The Great Visions of Ellen G. White


Background of the Vision

“Was opened more fully,” would perhaps have been the more accurate expression, for by this time Ellen had already received two visions dealing, in part, with health-related matters. GVEGW 91.7

In the autumn of 1848 her angel instructed her that tea, coffee, and tobacco were injurious, even life-threatening. 9 And on February 12, 1854, she was told that (1) adultery was a serious problem in her church, (2) there was a physically dangerous lack of bodily cleanliness among Sabbathkeepers, and (3) control of appetite was sorely needed among them. 10 GVEGW 92.1

But now, on Friday, June 5, 1863, there came the first major vision dealing with health concerns. (Although the calendar read June 5, Ellen dated her vision June 6, since it came after the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset. She apparently preferred to emphasize sacred rather than civil time.) 11 GVEGW 92.2

What brought the Whites to Otsego, some 25 miles northwest of Battle Creek, that memorable weekend? There were at least two reasons: James White, though still but two months shy of his forty-second birthday, was suffering signs of what we today would call “burnout,” largely from “constant and excessive labor.” 12 Perhaps the couple both thought a weekend excursion in a rural setting would tend to revive his flagging spirits. Also, R. J. Lawrence and M. E. Cornell were conducting an evangelistic tent campaign at Otsego. “Three or four carriage loads” of people drove up on Friday as a show of moral support. 13 GVEGW 92.3

Included in the visiting company were George and Martha Amadon. George, 31, was at this time editor of the Youth’s Instructor. Martha, 29, who had married George three years earlier, was the daughter of John Byington, elected two weeks previously as first president of the General Conference. 14 We are indebted to Martha for an eyewitness account of what happened next—even if she had to “peek” during the prayer! GVEGW 92.4

“Friday evening we found ourselves all assembled at Brother Hilliard’s for family worship, about a dozen being present. A chapter was read and Sister White led in prayer, Brother White kneeling across the corner from her. Her burden in prayer was for him, and as she prayed, while still on her knees, she moved over to his side, laid her hands on his shoulders, and prayed until she was taken in vision. This lasted for about three quarters of an hour. GVEGW 92.5

“At this time she was given the light on the health reform. Brother White was also greatly blessed and encouraged, and he was relieved of the burden of discouragement that he had been carrying.” 15 GVEGW 92.6

An initial, partial account of the specific content of this significant vision was written down by Ellen shortly after it was received. About two thirds of the document was counsel given specifically to alleviate James White’s deteriorated state of health; the remaining third consisted of general counsels for the church. 16 GVEGW 93.1

In the summer of 1864, however, Ellen White wrote a more complete account of the instruction given her (this time generally omitting personal family counsels). In print it fills some 30 pages, in chapter 39 (“Health”), of Spiritual Gifts, book 4. 17 Some 10 categories of counsel are covered in this comprehensive account of this vision. GVEGW 93.2