ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 1

[Once again, a great debt of thanks is due to just a handful of people. Much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “BibleTruthers.org,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read:

  1. Is the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism valid?
  2. Are people correct in their determination that the historical, biblical Sabbath, is different than what is understood and practiced today?
  3. Did the leaders of Adventism, then and now, know and understand that there was a problem in its calculation?
  4. If they knew at the beginning that there was a problem, and they know now there is a problem, why haven’t they addressed it with the church’s membership?  –And to God in repentance, and on their knees?

It is not lightly that we tread here. The understanding and realization that the faith of many will eventually be tested; their true spiritual identity will be both shaken and revealed, is a fact that should cause all of us to enter into this discussion with meekness and in prayer.]

LunarThesis Statement: When the Sabbath is calculated by the true Biblical calendar, it will fall differently than on the Saturday as it is worshipped on today.
Thesis Question: If the Sabbath on the Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday, and if the Adventist Leadership knows this, why does the Seventh-day Adventist Church still teach that Saturday is the true Biblical Sabbath, unchanged since creation?

 The history of the Sabbath within the Seventh-day Adventist Church…

This is the sad story of a cover-up spanning decades. Heaven has tried many times to bring this truth to the world, but each time spiritual pride or fear of the consequences of accepting such a radically different truth has led the Church to reject it and, still more, to cover up the evidences for this truth.

In the mid-1990s, questions arising out of California and Washington regarding the concept of the lunar Sabbath prompted the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) to take action. In 1995, an order originating from the office of then-GC president, Robert Folkenberg, Sr., commissioned a study group to look into the issue of calculating the Sabbath by the ancient Hebrew luni-solar calendar.

The committee members consisted of five scholars, hand-picked from the seminary at Andrews University. In addition to these five, there was also a representative from the Ministerial Department of the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists and another representative from the ministerial Department of the General Conference. Robert M. Johnston, professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the seminary, was selected to head this research committee. No representative from the Biblical Research Institute was on the committee as it was felt that the well-respected scholarship of the various members was of sufficient authority that it was not needed.

The vaults were thrown open for the committee. They were asked to research the Grace Amadon Collection (housed at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University) as well as the four volume series, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by Leroy Edwin Froom. Additional material supplied the committee for study was a series of letters, written by well-respected Adventist scholar, M. L. Andreasen. A research paper on the subject by Elder J. H. Wierts was to be provided, but before it could, something unexpected happened.

It had been expected that the committee would be able to very quickly refute the idea of a lunar Sabbath. What was not expected was what actually happened: as the committee members began studying into the subject, a number of them became convicted of its truth!

The fact is, the entire Seventh-day Adventist denomination was founded upon a belief that the 2300 day/year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 ended on October 22, 1844, as taught by the Millerite Movement of the 1840s. This is significant because the only way to arrive at that date is by using the ancient Biblical luni-solar calendar.

As far back as April, and then in June and December of 1843, and in February of 1844 (1)– months before [William] Miller’s original date expired for the ending of the “Jewish year 1843” at the time of the vernal [spring] equinox in 1844 – his associates (Sylvester Bliss, Josiah Litch, Joshua V. Himes, Nathaniel Southard, Apollos Hale, Nathan Whiting, and others) came to a definite conclusion. This was that the solution of Daniel’s prophecy is dependent upon the ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time, and not upon the altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar. . . . They therefore began to shift from Miller’s original date for the ending of the 2300 years (at the equinox in March), over to the new moon of April, 1844. –Leroy E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 796. (2)

Without the original luni-solar calendar, there would be no Day of Atonement on October 22 in 1844. This ancient method of time-measurement was the very foundation for determining the time prophecy and the cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine which is the hallmark belief of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which grew out of the Millerite movement.

It is important to note in the quote above that a distinction must be made between the “ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time” and the “altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar” in use by Jews around the world today.

The calendar used by Jews today is not the same as was used in Bible times.

Under intense persecution following the Council of Nicæa,] the Jews “fixed” their calendar to align with the continuous weekly cycle of the Julian calendar. Consequently, the Jews in 1844, kept Day of Atonement, or “Yom Kippur,” on September 23, and not on October 22 as the Millerites and later the Seventh-day Adventists claimed was the true Day of Atonement.

The fact that the Jews observed Day of Atonement on September 23 and not October 22 was a fact well-known to the Millerites.

There were many in 1844 who made merry over a lunar reckoning that was not based upon the modern Jewish calendar. The answer was returned: “Every scholar knows that we are correct as to the Karaite [original Jewish] seventh month.” The Millerites were well aware of the rabbinical seventh month in September in 1844, and the circumstance was often mentioned in their papers. At the same time they were emphatic in their challenge that they dissented from the modern Jewish calendar because it did not agree with the laws of Moses. (3)

Heaven used the Millerite Movement to restore to the world a knowledge of the original calendar of Creation, uncorrupted by the later traditions of rabbinical Jews reconciling their observances to the pagan Julian calendar.

Painstakingly studying the Karaite [Jewish] protest in the Middle Ages against the Rabbinical perversion of the calendar, they at last deliberately and irrevocably accepted, restored, and applied to their time-prophecy problem, the earlier calendation championed by the Karaites. And this they did in defiance of the whole body of Rabbinical scholarship and the general current practice of Jewry which change was introduced in the same century and at approximately the same time that the Roman Church . . . changed the Sabbath by church law from the seventh to the first day of the week. (4)

What wisdom . . . the Lord gave those earnest God-fearing and sincere believers . . . to proclaim to the world that they were following the calendar adopted by the Karaite Jews, – those Jews who profess to follow the Scripture rather than following the calendar adopted by the rabbinical orthodox Jews who were following a calendar which they admit is inaccurate in its mode of reckoning. –F. C. Gilbert

The Millerites knew the ancient luni-solar calendar so well that they were able calculate, in advance, the Day of Atonement. Without this understanding, there would have been no “Seventh-Month Movement,” no “Midnight Cry,” and later, no cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine within Adventism. It is not too strong a statement to say that without the luni-solar calendar, there would be no 2300-day doctrine within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar, it does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, does not fall on Friday!

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I will try by God’s grace to make one post each week as I am able. –MWP
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  1. See Midnight Cry, April 27, 1843, p. 30; Signs of the Times, June 21, 1843, p. 123; Dec. 5, 1843, pp. 133-136; Midnight Cry, Feb. 22, 1844, pp. 243, 244.
  2. Bold in original; italics supplied.
  3. Grace Amadon, “Millerite Computation of the October 22 Date,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace Amadon Collection, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University.
  4. Amadon, “Courageous Action of Millerites on ‘Jewish Calendar’ Problem,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace