The sweeping vision given to Ellen White at Lovett's Grove, Ohio, in 1858 gave her a view of vast ages of time. And for this reason alone the books based upon that vision are of highest significance.
But this vision was extremely important in yet another way: It unmasked the mastermind, and revealed the working, errors and techniques of Satan himself.
And there is yet a third crucial reason for the importance of that vision: It opened to view a complete and harmonious understanding of final events on planet earth, as it delineated the final crisis just before us and primary ways in which Satan plans to deceive millions and bring them into His net.
It was early spring in 1858. Ellen and James were on the road again. On the weekend of March 13 and 14 they attended meetings at Lovett's Grove, in Ohio. On Sunday afternoon, the 14th, a funeral was conducted by James in the schoolhouse, where the earlier meetings of the weekend had been held. After he had spoken, Ellen rose to speak words of comfort, and was taken off in vision. Lasting two hours, during which time everyone remained in the building, she was given a panoramic view of the great controversy between Christ and Satan that has spanned the ages of sin.
Told to write it out, the next day they started for home. On the train, they discussed the project and she told of her determination to give the writing of that vision top priority. But this was not a topic that the prince of darkness wanted printed, for, during the vision, she had been told:
"I was instructed to write it out. I was shown that while I should have to contend with the powers of darkness, for Satan would make strong efforts to hinder me, yet I must put my trust in God, and angels would not leave me in the conflict” Life Sketches, page 162.
Later in the day, they arrived at Jackson, Michigan, en route to Battle Creek where their home was. Briefly, they stopped at the home of Daniel Palmer for an overnight stay.
“As I was conversing with Sister Palmer, my tongue refused to utter what I wished to say, and seemed large and numb. A strange, cold sensation struck my heart, passed over my head, and down my right side. For a time I was insensible, but was aroused by the voice of earnest prayer. I tried, to use my left limbs, but they were perfectly useless."Life Sketches, page 162.
In response to the earnest prayers of the others, her strength was partially restored to the point that she and James were able to continue the journey home.
"At first I could write but one page a day, and then rest three days; but as I progressed, my strength increased. The numbness in my head did not seem to becloud my mind, and before I closed that work, the effect of the shock had entirely left me." Life Sketches, page 163.
This book, with its brief overview of the vision, was completed within three months. In later years, she continued to broaden the concepts by providing additional details. The result eventually was five large books, called the "Conflict of the Ages Series" ("Patriarchs and Prophets," "Prophets and Kings," "Desire of Ages," "Acts of the Apostles, " and "Great Controversy"), plus messages in a number of other books, as well. As Ellen was completing the preliminary volume ("Spiritual Gifts, Volume 1"), in June of 1858, the Palmer-house experience was explained to her:
"I was shown in vision that in the sudden attack at Jackson, Satan intended to take my life, in order to hinder the work I was about to write; but angels of God were sent to my rescue." Life Sketches, page 163.
Although men can be thankful for counsels such as these, that reveal Satan's plans and how to resist them, yet that mastermind, himself, was determined that the messenger be blotted out so that the messages might never be given.
But we can also be thankful that, in spite of Satan's plans, God is at work and His will shall ultimately be accomplished.
“In the annals of human history, the growth of nations; the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the Word of God, the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and 'passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will." Prophets and Kings, pages 499, 500.
One individual, who researched into the background and content of this vision, Wrote thusly:
"Scores of visions had passed before her; however, this time Ellen was transported into an undefinable dimension of time before and beyond that of recorded history and was made witness to the War in Heaven, the rebellion and fall of Lucifer. Watching the tragedy unfold, she stood appalled and shocked at the infidelity of one, who was once an exalted angel." Rene Noorbergen, Prophet of Destiny, page 142.
This massive vision of the 14th of March, 1858, revealed the history of this world and Satan's plans to destroy those living in it.
For a few moments, let us consider some of the concepts given to Ellen White in the Lovett's Grove vision. Of course, far more information will be found by reading the books themselves which are still in print and are easily purchased.
" 'God is love.' 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be . . Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings. . The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God's unchanging love." Patriarchs and Prophets, 33. (From page one of chapter one of the first of these five books.)
"Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself . . Now the perfect harmony of heaven was broken. . In heavenly council the angels pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before him the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of His law. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it; Lucifer would dishonor His Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning.. given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused" a spirit of resistance. .
"To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God, thus impeaching the wisdom and love of the Creator, had become the purpose of this prince of angels. To this object he was about to bend the energies of that master mind." Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 35,36.
Lucifer recognized that which many men today do not: that the character of God is mirrored in the laws He gives His creatures; to attack the one is to attack the other. Therefore in heaven, as well as on this earth, Satan, has sought to lead men to transgress God's Moral Law and thus sin against their Maker. This leader-of-the-devils well knows that men have no defense against sin if they can be led into one of two errors: (1) To reject Christ, the only One who can forgive and enable men to obey God's will. (2) To reject the Law of God, the expression of God's will, as something that they are no longer required to obey. Understanding this key, helps us to understand the entire great controversy between Christ and Satan.
"Leaving his place in the immediate presence of God, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels: Working with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealing his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God, he endeavored to excite dissatisfaction concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they imposed an unnecessary restraint Since their natures were holy, he urged that the angels should obey the dictates of their own will . . He claimed that in aspiring to greater power and honor he was not aiming at self-exaltation, but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants of heaven, that by this means they might attain to a higher state of existence." Great Controversy, page 495. (Chapter 29 of this book parallels that of chapter 1 of Patriarchs arid Prophets. Both explain the fall of Lucifer in heaven.)
"The discord which his own course had caused in heaven, Satan charged upon the law and government of God. All evil he declared to be the result of the divine administration. He claimed that it was his own object to improve upon the statutes of Jehovah. Therefore it was necessary that he should demonstrate the nature of his claims, and show the working out of his proposed changes in the divine law. His own work must condemn him. Satan had claimed from the first that he was not in rebellion. The whole universe must see the deceiver unmasked.” Great Controversy, page 498.
“Satan's rebellion was to be a lesson to the universe through all coming ages—a perpetual testimony to the nature of sin and its terrible results. The working out of Satan's rule, its effects upon both men and angels, would show what must be the fruit of setting aside the divine authority. It would testify that with the existence of God's government and His law is bound up the well-being of all the creatures He has made. Thus the history of this terrible experiment of rebellion was to be a perpetual safeguard to all holy beings." Patriarchs and Prophets, page 42-43.
“The same spirit that prompted rebellion in heaven, still inspires rebellion on earth. Satan has continued with men the same policy, which he pursued with the angels. His spirit now reigns in the children of disobedience. Like him they seek to break down the restraints of the law of God, and promise men liberty through, transgression of its precepts. .
“When man had sinned through yielding to the deceptions of this apostate spirit, God gave an evidence of His love by yielding up His only begotten Son to die for the fallen race. In the atonement the character of God is revealed. The mighty argument of the cross demonstrates to the whole universe that the course of sin which Lucifer had chosen was in no wise chargeable upon the government of God." Great Controversy, pages 500-501.
“It was Satan that prompted the world's rejection of Christ. The prince of evil exerted all his power and cunning to destroy Jesus; for he saw that the Saviour's mercy and love, His compassion and pitying tenderness, were representing to the world the character of God. . The pent-up fires of envy and malice, hatred and revenge, burst forth on Calvary against, the Son of God, while all heaven gazed upon the scene in silent horror."—Great Controversy 501.
"Now it was seen that for the salvation of a fallen and sinful race, the Ruler of the universe had made, the greatest sacrifice which love could make; for 'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself'. . God had manifested His abhorrence of the principles of rebellion. All heaven saw His justice revealed, both in the condemnation of Satan and in the redemption of man. Lucifer had declared that if the law of God was changeless, and its penalty could not be remitted, every transgressor must be forever debarred from the Creator's favor. He had claimed that the sinful race were placed beyond redemption, and were therefore his rightful prey. But the death of Christ was an argument in man's behalf that could not be overthrown. . It was to demonstrate to all the worlds of the universe that God's law is unchangeable. Could its, claims have been set aside, then the Son of God need not have yielded up His life to atone for its transgression. The death of Christ proves it immutable."—Great Controversy, pages 502, 503.
"In the final execution of the judgment it will be seen that no cause for sin exists .. The cross of Calvary, while it declares the law immutable, proclaims to the universe that the wages of sin is death. In the Saviour's expiring cry, 'It is finished,' the death-knell of Satan was rung. The great controversy which had been so long in progress was then decided, and the final eradication of evil was made certain. The Son of God passed through the portals of the tomb, that 'through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' Hebrews 2:14. Lucifer's desire for self-exaltation had led him to say, 'I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . .I will be like the Most High.' Isaiah 14:13-14. God declares, 'I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth, . . and never shalt thou be any more.' Ezekiel 28: 18-19. When 'the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven, . . all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.' Malachi 4:1.
"The whole universe will have become witnesses to the nature and results of sin. And its utter extermination, which in the beginning would have brought fear to angels and dishonor to God, will now vindicate His love and establish His honor before the universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law. Never will evil again be manifest. Says the Word of God, 'Affliction shall not rise up the second time.' Nahum 1:9. The law of God, which Satan has reproached as the yoke of bondage, will be honored as the law of liberty. A tested and proved creation will never again be turned from allegiance to Him whose character has been fully manifested before them as fathomless love and infinite wisdom." Great Controversy, pages 503-504.
But as we shall soon see, there were still more of Satan's plans revealed in that important Lovett's Grove vision.