Much of the Christian world, especially the Adventists and similar groups who trace their origin to the 1830s and 1840s, will recall how the prediction of Christ’s return originally focused on the years 1843 & 1844.
When the day arrived and Jesus did not descend from the sky in the manner expected by a half-million followers, they called it “the Great Disappointment“–a term still used today. Various explanations were developed to explain why He was delayed, and to offer hope that He would come “soon”.
But I call it “The Great Tragedy”. Why? Because they came so very close. The changing of a single word could have made all the difference. And that word is this: They looked up when they should have looked east. You may ask, “Why should they have looked east?”
Answer: Because Jesus Himself had indicated that His return would be from the East. He said (in Matt 24:27) “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
But the Adventists of the 1840s chose to ignore this. Instead, they chose to assume that a passage from Acts 1:9-11 concerning a return “from heaven” should be understood physically instead of spiritually.
This was the easy path—the effortless path. All one needed to do was to sit back and look up into the sky for Christ’s return. There was no need to make the effort to travel and search, as the Wise Men of the East had so successfully done in the days of Jesus’ birth.
Alas, the easy path is often the wrong path. As Matthew wrote: “…the way is broad, that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” The right path, on the other hand, would have been the path of active search as implied in the verse “seek, and ye shall find” (Matt 7:7) But where to search? As Jesus Himself indicated, the Son of Man would come “out of the East”.
So, we ask: “What if there had actually been someone, in the 1840s, who was willing to follow the example of the Wise Men of the East, and do a serious search for the Promised One by traveling to the East? What would he have found?” The western assumption that nothing significant happens in the East turns out to be entirely wrong.
The answer is mind-boggling. It struck as a bolt of lightning in the East, creating religious shock waves through a whole society there. But the thick clouds of persecution would block its light from reaching to the West for some years.
The Wise Men of the West is a story about exactly what some wise men could have found, if they had only been willing to make a serious effort. The fact that no such people actually existed will someday be regarded as one of the greatest tragedies in the history of religion.
You can find The Wise Men of the West on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Wise-Men-West-Search-Promised/dp/173245115X