How to Bring 175 Years of Great Disappointment to an End

Today marks 175 years since “The Great Disappointment” of 1844.  

For those who don’t recall the event, this was the date when about 100,000 people—all followers of the teachings of William Miller—were expecting to see Christ return from the sky.

Mr. Miller taught this based on the prophecies from the Book of Daniel, which Jesus had cited when His disciples inquired about the time of His return. 

When the date arrived, but the expected Return did not occur, it was clear to all that something was wrong with their understanding of Daniel’s prophecy.  But what? In Chapter 9 of his book, Daniel had prophesied that the Messiah would be ‘cut off’ 490 years (i.e. 70 weeks of years) after a particular decree was issued concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The date of that decree—457 BC—is known to history.  This prophecy, which had been delivered by the angel Gabriel, was clearly fulfilled 490 years later with the crucifixion of Jesus. 

Wouldn’t Daniel’s other prophecy—the one found in Chapter 8 and also delivered by Gabriel—be equally reliable?  That one said that the sanctuary would be cleansed (the defilement of religion would be ended by the appearance of the Promised One) after 2,300 years.  Starting again at 457 BC, that brought us to 1843 or 1844, depending on how the year zero was counted.

After the Great Disappointment, many decided that the date had been incorrectly calculated and moved it forward (only to be eventually disappointed again and again.)  Some avoided this problem by concluding that some great event must have occurred in heaven (even though Daniel’s other prophecy had been clearly fulfilled on earth) thereby postponing Christ’s return to an unspecified future date. 

But none could be found who was willing to ask the very tough question:  What if we had understood the time correctly, but misunderstood the manner of His appearance?

What if the manner of His appearance would be similar to His original appearance—first as a child with innate knowledge and later as an outwardly humble Teacher, whose spiritual message would have enormous impact over the course of centuries, as the new age unfolded?  What if the prophecies of His dramatic and miraculous appearance needed to be seen with spiritual eyes instead of material ones?

And a still tougher question:  What if His return was even larger than the 19th century Christian world could imagine?  What if it would be a fulfillment not only of Christian prophecy, but also of other prophetic traditions from across the globe?

If a pair of wise men from the West set forth in 1843-1844, searching for the return of Christ with this spiritual understanding, what could they have found?  This is the central theme of my book, The Wise Men of the West—A Search for the Promised One in the Latter Days.  

The answer to this question requires a few hundred pages to properly explain.  But suffice it to say that, unlike William Miller’s followers, these wise men would NOT be disappointed. 

For anyone who has wondered why the return of Christ seems to have been delayed, this book must be read.


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