Mistakes on the Charts?
A friend forwarded me an email question and his answer to the question from another friend. His answer included an answer from Pastor R. I then answered. The following is the initial question:
I was just reading the latest Future News [January 2013] in the first few pages if I understood correctly Jeff was saying that not everything was correct on the 1843 chart such as the date 158 BC as the league with the Jews and the Romans. Is this true? I thought that there was an explanation for that date. I thought I had heard you comment on it before so I am asking you. Can you explain? I didn’t think that there were any mistakes on that chart (except the ending year of 1843, instead of 1844 which really isn’t a mistake either).Thank you, C.
Brother D then answered Sister C with the following email:
Hope this finds you well. I think this answer was formulated from Pastor R…. “To answer your question about the league between the Jews and Romans, according to the 1843 prophecy chart, 1 Maccabees 9:70, 71 is quoted to show 158 BC as the date of the league. However, there were two different ‘leagues’ or peace treaties made with the Romans.
“According to Uriah Smith and also 1 Maccabees chapter 7:1 and chapter 8, the date of the first league was in 161 BC when the Romans and Jews made a peace agreement. This first peace treaty did not last however, because in that same year Bacchides, a loyal Roman ruler, made war against the Jews. In this war Judas Maccabeus was killed. Later his brother Jonathon took over leadership of the Jews. In the beginning of 159 BC Alcimus, the false high priest, died after attempting to tear down the walls of the temple and Bacchides left the Jews alone for 2 years (see 1 Macabees 9:54–57). The Jewish reckoning of time included the full year; therefore, the 2 years would include 159 and 158 BC. Bacchides came back again to battle sometime in 158 BC and lost to the Jews. When he returned to his own land the Jews once again asked for peace and it was granted. This was the second ‘league’ made between the Jews and Romans and this time it lasted longer. This league is found in 1 Maccabees 9:70, 71, and is quoted on the center column of the 1843 chart next to the year of 158 BC. The 1843 chart is therefore accurate about this date.
In response to this email dialogue being sent to me I answered it and mailed it to Brother D, Sister C, and Pastor R, for Pastor R had been referred to in the dialogue.
The following is my response:
Brothers D and Pastor R and Sister C,
I probably said that everything on the chart is not accurate, for I was settling into an understanding which is now more crystallized. My point is as follows:
Sister White’s statement about the Lord holding His hand over a mistake in the some of the figures is explained on pages 235 through 237 of Early Writings. The mistake is the “fullness of the year mistake” which caused the first disappointment on March 22, 1844. It is out of context to suggest that her statements means there are no other inaccuracies (mistakes) on the chart. Maybe there is maybe there is not, but my point is that her reference is referring to the mistake in some of the figures which the Lord held His hand over.
She also says the chart “should not be altered,” but in Spalding and Magan she says “it should not be altered, except by inspiration.” The altering of the chart by inspiration was accomplished with the production of the 1850 chart. The statement concerning the chart not being altered does not mean that the 1843 chart was perfect in every respect, other than the mistake of 1843 which He held His hand over. It means that the Lord would produce the second of Habakkuk’s two tables, and that when He did so it would be altered under His guidance and direction, and not by men. Both tables needed to be produced to fulfill Habakkuk two, and in the first table the Lord allowed a specific mistake that would be used to test the Millerites. His expression that the chart should not be altered can be understood as His Providential guidance, and once again does not have to be understood that it should not be altered because everything on the 1843 chart (other than the fullness of the year mistake) was perfect.
Moses’ two tables of the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, and were perfect and prefigured Habakkuk’s two tables. But Habakkuk’s two tables were “directed by the Lord,” not written by the His own finger. The Ten Commandments were perfect, but the 1843 and 1850 charts had human participation, and were subject to human imperfection and limitations, and the particular human limitations which the charts were both subject to was the history in which the Millerites lived.
My point for suggesting these things is as follows. The last deception of Satan is to make of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy. When the testing process began in Adventism on 9/11, the first of three tests is the old paths (as represented upon the 1843 and 1850 charts) and the Spirit of Prophecy.
I have no problem understanding all the figures on the chart as correct applications by the Millerites, but do not insist that the dates they placed on the charts as necessarily the best historical dates, except when they refer to time prophecies. If they had a date that was marked as the fulfillment of a time prophecy, then that date needed to be accurate, but when they employed dates to represent prophecies that had no element of time associated with them, then I see no need to argue that if a better date was found at a later time, that this would invalidate their application of the prophecy.
The ‘43 chart uses the year 490 to represent the time when the Roman Empire was divided into ten kingdoms, whereas Uriah Smith marks that history in 476. I do not believe that Sister White’s statement about the Lord holding “His hand over a mistake in some of the figures” should be defined as proving that 490 was the year when the Roman Empire became ten kingdoms. It is applying her statement differently than she defines it. She clearly identifies that the mistake was in regard to the 2520 and 2300 which they first believed would end in 1843 and thereafter in 1844.
I DO NOT think that 490 is a mistake on the chart in terms of the Millerites correctly applying that the division of the fourth kingdom in Daniel seven into ten kingdoms was incorrect. They were correct in applying the fourth kingdom as pagan Rome, and they were correct in identifying that pagan Rome disintegrated into ten kingdoms. The fact that the best historical information they had marked the conclusion of that history as the year 490 does not make their prophetic application wrong, even if thereafter there was recognized better historical arguments to assign the date as 476.
If they would have taught on the chart that the fourth kingdom of Daniel seven was China, and that at some point China would disintegrate into ten nations, they would have been wrong. But they did not do this. Their application was correct, and their choice of 490 as the year which marked the conclusion of this process is not a subject of any time prophecy, so it was acceptable for them to employ the best historical evidence which they then had. I am not even here arguing against the idea that maybe their choice of 490 is correct and Uriah Smith’s choice of 476 is wrong. I am arguing that the inspired commentary about the mistake on the chart which the Lord held His hand over, and the command not to alter the chart is not evidence that the chart was totally free from human imperfection.
My point is that the “mistake” that is being addressed is the fullness of the year mistake, and that as she explains this mistake on pages 235 through 237 of Early Writings she provides an absolute direct endorsement for the 2520. To argue that everything on the chart is perfect, based on her presentation of what the mistake was is to take her words further than she intended and also opens up an argument (stumbling block) concerning the perfection of the charts that is not necessary, and which provides those who wish to reject this subject with a criticism that is not demanded by her explanation of what the mistake was.
I have no problem defending every application of prophecy on either chart, but do not think that her reference to the mistake proves historically or grammatically that she was saying there were no other human imperfections on either chart. As an example, the charts identify that the ten toes were the divided Roman Empire, but prophecy teaches that the ten toes represent the United Nations at the end of the world. Ellen White plainly says:
“We have come to a time when God’s sacred work is represented by the feet of the image in which the iron was mixed with the miry clay. God has a people, a chosen people, whose discernment must be sanctified, who must not become unholy by laying upon the foundation wood, hay, and stubble. Every soul who is loyal to the commandments of God will see that the distinguishing feature of our faith is the seventhday Sabbath. If the government would honor the Sabbath as God has commanded, it would stand in the strength of God and in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. But statesmen will uphold the spurious sabbath, and will mingle their religious faith with the observance of this child of the papacy, placing it above the Sabbath which the Lord has sanctified and blessed, setting it apart for man to keep holy, as a sign between Him and His people to a thousand generations. The mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is represented by the iron and the clay. This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God’s forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy. But the time will come when God will punish those who have made void His law, and their evil work will recoil upon themselves.” The Seventh-day Adventists Bible Commentary, volume 4, 1168.
Sister White penned this in 1899. So in 1899 we reached the time of the iron and clay, but both charts say this was 490 according to the Millerites and 476 according to Uriah Smith. Yet we now know that Sister White was correct and that the ten toes of iron and clay take place at the end of the world, not sixteen hundred years ago. For me, I have no problem upholding the Millerite application based upon typology. The ten toes illustrate the United Nations at the end of the world, but there are several illustrations of the ten kings at the end of the world in God’s word. Each of the places where the United Nations is typified in the Scriptures is a type of the antitypical fulfillment of the United Nations at the end of the world, including the division of the Roman Empire in Daniel seven. Therefore the Millerites were making the correct application by identifying the ten toes as the dragon power, but they could not yet see the end of the world, so were incapable of applying those toes to the United Nations.
Their application was absolutely right in terms of Daniel seven and the division being the dragon power, but at another level it is not as accurate as it could have been if they had lived in 2013. There was no mistake in their prophetic application, but there is clearer light on the subject now, and Sister White’s commentary on the mistake the Lord held His hand over should not be used to teach that every representation on the chart is perfect, for if we do, that claim will be used by Satan to place stumbling blocks before men in order to prevent them from recognizing that her explanation of the mistake is also her direct endorsement of the 2520.
The 2520 being a symbol of the testing of the “old paths,” is directly connected to the testing on the issue of the Spirit of Prophecy with her direct endorsement of the 2520 in Early Writings, 235–237. Because this is such an important test for Seventh-day Adventists it demands that those being used to present the test to Adventism do not place a definition upon her identifying the “mistake” as something that goes beyond her actual definition.
I am familiar with Emiliano’s explanation of 158 BC and AD161, and have no problem with it, but personally would not make a great emphasis of it. The reason is as follows: The fact that Millerites correctly applied Daniel 11:23 as the league between the Romans and the Jews, shows that they were correctly applying God’s prophetic word. Their prophetic application was correct. But to explain 158 BC in terms of the perfection of the charts opens the door for the secondary, if not primary reason Miller chose 158 BC.
Miller applied this history as he did because he believed the first beast of Revelation 13 was pagan Rome, and therefore sought to apply Revelation 13:18 to pagan Rome. Miller applied 666 to pagan Rome and applied the 666 years from 158 BC through AD 508 as one the characteristics of pagan Rome. Thus, according to Miller the “wisdom,” or wise understanding of Revelation 13:18, is that 666 is a time prophecy connected with pagan Rome and that this is one of the prophetic characteristics of pagan Rome. Miller correctly understood and applied that the powers in Bible prophecy are introduced when they come into contact with God’s people. Thus pagan Rome came into contact with the Jews in fulfillment of Daniel 11:23 in 158 BC, and therefore 666 years afterward in AD 508, paganism gave way to papalism. 158 BC was more important to Miller than simply the league, for it identified 666 as one of the prophetic characteristics of the first beast of Revelation 13, which for the Millerites was pagan Rome. Miller understood 666 to represent the time which pagan Rome would prophetically rule, and that time was from 158 BC with the league of the Jews until AD 508 when the “daily” was taken away.
We no longer believe the first beast of Revelation 13 was pagan Rome. We know it was papal Rome. There is more than one problem with this application of Miller’s. If we incorporate the fact that the Millerites did not recognize the fullness of the year principle before 1844, then if we begin a time prophecy at the league of the Jews in 158 BC and extend it into history for 666 years, it would end in 509 not 508, unless of course the league Miller pointed out was accomplished on January 1,158 BC.
I see no need of fighting this battle with those who are struggling with or fighting against the truths of the old paths. The Millerites were correct in their application of Daniel 11:23 being a prophecy that demonstrated that a league between the Jews and the Romans would take place. There is no time prophecy connected with Daniel 11:23, so either 158 BC or AD 161 is sufficient to represent the history when it took place without demanding that every date or representation on the charts are perfect.
Let me repeat what I have already noted. I have no problem defending all the prophetic applications represented on both charts, for all the applications are correct. I simply no longer accept the premise that what has been stated about the charts on page 74 of Early Writings is correctly understood to mean the charts were perfect and free from human limitations.
The fundamental error which Desmond Ford erects his false “sin until Jesus returns theology” upon is a prophetic falsehood. He teaches that Daniel eight demonstrates that the power under discussion which came out of the kingdom of Greece is actually a further elaboration of the history of Greece and not the fourth kingdom of Rome. In doing this he attacks the correct Adventist understanding of 1844 and everything else connected with that correct understanding. His argument is based upon Daniel 8:9 which states:
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
Ford argues that the little horn in the verse came out of one of the four horns of Greece and therefore cannot be Rome, for Rome was not a direct descendant of Greece. He then argues that the antichrist power in chapter eight must be Antiochus Epiphanes, and thus attacks the pillars of Adventism. An informed understanding of the verse at the level of the Hebrew language, demonstrates that the little horn came from one of the four winds, not one of the four horns. Yet on the 1850 chart and some ‘43 charts we see a graphic illustration that the little horn of Rome is connected with and descended from the four horns of Greece. I personally have no problem understanding the illustration and explaining it, but am not willing to say that this is the perfect way to graphically illustrate Daniel 8:8-9.
My personal understanding of what the word “mistake” and the expression that the chart “should not be altered” has been a development of thought. I no doubt took the position early on when I was being led back to the old paths that everything on the chart was perfect. I do not know if I ever made that claim publicly, but would not be surprised if this was so. And then as I began to wrap my mind around what the mistake was and what it meant to the debate of the east wind, I may have said things which appear that I am rejecting the idea that everything on the chart is correct. This is not what I understand. I understand the charts to be correct, but that there are elements on the charts that are not perfect due to the history when they were prepared and the human limitations to see beyond that history. I then reached the point where I understood that when we claim the charts are perfect we are making the reception of the truths connected with the old paths more difficult for some to receive. I then came to understand that the fullness of the year mistake, which is explained in Early Writings, pages 235 through 237 is an explanation of the passage on page 74. At that point I saw a prophetic implication that is more significant than what we have just been discussing.
There was a mistake concerning the 2300 and the 2520 that produced a purposeful testing of the Millerites. Now the very explanation of that mistake in their history is once again testing the end of Adventism as the Millerite history repeats to the very letter. In the passages under discussion in Early Writings the doctrines that are being referred to are the 2520, the 2300 and the “daily”, for in her statement concerning the chart she includes her pronouncement that those that gave the judgment hour cry had the correct view of the “daily”. Therefore the parallel to the first disappointment test, is the testing of the 2300, 2520 and the “daily” in connection with Habakkuk’s two tables. Therefore the parallel test has to do with these issues, and also the Spirit of Prophecy, for the commentary on these doctrines and the charts is found in Early Writings.
For me there is a great field of study when relating to these doctrines, the charts and their identification by the Spirit of Prophecy in the context of the parallel test of the first disappointment, for we can see the test of the old paths, the Spirit of prophecy, the gathering of the people represented by the 2520, the judgment of the living as represented by the 2300 and the law of God as represented by the two tables, along with the need of crucifixion of self as represented by the taking away of the “daily”. Wonderful themes are encapsulated in this repetition of history and it behooves us to be very careful in how we apply the understanding of these things in the context of this current testing process. Jeff Pippenger.
Once I sent this response I received the following from Sister C:
Thank you for your answer you have given me something to investigate further. I understand where you are coming from in your saying that we need to be careful saying that there are no mistakes on the chart. I’m just coming from the angle that I hear all of the time that “the chart is full of mistakes,” so I know where those closest to me will try to take that. I guess this is something I need to put further study into. I find more and more I have much more studying to do.
I talked with someone the other day who fully believes that we are going to find a mistake on the 1850 chart that will sift God’s people. They think that His hand may be over a mistake on the 1850 chart. I believe that there may be something that we have to rethink but I am not at all convinced that it will have anything to do with the 1850 chart. I guess it could if history is repeated to the very letter but I have my doubts that it will come that way. We must ever be studying and praying for God to lead us. Tell Kathy hello for me. May God bless you both and your ministry. My son K really wants to attend your school when he is old enough. Keep us in your prayers as you are both in ours. Thank you for your time. Sister C.
I then answered Sister C as follows:
I did not go into detail in the last email, but I don’t think it is an error on the 1850 chart that repeats the history of the first disappointment. I think the repeated test is Ellen White’s commentary on the chart on pages 74 and then 235–237.
We have been told we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget the Lord’s teachings and leadings in our past experience. The teaching of the 2520 and the “daily” is what we have forgotten, and it is these very teachings that she addresses in those pages. It was those very truths (the 2520 and the 2300) that produced the experience of the first disappointment, and therefore it is that experience and those teachings that we should fear lest we forget.
The Millerites were tested by those teachings and the lived the experience, and we are now being tested by those same teachings once again, and have entered into the identical experience they found themselves in, for after the first disappointment they began to teach specifically that the 2300 and the 2520 which they first thought ended in 1843 actually ended in 1844. Because of these teachings the churches began to persecute them. And now, because of these identical teachings the persecution is being repeated, thus the experience is being repeated.
But this time we have the added testing of whether we will accept the inspiration of the Spirit of Prophecy in connection with these truths, thus the Spirit of Prophecy and the old paths become our first test. Along with that, we did not see the 2520 until the Lord removed His hand, so to speak.
You are in our prayers. Say hello to K, and the faithful in your neck of the woods. Happy Sabbath. Jeff.
The next morning I received this from Pastor R:
Hi Jeff, D, and C,
Good response, Jeff. Actually, I am of the same conviction and have shared this with others in regard to the prophetic accuracy of the two charts. Just recently I had an email dialogue with an SDA pastor who attempted to disparage the correct view of the “daily” and in the same breath tried to argue that Ellen White said that there were “mistakes” on the 1843 chart. I shared with him that the “mistake” (singular) was in reference to the reckoning of prophetic time in connection with the 2520 and 2300, that the pioneer view of the “daily” was correct and established by the year AD 508; but that it is true that there are some minor inaccuracies on both charts that do not affect our prophetic understanding of truth.
For example, at the bottom of the 1843 chart next to the date of 1843 it states “God’s Everlasting Kingdom”. This obviously proved to be inaccurate inasmuch as Christ did not come in that year—according to Millerite logic; but this does not affect the accuracy of their prophetic reasoning since this “mistake” led to the fulfillment of prophecy in the tarrying time and led to the light of the midnight cry. It is the same with the 1850 chart—there are also some minor irregularities on this as well. Under the “Image beast” is associated the number “666” which we understand (according to some clarifications later on in the 1860’s by James White and Uriah Smith during the Civil War conscription crisis) actually is more accurately connected with the first beast—the papacy— who has a “man” whose “name” numbers 666.
The point is, I agree with Brother Jeff’s conclusions that we cast stumbling blocks before the weak and ignorant when we make the wrong battle our battle. Claiming that the two charts are “infallible” opens up a door whereby our opponents claim that we are unreasonable and fanatical and thereby they end up “throwing out the baby with the bath water” and reject everything we teach. The Millerite logic was absolutely correct in how they laid the foundation of proof-text Bible interpretation methods to unlock Daniel and Revelation based on the day/year principle, and the two charts clearly illustrate the fundamental truths which comprise the first, second, and third angel’s message. However, those living especially before 1844, only had the light of truth that would reach until the coming of Christ in that expected year. As we now know, we have much greater light shining upon our pathway today: the 10 toes of Daniel 2; the 7 heads and 10 kings of Revelation 17; the number 666; the third woe relating to Islam rather than to the second coming of Christ as our pioneers taught; and the two beasts of Revelation 13 relating to Papal Rome and the United States.
While saying this, let me clarify that I, too, would defend the Millerite understanding of prophetic dates according to the history available. But it is clear that the following dates on the 1843 chart are debatable: 538 BC, 332 BC, 158 BC, AD 490, and 606 BC. Some other history gives these more accurate dates: 539 BC, 331 BC, 161 BC, AD 476, and 622 BC. This does not, however, negate the fact that the subjects of these dates are absolutely accurate. 539/8 BC refers to the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians; 332/1 BC refers to the overthrow of Medo-Persia by Alexander the Great in the Battle of Arbela; 161/158 BC refers to the league made between the Jews and Romans; AD 490/476 refers to the division of Rome into 10 kingdoms; and AD 606/622 refers to the rise of Islam through Mohammed. Some of the arguments for these dates become insignificant, in my opinion—such as the rise of Islam in AD 606 or 622—because Mohammed was teaching throughout these years and working to consolidate the Arab tribes; but the two dates refer to two different events in his life according to different histories which you read. I don’t believe that these dates are our argument. The subjects of these dates are to be defended, but not necessarily these specific dates. The dates that are our battle are the commencement dates of the chain of truth given to William Miller by the angel Gabriel: 677 BC, 457 BC, and AD 508 (which relates to the years 1843 and 1844).
I answered the question in regard to the league in 158 BC because it was my intention to show that the Millerites were correct in selecting that date based on the portion of 1 Maccabees they quoted on the chart (9:70, 71). The league which Uriah Smith quotes (161 BC) is based on an earlier history in this same book. Both events can be argued for (I personally believe, based on history, that Uriah Smith’s selection of 161 BC is probably more accurate according to an actual political “league” made between the Jews and Romans), but my point in my argument was to defend the Millerite understanding and accuracy of selecting 158 BC based on 1 Maccabees 9:70, 71 which is what they quoted from and put on the chart. Therefore, the history they used is correct.
There is another point which I suppose I won’t go into right now, but which has been made crystal clear in my mind just within the last month or so which I believe that we need to understand if we are going to claim to uphold the Millerite logic, and that is the “full year concept.” While in Germany I studied this out with another brother and light finally flooded into my mind (I will probably share this in Arkansas next month). But in our defense and explanation of the “mistake” in regard to the 1843 chart, we have (at least the majority of us, including myself in the past) incorrectly attempted to explain this issue as being a “zero year” problem; which is false. Nowhere in any of the pioneer writings do they ever discuss some “zero year”. This is a complete fallacy based on the misunderstanding and incorrect explanation of the modern day Adventist scholars who are completely ignorant of Millerite history, prophecy, and logic. If you simply add a one to the end of our prophetic chronology without taking into consideration the actual months in a year, you throw off the pinpoint accuracy of the autumn of 1844— specifically October 22. This I hope to explain more clearly soon on video. Keep studying folks! God bless and be with you all. Sincerely, PR. E.R.
The next morning I received the following email from Brother D:
Do you have an editorial committee? You are a good writer to say the least, but to use the 1863 chart arguments which were BETTER UNDERSTOOD AS HISTORY PROGRESSED, yes in some cases, but when there is a witness of two, BOTH charts say 490 under inspiration, that means something. We have to understand their significance and not alter them by our thinking. I understand how one can use 476, but I think a battle is brewing on this one. I am getting more interest on this newsletter than usual, and I am not one that likes to email. I am easy to misunderstand when I mean well. I get the basics of your earlier email and have more to learn. Kind regards Brother D.
I then responded as follows:
By the way, I do think both charts are correct in representing that the fourth kingdom of Rome disintegrated into ten kingdoms. There isn’t anything on either chart that I think is incorrect, but I have been wrong before.
The controversy concerning the 1863 chart isn’t about whether James White and Uriah Smith were falsely claiming that they better understood history; it is about the rejection of a truth which is represented upon both the ‘43 and ‘50 charts. The truths on the two charts are the foundational truths and the pillar truths. I am willing to defend every one of those truths, but the 1863 chart began to reject them.
You also have represented on the ‘43 chart that Himes published the ‘43 chart and Nichols identifying that he published the ‘50 chart; thus providing two witnesses that human beings were involved in the production of both charts, which is quite different than the production of the Ten Commandments.
Both the Ten Commandments and Habakkuk’s tables represent Christ, and in this regard Habakkuk’s tables are representing that He took upon Himself fallen human flesh (Himes and Nichols)—though He never sinned. If we insist that there is no human imperfection on the tables, then we are echoing the claim that Christ took the nature of Adam before the fall, and we know this is not so. In spite of any weakness in terms of historical accuracy on the charts they represent the Truth, and He is the Truth, He never sinned and at this level there is no error on the charts. His willingness to accept fallen flesh after 4000 years of degeneration provides you and me with the example that we can have confidence that the tables are perfect though encumbered with the liabilities of humanities limitations. Your brother Jeff.