Monday, July 20, 2015

The Eastern Question

Ellen White's references to the Eastern Question are significant because of statements such as:

"Let us confine our public efforts to the presentation of the important lines of truth on which we are united, and on which we have clear light." (1SM 167)

So, her endorsement of a public presentation by our ministers implies (1) that it is an important line of truth, (2) that it is a subject on which the church was united, and (3) that it is a subject on which we have clear light. If a presentation did not meet those criteria, the minister had no business talking about it. The subject should not be discussed in our meetings.

"Matters of vital importance have been plainly revealed in the Word of God. These subjects are worthy of our deepest thought. But we are not to search into matters on which God has been silent." (1SM 173)

If the Eastern Question can be found in the Word of God, it is worthy of our deepest thought. But if not, we certainly should not be preaching about it.

The Eastern Question was the diplomatic problem posed by the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Adventist ministers tied the fulfillment of Daniel 11:45 to the ultimate outcome of that question. If Daniel 11:45 has nothing to do with the Ottoman Empire or its aftermath, our ministers were preaching about something on which God is silent.

But notice the comments of the Lord's messenger endorsing the public presentations on this subject. The sermons were "of special interest." In presenting this subject, Uriah Smith was "fully and thoroughly united with us." What he was presenting was described by Ellen White as "these great events in the near future." And the message was classed as "the truth."

September 6, 1877
“Sunday morning the weather was still cloudy, but before it was time for the people to assemble the sun shone forth. Boats and trains poured their living freight upon the ground, as was the case last year. Elder Smith spoke in the morning upon the Eastern question. The subject was of special interest, and the people listened with the most earnest attention. It seemed to be just what they wanted to hear.” (RH 9-6-1877)

August 24, 1884
“Elder Smith spoke on the Sabbath question to a large congregation this morning, and this evening he speaks on the Eastern question. I feel so grateful that Brother Smith is not lost to the cause. He seems fully and thoroughly united with us; seems like Brother Smith of old. Oh, thank the Lord! Praise His Holy Name, that His love, His wondrous love has been exercised toward the children of men. It is so dark, I must stop. Will write you tomorrow.” (Lt55-1884 par. 6)

August 25, 1884
“Aug. 25, 11:00 a.m. The first two pages were written Sunday after I had spoken to the crowd. The evening meeting was largely attended. Elder Smith spoke with great clearness, and many listened with open eyes, ears, and mouths. The outsiders seemed to be intensely interested in the Eastern question. He closed with a very solemn address to those who had not been preparing for these great events in the near future.” (Lt55-1884 par. 7)

December 25, 1898
“Elder Daniells speaks this evening upon the Eastern Question. May the Lord give His Holy Spirit to inspire the hearts to make the truth plain.” (Ms189-1898 par. 9)


  1. Trying to find what Smith wrote about this subject.

    1. Daniel 11 in the 1897 edition is the correct edition. The chapter title is A LITERAL PROPHECY and under that title, he gives subtitles for the chapter and one of those last subtitles is THE EASTERN QUESTION You won't find this in the 1944 Daniel and the Revelation book. According to the prophet in Manuscript Releases, volume 10, pages 49-50, there were to be no changes to Uriah's book. (10MR 49-50)

    2. David. Send me an email to and I will send you all the documents on this. Our 1904 quarterly, + 1916 Signs of the Times and the 1888/1889 Bible Readings all taught on this subject and I will send that info to you.

  2. David, you can go to (Password: 1844) and under the documents page you will find the newspaper articles that report what Smith talked about when he was lecturing on the Eastern Question.

  3. Pr.Le Brun - Bro. Louis F. Were quoted Elder White in an editorial of the RH, Jan. 21, 1862 stating that "The great battle is not between nation and nation, but between earth and heaven." That the Eastern Question is not a part of the original belief held by our Pioneers - to the contrary, it is a counterfeit of their teaching. (from "The Kings That Come From the Sunrising.") I am confused. Was this or was this not the teaching of the Advent people when the angel of God commissioned the Lord's servant to write: "Said my accompanying angel, Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages." EW 258? Please clarify, as I sincerely don't want any of us to stray from the fact that Inspiration states: "It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives." 4T 595 Thank you for your attention to this genuine concern.

  4. James White taught that Daniel 11:45 would be fulfilled when the papacy moved its headquarters to the United States. Regarding Revelation 16:12, he taught that the great river Euphrates represented Turkey, which would come to its end during the sixth plague. He also seems to have felt that Daniel 11 extends all the way to the second coming of Christ, at which time Rome would come to its end. (The Signs of the Times, July 22, 1880, p. 330).

    Most Adventists recognize that before Jesus comes there will be both spiritual warfare and a great international military engagement (LDE 238, 239). There is also now a general agreement that the papacy has not come to its end when Michael stands up at the close of Probation. Prior to our organization there did seem to be a consensus on the papacy being the king of the north. But a change did come, as we see in the following statement: “Virtually all our writers from about 1871 to the 1940's built on Smith's premises that Tur­key is the king of the north and that the nations would be gathered in Palestine for the battle of Armageddon” (Ministry December 1967, D.E. Mansell, "What Adventists Have Taught on Armageddon and the King of the North," Part II). Hundreds of newspaper articles from across America and elsewhere during that time reveal that the Eastern Question was a favorite lecture topic of Adventist evangelists from the 1870s to the 1920s. The book, Bible Readings for the Home Circle, one of our best selling colporteur books during those years, featured a chapter on the Eastern Question. The general view of Adventists until the middle of the 20th century was that events in the middle east will constitute a definite part of end-time prophetic events.

    EW 258, written in 1858, is a reference to the three angels messages. She there speaks of “the established faith of the body,” which would include our established doctrines. The one in 4T 595, written in 1881, also seems to be referring primarily to doctrinal truth and the three angels messages. For her endorsement of our understanding of the prophecies, see For a complete list of the material on this site about this subject, see