Ellen G. White as End-Time Elijah Messenger
The Spirit and Power of Elijah
by David Lin
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the
children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite
the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6.
These closing words of the Old Testament were understood by the Jews to be a
prophecy awaiting literal fulfillment. So when John the Baptist appeared, they
asked him, "Art thou Elias?" and he said, "I am not." After John was martyred,
the disciples asked Jesus, "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first
come?" Jesus answered, "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have
done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer
of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the
Baptist." Matthew 17:10-13.
Here we have a literal fulfillment of a specific prophecy plainly confirmed by
our Lord. There is no symbolism here. Just a straightforward statement: "I will
send you Elijah." And another one saying, "Elias is come already." However, our
interest in this prophecy lies in its second and final fulfillment, which we
have good reason to expect. Because the "great and dreadful day of the Lord" is
still future, but not far away; so this second and complete fulfillment should
logically occur in the "time of the end," which we traditionally take to be the
period after 1798.
An analysis of the first fulfillment of the prophecy will help us better to
understand its second one. To begin with, the first fulfillment was not
spectacular. John drew the attention of the people, but his work was an apparent
failure. Nothing tangible resulted from it, as judged by human standards, for
his work was not endorsed by the religious authorities of his day. Second, John
was not recognized as Elijah, either by the people or by his own followers. If
Jesus had not made His explicit statement, perhaps we would even now be divided
in our interpretation of Malachi 4:5-6. Third, John himself did not claim to be
Regarding this third point we make the following observation: John was no doubt
fully aware of his divine appointment since childhood, for he was "filled with
the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Luke 1:15. So the words of Gabriel
to Zechariah, his father, must have been strongly impressed on his memory: "He
shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the
fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make
ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17. These words must have been a
powerful factor in guiding John's thinking and behavior through the years of
preparation in his wilderness retreat. Only a man possessed with the strong
conviction that he was fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi 4:5 could go about his
task with such zeal and devotion. Yet, the words of Gabriel were a sacred trust,
not to be carelessly disclosed to the unbelieving. He would not give that which
is holy unto the dogs, nor cast his pearls before swine. So when the "generation
of vipers" (Luke 3:7) asked him, "Art thou Elias?" he said, "I am not." John
Jesus likewise did not reveal John's true identity to the multitude, but only in
private to His trusted disciples. Delicate truths like this require careful
handling, and are not to be thrown into the pool of questions for general
debate. Jesus had no burden to prove His point. He simply said, "If ye will
receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." Matthew 11:14. A confidential
statement like this is enough for the honest enquirer, but no further disclosure
is made to satisfy the curious and doubting.
Now we are ready to discuss the final modern fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. We
should not be surprised--in fact we should expect--to find that it too, like the
work of John, was not of a spectacular nature. The disciples on the Mount of
Transfiguration had just seen Elijah appear in person--a most sensational
manifestation! So they thought this must be the fulfillment of that prophecy,
but no, Jesus corrected them promptly, telling them that Malachi 4:5-6 was not
fulfilled on the Mount of Transfiguration, but in the martyr who died a cruel
death in Herod's prison.
Now we are ready to face an equally unexciting proposition: Malachi 4:5-6 finds
its final fulfillment in the work of Ellen G. White. What? This frail,
unimpressive woman is Elijah? Yes, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which
is for to come," even though they knew her not. If you will not receive it, I
have no burden to force it on you, but please examine the evidence:
1. Evidence of time: "Before the great and dreadful day of the Lord." As pointed
out above, the appearance of Elias should be in the time of the end--after 1798.
The gift of prophecy manifested in the work of Ellen White extended from 1844 to
2. Evidence of message content: "To turn the heart of the fathers to the
children and the heart of the children to their fathers." It is a fact that a
large portion of the Testimonies written by Ellen White dealt with family
relations--the Christian home, for that is where the basic character of every
individual is formed.
3. Evidence of kinship of spirit: John was not Elijah, but manifested the spirit
and power of Elijah. That can also be said of Ellen White. Despite her physical
frailty, the spirit she revealed was not in the least effeminate. When facing
the Kellogg crisis she saw in a dream the iceberg looming up ahead. She
communicated the command to meet it head on, and let the boat shiver from stem
to stern. Ellen White was no coward because she spoke not from herself, but in
God's name. She was brave and courageous insofar as she was possessed by the
We should not forget that Elijah was at one time discouraged and fled for his
life when Jezebel uttered her threat. That was when his human frailty gained the
better of him. Ellen White had her low points too, but the main tenor of her
lifework accords well with the words, "In the spirit and power of Elias."
Why did God choose to place a frail, unlearned woman on this end of the line of
prophets? He gives the answer in 1 Corinthians 1:27:
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God
hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are
mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God
chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that
no flesh should glory in his presence."
Ellen White often quoted these words: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2 Corinthians
4:7. In this age of scientific advancement and high intellectual attainments, it
pleased God to choose "the weakest of the weak" to confound the strong. The
spirit of modern scholarship is no match for the spirit and power of Elijah.
No Worldly Recognition
Like John the Baptist, Ellen White received no worldly recognition, and she
sought it not. Her chief concern was to deliver the message God had given her.
That is the mark of every true prophet. As in the days of Elijah, the world
gives recognition to false prophets. In the 1946 edition of the Columbia
Encyclopedia there are 26 biographical entries under "White," but E. G. White is
omitted. Mary Baker Eddy's story is presented in 39 lines, and Joseph Smith gets
45. In the 1975 edition, only 12 lines make up a brief sketch of E. G. White,
while 25 lines introduce Amy Semple McPherson.
Like John the Baptist, Ellen White did not claim to be a prophet, but she was
God's messenger. She said, "This is my work--to give to the people the light
that the Lord gives me. I am commissioned to receive and communicate His
messages. I am not to appear before the people as holding any other position
than that of a messenger with a message." Testimonies, vol. 8, 237.
Like John the Baptist, Ellen White exalted the Lamb of God. This prevailing
theme in her writings is appreciated by all who read her writings. She never
exalted herself, but always uplifted the crucified and risen Saviour.
Like John the Baptist, Ellen White spoke the truth. "John did no miracle: but
all things that John spake of this man were true." John 10:41. . . .
The Plummet in the Hand of Zerubbabel
Elder G. B. Starr testified (by oral communication) that Ellen White once saw an
angel point to Zechariah 4:9-10, and tell her that it applied to her work:
"The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house; his hands
shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me
unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice,
and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel."
We invite all critics of Ellen White to examine the work of this inspired
architect of God's house. The angel tells us that the foundation of our modern
"temple" was laid by her hands. Would you believe it? It is a historical fact.
If it were not for her inspired counsels on medical evangelism, we would not
have one-tenth of the medical institutions we operate today. The same applies to
our schools and missionary establishments in 208 countries. No honest student of
the history of our church can deny the truth of this statement: "The hands of
Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house."
Then there are the more valuable, though less tangible, results of her
work--that of building Christian character. He "which searcheth the reins and
hearts" (Revelation 2:23) places an infinitely higher estimate on moral beauty
than on outward attraction, and values our work not in terms of statistical
figures, but of spiritual attainment. Here the gift of prophecy has been quietly
accomplishing solid and enduring good in the hearts of men and women--hewing,
fashioning, and polishing them after the similitude of a palace.
The Spirit of Prophecy has been a plummet to keep our thinking straight ever
since the Bible conferences of the first generation of Adventists. Point by
point, the important truths which form the foundation of our faith were
confirmed by the Holy Spirit through the visions given to Ellen White. Today,
when men are trying to topple the edifice of truth, we still need that plummet.
"All who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White and has given her
a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last
days." Selected Messages, book 3, 84.
Her Hands Shall Finish It
Ellen White was laid to rest in 1915, but her writings have continued the work
of building God's house, and "shall also finish it." If our lives are spared, we
shall witness the final fulfillment of these words. By that time, the men who
have spent so much time, money and energy gathering material to prove that Ellen
White was a plagiarist and deceiver, will one day stand dumbfounded before the
gorgeous edifice of "this house" glistening in the beauty of holiness, and the
angels of God rejoicing to see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.
The day of final reckoning will render the verdict as to who has done the most
good--Ellen White or her critics.