Weekly Spirit of Prophecy Reading
Chapter 8—The Cities
The Original City Builders
Upon receiving the curse of God, Cain had withdrawn from his father's household. He had first chosen his occupation as a tiller of the soil, and he now founded a city, calling it after the name of his eldest son [Genesis 4:17]. He had gone out from the presence of the Lord, cast away the promise of the restored Eden, to seek his possessions and enjoyment in the earth under the curse of sin, thus standing at the head of that great class of men who worship the god of this world.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 81 (1890).
For a time the descendants of Noah continued to dwell among the mountains where the ark had rested. As their numbers increased, apostasy soon led to division. Those who desired to forget their Creator and to cast off the restraint of His law felt a constant annoyance from the teaching and example of their God-fearing associates, and after a time they decided to separate from the worshipers of God. Accordingly they journeyed to the plain of Shinar, on the banks of the river Euphrates....
Here they decided to build a city, and in it a tower of such stupendous height as should render it the wonder of the world [Genesis 11:2-4].—Patriarchs and Prophets, 118, 119 (1890).
The Cities Are Hotbeds of Vice
The pursuit of pleasure and amusement centers in the cities. Many parents who choose a city home for their children, thinking to give them greater advantages, meet with disappointment, and too late repent their terrible mistake. The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports—theater-going, horse-racing, gambling, liquor-drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by the popular current.—Christ's Object Lessons, 54 (1900).
Light has been given me that the cities will be filled with confusion, violence, and crime, and that these things will increase till the end of this earth's history.—Testimonies for the Church 7:84 (1902).
The world over, cities are becoming hotbeds of vice. On every hand are the sights and sounds of evil. Everywhere are enticements to sensuality and dissipation.—The Ministry of Healing, 363 (1905).
Judgments Coming on the Cities
Terrible shocks will come upon the earth, and the lordly palaces erected at great expense will certainly become heaps of ruins.—Manuscript Releases 3:312 (1891).
When God's restraining hand is removed, the destroyer begins his work. Then in our cities the greatest calamities will come.—Manuscript Releases 3:314 (1897).
The Lord gives warnings to the inhabitants of the earth, as in the Chicago fire and the fires in Melbourne, London, and the city of New York.—Manuscript 127, 1897.
The end is near and every city is to be turned upside down every way. There will be confusion in every city. Everything that can be shaken is to be shaken and we do not know what will come next. The judgments will be according to the wickedness of the people and the light of truth that they have had.—Manuscript Releases 1:248 (1902).
O that God's people had a sense of the impending destruction of thousands of cities, now almost given to idolatry.—Evangelism, 29 (1903).
The time is near when large cities will be swept away, and all should be warned of these coming judgments.—Evangelism, 29 (1910).
Catastrophe-proof Buildings Will Become Ashes
I have seen the most costly structures in buildings erected and supposed to be fireproof, and just as Sodom perished in the flames of God's vengeance so will these proud structures become ashes.... The flattering monuments of men's greatness will be crumbled in the dust even before the last great destruction comes upon the world.—Selected Messages 3:418 (1901).
God is withdrawing His Spirit from the wicked cities, which have become as the cities of the antediluvian world and as Sodom and Gomorrah.... Costly mansions, marvels of architectural skill, will be destroyed without a moment's notice when the Lord sees that the owners have passed the boundaries of forgiveness. The destruction by fire of the stately buildings, supposed to be fireproof, is an illustration of how in a short time earth's architecture will lie in ruins.—This Day With God, 152 (1902).
Men will continue to erect expensive buildings, costing millions of money. Special attention will be called to their architectural beauty and the firmness and solidity with which they are constructed, but the Lord has instructed me that despite the unusual firmness and expensive display, these buildings will share the fate of the temple in Jerusalem.—The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 5:1098 (1906).
New York City
God has not executed His wrath without mercy. His hand is stretched out still. His message must be given in Greater New York. The people must be shown how it is possible for God, by a touch of His hand, to destroy the property they have gathered together against the last great day.—Manuscript Releases 3:310, 311 (1902).
I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York, only that I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God's power.... Death will come in all places. This is why I am so anxious for our cities to be warned.
On one occasion, when in New York City, I was in the night season called upon to behold buildings rising story after story toward heaven. These buildings were warranted to be fireproof, and they were erected to glorify their owners and builders....
The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fireproof buildings and said: “They are perfectly safe.” But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch. The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines.—Testimonies for the Church 9:12, 13 (1909).
Chicago and Los Angeles
Scenes that would soon take place in Chicago and other large cities also passed before me. As wickedness increased and the protecting power of God was withdrawn there were destructive winds and tempests. Buildings were destroyed by fire and shaken down by earthquakes....
Some time after this I was shown that the vision of buildings in Chicago and the draft upon the means of our people to erect them, and their destruction, was an object lesson for our people, warning them not to invest largely of their means in property in Chicago, or any other city, unless the providence of God should positively open the way and plainly point out duty to build or buy as necessary in giving the note of warning. A similar caution was given in regard to building in Los Angeles. Repeatedly I have been instructed that we must not invest means in the erection of expensive buildings in cities.—The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 50 (1906).
San Francisco and Oakland
San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them. Not far hence they will suffer under His judgments.—Manuscript 30, 1903.
The terrible earthquake that has visited San Francisco [The San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 18-19, 1906, left 503 dead and resulted in an estimated $350 million in property damage.] will be followed by other manifestations of the power of God. His law has been transgressed. Cities have become polluted with sin. Study the history of Nineveh. God sent a special message by Jonah to that wicked city.... Many such messages as his would be given in our age, if the wicked cities would repent as did Nineveh.—Manuscript 61a, 1906 (June 3).
Even in the cities where the judgments of God have fallen in consequence of such transgression there is no sign of repentance. The saloons are still open, and many temptations are kept before the people.—Letter 268, 1906 (August 20).
Other Wicked Cities
As we near the close of this earth's history, we shall have the scenes of the San Francisco calamity repeated in other places.... These things make me feel very solemn because I know that the judgment day is right upon us. The judgments that have already come are a warning, but not the finishing, of the punishment that will come on wicked cities....
[Habakkuk 2:1-20; Zephaniah 1:1-3:20; Zechariah 1:1-4:14; Malachi 1:1-4, quoted.] These scenes will soon be witnessed, just as they are clearly described. I present these wonderful statements from the Scriptures for the consideration of everyone. The prophecies recorded in the Old Testament are the word of the Lord for the last days, and will be fulfilled as surely as we have seen the desolation of San Francisco.—Letter 154, 1906 (May 26).
I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood.—Evangelism, 27 (April 27, 1906).
All the warnings of Christ regarding the events that will occur near the close of this earth's history are now being fulfilled in our large cities. God is permitting these things to be brought to light that he who runs may read. The city of San Francisco is a sample of what the whole world is becoming. The wicked bribery, the misappropriation of means, the fraudulent transactions among men who have power to release the guilty and condemn the innocent—all this iniquity is filling other large cities of the earth and is making the world as it was in the days that were before the Flood.—Letter 230, 1907.
Labor Unions in the Cities
Satan is busily at work in our crowded cities. His work is to be seen in the confusion, the strife and discord between labor and capital, and the hypocrisy that has come into the churches.... The lust of the flesh, the pride of the eyes, the display of selfishness, the misuse of power, the cruelty and the force used to cause men to unite with confederacies and unions—binding themselves up in bundles for the burning of the great fires of the last days—all these are the working of satanic agencies.—Evangelism, 26 (1903).
The wicked are being bound up in bundles, bound up in trusts, in unions, in confederacies. Let us have nothing to do with these organizations. God is our Ruler, our Governor, and He calls us to come out from the world and be separate. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” [2 Corinthians 6:17]. If we refuse to do this, if we continue to link up with the world and to look at every matter from a worldly standpoint, we shall become like the world. When worldly policy and worldly ideas govern our transactions we cannot stand on the high and holy platform of eternal truth.—The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 4:1142 (1903).
Labor Unions a Source of Trouble for Adventists
The trades unions will be one of the agencies that will bring upon this earth a time of trouble such as has not been since the world began....
A few men will combine to grasp all the means to be obtained in certain lines of business. Trades unions will be formed, and those who refuse to join these unions will be marked men....
Because of these unions and confederacies, it will soon be very difficult for our institutions to carry on their work in the cities. My warning is: Keep out of the cities. Build no sanitariums in the cities.—Selected Messages 2:142 (1903).
The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive.—Selected Messages 2:141 (1904).
Many in the Cities Long for Light and Truth
Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God's indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy and will repent and be converted.—Evangelism, 27 (1906).
The spiritual darkness that covers the whole world is intensified in the crowded centers of population. It is in the cities of the nations that the gospel worker finds the greatest impenitence and the greatest need. And in these same cities are presented to soul-winners some of the greatest opportunities. Mingled with the multitudes who have no thought of God and heaven are many who long for light and for purity of heart. Even among the careless and indifferent there are not a few whose attention may be arrested by a revelation of God's love for the human soul.—The Review and Herald, November 17, 1910.
Earnest Effort Needed in the Cities
In preparation for the coming of our Lord, we are to do a large work in the great cities. We have a solemn testimony to bear in these great centers.—Words of Encouragement to Self-supporting Workers (Ph 113), 5 (1909).
The warning message for this time is not being given earnestly in the great business world. Day after day the centers of commerce and trade are thronged with men and women who need the truth for this time but who gain no saving knowledge of its precious principles because earnest, persevering efforts are not put forth to reach this class of people where they are.—Counsels to Writers and Editors, 14 (1909).
The third angel's message is now to be proclaimed, not only in far-off lands, but in neglected places close by, where multitudes dwell unwarned and unsaved. Our cities everywhere are calling for earnest, whole-hearted labor from the servants of God.—The Review and Herald, November 17, 1910.
Not All Can Leave the Cities Yet
Whenever possible, it is the duty of parents to make homes in the country for their children.—The Adventist Home, 141 (1906).
More and more, as time advances, our people will have to leave the cities. For years we have been instructed that our brethren and sisters, and especially families with children, should plan to leave the cities as the way opens before them to do so. Many will have to labor earnestly to help open the way. But until it is possible for them to leave, so long as they remain, they should be most active in doing missionary work, however limited their sphere of influence may be.—Selected Messages 2:360 (1906).
Our cities are increasing in wickedness, and it is becoming more and more evident that those who remain in them unnecessarily do so at the peril of their soul's salvation.—Country Living, 9 (1907).
Cities and towns are steeped in sin and moral corruption, yet there are Lots in every Sodom.—Testimonies for the Church 6:136 (1900).
Schools, Churches, Restaurants Needed in the Cities
Much more can be done to save and educate the children of those who at present cannot get away from the cities. This is a matter worthy of our best efforts. Church schools are to be established for the children in the cities, and in connection with these schools provision is to be made for the teaching of higher studies, where these are called for.—Child Guidance, 306 (1903).
Our restaurants must be in the cities, for otherwise the workers in these restaurants could not reach the people and teach them the principles of right living.—Selected Messages 2:142 (1903).
Repeatedly the Lord has instructed us that we are to work the cities from outpost centers. In these cities we are to have houses of worship, as memorials for God, but institutions for the publication of our literature, for the healing of the sick, and for the training of workers [colleges], are to be established outside the cities. Especially is it important that our youth be shielded from the temptations of city life.—Selected Messages 2:358 (1907).
Precipitous Moves to the Country Not Advised
Let everyone take time to consider carefully and not be like the man in the parable who began to build and was not able to finish. Not a move should be made but that movement and all that it portends are carefully considered—everything weighed....
There may be individuals who will make a rush to do something, and enter into some business they know nothing about. This God does not require....
Let there be nothing done in a disorderly manner, that there shall be a great loss or sacrifice made upon property because of ardent, impulsive speeches which stir up an enthusiasm which is not after the order of God, that a victory that was essential to be gained, shall, for lack of level-headed moderation and proper contemplation and sound principles and purposes, be turned into a defeat.—Selected Messages 2:362, 363 (1893). [Written December 22, 1893, in reply to a letter from a leading worker in Battle Creek who had informed Mrs. White that, in response to her urging, “between one and two hundred” were preparing to leave the city for a rural location “as soon as possible.” See Selected Messages 2:361-364.]
The Signal for Flight From the Cities
The time is not far distant when, like the early disciples, we shall be forced to seek a refuge in desolate and solitary places. As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation, in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath, will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains.—Testimonies for the Church 5:464, 465 (1885).
Some Righteous Still in the Cities After the Death Decree Has Been Passed
In the time of trouble we all fled from the cities and villages but were pursued by the wicked, who entered the houses of the saints with a sword.—Early Writings, 34 (1851).
As the saints left the cities and villages they were pursued by the wicked, who sought to slay them. But the swords that were raised to kill God's people broke and fell as powerless as a straw. Angels of God shielded the saints.—Early Writings, 284, 285 (1858).
Though a general decree has fixed the time when commandment-keepers may be put to death, their enemies will in some cases anticipate the decree, and before the time specified will endeavor to take their lives. But none can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul. Some are assailed in their flight from the cities and villages, but the swords raised against them break and fall as powerless as a straw. Others are defended by angels in the form of men of war.—The Great Controversy, 631 (1911).
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