Seventh-day Adventists have believed that the message of Revelation 14 is an end-time message which began its historical fulfillment in A.D. 1844.
As far back as Revelation 2, God tells His church in Ephesus that it has lost its first love (Rev. 2:4). Speaking of this church, Ellen White states: “The love that constrained the Saviour to die for us was not revealed in its fullness in their lives; and hence they were unable to bring honor to the name of the Redeemer. And as they lost their first love, they increased in a knowledge of scientific theories originated by the father of lies” (Manuscript 11, 1906).
From the second to the sixth centuries A.D., a gradual change came with a shift of Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first. The implications of this shift were momentously catastrophic. By shifting to a non-six-day-creation-based Sabbath, the church began to pave the way for macroevolutionary science. This reflection was made in the book Life Sketches, when Ellen White wrote, “I was shown that if the true Sabbath had been kept, there would never have been an infidel or an atheist. The observance of the Sabbath would have preserved the world from idolatry” (Life Sketches, 96).
What followed next was the accommodating of Scripture to the findings of human discoveries in science. Augustine, the bishop of Hippo (A.D. 354–430), led the initial discussion between science and Scripture. Eventually, Johann Salomo Semler led the German rationalism movement, which included the idea that Scripture and the Word of God were not the same. Because, under this thinking, the Bible was no longer considered to be the propositional Word of God, the claims it made regarding origins were open to revisions made by scientific findings. By 1785 the father of modern geology, James Hutton, introduced the notion of deep time, which had theological implications that ultimately declared biblical literalism to be dead.
Upon this foundation, the fathers of modern theology began to build their arguments that science and religion must be separated. It was in this context that Charles R. Darwin (1809–1882) began to replace the idea of divine creation of the human race with an accidental force of nature. Ultimately, some theologians would go as far as to conclude that belief in creation was damaging to Christian thinking.
Darwin questions creation in his initial sketch outline of his future work, On the Origin of Species in 1844. The same year also finds Revelation 14’s fulfillment in history, responding to Darwin’s challenge of creation. Revelation 14:7 almost perfectly references Exodus 20:11 in its creation verbiage. However, there is a slight difference in the final phrasing. Whereas Exodus calls us to worship Him who made heaven, earth, the sea and “all that is in them” (20:11), Revelation calls us to worship Him who made heaven, earth, the sea, and “the springs of water” (Rev. 14:7). The latter is a reference to Genesis talking about the fountains of the great deep being broken up during the global flood (Gen. 7:11).
The significance of this trip through history is that a parallel exists between the two systems of education. On one hand, secular scholars build upon each other to discount creation and redemption, which are founded on the person of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, God’s end-time gospel message is an endorsement of the Genesis flood that not only reminds us of judgment but also of Jesus the Creator.
The message of Revelation 14, therefore, is not only uniquely important to Adventist preaching, but it is equally important to the Adventist understanding of education, for the link that binds them together is the foundation of the person of Jesus Christ in both.