What moved the Millerites
In 1844, William Miller and his followers eagerly awaited for the emergence of the Heavenly High Priest. Because of their misunderstanding of what the sanctuary was, they expected this emergence in the second coming of Christ. We know Christ did not return. We know of their disappointment. We also now what truly happened that day. What moved this group to go through with their plan to prepare for Christ’s return? What helped them endure the ridicule of others before and after the disappointment?
One answer would be hope. The kind of hope of Hebrews 11:1. To them there was a certainty and an assurance that Christ would return for them on October 22, 1844.
Another answer is trust. They trusted God’s word to be true. They did not need external evidence to believe Christ return. They believed that anything the Word of God said would happen because God said so.
The story of Noah shows this type of trust. We read in Genesis 6:8 that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” God wanted to spare Noah of the impending destruction. We read in Genesis 6:11 – 13,
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Genesis 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood …
God told Noah what He was about to do. So He ordered Noah to build an ark. In verse 22 we read that, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” Noah listened to God. Noah believed God and trusted God. Noah did not need evidence that it would rain, nor that the ark could float. God’s word was sufficient to him.
Another example is the Roman centurion. Let us read in Matthew 8:5 – 13,
Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into
Matthew 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
Matthew 8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Matthew 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
The Centurion needed no evidence that Jesus, at His word, could heal the servant. He trusted God’s word to be enough.
Another answer to what moved the Millerites to follow through on their quest is Love. They loved Him above all else so they loved His return above all else. Those who love the things of this world above God will not love His return either.
Some people ask the question, “Would you love God even if there was no tomorrow?” In other words, would you love God even if there was no Second Advent and eternal life? The basis for the question is that you should not love Jesus because you want a reward. However, I do not think this is the right question. Let us use the example of marriage to explain. Why did you marry your spouse? Did you marry him/her because you wanted the rewards of married life? Or was it because you love him/her so much you wanted to be as one with him/her for the rest of your life? Let’s apply the same question to God. Do you love God so much now that you would like to spend the rest of your life with Him? The Millerites did. And, those who love Him like that in the end will be saved.