Did the events of 9/11 fulfill an Ellen White prophecy?
I have a friend whom I respect greatly—including his deep knowledge of Mrs. White’s writings—who believes that Mrs. White saw in vision the destruction of the World Trade Center. But I must disagree with him. Though there are some striking similarities between the events of September 11 and what Mrs. White wrote on pages 12 and 13 of volume 9 of the Testimonies, there are also some clear differences. I don’t know whether the World Trade Center was ever billed as “fireproof,” as Mrs. White describes the buildings she saw. But whether it was or wasn’t, it was not consumed by fire “as if made of pitch.”Something consumed by fire as if made of pitch is completely engulfed in flames, but the World Trade Center was destroyed by a fire confined to a few floors. This weakened the steel structure and caused the floors to “pancake” down on one another. If I saw such a scene and tried to describe it, I wouldn’t think of the expression “consumed as if made of pitch.”
Nor am I aware of anything in those events that indicates that the destruction came because “the firemen were unable to operate the engines.” Some point to fire engines that were destroyed, thereby becoming inoperable. But that was a result of the collapse; it was not a factor in the firefighters’ being unable to save the buildings.
What is more, Mrs. White didn’t even claim that the buildings she saw in that vision were located in New York; she merely said that she was in New York when she had the vision. In my view, these are pieces of data that don’t line up with the events of 9/11. It seems to me that people have to rely on creative explanations to make those events conform to these descriptions. Personally, I think Mrs. White saw another event, one that is probably still future. But I haven’t ruled out the idea that she might have seen something that took place in the past in some other location (perhaps during the destructions of World War II, for instance), and we simply haven’t made the connection.
For me, the bottom line is that events like those of 9/11 should remind us of the shortness and uncertainty of life. Beyond that, they should remind us of statements like the one we have been discussing, which warn of greater destructions yet to come as we near the return of Jesus. They should tell us that time for this world is short and that we have an urgent work to do, especially in the cities, which we believe are destined for destruction. If the Bible and Mrs. White’s writings are correct, as I believe they are, then things will not go on more-or-less smoothly, as they have been doing. What happens on this planet in the final movements leading up to Jesus’ return will not be pretty. But we have the assurance that things will then get a whole lot better! We may put our trust in Jesus for tomorrow, and we have the privilege of walking with Him and working for Him today.