Ministry to the Cities

3/19

Chapter 1—Lessons From Scripture Regarding City Evangelism

(The Old Testament)

THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD—ENOCH

Earliest Example of City Evangelism.—Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in ... any city polluted with ... violence and wickedness.—Manuscript 94, 1903 (Evangelism, 78). MTC 11.1

Enoch Did Not Live With the Wicked.—He [Enoch] did not make his abode with the wicked. ... He placed himself and his family where the atmosphere would be as pure as possible. Then at times he went forth to the inhabitants of the world with his God- given message. ... After proclaiming his message, he always took back with him to his place of retirement some who had received the warning.—Manuscript 42, 1900 (Maranatha, 184). MTC 11.2

Enoch's Methods Will Become Our Methods.—Wise plans are to be laid, in order that ... work may be done to the best possible advantage. More and more, as wickedness increases in the great cities, we shall have to work them from outpost centers. This is the way Enoch labored in the days before the flood, when wickedness was rife in every populous community, and when violence was in the land.—The Review and Herald, September 27, 1906. MTC 11.3

SODOM

Love for Souls Motivated Abraham's Prayer.—Though Lot had become a dweller in Sodom, he did not partake in the iniquity of its inhabitants. Abraham thought that in that populous city there must be other worshipers of the true God. And in view of this he pleaded, “That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: ... that be far from Thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Abraham asked not once merely, but many times. Waxing bolder as his requests were granted, he continued until he gained the assurance that if even ten righteous persons could be found in it, the city would be spared. MTC 11.4

Love for perishing souls inspired Abraham's prayer. While he loathed the sins of that corrupt city, he desired that the sinners might be saved. His deep interest for Sodom shows the anxiety that we should feel for the impenitent. We should cherish hatred of sin, but pity and love for the sinner. All around us are souls going down to ruin as hopeless, as terrible, as that which befell Sodom. Every day the probation of some is closing. Every hour some are passing beyond the reach of mercy. And where are the voices of warning and entreaty to bid the sinner flee from this fearful doom? Where are the hands stretched out to draw him back from death? Where are those who with humility and persevering faith are pleading with God for him?—Patriarchs and Prophets, 139, 140. (1890) MTC 12.1

Christians Can Greatly Impact Cities.—If God would have saved Sodom for the sake of ten righteous persons, what would be the influence for good that might go out as the result of the faithfulness of the people of God if every one who professed the name of Christ were also clothed with His righteousness?—Signs of the Times, May 2, 1895 (In Heavenly Places, 104). MTC 12.2

NINEVEH

Many Will Respond to God's Call.—Nineveh, wicked though it had become, was not wholly given over to evil. He who “beholdeth all the sons of men” (Psalm 33:13) and “seeth every previous thing” (Job 28:10) perceived in that city many who were reaching out after something better and higher, and who, if granted opportunity to learn of the living God, would put away their evil deeds and worship Him. And so in His wisdom God revealed Himself to them in an unmistakable manner, to lead them, if possible, to repentance. MTC 12.3

The instrument chosen for this work was the prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai. To him came the word of the Lord, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:1, 2). ... MTC 13.1

As Jonah entered the city, he began at once to “cry against” it the message, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). From street to street he went, sounding the note of warning. MTC 13.2

The message was not in vain. The cry that rang through the streets of the godless city was passed from lip to lip until all the inhabitants had heard the startling announcement. The Spirit of God pressed the message home to every heart and caused multitudes to tremble because of their sins and to repent in deep humiliation.—Prophets and Kings, 265-270. (1917) MTC 13.3

JERUSALEM—KING JOSIAH's REVIVAL

Impact of Leaders Not to Be Underestimated.—The king [Josiah] must leave with God the events of the future; he could not alter the eternal decrees of Jehovah. But in announcing the retributive judgments of Heaven, the Lord had not withdrawn opportunity for repentance and reformation; and Josiah, discerning in this a willingness on the part of God to temper His judgments with mercy, determined to do all in his power to bring about decided reforms. He arranged at once for a great convocation, to which were invited the elders and magistrates in Jerusalem and Judah, together with the common people. These, with the priests and Levites, met the king in the court of the temple. MTC 13.4

To this vast assembly the king himself read “all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:2). The royal reader was deeply affected, and he delivered his message with the pathos of a broken heart. His hearers were profoundly moved. The intensity of feeling revealed in the countenance of the king, the solemnity of the message itself, the warning of judgments impending—all these had their effect, and many determined to join with the king in seeking forgiveness. MTC 13.5

Josiah now proposed that those highest in authority unite with the people in solemnly covenanting before God to cooperate with one another in an effort to institute decided changes. “The king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book.” The response was more hearty than the king had dared hope for: “All the people stood to the covenant” (verse 3). MTC 14.1

In the reformation that followed, the king turned his attention to the destruction of every vestige of idolatry. ... So long had the inhabitants of the land followed ... the surrounding nations in bowing down to images of wood and stone, that it seemed almost beyond the power of man to remove every trace of these evils. But Josiah persevered in his effort to cleanse the land. Sternly he met idolatry by slaying “all the priests of the high places”; “moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord” (verses 20, 24).—Prophets and Kings, 400, 401. (1917) MTC 14.2