Sunday Laws and Bible Prophecy (11): The Key Statements of Ellen White II

Ellen White returns to the issue of Sunday laws at the end of time on page 592 of The Great Controversy: “The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and 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. In the soon-coming conflict. . . (Rev 12:17).” This statement is less specific than the previous one. In GC 592 Ellen White foresees church and state working together in America toward universal observance of Sunday. This observance will be supported by “oppressive enactments” in the plural. But her use of the singular in “a law enforcing Sunday observance” is compatible with the previous idea of national legislation. In this passage she once again underlines her understanding that this is a “soon-coming conflict,” and this time supports the term “conflict” with a quotation of Revelation 12:17.

A brief statement on this topic was included in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: “The decree enforcing the worship of this day is to go forth to all the world. In a limited degree, it has already gone forth. In several places the civil power is speaking with the voice of a dragon, just as the heathen king spoke to the Hebrew captives.” There are two elements here that are not in The Great Controversy. First, she states that the decree enforcing worship of Sunday is to be worldwide, not just in the United States. Second, even that development was already in progress at the time she wrote this statement. It was a live development in the time when she was living.

The final statement I will share with you here is the most specific of all. It was included in the Review and Herald toward the close of 1888. “When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. . . . If, in our land of boasted freedom, a Protestant government should sacrifice every principle which enters into its Constitution, and propagate papal falsehood and delusion, well may we plead, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law.” The United States, in its legislative councils (the House of Representatives and the Senate), will enact laws to enforce Sunday observance. Such a possibility was right before her at that time, in Senator Blair’s bill. But she makes one additional comment that will prove interesting. In her understanding, this legislation will be the action of a “Protestant government,” which was also a reality in her day.

This is a summary of, in my view, the five most pertinent statements regarding the subject at hand. Will these predictions necessarily be fulfilled simply because she said so? From a believer’s perspective that would be the simplest answer. But the scholar raises the uncomfortable point, do the biblical principles regarding fulfilled prophecy suggest some caution in drawing that conclusion? Stay tuned.

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