Lesson 7: The Work of the Prophets
I remember those Sabbath afternoons in India when my mom used to tell us stories about this woman called Ellen White. I don’t remember any historical dates or facts from those story times but the thing that stood out to me as a child was the fact that God used this woman in a powerful way to bring His message to the church. Approximately fifteen years later, I find myself living in Ellen White’s home country but the image of this messenger in the minds of the people of her own land today is sadly distorted by the numerous arguments against her prophetic role.
This week’s lesson attempts to remind us of Ellen White’s prophetic role to the Seventh-day Adventist Church by comparing her ministry with those of Old and New Testament prophets. Before we jump into the different roles a prophet assumed and see how Ellen White was invited to assume similar roles, we need to deconstruct the popular definition of a prophet. Oftentimes, a prophet is seen just as a foreseer, whose role is to predict future events as God reveals them to him or her. In fact, foreseeing is one of the roles of the prophet but not the only role.
The author of the lesson highlights five roles of Biblical prophets and explains from incidents in Ellen White’s life where God called her to fulfill those roles. The roles are: preaching the gospel, guiding God’s people, reproving sin, communicating God’s will and predicting the future. For a casual reader some of the roles like preaching the gospel, guiding God’s people and reproving sin may sound like things that every leader in the church is called to fulfill whether they assume prophetic role or not. That is very true but to me the purpose behind mentioning those roles is to point out that Ellen White stands in the tradition of other Biblical prophets who were distinctly called for those very roles.
This lesson is not an apologetics for the role of Ellen White but a reminder to the believers to take her counsel seriously. Seriously doesn’t mean blindly. In fact, most of the controversies about Ellen White and her role that exist today stems from blind interpretation of her writings. A careful interpretation of Ellen White’s writing taken in context will undoubtedly be a blessing for us and for generations to come just like those of the prophets in the Bible.