Is the War Fulfilling Prophecy?

Many earnest people are endeavouring to prove that the war is fulfilling the prophecies of the Revelation, but this we believe is a vain attempt and can only discredit the Word in the estimation of unbelievers, and do injury to themselves. The fact is that the present period is not the subject of what is properly called prophecy. It is an interval in the dealings of God with the world in which He is not publicly intervening in its affairs, but is gathering His church out of it. The great change comes in Revelation 4, where a door is opened in heaven, and John hears a voice saying, "Come up hither." The voice was, as it were, a trumpet. This is in contrast to the noise of thunder of chapter 6; there it is the opening of the judgment seals, here it is a summons; and we believe this to set forth in figure the call of the saints of God from earth to heaven — when "the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God" (1 Thess. 4). From this time onward the true church is no more seen on earth; the interval of which we have spoken has terminated, and God begins to deal with the nations of the world.

John was called to see "the things that must be hereafter." He had been told in chapter 1 to write "the things that are and the things that shall be hereafter." The former are the things that belong to the church's sojourn on earth, the latter are the things that cannot take place until the true church is removed to heaven.

Another thing which shows that it is here in this chapter that a change takes place in God's Ways is that He is addressed as Lord God Almighty, Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai — these names set forth the characters in which He had revealed Himself in relation to earth in the Old Testament; they are not the way in which He is known by us in Christianity, for now we know Him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The family formed by this revelation must be completed and will be gathered in heaven, the Father's house on high, when God reverts to these former names and shows Himself as the Creator, the Maker of Promises to men, and the Supreme Governor over all the earth.

And lastly He is worshipped as the Creator for whose pleasure all things were made. It is evident from this that He is about to put creation in order and make it suitable for His pleasure. He is, as here presented, about to take hold of His inheritance, but He is not doing this now. Now He is taking hold of his heirs — we, who know Him as Father, who can cry, "Abba, Father," because we have received the spirit of adoption, are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. And in this present period God is gathering out of this world His heirs and preparing them for the inheritance, when they are all gathered and completed He will take hold of the inheritance and prepare it for them. We speak of the inheritance on the earthly side of it, the heavenly is already "reserved" for us (1 Pet. 1:4). And it is in connection with this that the awful events depicted in the Revelation take place. The fifth chapter gives greater emphasis to the fact that this period has closed and another opened, but more of that in another paper.

Is the Prussian War-Lord the Beast?

One reason why people are deceived into supposing that this is the great war that shall end war is that certain features of the beast of Revelation 13 — the head of the to-be-revived Roman Empire — seem to be present in Prussian militarism and its head. But this is not singular, nor is it the first time that these features have appeared. Wherever there has been great power without the guiding wisdom from on high, and ambition for world empire, they have been present. The great characteristics of the Spanish Empire of the sixteenth century — arrogance, persecution of God's people, lust for power, and the determination to crush out or enslave all who opposed its will, are all to be fully developed in the beast. In the seventeenth century Louis the Great of France, perhaps in a lesser measure, exhibited these same features. In the nineteenth century Napoleon appeared, and though he was not a persecutor, yet he, more than any who went before him, exhibited features associated with the beast in so much that he was popularly supposed to be he; but he was not, nor is the Prussian Kaiser; indeed, his country lies outside the bounds of the Old Roman Empire over which the beast is to be head. It is interesting, and not a little remarkable, that Britain, in the providence of God, should have been the power largely responsible for the defeat of all these great forces of the past.

The fact is that the devil has always been on the look out for a man of sufficiently vast ambitions and powerful personality to whom he can give his power and energy, in the hope of holding the world against God. He had the audacity to approach the Lord Himself in the wilderness with this very proposition, with what result we know. No man great enough to play the part has yet appeared, nor has the time come for God to permit him to appear, for the Holy Ghost who hinders is still here, and He will hinder till he be taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:7). Then Satan's plans will develop speedily and the great superman will be ready to his hand. And when he does appear the kings of Western Europe will not fight against him, but will yield homage to him, and help him in all his projects (Rev. 17:12-13). He will meet his terrible doom in the lake of fire (Rev. 19).