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The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, [1858], at



The Third Angel's Message


As the ministration of Jesus closed in the Holy place, and he passed into the Holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, he sent another mighty angel to earth with the third message.  He placed a parchment in the angel's hand, and as he descended to earth in majesty and power, he proclaimed a fearful warning, the most terrible threatening ever borne to man.  This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, and show them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them.  Said the angel, They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image.  Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast.  Although their lives are at stake, yet they must hold fast the truth.  The third angel closes his message with these words, Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.  As he repeated these words he pointed to the heavenly Sanctuary.  The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the Most Holy place where Jesus stands before the ark, making his final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers, and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God.  This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living.  Jesus makes an atonement for those who died, not receiving the light upon God's commandments, who sinned ignorantly.

After Jesus opened the door of the Most Holy the light of the Sabbath was seen, and the people of God were to be tested and proved, as God proved the children of Israel anciently, to see if they would keep his law.  I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the Holiest of the heavenly Sanctuary.  They followed Jesus by faith into the Most Holy.  Again they have found Jesus, and joy and hope spring up anew.  I saw them looking back reviewing the past, from the proclamation of the second advent of Jesus, down through their travels to the passing of the time in 1844.  They see their disappointment explained, and joy and certainty again animate them.  The third angel has lighted up the past, present and future, and they know that God has indeed led them by his mysterious providence.

It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the Most Holy place, and beheld the ark, and the mercy-seat, and were captivated with their glory.  Jesus raised the cover of the ark, and behold! the tables of stone, with the ten commandments written upon them.  They trace down the lively oracles; but they start back with trembling when they see the fourth commandment living among the ten holy precepts, while a brighter light shines upon it than upon the other nine, and a halo of glory is all around it.  They find nothing there informing them that the Sabbath has been abolished, or changed to the first day of the week.  It reads as when spoken by the mouth of God in solemn and awful grandeur upon the mount, while the lightnings flashed and the thunders rolled, and when written with his own holy finger in the tables of stone.  Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.  They are amazed as they behold the care taken of the ten commandments.  They see them placed close by Jehovah, overshadowed and protected by his holiness.  They see that they have been trampling upon the fourth commandment of the decalogue, and have observed a day handed down by the heathen and papists, instead of the day sanctified by Jehovah.  They humble themselves before God, and mourn over their past transgressions.

I saw the incense in the censer smoke as Jesus offered their confessions and prayers to his Father.  And as it ascended, a bright light rested upon Jesus, and upon the mercy-seat; and the earnest, praying ones, who were troubled because they had discovered themselves to be transgressors of God's law, were blest, and their countenances lighted up with hope and joy.  They joined in the work of the third angel, and raised their voices and proclaimed the solemn warning.  But few at first received the message, yet they continued with energy to proclaim the warning.  Then I saw many embrace the message of the third angel, and unite their voices with those who had first proclaimed the warning, and they exalted God and magnified him by observing his sanctified Rest-day.

Many who embraced the third message had not an experience in the two former messages.  Satan understood this, and his evil eye was upon them to overthrow them; but the third angel was pointing them to the Most Holy place, and those who had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly Sanctuary.  Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels' messages, and gladly received it.  They embraced them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly Sanctuary.  These messages were represented to me as an anchor to hold the body.  And as individuals receive and understand them, they are shielded against the many delusions of Satan.

After the great disappointment in 1844, Satan and his angels were busily engaged in laying snares to unsettle the faith of the body.  He was affecting the minds of individuals who had a personal experience in these things.  They had an appearance of humility.  They changed the first and second messages, and pointed to the future for their fulfilment, while others pointed far back in the past, declaring that they had been there fulfilled.  These individuals were drawing the minds of the inexperienced away, and unsettling their faith.  Some were searching the Bible to try to build up a faith of their own, independent of the body.  Satan exulted in all this; for he knew that those who broke loose from the anchor, he could affect by different errors and drive about with winds of doctrine.  Many who had led in the first and second messages, denied them, and division and scattering was throughout the body.  I then saw Wm. Miller.  He looked perplexed, and was bowed with sorrow and distress for his people.  He saw the company who were united and loving in 1844, losing their love for each other, and opposing one another.  He saw them fall back into a cold, backslidden state.  Grief wasted his strength.  I saw leading men watching Wm. Miller, and fearing lest he should embrace the third angel's message and the commandments of God.  And as he would lean towards the light from heaven, these men would lay some plan to draw his mind away.  I saw a human influence exerted to keep his mind in darkness, and to retain his influence among them.  At length Wm. Miller raised his voice against the light from heaven.  He failed in not receiving the message which would have fully explained his disappointment, and cast a light and glory on the past, which would have revived his exhausted energies, brightened up his hope, and led him to glorify God.  But he leaned to human wisdom instead of divine, and being broken with arduous labor in his Master's cause, and by age, he was not as accountable as those who kept him from the truth.  They are responsible, and the sin rests upon them.  If Wm. Miller could have seen the light of the third message, many things which looked dark and mysterious to him would have been explained.  His brethren professed such deep love and interest for him, he thought he could not tear away from them.  His heart would incline towards the truth; but then he looked at his brethren.  They opposed it.  Could he tear away from those who had stood side and shoulder with him in proclaiming Jesus' coming?  He thought they surely would not lead him astray.

God suffered him to come under the power of Satan, and death to have dominion over him.  He hid him in the grave, away from those who were constantly drawing him from God.  Moses erred just as he was about to enter the promised land.  So also, I saw that Wm. Miller erred as he was soon to enter the heavenly Canaan, in suffering his influence to go against the truth.  Others led him to this.  Others must account for it.  But angels watch the precious dust of this servant of God, and he will come forth at the sound of the last trump.


See Exodus 20:1-17, 31:18; 1Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 14:9-12


Next: Chapter 29. A Firm Platform