A Brief History of the Shepherd’s Rod MessageandDavidian Seventh-day Adventists
Over Eighty years ago, the Shepherd’s Rod message arose in the 1930’s from a series of Bible Studies given by the late Victor T. Houteff while he was a Sabbath School Teacher at the Olympic Exposition Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, California.
Victor T. Houteff was born in Raicovo, Bulgaria, March 2, 1885, and became a member of the Greek Orthodox Church before emigrating to the United States in 1907. In 1919, while running a small hotel in the mid-west, he became convicted through a series of Bible Studies and joined the Seventh-day Adventist (S.D.A.) Denomination by immersion baptism. A record of some of his early life experiences has been published in Timely Greetings Vol. 2, No. 35.
After relocating to Los Angeles, California in 1923, Brother Houteff became a respected church member and Sabbath School Teacher. It was during the last quarter of 1929 when the Seventh Day Adventist Church Sabbath School Quarterly was addressing the later chapters in the book of Isaiah that he began to receive inspired revelations that identified the Israel of today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Testimonies Vol. 9, p. 56), as the central focus of these latter day prophecies. He began to share them with his class. In complete harmony with the fundamental pillars and doctrines of the church, this new development of truth shed additional light to Seventh-day Adventist eschatology and called for world-wide revival and reformation of God’s beloved last day church, Laodicea, the seventh church found in Revelation 3:14-18, represented by the Seventh Day Adventist Church (Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252-56).
These startling revelations soon brought a wave of persecution from within the denomination to believers who followed their liberty of conscience and were convinced, convicted, and converted of its veracity and that it was a divinely inspired message straight from God’s heavenly throne to save the church from its indecent worldly associations. Its theological positions posed an insurmountable challenge to S. D. A. leaders and laity alike which, even up to the present time, still has the scholarly theologians scratching their heads. Its explications and exegeses were so compelling and irrefutable that even some high ranking church officials embraced the message and took a stand even though they lost their secure positions in the church.
In 1930 Brother Houteff published these studies on Isaiah chapters 54-66 and increasing light on the sealing of the 144,000 in a book entitled, The Shepherd’s Rod, Volume 1. More comprehensive studies followed in 1932 with the publication of The Shepherd’s Rod, Volume 2. This of course did not stop the persecution from within. In fact, it even intensified. This brought on a series of confrontations with new believers being verbally and physically abused and eventually casted out (disfellowshipped) of the churches they loved and helped build. Church leaders spared no effort in a desperate attempt to stamp out the fledgling movement, but to no avail.
Out of necessity, Brother Houteff established The Universal Publishing Association in 1930, in Los Angeles, California to publish The Shepherd’s Rod Vol. 1 and bring the message to the church. In 1935 the headquarters of the storehouse involving this publishing work was relocated to a rural location just outside of Waco, Texas, where for about twenty years the Shepherd’s Rod message, in the form of pocket sized tract publications, were spread like leaves of autumn to Seventh Day Adventists world-wide—literally in the millions. The “camp”, as it was called, took upon the divinely appointed name of Mt. Carmel Center, which at its height employed hundreds of workers, while building an expansive institution covering 389 acres with self sufficient agricultural enterprises including a commercial peach orchard and a dairy farm.
The camp included a rest home and infirmary to house the sick and elderly members. It had its own water supply, dispensary, mercantile, bank, chapel, children’s school, and Bible Training School. Up to 125 persons resided at the Center, mostly staff and their families. By its peak in the mid 1950′s upwards of 50,000 pieces of literature was being sent out every month to Mt. Carmel’s extensive mailing list. The Denomination at this time numbered nearly 1,000,000 worldwide. It was during early 1940’s that “Rod” believers became known as Davidian Seventh-day Adventists due to the SDA church denomination’s failure to support the noncombatant status of young Davidian men during WWII.
On February 5, 1955, Brother Victor Houteff died at Hillcrest Hospital, Waco, Texas of heart failure. By an unauthorized plot of subversion, his wife, Florence, had herself elected the Chairman of the Executive Council under the title of Vice-President. She soon published a false time setting prophesy regarding the forty two months in Revelation 11 by forecasting the fulfillment of Ezekiel nine on April 22, 1959. This debacle became recognized as the enemy’s effort to deliver a “knock-out blow” and subsequently caused the movement to enter into a scattering time as predicted in Zechariah 13:7. The Association under the leadership of Florence Houteff dissolved in 1962.
In early 1959 true “100% Rod only” believers rose up and opposed Florence Houteff and her false teachings. In 1961, this group separated from Florence and reorganized back in California and continued to republish the original Shepherd’s Rod message divinely entrusted to the hands of Brother Victor Houteff. Since that time, orthodox believers remained in existence to press forward endeavoring to carry onward the untainted original SRod message to their beloved brethren in Laodicea, the seventh and last church identified in the Revelation, also known as “Seventh-day Adventist Church”.
Because of a Biblical mandate for their beloved brethren in Laodicea – (S.D.A. church), believers of the Shepherd’s Rod message, who still number in the thousands, regularly attend Sabbath worship services as they strive to patiently endure stiff opposition from the Church’s hierarchy by falsely charging them of calling the church Babylon, which is not in the teaching of the Shepherd’s Rod message. Church leaders often try to ban the Shepherd’s Rod believers from attending the church services contrary to what is written in Isaiah 56:7. Furthermore, they give them un-Biblical counsel to go start their own churches and try to deny them their identity as Seventh-day Adventists. But since the seventh and last church in Revelation is Laodicea, represented by the Seventh-day Adventist church, it would require Rod believers to go against their liberty of conscience of what is written in the Bible. Only by the enduring mercy and sufficient grace of our Heavenly Father, Shepherd’s Rod believers are able to overcome the unbearable, unrelenting prejudice, and persecution like that of the reformers of old. However, unlike the reformers of old, who were Biblically allowed to flee from persecutions and build their own churches one after the other as outlined in Revelation chapters 1:20 to 3, Shepherd’s Rod believers are compelled to remain in the church until the harvest at which time God Himself will take the reigns in His own hands to do the separation of the wheat from the tares, the righteous from the unrighteous.
Moreover, “100% Rod only” believers also have to face severe challenges in confronting radical and fanatical elements that have arisen from within their midst who introduce heterodox and contradictory teachings that are completely out of harmony with the the original Shepherd’s Rod message, which is based upon the Holy Bible and the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy.
The publishing ministry, upa7.org, is the latest succession of The Universal Publishing Association that was started by Brother Victor T. Houteff and remains true to the original teachings as expounded from the Holy Bible and the writings of Sister E. G. White, the church’s inspired co-founder. It holds true, as its pioneer forebearers, that the Shepherd’s Rod Message is God’s voice that crieth unto His beloved church (Mic. 6:9), a revelation today directed specifically to Laodicea, the seventh church in Revelation identified as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We as believers of the Shepherd’s Rod message after a thorough investigation and personal study are fully convicted of its divine origin because of the overwhelming and irrefutable Biblical weight of evidence. That is, despite of the skeptics, scoffers, unbelievers, persecutors and fanatics to try to divert us to go astray, we find that the Shepherd’s Rod teachings’ are rooted deep in the Holy Scriptures and have convinced us that we have not followed “cunningly devised fables” (2 Pet. 1:16).
“The Davidians are the upshoot from decadent Seventh-day Adventists prophetically envisioned in Ezekiel, chapter nine. Its members are in the main those who have been cast out and deprived of the fellowship of their Seventh-day Adventist churches. Thus being separated from their church and denied its name because of their having given heed to the voice of the Rod, the voice of the Good Shepherd, they are called by the name imbedded in the work of the Rod, ‘Davidian Seventh-day Adventists,’ until the time they shall be ‘called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.’ Isa. 62:2.” — The Leviticus Of The Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, pg. 12:1
“Quench not the Spirit, Despise not prophesyings, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — 2 Thessalonians 19-21
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments about this website and its contents. We can also provide you with print copies of the original Shepherd’s Rod tract literature. Godspeed.
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We are also thankful to God for anyone who is impressed to support this ministry with a donation to help us continue to plea with our beloved brethren in Laodicea. May God bless you an hundredfold.