The Great Disappointment
Have you ever heard of the “Great Disappointment”? It’s one of the most noted events in American church history, and it has an important lesson for us today.
The churches of northeastern America grew rapidly in the early 1800s, fueled by one revival after another. These new Christians had little biblical knowledge, yet many began to discuss details of biblical prophecy with great fervor. Speculation boiled over as to the exact time when Christ would return, and among the speculators was William Miller of New York.
As a new convert, Miller had devoured the prophecies of Daniel; and in 1818, he reckoned that Christ would return somewhere around 1843 of 1844. When he began preaching, this became a keynote of his messages; and his listeners multiplied. He finally announced that Christ would return on October 22, 1844.
The financial panic of 1839 contributed to the belief that the end of the world was near, and enthusiasm became so great that prophetic charts were added alongside stock market listings in the newspapers. As the morning of October 22, 1844, dawned, a sense of foreboding fell over New England. People gathered on mountaintops and in churches. Normal activities ceased as everyone awaited the sudden rending of the skies. When the day passed uneventfully, many Christians grew disillusioned. The unsaved became cynical. The following years saw a decline in conversions, and the period of revivals came to an abrupt end. The event became known as “The Great Disappointment.”
Return of Christ; Rapture; End times; Disappointment