Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 26, No.6 Straight and Narrow June 2017


Photograph courtesy: Janet Muff

“Angels watch the precious dust of this servant of God, and he will come forth
at the sound of the last trump.” (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 258)

Angels helped William Miller with his important work and
now watch over his grave, but is his work infallible?

In this issue:

2,520 – Moving Backward or Forward?

2017 WV Camp Meeting Schedule

Higher Criticism

The Naked Mole Rate

 

2,520 – Moving Backward or Forward?

God’s people today face, in many respects, a great challenge similar to the challenge faced by the first Christians. A message is to be given, and there are so few workers. Obviously this work cannot be accomplished with only human resources. Heaven must be engaged, or the cause is hopeless. Concerning the early church, we have been told:

Only as they were united with Christ could the disciples hope to have the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit and the co-operation of angels of heaven. With the help of these divine agencies they would present before the world a united front and would be victorious in the conflict they were compelled to wage unceasingly against the powers of darkness. As they should continue to labor unitedly, heavenly messengers would go before them, opening the way; hearts would be prepared for the reception of truth, and many would be won to Christ. So long as they remained united, the church would go forth “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10. Nothing could withstand her onward progress. The church would advance from victory to victory, gloriously fulfilling her divine mission of proclaiming the gospel to the world. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 90, 91; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted.)

It must not be missed that the work could not go forward single-handedly but only could go forward in a “united front.” That united front comes from being united with Christ. As each is united with Christ, each is united with the other, and “as they should continue to labor unitedly, heavenly messengers would go before them, opening the way.”

The same was true in the early Advent Movement. Believers from different denominations came together, who were, at first, focused upon the second advent, but who became, after the great disappointment of October 1844, a remnant people, who continued the apostolic teachings and the unity of the faith once delivered unto the saints.

By 1863, when the official denomination was formed, there was a unified position on the fundamental points of faith, and in 1872 a list of twenty-five fundamentals was published that was held “with great unanimity”[1] as a people. Absent from that list of fundamentals was any reference to the king of north from Daniel 11, the daily, or the so-called 2,520 prophecy from Leviticus 26.

Today there are those among the conservative historic Advent movement who would like to draw finer lines, requiring a correct belief in the king of the north or an acceptance of the so-called 2,520 prophecy. If you cannot agree with them, then you are considered to be on the road to destruction, but we have been told:

“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33. He requires that order and system be observed in the conduct of church affairs today no less than in the days of old. He desires His work to be carried forward with thoroughness and exactness so that He may place upon it the seal of His approval. Christian is to be united with Christian, church with church, the human instrumentality co-operating with the divine, every agency subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all combined in giving to the world the good tidings of the grace of God. (White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 96)

We have an obligation to come into the unity of the faith. Certainly we should be able to do this on all the major fundamentals. On other points, Christian liberty should be maintained in love. One minor point that the pioneers came into unity on was a consensus on the “seven times” of Leviticus 26.

Background on the “seven times”

The text of Leviticus 26:18–28 has been the point of contention. Verses 3 through 12 of Leviticus 26 describe the blessings that God would give to Israel, if they were obedient, and verses 14 through 39 describe the results of not following God’s plan and of refusing to keep his commandments. Specifically, in verses 18, 21, 24, and 28, we find the term “seven times” mentioned in the King James version of the Bible (KJV). William Miller, Joshua Himes, and others understood the term to be prophetic, representing seven years of prophetic days. The seven times, thus, were to be understood as 7 x 360, or 2,520, years of literal time. This was dated, at first, to end in 1843, at the same time that the 2,300 years of Daniel 8:14 were to expire. Both dates were later revised to end in 1844.

Miller and others presenting the message on the imminent second coming of Jesus began to use charts as visual aids to help explain the prophecies. The most famous early chart became known as the 1843 chart.

As early as 1842, the Spirit of God had moved upon Charles Fitch to devise the prophetic chart, which was generally regarded by Adventists as a fulfillment of the command given by the prophet Habakkuk, “to write the vision and make it plain upon tables.” (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 241)

On these charts the explanation of Daniel 8:14 was given, as well as the explanation of the “seven times” (2,520) of Leviticus 26. Miller taught that the “seven times,” or 2,520 years, began in 677 BC, with the captivity of Manasseh.

In writing about the “seven times” of Leviticus 26, Miller, Himes, Fitch, and others were not presenting something new or unique. As early as the sixth century, Anastasius, the patriarch of Antioch, connected the seven times with 2,520 years,[2] and Matthew Habershon, a contemporary of Miller, wrote about the 2,520 in his A Dissertation on the Prophetic Scriptures (1834).

Like some of the Millerites, Habershon declared that the prophecy had a double commencement 727 BC and 677 BC and a double termination.[3] Other writers came up with different times.[4]

After the disappointment of 1844, the early Adventists continued to support the idea that the “seven times” of Leviticus was a prophecy of 2,520 years, but by 1860 this concept was dropped, and by 1863 a call for a new chart was made. This new 1863 chart had no mention of the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 on it, nor did it mention a period of 2,520 years. In 1864 James White wrote positively against the 2,520, and his position was supported, in print, by Uriah Smith.[5]

Today, we have new proponents of the so-called 2,520 prophecy, who are trying to make the 2,520 a test of one’s endorsement of Ellen White[6] and of historic Adventism, but James White and Uriah Smith, in addition to the silence of every leading pioneer since 1864, speak otherwise. We will look at this in greater detail later in this article.

An examination of Leviticus 26

In a similar parallel to the curses and the blessings in Deuteronomy 27 and 28, Leviticus 26:3–13 promise blessings for obedience and verses 14–39 describe increasingly difficult curses for disobedience. Verses 18, 21, 24, and 28 speak of punishments involving “seven times.” Let us read these verses, within the context of Leviticus 26:

14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;

15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:

16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.

21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.

23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;

24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.

27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;

28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.

32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.

33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. (Leviticus 26:14–33)

William Miller and others believed that the seven times in verses 18, 21, 24, and 28 should be understood as a prophecy, with a symbolic time period. Miller and his associates connected the seven times with Daniel 4:16, 23, where it was prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would live like a wild beast for seven years. Instead of the seven times of Leviticus being literal time, as in Daniel, however, it was considered to be symbolic of a day for a year. Thus the seven times would be 7 x 360, or 2,520, years of literal time. There are several unscalable problems with this interpretation, the first being in the very language of the text.

When one examines the Hebrew text of Leviticus, one finds that, unlike Daniel 4, where there are two different Hebrew words for seven and times, in Leviticus 26 there is only one word for the expression seven times; and that one word is the Hebrew word for seven (Hebrew: seba). Though not italicized to show it was supplied, the word times in verses 18, 21, 24, and 28 is supplied and is not in the original! Furthermore, as Gesenius and other grammarians show, seba in these verses is an adverb.[7] This contrasts the usage in Daniel 4, where the Hebrew is sibah and clearly is in the context of a noun.[8]

Language Chart 1

To state in a simple way, adjectives describe nouns, and adverbs often modify verbs. Adjectives can tell, for example, the quantity of a certain noun, and adverbs can tell the quality of the verb it modifies. The adverbs used in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, 28 tell the how for the verbs they modify (will punish, will bring, will punish, and will chastise). The adverbs are not words that tell the number of the chastisements or of the punishments but are words to show how the verbs manifest themselves; in other words, the adverbs for these verbs show the intensity of the verbs.

Moses did not intend the text in Leviticus to be a specific time period, but, rather, to be an expression of intensity, using seven, the number of perfection,[9] to represent the perfect and complete wrath of God. Some other translations state the verse this way:

And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins. (Leviticus 26:18 ESV)

And if for this ye hearken not unto me, I will punish you sevenfold more for your sins, (Leviticus 26:18 Darby)

18 And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. (Leviticus 26:18 NRSV)

In the Greek Septuagint for Leviticus 26:18, 24, 28, the Greek word heptakis is used, an adverbial form of its root word.[10]

Language Chart 2

The Greek Septuagint of Daniel 4:13 (verse 13 is the same verse which is numbered verse 16 in the KJV) has either hepta kairoi “seven times” or hepta ete, “seven years,” the translators understanding that times was equal to years.[11] In either case, however, we find an additional word with seven that is not in the Hebrew. Elder James White noted:

And in all cases where the word time occurs, denoting a prophetic period, as in Dan. vii, 25; xii, 7; Rev. xii, 14, it is from the noun kairos. Such a thing as a prophetic period based on an adverb is not to be found. (James White, Advent Review & Sabbath Herald [hereafter noted as ARSH], January 26, 1864)

The apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are not conditional. They are all stated as events that will happen. In fact, Revelation 1:1 states: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” However, the prophecy of Leviticus 26 is conditional, using the word if throughout. Leviticus is not apocalyptic, like Daniel and Revelation. Outside of specific direction, the year/day principle of interpretation is not to be used on non-symbolic, non-apocalyptic prophecy. For example, the one hundred twenty years of the flood (Genesis 6:3) were not symbolic. The seventy years of captivity (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10; Daniel 9:2) were not symbolic, nor were the seven years of madness of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:16, 23).

2,520 not comparable to time prophecies

If the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 were a prophecy and if they were of the important magnitude that some claim they are, then we should be able to find a specific beginning and a specific ending date for the prophecy, like we can for the 2,300 days and for the 1,260 days. For example, Daniel 9:25 gives a specific beginning date for the seventy years and thus, also, for the 2,300 years.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

All Adventist biblical students agree that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 begin with the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. Together, Daniel 8:14 and 9:25 give us the starting time to be the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This command is given in Ezra 7 and is well-documented as 457 BC. The ending time is given in Leviticus 16 to be the Day of Atonement (October 22, 1844). Thus, we come to the very specific dates of the 2,300 day/years.[12]

There are no specific dates, however, for the “seven times” beyond speculation. Adventist scholar, Gerhard Pfandl, has noted:

According to the Millerites, 677 B.C. was the year in which King Manasseh (696-642 B.C.) was taken as a prisoner to Babylon (2 Chron. 33:11) and the 2520 years of punishment of God’s people began. There is no historical evidence, however, that Manasseh was taken to Babylon in 677 B.C. This year goes back to the chronology of James Ussher in the 17th century.

Manasseh was coregent with his father Hezekiah for the first 10 years of his reign. His sole reign of 42 years began in 686 B.C. If his imprisonment and subsequent conversion occurred in 677 B.C., nine years after the beginning of his sole reign, he still reigned for more than 30 years after his conversion and return to Judah, but this is not the picture the Bible presents of Manasseh’s reign. The Bible gives the impression that most of his life was spent in apostasy and that only toward the end of his life did he turn to the Lord. Speaking about Manasseh’s conversion, Ellen White wrote that his “repentance, remarkable though it was, came too late to save the kingdom from the corrupting influence of years of idolatrous practices. Many had stumbled and fallen, never again to rise.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 382)

Many Bible scholars believe that his imprisonment took place in connection with the rebellion of Assurbanipal’s brother Samassumukin during the years 652–648 B.C. Yet, even if the date 677 B.C. were correct, it would not indicate the beginning of the punishment of God’s people, because only the king was taken to Babylon, and only for a short time. He returned to Jerusalem, destroyed all the idols he had erected, and restored the worship of God (2 Chron. 33:15, 16). The kingdom of Judah continued another 80 years, until in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple of God. These 80 years included the reign of good King Josiah (640–609) whose reign can in no way be classified as a punishment on Judah. In other words, the year 677 B.C. does not fit historically or chronologically. (Gerhard Pfandl, “Is 2520 a Prophetic Number?”; http://www.perspectivedigest.org/article/94/archives/18-1/is-2520-a-prophetic-number; accessed May 15, 2017)

Do you understand what Pfandl is saying? Two main points are established. Firstly, the year used by Miller, 677 BC, is not reliable, and secondly, even if it were, it cannot be a fulfillment of the prediction because Leviticus 26 is not speaking of a single king but of the entire nation. Furthermore, because Josiah’s heart was tender and humble (2 Kings 22:19), God promised to not bring the punishment against the people during his time.[13]

The Millerites used 677 BC because it seemed to fit. There is no other reason for using that date, beloved.

If this is not enough evidence, let us examine the context of Leviticus 26 further. The four different “seven times” are NOT concurrent! Notice the language. God begins by stating that if Israel will not obey, he “will punish” them “seven times more” for their sins. Note that the term “times more” is supplied. But going further in verse 21, God says, “And if ye walk contrary unto me . . .” then he “will bring seven times more plagues.” Then God says, “if ye will not be reformed by me by these things. . .” (v. 23), he would “punish” them “yet seven times” for their sins. Finally, in verses 27, 28, he says:

And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. (Leviticus 26:27, 28)

The language does not declare concurrent judgments but, rather, successive punishments! If today’s proponents of the 2,520 were true to the context, there would not be one so-called 2,520 period of years but four periods of 2,520 years, or 10,080 years in total![14]

Furthermore, the curse upon Israel did not fall in 677 BC, but if it had and if the seven times were a prophecy, then what happened in 1844 that freed the Jewish people from the curse? And if one claims that the prophecy extends to spiritual Israel, from whom does such authority come to make this claim? In addition, the Protestant Reformation could have had no bearing upon spiritual Israel, for spiritual Israel would have been under bondage and under a curse at the time of the Reformation. This is, of course, absurd.

The fact is the Bible gives us information that there was, indeed, a type of curse upon the Jews, while they were in captivity in Babylon and, then, in Persia. Nehemiah recorded in his prayer, “Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations” (Nehemiah 1:8). Nehemiah was making reference to Leviticus 26:33, but in verse 9 Nehemiah makes reference to Leviticus 26:39–42, where the possibility of return was given, if the people returned to their God while they were in captivity.

Remember that Leviticus 26 is conditional, and the conditions were still there after the captivity, too. History documents that by AD 70 the rebellion of the Jewish people was such that God’s wrath came upon them again in the destruction of Jerusalem,[15] but that date was not a point on a time prophecy any more than the date that they would go into captivity or the date when they returned from captivity.[16]

Paul also wrote about the Jews and of their cup being filled before the destruction of Jerusalem: “Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:15, 16).

Some chart history

William Miller, Himes, Litch, French, and various Adventists prepared several prophetic charts prior to 1843.[17] They are not under discussion in this study, but Charles Fitch’s chart, published by Joshua Himes, became the standard and is today known as the 1843 chart.

As seen in the exhibit of the 1843 chart on page 8, the calculations of the “seven times” of Leviticus were placed in large numerals in the upper right of the chart. This chart had the 2,520 in numerals that were even larger than those explaining the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14.[18]

No new chart was made between 1843 and 1844, correcting the 1843 date.

From this time—the summer of 1842—it continued to be the unchallenged standard portrayal until April, 1844, up to the accepted close of the “Jewish year 1843.” Only during the intensive “seventh month movement,” from July to October, 1844, do we find no new charts employed. This was chiefly because there was no change of view on any major principle of prophetic interpretation, only the correction of the year, or time phase—from “1843” to “1844”—as demanded by the computation of 2300 full years, from the autumn of 457 B.C. to the autumn of A.D. 1844. (LeRoy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, p. 721)

The next chart was published in 1850 by Otis Nichols and was designed by Samuel W. Rhodes. In the revised chart of 1850, the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 was retained but was not as prominently displayed as it had been in the 1843 chart. Instead, the “seven times” was put in much smaller letters in the bottom right corner of the chart. In fact, less than 1.4% of the chart was devoted to the 2,520. The central focus of the 1850 chart was the 2,300 days, with the dates 457 and 1844 being in the largest type on the chart.

The 1863 chart was prepared by James White and totally removed any reference to 2,520. This chart kept its focus upon the 2,300 days, with 457 and 1844 as the standout dates. This chart also placed an emphasis upon the holy and the most holy places of the heavenly sanctuary.

The manner in which the 1863 chart came into being is historically important. On May 21, 1863, the brethren met in Battle Creek to begin forming the General Conference. It is of interest to note that Uriah Smith wrote a short report about the unity and the atmosphere of the conference. We quote a portion of his report:

We can say to the readers of the Review, Think of everything good that has been written of every previous meeting, and apply it to this. All this would be true, and more than this. Perhaps no previous meeting that we have ever enjoyed, was characterized by such unity of feeling and harmony of sentiment. In all the important steps taken at this Conference, in the organization of a General Conference, and the further perfecting of State Conference, defining the authority of each, and the important duties belonging to their various officers, there was not a dissenting voice, and we may reasonably doubt if there was even a dissenting thought. Such union, on such points, affords the strongest grounds of hope for the immediate advancement of the cause, and its future glorious prosperity and triumph.

The influence of this meeting cannot fail to be good. We are certain that those who were present, as they look back upon the occasion, will not be able to discover an unpleasant feature. And as they separated to go to their homes, courage and good cheer seemed to be the unanimous feelings. (Uriah Smith, ARSH, May 26, 1863)

Notice that Elder Smith said that there was no prior meeting that was “characterized by such unity of feeling and harmony of sentiment.” Smith said that there was not a dissenting voice and, he had reason to believe, not even a dissenting thought. He further stated that in the future, as the believers looked back upon the conference, they would “not be able to discover an unpleasant feature.”

Besides organizing the General Conference and providing a model for the state conferences, two resolutions were voted upon that must be noted in this discussion. They were as follows:

Voted, That this Conference recommend to the Publishing Association to publish a new prophetic chart.

Voted, That we recommend to the Publishing Association to publish a chart of the ten commandments, suitable for public lectures. (Ibid.)

Notice that two charts were to be produced. One was a new prophetic chart (the 1863 chart) and the other a chart of the Ten Commandments.

One proponent of the so-called 2,520 prophecy opposes the 1863 chart because it removed this supposed prophecy. The following partial answer to this person’s question was given in Jeff Pippenger’s publication about frequently asked questions:

The best defense against the 1863 chart is the silence of the Spirit of Prophecy in regard to its prophetic significance. Whereas, Sister White clearly identifies the 1843 and 1850 charts as “Habakkuk’s tables.” (Tyler,Frequently Asked Questions,” Future News, p. 601)

But this is not true. Ellen White was not silent on this chart. In one of her testimonies she actually promoted it and the Ten Commandment chart, both of which the General Conference had produced:

And we would say to those who are poor and want books: Send in your orders, with a statement of your condition as to this world’s goods. We will send you a package of books containing four volumes of Spiritual Gifts, How to Live, Appeal to Youth, Appeal to Mothers, Sabbath Readings, and the two large charts, with Key of Explanation. If you have a part of these, state what you have, and we will send other books in their places, or send only such of these as you have not. Send fifty cents to pay the postage, and we will send you the five-dollar package and charge the fund four dollars. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 689; 1868)

1843 Chart

 

1850 Chart

 

1863 Chart

 

Before addressing where Ellen White commented on the “seven times” of Leviticus, we should look at a statement from volume 4 of Testimonies for the Church:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595; 1881)

In 1881 Ellen White boldly declared that she and the other Adventists (“we”) had the truth as sure as God lives. Beloved, search every list of fundamentals ever published by the Advent people, and you will find no mention of the so-called 2,520 in any of them. If this prophecy were the so-called testing truth today that some declare it to be, then did Ellen White make a mistake in 1881? No! She did not make a mistake on the issue of the “seven times,” and she did not make a mistake in 1881 about the so-called doctrine of the trinity. One can do an exhaustive computer search of the Ellen White database of writings and never once find the numeral 2,520 and find only one reference to the “seven times” of Leviticus 26. In the previously unpublished manuscript containing this one reference, she wrote:

God specified also the sure result of a disregard for His commands. “If ye will not hearken unto me,” He said, “and will not do all these commandments, ... I also will do this unto you: I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you; for ye shall be slain by your enemies. They that hate you shall reign over you, and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass, and your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

“It shall come to pass if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and statutes, which I command you this day, that all these curses shall come unto thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shalt be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of the body, and the fruit of the land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”

This is the result of disobedience and transgression. Let all read carefully the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, realizing that it makes every difference to a people whether they are obedient or disobedient to the law of Jehovah.

The prophecies regarding Israel were fulfilled to the letter. God permitted His chosen people to be scattered as captives in strange lands. When they repented, God took them to Himself again, and established them in His own land. But their continual disobedience resulted in their complete overthrow, and in the overthrow of Jerusalem. (Ellen White, Manuscript 40—1898)

Mark this point with care: Ellen White makes no reference to the “seven times” being a symbolic time prophecy, and she further notes, as we did earlier when discussing Leviticus 26, that God did indeed scatter the people but “when they repented, God took them to Himself again, and established them in His own land.” Because of further disobedience, however, Jerusalem was overthrown.

Unlike the 2,520, Ellen White mentioned the 2,300 days/years of Daniel 8:14 many times,[19] in statements such as:

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 409)

She specifically mentions the dates of 457 BC and AD 1844 in relationship to the 2,300 day/years:

The 2300 days had been found to begin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300 years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ’s baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ was crucified, in the spring of A.D. 31. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D. 34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years would remain. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. (Ibid., p. 410)

In this reference, Ellen White also spoke of the seventy weeks and provided the dates.

Ellen White wrote of the 1,260 years, also known as the forty-two months:

The periods here mentioned—”forty and two months,” and “a thousand two hundred and threescore days”—are the same, alike representing the time in which the church of Christ was to suffer oppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A.D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. (Ibid., p. 266)

Ellen White also spoke of the beasts of Daniel 7:

Prophecy has traced the rise and fall of the world’s great empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had its period of test, each failed, its glory faded, its power departed, and its place was occupied by another. (Ellen White, Education, p. 177)

Despite repeatedly speaking so clearly on major prophetic events which were on the 1863 chart, Ellen White never spoke of the so-called 2,520 and never attempted to give clear beginning or ending times for it.

Pioneer history on Leviticus 26

As we noted, after the disappointment of 1844, the early Adventists, including James White, continued to support the idea that the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 was a prophecy of 2,520 years. Due to careful biblical study, coupled with the honest nature of their hearts, this concept, however, was dropped by 1860. During the decade between 1850 and 1860, four writers (James White, Joseph Bates, Hiram Edson, and an unnamed writer) supported in the ARSH the 2,520 as a prophecy. By January 1864, James White wrote positively against the view that the “seven times” of Leviticus 26 was a prophecy. He began, by stating:

The prophetic period of Lev. xxvi, or what has been supposed to be such, has been no small object of study among prophetical expositors. It has been supposed that the expression, “seven times,” in verses 18, 21, 24, 28, denoted a prophetic period of 2520 years, and that this period covered the time during which the throne of Israel should be and remain subverted and trodden down by oppressing powers. To rightly fix the commencement and termination of this period, became therefore a matter of consequence. Where does it commence? and where does it end? have been questions of much study, and perhaps some perplexity.

These are not the questions, however, that we propose here to discuss; for there is a question lying back of these, which demands to be answered first; namely, Is there any prophetic period brought to view at all in Lev. xxvi? We claim that there is not. (White, ARSH, January 26, 1864)

After doing a biblical examination of the text, he concluded, by noting:

So then, there is no prophetic period in Lev. xxvi; and those who imagine that such a thing exists, and are puzzling themselves over the adjustment of its several dates, are simply beating the air. To ignore, or treat with neglect, a prophetic period where one is plainly given, is censurable in the extreme. It is an equally futile, though not so heinous, a course, to endeavor to create one where none exists. (Ibid.)

Writing in the April 1, 1880, edition of the ARSH, Elder White again brought up the matter. He began, by noting:

SOME writers on chronology have had not a little to say, first and last, on a supposed prophetic period which they introduce under the name of “the seven times,” and interpret to mean a period of 2,520 years. Marvelous is the arithmetical and historical jugglery then resorted to to find a starting point and an ending place for this important and far-reaching period. (James White, ARSH, April 1, 1880)

After giving a short explanation of the matter, he closed, by stating:

It strikes us that it would be far better for people to spend their strength in trying to ascertain the correct application of the prophetic periods that are given in the Bible, rather than figure so laboriously to find a place to begin and end those which are not given . . . (Ibid.)

In 1887, Uriah Smith, in an article in the ARSH entitled “Prophetic Confusion,” examined a study by M. Baxter (the same M. Baxter of footnote #3), written in the Christian Herald and Signs of Our Times (not a Seventh-day Adventist publication). Smith is blunt:

In the first place he introduces a period of “seven times,” or 2,520 years, dates them from 620 before Christ, and ends them in 1900 after Christ. One great trouble with this part of the program is that there is no such period as seven times or 2,520 years brought to view in all the Scriptures. (Uriah Smith, ARSH, August 9, 1887)

Uriah Smith would continue to write against the so-called 2,520 prophecy in the ARSH issues of March 10, 1891; July 28, 1891; July 2, 1895; and January 27, 1903.[20] At times he wrote in response to what other church groups were saying, such as he did in the August 9, 1887, issue referenced above, and sometimes he responded to our own people, as he did in the March 10, 1891, issue. This would indicate that while the leadership of the movement was united on their position about Leviticus, some were still holding onto the Millerite view of the “seven times” as late as 1891.

Was the so-called 2,520 prophecy ever a landmark or a pillar?

Today, some are declaring that the so-called 2,520 prophecy is a landmark, or a pillar, of our faith.

An illogical attempt is made to declare that “the message of 1840–44 is the foundation”[21] of Adventism, but, beloved, the message of 1840–1844 did not include the sabbath or the correct understanding of the sanctuary, and it did not understand the state of the dead or the truth about God. Let inspiration speak, without circular reasoning and illogic, and declare what the foundation of the Advent movement was and still is today!

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 409)

The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith.—Letter 208, 1906. (Ellen White, Evangelism, p. 221)

Miller and his associates used Daniel 8:14 extensively, yet they did not have the correct understanding of the heavenly sanctuary. The correct understanding of that scripture did not come until after the 1844 disappointment. Ellen White helps us to understand more of the landmarks and pillars:

The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus [including Righteousness by Faith].” One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. (Ellen White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 30, 31)

In this reference Ellen White mentions the sanctuary; the three angels’ messages; the law of God, including the sabbath of the fourth commandment; the faith of Jesus; and the non-immortality of the wicked. To this list we can add another doctrine, usually overlooked but revealed in a statement written on May 24, 1905. This statement specifically addresses the situation of the false teachings of Elder A. F. Ballenger:

Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor. (Ellen White, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 235)[22]

Two years before, Ellen White noted:

The warning has come: Nothing is to be allowed to come in that will disturb the foundation of the faith upon which we have been building ever since the message came in 1842, 1843, and 1844. I was in this message, and ever since I have been standing before the world, true to the light that God has given us. We do not propose to take our feet off the platform on which they were placed as day by day we sought the Lord with earnest prayer, seeking for light. Do you think that I could give up the light that God has given me? It is to be as the Rock of Ages. It has been guiding me ever since it was given. (Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903, Art. A, par. 35)

Ellen White says she held firmly to the foundation. When Ballenger began to teach strange doctrines on the sanctuary and on sanctification, Ellen White sounded the warning. When Dr. Kellogg began to teach what would become the alpha of deadly heresies, Ellen White spoke out. Today we are led to believe that Ellen White’s husband, Elder James White, and that Uriah Smith, J. N. Loughborough, J. N. Andrews, and others were all in great apostasy over denying the so-called 2,520 prophecy, yet there is never one word of rebuke from her! It is amazing that such an idea could be considered. Such a idea did not come from heaven but from the pit of hell. We will soon see more testimonies of the pioneers that totally contradict the so-called 2,520 prophecy.

Altering the chart?

We have studied, so far, the biblical and the historical understanding of Leviticus 26. In doing so, we have followed the Protestant teaching of sola scriptura, a teaching fully endorsed by Ellen White:

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 595)

There are those who, like us, firmly believe that the Scriptures and the testimonies of Ellen White agree, but who also believe that the testimonies speak differently from what we have seen the Bible clearly teach on this subject. In an effort to keep from denying the testimonies of Ellen White, they have come to a different understanding of Leviticus 26 in order to maintain their beliefs.

What is it about the testimonies of Ellen White that cause this difference? It mostly concerns one issue—Ellen White’s endorsement of Fitch’s 1843 chart. Here are some of her statements:

As early as 1842 the direction given in this prophecy to “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it,” had suggested to Charles Fitch the preparation of a prophetic chart to illustrate the visions of Daniel and the Revelation. The publication of this chart was regarded as a fulfillment of the command given by Habakkuk. No one, however, then noticed that an apparent delay in the accomplishment of the vision—a tarrying time—is presented in the same prophecy. After the disappointment, this scripture appeared very significant: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.... The just shall live by his faith.” (White, The Great Controversy. p. 382)

I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them; that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed. (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 74)

I saw that the truth should be made plain upon tables, that the earth and the fullness thereof is the Lord’s, and that necessary means should not be spared to make it plain. I saw that the old chart was directed by the Lord, and that not a figure of it should be altered except by inspiration. I saw that the figures of the chart were as God would have them, and that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none should see it till His hand was removed. (Ellen White, Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 1)

Let us notice some vital points from these statements. In The Great Controversy, Ellen White states that the prophetic charts were considered, by the brethren preaching the advent message, to be a fulfillment of Habakkuk 2:2, 3. In Early Writings, Ellen White plainly admitted that there was a “mistake” (singular) “in some of the figures” (plural), but that this was as God directed, so that there could be a testing time. Then, in the Spalding and Magan statement, Ellen White says that the chart should not be changed except by “inspiration.”

The issue comes down to this: Did Ellen White give the whole 1843 chart a blank check endorsement and would she only agree to changes that God showed her by inspiration? The answer to both questions is no, and we will clearly demonstrate why it must be a decided no.

Let us begin with the issue of inspiration. When Ellen White wrote that it should only be changed by inspiration, she was not restricting change to only that which she would be shown in a vision or in a dream. How do we know this? We know because of the way Ellen White understood and taught inspiration. Please notice the following statements from her pen:

The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator. Though formed from the dust, Adam was “the son of God.” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45)

Here she clearly equates inspiration to the record of the Bible! Notice this statement, also from Patriarchs and Prophets:

Inspiration faithfully records the faults of good men, those who were distinguished by the favor of God; indeed, their faults are more fully presented than their virtues. (Ibid., p. 238)

Here again she equates inspiration to the teachings of the Bible. Further examples are:

Inspiration declares, “The dead know not anything.... Their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 558)

Inspiration declares, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?” Proverbs 21:27. (Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, p. 323)

Inspiration declares that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Ellen White, ARSH, November 6, 1883)

Inspiration from the word of God taught the Advent believers to change the ending date of the 2,300 days to 1844 in the 1850 chart. Before Ellen White had her first vision, the Millerites knew 1843 was wrong for the ending point of the 2,300 days and presented 1844 as the correct date. How did they know? They studied inspiration!

Those faithful, disappointed ones, who could not understand why their Lord did not come, were not left in darkness. Again they were led to their Bibles to search the prophetic periods. The hand of the Lord was removed from the figures, and the mistake was explained. (White, Early Writings, p. 236)

The inspiration of the Bible helped the believers move from 1843 to 1844, but inspiration was not finished. Through positively sound exegetical study of the Bible, Elder James White did not include the 2,520, when he produced the 1863 chart.

Next we need to consider what could be changed. Did not Sister White speak of a “mistake” (singular), “in some of the figures” (plural)? This has led the proponents of the so-called 2,520 to teach that the mistake (singular) was the including of a zero year between 1 BC and AD 1. The figures (plural) were the two different 1843s on the chart, one for the 2,300 days and one for the 2,520. However, this is restricting the language beyond what is necessary. It certainly could mean there was one mistake upon which to focus, or it could mean there was more than one mistake in total but only one problem upon which to focus. Furthermore, when one speaks mathematically, the term figures can mean one, two, or all the numbers in a computation collectively.

It also should be noted that Miller used the time period between the dates of 158 BC and AD 508 to add up to 666 (Revelation 13:18), which he declared to be the time of pagan Rome’s dominion,[23] but this is not accepted today. Revelation 13:18 describes the number of a man, not the length of the beast’s dominion.

Certainly God did direct the making of the 1843 chart, and his hand was over it, for a time. It is also clear that he removed his hand from the error that previously had resulted in the date 1843 being on the chart.

Prophetic periods

Another Ellen White statement that the proponents of the so-called 2,520 prophecy use to support their cause is found in Early Writings:

They saw that the prophetic periods reached to 1844, and that the same evidence which they had presented to show that the prophetic periods closed in 1843, proved that they would terminate in 1844. (White, Early Writings, p. 236)

To the proponents of the so-called 2,520 prophecy, the phrase “prophetic periods” (plural) means the 2,520 and the 2,300 days. The problem, however, is that when Ellen White wrote about prophetic periods, she never mentioned the 2,520. In fact, no matter what she wrote about, she never wrote about the 2,520. She does mention over and over the seventy weeks of Daniel 9, with the 2,300 days of Daniel 8.

When we begin to read these statements in context and to combine them with other statements, we can be sure that Ellen White was not making reference to the 2,520. Let us go back and read more in Early Writings:

The preaching of definite time called forth great opposition from all classes, from the minister in the pulpit down to the most reckless, heaven-daring sinner. “No man knoweth the day nor the hour,” was heard from the hypocritical minister and the bold scoffer. Neither would be instructed and corrected by those who were pointing to the year when they believed the prophetic periods would run out, and to the signs which showed Christ near, even at the doors. (Ibid., p. 235)

The believers in this message were oppressed in the churches. For a time, those who would not receive the message were restrained by fear from acting out the sentiments of their hearts; but the passing of the time revealed their true feelings. They wished to silence the testimony which the waiting ones felt compelled to bear, that the prophetic periods extended to 1844. (Ibid., p. 237).

It should be clear that Ellen White is making reference above to the prophetic periods of the 1,260 and the 2,300, as a unit, when she says that “the prophetic periods extended to 1844.” This is true, and the 2,300 day/year prophecy is the longest prophecy. Notice also from The Great Controversy:

Seventy weeks, representing 490 years, are declared by the angel to be cut off, as specially pertaining to the Jews. But from what were they cut off? As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter 8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off; the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and the two periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300 days would be ascertained. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 326)

Notice that she speaks of the two periods, the seventy weeks and the 2,300 days. There is not a need for a period of 2,520 to meet the requirements of Ellen White’s statement on prophetic periods. Also notice from The Great Controversy:

The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel of the kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart in the experience of those who proclaimed the message of His second advent. As the disciples went out preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible was about to expire, that the judgment was at hand, and the everlasting kingdom was to be ushered in. The preaching of the disciples in regard to time was based on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The message given by Miller and his associates announced the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based upon the fulfillment of a different portion of the same great prophetic period. (Ibid., p. 351). 

Let us suppose a nominal Christian or even a non-believer reads The Great Controversy. In reading it they will learn of the 2,300 days, the 1,260, etc., but they will never read of the 2,520. How can they be expected to learn about the 2,520? The Great Controversy, the book above all other books, except the Bible, gives no hint of such a time prophecy. The Great Controversy could not be God’s special book, when it is missing such an important foundational teaching that, according to some, one must understand and accept before one can receive the latter rain or be saved! But wait, The Great Controversy lacks nothing. It is the special book for this time. God is fair and has provided his people just what they need for these times.

Longest time prophecy
is the 2,300 days

Just to be clear, by at least 1842, William Miller and Joshua Himes did not believe the 2,300 day prophecy was the longest time prophecy. They believed that the 2,520 was the longest time prophecy in the Bible. There is evidence that in 1833 Miller viewed the 2,300 days as the longest time prophecy[24] but later replaced it with the 2,520. Himes wrote:

That the longest prophetic period which brings the end to view, the seven times, with which we may suppose all the others would be squared, in their termination, ends with this autumn, appears very evident; that we are in the last of the last year of the 2300, is still more evident; and the whole aspect of the world around us, morally and politically, agrees very well with the inspired portrait of “the time of harvest.” (Joshua Himes, The Advent Herald and Signs of the Times Reporter, September 25, 1844)

If the longest period was to be paramount, the seven times would take precedence of all others. (Joshua Himes, Signs of the Times and Expositor of Prophecy, January 10, 1844)

Himes says that the seven times is the longest prophecy and the one by which others must be squared or measured and if length was paramount, “the seven times would take precedence of all others.” There is no direct statement from Miller, but Himes was perhaps the closest working associate that Miller had. It would be hard to believe Miller saw matters differently.

As we noted from page 351 of The Great Controversy, the context demands Ellen White to be speaking of the 2,300 days as the longest time prophecy of the Bible, but she also confirmed this in another place.

The longest reckoning [of prophetic time] reaches to the autumn of 1844. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 100)

All agree that the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 extended to the autumn of 1844, but did the so-called 2,520 also extend to the autumn of 1844? As we have seen, even if one accepts the 2,520 and dates it from 677 BC, the supposed captivity of Manasseh, this date for Manasseh’s captivity is not historically sustainable. Furthermore, even if Manasseh’s captivity was in 677 BC, it was not likely to have been in the autumn, for, according to 2 Samuel 11:1, spring was the time that kings went to war.[25] Sister White clearly believed that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 was the longest time prophecy in the Bible.

Pioneers support for the longest time prophecy

Outside of Elder White, it would be difficult to find two men more loyal to the truth and more zealous for upholding Ellen White and the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy than Stephen Haskell and J. N. Loughborough. These men labored beside Ellen White from the early years and received her unqualified support. They would never have taught or have published something that they believed Ellen White was against. Notice what they had to say about the longest time prophecy in the Bible:

The twenty-three hundred days is the longest prophetic period, coming down a little past the termination of all the others. (J. N. Loughbrough, Heavenly Visions, p. 22)[26]

Daniel is the only “little book” that gives the 2300 days,–the longest prophetic period in the Bible, which ended in 1844. (Stephen Haskell, Bible Handbook, p. 54)

In many places, Uriah Smith declared the 2,300 days the longest time prophecy in the Bible.

This was the first installment of the great decree for the restoration and building again of Jerusalem (Ezra 6:14), which was completed in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, B.C. 457, and marked, as will hereafter be shown, the commencement of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, the longest and most important prophetic period mentioned in the Bible. Dan. 9:25. (Uriah Smith, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, p. 57; 1897 edition)

Prophetic time ends with the 2300 days, which is the longest prophetic period and reaches down to the latest point. (Uriah Smith, The Bible Institute, p. 72)[27]

Others clearly stated specifically that they believed the 2,300 days to be the longest time prophecy in the Bible. For example:

In 1844 the longest and last period of time mentioned in prophecy expired. It was the two thousand and three hundred days of Daniel viii. and ix. (E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth, UK edition, January 24, 1901)[28]

In the same way, the thousand two hundred and ninety years closed with the same period. The two thousand three hundred days, or years, of Daniel’s prophecy, reaching to the time when the sanctuary was to be cleansed, beginning at the same point, 457 B. C., bring us down to A. D. 1844, the last date of prophetic time, the close of the longest prophetic period, the time beyond which no prophecy reaches, and we have reached the end of the definite periods of prophetic time as set forth in the Scripture. (W. W. Prescott, General Conference Bulletin, March 30, 1903)

Is a second witness necessary?

Deuteronomy 17:6 states: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” This text is referenced later by Jesus in Matthew 18:16 and is used to justify the need for the 2,520 to support the 2,300 days ending in 1844. But Deuteronomy 17:6 was to be applied to civil cases not prophetic time lines. Neither Jesus nor Paul, who also quotes Deuteronomy 17:6, applies it to a prophetic situation. We believe that Daniel 8:14 is strong enough to stand on its own.

However, if we accept the need for a second witness we have it in the very words of Jesus. As he began his ministry, Jesus said,:

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15)

What time was fulfilled? The 69th week of the 70 weeks, an indivisible part of the 2,300 days. Paul agrees:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. (Galatians 4:4)

The fullness of time directly connects to Daniel. Also, the disappointment of the Advent people and their prophesying again is detailed in Revelation 10, and their work of proclaiming the judgment hour message is in Revelation 14. These verses are sufficient to substantiate Daniel 8:14 and the date of 1844. As Steve Wohlberg has noted:

The fact is that from 1863 until today, Adventist evangelists haven’t needed the 2520 to validate either the 2300-year prophecy, or the Adventist movement in general. (“The 2520,” http://www.no2520.com/articles-against-the-2520/the-2520, accessed on May 15, 2017)

Further thoughts on Ellen White’s endorsement of William Miller and his guidance by an angel

Ellen White wrote, concerning William Miller:

God sent His angel to move upon the heart of a farmer who had not believed the Bible, to lead him to search the prophecies. Angels of God repeatedly visited that chosen one, to guide his mind and open to his understanding prophecies which had ever been dark to God’s people. The commencement of the chain of truth was given to him, and he was led on to search for link after link, until he looked with wonder and admiration upon the Word of God. He saw there a perfect chain of truth. (White, Early Writings, p. 229)

This language is very strong. God sent his angel. She noted that “angels of God repeatedly visited” Miller leading him. Some have elevated this to be on par with the Bible. Is this warranted? If the 2,520 was one of the most important things Miller wrote about, why did Ellen White never once directly, or indirectly mention it in connection with Miller? She spoke of Miller’s study of the 2,300 days but not of the 2,520.

The fact is that Ellen White acknowledged that God used angels to help others who did not always speak all the truth. For example, she wrote about Martin Luther:

Angels of heaven were by his side, and rays of light from the throne of God revealed the treasures of truth to his understanding. He had ever feared to offend God, but now the deep conviction of his condition as a sinner took hold upon him as never before. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 122)

Is this any less strong than what she wrote about Miller? Yet to his death, Luther taught the trinity, transubstantiation, and was a Sunday-keeper, who actively persecuted Sabbaths-keepers to death. Luther was not bashful of drinking alcohol and of making merry, but Ellen White called him “a man for his time”![29]

Ellen White wrote that “angels of God” guided her husband, Elder James White, and had “oversight” of the Review.

I saw that the papers [Review and Herald] would go and that it would be the means of bringing souls to a knowledge of the truth. I saw that James had not borne the burden alone, but that the angels of God had assisted and had oversight of the paper.  (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 221; 1850)

Does this mean that everything in the Review was inspired and infallible at that time? Hardly. Ellen White also wrote very positively of Uriah Smith’s work Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.

The light given was that Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, The Great Controversy, and Patriarchs and Prophets, would make their way. They contain the very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people. The angels of God would prepare the way for these books in the hearts of the people. (Ellen White, Colporteur Ministry, pp. 123, 124)

The interest in Daniel and the Revelation is to continue as long as probationary time shall last. God used the author of this book as a channel through which to communicate light to direct minds to the truth. Shall we not appreciate this light, which points us to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our King? (White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 63)

Is there anyone today who believes that Ellen White believed every jot and tittle of Smith’s book? I doubt it, and, in fact, the leading proponent of the so-called 2,520 prophecy is very much against Smith’s anti-trinitarian teaching on the Son of God found in Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.

Angels guide, help, and direct men today, but that, of itself, is not infallibility and does not give them a blank check theologically.

Conclusion

Larry Kirkpatrick has noted:

. . . if truth matters to us as much as we often say it does, we should be willing to investigate carefully possible improvements to our understanding. To adhere stubbornly to an idea or a mistaken interpretation of a certain passage, in the face of available clarifying information, is no recommendation of our faith. (Larry Kirkpatrick, “The Use and Misuse of Strong’s Concordance at Leviticus 26 (with special consideration of the 2,520 ‘prophecy’)”; accessed at http://www.no2520.com/articles-against-the-2520/the-use-and-misuse-of-strongs-concordance-at-leviticus-26-with-special-consideration-of-the-2520-prophecy, on May 16, 2017)

It would be impossible within the scope of this paper to go into the many teachings that are branching off from the 2,520. I hope that truth matters to us as much as we say it does and that we will be willing to investigate each line and precept carefully. I was amazed as I researched for this study to find many mistakes in the research of others. We all must allow for honest errors. “God and heaven alone are infallible.”[30] When, however, we are influencing the salvation of souls, beloved, continued errors, poor scholarship, materials taken out of context, and even outright deception[31] are not excusable.

Let us unite upon the platform of truth upon which James and Ellen White united, as did also Uriah Smith, J. N. Andrews, Joseph Bates, J. N. Loughborough, Stephen Haskell and others—that platform of those great twenty-five fundamental principles—and let us move forward. We do not have time to chase the devil’s rabbits, beloved. To have taken the time and space in our magazine to present this has personally caused me great grief, but I have very precious brothers and sisters who have become entangled in this 2,520 mess, and I pray that they will wake up, and I pray that others may be warned, so that they need not stumble and fall into the pit of error, which is never harmless.

It takes courage to accept truth and stand firmly for it. Sometimes it takes more courage to admit one has been wrong and to reject error. It is our prayer that truth and truth alone will prevail in these discussions, for as Robert Wieland and Donald Short so aptly wrote, “Absolutely nothing which does not bear the test of truth will be triumphant in the Judgment” (1888 Re-Examined, p. 2; 1950 ed.).

Let me finish with two statements, one from James White and the other from Uriah Smith:

So then, there is no prophetic period in Lev. xxvi; and those who imagine that such a thing exists, and are puzzling themselves over the adjustment of its several dates, are simply beating the air. To ignore, or treat with neglect, a prophetic period where one is plainly given, is censurable in the extreme. It is an equally futile, though not so heinous, a course, to endeavor to create one where none exists. (James White, ARSH, January 26, 1864)

Let it be settled, therefore, in every mind, that there is no prophetic period of “seven times” in the Bible, and every effort to apply such a supposed period is idle. (Uriah Smith, ARSH, July 2, 1895)

Allen Stump

[1]A Declaration of the Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by the Seventh-day Adventists, paragraph 1

[2]. See LeRoy Froom’s The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, volume 3, page 458.

[3]. See page ix in the preface.

[4]. M. Baxter, in his Forty Future Wonders on page 23, gives the dating of the prophecy to be from 589 BC to AD 1931. William Redding, in his work The Chains of Prophecy, page 619, gives the beginning date to be either 624 or 606 BC. Also, Jehovah’s Witnesses use a prophecy of “seven times” and 2,520 years to arrive at the date 1914, which, they believe, marks the time Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly king. They take their “seven times” from Daniel 4, however, and not from Leviticus 26.

[5]. See page 13.

[6]. Jeff Pippenger is perhaps the best known proponent of these views. Let us be clear. We are not interested in being negative toward Brother Pippenger or toward anyone else, but we are concerned about what is being taught as truth, and it is to the issues, not to the personalities of the people, we choose to speak.

[7]. “The form שֶׁבַע is also—(a) adv. seven times, Ps. 119:164; Prov. 24:16; Lev. 26:18, 21” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament under notes for #7651, p. 803). Though Gesenius only lists a few examples of this form of the word, Leviticus 26:24, 28 are in the exact same form and context.

[8]. See Language Chart 1.

[9]. The number seven is used throughout Scripture to denote perfection and completeness. Creation was in seven days (Genesis 2, 3); God’s word is purified seven times (Psalm 12:6); seven is the number of sacrifice (2 Chronicles 29:21); blood was sprinkled seven times (Leviticus 4:6, 17; 16:14, 19); and seven is the number of complete punishment (Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, 28), etc. “In the Temple service, when the animal brought as a sacrifice was slain, the high priest, clothed in white robes, caught in his hand the blood that gushed forth, and cast it in the direction of the tabernacle or Temple. This was done seven times, as an expression of perfection” (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, p. 243).

[10]. See Language Chart 2. Verse 21 has ἑπτά, a noun form in the Greek. An English translation of that verse is, “And if after this ye should walk perversely, and not be willing to obey me, I will further bring upon you seven plagues according to your sins” (Benton translation of the LXX). As noted earlier, however, it is an adverb form in the Hebrew.

[11]. Just as there are some differences in the Greek New Testament manuscripts, there are some slight differences in the Greek LXX manuscripts.

[12]. The 1,260 year prophecy can also be specifically dated with beginning in AD 538 and ending in AD 1798.

[13]. “Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again” (2 Kings 22:20).

[14]. Uriah Smith also noted this, saying: “Now, if ‘seven times’ denotes a prophetic period (2520 years), then, we would have four of them, amounting in all to 10,080 years, which would be rather a long time to keep a nation under chastisement” (ARSH, July 2, 1895).

[15]. Ellen White notes, in her book The Great Controversy: “The hour of hope and pardon was fast passing; the cup of God’s long-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud that had been gathering through ages of apostasy and rebellion, now black with woe, was about to burst upon a guilty people . . .
Looking down the ages, He [Christ] saw the covenant people scattered in every land, ‘like wrecks on a desert shore.’ In the temporal retribution about to fall upon her children, He saw but the first draft from that cup of wrath which at the final judgment she must drain to its dregs” (Ellen White,
The Great Controversy, pp. 20, 21).

[16]. Of course, these dates can be historically dated after they have happened, but that does not make them time prophecies. There will be a time for Jesus’ second coming. The redeemed will be able to look back and say that Jesus returned on such and such a date, but that does not mean that there was a prophecy that foretold the date.

[17]. See LeRoy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, volume 4, pages 721–734.

[18]. In one chart, the numeral 2,520 was larger in font size than the numeral 2,300.

[19]. While we realize that some are duplicate statements, the EGW database lists 212 hits for 2,300!

[20]. See also Appendix 2 in Smith’s work, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.

[21]. See http://www.2520yearprophecy.com/2520Q&A.html.

[22]. In Testimonies for the Church, volume 1, page 300, Ellen White also lists the testimony of Jesus as an anchor, linking it with the pillars of the faith.

[23]. “Thus from the considerations mentioned, I have come to the conclusion that this beast called Pagan Rome began when Rome became connected with the Jews, by league 158 years B. C. and lasted until 508 years after Christ making in all 666 years” (William Miller, Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year A. D. 1843, and of His Personal Reign of 1000 Years, p. 37).

[24]. In his early work (1833), Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year A. D. 1843, and of His Personal Reign of 1000 Years, Miller wrote, “We see in this verse [Daniel 10:1] that Daniel lived, and received this visit and instruction under Cyrus the first king in the Persian line of kings, and we further learn, that the thing revealed to Daniel was true, and that it had reference to an appointed time, and that time was long, and that it was concerning this very vision of 2300 years, that being the longest time appointed” (p. 18).

[25]. See The SDA Bible Commentary, volume 2, pages 645, 646.

[26]. In his book, The Great Second Advent Movement, Its Rise and Progress, Loughborough never mentions the “seven times” or the 2,520.

[27]. See also Looking Unto Jesus, pages 195, 235.

[28]. Also see The Everlasting Covenant, page 484.

[29]. The Great Controversy, p. 120

[30]. Ellen White, ARSH, July 26, 1892

[31]. For example, a quote allegedly attributed to Ellen White was really from James White.


Tentative Camp Meeting Program

This is the last call for camp meeting, which starts Tuesday, June 13, and runs through Saturday night, June 17. We certainly hope that you will come, if at all possible. For those who cannot attend, we provide the tentative schedule above so you can watch and/or hear the meetings at home, by using either our phone conference or our web classroom.

To access the phone conference, dial 1–218–486–1616 and enter conference room number 755896, when prompted.

To access our webconference room, use the following link: https://onsync.digitalsamba.com/go/smyrna/1844. There is an onsync app for mobile devices, as well, which you can download from either the Apple app store or the Android app store.

This year we will be hosting two health expos. Leading out in these events are the Browns, the Akens, the Whitehursts, Elaine Nailing, and Demario Carter. The Browns also will be training the youth in how to conduct and set up health expos.

The first event will be on June 13, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the River Front Park in Welch, WV. The second event will be on Friday, June 16, on the grounds of the chapel. Of course, these workers are asking for additional help, particularly for the Tuesday event. If you are planning to come to camp meeting and can come earlier (June 11 or June 12), we could use your help to prepare for the Tuesday event. We especially encourage our youth to come!

The Smyrna Team

Time

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Sabbath

6:00–6:25

Camp Set-up

Health Expo
at Welch

Prayer Band in the Chapel

6:30–7:30

Michael Woodward

David Sims

Lynnford Beachy

Demario Carter

7:30–9:00

Break

9:00–10:15

Onycha Holt

Onycha Holt

Communion

Allen Stump

Andy Whitehurst

10:15–11:00

Break

11:00–12:15

Andy Whitehurst

Demario Carter

Andy Whitehurst

S. T. Lewis

12:15–2:00

Break

2:05–3:05

Health

(E. Nailing)

Health (R. Akens &
C. Whitehurst)

Health (R. Akens &
C. Whitehurst)

Baptism and Testimonies

3:05–3:10

Break

3:15–4:00

Elvis Alberto

Elvis Alberto

Elvis Alberto

4:00–5:00

Youth Classes

Youth Classes

Youth Classes

5:00–6:30

Break

6:30–6:45

Song Service

Song Service

Song Service

Song Service

Song Service

6:45–7:30

Testimonies

Testimonies

Testimonies

Testimonies

David Sims

7:30–8:45

Allen Stump

Jean-Christophe Bolotte

Jean-Christophe Bolotte

S. T. Lewis

Jean-Christophe Bolotte


Higher Criticism

No Seventh-day Adventist who believes that God led in the establishment of our doctrines during the fifty years following the great disappointment in 1844 would want to be considered a proponent of higher criticism, especially if one believes those doctrines are still truth today. Such a designation would cast doubt upon one’s entire theological foundation, so what exactly is higher criticism?[1] Simply put, it is:

. . . the procedure of biblical interpretation which focuses on the historical setting and literary structure of a particular biblical book. (Robert James Utley, The Gospel according to Luke, Study Guide Commentary Series, vol. 3A, p. 148)

Of itself, this does not seem to be harmful, but one needs to understand that higher criticism can mean a lot more. One of the deadly aspects of higher criticism is putting the authority of non-biblical information above the authority of the Bible. For example, an incident that is spoken of in the Bible as historical fact, may be declared non-historical and untrue by the higher critic, if he or she cannot find evidence for the incident in history or in archeology, or if he has information that he thinks contradicts the biblical text.

Ellen White wrote strongly against the higher criticism of her day, which declared that the Bible was in error.

The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives. (Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 474; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Ellen White noted that higher criticism “made light of the opinion that it [the Bible] was a divine book, and that all portions of it were inspired” (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, June 6, 1893).

For Ellen White, this was the main issue with the system of higher criticism: it took away the inspiration of the Bible. For example, many proponents of higher criticism would deny that Peter authored Second Peter or that the Apostle John authored Revelation, even though they both plainly state that they are the authors. Higher criticism might say that since evolution is no longer a theory but is, instead, a fact, the account of creation in Genesis is allegorical instead of literal.

For example, the Genesis account states that God made all things in six days and then blessed the seventh day. Higher criticism proponents, however, would agree with the so-called biblical scientist who believes in evolution and, thus, understands these days not to be twenty-four hour periods but, instead, long, indefinite periods of time. Thus is produced theistic evolution.

Higher critical thought could also deny miracles of the Bible, since they cannot be scientifically verified. Furthermore, predictive prophecy is discounted. So, when a higher critic reads Daniel and sees the accuracy of the history of nations portrayed, he or she would tend not to believe Daniel wrote the book, though Daniel says he did, and instead, ascribes the authorship to someone living much later, after Babylon, Media-Persia, and Grecia have passed from the scene.

The birth of higher criticism, which brought a different approach to the study of the Bible, subjected the Scriptures to scientific analysis. It concluded that what could not be supported by critical evidence must be considered suspect. Some who espoused the higher critical view began to question the supernatural as it related to prediction. Holding a different view of inspiration from what the church had held previously, higher criticism began to call everything into question, nothing was too sacred. (Douglas Bennett, Symposium on Daniel: Introductory and Exegetical Studies, p. 344)

The bottom line is that higher criticism leads one away from the plainest statements of God’s word. The late Elder William Grotheer wisely noted:

There is nothing wrong with the study of the Bible in the original languages. It is to be commended. In fact, through the Review and Herald in the last decade of the previous Century, an attempt was made to give instruction in New Testament Greek for the ministry and laity of the Church alike. Neither is it wrong to understand the context in which a passage of Scripture was written and the message intended for the one or ones for whom it was written. BUT, it must be kept in mind that the Holy Spirit was giving, in many instances, messages for a different time and in a different context. Further, the Divine instruction in doctrinal concepts was laced throughout the entire Bible. These statements must brought together so as to formulate a complete and accurate concept of a given doctrine. (William Grotheer, Bible Study Guide, pp. 82, 83)

Ellen White not only spoke against higher criticism, she practiced what she preached. Speaking at her funeral, A.G. Daniells noted:

“No Christian teacher in this generation, no religious reformer in any preceding age, has placed a higher value upon the Bible. In all her writings it is represented as the book of all books, the supreme and all-sufficient guide for the whole human family. Not a trace of ‘higher criticism,’ ‘new thought,’ nor skeptical, destructive philosophy can be found in any of her writings. Those who still believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible word of the living God will value most highly the positive, uncompromising support given this view in the writings of Mrs. White.” (A. G. Daniells, as recorded in Life Sketches, pp. 471, 472)

Perhaps we should note what higher criticism is not. As Grotheer noted, the study of languages and of context alone, of themselves, does not constitute higher criticism. Did Ellen White use or approve the study of languages and the use of context in studying the Bible? Yes, she certainly did. Concerning languages, we read from The Acts of the Apostles:

The apostle compared himself to a man running in a race, straining every nerve to win the prize. “I therefore so run,” he says, “not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” That he might not run uncertainly or at random in the Christian race, Paul subjected himself to severe training. The words, “I keep under my body,” literally mean to beat back by severe discipline the desires, impulses, and passions. (White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 314)

The literal meaning in English of “I keep under my body” is not “to beat back by severe discipline the desires, impulses, and passions,” but this is the meaning in Greek, the language in which Paul wrote. Ellen White also realized that the text in Luke 23:43 was improperly translated and used a corrected version in The Desire of Ages on page 750. Sometimes Ellen White would quote a marginal reading of the text, which reflected a better translation from the original. For example, she wrote:

Except a man be born from above, he can not see the kingdom of God.” John 3:7, 3, margin. (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 48)

Instead of the usual reading that a person “must be born again,” Ellen White here used the translation “born from above,” which is more accurate to the Greek.

It was the exception, rather than the rule, for Ellen White to appeal to more correct original meanings from the Hebrew or from the Greek; however, she did so when it would clarify a text, and she also noted the need for some people to study languages. Notice the following statement:

There are times when Greek and Latin scholars are needed. Some must study these languages. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1900)

Ellen White does not say everyone should study languages, but she declares that there is a need for some to do so.

If no one had ever studied the Bible in the original languages, there could never have been any translations. Thank God men like Tyndale, Wycliffe, and Luther learned languages, so that they could give the Bible to the people in their mother tongues!

While Luther was opening a closed Bible to the people of Germany, Tyndale was impelled by the Spirit of God to do the same for England. Wycliffe’s Bible had been translated from the Latin text, which contained many errors. It had never been printed, and the cost of manuscript copies was so great that few but wealthy men or nobles could procure it; and, furthermore, being strictly proscribed by the church, it had had a comparatively narrow circulation. In 1516, a year before the appearance of Luther’s theses, Erasmus had published his Greek and Latin version of the New Testament. Now for the first time the word of God was printed in the original tongue. In this work many errors of former versions were corrected, and the sense was more clearly rendered. It led many among the educated classes to a better knowledge of the truth, and gave a new impetus to the work of reform. But the common people were still, to a great extent, debarred from God’s word. Tyndale was to complete the work of Wycliffe in giving the Bible to his countrymen. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 245)

Men, by knowing the original languages so that they could translate the Bible, helped to spread the word of God to many different classes of people which otherwise would have never known God’s word.

Though not often, Ellen White quoted from the Revised Version, instead of from the King James Version, if she felt the Revised Version made the meaning more clear.

As the highest preparation for your work I point you to the words, the life, the methods, of the Prince of teachers. I bid you consider Him. Here is your true ideal. Behold it, dwell upon it, until the Spirit of the divine Teacher shall take possession of your heart and life. “Reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord,” you will be “transformed into the same image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18, R.V.—(Ellen White, Education, p. 282)

Concerning context, Ellen White was not afraid to be plain:

The work of Sabbath reform to be accomplished in the last days is foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.” “The sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, everyone that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:1, 2, 6, 7.

These words apply in the Christian age, as shown by the context: “The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” Verse 8. (White, The Great Controversy., p. 451)

The course pursued by this one false teacher illustrates that of many others. A few words of Scripture are separated from the context, which would in many cases show their meaning to be exactly opposite to the interpretation put upon them; and such disjointed passages are perverted and used in proof of doctrines that have no foundation in the word of God. The testimony cited as evidence that the drunken Amnon is in heaven is a mere inference directly contradicted by the plain and positive statement of the Scriptures that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10. It is thus that doubters, unbelievers, and skeptics turn the truth into a lie. And multitudes have been deceived by their sophistry and rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security. (Ibid., p. 539)

Thus, we see that Ellen White supported both using the clearest version of a text and understanding the text in its setting, or context. The reason for understanding what higher criticism is and is not becomes important, when considering the first article in this issue of Old Paths, concerning the “seven times” of Leviticus 26. Some have felt that perhaps we are guilty of using higher criticism in this article, but to simply charge someone with using higher criticism because he or she seeks to know the original language and/or seeks to examine the context is not valid. The very same hermeneutics used in our article beginning on page 2 were used by James White and by Uriah Smith in their study of Leviticus 26 and were also used by Ellen White in her writings!

Allen Stump

[1]. The size of this study does not allow for a detailed examination of higher criticism, but we will be looking deeply enough to be sure that the main article in this issue of Old Paths has not been written using higher criticism.


The Award-Winning Naked Mole Rat

Naked Mole Rat
Photo courtesy of Roman Klementschitz

On December 20, 2013, the humble naked mole rat was named vertebrate of the year by the magazine Science. It is indeed a wonder of creation. It never gets cancer in its native environment, it is the longest living rodent (thirty years), and it can healthfully live in oxygen-depleted environments for hours and in the total absence of oxygen for eighteen minutes. Naked mole rats can adjust their respiration and metabolic rates to meet the various depleted oxygen conditions tunnel life affords. The average length of time humans can go without oxygen is three minutes, after which we pass into unconsciousness.

The little naked mole rate has many virtues that defy our understanding and that hold promise in the treatment of disease. Take cancer, for instance. Cancer is basically runaway cell replication, but cancer is nonexistent in the naked mole rat in its natural African environment, and only two cases of cancer have been found otherwise, both in zoos in America. Naked mole rats do not get tumors because they have a gene, p16, that prevents tumor growth. This gene makes the cells claustrophobic, so to speak, and stops the cells’ proliferation when too many of them crowd together. Like many animals and like humans, also, the naked mole rats also have a gene called p27 that also prevents cellular overcrowding, so the mole rats have a double defense with the additional gene p16, and its cells must overcome the effects of both of these genes before they can grow uncontrollably.[1]

Another protection against cancer is the naked mole rat’s ability to produce large amounts of hyaluronic acid (HA), which form part of the extracellular matrix that gives tissue its shape and that makes skin elastic. Researchers suspected in 2009 that “the long HA molecules formed a tight cage around cells, preventing tumour cells from replicating unchecked and essentially nipping ‘pre-cancers’ in the bud.”[2]

A Naked Mole Rat Eating
Photo courtesy of Trisha M. Shears

Equally fascinating and equally not understood is the ability of the naked mole rat to switch its cellular food from glucose to fructose. This is something no other mammal can do. Most mammals use glucose for energy, but the process of changing glucose to energy requires oxygen, which is often in short supply in the tunnel life of the naked mole rate. When the oxygen level is depleted, these little wonders can switch their source of energy from glucose to fructose. Using fructose to produce energy does not require oxygen. So when the oxygen level is dangerously low, they can keep their body functioning with fructose. It is like using an alternate fuel! Humans cannot do this. In order for us to use fructose, we first have to change it to glucose, and this change, again, requires oxygen. This energy pathway of creating energy without oxygen was thought to have only been used by plants. How wrong we were, and what a wonderful world we live in!

The naked mole rat holds the record for longevity in the rodent family—thirty plus years—and for humans looking for the elusive fountain of youth, this is extremely interesting, yet we do not understand why this happens. Diseases of ageing are practically unknown in the mole rat. When it dies, it is definitely not after a long history of vascular disease!

This beauty of a rodent is also cold-blooded, the only mammal known to be so, and it also does not feel many types of pain, another characteristic researchers would like to understand, to help us in the treatment of chronic pain. All in all, the naked mole rat uses energy like a plant, is cold-blooded like a reptile, is cancer-free, is disease-free of many age-related conditions, can live longer without oxygen than any mammal, is practically pain-free, and is the longest living rodent. What a powerhouse of life-sustaining abilities is contained in this humble, little creature!

By the way, the 2013 invertebrate of the year was the planthopper—it winds up gears in its legs to propel itself forward when it hops! How can you not help but love these amazing little creatures and the wonderful God who created them?

Onycha Holt

[1]. Information obtained and adapted from http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3479

[2]. Ewen Callaway, “Simple molecule prevents mole rats from getting cancer”; http://www.nature.com/news/simple-molecule-prevents-mole-rats-from-getting-cancer-1.13236


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.

Editor Allen Stump—editor@smyrna.org
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—onycha@smyrna.org