This article examines the changing beliefs about last things of an early American religious community called Ephrata.
Early in their history they believed that Christ was coming very soon, and used to meet every night at midnight in preparation for His return. After the comets of 1742 and 1743 appeared, they stopped their nightly “watch meetings” and came to believe that, while Jesus did not come in bodily form, He sent the Holy Spirit on them in a special way in order to make them a restored end-time church.
This internalization of biblical prophecy, as we know, can sometimes turn dangerous, as in the case of the Branch Davidians in 1993. But rather than lead to violence, their internalization of the prophecy turned them from a counter-cultural isolated religious sect into a major cultural force in education and music in early Pennsylvania.
The full title of the article is “I Will Show Wonders in the Heaven Above: How the Comets of 1742 and 1743 Influenced the Eschatology of Ephrata, an Early American Baptist Community.” It was published in Trinity Journal 34NS (2013):61-74.
Click this link for PDF version of the article I Will Show Wonders in the Heaven Above, Trinity Journal version