Retrospect: Error And God's Leading

January 25  Retrospect: Error And God's Leading


We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Luke 24:21, RSV.

William Miller and his fellow believers had obviously been wrong in certain aspects of their Bible interpretation and understandings. After all, Jesus did not return to earth on October 22, 1844, or anywhere near the 1840s. The question that begs asking is "Could god have been leading such a movement?"

We find the best answer in the New Testament. There we see the disciples repeatedly misinterpreting Christ's words regarding His future crucifixion and the nature of his kingdom. Not until after His resurrection did they even begin to understand what Jesus had so intently sought to teach them. But because they did not have ears to hear, they had to god through a shattering disappointment that shook the very foundations of their belief in God's leading. It would take further study and a growth in understanding before they could comprehend what had happened to them.

The problem is that God has chosen to work through human agents in the plan of salvation. Thus even those earthly situations in which God is leading have both divine and human elements. And everything touching humanity is tainted with fallibility. Such is the long history of God's seeking to work in and through human beings down through history.

More specifically to Millerism, one can only wonder, since Miller believed that the opening of the prophecies of the little book of Daniel reflected upon in Revelation 10 had seen their fulfillment in his day, why he didn't read the rest of the chapter. That is, if he believed that the book had been opened and its message was sweet in the mouth, why didn't he notice that it would be bitter in the belly(verse 10) and that another movement would arise out of the ashes of bitterness, one with a worldwide message for "many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings"(verse 11). Miller's own logic would have led him to see that God had foreseen the bitter disappointment, just as Jesus had predicted that of His disciples.

Again, if Miller could hold that he was preaching the first angel's message(Rev. 14:6, 7), and many of his followers believed they were sounding the second(verse 8), why is it that they failed to give due emphasis to the third(verse 9-12)? All three progressively lead to the Second Advent pictured in verses 14-20.

The sad fact is that God has chosen to use fallible humans in His mission on earth. The good news is that He continues to work with us in spite of our weaknesses. For that we can praise Him.

How can we ever be in doubt and uncertainty, and feel that we are orphans? It was in behalf of those who had transgressed the law that Jesus took upon Him human nature; He became like unto us, that we might have everlasting peace and assurance. We have an Advocate in the heavens, and whoever accepts Him as a personal Saviour is not left an orphan to bear the burden of his own sins(TFMB 104).