The Outlook

The rulers of the darkness of this world.”

We believe there is more in the present upheaval in the world than the wickedness and ambition of godless men. Spiritual powers—the principalities and powers in the heavenly places that rule this world’s darkness (Eph. 6:12) are working behind the scenes in the dictator states. We read in the prophecy of Daniel of “the Prince of Persia,” and “the Prince of Greece.” These were great spiritual powers that controlled and gave energy to those world empires in ancient days, and it is our conviction that such powers are increasingly active in world-affairs in our time. A sure sign that we are nearing the end of the age. When a nation of more than 60,000,000 people casts off its Christian profession, relapses into its former paganism, takes lying and deceit for its chief weapons, becomes devoid of all human pity, exalts brute force and savagery to the highest place, and marches with ever-increasing success along a road that must end in disaster, apparently at the will of one man, it is surely evident that a supernatural power is blinding, energizing and driving not the man only but the people. Having cast off the fear of God, such men as these become the willing instruments of evil powers in their struggle against light, and good and God, and when the wickedness of men and. devices of devils are joined in one purpose, they make a most formidable force, and more is needed than Spitfires and tanks, guns and bombs, submarines and battleships, and the unconquerable spirit of British men, if their power is to be broken. We thank God for the remnant of faithful Christians in Germany who stand true to God and His Christ, and who are suffering persecution for their witness. The prisons and concentration camps in which they suffer are a proof of what we say.

We are confirmed also in this view of things when we learn on the authority of Sir Neville Henderson, the former British Ambassador to Berlin that Hitler waits for “the Voice” before coming to his decisions and issuing his commands. He hears what his ministers and generals say, but he is not guided by their advice. It is “the Voice,” with a capital V, that governs his policy and actions. He is a foreshadowing of the coming “Beast”; a man to whom the dragon (Satan) will give “his power, his seat, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2). So great will be the success of that devil-inspired man, that his followers and the smaller nations will say “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him,” and they will render divine honours to him (Rev. 13:4). This is how the German nation already regards Hitler. His infatuated followers make the blasphemous claim for him, “Hitler is a new, a greater, a more powerful Jesus Christ; our God, our pope is Adolf Hitler.” “We believe in our leader; our body, our spirit, our possessions, our soul belong to the Fuehrer. He is the sum of our power and meaning, and we live through him as God.” Coming events are casting their shadows.

These spiritual powers, “the rulers of this world’s darkness” have more in view than the destruction of the British Empire and world-dominion for Germany, they are against God. They are against the Christian faith and every man who is faithful to it; because every true Christian on earth is a witness to the fact that Christ is the one lawful Heir to all the kingdoms of the world, and that He is coming again to take unto Him His great power and reign over them all. They would exterminate the Jewish people for they know that it is God’s purpose to make them the head and not the tail of the nations, that when they shall have passed through “the great tribulation,” which is called “Jacob’s trouble,” and shall have submitted themselves to their Messiah, whom they crucified, they shall be established in the Holy Land and all nations shall be blessed through them. These powers are fighting against the purposes of God in the vain hope of postponing them or thwarting them altogether. They know that when the Lord Jesus, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, does come forth from heaven to take the kingdoms it will be the end of their thief’s domination as “the god” and “the prince of this world,” for he will be cast out of the heavens (Rev. 12) and chained in the bottomless pit “that he should deceive the nations no more” (Rev. 20), they know that his defeat will be the end of their power and authority as the rulers of this world’s darkness. Hence their increased activities.

We know that the activities of these evil powers are not confined to Germany, Russia and Italy, they are at work in Britain. They have the subtlety of their leader, who is the “dragon, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9; 20:1). They know men and nations, and they vary their operations to suit the temperament and character of the people they set out to deceive and destroy. Their work is seen chiefly in this land in efforts to discredit the Bible and destroy its influence. It has been our great bulwark in the past against moral and spiritual evils that have overflowed some other lands, but its hold on the consciences and lives of the people has been sorely weakened of late years. Destructive criticism of the Bible, the absurdly false evolutionary hypotheses, and- modernism in the pulpits have done their deadly work, more deadly than that done by Bradlaugh and Ingersol of a past generation. These are our worst and most subtle enemies. In Russia and Germany and France also, they have spoken openly and boldly, and defiantly “against the Lord and against His Anointed saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2), but these men are “fifth columnists” as far as God and His kingdom are concerned, while professing continued allegiance to Him they are against Him undermining faith in Christ as Lord, and should be more feared than German hordes, for they at their very worst can only kill the body, while these men, speaking perverted things in the midst of the church (Acts 20:30), are destroying the souls of men, for they are robbing them of the gospel of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and are loosening the cords that bind the consciences of men to the will of God. It is of such that Paul wrote “If any man preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). We quote his Holy Ghost-inspired words, and leave them there.

On the other hand we may be profoundly thankful that there are tens of thousands in the land who still fear God and wait for His Son from heaven. They reverence His word, spend time and money in its circulation. It is encouraging to know that millions of copies of the Scriptures are sent forth from this land to lands across the seas that have not hitherto had the light of the gospel, and that men and women who love the Lord go forth from us to bear witness to the saving power of the Name of Jesus even to the uttermost parts of the earth. We may thank God too that amongst those that rule us are men who own and honour God and His Word. Our gracious King, for instance, has commended the Bible to all his forces serving by sea, land or in the air, and to all who are engaged in the defence of the Realm, in these words, “For centuries the Bible has been a wholesome and strengthening influence in our national life, and it behoves us in these momentous days to turn with renewed faith to this Divine source of comfort and inspiration.” And the fact that he has twice desired and called the Empire to a day of national prayer shows that he looks beyond and above the might of the Empire to God for strength and guidance and victory over the evil forces that menace us. Lord Halifax too, in a recent Broadcast uttered noble words which must have stirred the hearts of God’s people as he appealed for continued prayer to God for His directing hand in the affairs of the nation.

What then must we do who realize that the powers of evil are active behind the scenes? We recognize that the sword has been put into the hands of the powers that be for the punishment of him that does evil; but the sword is no protection against spiritual powers, from them no king is saved by the multitude of an host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. “An horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him upon them that hope in His mercy … Our soul waits for the Lord: He is our help and our strength. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy Name” (Ps. 33:17-18, 20-21). Yes, we may, we must pray. Prayer brings God in. It is the recognition of His supremacy and of our dependence upon Him, it is the right attitude of man towards God. In our prayers we must put God and His Kingdom first. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” We must pray, “Father, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We know that His kingdom will only come when Christ comes, but as we pray for it and long for it we shall come under its moral power now, and the Name of God our Father will be hallowed in our lives, and that will be a great gain. Next we may pray for His Church—His “called out” ones in every tribe and tongue and people and nation—we may desire that affairs in every land may be so controlled and ordered that they may “lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We may pray for the overthrow of these evil powers for the sake of the nations ruthlessly trodden down by them, for “the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (Jas. 5:11). We may pray for our own land that it may not suffer as others have done; and that it may still be the centre from which the gospel of God shall go forth into every land. But as we pray for ourselves it must surely be with contrition and repentance and confession of sin, for here in Great Britain, God’s great and long continued favour has not had the effect upon men that it ought to have had. “Men are lovers of their own selves … unthankful, unholy … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:2-5). And in religious circles the time has come when the many “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears. They turn away their ears from the truth and are turned to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). We may pray for comfort for the bereaved and sorrowing, the anxious and distressed, and we may pray that the sorrows and dangers of these days may make many ready to listen to the gospel of God’s grace and turn in heart and mind to Him who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Whatever burdens may be upon our hearts we may bring them to God, and make our requests known unto Him.

If these evil days result in a revival of spiritual life in those who have confessed Jesus as Lord, and they are mightily stirred to pray and to serve Him in the gospel we shall have cause to praise Him while we wait for our Lord from heaven, Who is the Sun of righteousness and the Prince of peace.

J. T. Mawson