The Second Angel’s Message: Part 1

Sabbath school commentary for discussion alongside the Adult Bible Study Guide for May 20, 2023.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12358
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I appreciate Tonstad’s in depth presentation of Revelation’s Babylon (in fact, I appreciate the entire series). I have for years now seen the seduction he describes and that the two women of Revelation are really the same one seen from two different times. It is the story of a shocking apostacy which Paul had foretold in his own letters contemporary with John’s epic missive, that of Revelation.

Seems to be a direct reference to Jews in relation to those who chose to follow Jesus.
Rev 2:9; 3:9 “I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan."

For a very long time I wondered why the letters to the seven churches were included in the book of Revelation. It seemed such an anomaly for a book purporting to be a “revelation of Jesus”… that is, until I started seeing the “seven” (complete, total*) churches as God’s people, universally–Jews, Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Adventists, Evangelicals–in light of this woman who is seduced to follow the dragon. Now it seems quite imperative for these “letters” to be included. Taken together, it seems to be a warning for all of us who want to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” to make sure we’re not in league with the dragon in perpetuating the lie about God.

*Alfred Edersheim says the number 7 “became in Scripture-symbolism the sacred or covenant number.” (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services (first published 1974, 2017), p.98). However, based on Paul’s description of Gentiles being grafted into the covenant, Messianic/Christ-believers would still be plausibly included in the intended audience of these letters.

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The historic position of the Millerites and the SDA church concerning the identity and chronology of the 2nd angel’s message was that the Babylon that fell were all the Protestant denominations that did not accept the theory that an exact date for the Second Coming could be predicted. In about 1843 the majority of the Millerites insisted that the “day” if not the very hour of the Second Coming could and must be known by all sincere Christians. When the Protestant denominations said that claiming to know “the day” was heretical. Charles Fitch preached a Come Out of Babylon sermon in which he said that all the Protestant denominations were now Babylon; that believing that God had revealed the very day of the Second Coming was indispensable for salvation; and that anyone that did not believe this was part of Satan’s kingdom. This convinced Ellen White and her family to part from the local Methodist church. Ellen pronounced that knowing “the day” was a “saving message” (See Spiritual Gifts, vol 1 page 136) Most SDAs will be surprised to learn that Ellen White supported this date-setting theory. They are probably also not aware that Miller and his chief lieutenants repudiated repeatedly setting an exact date–like October 22, 1844-- until they abruptly were converted to the Oct 22, 1844 date on––––on Oct 6, 1844. By May 1845 Miller retracted his support for Oct 22, 1844. But Ellen White remained attached to Oct 22, 1844 the remainder of her life.

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Thank you so much, Dr. Tonstad, for sharing what you’ve learned about the book of Revelation. I so appreciate this series of articles. The contrasts and connections you’ve made between various texts in the Old Testament and Revelation, as well as within Revelation itself are so clear and helpful in establishing an understanding of what John wrote and why. I’m saving each article, as I believe questions about the book of Revelation will increase significantly, and as history plays out, these insights will be invaluable in helping honest people understand the deceptions God is warning about.

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That’s fascinating Donald Casebolt. It’s so interesting to see how Ellen White matured in her understanding of what salvation entails. Her statement in Desire of Ages 638.2 (below) is such a contrast to her believing that knowledge about a projected date of Christ’s return was a “saving message.” It appears that as she got older, God was able to “save” her from many misconceptions about who He is and what He’s like.

“Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.” Desire of Ages 638.2

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Two thousand years ago, Livy noted that the oppressed often flip a switch and become the oppressors:

“Our anxiety to avoid oppression leads us to practice it ourselves; the injustice we repel, we visit in turn upon others, as if there were no choice except either to do it or to suffer it.” — Livy

Is it ironic then, or merely part of the circular nature of life, that EGW, having been called out of the purported Protestant Babylon as defined by Miller et. als., went about establishing a new doomsday cult founded upon her own obsession with legalistic interpretation of scripture, suppression of almost all natural human urges, and thousands of pages of spiritualistic “babbling on”?

Having been deprived of joy in her own childhood by the near death experience of having been hit in the face by a rock, is it surprising that in adulthood she would go on to encourage children not to laugh and smile, lest satan commandeer their souls in an unguarded moment of joie de vivre?

I’m also curious, Don, if in all your research you’ve found any evidence that EGW was a self-loathing homosexual or that she had any hand in instigating any of the fires of suspicious origins in Battle Creek around the turn of the century, these after her dream about a flaming sword looming over the SDA enclave which she feared had been irretrievably infested by the good, if eccentric, Dr. Kellogg and his employees? Isn’t it obvious that rather than being a move inspired by god, the decision to move SDA HQ to Takoma Park was a direct result of the fact that she and the church leadership had been overmatched and outmaneuvered by Dr. Kellogg in Michigan where he had lobbied the legislature to pass regulations which prevented him from spending any money earned by the Battle Creek San outside of the state?

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…written in the truly beautiful words of editors Fannie Bolton and/or Marion Davis…

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