|9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.|
On the previous page, we have been discussing the bitter-book experience. I explained how I believe it to represent the disappointment of 1844 when people listening to William Miller and others, thought Jesus would come in glory to judge and cleanse the earth with fire. The idea was sweet, but bitter disappointment followed "eating" it. The fact that God permits disappointment is clear from the story in Revelation, but does it depict God's leading in a movement where people understood only part of the truth? Can we find, in the Bible, where God led in a similar situation?
allowed worship without full understanding
May I draw your attention to another "great disappointment." Turn to Matt. 21. We call this the triumphal entry. You remember what happened. Jesus was approaching Jerusalem with His disciples when he asked two of them to go to a nearby community where they would find a donkey and a colt. They were told what to say to the owner when they were asked why they were untying them. They brought them for Jesus to ride, and people laid down their garments in recognition of royalty. In his book, Matthew identified the event as a fulfillment of a text in Isaiah.
"Tell ye the daughter of Sion,
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a
colt the foal of an ass." (Matt. 21:5)
The prophetic connections were not lost on the people who were shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David." They were remembering another promise in Isaiah: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder. . . . Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. . . ." (Isa. 9:6, 7; See also lu0132, da0714)
Even the disciples were preparing for a new earthly kingdom. They were arguing about who among them would be the most important (Matt. 18:1)! Did Jesus know what was going to happen to Him? Of course. Then why didn't He tell the disciples? Actually He had mt1621, but somehow they saw what their hopes had nourished — His earthly kingdom — and were blind to the significance of the Scriptures is53, ge0315, and of Jesus' own statements. He did not disillusion them but the significance of His death was hidden from their minds lu0945.
He accepted the people's homage as king although they had very mistaken ideas about what it all meant. They expected Him to establish an earthly kingdom, whereas he was going to heaven to sit down on His Father's throne instead. Were they disappointed? Certainly.
experience in the Bible
The cross was undoubtedly the greatest spiritual disappointment of all time. A great number of people had believed on Christ. Now he was sent to execution as a chief criminal. Many must have concluded that following Jesus had been a terrible error.
To understand the disappointment, let's move to a scene after the cross. Here's the story: "And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus. ... And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. . . . And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.."
It is significant that Jesus didn't reveal His identity first and then explain the Scriptures. They would have accepted what He said without bothering to even think through what "Moses and all the prophets" had written. By Jesus' way, they were able to make the new truth, their own.
people at the triumphal entry had been set up by the religionists of their
day to expect the kingdom of glory instead of the kingdom of grace. They
were right that He was to become king, but wrong about what was to happen
then on earth. Jesus accepted their praise allowing their partial misunderstanding.
They were bitterly disappointed, especially after seeing Him crucified.
Today most Christians expect the kingdom of grace for another thousand years but that time will soon be forever past. Jesus is coming in glory.
Why would Jesus
have allowed the error?
Why did Jesus allow the misunderstanding at the triumphal entry, followed by the disappointment of the cross? Perhaps to help people then and now, when looking back, to realize their need for unshakable faith. The experience separated from the group those who were looking for a popular, easy kind of kingdom. Thousands had listened to His words and had enjoyed the loaves and fishes. But after the humiliation, only 120 met to pray and seek the Holy Spirit ac0115.
Jesus himself staged the glorious entry into Jerusalem. He sent for the donkey. He accepted the palm branches and the misunderstood hosannas! Were these appropriate? Yes, He was coming as a king although in a way they were not prepared to understand. He was to be king with His Father on the throne in heaven. Even the stones would have cried out if the people had remained silent! lu1940 The people were right even though most of their understanding was wrong.
As you have thought through the disappointment of nearly 2000 years ago, you have seen how God works, even with our partial ignorance 1co1309f, jn1612, and how, after the devastation felt at the crucifixion lu0235, He helped people see the truth they were then ready to understand.
The experiences surrounding 1844 followed a similar pattern. First, paralleling the triumphal entry, the disappointment was preceded by a proclamation based on Scripture. The message announced Christ's coming for judgment just as He was proclaimed King as He entered Jerusalem. The place for the judgment was misunderstood as had been the place for the reign as King.
After the disappointment in Jerusalem, God brought more light. This happened after 1844 as well. Some, who had seen the hand of the Lord, met to study what went wrong. They realized that the sanctuary to be cleansed da0814 was in Heaven where Christ is our high priest he0801, and that He was not then coming out to punish the earth but was going to the Ancient of Days da0713 for a time of judgment. More on this later.
In looking forward to Christ's coming in 1844, the people expected that He would reign on earth for the thousand years. They didn't understand that the reign of Revelation 20 would be in heaven 2004wh, just as Christ's followers didn't realize that the "kingdom of heaven" was the kingdom of grace where people would be called to choose to live for Him in a wicked world jn1715, and that the kingdom of glory would be later mt2531.
Solomon's song shows the same disappointment
The Song of Solomon, we see the king and his lover picturing Christ and His church. I conclude from my study that the book is the whole history of the Christian church from the cross to the sealing. The disappointment of 1844 is at the literary center.
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh
with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my
wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
(Song 5:1 so0501)
Solomon's lover: I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. (Song 5:1-6)
In the symbolism, she is expecting the consummation of the marriage but is bitterly disappointed. Christ receiving His bride is the same as His receiving the kingdom. In both cases, the purified members of the church are united as His bride. This doesn't happen until He comes in glory. It did not happen in 1844 as expected, and the advent believers were disappointed. Character names above have been added for clarity.
Summary of the
parallels between the disappointment about what Christ would do
Certainly the evil one plants false ideas to get us to ignore elements of truth. We have explained several ways in which the disappointment of 1844 resembled the disappointment at the cross. Here is a summary:
in anticipation of Christ's kingdom
Expected a different kind of kingdom than what had been explained
Told to preach again
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.