The Desire of Ages -
A Little Problem Resolved
Certain statements in The Desire of Ages will present a little difficulty for this study as they appear to be in direct contrast to
the reference in Patriarchs and Prophets on page 1 of this study
that the resurrection happened on a seventh-day Sabbath.
In this wonderful book about the life of Christ, there are statements such as:
"His work completed, His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day." (The Desire of Ages p769)
"The night of the first day of the week had worn slowly away. The darkest hour, just before daybreak, had come. Christ was still a prisoner in His narrow tomb." (The Desire of Ages p779)
These are in obvious contradiction to the conclusions reached on this site about the timing of the resurrection. However, they also are in conflict with the statement from Patriarchs and Prophets which can be seen to show a Sabbath timing for the wave sheaf.
Before anyone tries to throw out The Desire of Ages or Ellen White's writings based on a contradiction they need to better understand the role of the Spirit of Prophecy,
how she wrote
and what she said about her own writings.
She herself said that her writings were not to be considered infallible. There were certain historical and chronological facts presented in her books that were not inspired and not to be regarded as such. She stressed that the Bible is to be the final word and had no problem with her writings giving way to the "greater light."
Correct understanding of this statement under cosideration from Patriarchs and Prophets, while contrary to the historical and traditional understanding, may be part of the
she often referred to. As we approach a greater push for Sunday observance, why wouldn't there be stronger evidence against it?
The book The Desire of Ages gives a beautiful account of the life of Christ. We would not discard such a great book as The Desire of Ages if if it should fail in a few points of historical accuracy. The idea of a Sunday resurrection comes from centuries of tradition and not from the Bible. Ellen White herself said she was not divinely shown every moment and every detail of history and had to rely on the traditions of history for times, dates, and places etc. and that she had to borrow from worldly historical authors for such information.
Here is a statement written by her son Willie White regarding the historical accuracy of her writings:
"Regarding Mother's writings and their use as authority on points of history and chronology, Mother has never wished our brethren to treat them as authority regarding the details of history or historical dates. ... When writing out the chapters for Great Controversy, she sometimes gave a partial description of an important historical event, and when her copyist who was preparing the manuscripts for the printer, made inquiry regarding the time and place, Mother would say that those things are recorded by conscientious historians. Let the dates used by those historians be inserted. At other times in writing out what has been presented to her, Mother found such perfect descriptions of events and presentations of facts and of doctrines written out in our denominational books, that she copied the words of these authorities.
When Controversy was written, Mother never thought that the readers would take it as authority on historical dates or use it to settle controversy regarding details of history, and she does not now feel that it should be used in that way. Mother regards with great respect the work of those faithful historians who devoted years of time to the study of God's great plan as presented in the prophecy, and the outworking of that plan as recorded in history.? (Spoken by Willie C. White Nov 4, 1912; The complete text of this statement appears in 3SM p446-7)
Among her writings are several paragraphs from the book Early Writings, the chapter titled "The Mystery of Iniquity" that reveal some details of how Satan has worked to change understanding of the resurrection and use it to his advantage. I have emphasized a few words by underlining and added a few comments [in italics and square brackets]. Follow the reasoning carefully as you read:
"Satan could not hinder the plan of salvation. Jesus was crucified, and rose again the third day. But Satan told his angels that he would make the crucifixion and resurrection tell to his advantage. He was willing that those who professed faith in Jesus should believe that the laws regulating the Jewish sacrifices and offerings ceased at the death of Christ, if he could push them farther and make them believe that the law of ten commandments also died with Christ.
I saw that many readily yielded to this device of Satan. All heaven was moved with indignation as they saw the holy law of God trampled underfoot. Jesus and all the heavenly host were acquainted with the nature of God's law; they knew that He would not change or abrogate it. The hopeless condition of man after the fall caused the deepest sorrow in heaven, and moved Jesus to offer to die for the transgressors of God's holy law. But if that law could be abrogated, man might have been saved without the death of Jesus. Consequently His death did not destroy the law of His Father, but magnified and honored it and enforced obedience to all its holy precepts.
Had the church remained pure and steadfast, Satan could not have deceived them, and led them to trample on the law of God. In this bold plan, Satan strikes directly against the foundation of God's government in heaven and on earth. His rebellion caused him to be expelled from heaven. After he rebelled, in order to save himself he wished God to change His law, but was told before the whole heavenly host that God's law was unalterable. Satan knows that if he can cause others to violate God's law, he has gained them to his cause; for every transgressor of that law must die.
Satan decided to go still farther. He told his angels that some would be so jealous of God's law that they could not be caught in this snare; the ten commandments were so plain that many would believe that they were still binding, and therefore he must seek to corrupt only one of the commandments. He then led on his representatives [on earth - the church that had not remained pure, referred to in the previous paragraph] to attempt to change the fourth, or Sabbath, commandment, thus altering the only one of the ten which brings to view the true God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. Satan presented before them [his representatives] the glorious resurrection of Jesus, and told them that [here is the deception] by His rising on the first day of the week, He [Jesus] changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. [Note: his angels knew the Sabbath was not changed by Jesus. Satan's deception included both ideas - that Jesus had risen on the first day of the week and that Jesus had changed the Sabbath. The deception was for people on earth, not for angels in heaven who knew, having been part of "the heavenly host," that "He (God) would not change or abrogate it" (His law).]
Thus Satan used the resurrection to serve his purpose [to change the law of God]. He and his angels rejoiced that the errors they had prepared took so well with the professed friends of Christ. What one looked upon with religious horror, another would receive. Thus different errors were received and defended with zeal. The will of God, so plainly revealed in His Word, was covered up with errors and traditions, [If the will of God, plainly revealed in His Word, was covered up it must have been covered up with changes to His Word or, at least, the common understanding of it.] which have been taught as the commandments of God. Although this heaven-daring deception will be suffered to be carried on until the second appearing of Jesus, yet through all this time of error and deception, God has not been left without witnesses. Amid the darkness and persecution of the church there have always been true and faithful ones who kept all of God's commandments." (EW 215-216)
Satan used the resurrection to his advantage by altering understanding of the timing so that it would appear to support Sunday sacredness thus paving the way for a "change" in God's law. The "errors and traditions" referred to included such beliefs as that the resurrection had occurred on the first day of the week. Remember, that the Council of Nicaea, where the "change" to God's law happened or was made effective, was 300 years after the events. That would have been plenty of time for these errors and traditions to become established in the understanding of the people especially when there was so little in terms of written record. Here is an interesting statement in that regard:
"I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible, yet learned men, when the copies were few, had changed the words in some instances, thinking that they were making it more plain, when they were mystifying that which was plain, in causing it to lean to their established views, governed by tradition. But I saw that the word of God, as a whole is a perfect chain, one portion of scripture explaining another, true seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the word of God plain and simple in declaring the way to life, but the Holy Spirit is given to guide in understanding the way of life revealed in his Word." (1SG 117)
Thus, we can see that Satan has introduced error in history which has worked its way into the traditions of man and has even found its way into such works as The Desire of Ages. Such errors have resulted in an incorrect understanding of the resurrection and have helped Satan's case for Sunday sacredness, in effect "changing the law of God."