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The First and Second Angels' Messages of Revelation 14

Were they really fulfilled in 1844?

By Dirk Anderson

And 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. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (Rev. 14:6-8)

Was Miller's Movement the 1st and 2nd Angels of Revelation 14?

According to Ellen White, the Millerite Movement of 1843/1844 was a fulfillment of the first and second angels' messages of Revelation 14:

"Prophecy was fulfilled in the first and second angels' messages. They were given at the right time and accomplished the work which God designed to accomplish by them."1
Is this true? Was the prophecy of Revelation 14 really fulfilled in 1844? Did the first and second angels sound during William Miller's 1844 movement? Did they accomplish the work described in the Bible?

The Bible clearly says the angelic messages of Revelation 14 were to be proclaimed....

"...to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people"2

Was the Millerite message of the soon return of Christ delivered to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people? If not, then was it really a fulfillment of Revelation 14?

Ellen White painted a picture of the Millerite movement as a glorious worldwide movement:

"The advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel's message was carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century."3
Is that an accurate assessment? Can the interest generated by the 1844 movement be compared in any way with the Protestant Reformation?

Not according to Joshua V. Himes. Next to William Miller, Joshua Himes was the foremost leader of the 1844 movement. No one was in a better position to assess the progress of the 1844 movement than Elder Himes. His testimony is certainly more reliable than that of Ellen White, who was, after all, only a sickly 17-year-old teenager at the time. Note carefully what Himes wrote after the Great Disappointment:

"...the cry of the seventh month was a local and partial one. It was confined to this country..."4
Himes went on in the article to say that the "cry" produced no effect in Europe whatsoever. Himes knew what he was talking about. He had directed this movement. He had traveled all over the Northeastern United States promoting the movement. He was in contact with England. If anyone was in a position to assess the progress of the movement, it was Himes.5

Did the 1844 Movement really reach "every nation"?


The historical facts show that the Millerite Movement was largely confined to the Northeastern United States. There is scant evidence that it ever made much penetration into the southern or western United States, let alone the entire world! There was a small interest in the message in southeastern Canada, and perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 followers in Britain. There were a handful of believers in a few scattered places in Europe, but the message really only caught on in the Northeastern United States where it garnered perhaps 50,000 adherents.

Although the message was carried out to a few missionary stations, it is an incredible exaggeration, if not an outright lie, to claim this was a worldwide message that went to every nation, tongue, and people! There is little or no evidence that this message ever reached the following peoples:

The millions of Native American Indians living within the United States itself

The untold millions of Africa (this was before David Livingstone opened Africa)

Countless millions in Central and South America!

Millions upon millions in China, Japan, Philippines, and Southeast Asia!

Millions and millions in India, Pakistan, and Central Asia!

Millions in the Ottoman Empire and other Arab nations of the middle east!

Millions in Russia and the Catholic nations of Europe! If one were to consider the population of the world, with all its thousands of languages and ethnic groups, an honest person would be forced to admit that probably less than one percent of the world's population even heard the Millerite message! Even in the year 2008, the gospel message has not yet penetrated every language group in the world. How could a message that reached less than one percent of the world's population be a fulfillment of a prophecy that was to go "to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people"? The 1844 Movement could not possibly have fulfilled the first and second angels' messages of Revelation 14, which describe a worldwide message reached every nation, every language, and every ethnic group!

Most Millerites Abandoned View

Most of the Millerites abandoned the assumption that their movement was the first and second angels' messages. Even Ellen White admits this in Early Writings:
"After the great disappointment in 1844, Satan and his angels were busily engaged in laying snares to unsettle the faith of the body. He affected the minds of persons who had had an experience in the messages, and who had an appearance of humility. Some pointed to the future for the fulfillment of the first and second messages... These were gaining an influence over the minds of the inexperienced and unsettling their faith. Some were searching the Bible to build up a faith of their own, independent of the body. Satan exulted in all this; for he knew that those who broke loose from the anchor he could affect by different errors and drive about with divers winds of doctrine. Many who had led in the first and second messages now denied them, and there was division and confusion throughout the body."6
Mrs. White blasts those who pointed to the "future" fulfillment of the first and second angels' messages, charging that "Satan and his angels" were responsible for their abandoning their former belief. Question: Why would Satan need to "unsettle" people's belief in a message that was so obviously false? Anyone with a map and a rudimentary knowledge of the world we live on could instantly tell that this message was not worldwide in scope like the one described in the Bible. One might rightly ask, "Who could possibly believe this movement reached every nation, kindred, tongue, and people"? Only those who were either uneducated or who were so determined to believe that they were right that they chose to believe a delusion instead of the the stark truth.

The Everlasting Gospel?

The first angel in Revelation 14:6 is described as having the "everlasting gospel." Was the "everlasting gospel" preached by the Millerites? Not according to one Adventist scholar who studied the writings of the Millerites in depth:

"Finally, and possibly most significantly, one can consider what is omitted in Miller's [15] rules. They make no mention of Christ, of salvation or of the gospel. This matches the near total lack of devotional writing in Millerite periodicals."7

The Hour of God's Judgment?

The Millerites proclaimed that the hour of God's judgment, as described in Rev. 14:7, had commenced: "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come." What did they understand this judgment to be? They understood it to be the judgment of God upon the wicked. This is the only valid interpretation possible from the text of Revelation 14. The judgment of God upon the wicked is the focal point of the chapter:

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. ... And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Rev. 14:10,11,19,20)
The "judgment" announced by the first angel in Rev. 14:7 is referring to the wrath of God being visited upon the wicked. The wrath of the judgment is then described potently in the subsequent verses of the chapter. This is what all the Millerites taught and believed.

After 1844, however, the Adventists faced a dilemma. The wrath of God did not commence as expected in 1844. How could they continue to claim the first angel's message had been fulfilled when the judgment upon the wicked did not occur? In order to explain away this obvious failure, they concocted a theory that the judgment referred to an investigative judgment in Heaven. The investigative judgment, rather than being an execution of justice upon the wicked, envisions a court-room procedure where God ponders the fate of every soul and makes a decision upon each case. This "court-room" investigation is not found anywhere in Revelation 14. Nevertheless, the Adventists adopted this teaching because, even though it violated the context of the passage, it allowed them to have a "judgment" commence in 1844 while at the same time allowing them to say the first two angels' messages had already sounded.

It is impossible for a person to sit down with their Bible, read Revelation 14, and come up with an investigative judgment. If there is any doubt, read the following quotes and ask yourself this question: Do these verses describe an investigative judgment of the righteous or do they describe a judgment of wrath upon sinners?

  • vs. 10 - "drink of the wine of wrath"
  • vs. 10 - "cup of His indignation"
  • vs. 10 - "shall be tormented with fire and brimstone"
  • vs. 11 - "smoke of their torment shall ascend"
  • vs. 19 - "threw it into the great winepress of God's wrath"
  • vs. 20 - "winepress was trampled"
  • vs. 20 - "blood came out of the winepress"

How could these verses possibly be describing an investigative judgment??? The fact that Revelation 14 is describing a judgment upon the wicked is yet another proof that the first and second angels' messages were not fulfilled in 1844.

Adventists Change the Meaning of the First Angel's Message

In order to force their theology to match Bible prophecy and actual events, Ellen White and the SDA Church kept changing the meaning of the First Angel's message, when it started, and when it ended. In Early Writings Mrs. White tells us very clearly that the First Angel's Message was sounded in William Miller's announcement of the "coming of Jesus" in 1843/1844:

I saw that God was in the proclamation of the time in 1843. It was His design to arouse the people and bring them to a testing point, where they should decide for or against the truth. Ministers were convinced of the correctness of the positions taken on the prophetic periods, and some renounced their pride, and left their salaries and their churches to go forth from place to place to give the message. But as the message from heaven could find a place in the hearts of but few of the professed ministers of Christ, the work was laid upon many who were not preachers. Some left their fields to sound the message, while others were called from their shops and their merchandise. And even some professional men were compelled to leave their professions to engage in the unpopular work of giving the first angel's message. Ministers laid aside their sectarian views and feelings and united in proclaiming the coming of Jesus. Wherever the message was given, it moved the people.8
Here is what Sister White proclaimed:
  1. William Miller's message was a proclamation of the imminent return of Jesus, first said to be sometime between spring of 1843 and spring of 1844, then later changed to be October 22, 1844.

  2. Ellen White called this "the truth", even though we know it was not "the truth" at all. In fact, it was an absolute falsehood, because Jesus' return was not imminent in 1843 or 1844, and Jesus did not return to earth during that time period.

  3. Ellen White called this a "message from heaven", even though we know that it was a falsehood and it deceived people about the timing of the return of Christ. Why would heaven send a false and deceiving message to the earth? Is this how God operates?

    God
    Titus 1:2
    God's Followers
    1 Cor. 4:2
    God...cannot lie (KJV) ...renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth... (KJV)
    God...does not lie (NIV) We reject all shameful and underhanded methods. We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God... (NLT)
    God...never lies (ESV) We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly... (NIV)
    God never tells a lie! (CEV) But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth... (ESV)
    God does not fool people. (WE) We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display... (MSG)

  4. Ellen White tells us most conclusively that William Miller's message about the return of Christ to the earth in 1843/1844 was the fulfillment of the first angel's message of Revelation 14.
Mrs. White goes on with her story...
Thousands were led to embrace the truth preached by William Miller, and servants of God were raised up in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the message.9
Once again, she tells us William Miller was preaching the "truth." However, to those of us living in the 21st century, over 165 years have now passed since this event and it is painfully obvious that Jesus not only did not return in 1843/1844, but His return was not even "imminent" by any stretch of the imagination. Mrs. White continues...
Those who had neglected to receive the heavenly message were left in darkness, and God's anger was kindled against them, because they would not receive the light which He had sent them from heaven.10
In other words, God was burning up with fury and anger, because there were some Christians who were audacious enough to reject Miller and follow Christ who said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matt. 24:36) So why would God be so furious at Christians for disbelieving a delusion? Shouldn't He be happy that His children were not deceived?

Furthermore, most Christians in 1844 had enough intellectual capacity to realize that the gospel message had not yet penetrated even half of the world. Jesus had said, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14) It should be no surprise to anyone that in the first quote above Ellen White said that "few" ministers agreed to proclaim the message. Very few ministers were willing to deny the reality that Jesus could not possibly come in 1844 when the gospel commission had not yet even been half fulfilled upon this earth!

Ellen White paints a picture of a "god" who is hot with fury at Christians who believed Jesus' words, who did not accept this "light from heaven" which was not light at all, but a total delusion and falsehood. If the truth were to be told, the one burning in anger because Christians were not accepting Miller's delusion was Satan! If this is the only thing you ever know about Ellen White, you can stop right now and know with absolute certainty that she did not speak for God. It is utter blasphemy to claim that God sent a delusional message to Christians that directly contradicted Christ's words, and then got burning angry about it when Christians refused to believe it!

Ellen White Contradicts Herself on The First Angel's Message

An older and wiser Ellen White must have realized the utter absurdity of the things she "saw" in vision in the early days, so by the time she published Great Controversy, in 1888, she completely changed the meaning of the first angel's message:

...the first angel's message, "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come," pointed to Christ's ministration in the most holy place, to the investigative judgment, and not to the coming of Christ for the redemption of His people and the destruction of the wicked.11
Amazing! In Early Writings, quoted above, she says the first angel's message was "proclaiming the coming of Jesus." Now she says it is not "the coming of Christ". Now we are told the first angel's message is the "Investigative Judgment." How could that possibly be true? Did William Miller ever preach the Investigative Judgment as part of his message? No, it was not even concocted by Adventists until after the failure of 1844, and William Miller never even accepted the teaching. How could the first angel's message of an Investigative Judgment have been sounded in 1843/1844, and rejected by people (with whom, by the way, God was now angry and had rejected), if that message was not even devised until 1845? This is a masterpiece of confusion!

But the confusion does not end there. Ellen White's quotes on the second angel's message are equaling baffling...

Second Angel's Message

Going back to Early Writings, according to Ellen White, the purpose of the second angel's message is to call Christians to come out of the churches that rejected the first angel's message of Christ's return in 1843/1844:

As the churches refused to receive the first angel's message, they rejected the light from heaven and fell from the favor of God. They trusted to their own strength, and by opposing the first message placed themselves where they could not see the light of the second angel's message. But the beloved of God, who were oppressed, accepted the message, "Babylon is fallen," and left the churches.12

Near the close of the second angel's message, I saw a great light from heaven shining upon the people of God. The rays of this light seemed bright as the sun. And I heard the voices of angels crying, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!"13

Notice something important here. Ellen White says that the second angel's message was near its close when the "loud cry" was sounded by the Millerites during the summer and fall of 1844. Now, notice how she says that God rejected the churches in 1844:
When the churches spurned the counsel of God by rejecting the advent message, the Lord rejected them. The first angel was followed by a second, proclaiming, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 14:8. This message was understood by Adventists to be an announcement of the moral fall of the churches in consequence of their rejection of the first message. The proclamation, "Babylon is fallen," was given in the summer of 1844, and as the result, about fifty thousand withdrew from these churches. 14
Think this through. In 1844 the Christian churches were told that Jesus was returning that year. By and large, they rejected that message. And it turns out, they were correct in doing so, because that message was thoroughly and absolutely false. But according to Ellen White, they are now "rejected" by God, because they refused to believe a delusion! So, now all non-SDA churches (1)do not love God, (2)do not have faith in His word, and (3)do not have the Holy Spirit:
Since the rejection of the first message, a sad change has taken place in the churches. As truth is spurned, error is received and cherished. Love for God and faith in His Word have grown cold. The churches have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn.15
Well, if that is true, all non-SDAs better run from their current churches, and join the SDA Church, because Adventists are the only ones who love God, have faith in His Word, and have the Holy Spirit. The rest of the churches are cold, rejected, and barren!

Now notice carefully in the first quote above, that Sister White says the second angel's message was a call to leave the churches because "of the moral fall of the churches in consequence of their rejection of the first message." Did you get that? The substance of the second angel's message is, "You should leave your church because your church does not accept the imminent return of Christ in 1844." Well, that is absurd, is it not? Quite possibly Ellen White realized that later, because once again, just as she did with the first angel's message, she changes her mind about the meaning of the second angel's message:

[Revelation 18:1, 2 quoted] This is the same message that was given by the second angel. Babylon is fallen, "because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." What is that wine?--her false doctrines. She has given to the world a false sabbath instead of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and has repeated the falsehood that Satan first told to Eve in Eden--the natural immortality of the soul.16
Astounding! Now the second angel's message is all about going to church on Sunday and believing in the immortality of the soul. These issues were not even discussed in 1844! How could this possibly be the substance of the second angel's message?

Fortunately, Mrs. White has an explanation for these changing messages. The first and second angels' messages were to be "repeated", and apparently the message itself changes between the first repetition of such and the next repetition:

The second angel's message was to go to Babylon [the churches] proclaiming her downfall, and calling the people to come out of her. This same message is to be proclaimed the second time.17

The first message is to be repeated proclaiming the second advent of Christ to our world. The second angel's message is to be repeated.18

So, walk through this with me and see if we can figure out this maze of confusion.

When the first angel's message is repeated, the message is the imminent "second advent of Christ", which is actually the same message as the first time it was proclaimed. However, Mrs. White told us in Great Controversy that the first time it was proclaimed, it was really all about the "Investigative Judgment" even though people did not know or understand that at the time.

When the second angel's message is repeated, it is about the Sabbath and soul-sleep, whereas the first time, it was about the rejection of the first message, which message was actually the imminent return of Christ, but in reality, should have been understood as the "Investigative Judgment."

What? Does any of that make sense? It is a mish-mash of utter confusion!

Well, to add insult to injury, in another place, Mrs. White tells us that the first and second angels' messages do not repeat, or start and stop, but actually they started in 1843 and continue to sound:

God has given the messages of Revelation 14 their place in the line of prophecy, and their work is not to cease till the close of this earth's history. The first and second angel's messages are still truth for this time, and are to run parallel with this which follows.19
Now, why would a message need to be repeated if its work never ceased? And why did Mrs. White say the second message was near its close in the autumn of 1844 if it was not to cease until the end of time?

Finally, were the Christian churches really rejected in 1844? Which Ellen White are you going to believe?

Ellen White, 1882 Ellen White, 1888
I saw that the mysterious signs and wonders and false reformations would increase and spread. The reformations that were shown me were not reformations from error to truth. My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it; for the time for their salvation is past. The "false reformations" here referred to are yet to be more fully seen. The view relates more particularly to those who have heard and rejected the light of the advent doctrine. They are given over to strong delusions. Such will not have "the travail of soul for sinners" as formerly. Having rejected the advent, and being given over to the delusions of Satan, "the time for their salvation is past."20 The second angel's message of Revelation 14, was first preached in the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct application to the churches of the United States, where the warning of the Judgment had been most widely proclaimed and most generally rejected, and where the declension in the churches had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the Advent message; but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that "Babylon is fallen, . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." She has not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has been gaining ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.21

Conclusion

When something is placed under a microscope and continually dwelt upon, it starts to look big. Take away the microscope, and one begins to see the bigger picture. One sees that what they once thought was so huge, grand, and glorious, is in reality a tiny speck of near nothingness. The Millerite movement was not a great, grand, or glorious movement. It was an isolated outbreak of fanaticism that 99% of the world never even heard about. Miller was not a great reformer. He goes down in history as someone who deceived thousands of people with his faulty conjectures and incorrect Biblical interpretations. The 1844 movement was not a fulfillment of the first and second angels' messages as Ellen White claimed. It failed to fulfill prophecy for two reasons:

  1. The extent of the message was not even close to that described in Revelation 14. Less than 1% of the world's population even heard the message. That could hardly be described as a message that went to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people!
  2. The message itself was not the one described in Revelation 14. Revelation's message is called the "Everlasting Gospel", whereas Miller taught a delusion regarding calculating the data of the imminent return of Christ--a practice that was explicitly forbidden by Christ.
Nor was it akin to the Protestant Reformation. It was the dismal failure of a time-setting fanatic that quickly passed into the obscurity of history.

Ellen White and Adventists have struggled to force the round pegs of actual events into the square pegs of Bible prophecy, and the results have been disasterous. No matter how much she embelishes the story, Ellen White cannot make her version of the story match the truth:

Ellen White The Truth
The first angel's message was William Miller's Advent message William Miller's message was false, it was proven wrong when Christ did not return as the message had predicted, and the originator of the message, William Miller, admitted it was a mistake and not the work of God
God got burning angry when Christians rejected Miller's message, and He rejected those churches, and his angel said, "the time for their salvation is past" Satan, not God, got angry when Christians would not be deceived by Miller's false message

And Ellen White ends up repeatedly changing her story in order to try to make it sound more believable:

Ellen White 1 Ellen White 2 Ellen White 3
The first angel's message was William Miller's message of the imminent return of Christ The first angel's message is not the return of Christ but the Investigative Judgment The first angel's message, when it repeats, is the return of Christ
The second angel's message calls Christians to leave those who reject the imminent return of Christ The second angel's message calls Christians to leave those who reject the Sabbath and soul-sleep
The first and second angels' messages ended in 1844 but will repeat in the future The first and second angels' messages are continuous
Babylon is fallen and the time of their salvation is past Not yet can it be said that Babylon is fallen

Was the 1844 Movement God's heaven-sent message? Or was it a strong delusion? You decide.


NOTES

1. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 245.

2. Revelation 14:6.

3. Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, p. 611.

4. Joshua V. Himes, The Morning Watch, Feb. 20, 1845, emphasis supplied.

5. Ibid.

6. Early Writings, p. 256.

7. Dr. Arasola, The End of Historicism, p. 59.

8. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 232.

9. Ibid., p. 233.

10. Ibid., p. 236.

11. Ellen White, The Great Controversy (1911), p. 424. See also Life Sketches Manuscript, p. 112.

12. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 237.

13. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 238.

14. Ellen White, The Story of Redemption (1947), pp. 364-65.

15. Ibid., p. 366.

16. Ellen White, Review and Herald, Dec. 6, 1892.

17. Ellen White, Review and Herald, Sep. 12, 1893.

18. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 16 (1990), p. 40.

19. Ellen White, 1888 Materials (1987), p. 804.

20. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 45.

21. Ellen White, The Great Controversy (1888), p. 389.


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