Our 13th and last emphatic belief is "those who are more interested in the return of Christ, rather than the returning Christ, are to be avoided." A short review of the history of reprobates should prove this point.
In December of 999 AD, a great frenzy spread across Europe – the end of the world was less than 1 month away. Churches were flooded with confessions and possessions, debts were forgiven, prisoners freed, and merchants refused payments for goods. Many of the sick begged to be placed outdoors to see Christ's descent from heaven. Pope Sylvester II held a mid-night mass at St. Peter's in Rome, the supposed last one ever to occur on earth, and in the moments before midnight, as the church bells sounded, enemies embraced each other with the kiss of peace. But nothing happened. The aftermath left behind a wake of disillusionment, especially when churches refused to return people's possessions.
In 1843, William Miller from Pittsfield, MA, a captain in the War of 1812 and self-taught Bible scholar, preached the imminent return of Christ across the United States. Using Daniel's prophecy of 2300 days, Miller predicted Christ's return on March 21, 1843 by arguing that all mentions of days in all prophecy meant 'years'. After the date came and went, he adjusted it to March 21, 1844 by correcting a 1-year mistake. His ever-fervent teachings impacted the Northeastern US, with his ardent followers selling homes and businesses, and leaving crops in the field to 'flee Sodom'. The second date likewise was uneventful. Miller's unphased followers audited his calculations, found another error, and set another date (Oct. 22, 1844). Obviously, that didn't pan out – but Adventism was born.
Some were embarrassed and gave up, but not all. Ellen G. White had an answer: Jesus did return in 1844, but invisibly. (Her "visions" helped reinvigorate their members.) Jonas Swendahl also had an answer: 1844 was the beginning of the last generation and predicted Christ's return in 1874. While him and his date were forgotten, a zealot out of the Covenanters Reformed camp from Allegheny, PA, one Charles Taze Russell, was influenced by Swendahl and joined the movement. He came up with a date of 1914, but this and other differences led him to split from the Adventists and launch Zion's Watchtower. His followers were to leave their churches and fellowship together. All churches were considered apostate, but God had provided a new channel for their instruction, Zion's Watchtower Tract Society, which in turn became known as the Jehovah's Witnesses. The date of 1914 was changed to 1925, 1941, and 1975.
Jesus plainly said, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.