Are Any of Ellen G. White’s Prophecies Yet to Come True?
Yes. Some prophesied events have yet to happen.
Ellen White, a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, demonstrated many times over that she had the spiritual gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12, 14). Some of her predictions’ timelines have already passed, and those prophecies have been fulfilled. Others have yet to be fulfilled.
If we look specifically at what the Bible tells us about prophecies that remain unfulfilled, we are shown two reasons:
(1) The prophecy will still be fulfilled in the future, or (2) it was conditional.
So let’s take some time to evaluate the predictions Ellen White made that are yet to come true. Do they fit into these categories?
- Why some prophecies are not fulfilled
- Which of Ellen White’s prophecies have not yet happened
- How we should regard her unfulfilled prophecies
First let’s get some background on the two reasons the Scripture gives us for prophecies that remain unfulfilled.
Why are some prophecies not fulfilled?
Aside from a prophecy being false, the Bible offers two possibilities for unfulfilled prophecies: (1) The prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled yet…but will be, or (2) it was conditional, and those conditions are usually stated alongside the prophecy itself.
It also seems that God knew we would have questions about this subject, so Scripture gives us criteria for evaluating if a prophet is really of God, or if they’re speaking on their own motivations.
Fulfilled predictions are only one of the criteria, among alignment with the Bible, uplifting of Jesus as the Christ, not seeking personal gain or glory, etc. So if a person meets all the other criteria yet seems to have an unfulfilled prediction, it could very well be that the prophet is still legitimate, but the event they spoke of has yet to happen.
So the next thing we should do, we should check whether the unfulfilled prophecy might fit into one of these two categories.
The prophecy will still happen in the future
Just because a prophecy hasn’t come true doesn’t mean it never will. Many prophecies in the Bible have yet to occur, including one of the Bible’s greatest prophecies—the second coming (advent) of Jesus.
But just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that we doubt whether the Second Coming will occur at all.
The delay in the prophecy’s fulfillment is for our benefit.
Another prophecy found in Daniel 2 has only been partially fulfilled. In this prophecy, a statue with different metals represents empires through history—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome—followed by divided nations and, finally, the kingdom of God.
Those four empires have come true, and we’re living in the time of the divided nations. But we’re still waiting for the final part, symbolized by the rock that hits the statue and then grows into a great mountain that fills the whole earth. This represents the establishment of God’s kingdom when Jesus returns.
The prophecy is conditional
Some prophecies will only happen if certain factors are in place. These are conditional prophecies.
The Word of God has many examples of prophecies that were conditional on how God’s people responded to Him.
In Jeremiah 18:7–10, God describes this type of prophecy:
“At one moment I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will uproot, tear down, and destroy it. However, if that nation about which I have made the announcement turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it. At another time I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it. However, if it does what is evil in My sight by not listening to Me, I will relent concerning the good I had said I would do to it” (CSB).
Ellen White recognized the conditional nature of prophecy, too.
She talks about it in connection to the Israelite nation in the Old Testament. God didn’t want to delay bringing the Israelites to the promised land of Canaan, but “their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them”1 while they were still in that state.
So what are some of her prophecies that are conditional, or have yet to come true?
What are the unfulfilled prophecies of Ellen White?
Most of Ellen White’s writings were not predictive. They were published as counsel, encouraging people in their Christian walk and guiding the Adventist Church in its growth and evangelism.
But the Holy Spirit did lead her to make some prophetic predictions—some fulfilled and some that are still in the future. Many of them are about last-day events and Jesus Christ’s second coming.
The Gospel spread to all the world
Ellen White wrote that Jesus would come once the gospel was shared with everyone throughout the world:
“It will not tarry past the time that the message is borne to all nations, tongues, and peoples.”2
With this prophecy, she was simply echoing Matthew 24:14:
“This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (CSB).
Though this prophecy hasn’t reached its complete fulfillment, we can see how technology and travel have helped pave the way for it.
The Holy Spirit poured out in the end times
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close.”
She uses the term “former rain” to refer to the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and “latter rain” to refer to the repeat of that event at the end of earth’s history.
Her prophecy is based on many Bible verses that use symbols of rain and water to refer to the Holy Spirit and how it will give the power to share the gospel (Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23, 28–32; Acts 1:8).
Uniting of oppressive religious powers and spiritism
In speaking of end-time events, Ellen White digs into the prophecies of the book of Revelation.
Revelation 13 talks about different “beasts”—which represent governments, institutions, or powers—that would join together to enforce manmade worship instead of worship that honors God.
With this in mind, Ellen White predicted that under pressure from various groups and through the deceptions of spiritism, religious leaders in America—both Protestant and Catholic—would unite in imposing a false worship—one that disregards God’s fourth commandment.3 Most of the world will follow the United States in placing restrictions on religious liberty and conscience in following God according to His Word, since it would conflict with human will and ambitions.4
A Sunday law
As we noted, Revelation 13 talks about the enforcement of a false type of worship in the end times. In many of her writings, but particularly her book The Great Controversy, Ellen White prophesied the following details connected to that worship:
“Even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected.”5
Here’s a summary of these prophecies in The Great Controversy:
- Americans, feeling that the chaos in the world is a result of turning from God, will unite with the papacy and push the government to enforce laws that require people to keep Sunday as a day of rest and worship.
- People will no longer be able to freely make religious decisions based on conscience.
- The world will follow the United States in these enforcements.
- As the world’s condition worsens, people will point to those who worship God on the seventh-day Sabbath as the problem. These Sabbath keepers will experience persecution.
Time of trouble and national ruin
Ellen White echoes the Bible’s prophecies about a “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21, NKJV) and a “time of trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1, NKJV) right before Jesus returns. Though it will be difficult, God’s people will be delivered from it.
“The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.”6
During this time, she also predicted that God’s people would face imprisonment and persecution.7 And some of them would be betrayed by friends and relatives.8 But angels would protect them during the time of trouble.9
Now that we understand some of Ellen White’s prophecies and why they haven’t been fulfilled, here are some next steps.
Unfulfilled prophecies due to conditional human terms
A couple of prophecies Ellen White shared didn’t end up coming true as they were stated, even though they could have. But God allows for freedom of choice and lets people grow at their own speed.
People in 1856 would be alive for Jesus’ coming
In 1856, Ellen White was attending a conference when she had a vision. In it, she saw some of the attendees and what would happen to them:
“I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, ‘Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.’”10
That was over 150 years ago.
How could she have prophesied that some of those people would be alive on the earth at Jesus’ coming?
This is where the nature of conditional prophecy comes in: God’s people were not ready for the Second Coming.
In 1883, Ellen White compared the experience of the Israelites’ delay in the wilderness with the experience of her time:
“The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.”11
More than once, she wrote that Jesus would’ve come within her lifetime if the world had been ready.12
People in 1888 would be alive when Jesus came
In 1888, Ellen White made a prophetic statement similar to the one in 1856:
“The hour will come; it is not far distant, and some of us who now believe will be alive upon the earth, and shall see the prediction verified, and hear the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God echo from mountain and plain and sea, to the uttermost parts of the earth.”13
Again, Jesus’ coming is conditional on people being ready. Many things still have yet to play out before this culmination of earth’s history, and much of that depends on human choices and actions.
How should we relate to unfulfilled prophecies?
Unfulfilled prophecies don’t have to discourage our faith. As we remind ourselves of prophecies that have already come true, we can be assured these other predictions will also.
These three principles will help:
1. Focus on a personal relationship with Jesus
Knowing Him will ease concerns about unfulfilled prophecies or the events themselves. He has promised to keep us and to cast out fear with His perfect love (1 John 5:12-13; 4:18).
2. Hold onto what you know
Though many prophecies haven’t come true, many have.
In the Bible, countless prophecies about Jesus’ first coming as Messiah were fulfilled. And many prophecies about the signs of the end times have happened (Matthew 24).
The same can be said for Ellen White’s prophecies.
Here are a few:
- Even before the Adventist Church became official in 1863, she prophesied that its publishing work would reach around the world.14 By 2016, the Church had 62 publishers distributing material in 177 languages.15
- She predicted the start of the Civil War.16
- She prophesied that the Adventist publishing house in Battle Creek, the Review and Herald, would experience calamity because it had lost sight of doing God’s work. It burned down the following year.17
- She prophesied that crime in the cities would get worse and worse.18
- She shared prophecies about health. For example, she said animals would become more diseased in the future, and as a result, many non-Adventists would stop eating meat.19 Today, we know this to be true because well-known secular organizations, such as the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, promote the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
All these prophecies remind us to be aware of the times we’re living in, so we won’t be caught off guard by future events.
3. Live with a sense of readiness
When prophecies about the end times are delayed, we can become complacent, feeling life will just go on like it always has, and that Jesus isn’t coming anytime soon. But the Bible encourages us to avoid this mindset.
In Matthew 24:44-51, Jesus told a parable of a faithful servant and an unfaithful servant who were waiting for the return of their employer. The unfaithful servant said to himself that his employer was delayed, so he became lax in his duties and acted irresponsibly.
On the other hand, the faithful servant continued to live responsibly and fulfill his duty.
The lesson for us?
Even when prophecies may seem delayed, we can live with a sense of readiness for Jesus’ coming. Practically, that means seeking to know God more through the Bible, finding ways to share the love of God with others, or making decisions based on biblical principles.
As we keep our focus in the right place, we’ll trust God’s perfect timing for the fulfillment of prophecy.
Unfulfilled prophecies teach us about God
As with the case of Jonah, unfulfilled prophecies aren’t necessarily evidence of a false prophet, especially when that individual meets all the other criteria for a true prophet. Instead, they give us a deeper glimpse into the character of God. He is patient with us and may delay a prophecy for our benefit. Or a prophecy may depend on the free choice He has given us.
Viewing unfulfilled prophecies this way can strengthen our trust in God. We’ll learn to rest in Him—no matter when the prophecies may occur.
And that intimate knowledge of God will ultimately help us be ready for the fulfillment of final end-time prophecies. We’ll have no doubt that He is trustworthy.
- White, Ellen. “Manuscript 4,” 1883 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., The Review and Herald, June 18, 1901 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 451 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, chapters 35-37 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 592. [↵]
- Ibid., p. 614 [↵]
- Ibid., p. 608, 629 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Maranatha p. 197 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 265 [↵]
- White, Ellen G. Testimonies for the Church, vol.1, p. 131 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., “Manuscript 4,” 1883 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Evangelism, p. 695 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., The Review and Herald, July 31, 1888 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Life Sketches, p. 125 [↵]
- “Summary of Institutions,” Annual Statistical Report 2016, p. 4 [↵]
- Coon, p. 82; White, A. L., Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862, vol. 1, pp. 462-463 [↵]
- White, Ellen, Publishing Ministry, p. 170; White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 97 [↵]
- Letter 157, 1902 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 124 [↵]
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