Part 5. Proofs

We have read in previous chapters about the events that triggered people like Miller and Wolff into studying the Holy Bible in order to discover exactly when the Return of Christ would be manifested. But these events did not point to a particular date and, in themselves, were no proof of the imminent Return. In fact, it would be easy to say that with so many years separating them that it was pure coincidence that they had occurred at all.

So, what was it in the Bible that convinced Miller that the Return was imminent and enabled him to calculate, if not the exact day, at least the year in which the second coming was due.

Before describing the thinking behind Miller's calculations it must be understood that in Biblical prophecy, it is generally accepted that one day in biblical prophecy is equivalent to one year (based on Numbers 14:34, or Ezekiel 4:6, where it is written, "each day for a year") and that the mention of a year in prophecy is equivalent to 360 years (being based on 12 months of 30 days each).

The main source of information used by Miller was in the Book of Daniel. For instance, Daniel 8:14 reads, "...unto 2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." This, Miller concluded, pointed to a date well after the end of the Jewish dispensation and, therefore could not be referring to the coming of the Messiah, especially as it was generally understood that sanctuary in the Christian age was the entire earth. The cleansing of sanctuary, in Millers time, was understood to refer to the purification of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ.

Miller reasoned that, if he could find the starting date for the 2300 year period, then he could calculate the date of the second coming. However, he was frustrated by the fact that even Daniel himself did not understand the prophecy. However, in Daniel 9:24-27 we find,

"Seventy weeks are determined upon they people and upon Thy holy city ... know therefore ... that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks.... After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off ... and He shall confirm the Covenant with many for one week."

Miller concluded that these 70 weeks (490 years) were part of the 2300 days mentioned in the earlier prophecy, in fact that the two periods started concurrently, and that they started from the date of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.

Chapters 8 to 12 of Daniel cover the subject in detail. The time between the decree to rebuild and the crucifixion of Christ are thus defined firstly as 70 weeks and then as 7 plus 62 plus 1 weeks. Each add up to 490 days (years). Miller decided that the relevant command to rebuild the city was that of Artaxerxes in 457 BC. From 457BC to the year of the crucifixion was 490 years. This left 1810 days of the 2300. From 34CE this gives the year 1844. Thus the time of cleansing the sanctuary would commence in 1844.

In addition to the prophecies mentioned above, there was also the number 1260 which appears in Revelation Chapter 11, where it is written,

"... and the holy city they shall tread underfoot for forty and two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and three score days clothed in sackcloth."

Counting back 1260 years from 1844 gives us 538CE, a year in which nothing, apparently, happened. However, the year 1844 is the year 1260AH (the Islámic calendar). The Christian calendar is a solar calendar, unlike the Islamic lunar calendar in which each year is slightly shorter (at 354 days). In Shi'i Islám, Muhammad was succeeded by 12 Imáms, the last of whom disappeared in the year 260AD. His return was promised after 1000 years as a great deliverer on the Day of Judgement. It was, of course, quite possible that Miller, as a devout Christian, would have been unaware of the Islamic support for his announcement of the year 1844 (1260AH) as the year of the Return.

On a completely different aspect of prophecy, in Matthew 24:13-14, Christ is reported to have 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."

The British Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804 and its American equivalent in 1816. In 1842, the Bible was finally brought to China's treaty ports and to the African interior. And, in 1844 it was finally possible to obtain a copy of the Holy Bible just about anywhere in the world. The organisers of the great push to bring the Christian to the whole world were well aware that they were fulfilling one of the conditions for the second coming. Gratton Guiness, founder of the East London Institute for training missionaries, wrote,

"...the time for evangelising the nations, and gathering in the church of the first-born is speedily to expire.... if we be right in believing that scarcely a single prophecy in the whole Bible, relating to event prior to the second advent of Christ, remains unfulfilled."

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that all the other great religions have prophecies about a return and in some cases point to a period in the mid 19th century.

Daniel wrote his words in Elam, which was part of ancient Persia; he not only spoke of when the Promised One would appear where, naming Elam as the place of vision and the end times; the prophet Jeremiah spoke similarly, as did the sacred scriptures of Islám, which state unequivocally that, "the upholders of His faith shall be of the people of Persia."