God has communicated with people in many ways throughout history. Probably the most important is through prophetic revelation—visions and dreams. This method of communication is clearly evident in the Bible. God said to Moses, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream” (Numbers 12:81). When preaching on Pentecost after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter quoted Joel 2:28:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
Although Peter applied the prophecy to his day, Joel predicted that this type of activity would continue until the second coming of Jesus. It would occur in connection with the time when “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” ( Joel 2:31).
The entire Bible is a supernaturally given special revelation from God that has living power to connect us to Jesus. Peter describes this work: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19–21).
These verses reveal a two-step process that God uses to connect us to Jesus through His prophetic word. First, the light comes through direct revelation. Peter referenced his experience with Jesus on the mountain when he heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (verse 17). When we read the Bible, we receive communication from God through His inspired messengers.
The second step is when the Holy Spirit illuminates each of our minds and connects us to Jesus in a living way through the inspired words of the Bible. Peter says that the “light shines” into our dark hearts “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts” (verse 19). What is this “morning star”? In the very last words of the Bible, Jesus Himself tells us, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). So, the Holy Spirit takes the prophetic word and brings the living presence of Jesus to our hearts.
Jesus, the objective of Scripture
Jesus is the Morning Star; He is the objective—the ultimate focus—of Scripture and all prophetic revelation. Prophetic illumination through the words of the Bible brings the light of Jesus into the darkness of our hearts and transforms us. Many verses of Scripture make this point: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” ( John 17:17).
In fact, in the book of Revelation, the prophetic word is called the “testimony of Jesus.” The angel told John “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). The spirit of prophecy is the prophetic word. The angel, who was also a messenger of the Lord, spoke with John and said, “I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets” (Revelation 22:9). So prophetic revelation is Jesus communicating with us through His prophetic messengers to connect us to Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit.
What we refer to as the Bible is a collection of books assembled in the first centuries of the Christian church and is also known as the canon. But God’s prophetic revelation is not limited to the biblical canon. At various times throughout history, God gave special prophetic revelation that did not become part of the Bible. The Bible mentions some who were clearly inspired but whose books or prophecies never became part of the canon: Jasher, Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Shemaiah, Oded, Ahijah, Jehu, and Iddo, to name a few. (For details, see Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 12:15; 15:8; 20:34.)2As mentioned earlier, the calling and ministry of inspired noncanonical prophets will continue until the end of time ( Joel 2:28, 29). God decides at various times, often during periods of great crisis, to provide additional prophetic guidance.
a postbiblical prophet
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the ministry of Ellen White is an example of modern noncanonical prophetic activity. She received many supernatural, prophetic visions and dreams over a period of more than 70 years until her death in 1915. She produced many books and other materials under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. She saw herself as a postbiblical noncanonical messenger. In the introduction to her significant and very instructive book The Great Controversy, she wrote:
During the ages while the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testament were being given, the Holy Spirit did not cease to communicate light to individual minds, apart from the revelations to be embodied in the Sacred Canon. The Bible itself relates how, through the Holy Spirit, men received warning, reproof, counsel, and instruction, in matters in no way relating to the giving of the Scriptures. And mention is made of prophets in different ages, of whose utterances nothing is recorded. In like manner, after the close of the canon of the Scripture, the Holy Spirit was still to continue its work, to enlighten, warn, and comfort the children of God.3
She also wrote these compelling words: “The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as though we could hear it with our ears. If we realized this, with what awe would we open God’s word, and with what earnestness would we search its precepts! The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One.”4
Her writings not only point us to the Bible but also are filled with Scripture and connect us to Jesus through the Bible and its descriptions of the mighty acts of God in history. Her most extensive writing was The Conflict of the Ages—a five-volume series of books that covers the entire sweep of history presented in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
The series begins with the book Patriarchs and Prophets, which presents how evil originated with the rebellion of Lucifer in heaven, the creation of the world, and the fall of our first parents into sin. It continues down through the life of David, as recorded in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. The second book, Prophets and Kings, continues through the rest of the Old Testament period to the incarnation of Jesus.
Her masterpiece on the life of Christ, The Desire of Ages, connects the reader to Jesus during His earthly life and His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. The fourth volume, The Acts of the Apostles, covers the life and work of the apostles, concluding with the last remaining apostle, John, who wrote the book of Revelation.
The last book in the series, The Great Controversy, is particularly remarkable. The first half covers the history from the disciples down to the twentieth century. The second half of the book unfolds the crucial issues of our day, just before the second coming of Jesus. The glorious finale depicts the scenes from the deliverance of God’s people at the second coming of Jesus and continues to the time when Jesus makes a new earth free of sin. This will be the eternal home for all of God’s redeemed children.
reading for ourselves
These five books contain 3,760 pages, including the indexes. They can be read in connection with the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. In writing these books, and in all of her writings, Ellen White intentionally focused on the love of God. The first book, Patriarchs and Prophets, begins with the words: “ ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be.” The last book, The Great Controversy, ends with these lines: “The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”
I invite you to read her writings in connection with the Bible and particularly the five-volume series on the cosmic conflict between good and evil.5 The last half of her final book, The Great Controversy, is particularly relevant. It unmasks Satan’s deceptions in these last days of Earth’s history and provides guidance and encouragement for those who love God and keep His commandments.
Jesus, our Savior, is coming soon in the clouds of glory. He is the Morning Star. He longs to illuminate our hearts and connect with us through the Bible. Read The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy, or any of Ellen White’s other books, and you will find that the living presence of Jesus will fill your heart with joy, hope, peace, and love. The Bible will be a new and living power to you. It will illuminate your heart with light. Soon Jesus will come. We will be gathered up into the cloud of angels with all the redeemed of the ages and will forever be with God. Maranatha—come, Lord Jesus.
Merlin D. Burt, PhD, serves as director of the Ellen G. White Estate and field secretary for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
1. All Scripture quoted in this article is taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
2. Jiří Moskala, “A Prophetic Voice in the Old Testament: An Overview,” in The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History, ed. Alberto R. Timm and Dwain N. Esmond (Silver Spring, MD: Review and Herald®, 2015), 16.
3. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Washington, DC: Review and Herald®, 1911), viii.
4. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press®, 1948), 393.
5. The Conflict of the Ages series by Ellen G. White is available for purchase at adventisbookcenter.com.