ADvindicate President Gerry Wagoner interviews White Horse Media Director Steve Wohlberg on a new private theory called the 2520 Prophecy.
Thanks for taking time for this interview, Steve. I first encountered this theory last year when my wife and I were conducting a marriage & relationship seminar in the Northwest. I found it very puzzling. For starters, what is the 2520 theory?
In a nutshell, it’s an interpretation of Leviticus 26:18,21,24,27 where God warns four times that He will punish Israel “seven times” if she refuses to obey Him. Those four warnings supposedly refer to one time period which should be interpreted day-for-a-year, just like the 490, 1260, and 2300 year prophecies. Thus, “seven times” supposedly means “seven years” which, if you do the math, calculates out to 2520 days, or 2520 literal prophetic years. Current 2520 proponents within Adventism usually start that period in 677 BC with the captivity of King Manasseh and end it in 1844. They say the 2520 prophecy parallels the 2300 prophecy that also ended in 1844.
How did this theory begin within Adventism?
Primarily, it started with William Miller. He believed it. Next, the 2520 theory was placed on the early 1843 Millerite prophecy chart right beside the 490, 1260, 1290, 1335 and 2300 time prophecies. Many Millerite preachers also believed the 2520 prophecy. After the Great Disappointment in 1844, when the revised 1850 chart came out among Adventists, the 2520 prophecy was there too. The primary reason for its resurrection today among Adventists is the discovery that in 1850 Ellen White wrote, “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 (Early Writings, 74). That “mistake” primarily had to do with the 2300 time prophecy, which was later corrected. 2520 proponents basically say that Ellen White wrote that the 1843 chart was directed “by the hand of the Lord” and “should not be altered.” Because the 2520 prophecy was on that chart too, it shouldn’t be altered either and represents a lost truth we should rediscover in these final hours. Their thought is: God is leading His people back to the foundation of Adventism, the 2520 is part of that foundation, is “present truth,” and that those who reject it are sinning against God’s Spirit and may be lost. As you can imagine, deep division often results in churches where this theory is advocated, which 2520 proponents say must be expected, because many will reject “the truth.”
Why do you think some Adventists are attracted to it?
Personally, I believe it is because the idea that Christians today should return to lost truths is central to Adventism. We believe exactly that concerning the Sabbath, state of the dead, etc. Truth has been lost. We are to restore the old paths. When the same concept is applied to the 2520, it appeals to many Adventists too. Especially when you add Early Writings page 74 to the mix, which appears at first glance to place “the hand of the Lord,” on all other “figures” on the 1843 chart, which would include the 2520.
Essentially, this theory appeals strongly to conservative, reform minded, conscientious, Spirit of Prophecy believing Seventh-day Adventists who sincerely want to be ready for Christ’s return. As I see it, that’s the fuel behind the 2520 movement which now has many advocates, many websites, and has become increasingly organized in the last few years. In my own home church in Washington State, nine of our regular members no longer attend because of this controversy. It has been intense, and very painful.
Does it appeal more to converts or multi-generational church members?
It appeals to both groups—to anyone who believes the Spirit of Prophecy. Again, this is especially so when Early Writings page 74 is quoted, which at first glance appears to support almost everything on the 1843 chart.
It was being used to create division among people when I encountered it. Is that typical?
Yes. It creates division wherever it goes. To be fair, I don’t think everyone who believes this theory goes about creating such division on purpose. But, because they believe the 2520 theory so strongly, this is usually what happens.
So tell us, what’s wrong with the 2520 theory?
I’ll try to make a long story short. Our first clue that something is amiss comes from Ellen White herself. When you search the entire EGW CD Rom something amazing happens. There is no direct reference anywhere to any 2520 prophecy!
Next, about the 1843 chart, Ellen White also wrote: “I saw that the old  chart was directed by the Lord, and that not a figure of it should be altered except by inspiration (Spalding/Magan Collection, 1). These words clarify that the 1843 chart can be altered, as long as “inspiration” does it. As we examine this subject more deeply, it becomes clear that the “inspiration” of the Holy Spirit, working through the Bible and godly advancing Adventists, did indeed alter the chart.
In the 1843 chart, which I have on my wall at my office, the number 2520 appears very large twice in the upper right corner. But in the revised 1850 chart (which 2520 advocates usually insist is also inspired), the 2520 figure has been altered. Now it is much smaller, on the lower right corner, and is now hardly readable from a short distance away. Why this altered emphasis? The reason is because advancing Adventists in 1850, in their ongoing quest for more truth, were starting to doubt that prophecy. Yes, some still believed it, but its influence was fading. We know this because by the time the next revised chart came out in 1863 officially authorized by the newly organized Seventh-day Adventist Church, the 2520 was nowhere to be found.
Here are some critical points to consider which are developed more fully in my little pocketbook, Prophecy’s Blind Date: 2520: 1) When the 1863 chart came out with no 2520 on it, Mrs. White was silent. She never disapproved. 2) The new chart was primarily developed by James White who, in a January 26, 1864 Review article gave a long list of crystal clear biblical reasons (straight from Leviticus 26) why the 2520 theory is an illusion and thus should never be taught by Seventh-day Adventists. Ellen White didn’t protest this article either. She said not a word. 3) In 1T 689 and RH March 29, 1870, Ellen White also put her full prophetic weight behind the new 1863 chart and encouraged all Adventists to teach “the truth” therein. 4) Thus the official Seventh-day Adventist Church, organized in 1863, never accepted the 2520. Thus it isn't a Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, but rather a Millerite doctrine. Although led by God, William Miller and his Millerite preachers still had much to learn. They still didn’t understand the Sabbath, state of the dead, heavenly sanctuary, or health message. 5) In Early Writings, 243, after the disappointment, a holy angel said that William Miller and the Millerites still had “errors” they needed to be purified from. The 2520 theory was one of them. 6) In The Great Controversy, 351, Mrs. White wrote that “the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible” is the 2300 period, not the 2520. Do the math. 2520 is longer than 2300. If the 2520 existed, she couldn’t have written this.
There seems to be a large level of doctrinal lethargy in North America. If so, could that be a breeding ground for distractions like this?
Yes, in this way. First, many Adventists realize our Laodicean problem and long for a deeper experience with God. When the 2520 theory is presented to them by earnest advocates who say we must go deeper into truth, this appeals to many, especially when Early Writings page 74 is quoted with an appeal for openness to “new light.” Some then study 2520 literature and watch some DVDs. On the surface, the arguments sound good. Then, because people often lack solid background information about early Adventist history, they become unknowingly ensnared. Second, because many Adventists simply aren’t studying enough anyway, they don’t detect subtle error when presented.
Could this be a positive thing, if it causes our people to know and understand the biblical basis for the 2300 days?
Yes, it can be positive, as long as it leads people to study Adventist history and our foundations more fully without being deceived. The negative part is, obviously, that the 2520 deception has captured many.
In your opinion does this theory arise from liberalism, ultra conservatism, or something else?
It doesn’t come from liberalism, which has other errors, such as Emerging Church theories, which we discussed in a previous article. Satan is smart. He has deceptions for liberals and conservatives. From what I have seen, the 2520 delusion targets conservatives. Satan doesn’t care what ditch he leads us into, as long as we stay away from a firm focus on Jesus Christ and His Righteousness.
Do you have any concluding thoughts regarding the 2520 controversy?
Yes. First, from what I have seen, if a person really believes the 2520 theory, almost nothing can change their mind. It will take a miracle of God. I can’t help but think of the Pharisees who, even though they knew that Lazarus was actually raised to life, still tried to destroy Jesus (see John 11:45-53). When a lie really settles in, getting out is often nearly impossible.
I’ll end with a few key quotes from Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Prophecy that speak much better than I can.
Take heed that no man deceive you (Matthew 24:4).
Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer, for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it (Evangelism, 590).
Very many will get up some test that is not given in the word of God. We have our test in the Bible, -- the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus." This is the true test, but many other tests will arise among the people. They will come in in multitudes, springing up from this one and that one (GC Bulletin, April 16, 1901).
Heaven and holy angels are working to unite [God’s people] ... Satan opposes this, and is determined to scatter, and divide, and bring in different sentiments, that the prayer of Christ may not be answered (1T 326).
2520 advocates insist that we should return to “the foundation” and “platform” of Adventism, which they assume is the 1843 chart. But inspiration says differently. Look close:
The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of the Advent faith was the declaration, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (The Great Controversy, 409).
God is leading out a people and establishing them upon the one great platform of faith, the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (3T, 447).
Again and again the angel has said to me, "Press together, press together, be of one mind, of one judgment (Evangelism, 102).
One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness (RH, December 23, 1890).
By God’s grace, let’s “press together” and avoid this 2520 delusion. Again, it is not a Seventh-day Adventist doctrine.
Note: Resources from White Horse Media: Prophecy’s Blind Date: 2520; Prophecy’s Blind Date: 2520 (sharing pocketbook); God’s Last Message: Christ our Righteousness (book). For other insightful articles about the 2520 deception and related issues, visit www.weaffirmsda.com.