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Cover image via LDS.org. 

1833 meteor storm over Niagara Falls.

The spectacular Leonid meteor storm of 1833 over the United States was widely interpreted by Christian ministers as being a sign of the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith testified that there are multiple fulfillments of prophecy about both the sign of the stars falling from heaven and the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. These multiple fulfillments make discerning the signs and events of the Lord’s coming much more complicated. The need for a modern prophet and seer to correctly interpret prophesies and their fulfillment is strikingly evident in this example.

“Last of the Signs … of His Second Advent”

William Miller, an American Baptist preacher, whose teachings influenced many Christian denominations, preached that Christ’s “second advent” would come soon after the 1830’s. Ellen White, a cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863, described the 1833 Leonid meteor storm’s influence and aftermath on Miller.

“In 1833, two years after Miller began to present in public the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appeared which were promised by the Saviour as tokens of His second advent. Said Jesus: ‘The stars shall fall from heaven.’ (Matthew 24:29) And John in the Revelation declared, as he beheld in vision the scenes that should herald the day of God: ‘The stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.’ (Revelation 6:13). [emphasis added]

“This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded; ‘the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another. Its sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds…. Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, the whole heavens seemed in motion…’ ”[i] [ii] [iii] [iv]

William Miller, an American Baptist preacher, was a key proponent of the “soon coming” of Jesus Christ to the earth and believed that the 1833 meteor storm was one of the last key signs of that coming. He believed that the Bible was completely accurate and contained all of the information that was needed to predict when that coming of Jesus Christ would be.

“People were drawn out of their homes and looked up at the countless meteors that were streaking across the heavens during the early hours of November 13, 1833.” As many as 200,000 meteors per hour filled the early morning sky. Witnesses could read a newspaper by the light of the meteor storm. Many thought that their houses were on fire.

Comet Tempel-Tuttle is a small comet and is the only less-than-200-year periodic comet that “just happens” to have an orbit that intersects earth’s orbit so directly that meteor storms are a possibility. It has a 33 year orbit and every third orbit passes near the sun close to the century year. It is the comet responsible for the annual Leonid meteor showers in late November and the occasional dramatic meteor storms. The comet was discovered by astronomers Wilhelm Tempel (1821-1889) and Horace Parnell Tuttle (1829-1881).

Interpreting the prophesies of Daniel and John the Revelator, William Miller calculated that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur in 1843 or 1844. October 22, 1844 was calculated to be the last possible day.[v]

William Miller’s prediction did not come to pass and became known as the “Millerites’ Great Disappointment.” The several Millerite religious movements went into a tailspin. “Most Millerites simply gave up their beliefs.”

“Estimates of Miller’s followers—the Millerites—vary between 50,000, and 500,000. Miller’s legacy includes the Advent Christian Church with 61,000 members, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church with over 19 million members. Both these denominations have a direct connection with the Millerites and the Great Disappointment of 1844.” [vi]

A chart published by Pastor Joshua Vaughan Himes to explain Miller’s calculations of the “soon advent” of Jesus Christ in 1843 or 1844. “From 1840 onwards, Millerism was transformed from an ‘obscure, regional movement into a national campaign.’” The defining event that enabled that national campaign was the 1833 comet-caused Leonid meteor storm.

Joseph the Seer Navigates the Slippery Path of Interpreting Prophecy

Forty days before the great meteor storm occurred, Joseph Smith predicted that “forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven.” This prophecy was fulfilled precisely on schedule when the largest meteor storm in modern history arrived in a very narrow time window of a few hours during the early morning of November 13, 1833. The meteor storm was visible almost exclusively over North America.[vii]

About the Leonid meteor storm, Joseph Smith wrote in his journal: “This event was a literal fulfillment of the word of God and a sure sign that the coming of Christ is close at hand.”[viii]

Joseph Smith further explained that “beautiful and terrific as was the scenery [of the meteor storm they were witnessing], it will not fully compare with the time when the sun shall become black like sack-cloth of hair, the moon like blood, and the stars fall to the earth (Revelation 6:12-13).” [emphasis added]

In other words, the prophecy of a record-breaking meteor storm sign would have multiple fulfillments. The 1833 meteor storm was one of those fulfillments but an even larger event would correspond to the biblical prophecy of the “stars falling to the earth.” (Revelation 6:13) [ix]

Joseph Smith Predicted and Interpreted Biblical Signs

Joseph Smith was much like Nephi, the great-grandson of Helaman, who chronicled the fulfillment of the signs of the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus predicted by Samuel. Having predicted the timeline of the coming sign of the stars falling from heaven in 1833, Joseph Smith then interpreted the meaning of the sign when it did occur and how it related to the scriptures.

Once the possibility of multiple fulfillments of prophesy is understood from this or other examples, predicting the framework of how last days signs in general will correspond to actual historical events becomes a task clearly needing the guidance of a true prophet and seer. Multiple fulfillments add significantly more complexity to the task of interpretation of prophecy. And, Joseph Smith would continually emphasize that the Bible has had “many plain and most precious parts of the gospel” taken away from it. (1 Nephi 13:32)

The meteor storm on November 13, 1833 was just two and a half years before the crucial visit of Jesus Christ and other angelic messengers to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836.

The ultimate sign would be the actual Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to begin the Millennium. And, like multiple signs of stars falling from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ has made and will make multiple visits to earth before the actual Second Coming. These include the visit of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820 and Jesus’ coming with angelic ministers to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836.[x]

The Millerites Visit Joseph Smith in Nauvoo

“From 1840 onwards, Millerism was transformed from an ‘obscure, regional movement into a national campaign.’ The key figure in this transformation was Joshua Vaughan Himes, the pastor of Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts, and an able and experienced publisher. Though Himes did not fully accept Miller’s ideas until 1842, he established the fortnightly paper ‘Signs of the Times’ on February 28, 1840, to publicize them.”[xi]

As the time of William Miller’s 1843 and later his revised late-1844 predictions of the Second Coming approached, Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo considered the doctrines and the reasoning of the Millerites who had come to Nauvoo.[xii]

Joseph Smith at the Nauvoo Temple. As the debate over Miller’s predictions proceeded, Joseph Smith was uniquely qualified to show errors in the data both by reason and by revelation. “A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed … and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.” (Mosiah 8:17)

Joseph Smith pointed out “the fallacy of Mr. Miller’s data concerning the coming of Christ and end of the world. … and preached … that error was in the Bible, or the translation of the Bible; that Miller was in want of correct information upon the subject, and that he was not so much to blame as the translators.”

Elder Noah Packard stated in an 1843 missionary pamphlet: “For it must be that Mr. Miller, Fleming, and others of the same stamp are making a false alarm without having received authority [i.e., priesthood] from a proper source. … Unlike Joseph Smith, Miller never had a Urim and Thummim. Nor did Miller receive divine revelation.”[xiii]

Additional Revelation on the Timing of the Second Coming

“On 2 April 1843, while dining at his sister Sophronia McLeary’s house in Ramus, Illinois, Joseph Smith received the following revelation (now found in the 130th section of the Doctrine and Covenants) about the Second Coming:

“I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time (D&C 130:14–17).”

“This revelation was in response to Miller’s calculations for the Second Coming. The very next day Joseph recorded in his journal, ‘Miller’s Day of Judgment has arrived, but tis too pleasant for false prophets.’”[xiv]

In this revelation, we see that Joseph Smith was guided to think in terms of the much more difficult to interpret, multiple fulfillments of prophecy instead of the single check box approach that William Miller had used to interpret the 1833 meteor storm.

Notice that Joseph Smith’s revelation in Section 130 certainly would eliminate Miller’s 1843 and 1844 dates. However, the Lord seems to leave the revelation purposely ambiguous as to whether the 1890 date would be the start of the Millennium, a pre-Millennium appearance as happened in the Kirtland Temple or Joseph’s own death.

The Lord is certainly keeping the actual date of the Second Coming yet unknown to us even as He revealed in Section 130 some guidelines of what date intervals we might consider as possible dates. Notice that the dates the Lord implied in this revelation stay completely away from any that would even enter the 1900’s, much less go past the year 2000.[xv]

With these guidelines in section 130 and from Joseph Smith we should continue “looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man” (D&C 61:38) and be aware of all the possibilities we need to consider among the many signs of His coming.

Surprise in the Calculations of Miller’s 1843-1844 Dates?

Doesn’t Miller’s 1843-1844 Second Coming calculation from the revelations of Daniel and John the Revelator seem to be very early in the context of the seven seals of thousand year periods in earth’s history from the Book of Revelation?

Looking at the calculation methodology William Miller used, several of the methods do arrive at an 1843-1844 date. That date is 173 years from this year (2017) and the Second Coming has yet to occur.

We do know that Miller was mistaken and that Biblical errors, translations and precious truths taken from the Bible contributed to Miller being in error. Miller also ignored the multiple fulfillment possibilities of both signs and prophesied events.[xvi]

With Joseph Smith’s analysis that the Miller interpretation is false, I would have thought that nothing at all, that is no important event in religious history at all would correspond to Miller’s projected dates.

I would have thought it would be like the false prophesy of December 21, 2012 as the end of the world—nothing.

But, there may be a surprise twist here.

What happened during the Hebrew calendar year running from fall 1843 to fall 1844? How about June 27, 1844 in Carthage, Illinois? Joseph Smith’s martyrdom.[xvii]

1844 is not yet the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ. But, this date marks the sacrifice of the latter-day forerunner of the Messiah, Joseph Smith, Prophet and Seer, supervising the great Restoration events preliminary to the Lord’s return.[xviii]

And, Joseph Smith, in his lifetime had already witnessed at least two preliminary visits of the Lord Jesus Christ, in 1820 and in 1836.

Real sacred events and the real fulfillment of prophecy might be right there “hidden in plain sight.” Miller and others may have just looked the wrong way in the wrong context.

Another interesting thought: What if the intent of the Lord’s revelation to Daniel was that a possible interpretation of the 2,300 days-years (Daniel 8:14) prophesy was to point to the Prophet Joseph Smith and then through him to the actual Second Coming of the Lord?

The Millerites should have gone back to Nauvoo, where their presentations received so little or no support, and requested baptism. Instead, the Millerites and many Christians were very depressed and disappointed, and many completely abandoned their faith.

Also, most sects were delighted that Joseph Smith was gone and with him the “Mormon” aberration also was presumed to be about to disappear. But, the Latter-day Saints were already turning to the next chapter in the work of the Restoration, moving to the Rocky Mountains under to leadership of Brigham Young.[xix]

Additional copy of the chart of William Miller’s Second Coming calculations shown earlier in the article. The “soon advent” of Jesus Christ is projected to happen in 1843 or 1844. These dates, interestingly enough, fall right during the Hebrew year of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, June 27, 1844.

Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred on June 27, 1844, a minor holy day, 10 Tammuz, on the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar. The Nauvoo temple is the modern restored and rededicated temple with artistic depictions of Joseph and Hyrum on horseback.

Would the Book of Mormon Make Sense without the Whole Story?

What if the books of Mosiah and Alma didn’t exist in the Book of Mormon? Would the books of Helaman and Third Nephi make sense and allow us to understand the events in America that lead to the first coming of Jesus Christ to the earth?

No, I think that they would not if we were missing those two great books.

We need King Benjamin, King Mosiah, the sons of Mosiah, Abinadi, Alma at the waters of Mormon, Alma the younger, Helaman– prophet and general, Moroni and the title of liberty, Pahoran and the free government under judges and much more. The story of the coming of Christ to the temple in Bountiful recorded in Third Nephi chapter 11 starts many years earlier. We need the full context.[xx]

The Book of Mormon chronology shows the complex prophetic and historical context of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel to the earth and to ancient America. How understandable would the Book of Mormon be if over a century of preparation before the visit of Christ in the books of Mosiah and Alma were not included?

Similarly, the Restoration, beginning with the First Vision, starts in the early 1800’s. Only with the miraculous history of the Restoration and the establishment of the Church and Kingdom of God on earth, do the final events of the Second Coming make complete sense.

Joseph Smith Contrasted with Others Trying to Interpret the 1833 Sign in the Heavens

Even though I have long considered the 1833 Leonid meteor storm an important sign, the quotes I discovered researching this article indicate that it was way beyond even that, a huge sign and a turning point for religious faith throughout America.

And, in the middle of that, we have Joseph Smith’s precise inspiration and interpretation of this event as a true sign but that it was not the final meteor storm, or meteor storms, that would come nearer to the actual Second Coming. He also knew that several preliminary visits of the Savior would occur before the final Second Coming.

Key religious leaders without Joseph Smith’s great prophetic gifts did not interpret the meteor storm correctly. Because these leaders were not prophets and seers, look at all of the confusion, disappointment and unbelief that were caused by their faulty interpretation of a true sign.

What a difference to have a true Prophet and Seer come to earth to prepare the way for the Lord’s climactic “Soon Coming!”

“Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him and nations revere.”[xxi]

Notes: 

[i] “Ellen G. White,” Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_G._White]

“Ellen Gould White (née Harmon; November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. Along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, she formed what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Smithsonian magazine named Ellen G. White among 100 Most Significant American Figures,[1] in an acknowledgement of her influence on religion.[2][3]”

“The Great Controversy, Page 333,” “Ellen G. White Writings,” Retrieved 9/8/2017.

[https://text.egwwritings.org/publication.php?pubtype=Book&bookCode=GC&lang=en&pagenumber=333&paragraphReferences=1]

These quotes show the profound effect on William Miller of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm. Ellen White is a founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“In 1833, two years after Miller began to present in public the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appeared which were promised by the Saviour as tokens of His second advent. Said Jesus: “The stars shall fall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29. And John in the Revelation declared, as he beheld in vision the scenes that should herald the day of God: “The stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Revelation 6:13. This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded; “the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.” “Its sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds…. Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, the whole heavens seemed in motion…. The display, as described in Professor Silliman’s Journal, was seen all over North America…. From two o’clock until broad daylight, the sky being perfectly serene and cloudless, an incessant play of dazzlingly brilliant luminosities was kept up in the whole heavens.”—R. M. Devens, American Progress; or, The Great Events of the Greatest Century, ch. 28, pars. 1-5. GC 333.1

“ “No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that magnificent display; … no one who did not witness it can form an adequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starry heavens had congregated at one point near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to every part of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted—thousands swiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for the occasion.”—F. Reed, in the Christian Advocate and Journal, Dec. 13, 1833. “A GC 333.2”

“Advent Movement History 1,” The Advent Movement.net, Retrieved 9/9/2017.

[http://www.theadventmovement.net/History/HistorySummary/AdventMovementHistory1]

“1814: During the battle of Plattsburg, William Miller witnesses what he sees as a miracle of God when his troops numbering 5000, win the battle against a British military division of 15,000 troops. In the British American War of 1812, William Miller, rises to the rank of captain.   After this miracle William Miller begins to reconcile to God and the Bible, to his former Christian training, and begins to reject the deistic beliefs he had come to embrace, common in his day. He compares the history of the United States with that of the Children of Israel in the Old Testament.”

“1827: November 27, Ellen Gould Harmon is born near Gorman, Maine. She was raised in the Methodist Episcopal Church. At the age of nine she was struck in the nose by a rock thrown by a classmate, causing permanent disfigurement. Her life was changed before it even started.   Her formal education ended with the third grade. She had health issues that arose from the injury. She became deeply discouraged although she did learn to read and loved books. She became convinced she did not have long to live based on conversations she hears between her parents and friends. She experiences an agonizing spiritual struggle relating to her physical condition and her eternal salvation. She prayed for a deeper religious experience to show her meaning and purpose for her life and future. A partial answer to her prayer came in 1836 when she found a scrap of paper telling of a man in England that determined the world would end thirty years from that date.”

“William Miller (preacher)”, Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_(preacher)]

“William Miller (February 15, 1782 – December 20, 1849), an American Baptist preacher, is credited with beginning the mid-19th century North American religious movement known as the Millerites. After his prophecies of the Second Coming did not occur as expected in the 1840s, new heirs of his message emerged, including the Advent Christians (1860) and the Seventh-day Adventists (1863). Later movements found inspiration in Miller’s emphasis on Bible prophecy; the Bahá’í Faith holds that his predictions of 1844 events were accurate.”

“In 1832 Miller submitted a series of sixteen articles to the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist newspaper. The Telegraph published the first of these on May 15, and Miller writes of the public’s response: “I began to be flooded with letters of inquiry respecting my views; and visitors flocked to converse with me on the subject.”[2] In 1834, unable to personally comply with many of the urgent requests for information and the invitations to travel and preach that he received, Miller published a synopsis of his teachings in a 64-page tract with the lengthy title:Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, about the Year 1844: Exhibited in a Course of Lectures.”

“From 1840 onwards, Millerism was transformed from an “obscure, regional movement into a national campaign.” The key figure in this transformation was Joshua Vaughan Himes, the pastor of Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts, and an able and experienced publisher. Though Himes did not fully accept Miller’s ideas until 1842, he established the fortnightly paper Signs of the Times on February 28, 1840, to publicize them.[6]

“Despite the urging of his supporters, Miller never personally set an exact date for the expected Second Advent. However, in response to their urgings, he did narrow the time-period to sometime in the Jewish year beginning in the Gregorian year 1843, stating: “My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.”[11] March 21, 1844, passed without incident, and further discussion and study resulted in the brief adoption of a new date (April 18, 1844) based on the Karaite Jewish calendar (as opposed to the Rabbinic calendar).[12] Like the previous date, April 18 passed without Christ’s return. Miller responded publicly, writing, “I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door.”[13]

“In August 1844 at a camp-meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, Samuel S. Snow presented a message that became known as the “seventh-month” message or the “true midnight cry.” In a discussion based on scriptural typology, Snow presented his conclusion (still based on the 2300 day prophecy in Daniel 8:14), that Christ would return on, “the tenth day of the seventh month of the present year, 1844.”[14] Again, based largely on the calendar of the Karaite Jews, this date was determined to be October 22, 1844.”

“After the failure of Miller’s expectations for October 22, 1844, the date became known as the Millerites’ Great Disappointment. Hiram Edson recorded that “Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before… We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.”[15] Following the Great Disappointment most Millerites simply gave up their beliefs. Some did not and viewpoints and explanations proliferated. Miller initially seems to have thought that Christ’s Second Coming was still going to take place—that “the year of expectation was according to prophecy; but…that there might be an error in Bible chronology, which was of human origin, that could throw the date off somewhat and account for the discrepancy.”[16] Miller never gave up his belief in the Second Coming of Christ; he died on December 20, 1849, still convinced that the Second Coming was imminent. Miller is buried near his home in Low Hampton, NY and his home is a registered National Historic Landmark and preserved as a museum: William Miller’s Home.”

[ii] “The Meteor Storm that Spawned Mass Hysteria and Religious Revivals in America,” NeuroNotes, May 24, 1014.
[https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/the-meteor-storm-that-spawned-mass-hysteria-and-religious-revivals-in-america/]

“On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a tempest of falling stars broke over the earth…. the sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks and illuminated with majestic fireballs. At Boston, the frequency of meteors was estimated to be about half that of flakes of snow in an average snowstorm. Their numbers … were quite beyond counting; but as it waned, a reckoning was attempted, from which it was computed, on the basis of that much-diminished rate, that 240,000 must have been visible during the nine hours they continued to fall.”

“The meteor storm made a deep and terrifying impression on the American people. According to newspaper reports almost everyone saw it, awakened either by the commotion in the streets or by the moving glare of fireballs shining into bedroom windows.

“In 1878 the historian R. M. Devens listed it as one of the 100 most memorable events in U.S. history. “During the three hours of its continuance,” he wrote, “the day of judgment was believed to be only waiting for sunrise, and, long after the shower had ceased, the morbid and superstitious still were impressed with the idea that the final day was at least only a week ahead.

“Impromptu meetings for prayer were held in many places, and many other scenes of religious devotion, or terror, or abandonment of worldly affairs, transpired, under the influence of fear occasioned by so sudden and awful a display.”

“Yale professor Denison Olmsted, who also witnessed the event, wrote:

“Imagine a constant succession of fireballs, resembling rockets, radiating in all directions from a point in the heavens,”

“Because so many Americans were indoctrinated by Christianity and the bible, they believed the end was near — that the judgement day was close at hand. It struck fear in the masses and spiked church attendance and spawned religious revivals throughout America.”

“Illinois Genealogy History Group writes:

The meteor storm made a deep and terrifying impression on the American people. According to newspaper reports almost everyone saw it, awakened either by the commotion in the streets or by the moving glare of fireballs shining into bedroom windows.

“In 1878 the historian R. M. Devens listed it as one of the 100 most memorable events in U.S. history. “During the three hours of its continuance,” he wrote, “the day of judgment was believed to be only waiting for sunrise, and, long after the shower had ceased, the morbid and superstitious still were impressed with the idea that the final day was at least only a week ahead.

“Impromptu meetings for prayer were held in many places, and many other scenes of religious devotion, or terror, or abandonment of worldly affairs, transpired, under the influence of fear occasioned by so sudden and awful a display.”

“Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons: A famous depiction of the November 1833 meteor storm, produced in 1889 for the Seventh-day Adventist book Bible Readings for the Home Circle.

“Yale professor Denison Olmsted, who also witnessed the event, wrote:

Imagine a constant succession of fireballs, resembling rockets, radiating in all directions from a point in the heavens,”

“Because so many Americans were indoctrinated by Christianity and the bible, they believed the end was near — that the judgement day was close at hand. It struck fear in the masses and spiked church attendance and spawned religious revivals throughout America.

“Sky and Telescope Magazine:

“The 1833 shower has been credited with contributing to the intense religious revivals that swept the United States in the 1830s, which permanently influenced the national character and spread new sects and denominations that are well established on the American scene today.”

“According to the reports, most Americans were awakened by bright lights from the meteor storms and the commotion, especially fear, among vast populations in the U.S. The event left a lasting impression on most of the country. The most famous image of the event, as seen above, was drawn more than 50 years later for the 7th Day Adventist — religious primer illustrating biblical prophecies fulfilled (Sky &Telescope: September 1987).

“The founder and first leader of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, noted in his journal: “This event was a literal fulfillment of the word of God and a sure sign that the coming of Christ is close at hand.” (The Joseph Smith Papers Journals Volume 1: 1832–1839)”

“Great Awakening,” Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening]

“The term Great Awakening can refer to several periods of religious revival in American religious history.”

“The Second Great Awakening was a religious revival that occurred in the United States beginning in the late eighteenth century and lasting until the middle of the nineteenth century. While it occurred in all parts of the United States, it was especially strong in the Northeast and the Midwest.[12] This awakening was unique in that it moved beyond the educated elite of New England to those who were less wealthy and less educated. The center of revivalism was the so-called Burned-over district in western New York. Named for its overabundance of hellfire-and-damnation preaching, the region produced dozens of new denominations, communal societies, and reform.”

[iii] “55P/Tempel-Tuttle,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/9/2017.[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/55P/Tempel%E2%80%93Tuttle]

“55P/Tempel–Tuttle (commonly known as Comet Tempel–Tuttle) is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 33 years. It fits the classical definition of a Halley-type comet with (20 years < period < 200 years). It was independently discovered by Wilhelm Tempel on December 19, 1865, and by Horace Parnell Tuttle on January 6, 1866.”

“It is the parent body of the Leonid meteor shower. In 1699, it was observed by Gottfried Kirch[4] but was not recognized as a periodic comet until the discoveries by Tempel and Tuttle during the 1866 perihelion. In 1933, S. Kanda deduced that the comet of 1366 was Tempel–Tuttle, which was confirmed by Joachim Schubart in 1965.[4] On 26 October 1366, the comet passed 0.0229 AU (3,430,000 km; 2,130,000 mi) from Earth.[5]

“The orbit of 55P/Tempel–Tuttle intersects that of Earth nearly exactly, hence streams of material ejected from the comet during perihelion passes do not have to spread out over time to encounter Earth. The comet currently has an Earth-MOID of 0.008 AU (1,200,000 km; 740,000 mi).[3] This coincidence means that streams from the comet at perihelion are still dense when they encounter Earth, resulting in the 33-year cycle of Leonid meteor storms. For example, in November 2009, the Earth passed through meteors left behind mainly from the 1466 and 1533 orbit.[6]”

“Comet Fact Sheet,” NASA.gov, Retrieved 9/9/2017.[http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/cometfact.html]

[iv] “The Night the Stars Fell,” historylecture.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.[http://www.historylecture.org/starsfell.html]

“Description: Over a three-night span from November 10th through November 12th, 1833, people looking skyward witnessed what is still considered to be the greatest astronomical spectacle in recorded history. It was November 11th and 12th of that year when countless meteors shot across the night sky, catching many people’s attention and interest. People knelt down and prayed or flocked to churches, thinking that the Day of Judgement was at hand. Historical astronomer John Horrigan will take you back to that day with an interactive indoor/outdoor presentation and also discuss some of the greatest meteor showers in history, including the Great Leonid Showers that were seen on November 27th, 1966 and the most recent star spectacular on November 17th, 2001.”

[v] J. Litch, “The Probability of the Second Coming of Christ about A.D. 1843,” Boston, 1838.[http://centrowhite.org.br/files/ebooks/apl/all/Litch/The%20Probability%20of%20the%20Second%20Coming%20of%20Christ%20About%20A.D.%201843.pdf]

“The writer would here acknowledge himself indebted to Mr. William Miller’s
valuable Lectures, for the leading ideas of the following pages. Although the
views of Mr. M. may not be correct on every point, yet, so far as his calculation of
time is concerned, the writer can but consider his plan irrefutable. The above-named
lectures are worthy the attentive perusal of all lovers of the sacred
Scriptures.”

William Stearns, “Calculating the Second coming in 19th-Century America: Selected Items from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922,” Readex, 10/8/2014.
[http://www.readex.com/blog/calculating-second-coming-19th-century-america-selected-items-american-pamphlets-1820-1922]

“The first four decades of the 19th century were a time of increased religious activity known as the Second Great Awakening. One of the most widely recognized religious activists of this time was William Miller (1782-1849) who lived in the border area between Vermont and New York State. As a young man in Poultney, Vermont, Miller was a confirmed and public Deist; however, as a result of his experience in the War of 1812, particularly in the Battle of Plattsburgh, where the significantly outnumbered Americans were victorious, Miller concluded this victory was the result of an interventionist deity.

“Subsequent study of the Bible convinced Miller that the holy book held prophetic references to the return of Christ to Earth including the specific time when this would happen. His predictions were widely disseminated. Despite his having been in error about the first dates he identified as the time of Christ’s return—“sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844”—the number of his followers grew exponentially. When a new date was identified in October of 1844 and Christ again did not return, this failed prophecy became known as the Great Disappointment of the Millerite movement. This month’s release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society includes many works related to the national movement Miller sparked, including several rebukes to his prophecy, which were published in advance of any certain date for the return of Christ, as well as Miller’s own “Apology and Defence,” published in 1845.”

Elder Cleops, “On the Second Coming of Christ,” Orthodox Christian Information Center, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/ec_secondcoming.aspx]

“Inquirer: Father, what can you tell us about the exact date of the Second Coming of Christ?

“Elder Cleopa: Christs true Church provides us with a number of apt testimonies which show that God did not entrust this date to anyone, neither to angels, nor to men, nor even to His own Son as man.

“Listen to the divine words of Scripture on the subject:

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be … Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh … (Mat. 24:36-51)

“If neither the angels in heaven nor the Son of Man Himself as man know the appointed time, how is it possible for it to be known among men? From the words of the Saviour it is understood only that we must be ever vigilant and mindful of our salvation, ever ready for the coming of the Lord, for we know neither the day nor the hour of His coming, nor even the hour of our own end in this life. His appearance will be unexpected, as the Lord forewarned us when he said, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh. (Mat. 25:13)”

[vi] “William Miller (preacher)”, Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_(preacher)]

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_(preacher)#Millerism] chart of calculations by Miller

“From 1840 onwards, Millerism was transformed from an “obscure, regional movement into a national campaign.” The key figure in this transformation was Joshua Vaughan Himes, the pastor of Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts, and an able and experienced publisher. Though Himes did not fully accept Miller’s ideas until 1842, he established the fortnightly paper Signs of the Times on February 28, 1840, to publicize them.”

[vii] Ronald P. Millett, “1833 Meteor Storm: A Precisely Synchronized Sign and Wonder,” Meridian Magazine, January 4, 2017.
[https://ldsmag.com/1833-meteor-storm-a-precisely-synchronized-sign-and-wonder/]

“Shortly before dawn on November 13, 1833, the greatest meteor storm in modern history was visible over North America with hundreds of thousands of bright meteors per hour. Not only was it a fulfillment of a specific prophesy that Joseph Smith had made, but this storm may have also been one of the signs of the establishment of the Church and Kingdom of God as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.”

[viii] “The Meteor Storm that Spawned Mass Hysteria and Religious Revivals in America,” NeuroNotes, May 24, 1014.
[https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/the-meteor-storm-that-spawned-mass-hysteria-and-religious-revivals-in-america/]

[ix] John P. Pratt, “Clothed with the Sun, Moon Under Her Feet,” johnpratt.com, November 2, 2016.[http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2016/clothed_with_sun.html]

“This article looks in detail at the prophecy in the Book of Revelation about a woman who gives birth to a son who will rule all nations with an iron rod. After a discussion of it referring to actual configurations of heavenly bodies in the skies, three interpretations are presented. In every case the sign occurs on the Hebrew Feast of Trumpets in the autumn. The first is that it could refer to the birth of Jesus Christ. Second, the possibility that it refers to the birth of the Kingdom of God is presented, along with supporting evidence. Finally, a prediction getting some attention promoted primarily by several Christian ministers that the sign will be fulfilled in 2017 is discussed. It is suggested that all three could be correct and actually implied by the prophecy.”

“3.3 Stars Cast Down: Right in the middle of this prophecy is a rather long discussion of Satan and his angels being cast down to the earth, falling like stars from heaven (v. 4). What is all of that about? It is usually considered totally out place and ignored as part of this prophecy. It is interpreted as a flashback to the pre-existence when Satan and a third part of the hosts of heaven were cast out before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, where Satan was allowed to tempt them.

“But as stated above, prophecies can have several fulfillments. Let us suppose that the Lord did not lose his train of thought at this point and that what John saw was indeed all relevant to the prophecy. What if it actually referred to stars falling?”

[x] The marvelous vision in section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants may be another candidate of a preliminary visitation of Jesus Christ.

“And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father. That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:19-24)

[xi] “William Miller: Millerism,” Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_(preacher)#Millerism]

[xii] “Joseph and Hyrum sculptures with restored Nauvoo temple in background,” flickr.com.[https://www.flickr.com/photos/jutlandicphoto/4843919013]

Click on this address to see this great picture on Flickr.com.

“Something Better: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo,” The History and Work of the Relief Society,” lds.org, Retrieved 9/9/2017.

[https://www.lds.org/relief-society/daughters-in-my-kingdom/manual/something-better-the-female-relief-society-of-nauvoo?lang=eng]

“I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time—this is the beginning of better days to this society. – Joseph Smith”

[xiii] Shawn Callihan, “Latter-day Saint Reactions to the Millerite Movement, 1843–1844,” in Selections from the Religious Education Student Symposium 2003 (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 17–27.
[https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selections-2003-religious-education-student-symposium/latter-day-saint-reactions-millerite]

“Sometime toward the beginning of 1843, ministers of an up-and-coming religious movement known as the Millerites began preaching to the citizens of Nauvoo. [1] Although the Latter-day Saint newspaper Times and Seasons confidently claimed, “We are not afraid that these notions could in the least obtain among the Latter Day Saints [sic],” many subsequent articles concerned Millerite beliefs. [2] Who were the Millerites, and how did Latter-day Saints react to their movement? The answer to this second question highlights an important aspect of early LDS identity: the leadership of a living prophet. Latter-day Saints distinguished themselves from the rest of the world primarily as a people led by a modern prophet and modern revelation.”

“Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique among Christian churches in claiming divine, revelatory guidance through a living prophet. Early Church members distinguished themselves from the rest of the world by emphasizing this aspect of their collective identity, as evidenced by their specific criticism of the Millerite movement. The Prophet Joseph Smith was a source of admiration and inspiration for these members, while at the same time he was an object of ridicule for many critics outside the Church. When another man also claimed to know the will of God and was bold enough to predict that Christ would come between 1843 and 1844, Church members reacted defensively. Although William Miller never claimed to be a prophet, he provided the Saints with an opportunity to express and strengthen their belief in a living prophet of God.”

[xiv] Shawn Callihan, “Latter-day Saint Reactions to the Millerite Movement, 1843–1844,” in Selections from the Religious Education Student Symposium 2003 (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 17–27.
[https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selections-2003-religious-education-student-symposium/latter-day-saint-reactions-millerite]

[xv] Rick Gunder, “Joseph Smith’s resonse to William Miller’s ‘end of the world’ prophecy,” Mormon Chronicles, November 13, 2010.
[http://mormon-chronicles.blogspot.com/2010/11/joseph-smiths-response-to-william.html]

“’ . . . Preparations for the end were made by countless hundreds of joyous or desperate souls. White cloth was purchased and made into ascension robes. Nearly all secular business was neglected . . . Voting was light . . . Tents were put up outside cities . . . and hundreds of people assembled on the night of October 21 [1844] to keep their vigil together. No provision was made for food . . . the tension was intolerable . . . There were several suicides, and as the dawn of October 23 served notice that “time continued” regardless of prophecy, some heart-broken Millennialists were led away insane. ‘ “

RPMNote: When I read this paragraph about how normal life came to standstill as the supposed Second Coming date computed by Miller was imminent, I wondered how we would react today to a widely believed Second Coming date.

RPMNote: “Nearly all secular business was neglected”—this description may provide a clue as to why the Lord keeps our actual proximity of the final Second Coming to our current date ambiguous and unknown. Everything would stop. The purpose of life on earth could be thwarted. The Gadianton robber type guys would continue their mayhem.Would bills be paid? Would crops be tended? The more we think about this, the more we may want to be very grateful that the Lord is carefully staying true to His words, with few clues of the final coming date of His Coming: “neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 24:13)

[xvi] Robert K. Sanders, “William Miller and his fifteen proofs,” Truth or Fables, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[http://www.truthorfables.com/Miller’s_Time%2520_Proved_15_Ways.htm]

“Note: Predicted that Christ would come between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He did not set the October 22, 1844 date but accepted it. After the 1843 and 1844 failure he renounced all of his date setting as false and that the 1844 movement had nothing to do with prophecy in any sense. See Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, p. 889-891.”

“William Miller Accurately Predicted the Second Coming – several times,” look and learn, 29 February 2012.
[http://www.lookandlearn.com/blog/16743/william-miller-accurately-predicted-the-second-coming-several-times/]

“Daylight glimmered through cracks in the shutters. The candle had dwindled to its last inch and was spluttering in a sea of wax. Feverishly, William Miller thumbed the pages of his Bible, his eyes flickering from the closely printed paper to the notes that lay beside it. Suddenly he threw down his pen, flung back his chair and fell on his knees in prayer. At last he had solved the problem which had vexed him since childhood. He knew now that the date of Christ’s Second Coming had been hidden there all along and that he alone had discovered it. The place was Hampton, New York State, U.S.A. The year was 1817. And Christ was due, according to William Miller’s calculations, in 26 years’ time, in 1843.”

[xvii] “Nauvoo Family Inn Suites,” nauvoofamilyinn.com, Retrieved 9/9/2017.[http://www.nauvoofamilyinn.com/town-activities]

“Joseph and Hyrum death,” Religious Chronology, johnpratt.com, 23 July 2017.

[http://johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/dates.html]

“Joseph & Hyrum death            Thu 27 Jun 1844             9 Temple             61 Pri             9 Ful             10 Tammuz 5 Sum                         6 Jeb             2394745 19.4, 67.2.3             Raven (PH,US), 1 LSu (UE), ~mom Lucy b (PH)”

Minor holy day: 10 Tammuz is the date of the martyrdom on the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar.

[xviii] Trevan G. Hatch, “Messiah ben Joseph: Jewish Traditions and Legends of a Latter-day Restorer,” Selections from the Religious Education Student Symposium, 2007 (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2007), 37–56.
[https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selections-2007-religious-education-student-symposium/ancient-studies/messiah-ben-joseph]

“For more than two thousand years, many Jewish scholars and rabbis have attempted, with only a certain degree of success, to explain and even comprehend the Jewish traditions of the Messiah ben Joseph, the man who would come forth in the last days as a restorer and a forerunner to the Messiah. A handful of scholars have attempted to present these traditions from a Latter-day Saint perspective. Despite their efforts, many Jewish texts and ideas have been ignored. The similarities between the life of Joseph Smith and the traditions of the Messiah ben Joseph (MBJ) are striking.[1] The primary objective of this paper will be to present these similarities in greater detail than has previously been done.”

[xix] “Nauvoo Family Inn Suites,” nauvoofamilyinn.com, Retrieved 9/9/2017.
[http://www.nauvoofamilyinn.com/town-activities]

[xx] “Book of Mormon Chronology Chart,” lds.org, Ensign, September 1976.[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/09/book-of-mormon-chronology-chart?lang=eng]

[xxi] “Praise to the Man,” lds.org music library, Retrieved 9/9/2017.[https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/praise-to-the-man?lang=eng]