Interview

Sunday Laws and Leaving the Cities

The Editor in imagination interviews Ellen G. White. . .

-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

Mrs. White, as you view today's events in the light of what you have been shown about last-day events, what is the next major landmark on the prophetic scene?

"A great crisis awaits the people of God. A crisis awaits the world." 1

"The first day of the week . . . will be set up as was the image at Babylon. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath. This is Satan's plan to make of no account the day instituted by God." 2

How will this actually take place in our country? Where will the pressure for Sunday legislation come from?

"The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators . . . will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance." 3

"If the people can be led to favor a Sunday law, then the clergy intend to exert their united influence to obtain a religious amendment to the Constitution, and compel the nation to keep Sunday." 4

Prophecy represents Protestantism as having lamblike horns, but speaking as a dragon. Does this mean that Satan is involved in the movement to bring about Sunday legislation?

"There is a satanic force propelling the Sunday movement, but it is concealed. Even the men who are engaged in the work, are themselves blinded to the results which will follow their movement." 5

God's special blessing seems to have been placed upon North America as a result of the establishment of religious liberty here, but what will happen in the United States after Sunday legislation is put into effect?

"The people of the United States have been a favored people; but when they restrict religious liberty, surrender Protestantism, and give countenance to popery, the measure of their guilt will be full, and 'national apostasy' will be registered in the books of heaven." 6

"When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be fol lowed by national ruin." 7

Will national Sunday laws in the United States follow or precede the close of probation?

"The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God. . . . This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed." 8

"When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.

"As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God's forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation's iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return." 9

"The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided." 10

How should God's people who live in the cities react as they see evidences that national Sunday laws may soon be enacted? Should we now begin to definitely plan to move out of the cities? What obligation do we have as far as means with which we have been entrusted are concerned?

"A crisis is soon to come in regard to the observance of Sunday. . . .

"The Sunday party is strengthening itself in its false claims, and this will mean oppression to those who determine to keep the Sabbath of the Lord. . . .

"If in the providence of God we can secure places away from the cities, the Lord would have us do this. There are troublous times before us. ...

"I see the necessity of the people of God moving out of the cities into retired country [places], where they may cultivate the land and raise their own produce. Thus they may bring their children up with simple, healthful habits. I see the necessity of making haste to get all things ready for the crisis."11

"It is no time now for God's people to be fixing their affections or laying up their treasure in the world. 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 re tired homes in secluded places among the mountains. And now, instead of seeking expensive dwellings here, we should be preparing to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Instead of spending our means in self-gratification, we should be studying to economize." 12

That's very clear and plain. Are there other reasons that you have been shown why now is the time for us to especially begin to take seriously the instruction God has given you over the years about leaving the cities?

"In harmony with the light given me, I am urging people to come out from the great centers of population. Our cities are in creasing 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." 13

"The time is near when the large cities will be visited by the judgments of God. In a little while, these cities will be terribly shaken. No matter how large or how strong their buildings, no matter how many safeguards against fire may have been provided, let God touch these buildings, and in a few minutes or a few hours they are in ruins. . . ." 14

"The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive. Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again." 15

But, shouldn't we keep some work in the cities, and even if conditions get very difficult, can't we leave anytime we want to in the future?

"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. And for the present we shall have to occupy meetinghouses in the cities. But erelong there will be such strife and confusion in the cities, that those who wish to leave them will not be able." 16

We certainly appreciate the very valuable insights you have given us. Do you have a final word of counsel for us on this matter?

"We as a people have not accomplished the work which God has committed to us. We are not ready for the issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. It is our duty, as we see the signs of approaching peril, to arouse to action. Let none sit in calm expectation of the evil, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter His people. We are not doing the will of God if we sit in quietude, doing nothing to preserve liberty of conscience." 17

"God calls upon us to awake, for the end is near. Every passing hour is one of activity in the heavenly courts to make ready a people upon the earth to act a part in the great scenes that are soon to open upon us. These passing moments, that seem of so little value to us, are weighty with eternal interests. . . .

"My brethren, do you realize that your own salvation, as well as the destiny of other souls, depends upon the preparation you now make for the trial before us? Have you that intensity of zeal, that piety and devotion, which will enable you to stand when opposition shall be brought against you? If God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when you will be brought before councils, and every position of truth which you hold will be severely criticized. The time that so many are now allowing to go to waste should be devoted to the charge that God has given us of preparing for the approaching crisis." 18

You have certainly given us a lot to think about. Thank you very much. We hope that our workers everywhere will take your counsel to heart and begin to do some thing about it. Certainly, the least we can do is to alert our membership to the meaning of the terrible crisis in which we now find ourselves.


FOOTNOTES

1. Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 711.

2. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 13:16, 17, p. 976.

3. The Great Controversy, p. 592. (See also The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 410.)

4. Review and Herald (Extra), Dec. 24, 1889, p. 2.

5. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 13:11, p. 975.

6. Review and Herald, May 2, 1893, p. 274.

7. The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 13:16,17, p. 977.

8. Ibid., on verses 14-17, p. 976.

9. Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451.

10. Selected Messages, book 2, p. 81.

11. Country Living, pp. 20, 21.

12. Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 464, 465.

13. Country Living, p. 9.

14. Ibid., pp. 7, 8.

15. Ibid., pp. 9, 10.

16. Ibid., p. 11.

17. Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 713, 714.

18. Ibid., pp. 716, 717.


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-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

January 1974

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