Messenger of the End

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have seen many claiming the gift of prophecy. Some say that they receive their revelations from God; others assure their followers that their messages come from spirit beings; still others claim that their revelations are the result of a natural power within themselves. But do their lives confirm their words?

When we look at the scriptural definition of a prophet, Ellen G. White stands apart from others claiming supernatural gifts. Who was this woman? What was the tenor of her life? Did she really fulfill the tests of a true prophet?

Ellen White was a young woman in her teens when she participated in the Millerite movement of the 1840s. Like thousands of others she was disappointed when Christ did not come. As they continued to study the prophecies, they developed a clear understanding of the significance of the cleansing of the sanctuary and its relationship to the soon return of Christ. In connection with this truth, their studies also led them to a recognition of the significance of the Sabbath. It was from these humble beginnings that the worldwide movement, known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church developed.

While a young child, Ellen suffered a facial injury that for a time threatened her life, and resulted in her becoming an invalid for a number of years. As a result she was only able to complete three years of formal education.

In December 1844, Ellen had a vision, the first of more than 2000 dreams and visions. Shortly afterward, she was instructed by the angel of the Lord to write what had been shown her. At the time she was so weak that she could not hold a pen steadily, making it impossible to write.

Again the word came to her ‘Write the things that are revealed to you.” As she sought to follow the instructions of the angel it was not long until she could write page after page with comparative ease. During her seventy years of public ministry between 1844 and 1915, she wrote approximately 25 million words or 100,000 pages of handwritten text, making her the most prolific woman writer in history.

Mrs. White’s writings are not an addition to the Bible, but are to direct the people to the Word. In her own words: “I commend to you, dear reader, the Word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By that Word we are to be judged. God has, in that Word promised to give visions in the ‘LAST DAYS’; not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth.” Early Writings, 78

Many had the opportunity to examine Ellen White while in vision. Those who personally witnessed the visions carefully observed what took place. George I. Butler described the vision of 1874: “The time Mrs. White is in this condition varied from fifteen minutes to one hundred and eighty. During this time the heart and pulse continued to beat, the eyes are always wide open, and seem to be gazing at some far-distant object, and are never fixed on any person or thing in the room… While she is in vision, her breathing entirely ceases. No breath ever escapes her nostrils or lips when in this condition...

“Peculiar circumstances in the lives of individuals, whom she never before had seen in the flesh, and secrets hidden from the nearest acquaintances, have been made known to her when she had no personal knowledge of the parties other than by vision. Often has she been in an audience where she was wholly unacquainted with the individuals composing it, when she would get up and point out person after person whom she never had seen before in the flesh, and tell them what they had done, and reprove their sins.” G. I. Butler, Review and Herald, June 9, 1874

Mrs. White’s early counsels in the area of church organization and administration, counsels in the field of health and medical evangelism, as well as the educational and counsels concerning publishing work, are well known. Her many books preserve these messages for us today. Her writings are not outmoded but up-to-date. Where her counsels have been implemented, the results have confirmed their divine origin.

In 1959, Dr. Florence Stratemeyer, a leading educator and faculty member of the Department of Education at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, said: “Recently the book Education by Ellen G. White has been brought to my attention. Written at the turn of the century, this volume was more than fifty years ahead of its times. And I was surprised to learn that it was written by a woman with but three years of schooling.

“The breadth and depth of its philosophy amazed me. Its concept of balanced education, harmonious development, and of thinking and acting on principle are advanced educational concepts.” Dr. Florence Stratemeyer, Review and Herald, August 6, 1959

Mrs. White’s husband died August 6, 1881. For nearly 34 years she was a widow. She labored two years in Europe, from the summer of 1855 to the summer of 1887. She did pioneer work in Australia from 1891 to 1900. She was truly a woman who belonged to the world and not just simply to a small group of people. Though she was an American, she conceived that her mission was to the world.

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