Could Sister White Have Published Error?

Just finished reading your newsletter. I Really enjoyed it. I met you at JVD’s place here in California about a year and a half ago. I know that Satan is desperately trying to get us side tracked but the following verses seem to contradict your understanding of “literal blood line Israel”. How do you interpret Luke 21:24, And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, and Romans 11:25–26, For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

Could it be that Sister White simply bought into some of the popular but untrue theology of her day, just like John the Baptist did by believing that the Messiah was coming to deliver the Jewish nation from Roman oppression? Verily John was the greatest prophet that ever was and even he carried with him some of the bad theology of his day. Surely if it was possible for John to have some misconceptions of the Messiah’s ministry, Sister Ellen G. White could also have misunderstood the role of the literal blood line of Israel. You put these quotes in your newsletter.

“The city of Jerusalem is no longer a sacred place. The curse of God is upon it because of the rejection and crucifixion of Christ. A dark blot of guilt rests upon it, and never again will it be a sacred place until the purifying fires of heaven have cleansed it. At the time when this sin cursed earth is purified from every stain of sin, Christ will again stand upon the Mount of Olives. As His feet rest upon it, it will part asunder, and become a great plain, prepared for the city of God.” Review and Herald, July 30, 1901.

“Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error of believing that it is their duty to go to Old Jerusalem, and think they have a work to do there before the Lord comes. Such a view is calculated to take the mind and interest from the present work of the Lord, under the message of the third angel; for those who think that they are yet to go to Jerusalem will have their minds there, and their means will be withheld from the cause of present truth to get themselves and others there. I saw that such a mission would accomplish no real good, that it would take a long while to make a very few of the Jews believe even in the first advent of Christ, much more to believe in His second advent. I saw that Satan had greatly deceived some in this thing and that souls all around them in this land could be helped by them and led to keep the commandments of God, but they were leaving them to perish. I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time, to keep them from throwing their whole interest into the present work of the Lord, and to cause them to neglect the necessary preparation for the day of the Lord.” Early Writings, 75.

Doesn’t it seem as though Israel has been built up despite Sister White’s prophecy? It appears to me that she is wrong on this particular prophecy, but maybe I do not understand what it is she is really saying here. Please explain to me what your understanding is of the concerns I have addressed above.


You raise several questions. I personally reject your analysis of John the Baptist’s bad theology. The fact that a prophet may have misconceptions about Biblical concepts does not mean that the Holy Spirit, who is the author of inspired writings, would allow that prophet to record error. There are no inspired writings where John the Baptists teaches that the Messiah would come and set up a literal earthly kingdom. A prophet’s personal misconceptions, does not demonstrate that the writings of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are slightly erroneous.

It is the Protestant world that normally tries to associate Luke 21 with literal modern day Jerusalem, although some Adventists fall into this ditch as well. The Protestant reasoning is that, Jerusalem was trodden down by Gentiles from AD 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem, until the Israeli war in 1967, when Israel captured Jerusalem from Arab control. They assume that from AD 70, until 1967, Jerusalem was trodden down by the Gentiles. This reasoning is fascinating— but does not agree with Scripture. As one of many examples on this subject that could be cited:

But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. Revelation 11:2–3.

Scripture teaches that the “holy city” is Jerusalem. Scripture also teaches that Jerusalem was to be “tread under foot” until the termination of the “forty-two months”, which is the termination of the 1260 years that the Papacy ruled the world. From 1798 through 1967, literal Jerusalem was controlled by Gentiles. Yet Scripture teaches the Gentiles cease to tread the holy city at the end of papal rule. The truth connected with the Gentiles treading down Jerusalem is connected with spiritual—not literal Jerusalem. The study of Luke 21 is much deeper than we can take up here, but we do address it in The Prophetic Time series.

Those in Adventism who (possibly unknowingly) attempt to apply Catholic rules of Bible prophecy to the Scriptures seem to manifest an inability to recognize some very simple truths found in the writings of Ellen White. One of those truths may be the difference in your and my understanding. (It is a Catholic prophetic rule that applies prophecy in a literal fashion at the end of the world.)

When Sister White teaches that literal Jerusalem is no longer the focus of Bible prophecy, you assume that the few places where she refers to Jerusalem in this light are errors that she didn’t see in her time. Yet in her writings you will find literally hundreds, if not thousands of places, where she takes a passage from the Bible and applies it in a worldwide spiritual application at the end of the world. As a matter of fact it is the only way that she ever applies passages from Bible prophecy. She takes the literal Biblical nations, or cities, or kingdoms, or peoples, or kings, or men and places them in a spiritual application that encompasses mankind and the entire earth at the end of time.

Her statements about Jerusalem illustrate how she always applies end-time Bible prophecy. She sees the prophecies dealing with Jerusalem as applying to spiritual Jerusalem at the end of the world. She sees the prophecies dealing with Israel as dealing with spiritual Israel at the end of the world. She sees the prophecies of Babylon as dealing with spiritual Babylon at the end of the world. Her writings are completely consistent with the rules of Bible prophecy that William Miller adopted and used, and her writings agree with the rules of Bible prophecy that the Protestant Reformers used in order to identify the pope of Rome as the antichrist of Bible prophecy. It was because the Reformers were making this accurate identification of the man of sin that the Catholic Church purposely created erroneous schools of prophetic interpretation to undermine the ability of men to be clear about who and what is the antichrist.

In the Protestant world today you will find that one of their prophetic focuses concerning literal Jerusalem is connected with the time when the Jews of today will take control of the Dome of the Rock and once again start up sacrificial services. (They arrive at their conclusion by adopting the rules of prophetic interpretation invented by Roman Catholicism.) When it comes to the issue of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the issue is the rebuilding of the temple. When Sister White states, “I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up” I have to trust that this is absolutely accurate. In my understanding then she is simply stating that the Jews of today will never rebuild the earthly sanctuary. They may attempt to do so, but then again Saddam Hussein attempted to rebuild the city of Babylon and his efforts were cut short. Not because of the war the USA brought against him, but because Bible prophecy said it would never be rebuilt. When Sister White says Jerusalem will never be built up we need to accept the light by faith, even if it does not agree with our human understanding. Bible prophecy is not built upon private interpretations.

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