Ellen White and Orion Nebula

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In 2005 Mr. Dirk Anderson put together a short examination of what some of the early Adventist pioneers along with Ms. White said in regards to the constellation Orion. His document is titled “Ellen White and the Orion Stargate” and has caught the interest of many anti and former Adventists throughout the internet. In websites and Christian forums, many have made the claims that “she made this up, this is not in the bible, Orion does not exist,” etc. So we decided to take a look at her statement for ourselves.

We will quote her with some surrounding context:

“December 16, 1848, the Lord gave me a view of the shaking of the powers of the heavens. I saw that when the Lord said “heaven,” in giving the signs recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, He meant heaven, and when He said “earth,” He meant earth. The powers of heaven are the sun, moon, and stars. They rule in the heavens. The powers of earth are those that rule on the earth. The powers of heaven will be shaken at the voice of God. Then the sun, moon, and stars will be moved out of their places. They will not pass away, but be shaken by the voice of God.

Dark heavy clouds came up, and clashed against each other. The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God. The holy city will come down through that open space. I saw that the powers of earth are now being shaken, and that events come in order. War, and rumors of war, sword, famine, and pestilence are first to shake the powers of earth, then the voice of God will shake the sun, moon, and stars, and this earth also. I saw that the shaking of the powers in Europe is not, as some teach, the shaking of the powers of heaven, but it is the shaking of the angry nations.” -Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, page 111.

We notice from the immediate context that what she is describing is related to the events of “the powers of heaven” as foretold in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In the book of Matthew, for example, Matthew records Jesus saying:

Matthew 24:29-30
(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
(30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Her words parallel what Matthew is saying in regards to the “coming of Christ.” Besides his coming, she also says that through this “open space in Orion,” the holy city will come down from heaven to earth. Many have found these words to be a bit uncomfortable because they feel that the bible does not describe such a place through which Jesus will descend from. But before we cast her aside for saying what she said we want our readers to notice that the bible actually speaks about both the coming of Christ and the constellation Orion within the same context. Take a look at the following few verses from the book of Isaiah, chapter thirteen:

Isaiah 13:6-13
(6) Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
(7) Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
(8) And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
(9) Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
(10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
(11) And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
(12) I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Many bible scholars, while well aware that these passages, in context, are prophecies concern ancient Babylon; they also acknowledge that this is a prophecy with a dual application, describing also the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reasons are simple and easy to notice. Verse 6 and 9 describe the “coming” of the Lord to execute destruction upon the wicked of the land. Such is what will happen when Jesus returns:

Matthew 13:38-42
(38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
(39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
(40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
(41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
(42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, 8
(1) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
(2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand…. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

Verse 10 in Isaiah 13 parallel’s Jesus words when he described his own coming. Note this parallel when these verses are placed one above the other (match the colors):

Matthew 24:29-30
(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
(30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven…

Isaiah 13:10
(10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Therefore, when the prophet Isaiah saw the vision of chapter 13, he is not only describing the destruction of Babylon, but also the destruction of the wicked at the end of the world by the coming of the Lord.

But take a closer look at verse 10:

Isaiah 13:10
(10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Notice that while describing the “coming” of Jesus, Isaiah sees that the “constellations” are also affected by this coming. What does this Hebrew word “kesiyl” translated “constellations” mean? Strong’s Hebrew Definitions describes it as follows:

The same as H3684; any notable constellation; specifically Orion (as if a burly one): – constellation, Orion.

Brown Driver Briggs, a Hebrew Lexicon, describes it like this:

BDB Definition:

1) constellation, Orion
1a) Orion, the constellation
1b) constellation (general)
Part of Speech: noun masculine

It looks like the primary definition of this word is “Orion.” Brown places this as the number one definition (1 and 1a), while Strong’s says that this is the “specific” meaning of this Hebrew word. When the Septuagint (LXX) translates this verse into the Greek language, it translated kesiyl as literally “Orion.” While Isaiah does not specifically say that the Lord will come “through” the constellation of Orion, he certiantly mentions it within the “context” of his “coming,” just as sister White has also done. Could she have had these verses in mind when she penned her statement? It would certiantly seem so.

An Open Space?

The problem our critic has is with Ellen White’s “added detail” of an “open space” in the constellation Orion by which the Lord returns and the voice of God is heard. However, Ellen White doesn’t seem to be the only one aware of some type of open space within Orion Nebula. NASA’s power Hubble Telescope recently helped researchers discover some more information about Orion Nebula. In a video titled, “Hubble Snaps the Clearest View of the Orion Nebula” they claim to notice what they call “a ball-like cavity” within this constellation. Notice what else they say about the center of Orion Nebula:

“Packed into the center of this region are bright lights of the Trapezium stars, the four heftiest stars in the Orion Nebula. Ultraviolet light unleashed by these stars is carving a cavity in the nebula and disrupting the growth of hundreds of smaller stars. The dark speck near the bottom, right of the image is a silhouette of an edge-on disk encircling a young star. Another whitish-looking disk is visible near the bottom, left, just above the two bright stars. This disk is encased in a bubble of gas and dust.” –Source.


(Picture taken from the NASA site hubblesite.org)

At Wikipedia.org, under “Orion Nebula,” it says:

“Some of these collapsing stars can be particularly massive, and can emit large quantities of ionizing ultraviolet radiation. An example of this is seen with the Trapezium cluster. Over time the ultraviolet light from the massive stars at the center of the nebula will push away the surrounding gas and dust in a process called photo evaporation. This process is responsible for creating the interior cavity of the nebula, allowing the stars at the core to be viewed from Earth.” –Source. See also Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

So it shouldn’t have been surprising to our critic that Ellen White mentioned an “open space” within Orion Nebula, that is, if he did the proper research.

The fact that Ellen White’s comment parallel’s Isaiah chapter 13 has already been established, but Ellen White does add the extra detail that it is through this space in Orion that the Lord returns, and that God’s voice is heard. This is a case where one of the two inspired prophets, while describing the same event, adds some extra detail, like Matthew adding the extra detail that there was an extra demoniac in Gadarenes, whereas Mark and Luke say there was only one (see this LINK). Atheists attack Christians at points like this, without realizing that God often times gives the next prophet more information about a certain event, which is not necessarily a contradiction. As a response to a supposed contradiction, the volunteers at the ellen-white.com website say:

“It is not a contradiction to give more information or details than the previous account (that is one of the purposes of prophets). Ellen White in no way denies or contradicts what the Bible says, she is just giving more information. All subsequent prophets would be “contradicting” Moses if we judged them this way.” –Source.

They go on by saying:

“Even atheists who try to tear the Bible apart don’t fault the Scriptures in this manner. For example:

In Jude verse 9 we read: ‘Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.’ Now imagine the argument ‘You may read the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi and you will not find any evidence to validate this supposed conversation between Michael and Satan.’ Jude in no way contradicts the Old Testament, yet this contention over the body of Moses is never even mentioned in the Bible previous to this text. Jude also speaks of Enoch prophesying about the Lord coming ‘with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all…’ [verses 14-16]. We have no record of Enoch saying any such thing in the writings of Moses, yet we believe Jude.” –Source.

Or course, we wouldn’t accuse Matthew of contracting Luke and Mark when he said there were “two” demoniacs present at Gadarenes. Added detail, therefore, can’t be used to prove that Ellen White was a false prophet.

Do you think Mr. Anderson did the proper research in regards to this open space in Orion Nebula? He spends a good amount of time in his article quoting from New Age articles to prove that such an open space exists only in the imagination of Pagans, without realizing that this is actually a fact, and the Pagans merely used this fact to their advantage. Hopefully our opponants will consider the facts brought forth in this article the next time they use this quote to trash Ellen White.

By the way, here are some estra verses in the bible which mention Orion, you know, just for fun:

Job 9:9
(9) Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

Job 38:31
(31) Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

Amos 5:8
(8) Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.

For further study, see:

Critic #1: Dirk Anderson
An analysis of Dirk Anderson’s:
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906
Ellen White “Received the Great Controversy
in Vision” — a Myth?
(off site)


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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