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Ellen White and the Great Disappointment
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Ellen White (1828-1915) was one of the young believers who experienced the Great Disappointment of 1844. Those who believed in the preaching of William Miller and his associates were disappointed when the second coming of Yahushua did not take place in 1844 as they had hoped. At the time, not only in New England, but much of the United States had been awakened by the Second Advent movement. Also, in many parts of the world, there were independent interpreters who preached the soon coming of Yahushua, contradicting the popular belief at the time that the world would soon enter a millennium of peace and righteousness.
When the time passed and Yahushua did not appear, the movement met a crisis. Many people fell away, not only from their belief in the soon coming of Yahushua, but from the faith altogether. Others, though discouraged, reread their Bibles and began setting new dates for the event. Some began to view Yahushua's coming as a spiritual event. Others established fanciful doctrines about the kingdom of Yahuwah. Out of the preaching of William Miller a number of new Christian denominations arose. The most numerous of these are the Adventist churches, of which the Seventh-day Adventist is the largest, the Churches of God, and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Indeed, the Great Second Advent Movement was a turning point in Christian history and still has more influence on the world of faith today than anything that has risen since. In fact, since that time many churches that believed in a temporal millennium have accepted the teaching of the soon coming of Yahushua in some form, and it continues to be prevalent among Christian Bible believers.
What was the position of Ellen White when the Great Disappointment happened? She was one of those disappointed, and one of those searching for an explanation for disappointment. At that very time Yahuwah chose to give her a revelation. Here is the way she describes it in Life Sketches of Ellen G. White (1915), chapter 7:
My First Vision
It was not long after the passing of the time in 1844, that my first vision was given me… While we were praying, the power of [Yahuwah] came upon me as I had never felt it before. I seemed to be surrounded with light, and to be rising higher and higher from the earth. I turned to look for the advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice said to me, "Look again, and look a little higher." At this I raised my eyes, and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the advent people were travelling to the city which was at the farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them… This light shone all along the path, and gave light for their feet, so that they might not stumble.
If they kept their eyes fixed on [Yahushua], who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then [Yahushua] would encourage… Others rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not [Yahuwah] that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of [Yahushua], and fell off the path down into the dark and wicked world below.
Soon we heard the voice of [Yahuwah] like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of [Yahushua's] coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. When [Yahuwah] spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of [Yahuwah]…The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, "[Yahuwah], New Jerusalem," and a glorious star containing [Yahushua's] new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of [Yahuwah], and they would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that [Yahuwah] had loved us who could wash one another's feet, and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet.
Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man's hand. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer, and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. The bottom appeared like fire; a rainbow was over the cloud, while around it were ten thousand angels, singing a most lovely song; and upon it sat the Son of man. His hair was white and curly, and lay on His shoulders; and upon His head were many crowns. His feet had the appearance of fire; in His right hand was a sharp sickle; in His left, a silver trumpet. His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched His children through and through. Then all faces gathered paleness, and those that [Yahuwah] had rejected gathered blackness. Then we all cried out: "Who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless?'' Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, when [Yahushua] spoke: "Those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall be able to stand; My grace is sufficient for you." At this our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart. And the angels struck a note higher and sang again, while the cloud drew still nearer the earth.
Then [Yahushua's] silver trumpet sounded, as He descended on the cloud, wrapped in flames of fire. He gazed on the graves of the sleeping saints, then raised His eyes and hands to heaven, and cried, "Awake! awake! awake! ye that sleep in the dust, and arise." Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted "Alleluia!" as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the [Master] in the air.
We all entered the cloud together, and were seven days ascending to the sea of glass, when [Yahushua] brought the crowns, and with His own right hand placed them on our heads. He gave us harps of gold and palms of victory. Here on the sea of glass the 144,000 stood in a perfect square. Some of them had very bright crowns, others not so bright. Some crowns appeared heavy with stars, while others had but few. All were perfectly satisfied with their crowns. And they were all clothed with a glorious white mantle from their shoulders to their feet. Angels were all about us as we marched over the sea of glass to the gate of the city. [Yahushua] raised His mighty, glorious arm, laid hold of the pearly gate, swung it back on its glittering hinges, and said to us, "You have washed your robes in My blood, stood stiffly for My truth, enter in." We all marched in and felt that we had a perfect right in the city.
Here we saw the tree of life and the throne of [Yahuwah]. Out of the throne came a pure river of water, and on either side of the river was the tree of life. On one side of the river was a trunk of a tree, and a trunk on the other side of the river, both of pure, transparent gold. At first I thought I saw two trees. I looked again, and saw that they were united at the top in one tree. So it was the tree of life on either side of the river of life. Its branches bowed to the place where we stood, and the fruit was glorious; it looked like gold mixed with silver. We all went under the tree, and sat down to look at the glory of the place… We tried to call up our greatest trials, but they looked so small compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that surrounded us, that we could not speak them out, and we all cried out, "Alleluia! heaven is cheap enough!" and we touched our glorious harps and made heaven's arches ring.
After I came out of vision, everything seemed changed; a gloom was spread over all that I beheld. Oh, how dark this world looked to me! I wept when I found myself here, and felt homesick. I had seen a better world, and it had spoiled this for me. I related this vision to the believers in Portland, who had full confidence that it was from [Yahuwah]. They all believed that [Yahuwah] had chosen this way, after the great disappointment in October, to comfort and strengthen His people. The Spirit of [Yahuwah] attended the testimony, and the solemnity of eternity rested upon us. An unspeakable awe filled me, that I, so young and feeble, should be chosen as the instrument by which [Yahuwah] would give light to His people. While under the power of [Yahuwah], I was filled with joy, seeming to be surrounded by holy angels in the glorious courts of heaven, where all is peace and gladness; and it was a sad and bitter change to wake up to the realities of mortal life.