Ellen White's False Prophecy About Jerusalem

By Dirk Anderson, May, 2024

In 1851, Mrs. White had a vision about Jerusalem:

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 to Jerusalem. 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.1

In this vision Ellen White makes the following points:

  • Some Adventists were in great error about wanting to go evangelize Jews in Jerusalem
  • Old Jerusalem would never be built up
  • Satan was the one causing people to be interested in evangelizing Jews

Is this a true prophecy? Was Satan the one behind the desire of some Adventists to evangelize lost souls in Jerusalem? Was it true that Jerusalem would never be built up?


In the period of 1848-1851, some shut door Adventists, such as Ellen White, were making predictions about the imminent return of Christ. Adventist leader Hiram Edson predicted Christ would return in 1850, and Bates expected His return in 1851.2 Some Adventists recognized there was a disconnect between Christ's imminent return and all of the unfulfilled Bible prophecies about events that were to transpire before his return. One of those Adventists was Josiah Litch. In his careful analysis of Bible prophecy, he believed that the nation of Israel would have to be restored before the return of Christ. In 1848, Litch published a book entitled The Restitution, Christ's Kingdom on Earth; The Return of Israel. In it, he predicted the current rulers of Jerusalem, the Ottomans, would fall, and the Jews would be emancipated to return to Israel.3 He expected that to take place within the next year. As it turns out, Litch was correct, but his timing was off. More on that in a moment.

Litch represented a group of Adventists who believed in the return of the Jews and the restoration of the city of Jerusalem before the return of Christ. This group was called "restorationists." They believed that after the Jews returned to Israel, Christ would return to Jerusalem and establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth.

James White opposed that view. Contradicting nearly all Biblical evidence, he and Ellen taught that the millennium would take place in heaven. Thus, the battle lines were drawn. Here is what each group believed:

Restorationist Adventists Shut Door Adventists
A return of the sovereignty of Israel to the Jews (Zech. 8:3, Luke 21:24) Old Testament prophecies about the return of sovereignty were forfeited because of Jewish disobedience
A return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 36:24-38; Amos 9:13-15; Deut. 30:1-10) Old Testament prophecies about the return of the Jews were forfeited because of Jewish disobedience
The conversion of the Jews to Christianity (Rom. 11:25-26) Converting Jews was a waste of time because the door of salvation was already shut on them
Christ will return to Jerusalem to kick-off His millennial reign upon the earth (Zech. 14) Christ will not set foot in Jerusalem at His return, but will take the saints back to live in heaven during the millennium

While the restorationists put together a sizable volume of Bible verses to back up their position, including the promise of Jesus that Jerusalem would be freed from Gentile rule (Luke 21:24), and including Paul's statement about the salvation of the Jews (Rom. 11:25-26), the Shut Door Adventists rejected all of that and relied upon the visions of Ellen White for their inspiration about future events. To this very day, SDAs insist that all Old Testament promises about the restoration of Israel were cancelled by God because of Jewish disobedience and now the SDAs are the new "Israel." Up until 1851, the Shut Door Adventists rejected the idea of working for the salvation of Jews because Ellen White had already seen in vision that all those who did not accept William Miller's time-setting message were doomed. They believed the only work to be done during the "gathering time" was for the "household of faith" (Christians who had not rejected Miller). Shut Door advocate and Ellen White follower Otis Nichols wrote:

Her [Ellen White's] message was...that our work was done for the nominal church and the world, and what remained to be done was for the household of faith.4

Why waste time going to Jerusalem to convert non-believers? The shut door Adventists believed in their prophet Ellen White that their duty during the "gathering time" was to try and convince other Christians to keep the Sabbath so they would not receive the Mark of the Beast.

Ellen Changes Her Mind About the Jews

By 1905, Ellen White had apparently changed her mind about working for the salvation of the Jews. During a sermon, she said:

The time has come when the Jews are to be given light. The Lord wants us to encourage and sustain men who shall labor in right lines for this people; for there are to be a multitude convinced of the truth, who will take their position for God.5

Apparently, the door of salvation opened back up for the Jews in 1905, after being shut for 60 years. It appears at least one SDA took her counsel to heart and started working for the salvation of the Jews. In 1908, Mrs. White was "instructed" to write a note of encouragement:

Concerning the work in behalf of the Jewish people, being done by Brother Gilbert, I am instructed to say: Give him all the encouragement that is possible. Do not bind about his work by many forbiddings. Help him so that, through his efforts, and the efforts of his fellow laborers, many of the seed of Israel may be grafted to the true stock Christ Jesus.6

Apparently, some SDAs were opposed to Brother Gilbert working for the Jews and were forbidding him from doing it. They probably remembered that in 1851 vision Sister White had said it would be a waste of time to work for the Jews. They probably believed that to be a true vision rather than an abject falsehood. They were no doubt confused by this change of direction. It turns out that God did indeed want people to evangelize the Jews. Thus, Ellen White, with her own words, proved her own vision to be a falsehood.

The SDA Church later abandoned Mrs. White's vision about not doing work in Israel. As of 2024, there are 13 SDA congregations in Israel. They also have a publishing house in the now built-up city of Old Jerusalem.7

Spinning A Failed Prophecy

SDAs are in a quandary about what to do with Ellen White's failed prophecy about Jerusalem not being rebuilt. They try to spin her prophecy as if she was making a statement against the philosophy of the restorationists and not the actual rebuilding of Jerusalem. However, she was wrong on both accounts. In 1848, Litch predicted the following:

  • The Ottomans would lose control of Jerusalem and that sovereignty would be returned to the Jews
  • The Jews would return to occupy Palestine
  • Christianity would spread among the Jews

While his timing was off, everything Litch predicted happened. The reason is because Litch made his predictions based upon the sure word of Biblical prophecy, not upon Ellen White's false prophecies (Litch rejected Ellen White and Seventh-day Adventism). Let us examine how Bible prophecy was fulfilled:

  • The Ottoman Empire lost control of Jerusalem to the British in 1917.
  • Israel was established as a nation on May 14, 1948, and received control of West Jerusalem.
  • Israel gained full control over Jerusalem after the Six Day War ended on June 10, 1967.
  • The "times of the gentiles" controlling Jerusalem ended just as Jesus predicted in Luke 21:24.
  • After 1948, millions of Jews returned to Israel from all over the world (Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 36:24-38; Amos 9:13-15; Deut. 30:1-10).
  • Christian ministries in Israel are reporting that more Israeli Jewish people have accepted Jesus Christ in the last few years than at any time since the first century (Rom. 11:25-26).

By and large, SDAs ignore these events because they do not fit into Ellen White's end-time scenario. However, most other Christians regard these events as spectacular fulfillments of Bible prophecy.

Jerusalem Rebuilt

Since its establishment as the capital of the State of Israel in 1948, Jerusalem has experienced remarkable growth in population, urban development, and global recognition, cementing its status as one of the world's most iconic cities.

In the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem found itself at the heart of a new nation, serving as the political, cultural, and spiritual center of Israel. Despite the challenges of conflict and division, the city began a period of rapid expansion, fueled by waves of immigration, urbanization, and economic development.

One of the most significant aspects of Jerusalem's growth has been its population boom. From a modest population of around 165,000 in 1948, the city's population has soared to nearly a million residents in 2024. Accompanying this demographic growth has been a dramatic transformation of Jerusalem's skyline. The city has witnessed a construction boom, with new residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, and cultural institutions dotting its landscape. Modern high-rise buildings stand alongside ancient landmarks, symbolizing Jerusalem's blend of ancient heritage and modern progress.

Moreover, Jerusalem's prestige on the world stage has grown immensely since 1948. As the spiritual center of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Jerusalem holds immense religious significance for billions of people worldwide. Its historic sites, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock, draw millions of pilgrims and tourists each year, bolstering the city's global renown.

In addition to its religious significance, Jerusalem has emerged as a hub for diplomacy, hosting international conferences, summits, and diplomatic missions. Its role as the capital of Israel has been affirmed by various countries, despite ongoing geopolitical disputes, underscoring Jerusalem's enduring significance as a symbol of sovereignty and identity.

In conclusion, Jerusalem's growth into a thriving metropolis proves Mrs. White was dead wrong about it never being rebuilt.

See also


1. Ellen White, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White (Saratoga Springs, NY: James White, 1851), 56. From this passage it is evident that Ellen White regarded "Jerusalem" and "Old Jerusalem" as synonymous. She used the word "Old" to juxtapose it against the "New Jerusalem" which she believed should be the focus of the Adventists' attention, not the earthly Jerusalem.

2. Hiram Edson, The Time of the End (1849), 13, 15. Joseph Bates, An Explanation of the Typical and Antitypical Sanctuary (1850), 10, 11.

3. Josiah Litch, The Restitution, Christ's Kingdome on Earth; The Return of Israel. Together with their Political Emancipation, the Beast; His Image and Worship: also, The Fall of Babylon, and the Instruments of its Overthrow (Boston: J.V. Himes, 1848).

4. Otis Nichols Letter to William Miller, April 20, 1846 (DF 105). Arthur White, The Early Years, vol. 1, 75-76.

5. Ellen White, Manuscript 66, 1905. From a sermon given in Tokama Park, Maryland, on May 25, 1905. This manuscript was later published in Review and Herald, June 29, 1905.

6. Ellen White, Manuscript 1, Feb. 3, 1908 (14MR 136-138).

7. https://www.adventist.org/world-church/israel-field/.

Category: Visions
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