Every purpose under heaven has a season or designated time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). The time in which we are living is no exception, and the purpose of the church today is to proclaim the hour or time of God’s judgment. “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” Revelation 14:7.
Notice the message; judgment is come. This is the time in which we are living and the ultimate purpose for which we now live. Friends, we are the remnant people of God and we must never forget that we are living in the time of God’s final judgment. The books containing our life records are now under investigation. Paul has warned us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” II Corinthians 5:10. With the above truths in mind, are you ordering your life so as to be found without a spot in your character before the judgment seat of Christ?
In light of the fact that we are subject to judgment, how are we spending our time and where is our focus aimed? In Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 191, Inspiration says, “Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God—candidates for heaven.” (Emphasis added.) According to this statement, it is time to prepare characters that God can seal for eternity.
Addressing parents, and more specifically fathers, we read, “The father’s duty to his children should be one of his first interests. … If the father would have his children develop harmonious characters, and be an honor to him and a blessing to the world, he has a special work to do. …
“The father is the highest priest of the family. … The care of his children from their infancy should be his first consideration; for it is for their present and eternal good that they develop right characters.” Reflecting Christ, 174, 179. One more quotation to add emphasis: “Parents should neglect no duty on their part to benefit their children. They should so train them that they may be a blessing to society here and may reap the reward of eternal life hereafter.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 429.
Parents, do you want to benefit your children? Do you want them to develop right, harmonious characters? How important is this to you? It is so important that, if you fail here, the final judgment will be more dangerous for you. Commenting on Jeremiah 13:20, Inspiration says, “Parents who have neglected their God-given responsibilities must meet that neglect in the judgment. The Lord will then inquire, ‘Where are the children that I gave you to train for Me? Why are they not at My right hand?’ …
“Parents, if you lose your opportunity, God pity you; for in the day of judgment God will say, ‘What have you done with My flock, My beautiful flock?’ ” Child Guidance, 561.
With this in mind, I will now ask where can parents or guardians secure the best advantages in the development of their children’s characters?
In Fundamentals of Christian Education, 326, we read: “Those who will take their families into the country, place them where they have fewer temptations. The children who are with parents that love and fear God, are in every way much better situated to learn of the Great Teacher, who is the source and fountain of wisdom. They have a much more favorable opportunity to gain a fitness for the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice that it is in the country that parents can secure the best advantages in the development of their children’s characters. With that in mind, where can parents secure the best disadvantages in the development of their children’s characters? This may sound ironic, but there are many parents who consciously or unconsciously disadvantage their children by dwelling in a certain environment.
“Send the children to schools located in the city, where every phase of temptation is waiting to attract and demoralize them, and the work of character building is tenfold harder for both parents and children.” (Emphasis added.) Ibid. Do you see the picture? Apparently, there are advantages to country living and disadvantages to city living. Brothers and sisters, remember that we are in the hour of God’s final judgment, and today God is saying, “Come out of the cities my people and be separate.”
From the beginning, God never desired that His people should huddle into cities. In fact, the first record we have of a city shows that it was built by a rebel murderer. “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” Genesis 4:17. We know that Cain was of the wicked one. So, the first city that we hear of was built by him who was under the inspiration of Satan.
“It was not God’s purpose that people should be crowded into cities, huddled together in terraces and tenements. In the beginning He placed our first parents amidst the beautiful sights and sounds He desires us to rejoice in today. The more nearly we come into harmony with God’s original plan, the more favorable will be our position to secure health of body, and mind, and soul.” The Ministry of Healing, 365.
“He wants us to live where we can have elbow room. His people are not to crowd into the cities. He wants them to take their families out of the cities, that they may better prepare for eternal life.” Country Living, 17. Friends, God is calling His people out of the cities. “Come out my people,” says the Lord.
Now someone may ask, “What is involved in coming out of the cities?” First of all, you must hear God’s call. Paul writes, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 6:17–7:1.
Here we are exhorted to come out from among the wicked. We are told to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit in order to perfect holiness. Does this involve an exodus from the cities? Is this a call to come out from among the unclean, demoralized cities? What follows in this study is a series of commonly asked questions and answers about country living.
What attracts many people to the cities?
- “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.” Country Living, 6.
- “Parents flock with their families to the cities, because they fancy it easier to obtain a livelihood there than in the country.” Ibid., 5.
This last statement is one of vital importance. Many parents sacrifice their children at the altar of career or worldly wealth. It is a mistake to trade the children’s eternal life for the sake of temporal gains.
Why should God’s people come out of the cities?
- “The children, having nothing to do when not in school, obtain a street education. From evil associates, they acquire habits of vice and dissipation.” Ibid.
- “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. … Every day brings the record of violence—robberies, murders, suicides, and crimes unnamable.” Ibid., 5, 6.
- “Believers who are now living in the cities will have to move to the country, that they may save their children from ruin.” Ibid., 19.
What are some negative effects of living in the city?
- “The physical surroundings in the cities are often a peril to health.” Ibid., 6.
- Not only does Inspiration reveal the ill-effects of city living, but science also proves Inspiration to be true. Brandon Keim, a correspondent for Wired Science gives the following analysis: “Compared to their rural counterparts, city dwellers have higher levels of anxiety and mood disorders. The schizophrenia risk of people raised in cities is almost double. … Too much stress may ultimately alter the brain, leaving it ill-equipped to handle further stress and prone to mental illness.” www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/city-brains/.
- Alok Jha, a science correspondent for The Guardian says, “The brains of people living in cities operate differently from those in rural areas, according to a brain-scanning study. … Previous research has shown that people living in cities have a 21 percent increased risk of anxiety disorders and a 39 percent increased risk of mood disorders. … Meyer-Lindenberg said that social fragmentation, noise or over-crowding might all be factors.” www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/22/city-living-afffects-brain.
What are some positive effects of living in the country?
- “Take your children away from the sights and sounds of the city, away from the rattle and din of streetcars and teams, and their minds will become more healthy.” Country Living, 13.
- “They should have a garden to cultivate, where they might find both amusement and useful employment. The training of plants and flowers tends to the improvement of taste and judgment, while an acquaintance with God’s useful and beautiful creations has a refining and ennobling influence upon the mind, referring it to the Maker and Master of all.” Ibid., 16.
When should God’s people come out of the cities?
- “Whenever possible, it is the duty of parents to make homes in the country for their children.” Ibid., 12.
- “Get out of the large cities as fast as possible.” Ibid. Although we are told to leave the cities as fast as possible, we are also to use reason and not be rash in our movement. The following quotations bring a balance to our judgment:
- “The time has come, when, as God opens the way, families should move out of the cities. The children should be taken into the country.” Ibid., 24.
- “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.” Ibid., 26.
What institutions are we to have in the cities?
- “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.” Ibid., 11.
- “In these cities we are to have houses of worship, as memorials for God. ” Ibid., 31. According to these statements, there are only two institutions that we are to have in the cities—our restaurants and churches.
What institutions are not to be in the cities?
- “Move out of the cities. Establish your sanitariums, your schools, and offices away from the centers of population.” Ibid., 28.
- “God has sent warning after warning that our schools and publishing houses and sanitariums are to be established out of the city.” Ibid., 29. Notice the three institutions we are not to place in cities—sanitariums, schools, and offices.
How far should God’s people move from the cities?
- “As far as possible, our institutions should be located away from the cities.” (Emphasis added.) Ibid. If we are not careful, we can literally take this statement too far. First of all, notice that it is our institutions that are to be located as far as possible from the cities. Nevertheless, the same principle can be applied to our homes. We should be located as far as possible from the corrupted cities. However, this does not specify how far that is. This does not mean that we should be so far away that it takes hours to get to the nearest city. There must be a balance in all we do. Notice the following quotations that bring this balance:
- “… search for such properties in the rural districts, in easy access to the cities.” Ibid., 30.
- “We shall find it necessary to establish our schools out of, and away from, the cities, and yet not so far away that they cannot be in touch with them, to do them good, to let light shine amid the moral darkness.” Last Day Events, 101.
- “All that Lot and his family did in Sodom could have been done by them, even if they had lived in a place some distance away from the city.” Evangelism, 78.
- “In searching for a place for the school the brethren found a farm of four hundred acres for sale about nine miles from Nashville.” Last Day Events, 105. Here’s a quotation that gives a specific distance. It may be useful in our planning to leave the cities.
What is to be done in the cities?
- “Now is the opportune time to work the cities; for we must reach the people there.” Medical Ministry, 300.
- “As did Enoch, we must work in the cities but not dwell in them.” Country Living, 30.
- “My [Ellen White’s] message is, ‘Let companies be organized to enter the cities. Seek proper locations for holding meetings. Circulate our literature. Make earnest efforts to reach people.’ ” Evangelism, 96.
From where should the cities be worked?
- It is said of Jesus, “And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.” Luke 21:37. Notice Jesus’ method of working the cities from an outpost. Inspiration confirms this.
- “It is God’s design that our people should locate outside the cities, and from these outposts warn the cities, and raise in them memorials for God.” The Review and Herald, April 14, 1903.
What we have seen here is just a glimpse into the subject of country living. To learn more, you can read the pamphlet Country Living, which is available at Steps to Life Ministries. In conclusion, I want to draw your attention to three worthy examples.
In his childhood, Joseph had been taught the love and fear of God. By communion with God through nature and the study of God’s word, he gained strength of mind and firmness of principle. As a result, he became a righteous governor and a wise administrator. His life testified to the power of proper childhood training.
Moses, also, was raised for twelve years by his mother Jochebed, and during these years was laid the foundation of Moses’ greatness. Knowing that her son would one day dwell among those who knew not God, Jochebed sought earnestly to implant in her son’s heart love and loyalty to God. Consequently, Moses was one of the wisest military generals in ancient times and one of the meekest and humblest men to walk the earth.
Daniel, too, in his early years, was trained by his parents to develop habits of strict temperance. He was taught that physical, mental, and moral health depended upon a firm adherence to nature’s law. As the result of this teaching, the law of God was exalted in his mind and reverenced in his heart, and his life is an illustration of what constitutes a sanctified character.
The list could go on including Abel, Samuel, Elijah, and David. In spite of their failures, these men are still examples of righteous characters, and they all had something in common. What was it? In Country Living, 15, we read: “How many of these were reared in country homes. They knew little of luxury. They did not spend their youth in amusement. Many were forced to struggle with poverty and hardship. … They learned the lessons of self-reliance and self-control. … They were governed by principle, and they grew up pure and strong and true.” (Emphasis added.)
Beloved, do you want your children to possess pure, strong, and true characters? Are you ordering your life so as to be found without a spot in your character before the judgment seat of Christ? Here is God’s final call to you. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” II Corinthians 6:17. Will you answer the call? Will you come out of the cities?
Demario Carter is currently working as a Bible worker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.