Time-setting in the Judgment Hour

There has been recent excitement in the remnant church about “new revelations” in time (month, season, etc.) prophecy regarding the close of human probation that is causing many members to digress from their present duty.  I believe that this is dangerous as it is cause for many souls to give up their faith and lulls many into a fatal security regarding the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

I am of the belief that since the passing of time on October 22, 1844, Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and began to conduct the investigative judgment, which puts us on borrowed time. Hence, we should be living every day as if it is our last, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).  

Consider the following statements by Sister White:

We should watch and work and pray as though this were the last day that would be granted us. —Testimonies for the Church 5:200.

Our only safety is in doing our work for each day as it comes, working, watching, waiting, every moment relying on the strength of Him who was dead and who is alive again, who lives forevermore.—Letter 66, 1894.

Each morning consecrate yourselves and your children to God for that day. Make no calculation for months or years; these are not yours. One brief day is given you. As if it were your last on earth, work during its hours for the Master. Lay all your plans before God, to be carried out or given up, as His providence shall indicate.—Testimonies for the Church 7:44.

God has not revealed to us the time when this message will close, or when probation will have an end. Those things that are revealed we shall accept for ourselves and for our children; but let us not seek to know that which has been kept secret in the councils of the Almighty. It is our duty to watch and work and wait, to labor every moment for the souls of men that are ready to perish. We are to keep walking continually in the footsteps of Jesus, working in His lines, dispensing His gifts as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Satan will be ready to give to anyone who is not learning every day of Jesus, a special message of his own creating, in order to make of no effect the wonderful truth for this time.

Letters have come to me asking me if I have any special light as to the time when probation will close; and I answer that I have only this message to bear, that it is now time to work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. Now, just now, it is time for us to be watching, working, and waiting. The Word of the Lord reveals the fact that the end of all things is at hand, and its testimony is most decided that it is necessary for every soul to have the truth planted in the heart so that it will control the life and sanctify the character. The Spirit of the Lord is working to take the truth of the inspired Word and stamp it upon the soul so that professed followers of Christ will have a holy, sacred joy that they will be able to impart to others. The opportune time for us to work is now, just now, while the day lasts. But there is no command for anyone to search the Scripture in order to ascertain, if possible, when probation will close. God has no such message for any mortal lips. He would have no mortal tongue declare that which He has hidden in His secret councils.—The Review and Herald, October 9, 1894.

Those who think they must preach definite time in order to make an impression upon the people do not work from the right standpoint. The feelings of the people may be stirred and their fears aroused, but they do not move from principle. An excitement is created; but when the time passes, as it has done repeatedly, those who moved out upon time fall back into coldness, darkness, and sin, and it is almost impossible to arouse their consciences without some great excitement. —Testimonies for the Church 4:308

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This was the document I came upon last Monday in searching over my writings, and here is another which was written in regard to a man who was setting time in 1884, and sending broadcast his arguments to prove his theories. The report of what he was doing was brought to me at the Jackson, Mich., camp-meeting, and I told the people they need not take heed to this man’s theory; for the event he predicted would not take place. The times and the seasons God has put in his own power, and why has not God given us this knowledge?—Because we would not make a right use of it if he did. A condition of things would result from this knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to live upon time excitement. We are not to be engrossed with speculations in regard to the times and the seasons which God has not revealed. Jesus has told his disciples to “watch,” but not for definite time. His followers are to be in the position of those who are listening for the orders of their Captain; they are to watch, wait, pray, and work, as they approach the time for the coming of the Lord; but no one will be able to predict just when that time will come; for “of that day and hour knoweth no man.” You will not be able to say that he will come in one, two, or five years, neither are you to put off his coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years. —The Review and Herald March 22, 1892.

Time has not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test. The Lord has shown me that the message of the third angel must go, . . . but it must not be hung on time. I saw that some were getting a false excitement, arising from preaching time; but the third angel’s message is stronger than time can be. —Early Writings 75

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I saw that they [Millerites] were correct in their reckoning of the prophetic periods; prophetic time closed in 1844, and Jesus entered the most holy place to cleanse the sanctuary at the ending of the days.” —Early Writings 243.

Some were led into the error of repeatedly fixing upon a definite time for the coming of Christ. The light which was now shining on the subject should have shown them that no prophetic period extends to the second advent; that the exact time of this advent is not foretold. But turning from the light, they continued to set time after time for the Lord to come, and as often they were disappointed.  The apostle’s admonition to the Thessalonians contains an important lesson for those who live in the last days. Many Adventists have felt that unless they could fix their faith upon a definite time for the Lord’s coming, they could not be zealous and diligent in the work of preparation. But as their hopes are again and again excited, only to be destroyed, their faith receives such a shock that it becomes well-neigh impossible for them to be impressed by the great truths of prophecy.

The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, in the giving of the first [angel’s] message, was ordered of God. The computation of the prophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment. The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and close of the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary to sustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the present truth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies. The more frequently a time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and this casts reproach upon the great advent movement of 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upon a date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they will be led to rest in a false security, and many will not be undeceived until it is too late. —The Great Controversy 456-57

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This is the work in which we also are to be engaged. Instead of living in expectation of some special season of excitement, we are wisely to improve present opportunities, doing that which must be done in order that souls may be saved. Instead of exhausting the powers of our mind in speculations in regard to the times and seasons which the Lord has placed in His own power, and withheld from men, we are to yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit, to do present duties, to give the bread of life, unadulterated with human opinions, to souls who are perishing for the truth. —Selected Messages 1:186.

The Lord showed me that the message must go, and that it must not be hung on time; for time will never be a test again. I saw that some were getting a false excitement, arising from preaching time.” —Selected Messages 1:188
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This time . . . is not the end of this world’s history, neither of probationary time, but of prophetic time, which should precede the advent of our Lord. That is, the people will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time, reaching from 1842 to 1844, there can be no definite tracing of the prophetic time. The longest reckoning reaches to the autumn of 1844. —Ms. 59, 1900.

Those who pursue this forbidden computation are characterized as “false teachers.”  The church is to “beware” of these time-setters.  Such “may appear to be very zealous for the work of God, and may expend means to bring their theories before the world and the church;” but, nevertheless–“They are to be met and opposed” by the church, “not because they are bad men, but because they are teachers of falsehood and are endeavoring to put upon falsehood the stamp of truth.”

“They mingle error with truth, their message is one of the deception, and will lead souls into false paths.” —Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 55.

The Watchman

The Watchman

In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light - bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import, - the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. Evangelism, p. 119

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Words of Life

Many, instead of seeking to remove the poisonous matter from the system, take a more deadly poison into the system to remove a poison already there.

— Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, November 14, 1899