“Time Nearly Finished”
A statement published in 1851 in Experience and Views, [page 46] and found on page 49 [page 58, present edition] of Early Writings is quoted as proving my testimonies false: “I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the Most Holy Place was nearly finished, and that time cannot last but a very little longer.”
As the subject was presented before me, the period of Christ’s ministration seemed almost accomplished. Am I accused of falsehood because time has continued longer than my testimony seemed to indicate? How is it with the testimonies of Christ and His disciples? Were they deceived?
Paul writes to the Corinthians: “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not.” [1 Corinthians 7:29, 30.]
Again, in his epistle to the Romans, he says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” [Romans 13:12.]
And from Patmos, Christ speaks to us by the beloved John: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” [Revelation 1:3.] “The Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” [Revelation 22:6, 7.]
The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short. Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional.
God had committed to His people a work to be accomplished on earth. The third angel’s message was to be given; the minds of believers were to be directed to the heavenly sanctuary where Christ had entered to make atonement for His people. The Sabbath reform was to be carried forward. The breach in the law of God must be made up. The message must be proclaimed with a loud voice, that all the inhabitants of earth might receive the warnings. The people of God must purify their souls through obedience to the truth and be prepared to stand without fault before Him at His coming.
Had Adventists, after the great disappointment in 1844, held fast their faith and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward.
But in the period of doubt and uncertainty that followed the disappointment, many of the advent believers yielded their faith. Dissensions and divisions came in. The majority opposed with voice and pen the few who, following in the providence of God, received the Sabbath reform and began to proclaim the third angel’s message. Many who should have devoted their time and talents to the one purpose of sounding warning to the world were absorbed in opposing the Sabbath truth, and in turn, the labor of its advocates was necessarily spent in answering these opponents and defending the truth. Thus the work was hindered, and the world was left in darkness. Had the whole Adventist body united upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, how widely different would have been our history!
It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached went not in “because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19. Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfil His covenant with them.
For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.
4LtMs, Ms 4, 1883, par. 44-55 • Ellen G. White