This past week (May 13-22) brought a lot of media attention to Harold Camping’s failed prediction that May 21, 2011 would result in the rapture of the saints and the subjection of the world to a period of divine judgment for five months before the end of the world. What is interesting about this event were the multitude of stories (Time, Christian Science Monitor, etc.) published which made mention of the top failed prophetic predictions from the past, most notably, William Miller’s expectation of Christ’s return to the earth on October 22, 1844. This association of an actual event that was ordered by God with other false prophecies places the Seventh-day Adventist (S. D. A.) church in an uncomfortable public view. Another failed prophecy that is sometime mentioned in connection with the church’s past is Florence Houteff’s prediction that April 22, 1959 would conclude a 42 month period and result in the purification of the S. D. A. church via the fulfillment of Ezekiel 9. While the former was clearly ordered by God and can be demonstrated from scripture, the latter was a classic example of time setting that inspiration warns us about and resulted in a “knock-out blow” for Davidian Seventh-day Adventists. Unfortunately, in a story that is rarely covered, Florence Houteff’s failed prophecy was solely of her own private interpretation and cannot be found in the original writings of the Shepherd’s Rod message nor attributed to its author, Victor Houteff in any way.
“The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, in the giving of the first message, was ordered by God. The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment. The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and close of the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary to sustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the present truth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies. The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great advent movement of 1843 and 1844.”–Great Controversy, p. 457
Despite all of this publicity which sadly brings a reproach upon otherwise honest Christian’s expectations of the soon return of Christ and the end of the world, what has been the official response of the Seventh-day Adventist church to this recent situation? As a body of believers one of our most most basic tenants of faith is based on the soon advent of Christ in the clouds of glory to bring an end the reign of sin and this world’s endless pain, sorrow, and suffering. Adventist News Network issued a reply from the church leadership which can best described as rather tepid. Aside from the mention of ”that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matt. 24:36), no thorough answer was given from the Holy Bible, much less the Spirit of Prophecy to explain why such expectations coming from Mr. Camping can be soundly rejected since they do not harmonize with scripture. Perhaps, the Adventist understanding of this verse is not as well anchored on the solid rock of truth as once thought and cannot withstand close inspection that proves that this verse is indeed speaking of the visible second advent of Christ. Could it be that the coming spoken of Matthew 24:36 has a parallel with the experience of the 10 virgins and that this coming is not the second advent as most Adventist believe, but rather an unexpected coming of Christ to carry forth the work of the judgment of the living, a cleansing of the earthy sanctuary prior to the outpouring the Holy Spirit and the gathering of second fruits of the harvest during the Loud Cry?
Yes, it is true that the “secret rapture” doctrine promoted by Harold Camping and the host of evangelical Christianity does not have a solid foundation in scripture as most Seventh-day Adventists understand, but could it be that the long hoped for “rapture” of the saints to heaven at the visible second advent is not according the common Adventist expectation either? Do we really believe that we and the angels of God will never know the day and hour of Jesus coming? What about the inspired comment found in Early Writings, p. 285 which plainly states that God will speak the day and hour of Jesus coming to the expectant saints? How do we explain these things to the world? Rather that shy away from the somewhat uncomfortable situation this publicity brings upon the Seventh-day Adventist church, perhaps our greatest need is to return to our Bibles and seek for God’s answer through His chosen messengers that will clear away the clouds of confusion and provide for us a more sure word of prophecy that we can answer any man a reason of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. Thus, an earnest appeal is offered to all Seventh-day Adventists to come up to the table and hear what the Shepherd’s Rod has to say about the unexpected coming in Matt. 24:36 that will clear away all doubts and give us more confidence that God is indeed leading a people upward on the platform of advanced knowledge of His Word in order to prepare the saints the stand in the great and dreadful day that is just before us. Please download the attached PDF document which has a compilation of statements from the original Shepherd’s Rod message that will truly enrich the soul and bless beyond comparison.