What Did Ellen White Say About End-Time Prophecy?
We can read in Scripture about the series of events and signs that lead up to the second coming of Jesus Christ. And it sounds pretty intense, to say the least. The symbolic nature of the language of prophecy also can make things tricky to understand at first.
But that’s a big part of the reason Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the Adventist Church, wrote so much about the major global shifts that have happened and will happen before Jesus returns. She aspired to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and to help her fellow Christians tackle this complex subject matter.
She also wrote a lot of books about a lot of different theological and lifestyle-related topics. So in this post, we’ll pull out the most helpful and relevant counsel that specifically addressed the last-day events of this world. We’ll cover:
- Why Ellen White’s perspective is highly regarded
- What Ellen White says about end times (and what the Bible says)
- Her counsel for preparing our hearts
Let’s first do a quick recap on the value of Ellen White’s inspired counsel.
Why is Ellen White’s perspective so highly regarded when discussing last-day events?
Many Adventists find Ellen White’s writings to be particularly helpful with complex biblical topics. Not only was she instrumental in founding the denomination, but she also exhibited the prophetic gift, as described in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Because of this, the Holy Spirit led her to write powerful messages to fellow Christians in order to help with:
- Discerning biblical prophecy
- Staying focused on the ideas presented in Scripture, rather than going off on tangents of human musing
- Applying biblical principles to our lives today
So you can imagine why so many people have found her guidance to be so useful for studying heavy-duty theology. After all, contemplating things like the end of the world and beyond can easily send our thought processes down philosophical rabbit holes. But Ellen White’s books and articles can help readers stay on track and stick within the framework of the Bible.
So let’s start digging into the concepts of these last-day events and what she had to say about them.
What Ellen White says about end times (and what the Bible says)
Ellen White helps us understand and apply the events the Bible alludes to. And to create a helpful resource to be used in Bible study, the Ellen G. White Estate published a book entitled Last Day Events that compiled various things she has written on the subject.
The idea was to help people know that they’re not alone in feeling intimidated or overwhelmed when thinking about the final events of our world. And to reinforce God’s message to us that we need not fear, for He is with us through it all.
“The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.”1
“Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven—events which it was declared should shortly precede the great day of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state.”2
So what are these things that will happen? What can we expect to see?
One major phenomenon she spoke about had already happened during her time. We can find the original reference in Luke 21:11, 25, when Jesus described the signs that would have to do with the sun, moon, and stars.
“These signs have appeared. Now we know of a surety that the Lord’s coming is at hand.”3
Here are a few of the signs yet to come:
1. False prophets. In Matthew 24, when Jesus told his disciples what was to come, He also warned them of “false Christs.”
“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5, NKJV). 1 John 2 and 4 also discuss the advent of these antichrists.
Ellen White felt that Christians need to be especially wary of this. “I have been shown many who will claim to be especially taught of God, and will attempt to lead others, and from mistaken ideas of duty they will undertake a work that God has never laid upon them. Confusion will be the result.”4
2. Gluttony and intemperance. The Bible warns believers against being “weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34, NKJV). She expounds on this instruction, noting the danger in the motivations behind these things. And it can be all too easy to get caught up in it all.
“Gluttony and intemperance lie at the foundation of the great moral depravity in our world,” she wrote in a letter. “…Eating, drinking, and dressing are made the aim of life with the world.”5
3. Widespread violence. “In the days of Noah the overwhelming majority was opposed to the truth, and enamored with a tissue of falsehoods,” she pointed out. “War, crime, murder, was the order of the day. Just so will it be before Christ’s second coming.”6
4. Wars and disasters. “In the last scenes of this earth’s history war will rage. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly and no human effort will be able to quench them.”7
A key prediction she made about wars and disasters was that they would get more and more frequent.8
This is exactly what the Bible predicts. Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV).
Continuing on this theme, Ellen White wrote, “The time of trouble, which is to increase until the end, is very near at hand. We have no time to lose. The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecies of the eleventh of Daniel have almost reached their final fulfillment.”
5. Great balls of fire. Ellen White saw a vision of terrible balls of fire falling on mansions and destroying them in fires that couldn’t be stopped.9 Although unclear as to what these were, some think they refer to nuclear warfare.
6. Earthquakes and floods. These natural disasters are also a sign of the weakened state of our world. “In fires, in floods, in earthquakes, in the fury of the great deep, in calamities by sea and by land, the warning is given that God’s Spirit will not always strive with men. … Lightning from heaven uniting with the fire in the earth will cause the mountains to burn like a furnace and pour out their floods of lava over villages and cities.”10
7. Crime, Famine, and Pestilence. As our world nears its end, these problems will increase exponentially in frequency and severity. Parts of the world will starve and suffer while other parts indulge and become complacent.
And as for people’s attitudes amid all these things, “Iniquity is becoming so common a thing that it no longer shocks the senses as it once did.”
8. The Rise of Spiritualism. Timothy alerts the readers of his epistle that people would “depart from the faith” and follow “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1, NKJV).
Satan first tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by promising her immense knowledge (and in turn, power). And Satan’s arguments can seem convincing at first, since he mixes truth with lies. This is what spiritualism attempts to do. It doesn’t outright denounce God, since that would sound an alarm in the minds of Christians. Rather, to slowly entice and deceive, spiritualism leads us to believe that we’re all little versions of gods, and we can bend the truths we learn to benefit our own agendas. “The Bible is interpreted in a manner that is pleasing to the unrenewed heart, while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect.”11
“Multitudes eagerly accept teachings that leave them at liberty to obey the promptings of the carnal heart. The reins of self-control are laid upon the neck of lust, the powers of mind and soul are made subject to the animal propensities, and Satan exultingly sweeps into his net thousands who profess to be followers of Christ.”12
9. Travel restrictions. Ellen White also informed Adventists that traveling would be difficult in days to come. “We have no time to lose. The end is near. The passage from place to place to spread the truth will soon be hedged with dangers on the right hand and on the left. Everything will be placed to obstruct the way of the Lord’s messengers, so that they will not be able to do that which it is possible for them to do now.”13
10. Economic and societal uncertainties. The economy is already known to be a fragile thing, and Ellen White warns that its problems are unsolvable as we face the final days. “Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God’s Word, they would find a solution to the problems that perplex them.”14
11. Rebellion against God’s truths. Ellen White also saw that the Sabbath would be a determining factor in the end times. She was shown that a religious power would unite many people and try to force everyone to worship the way that power commands.
The prophet John describes this conflict in the book of Revelation chapter 13. This way of worshiping would be contrary to how God wants us to worship Him.
“In the warfare to be waged in the last days there will be united, in opposition to God’s people, all the corrupt powers that have apostatized from allegiance to the law of Jehovah. In this warfare the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will be the great point at issue, for in the Sabbath commandment the great Lawgiver identifies Himself as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.”15
She predicted a great religious power would persuade many people to join them. In turn, they, through civil governments, would enforce worship on Sunday.
By worshiping on Sunday and forcing others to worship on that day with laws, people are rebelling against what God set aside as holy (Genesis 2:2-3).
How can we be prepared?
This was the question Ellen White hoped to help answer through the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She knew that God doesn’t want us to be afraid, but she also knew just how easily we fallen humans can succumb to fear.
So here are a few of the biblical principles she felt was important to shine a spotlight on. She also included some background information and tips for how we can apply these principles.
Combat complacency—pray and keep His commandments
An echoing theme in Bible verses about the end times is to stay close to God and His teachings. And that by following His commandments is how we demonstrate our love for Him (John 14:15) and give glory to Him (Revelation 14:7).
This describes an active, prayer-filled faith, for which she uses this example:
“The life must be like Christ’s life—between the mountain and the multitude. He who does nothing but pray will soon cease to pray, or his prayers will become a formal routine.”16
“The strength acquired in prayer to God will prepare us for our daily duties. The temptations to which we are daily exposed make prayer a necessity.”17
Revelation describes the Laodicean church, which was full of lukewarm believers. Their faith had not been nurtured, and they had grown complacent (Revelation 3:14-22). But an intentional effort to pray and stay connected with God can guard us against this state of being.
Keep our eyes and minds open
Another big part of fighting complacency is to stay vigilant. Jesus’ return is compared to a thief in the night. The Bible warns us not to be spiritually asleep, but to be aware of what’s going on around us (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
To help us understand what this might mean for us in our lives, she said that “we cannot afford to live with no reference to the day of judgment; for though long delayed, it is now near, even at the door, and hasteth greatly. The trumpet of the Archangel will soon startle the living and wake the dead.”18
What we do right now, in the present, matters for our future. While we certainly don’t need to live in fear of the Judgment, that doesn’t mean we swing over to the other extreme and try not to think about it. We study, pray, learn, and live our lives as living testimonies to the love, compassion, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
Always be learning
The Bible is a gift that keeps on giving. There’s always more we can learn from God’s Word, even in revisiting passages we’ve read before. The Holy Spirit can bring out whatever truth we need at the time, and that can help us through even the toughest of times.
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the Word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts.”19
No need to fear!
Above all, we should remember that God doesn’t want His followers to feel afraid or insecure, even as the world falls apart around us. Focus upward, on God and the eternity He’s bringing for us, rather than focusing on the turmoil here on earth.
That’s why Ellen White warned about inadvertently creating unnecessary apprehension about the things that have to happen in the end times.
“There is a time of trouble coming to the people of God, but we are not to keep that constantly before the people and rein them up to have a time of trouble beforehand.”20
She also pointed out that God won’t just leave us in the dark, wondering what’s going on. That’s the whole point of the signs He gives us in the Bible. But because we’re heeding His words and holding onto Him, we don’t have to worry like the rest of the world.
“God has always given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message for their time, and who acted out their faith in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving.”21
And above all, she drew attention to Luke 21:28:
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (NKJV).
Yes, frightening things may happen as our world is left to its own devices. But what that means to us is that God is coming soon, and all of that will end.
Then we can look forward to our new beginning.
- White, Ellen G., Prophets and Kings, p. 537. [↵]
- Ibid., p. 20. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Last Day Events, p. 19. [↵]
- Last Day Events, p. 20. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Letter 34, 1875 [↵]
- Last Day Events, p. 23. [↵]
- Ibid. [↵]
- Ibid. [↵]
- Ibid., p. 25. [↵]
- Ibid., p. 26 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 558 [↵]
- Ibid., p. 556. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 22. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 13. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 392. [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Steps to Christ, p. 101 [↵]
- White, Ellen G., Messages to Young People, p. 248. [↵]
- Last Day Events, p. 73 [↵]
- Prophets and Kings, p. 626 [↵]
- Last Day Events., p. 17. [↵]
- The Desire of Ages, p. 634 [↵]
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