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    Chapter 3—Challenges of the City

    Satan's Work Readily Evident in 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. That men may not take time to meditate, Satan leads them into a round of gaiety*Nineteenth-century definition: merrymaking, festivity. and pleasure-seeking, of eating and drinking. He fills them with ambition to make an exhibition that will exalt self. Step by step, the world is reaching the conditions that existed in the days of Noah. Every conceivable crime is committed. 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. This round of crime and folly men call “life.” ...MTC 33.1

    The world, who act as though there were no God, absorbed in selfish pursuits, will soon experience sudden destruction, and shall not escape. Many continue in the careless gratification of self until they become so disgusted with life that they kill themselves. Dancing and carousing, drinking and smoking, indulging their animal passions, they go as an ox to the slaughter. Satan is working with all his art and enchantments to keep men marching blindly onward until the Lord arises out of His place to punish the inhabitants of earth for their iniquities, when the earth shall disclose her blood and no more cover her slain. The whole world appears to be in the march to death.—Manuscript 139, 1903 (Evangelism, 26).MTC 33.2

    Satanic Agencies Organize Opposition to God's Law.—Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave His place of intercession before the mercy seat and shall put on the garments of vengeance. Satanic agencies are in every city, busily organizing into parties those opposed to the law of God. Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties. This is no time for the people of God to be weaklings. We cannot afford to be off our guard for one moment.—Testimonies For The Church 8:42. (1904)MTC 34.1

    Conflict Between Good and Evil Will Last as Long as Time Lasts.—Terrible is the struggle that takes place between the forces of good and of evil in important centers where the messengers of truth are called upon to labor. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood,” declares Paul, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). Till the close of time there will be a conflict between the church of God and those who are under the control of evil angels.—The Acts of the Apostles, 219. (1911)MTC 34.2

    Satanic Agencies Increase Difficulty of Working the Cities.—We do not realize the extent to which satanic agencies are at work in these large cities. The work of bringing the message of present truth before the people is becoming more and more difficult. It is essential that new and varied talents unite in intelligent labor for the people.—Letter 168, 1909 (Medical Ministry, 300).MTC 34.3


    People Created for Heaven's Atmosphere.—Men were not created to be subject to poverty, disease, and suffering, not for thoughtless inattention to their physical and spiritual wants, but for dignity, purity, and elevation of character in this life, and for joy unspeakable and full of glory in the future immortal life. The mercies of God are distributed and diversified throughout the earth; and if man would be obedient to nature's laws there would not be a tithe of the misery which now exists. Health and life are imperiled by the indulgence of appetite. Our woes more frequently spring from the improvident use of the abundance than from scarcity. Young men in our cities and towns are surrounded with temptations to indulge in perverted appetite. Vice is gilded over; like apples of Sodom, it appears beautiful without, but is ashes within.—Forest Park Reporter, March 30, 1879.MTC 34.4

    Plight of Poor Requires Urgent Assistance.—In the great cities are multitudes who receive less care and consideration than are given to dumb animals. Think of the families herded together in miserable tenements, many of them dark basements, reeking with dampness and filth. In these wretched places children are born and grow up and die. They see nothing of the beauty of natural things that God has created to delight the senses and uplift the soul. Ragged and half-starved, they live amid vice and depravity, molded in character by the wretchedness and sin that surround them. Children hear the name of God only in profanity. Foul speech, imprecations, and revilings fill their ears. The fumes of liquor and tobacco, sickening stenches, moral degradation, pervert their senses. Thus multitudes are trained to become criminals, foes to society that has abandoned them to misery and degradation.MTC 35.1

    Not all the poor in the city slums are of this class. God-fearing men and women have been brought to the depths of poverty by illness or misfortune, often through the dishonest scheming of those who live by preying upon their fellows. Many who are upright and well-meaning become poor through lack of industrial training. Through ignorance they are unfitted to wrestle with the difficulties of life. Drifting into the cities, they are often unable to find employment. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of vice, they are subjected to terrible temptation. Herded and often classed with the vicious and degraded, it is only by a superhuman struggle, a more than finite power, that they can be preserved from sinking to the same depths. Many hold fast their integrity, choosing to suffer rather than to sin. This class especially demand help, sympathy, and encouragement.—The Ministry of Healing, 189, 190. (1905)MTC 35.2

    Poor Often Know Not Where to Turn for Relief.—There are multitudes struggling with poverty, compelled to labor hard for small wages, unable to secure the barest necessities of life. Toil and deprivation, with no hope of better things, make their burden heavy. When pain and sickness are added, the burden is almost unbearable. Care-worn and oppressed, they know not where to turn for relief.—Testimonies For The Church 9:90. (1909)MTC 36.1


    Rich Become Wealthy by Oppressing Others.—The enemy has succeeded in perverting justice and in filling men's hearts with the desire for selfish gain. “Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14). In the great cities there are multitudes living in poverty and wretchedness, well nigh destitute of food, shelter, and clothing; while in the same cities are those who have more than heart could wish, who live luxuriously, spending their money on richly furnished houses, on personal adornment, or worse still, upon the gratification of sensual appetites, upon liquor, tobacco, and other things that destroy the powers of the brain, unbalance the mind, and debase the soul. The cries of starving humanity are coming up before God, while by every species of oppression and extortion men are piling up colossal fortunes.—Testimonies For The Church 9:11, 12. (1909)MTC 36.2

    God Forbids Enriching Self Through Exploitation of Poor.—God's word sanctions no policy that will enrich one class by the oppression and suffering of another. In all our business transactions it teaches us to put ourselves in the place of those with whom we are dealing, to look not only on our own things, but also on the things of others. He who would take advantage of another's misfortunes in order to benefit himself, or who seeks to profit himself through another's weakness or incompetence, is a transgressor both of the principles and of the precepts of the word of God.—The Ministry of Healing, 187. (1905)MTC 36.3

    Sabbatical Year and Jubilee Promoted Social Equality.—The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren.MTC 37.1

    The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 534. (1890)MTC 37.2


    Compassionate Help the Poor.—There are largehearted men and women who are anxiously considering the condition of the poor and what means can be found for their relief. How the unemployed and the homeless can be helped to secure the common blessings of God's providence and to live the life He intended man to live is a question to which many are earnestly endeavoring to find an answer. But there are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are unable to solve the problem of poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis.—The Ministry of Healing, 183. (1905)MTC 37.3


    Unions Contribute to Increasing Difficulties in Cities.—Through the working of trusts, and the results of labor unions and strikes, the conditions of life in the city are constantly becoming more and more difficult. Serious troubles are before us; and for many families removal from the cities will become a necessity.—The Ministry of Healing, 364. (1905)MTC 38.1

    Workers Endangered From Unions.—In all our great cities there will be a binding up in bundles by the confederacies and unions formed. Man will rule other men and demand much of them. The lives of those who refuse to unite with these unions will be in peril. Everything is being prepared for the last great work to be done by the One mighty to save and mighty to destroy.—Manuscript 145, 1902 (Manuscript Releases 3:42).MTC 38.2

    Union Membership Prevents Keeping the Decalogue.—These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.—Letter 26, 1903 (Maranatha, 182).MTC 38.3

    Among Satan's Final Efforts Is Formation of Unions.—The forming of these unions is one of Satan's last efforts. God calls upon His people to get out of the cities, isolating themselves from the world. The time will come when they will have to do this. God will care for those who love Him and keep His commandments.—Letter 26, 1903 (Manuscript Releases 3:43).MTC 38.4


    Resources Wasted on Worthless Amusements.—Life in the cities is false and artificial. The intense passion for money getting, the whirl of excitement and pleasure seeking, the thirst for display, the luxury and extravagance, all are forces that, with the great masses of mankind, are turning the mind from life's true purpose. They are opening the door to a thousand evils. Upon the youth they have almost irresistible power.MTC 39.1

    One of the most subtle and dangerous temptations that assail the children and youth in the cities is the love of pleasure. Holidays are numerous; games and horse racing draw thousands, and the whirl of excitement and pleasure attracts them away from the sober duties of life. Money that should have been saved for better uses is frittered away for amusements.—The Ministry of Healing, 364. (1905)MTC 39.2

    Cities Becoming Like Sodom and Gomorrah.—The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports—theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor-drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety*Nineteenth-century definition: merrymaking, festivity. and thoughtless mirth, and their intercourseNineteenth-century definition: communication, interaction. with pleasure lovers has an intoxicating effect upon the mind. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.—Christ's Object Lessons, 54, 55. (1900)MTC 39.3

    Freedom of Individual Action Not Respected.—The very atmosphere of these cities is full of poisonous malaria. The freedom of individual action is not respected; a man's time is not regarded as really his own; he is expected to do as others do. ...MTC 40.1

    The devotion to amusements and the observance of so many holidays give a large business to the courts, to officers and judges, and increase the poverty and squalor that need no increasing.—Special Testimonies On Education, 88. (1897)MTC 40.2

    Unsupervised Children Form Hurtful Associations.—Parents flock with their families to the cities because they fancy it easier to obtain a livelihood there than in the country. The children, having nothing to do when not in school, obtain a street education. From evil associates they acquire habits of vice and dissipation. The parents see all this; but it will require a sacrifice to correct their error, and they stay where they are until Satan gains full control of their children.—Testimonies For The Church 5:232. (1882)MTC 40.3


    Pollution Often Imperils Health.—The physical surroundings in the cities are often a peril to health. The constant liability to contact with disease, the prevalence of foul air, impure water, impure food, the crowded, dark, unhealthful dwellings, are some of the many evils to be met. It was not God's purpose that people should be crowded into cities, huddled together in terraces and tenements.—The Ministry of Healing, 365. (1905)MTC 40.4

    City Environment Compounds Health Problems for Sick.—The noise and excitement and confusion of the cities, their constrained and artificial life, are most wearisome and exhausting to the sick. The air, laden with smoke and dust, with poisonous gases, and with germs of disease, is a peril to life. The sick, for the most part shut within four walls, come almost to feel as if they were prisoners in their rooms. They look out on houses and pavements and hurrying crowds, with perhaps not even a glimpse of blue sky or sunshine, of grass or flower or tree. Shut up in this way, they brood over their suffering and sorrow, and become a prey to their own sad thoughts.MTC 40.5

    And for those who are weak in moral power, the cities abound in dangers. In them, patients who have unnatural appetites to overcome are continually exposed to temptation. They need to be placed amid new surroundings where the current of their thoughts will be changed; they need to be placed under influences wholly different from those that have wrecked their lives. Let them for a season be removed from those influences that lead away from God, into a purer atmosphere.—The Ministry of Healing, 262, 263. (1905)MTC 41.1


    An “Epidemic of Crime” Exists Everywhere.—We are living in the midst of an “epidemic of crime,” at which thoughtful, God-fearing men everywhere stand aghast. The corruption that prevails, it is beyond the power of the human pen to describe. Every day brings fresh revelations of political strife, bribery, and fraud. Every day brings its heart-sickening record of violence and lawlessness, of indifference to human suffering, of brutal, fiendish destruction of human life. Every day testifies to the increase of insanity, murder, and suicide. Who can doubt that satanic agencies are at work among men with increasing activity to distract and corrupt the mind, and defile and destroy the body?MTC 41.2

    And while the world is filled with these evils, the gospel is too often presented in so indifferent a manner as to make but little impression upon the consciences or the lives of men. Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not.—The Ministry of Healing, 142, 143. (1905)MTC 41.3

    Cities Worldwide Full of Crime.—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 tide of corruption and crime is continually swelling. Every day brings the record of violence—robberies, murders, suicides, and crimes unnamable.—The Ministry of Healing, 363. (1905)MTC 42.1

    Increased Crime Results From Rejection of God.—There is coming rapidly and surely an almost universal guilt upon the inhabitants of the cities, because of the steady increase of determined wickedness. ...MTC 42.2

    From age to age Satan has sought to keep men in ignorance of the beneficent designs of Jehovah. He has endeavored to remove from their sight the great things of God's law—the principles of justice, mercy, and love therein set forth. Men boast of the wonderful progress and enlightenment of the age in which we are now living; but God sees the earth filled with iniquity and violence. Men declare that the law of God has been abrogated, that the Bible is not authentic; and as a result, a tide of evil, such as has not been seen since the days of Noah and of apostate Israel, is sweeping over the world. Nobility of soul, gentleness, piety, are bartered away to gratify the lust for forbidden things. The black record of crime committed for the sake of gain is enough to chill the blood and fill the soul with horror.MTC 42.3

    Our God is a God of mercy. With long-sufferance and tender compassion He deals with the transgressors of His law. And yet, in this our day, when men and women have so many opportunities for becoming familiar with the divine law as revealed in Holy Writ, the great Ruler of the universe cannot behold with any satisfaction the wicked cities, where reign violence and crime. The end of God's forbearance with those who persist in disobedience is approaching rapidly.—Prophets and Kings, 275, 276. (1917)MTC 42.4

    Crime in Cities Continually Increasing.—The youth of our cities breathe in the tainted, polluted atmosphere of crime. The evil influence is then communicated to the country, and the whole community becomes contaminated. The rulers are not men of moral worth, but men who are well supplied with this world's goods, and they have neither the desire nor the inclination to check the growth of this root of bitterness which is increasing year by year, and is fostered and fed by just such publications as are now being sold everywhere, and by such stories and descriptions of criminal practices as are found in the papers of the day.—Manuscript 13, 1895 (Manuscript Releases 10:226).MTC 42.5

    God Looks With Tenderness Upon Youthful Evildoers.—They see them*[Adults and other youth see youthful evildoers as] “enfeebled, dilapidated, without moral force.” enfeebled, dilapidated, without moral force, moral wrecks to communicate their evil practices to others. Parents’ hearts are broken. Brothers and sisters and relatives speak of these poor souls as hopeless, but God looks upon them with ... sorrow and tenderness. He understands all the circumstances which have led them into temptation, which have separated them from God. How can the youth of this generation escape the terrible dishonor of wasting their inheritance given them of God, selling their birthright as did Esau ..., betraying sacred interests entrusted to them for the blessing of humanity? They indulge in intemperate appetites and through greed to obtain money fall into dishonest practices.MTC 43.1

    These poor souls need to be brought into connection with high, pure, Bible principles. But first the restoration work must commence in giving them healthful food, and furnishing them facilities for clean bodies and clean clothing, and some sparks of gratitude will begin to flash forth.—Manuscript 14a, 1897.MTC 43.2


    Lawbreaking Brings God's Judgments.—While at Loma Linda, California, April 16, 1906, there passed before me a most wonderful representation. During a vision of the night, I stood on an eminence, from which I could see houses shaken like a reed in the wind. Buildings, great and small, were falling to the ground. Pleasure resorts, theaters, hotels, and the homes of the wealthy were shaken and shattered. Many lives were blotted out of existence, and the air was filled with the shrieks of the injured and the terrified.MTC 43.3

    The destroying angels of God were at work. One touch, and buildings, so thoroughly constructed that men regarded them as secure against every danger, quickly became heaps of rubbish. There was no assurance of safety in any place. I did not feel in any special peril, but the awfulness of the scenes that passed before me I cannot find words to describe. It seemed that the forbearance of God was exhausted and that the judgment day had come.MTC 44.1

    The angel that stood at my side then instructed me that but few have any conception of the wickedness existing in our world today, and especially the wickedness in the large cities. He declared that the Lord has appointed a time when He will visit transgressors in wrath for persistent disregard of His law.MTC 44.2

    Terrible as was the representation that passed before me, that which impressed itself most vividly upon my mind was the instruction given in connection with it. The angel that stood by my side declared that God's supreme rulership and the sacredness of His law must be revealed to those who persistently refused to render obedience to the King of kings. Those who choose to remain disloyal must be visited in mercy with judgments, in order that, if possible, they may be aroused to a realization of the sinfulness of their course.—Testimonies For The Church 9:92, 93. (1909)MTC 44.3

    Wickedness Not Restricted to Any Specific City.—Consider the city of San Francisco. What was it that brought the judgments of God upon that city? We read the answer in the revelations that have been made of corruption in those who stood in high office. Corruption and drunkenness and robbery are discovered on every hand. And this condition of wickedness is not in San Francisco alone. We who have the truth understand the meaning of these conditions and events.MTC 44.4

    We are living in the last evening of this earth's history. Is it not time that every soul place himself in right relation to God to act an individual part for the upbuilding of the kingdom of Christ?—Manuscript 73, 1909 (Sermons and Talks 2:314, 315).MTC 45.1


    Startling Claims Not to Be Made.—“Not many years ago, a brother laboring in New York City published some very startling notices regarding the destruction of that city. I wrote immediately to the ones in charge of the work there, saying that it was not wise to publish such notices; that thus an excitement might be aroused which would result in a fanatical movement, hurting the cause of God. It is enough to present the truth of the word of God to the people. Startling notices are detrimental to the progress of the work.” ...MTC 45.2

    “Now comes the word that I have declared that New York is to be swept away by a tidal wave. This I have never said. I have said, as I looked at the great buildings going up there, story after story: ‘What terrible scenes will take place when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Then the words of Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled.’ The whole of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is a warning of what is coming on the earth. But I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York, only I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God's power. From the light given me, I know that destruction is in the world. One word from the Lord, one touch of His mighty power, and these massive structures will fall. Scenes will take place the fearfulness of which we cannot imagine.” ...MTC 45.3

    “There are many with whom the Spirit of God is striving. The time of God's destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart of mercy is touched; His hand is still stretched out to save.” ...MTC 45.4

    “When I was last in New York, 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 the owners. Higher and still higher these buildings rose, and in them the most costly material was used. ...MTC 46.1

    “As these lofty buildings went up, the owners rejoiced with ambitious pride that they had money to use in glorifying self. ... Much of the money that they thus invested had been obtained through exaction, through grinding the faces of the poor. In the books of heaven, an account of every business transaction is kept. There every unjust deal, every fraudulent act, is recorded. The time is coming when in their fraud and insolence men will reach a point that the Lord will not permit them to pass, and they will learn that there is a limit to the forbearance of Jehovah.MTC 46.2

    “The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at 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.MTC 46.3

    “I am instructed that when the Lord's time comes, should no change have taken place in the hearts of proud, ambitious human beings, men will find that the hand that has been strong to save will be strong to destroy. No earthly power can stay the hand of God. No material can be used in the erection of buildings that will preserve them from destruction when God's appointed time comes to send retribution on men for their insolence and their disregard of His law.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 411-414. (1915; extracts from 1903, 1904, 1906)MTC 46.4

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