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The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
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Balls of Fire and Fiery Arrows: Incendiary Bombs?

It was in 1903 that Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew an airplane for more than half a mile, remaining aloft for almost a minute. The following summer they flew flights up to 2.75 miles in length in 5 minutes. October 1906 saw their flights lasting up to 30 minutes. 1908 was the year for their first public flight, the first flight to carry a passenger, and their contract with the U.S. Army to provide the first military plane. That plane was sold to the Army in July 1909.

By January 1910 some were experimenting with how to deliver a bomb by plane. The following January the first live bomb was dropped from a plane, and before the end of that year, Italy had used bombs in armed conflict.

The Prediction

Ellen White apparently had at least two visions about balls of fire falling. Here is the first vision, which occurred on Friday night, July 1, 1904, more than 7 years before the Italians launched the world into the age of aerial bombardment:

Not long ago a very impressive scene passed before me. I saw an immense ball of fire falling among some beautiful mansions, causing their instant destruction. I heard some one say, "We knew that the judgments of God were coming upon the earth, but we did not know that they would come so soon." Others said, "You knew? Why then did you not tell us. We did not know." On every side I heard such words spoken.—Review and Herald, Nov. 24, 1904.

An obvious question is whether these balls of fire were directly sent by God, or whether man was involved in some way. What appears just six paragraphs later may shed some light on that question:

Soon grievous troubles will arise among the nations—trouble that will not cease until Jesus comes. As never before, we need to press together, serving him who has prepared his throne in the heavens, and whose kingdom ruleth over all. God has not forsaken his people, and our strength lies in not forsaking him.

The judgments of God are in the land. The wars and rumors of wars, the destruction by fire and flood, say clearly that the time of trouble, which is to increase until the end, is very near at hand. We have no time to lose. The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecies of the eleventh of Daniel have almost reached their final fulfilment.—Ibid.

So perhaps these balls of fire have something to do with the armaments of war.

The second vision occurred on Friday morning, August 24, 1906, and it provided a detail not seen in the previous one:

In the night I was, I thought, in a room but not in my own house. I was in a city, where I knew not, and I heard expression after expression. I rose up quickly in bed, and saw from my window large balls of fire. Jetting out were sparks, in the form of arrows, and buildings were being consumed, and in a very few minutes the entire block of buildings was falling and the screeching and mournful groans came distinctly to my ears. [Diary, August 23, 27, 1906.]—Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 361, emphasis supplied.

Last Friday morning, just before I awoke, a very impressive scene was presented before me. I seemed to awake from sleep but was not in my home. From the windows I could behold a terrible conflagration. Great balls of fire were falling upon houses, and from these balls fiery arrows were flying in every direction. It was impossible to check the fires that were kindled, and many places were being destroyed. The terror of the people was indescribable. After a time I awoke and found myself at home.—Letter 278, 1906.—Evangelism, p. 29, emphasis supplied.

Thus in this second vision we find "sparks" or "fiery arrows" "in the form of arrows" "jetting out" from balls of fire. What might these "arrows" be?

Some of Today's Weapons

US Bombers over Japan in WWII
—National Archives
One type of bomb available today is the "fragmentation" bomb, which has a casing that fragments on detonation into many little pieces.

Modern fragmentation bombs are generally in the form of cluster bomb submunitions, and may consist of grenade-like balls, encased in plastic impregnated with ball bearings; "combined effects" submunitions that incorporate splintering cases, along with antiarmor and incendiary effects; or submunitions that blast out a cloud of small metal darts, known as "flechettes" (French for "little arrow").—"Dumb Bombs (1): Unitary Bombs," emphasis supplied.

A fragmentation bomb with "incendiary effects" sounds similar to what Ellen White said she saw. Such a bomb 1) would detonate, 2) would fragment into a number of pieces, and 3) those pieces would ignite a number of fires.

Here's how the same source describes incendiary bombs:

These munitions destroy by starting fires. They may contain a metallic incendiary material that burns at a very high temperature, or an incendiary gel ("napalm") that flows over a target as it burns.

Incendiary metals include zirconium, magnesium, aluminum, titanium, and depleted uranium. Thermite, which is a combination of powdered iron oxide and aluminum, is particularly popular as an incendiary.—emphasis supplied.

Another web site maintained by the Federation of American Scientists describes one of the clues that tells you if a country might be developing nuclear bombs:

Test-firing of [high explosive]-metal systems containing uranium would be indicated by the following:

  • bright streamers radiating from the test (caused by burning fragments of uranium) visible to the eye;—Nuclear Weapon Testing

Admittedly, we are by no means an expert on weaponry, but it appears to us that a bomb containing one of the above mentioned metals would upon detonation appear to be a ball of fire with sparks like arrows jetting out. And this, as suggested by the above authority, would be able to be seen with the naked eye.

We directed a question regarding this kind of thing to a military weapons expert, and this is the reply we received:

If a liner of some reactive material is inserted into a warhead one may see streamers ejected from the detonation fireball but those will be oxidizing reactive metal fragments.

Give Us Your Opinion

What do you think about these balls of fire?
Maybe God really did show her these weapons. I find this very fascinating. 64.3%
I favor the idea that the balls of fire are sent directly from God. 17.9%
She ate too much pizza the night before, and was having a nightmare, not a vision. 12.5%
Did the military ever offer Ellen White a job? Maybe they could have developed these weapons a little sooner. 5.4%
Total Votes: 112
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