Messenger of the Lord


Chapter 16—Ellen White’s Self-awareness as a Messenger

“For half a century I have been the Lord’s messenger, and as long as my life shall last I shall continue to bear the messages that God gives me for His people.” 1 MOL 170.1

Ellen White’s self-perception of her mission determined how she set priorities in her personal life and how determined she would be in getting her message before the world. She understood herself to be a “frail instrument ... a channel for the communication of light.” 2 In a statement before 2,500 people (not all church members) in the Battle Creek Tabernacle on Sunday, October 2, 1904, she said: “I am not, as I said yesterday [a Sabbath meeting], a prophet. I do not claim to be a leader; I claim to be simply a messenger of God, and that is all I have ever claimed.” 3 MOL 170.2

Naturally this was picked up by some and heralded as a confession that the Adventist leader was not a prophet after all. But Ellen White wanted to clarify a common misunderstanding of what a prophet is and does. If prophets primarily predict events, she wanted people to understand that definition did not apply to her role as God’s messenger. 4 MOL 170.3

She answered the concerns of both Adventists and non-Adventists when she said: “To claim to be a prophetess is something that I have never done. If others call me by that name, I have no controversy with them. But my work has covered so many lines that I cannot call myself other than a messenger, sent to bear a message from the Lord to His people, and to take up work in any line that He points out.” 5 MOL 170.4

She was conscious that she was in the historical stream of God’s communication system through prophets and prophetesses: “In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue.” 6 MOL 170.5