined the scoffers in berating those who still clung to their hope. Even professed church members and their leaders joined the ranks of those who harassed their brethren that dared to proclaim the coming of the Lord they professed to serve. Others, in departing, had fallen to fanaticism, disgusting and believers and unbelievers alike.

Great Disappointment – Repercussions

But there were those in the Millerite movement who clung to the hope of the Gospel. The  reform that the Advent movement brought in their lives, the signs preceding their disappointment, and the understanding of prophecy that came from faithfully following their convictions was too strong of a Christian experience to be denied. So they continued to preach this message, even at the height of its unpopularity, while seeking to understand why Christ had not come.

In their studies, their tearful prayers, and their deep searching of heart, God gave them their answers and in renewed hope, they moved forward. Through continued study, they received the Bible truths that many churches rejected because they went against their long-held traditions. They formed organizations, schools, and renowned hospitals that even secular doctors went to when they were sick. Even now, to this day, they proclaim the same unpopular, end-time messages given by the prophets, the early church, and even Jesus Himself, to all the world.

Rise and Progress of the Seventh-Day Adventists by J.N. Loughborough

Scoffers of God mock the belief that Jesus will return to the world (2 Pet. 3:3-5). Even professed Christians, by their indulgence of sin and refusal to spread the Advent message, deride the coming of the Lord (Lk. 12:45). But a true follower of Christ, though engaged in his daily duties, will work with one eye towards Heaven. Daily victory over sin, persistent Bible study, fervent prayer, and the fruits of the Spirit will be among the many attributes of those who are looking for a better country (Heb. 11:10, 14).

Though the faithful few among the Millerite Adventists and the Advent movement abroad did not live to see their blessed hope, they will stand in their lot of those who receive it when He comes (Dan. 12:13). They lived as men, women, and children unashamed of their peculiar faith and made great sacrifices to spread it to the world.

The experience of those who labor for the Second Coming of the Jesus today will mirror those who experienced the Great Disappointment. The signs are here, the gospel is here, and the worldwide movement to tell the world is here. Though they are mocked and scorned, even by professed Christians, who cling to tradition more than Bible truth, these Adventists, both here and abroad, will labor on unashamed and undeterred. Their love for their Savior and their conviction to warn the world will get them through any disappointment they will bear and the greatest crisis they, and the world, will soon face.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 2:1-12).

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