The Principles Illustrated by Ellen White’s Use of Rev 8:5– II (EWB 7)

Of great interest to the issue of Ellen White’s use of the Bible is the fact that the statement in this statement in Early Writings, 279-280 (see previous blog) is repeated (nearly in its entirety) in The Great Controversy, 613. That statement is quoted below with the underlining representing all words that are identical to EW 279-280.

“An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received ‘the seal of the living God.’ Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, ‘It is done;’ and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Rev 22:11.

The basic point of this passage and two-thirds of the wording are identical to EW 279-280. Even where the wording is changed, the basic meaning is the same. But two significant changes in Ellen White’s use of Scripture have taken place. The language of Ezekiel 9 and Revelation 8:5 has been dropped. In place of Revelation 8:5 is the statement that Jesus “ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above.”

The Great Controversy passage clarifies the meaning of the earlier passage. In Early Writings she used the language of Revelation 8:5 as a graphic description of the end of intercession. But she apparently did not want to leave the impression that Revelation 8:5 (or Ezekiel 9 for that matter) was a description of “the” close of probation. Therefore, in GC 613, explicit terminology for the close of probation is used instead of a reference to Revelation 8:5.

This illustration indicates that to carry out the guidelines described in earlier blogs takes patience and time. Where she makes an abundance of statements on a text or a topic, that may be impossible for most interpreters. In most such cases, the flavor of her viewpoint can be obtained by a careful surface survey of her statements. It becomes essential to follow these guidelines carefully, however, whenever a particular statement or series of statements becomes controversial, usually due to ambiguity. In such a case, the burden of proof is on the interpreter to demonstrate that, were Ellen White alive, she would support his/her use of her statement as proof of a point.

After thorough study of the text of Revelation it is helpful for an Adventist interpreter to examine Ellen White’s use of Revelation for profitable insights. Her unparalleled grasp of the universal issues to which the book of Revelation points makes her statements about the book of enormous interest to Adventists. Nevertheless, her contribution to the discussion must not be expanded beyond her own intention. To do so would be to distort both her intention and John’s, thus undermining the authority of inspiration. The guidelines I have shared in this series of blogs can help provide safeguards against such unintentional misuse.

Because the Seals and the Trumpets are difficult to understand in their own biblical context, it is natural that Ellen White’s comments on these passages would attract interest. In the blogs to follow, I will examine a number of statements related to Revelation, chapters 4-9. I will share these studies, not as “the final word,” but to stimulate discussion and encourage careful application of the method to controverted points. Stay tuned.

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