The Adventist Problem with Revelation

I appreciate you keeping me on my feet. It’s all in love sis. I wish you a great weekend and may you continue to grow in your relationship with God and Christ.

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Understood and agreed. You missed my point that long discourses about Daniel and Revelation do not equip a person to minister the redeeming love of God or to become channels through whom the redeeming power of God is ministered. Many in our church have become so obsessed with those two books that they are spiritual eunuchs who are utterly impotent when it comes to doing anything that proclaims the kingdom of God so that people will want to love and follow Him. Please forgive me if I am judging you by saying this, but I have seen many people who have become so focused on those two books that they were unable to see how they were driving people away from God instead of drawing people to Him. I truly hope that is not the case with you and I wish it were not true with others.

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  1. Does Revelation in any way change the message of John 3:16?
  2. If so, how and why?

Revelation, at least to me, seems to be a ‘thorn in the side’ of Adventism. It has been discussed, debated and beat with a club to where it feels at times like an impossible dream to understand. I am a life long SDA and have an increasing feeling that the SDA church has missed the boat on what has happened in the book. Reading all of the posts on the subject of several Spectrum articles confirms that feeling.


I don’t even know what to say about this piece, it is a gross misrepresentation of events. There is a lot of opinions and not anywhere near enough complete facts, many are only partially told if told at all.

This person is attacking one of the foundational teachings of the Protestant reformation. The day for a year principle was used by the Protestant reformers to identify the little horn as the papacy. In addition there were distinct markers that signified the start of the 1260 days, 42 months or 3.5 years. In the prophecies of Daniel there was only one power in which this time period was linked to. The Human power was the instrument through which the spiritual power was working. An examination of revelation 12 and13 makes this very clear, it is also evident that the tribulation spoken of does not mean that Jesus comes at the end of the 1260 years. Because after the woman was nourished for the 3.5 years the dragon was wroth with the woman and went after the remnant of her seed.

Revelation 12:13-17 KJV
[13] And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. [14] And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. [15] And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. [16] And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. [17] And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. …

Revelation 13 opens with describing who gave the power to the beast.
Revelation 13:1-2 KJV
[1] … And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the a name of blasphemy. [2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. …

So the beast that came up out of the sea was given its power by the dragon. Who is the dragon?
Revelation 12:17 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into l the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

So the beast got its power from the devil. Revelation is using symbolic language to represent literal events. The fact that Jesus is referred to as the lamb gives evidence to this, also the devil is referred to as a dragon and a serpent yet we know he is not an allegory he is a real person. Moving on, the beast is now described as persecuting the saints for the 42 months that the previous chapter had attributed to the dragon persecuting the woman who had given birth to the man child (Christ)

Revelation 13:3-8 KJV
[3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. [4] And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? [5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. [6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. [7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. [8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. …

John also links the worship of the dragon and worship of the beast together since it is the dragon that gives the beast its power and authority. Not all parts of the bible are easy to understand, I will say that much of revelation was designed for people to understand otherwise God would be lying calling it the revelation of Jesus Christ. Christ is revealing himself and what He is doing for his people until the end of the world when he comes to redeem his people.

The apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and revelation are Christ centred. They are proclaming the everlasting gospel. Attacking the prophecies are attacking Christ. It is speaking of what has happened and what will happen and how Christ is going to deliver his people. Attacking the day for a year principle started with Francisco Ribera and Luis Alcazar both Jesuit priests who interpreted the 1260 days/42 months/3.5 years as literal years in order to take the heat of of Rome, when the Protestant reformers had used bible prophecy to single out Rome as the litte horn power.

In trying to point that the time periods are literal days is attacking the Protestant reformation and in essence saying that it was wrong. The way adventism used the year today principle was the way that it was done by the reformers.

The 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 shoots down any idea that the days are literal. The time periods fit because that is the way God said it was and so it is. As for the time period starting of the 1260 days, there are very clear things that are to alert us to the starting of that time period.

In Daniel chapter 2 the statue was given, there can be no mistaking the order of those kingdoms for history verified them as true. Babylon,media-Persia, Greece,Rome, then divided kingdoms (elements of Rome exist to the end represented by the iron and clay) then the end of the world. Daniel 7 gives more detail of this prophecy when looking at the horns that were on the 4th beast and how the little horn subdued 3 kings or kingdoms. The historical record also agrees with the biblical narrative. Daniel 8,11 and 12 continues to shed light on this so does revelation 11,12,13,17,18 there are more references in revelation as well, however 11,12,13 have direct references to the 1260 day time period.

The body of biblical and historical evidence points to the year day principle and the teachings of the little horn taught by the reformers and continued with the Adventists. The disappointment of 1844 doesn’t nullify the validity of the date any more than the disappointment of the disciples nullified the validity of what Christ came to earth to do. They had the time right but the event to take place was wrong. Jesus had told them many times what he came to do but because of the errors taught in their day had led them to mistake the event that was going to take place. It was because of the prophecies in Daniel that they were expecting the messiah to appear. Time was right the interpretation of the event was wrong because of popularly held errors.

While I am not a theologian or a theology student, one does not need a degree to understand the bible. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches truth. I am not saying there is no value to education. I am saying that God is more important than education in understanding and discerning truth. As for what I have read from the author I have to respectfully disagree. For what is stated does not follow the logical path that I see given in the biblical narrative and I do not see that a thorough examination was given to pertinent points, and history was left out of the equation. It is the author’s right to believe as they wish, it is also my right to disagree and voice my grievances in regard to what was said. I also know that even the reply that I have give doesn’t begin to touch the depth of the subject, I do believe that the few points that were given were sufficient given the scope of what could be done on this forum and that they do give evidence that does not support what the author was stating. As with anything people need to be a diligent Berean and examine things for themselves to see whether they be true or not.

One final point in regard to the statement made by the author [quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:17797”]
the South African preacher peddling eschatological conspiracy theories,
Let me now link from the Oxford dictionary the definition of conspiracy: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

‘a conspiracy to destroy the government’

A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful, like the scribes and Pharisees plotting to kill Jesus? Or like the devil and his angels plotting the downfall of mankind? Because that constitutes a conspiracy by definition, and the beast power working in collusion with the dragon to persecute God’s people all fall under the category of a conspiracy. So when you take into account that the devil works through people to attack God through his people then you can see how the war between God and the devil is rife with conspiracies against Christ because let’s be real, Christ is the focus of the devil’s rage. He can’t take it out on Christ so he attacks and plots to destroy his children. Calling someone a conspiracy theorist is a straw man argument, because being a Christian you must accept that there is a conspiracy against Christ and his people. Humanity is largely unawares of the workings of the devil and his angels. So are you saying that they are just a myth too?

I would much rather prefer an appeal to intellect and reason than to hear name calling.

When Jesus said in Luke 13.31-33
“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”

Jesus himself applied the day for a year principle.
When Daniel speaks of the messiah being cut off in the midst of the week, it means 3,5 days IE years.
When Daniel speaks of the little horn power coming out of the fourth beast, which is Rome, it doesn’t refer to pre-christian times.
If John uses this period, and Daniel uses this period, and the characteristics of both entities that are persecuting the church are the same, we’re dealing with the same entity that comes out of the Roman empire, and not some Greek entity or something else.

This article is so full of theological errors, it’s very impressive how anyone can publish this as having anything to contribute to the existing bible discoveries that have been done for the past 500 years. And yet some people hail it as a great revelation, the right way to interpret John. You have to be very ignorant and extremely biased in order to believe these arguments have any value. Just one more typical spectrum article attacking things that have been studied and confirmed over and over again.

I can only wish you well in this rigorous exegetical task, given the unwieldy material you have to work with, as set out in the definition above.

I certainly don’t envy you the task you have set your hand to.

Before we know it, it will be 200 years of working over this material!

Perhaps not nearly enough books have been written, read and discussed yet.

Perhaps not enough original texts have been discovered and deciphered, or enough archeological digs dug.

Or perhaps our hermeneutics is sorely lacking and we need to read 400 books on hermeneutics and merge thousands more horizons.

But…maybe we await visitation of benevolent prophetic extraterrestrials to set our eschatological brains to rights.

Or perhaps we need a strong fatherly hand to intervene and utilize the long arm of the General Conference in Session to enforce 19th century pillars of SDA Truth so that we can stop dilly-dallying and get on with our Mission.

No wait, perhaps the lay people should show some proper humility and yield to the scholars. Excellent idea!

But then again, it’s been over 50 years since a team of Evangelical scholars went over our beliefs with a fine tooth comb—maybe it’s time for another checkup and adjustment!

But really, isn’t Social Justice our mission now?

Maybe prophesy is just, you know, hooey.

But the church is hemorrhaging members, so we have to keep transfusing ourselves with Revelation Seminars!

So we need to dust off the Red Books and get cracking, if we want to survive…

But wait…we don’t want to be seen as Catholic Haters…

Branding! That’s the answer! The PR firm will fix this!

All the best, friends.

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth. Grant me undividedness of heart so that I may fear Your name.
—Psalm 82


When Sunday laws are enforced, SDA’s have been instructed to do the same activities on Sunday that the sunday keepers” have been doing all along…

I will try to answer your question as to what you should do in the case of Sunday laws being enforced. 9T 232.1
The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching, was that when the people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from their ordinary work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort. 9T 232.2
To defy the Sunday laws will but strengthen in their persecution the religious zealots who are seeking to enforce them. Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers. If they are left to rein up men who fear neither God nor man, the reining up will soon lose its novelty for them, and they will see that it is not consistent nor convenient for them to be strict in regard to the observance of Sunday. Keep right on with your missionary work, with your Bibles in your hands, and the enemy will see that he has worsted his own cause. One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of the highest importance. 9T 232.3
When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws. 9T 232.4
Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work, and will reach many souls. 9T 233.1
Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way. 9T 233.2


I don’t see a problem with evolving understandings and seeing contemporary conditions in any of the churches, especially the last. God’s people have always felt that Christ’s return would be in their generation or lifetime. As individuals that may be true. But no matter how long it may be, it’s important to have the hope it will be soon. Just my opinion.

I appreciate the article and believe God wants us to grow in our understanding of scripture and especially Revelation. We are in a time when “knowledge will be increased” on all levels. I believe all our scholarship must be more Christ-centered than in the past. It’s obvious that Revelation is based on the OT and the audience understood the symbolism. I think if our pioneers had understood this approach some of their conclusions would be different. This is what they did–discuss and change. Our doctrines need to all be centered around Christ like a frame on a picture. We cannot understand Sabbath or expect other Christians to when we present it as a kind of salvation sign instead of rest in Jesus.
That does not mean all of the insights from the past should be thrown out. Some may have had more meaning for the early SDA church than today. Yet we need the humility to move forward in understanding while keeping in mind and building on the past. Most of all we can’t look down on those who are more traditional in their belief system. It gives identity and stability and a reminder that any of us could be wrong about the details. But details don’t save–only Christ can do that. Knowledge and great understanding cannot replace our spiritual relationship with Christ.


The writer suggests other uses of 3.5 days as used throughout the Bible. I think the 3.5 days is used for the crucifixion in the midst of the week (not necessarily the middle) as well. Could even speculate the midst of the week using one day for a thousand years (to God a thousand years is a one day) if you say it has been 6000 yrs since Eden (symbolically or otherwise) and the crucifixion 2000 yrs ago!

That may very well be, but in that case Jesus would affirm that the 3,5 days in the midst of the week refer to years as well, since you cannot possibly argue that Daniel referred to literal days with the 70 weeks prophecy. The time Daniel lived and the events that took place simply don’t add up. Messiah didn’t come 490 days after the desbribed decree.

Yes, but first determine how the eschatological hope impacted the first recipients of Revelation, and what the letter/prophecy was saying to them…in its entirety. It is clear that it was intended for them first. The contents are bookended by reference to the churches as the addressees. Then, apply it to us and our contemporary situations. We are secondary hearers, so to speak, but can still be guided by what it meant for its original, primary audience. This is a sound method of exegesis and application when approaching any biblical book.

To me, this is far more preferable to trying to read ourselves into the text of Revelation. Every generation has seemed to do this, especially in regards to the last church age. To me, it is eisegetical at its core. It leads to a skewed reading of the book, and skewed interpretive outcomes that impact institutional culture, individual lives, and faith.




Well, my word! I guess the point of all that is said there is that if we can complicate the Gospel enough, if we can twist and turn and make long and involved explanations, and if we can then understand and follow the complicated path which we, ourselves have created, then maybe, just maybe, we can justify to God that we are worthy of his saving grace, but just barely, just by the skin of our chiney chin chin, yes?


I honestly don’t know what you are saying or asking. But I’ll put it this way, someone asked a question and I responded the best way I could in writing. If it could have been more clear In 1 sentence I definitely would have gone that route but I chose to explain as best I could. If you have a question please let me know.

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I agree; the texts were first meant for the audience. I like Jan Paulien’s book on revelation. The Jewish audience would have understood the message for themselves and were acquainted with the symbols from the OT. What I meant is we can also learn from them today and not just read them as only for the past. I am not against someone using them as history as well. I don’t want to be in the position of putting down what others believe. (Although some of the stuff out there is absurd–I think you know what I mean–like the Jesuits in the church, etc.)


And for which I, for one, am most grateful. I have been an Adventist for only 20 years, and after reading the above article, and the ridiculous responses, I wonder what planet you are all living on…maybe the Adventist church in your country is different to where I am. Now while I have been to several different churches in two separate countries, I have never come across any Adventist church so preoccupied with prophecy that it is blind to the gospel. Nor have I met any individual, anywhere, who focuses so much on prophecy that he/she has no thought for the lost and downtrodden around us. While not every church in our denomination is perfect, the criticisms I read of the church in this column I see as just sour grapes.
On another matter, no where I have studied has the “Adventist Party Line” on historic fulfilment ever been set in concrete, never been not subject to sometimes robust, meaningful, and insightful discussion, and the very fact that this is the case is positive for the historicist hermeneutic. None of us demand anyone accept the traditional interpretations without personal study and conviction…none of the prophetic interpretations, not even historicism itself, is in the baptismal formula as part of any creed or criteria for fellowship.
BTW, I am non-trinitarian, and my entire church is aware of it, and I still hold a position on the board and lead adult Sabbath school classes. And likewise for 3 or 4 other members who regularly fellowship in our church.

You all may not accept the Adventist church as having an end-time appointment or purpose…fine…time to stop calling yourselves Adventists and join Saddleback, Oprah, or become Buddhists or something.
Some articles on this forum I do find challenging and thought provoking, such as “Storm clouds over Historicism”. While I disagree that historicism is the ultimate boogey man here, I do believe that the writer has some excellent points regarding our vision …yet I don’t find this so much here; maybe its an American thing. I doubt the African or Asian churches have that problem…which may explain their growth and America’s lack thereof. Yet are we not preaching the same message? I think it comes down to individual commitment to the gospel and our individual consecration to evangelism.
Incidentally, what is the alternative to historicism? Jesuit futurism or Jesuit preterism?

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So…, this is very interesting… You disagree with the Church on the trinitarian issue and brag that you are accepted in your congregation with no problem. And even teach a SS class? BUT, oh…, those who disagree on the interpretation of Revelation…, well… those should go to even “something.”

If this is not declared hypocrisy, I don’t know what is!

I don’t have a problem with you having your own conviction even if it disagrees with the Church’s traditional and still official belief. But I don’t understand why don’t you give others the courtesy of enjoying the same intellectual independence and freedom you claim for yourself. Baffling!!!

And, on the top of it you say, “None of us demand anyone accept the traditional interpretations without personal study and conviction…none of the prophetic interpretations, not even historicism itself, is in the baptismal formula as part of any creed or criteria for fellowship…” Well, … what about sending to Saddleback those who, like you, may not accept some of our Church’s traditional interpretations???**

[a] In my case a lifetime, now 68. :open_mouth:
[b] Planet Earth, if you still accept the traditional name for this planet. … :roll_eyes:
[c] I am in the US for 29 years, though I lived in Brazil for 39 years, and in France for 10 months (right after I was born… :wink: )

Well, don’t worry, I am not writing any SS quarterly. I am not patient enough to wait 5 years to see “my lesson” published, all altered to a point that I wouldn’t recognize it myself…


Hundreds of thousands (probably more) of people have left and joined very doctrinally sound churches. There are lots of them out there. Your view of Christians is very, very limited.


That’s me (hand raised). It really helps when the sermons are verse by verse. The contextual clarity is amazing and really brings the bible to life, IMO. Can never go back to topical which is an opinion with some verses thrown in. Many times extra-biblical verses.
I watched a local Adventist sermon this weekend (only because it featured a relative) and the pastor used exactly two verses from the bible and two from you know who creating a tidy balanced equivalence. Sad.