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WHILE the work of the judgment hour, or period, the cleansing of the sanctuary, is proceeding in the heavenly temple above, the Lord sends to the world a special message of preparation for the coming of the Lord.
It would not be the divine way to let this solemn judgment in heaven come unheralded to men. Daniel's prophecy had fixed the time of its beginning; and the question asked in the prophet's hearing, "How long shall be the vision . . to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?" suggested that when the time came, the truths of God that had been trodden underfoot through the ages would be lifted up and proclaimed anew to all the world.
With the coming of the judgment hour, in the year 1844, there arose just such a work, a definite gospel movement, that has ever since been carrying the message for the hour to the ends of the earth.
The Way Prepared for the Rise of the Movement
But there was a preliminary work to be done, to prepare the way for the definite advent movement and message.
In the days of Israel of old, as the time for the cleansing of the sanctuary drew near, the people were forewarned of the approach of the solemn hour. The day of atonement -"the tenth day of the seventh month"-was a typical hour of judgment. All the people were to prepare their hearts for that great day.
To this end, the Lord appointed the first day of the seventh month a day of sounding of the trumpets. Lev. 23:24. The silver trumpets, pealing forth on that day, proclaimed to all that the day of atonement was near at hand, when every case would be brought in review before the mercy-seat by the ministry of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary.
True to the type, as the year 1844 drew near, when the great antitypical day of atonement was to open and the closing work of Christ to begin in the most holy place of the heavenly temple, the trumpet call of the approaching judgment hour was set pealing through all Christendom.
Events of the closing years of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth, had stirred up Bible students to give greater attention to the study of the prophetic scriptures. It was seen that signs of the latter days were appearing, and that every line of historic prophecy pointed to the near approach of Christ's second coming.
Here and there students of the Word saw that the 2300year period of Dan. 8: 14, as explained in the ninth chapter, would end soon; and some arrived at the correct date, and looked to the year 1844 as the time when the judgment hour would come.
Witnesses were raised up in Europe - in Holland, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries. Joseph Wolff, the missionary to the Levant, preached in Greece, Palestine,
Turkey, Afghanistan, and other regions the coming of the judgment hour. William Miller and many associates preached the message throughout America.
Writing in the days just before 1844, Mourant Brock, a clergyman of the Church of England, said:
"It is not merely in Great Britain that the expectation of the near return of the Redeemer is entertained, and the voice of warning raised, but also in America, India, and on the continent of Europe. In America, about three hundred ministers of the word are thus preaching 'this gospel of the kingdom;' whilst in this country, about seven hundred of the Church of England are raising the same cry."-"Advent Tracts," Vol. II, p. 135 (1844).
Not all who joined in the awakening cry at this time explained the prophecies alike, or emphasized the definite year 1844 as the beginning of the hour of God's judgment; though in America, Europe, and Asia the clear message of the ending of the prophetic time in 1844 was proclaimed with power by many voices. And as the time came, the world was ringing with the call to prepare to meet the judgment hour, even as the hosts of Israel were called by trumpet peals to prepare for the typical day of atonement.
The nature of the event to come at the end of the 2300 years was not understood by these early heralds of the advent hope. The general expectation was that the judgment hour meant the end of the world and the coming of the Lord. Though the word of prophecy indicated clearly that there was a special work to be done on earth while the judgment hour was proceeding in heaven, this was not clear to Bible students at the time. So when the prophetic period ended and the Lord did not come, believers in the prophetic truths were disappointed and unbelievers scoffed. But the call to prepare for the judgment hour was the message due to the world at that time, and the awakening cry was raised on every continent.
In the days of the Saviour's first advent, the disciples and the populace had proclaimed the triumphal entry of
Christ into Jerusalem. They were at once disappointed; instead of enthroning Him as king, they witnessed His crucifixion. But in proclaiming the coming of Zion's King to Jerusalem, they were fulfilling the prophecy that had been uttered, and were giving the message for that day, notwithstanding their mistaken view as to the events that would follow.
Just so the trumpet call of the coming judgment hour was the message for the days of 1844; and the message was given. attended by the power of God. When the hour was at hand, the providence of God raised up faithful witnesses to proclaim it.
All this was preparatory to the rise of the definite advent movement of the prophecy, when the hour of God's judgment should begin.
The Closing Work
In vision, on the Isle of Patmos, the prophet John was given a view of the closing work of the gospel on earth, while the closing ministry of Christ was proceeding in heaven above. The prophet wrote:
"I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Rev. 14:6, 7.
The message further warned against following the ways of the great apostasy; and in the vision the prophet was shown people in all lands taking their stand at the call of the message. The angel described them in these words:
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Verse 12.
Much as pictures appear to us when thrown in succession upon a screen, these scenes must have passed before the vision of the prophet. He saw the coming of the hour, the rise of the movement, and its extension into all lands; he heard the message sounding, and saw the kind of people doing the work
- a people keeping "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Centuries had passed, after this word was written in the Book, when the flight of time at last brought the hour of the prophecy the year 1844. That very year witnessed the rise of the definite advent movement which is still proclaiming the very message of the prophecy to the world.
It was in the year 1844, in New England, that a little group of believers in the blessed hope of Christ's soon coming, saw clearly, from their study of the Bible, that the New Testament platform of "the commandments of God, and the faith