A Brief Story About EGW's Health Vision

By Dorothy Dunbar

The sun had just set in the evening of June 6, 1863 as the Sabbath hours dawned in Otsego, Michigan .  James and Ellen White had been invited to come to Otsego to attend and speak at the meetings being held there.  On this warm June night, they were being entertained at the Aaron Hilliard home just west of the town, and as the Sabbath hours drew on some neighbors came for worship with the family.

Ellen White was asked to lead in prayer, and as she did so, she pled fervently with God for the workers in the church.  As she prayed for James, she moved near him and laid her hand on his shoulder.  Then, her voice changed, and she exclaimed, “Glory to God!” Those present said they would never forget the heavenly influence that filled that room, as God spoke to her for about forty-five minutes.

This vision was primarily on health, for most of the early pioneers of the church were suffering poor health.  They were overworked, did not always eat healthful foods, knew little or nothing of simple remedies and many were afraid of even having fresh air in the house only to name a few of their problems.  But, the first thing God showed Ellen white was about the mind.  “I saw that we should encourage a cheerful, hopeful, peaceful frame of mind, for our health depends upon our doing this……The work God requires of us will not shut us away from caring for our health.  The more perfect our health, the more perfect will be our labor.”

“I saw that when we tax our strength, overlabor and weary ourselves much, then we take colds and at such times are in danger of diseases taking a dangerous form…..It is not safe nor pleasing to God to violate the laws of health and then ask Him to take care of our health and keep us from disease when we are living directly contrary to our prayers…”

Ellen White said we must also give this message to others.

 “We have a duty to speak, to come out against intemperance of every kind—intemperance in working, in eating, in drinking, and in drugging—and then point them to God’s great medicine, water, pure soft water, for diseases, for health, for cleanliness, and for a luxury..”

This was only the beginning of what God wanted His people to know about health, and the same holds true today.  Ellen White stated, in RH,

Oct.8,1867, “It was at the house of A. Hilliard, at Otsego, Michigan, June 6, 1863, that the great subject of health reform was opened before me in vision.”

But what Ellen White had been shown in this “Health Vision” was so different than the concepts commonly held at that time she was reluctant to relate it for she thought she could not be understood.  She knew nothing of medical language, and felt she hardly knew how to present what had been shown to her.  So she wrote out what she had been told, using simple language in a chapter entitled “Health” and is now in Spiritual Gifts, Volume IV.  She was shown the contrasts of the people of her day, and of Adam and Eve, and inquired the reason for the degeneracy.  “I inquired” she stated, “the cause of this wonderful degeneracy, and was pointed back to Eden” –4SG, p.120  It was the disobedience of our first parents, leading to intemperate desires and violation of the laws of health, that had led to degeneracy and disease.  There were the eating habits; these included the use of meat—she spoke of the risks of contracting diseases, because of increasing diseases among animals.  She also detailed the harmful effects of overeating, and of eating too frequently.

She mentioned the use of stimulants and narcotics, speaking especially of alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. She spoke of cleanliness of person and the home and its premises, the importance of physical exercise and of the proper exercise of the will.  She told of the value of pure water, fresh air and sunshine. She even spoke at length how to raise children by instructing them and teaching them, saying “we should be firm and decided, but gain their love.  It does them no good to be censured and talked to in an ordering tone.

God had shown Ellen white that those who looked to God to keep them from sickness, without doing what was in their power to maintain good health, would be disappointed, for God intended they should do their part.  He is speaking the same words to us today.

compiled from

The Progressive Years

and Light Bearers