Its Causes; its Consequences; its Conclusion
A Two-Fold Answer from Scripture
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THIS WAR? The question is in the air. The man in the street asks it. The soldier, bleeding to death in mortal agony on foreign fields, asks it. The sailor, sinking to his watery grave in the North Sea, asks it. The wife, bereft of her husband; the mother, robbed of her son; the children, mourning the loss of father and bread-winner, ask it. Imagination palls before the picture. It is infinitely worse than the most vivid pen can portray. Asked, defiantly, in sceptical tones; asked, despairingly, with sobs and tears; asked, timidly and with fear, as faith in God is being undermined and possibly in many cases shattered, we may well seek to answer the question.
The writer in this pamphlet endeavours to furnish
A TWO-FOLD ANSWER FROM SCRIPTURE.
1. By showing that this war is simply the righteous working out of the inevitable law of God’s government, viz., sowing and reaping.
2. By showing how God is using this war in shaping things towards the fulfilment of Scripture.
We venture to believe that those who bow to the authority and teaching of Scripture, will arise from the study of this subject with more sublime faith in the wisdom, truth, and justice of God, and in the unerring inspiration of His prophetic word.
July 26th, 1916.
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THIS WAR?
CHAPTER 1. ITS CAUSES.
What are the causes of this war? To answer this will go far to answer the question, Why does God allow this war?
We believe the answer lies in this Scripture:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).
“They chose new gods; then was war in the gates” (Judges 5:8).
In short, this present war is a terrible reaping of a terrible sowing. It may have come like a bolt from the blue in August, 1914; but in truth evil principles have been at work for many years, without which this war could not have taken place. Its inception was not a matter of yesterday by a long way.
Not only has God allowed this war, for it is clear that He has, but in His wisdom He has permitted it. Indeed, as we enquire into matters, we think it will be seen that God could not, as being true to Himself, have hindered it. God has given a Book to the world, and if the nations had governed their conduct by that Book there would have been no war.
The present war is not the result of Bible teaching, but is diametrically opposed to it.
Christianity has not failed; but it is the lack of Christianity that has brought about the present state of things. The present war proves the truth of Bible teaching, viz., that reaping follows sowing, and that sorrow follows sin.
Why does God allow this war?
Why does God allow a child to burn its finger when it thrusts it into the fire? To teach it to avoid fire in the future. To avoid a recurrence of the pain. To avoid a greater catastrophe. The child knows no better, and yet it has to learn its lesson.
Why does God allow this war?
Why does God allow a man who drinks prussic acid to be poisoned? The man is aware of what he is doing. No one thinks of blaming God in this matter. The nature of prussic acid is well known. The man is blamed for his folly, and he rightly deserves the consequences of his act.
Why does God allow this war?
Why does God allow tares to grow instead of wheat, when the farmer deliberately sows tares? No one is so foolish as to ask such a puerile question.
Why does God allow this war?
We repeat, the nations have been sowing the wind, and they are reaping the whirlwind. God is chastening and warning the nations. If they will not hear, and there seems no sign of their doing so, worse things must happen.
GERMANY, the land of Luther, the home of the Reformation, is alas! Protestant only in name, Higher Criticism owes its origin to that country. Utterly destructive of faith and true religion its negations have been zealously taught by the professors among the students in her universities, who in their turn, as pastors, have carried its evil teaching to every corner of the land, and undermined the faith of the nation.
A far-seeing German writer, who had to suffer the penalty of his outspokenness, has placed on record his judgment. We quote from a book published in 1874, that is a date shortly after the Franco-German war, over forty years ago.
“The philosophy of Germany is an important affair which concerns the whole human race and our great grandchildren alone will be in a position to decide whether we should have praise or blame for having worked out our philosophy in the first place—our revolution in the second. I think the order we have adopted was worthy of a methodical people. Heads which philosophy has employed in meditation might have been mowed down at pleasure by revolution; but philosophy have made no use of heads thus dealt with by revolution. But nevertheless, my dear countrymen, be in no distress, the German revolution will neither be the more gay nor the more mild that it was preceded by the Critik of Kant, the transcendental Idealism of Fichte, and the Philosophy of Nature. These doctrines have developed revolutionary forces which now only await the moment to explode and fill the world with terror and admiration. Then will appear the Kantists, who will hear no more of reverence in the world of deeds than in the world of ideas, and who will turn up without pity, with axe and sword, the soil of our European life in order to extirpate the last roots of the past. On the same scene will come the Fichteans, whose fanaticism of will can be mastered neither by fear nor by interest; for they live in spirit and despise matter. But the most fearful of all will be the Philosophers of Nature when they take an active part in a German revolution, and identify themselves in the work of destruction, for if the hand of the Kantist strikes firmly and surely, because his heart is innacessible to any human respect, the Fichtean despises all dangers because they have for him no real existence; the philosopher of Nature will be terrible indeed when he places himself in communication with the original powers of the earth, conjures up the hidden resources of tradition evokes the full force of the antique German Pantheism and re-awakens that ardour of battle which the old Germans displayed—an ardour which had not for its object destruction, nor even victory, but merely the pleasure of the combat itself. Christianity has softened to a certain extent that brutal rage of battle but it has not been able to extinguish it; and soon as the Cross, the restraining talisman is broken, you shall see let loose again all the ferocity and frenzied exaltation of the Berserkers, sung by the poets of the north. The old war-like divinities will rouse themselves from their fabulous tombs and wipe the dust of ages from their eyelids. Thor [the God of war] will be stirring again with his gigantic hammer, and woe to the cathedrals! There will be performed a drama, compared to which the French Revolution was but an innocent idyll. The nations will group themselves around Germany as on the ascending benches of an amphitheatre, and great and terrible are the games which await their eyes.”
If only those, who ask the question, “Why does God allow this war?” were to enquire, with anything like the care and discernment this German writer shows, they would soon see the causes of the war, and wonder at the long-suffering of God in holding back so long men from being the unconscious instruments of His chastisement. He saw clearly the connection between cause and effect, between sowing and reaping. He saw clearly that when faith waned, and the Gospel lost its power, his fellow-countrymen would bring to the front all those traits, which have led to the tearing up of “a scrap of paper,” and the development of those Hun-like qualities, which have shocked civilization, and have aroused half the world to arise up, and, in self-defence, to go forward to strangle the evil thing.
How terribly and realistically prophetic are the German’s closing words, “The nations will group themselves around Germany as on the ascending benches of an amphitheatre, and great and terrible, are the games which await their eyes.”
The philosophers are more responsible for this terrible war than Krupp; Germany’s godless philosophy has sown the wind. Behold the whirlwind—Germany bent on her own destruction.
FRANCE, the boasted eldest daughter of the Church, is infidel. Even a devout Roman Catholic is persecuted, and loses his chances of promotion in the army, in the forum, in the state. Paris is notorious for its gay wickedness.
Devil-worship is one of its cults. France has sown the wind of infidelity, behold the whirlwind.
RUSSIA—holy Russia—is notorious for her persecution of the Jews. Language fails to express the horrors Gods ancient people have gone through in that land. Does the Jew groan and sigh in vain? Surely the God of Sabaoth has heard. Russia has sown the wind. Behold the whirlwind.
BELGIUM, what shall we say of Belgium? The world has rightly admired the heroic stand little Belgium made against the big bully, who tore into shreds a scrap of paper he had sworn to respect, and who added to that, shocked the world by atrocities too horrible to mention. We do not wish remotely to minimize this feeling of admiration for heroic Belgium, but we must face facts. We ask the question, was it for nothing that the Congo blacks moaned in their agony in the shades of their tropical forests when avaricious Belgians mutilated them by the hundreds for not bringing in enough rubber? Surely God saw, and Belgium is being spoken to by her sorrows. She sowed the wind; she has reaped, and is reaping, the whirlwind.
TURKEY needs only one word said—the Armenian atrocities—to answer the question.
GREAT BRITAIN, what shall we say of the country which gave us birth, and which we know so well? Shall we refuse to face facts? Has not opium been forced upon China for many years against her will; wrecking innumerable lives, feeding a fearful vice, and enslaving a nation? Was this not done by a so-called Christian nation? There can be no excuse for such an act. It was a black and hideous blot on the British flag, till lately it was removed, but the stain remains. Have not higher criticism and new theology swept the land, their effect like to a swarm of locusts which, entering a country all green and smiling, leaves it bare and devastated?
Great Britain is Christian only in name, in reality it is pagan. A small percentage go to so-called places of worship. Love of money, love of pleasure, love of ease, have, from a spiritual standpoint, well-nigh ruined the land. The national drink bill amounts to the frightful sum of £180,000,000 per annum. Museums, theatres, picture palaces are open on Sundays; bridge-parties, river-parties, week-end excursions, gardening, motoring, are more the rule than the exception, while churches are emptying on every hand, especially where the old evangelical truths are preached.
A Birmingham paper, referring to a speech made by a Quaker Member of Parliament in the House of Commons since the war began, said that the name of Christ had not been heard in the House of Commons since the Reform Act, certainly not in the memory of any present Member of the House. “It had startled the house.” Whether this is so or not, the fact that the mention of the name of the Saviour of mankind should draw forth such criticism is significant.
As we view such a picture, can we wonder at God allowing the war? If the nation had not been pulled up, where would it have got to? Look at socialism, syndicalism, suffragetteism, atheism, and the like. For the moment war has stopped strikes, men are bound to curb lawlessness for very menace of their own existence. Many are seeking the Lord, amid the horrors of war, and for the moment God has spoken to the nations.
But for the war Ireland would have been involved in civil strife, and many a Christian in that country has seen God’s hand coming in on their behalf at the right moment to hinder it, whilst it may just be possible that the war has hindered worse things from developing, and which will threaten us when once the war is over.
The vast majority of those who ask the question, Why does God allow this war? are men and women who emphatically do not want God in peace time. When the sun shines, when business prospers, when health is theirs, God would be, to put it mildly, an intrusion. How unutterably mean for such to whine out, Why does God allow this war? Such have done without God hitherto as far as they could. Now they are learning how terrible it is to do without Him in times of stress and trouble. Above all, how terrible it will be to do without Him in—ETERNITY. Without God in ETERNITY means HELL FOR EVER.
We do not look for a Christian nation. Has not this nation so far refused to set apart a day for prayer and humiliation? There has been public prayer for victory, but the nation as such has not humbled itself before God. Thank God, though we do not look for a Christian nation, yet we know that God visited the nations “to take OUT OF THEM a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). Individuals are hearing. God is graciously working. Many a soldier has been converted in the trenches, many a sailor saved on the battleship, many a broken man and bereaved woman have turned to the Lord.
Will you, my reader, if unconverted, not turn to the Lord? He is gracious, and willing to save. Will you not see in God’s government on the nations, a reason why you should get right individually? God is speaking. He has spoken quietly, He has waited in longsuffering, but He will speak louder and still louder, and make men hear. Will you hear, before it is too late? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
The enlightened Christian will always vindicate God. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25)—grand words of Abraham—is a question to which he must ever give an emphatic “Yes.” There we rest content. God is in the heavens. He reigns. He is carrying out the purpose of His own will. Where we cannot see, we can trust. There we can rest. Hallelujah!
CHAPTER 2. ITS CONSEQUENCES
Let it be clearly stated at the outset that this great European war is not directly prophesied in Scripture. The great prophecies relating to God’s government in this world do not refer to the present church dispensation.
A brief proof of this is seen in the three-fold division of the great prophetic New Testament book—the Revelation:
(1) “The things which thou hast seen, and
(2) the things which are, and
(3) the things which shall be hereafter” (Rev. 1:9).
“The things which thou [the Apostle John] hast seen,” are enumerated in chapter 1; “the things which are,” in chapters 2 and 3—as long as the Church of God is here to be addressed as the responsible vessel of His testimony; “the things which shall be hereafter [“after these things,” N.T.], in chapters 4 to 22. That this is no arbitrary division of the writer’s is clearly seen from Revelation 4:1, where we learn that the Spirit of God said to John,
“Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter,”
thus divinely fixing the division between the second and third parts of the book.
The Church then is in the period described as “the things that are,” and the hope of the Lord’s coming is held out in Revelation 3:11:
“Behold I come quickly hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
Consequently, before the seals can be broken and the trumpet judgments run their course, the Church must be caught up to glory. It is clear that the Church will not go through the great tribulation, as Revelation 3:10 so definitely states.
“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from [literally, ‘out of’] the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
It is not merely being “kept out of the temptation,” but out of THE HOUR of temptation [trial, N.Tr.]. Seeing the whole earth is involved, how can a saint be kept out of the hour, a figure of time, but by being taken out of time, which can only mean being placed in eternity. And once the Church is taken out of time, it can only mean the rapture of the saints at the Lord’s second coming.
True the tribulationists argue that this hour of trial is not the great tribulation. But if this be granted it only makes the writer’s point the stronger, for it is clear that the great tribulation is to take place in the latter half of Daniel’s seventieth week; that is, it is to be the closing drama of God’s government, just before the Lord shall reign as Messiah over Israel and as Son of Man over the whole earth. If the Church is taken up before the great tribulation, it is more than clear that it will not go through it.
But if this war is not directly prophesied in Scripture, we institute the enquiry, Does Scripture throw light in any way on the probable consequences of this war? We think it does in a very definite way.
There are at least six great events to take place in the near future after the Church is caught up.
1. The apostasy of Christendom.
2. The revival of Roman Catholicism as a dominant religious though apostate power.
3. The return of the Jews to their own land.
4. The revival by Satanic influence of the Roman Empire, with an overlord at its head, called in Scripture “the beast” (see Rev. 13:3), commonly called by Bible students, the first beast.
5. The re-appearance of the King of the North.
6. The appearance of the Antichrist, variously called “the Son of Perdition,” “that man of sin,” “that wicked” (see 2 Thess. 2), “another beast” (see Rev. 13:11), “the false prophet” (see Rev. 16:13), commonly called by Bible students the second beast, that is as seen in Revelation 13:11.
If this present war is manifestly shaping towards any of these events; if we are justified in believing that the consequences of this war will adjust themselves into some measure of fulfilment of these prophecies, then we hold in our hand a clue as to what God is doing in connection with this present war, and Scripture furnishes us with an answer to the second of our enquiries, “Why does God allow this war?” Let us institute a brief enquiry under these heads.
The Apostasy of Christendom
The signs of this have been abundant the last few years. The way Higher Criticism and New Theology have swept all before them is alarming. Orthodoxy is now the exception rather than the rule. But what has the war specially contributed towards this terrible trend? is our question. It has, alas! contributed to it to an alarming extent. Take the awful fallacy that death in battle saves, than which nothing can be more deceptive. Nothing has, hitherto, gone so far as this in evil. It is not only a step downward, but a terribly significant one. It is the revival of a pagan idea, and is the most awful insult that Christendom has hitherto offered to the Saviour of the world. It is reported that leaders in the Anglican Church and among the Dissenters have alike given countenance to this awful delusion. It is widespread among the armies in the field. It is one of the most significant signs of the approaching apostasy.
Then the war has witnessed a revival of the terrible practice of prayers for the dead, and the cult of spiritualism, the living seeking to get into touch with the dead, in reality with demonism—the enemy taking advantage of the weakness of sorrow-stricken hearts, so abundant on every hand through this terrible war. For the latter the notorious Rev. R.J.Campbell is largely responsible. His recent induction into the Church of England without protest is very significant. Indeed, we see very little to keep the Church on earth. The condition of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) is typical of the days we are in. The Church as a responsible witness on earth had so departed from first principles that it was in the eyes of the Lord only fit to be spewed out of His mouth. So it would appear to be today. We believe we are on the very eve of the Lord’s near return. Once the Church is caught up, there will be no barrier to the plunge Christendom will take into open apostasy.
The Revival of Roman Catholicism
Revelation 17 alludes most unmistakeably to the Papacy, and prophesies its revival and position of spiritual dominance after the true Church is caught up, and finally her doom at the hands of the ten horns, that is of the ten kings of the revived Roman Empire (see Rev. 17:16). She will be an apostate church, and as she is modelled upon paganism, her saints taking the place of heathen gods, and her feast days replacing heathen festivals, it will be very easy for her to adopt an apostate position, which will suit the world for the moment as under the power of the dragon.
What signs are there of this revival in connection with this present war? One of the saddest signs is that the British Government, for the first time since the days of James II., that monarch of unhappy memory, has sent an accredited representative to the papal court. Another sign is the willingness with which prominent members of the Protestant established and dissenting bodies in this country have signed appeals to the nation in conjunction with members of the papal hierarchy. Men, who twenty years ago would have scorned such association, seem to be now flattered by it. A further sign lies in the cry that the Pope should be the intermediary of peace between the combatant nations, and that this request should come from a prominent English dissenter among others, is very remarkable. Then again, the increasing fellowship that exists between the priests of the Romish Church and Protestant ministers is very marked. Only the other day we saw a group photograph of four chaplains—one an Anglican clergyman, another a dissenting minister, with two Romish priests—the priests being evidently accorded the central position. And of course the long persistent and stealthy Romanising of the Church of England by ritualists is too well known to need any comment. The efforts in journalism, too, on behalf of Rome in this present war are very marked. Sir Merton Russell Cotes, F.R.G.S., states: “Most careful investigation has verified the fact that 70 percent of editors, reporters, and other pressmen in the United Kingdom are Roman Catholics.” What a power of influencing public opinion they wield, and this in a so-called Protestant country.
It has been suggested by a recent writer that the probable effect of the removal of the saints at the Lord’s coming will be that the Pope will reassure startled Christendom by pointing out that the disappearance of the heretics and religious cranks—as true Christians will more and more be regarded by those who are determined to carry out “modernism” in all its forms—is a matter only for congratulation. He will in effect say, “The Vicar of Christ on earth is here. The Consistory of Cardinals is here. The true Church is still upon the earth. Come, my children, give up your Protestantism and dissent—your heresy and schism. See what it has brought you to. Return to the true fold.” And it seems more than probable that something like this will take place, and the result will be the longed-for reunion of Christendom; but at what an awful price! A Christendom without Christ, a Christendom without a trace of reality! No wonder the Lord will bring His judgments upon this vile thing. Suffice it to say, that men, who would have been a very few centuries ago burned at the stake for their views, are now coquetting with that awful system, whose history of persecution, simony, profligacy, debauchery, and evil of every kind, led Gibbon, the infidel historian, to say that “the annals of the church were the annals of hell.”
Upon the brow of Rome, branded by the pen of unerring truth, we read the awful inscription:
“MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:5).
The Return of the Jews to their Own Land
The dispersion of the Jews consequent on their rejection of Christ was foretold by the Lord in great minuteness, as recorded in Luke 21:24. In that verse, within the compass of two brief sentences, the Lord gave a bird’s-eye view for many centuries to come, of the history of His earthly people, and that of their loved city Jerusalem:
“They … shall be led away, captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
How true to the very letter this has proved. The Jew is the outstanding wonder of prophecy.
But the same Scriptures prophesy the gathering back of the Jews to their own land. Ezekiel 37:21-28 outlines this very definitely:
“Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land and I will make one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all” (vv. 21-22).
Ezekiel 37 contains the vision of the valley of dry bones, descriptive of the state of Israel, which, despite its desperate condition, will yet experience a wonderful resuscitation or resurrection as a nation blessed of God.
What are the signs as to this? The “Zionist” movement, infidel and political, designed to work for the restoration of the Jews to their own land, is gathering in strength. Five hundred delegates from all parts of the world, meeting in such places as London, New York, Berlin, Berne, and Vienna, evidence the vitality of the movement. A Bank to help on its operations is said to have a capital of £56,000,000. It is well known that Jews have flocked back to their own land of recent years in large numbers. New ports have been opened to cope with the tide of immigration. There are five million more Jews in the world today than in the time of King Solomon.
The war has come in, and for the moment arrested the rising prosperity of Palestine. The country is in disorder, and the population has largely fled. But on every hand it is allowed that one of the great problems of the peace settlement will be Palestine, and it is very generally believed that the most probable solution of the problem will be the reinstatement of the Jew in his own land. Palestine is perhaps the most strategical country in the whole world, and it is clear from prophecy that it will be the scene of the last two battles—Armageddon, and that prophesied in Zechariah 14. It is the highroad between Russia and Egypt—between the countries of the King of the North and the King of the South. It is the buffer state between Russia in the north and Egypt, with the Suez Canal, the highroad to India, in the south.
It will be seen that it is most unlikely that any one power will permit any other power to possess it, so that this war affords many ominous signs of the still further development of the movement of the Jew going back to his own land.
The coming of Turkey into the war was the wildest and most suicidal policy that could have been determined upon, and she is now in process of being driven out from her dominions in Europe, Asia Minor and Palestine, even as Arabia has just sought to throw off her yoke.
The Revival of the Roman Empire
This is prophesied in Revelation 13:1-8. Does this present war furnish any signs as to this taking place? It does in a very remarkable way. Since this great European conflict began, politicians have talked a good deal about the alliance of the Latin countries—mark the word “Latin.” Moreover, the Entente Cordiale has ripened into a firm alliance between Britain, France, and Russia, to which Italy has since given her adhesion. Doubtless Russia, as never forming part of the Roman Empire, and king given a direct place in the prophetic word, will be outside the revived Roman Empire, and already there are apprehensions as to the growing power of that vast country. The British nation has been warned repeatedly of this danger, and how it can only be met by a great European alliance.
Scripture presents the revived Roman Empire as consisting of ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet. It is a simple matter for the Bible student to know this, and to be able to cite Revelation 17:12 in proof of it, when there are no outward signs of it. But when prominent men of the world point out the same thing, it must he because the shadow of it is already upon Europe.
At the beginning of the war, Robert Blatchford, an infidel and socialist writer, but who with much discernment warned the British nation in 1909 of impending war with Germany, wrote a letter to the press, pointing out that the great menace in the future would be Russia, and that the only way to meet this danger would be by an alliance of European countries, and he mentioned those he considered should form such an alliance. We took the trouble to count the number, and found it to be exactly ten. He made a mistake in including Scandinavian countries, and evidently did not connect his idea with the old Roman Empire, for if he had he would have gravitated to the near East for part of the alliance.
The north coast of Africa and Egypt formed part of the old Roman Empire. It is remarkable how quietly this has fallen under European control again. Quietly, without any fuss, things are being prepared of God for His own purposes. France has control of Morocco, Algiers and Tunis; Italy, still more lately of Tripoli, whilst Great Britain holds Egypt, and since the war began has thrown over what was left of the shadowy suzerainty, of Turkey. The Khedive, a viceroy once nominally under Turkey, has been elevated to being Sultan of Egypt, thus reviving a nominal King of the South, Great Britain being the virtual power.
It might be stated in passing that a great deal of nonsense has been talked about Ireland not forming part of the revived Roman Empire, because it was outside of it formerly. Some writers are most dogmatic on this point. But the curious feature is, they are not dogmatic about Wales and the greater part of Scotland, both of which were equally outside the Roman Empire. It does not follow that the revived Roman Empire will cover the exact area of the old Roman Empire. Indeed, we are prepared for its being widely extended, for we read:
“And power was given him [the beast] over all kindreds and tongues and nations” (Rev. 13:7).
If Great Britain is to form part of the Roman Empire to be, she would naturally carry with her her world-wide dominions, and this would go largely towards the fulfilment of this verse. Ireland may or may not be in the Empire, who can be dogmatic on this point? Whether she will be or not makes little matter, though the writer personally believes that she will be included as part of the British Empire in this alliance. Home Rule does not affect this one way or another, for Home Rule is not separation—Ireland is still an integral part of King George’s dominion.
But one thing is certain, that however wide the Roman Empire may be, its heart and core will be in Europe, substantially covering the area of the old Roman Empire, and characterized by ten European and Near East kings under one head.
Revelation 13:3 gives us to be prepared for what will happen. We read:
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.”
Revelation 13:1-2, gives us the appearance upon the scene of history of the Roman Empire, and its characteristics as given under the figures of the leopard (= rapidity of conquest, the mark of the Grecian Empire under Alexander the Great), of the bear (= tenacity of purpose in retaining conquest, as seen in the Persian Empire), of the lion (= grandeur and boldness, as seen in the Babylonian Empire)—the whole furnishing a terrible nondescript beast, answering to Daniel’s vision of the fourth world-empire. Verse 3, as quoted, gives the great salient feature in the history of the Roman Empire in relation to the purpose of prophecy in Revelation 13; that is, the destruction of the imperial power by the inroads of the Huns and Goths about the fifth century. It is not a little remarkable that as the Huns and Goths broke up the old Roman Empire, so the attempt of the modern Hun to grasp world-wide dominion seems likely to have the effect of reviving the Roman Empire in very fear to keep Teutonic and Slavonic aggression in check.
The Re-appearance of the King of the North
The King of the North is plainly the ruler over the territories lying north of Palestine, as seen in the Book of Daniel. At the present moment these countries are under the sway of the unspeakable Turk. The operations of the Russians in that neighbourhood foreshadow the smashing of the Turkish rule. When this takes place there will necessarily have to be some provision made for the establishment of authority and order, and in that way the northern kingdom will most probably be revived. Some have thought that the Turks themselves will rebuild Babylon, and set up a new Empire in that part; but one thing is clear, things are in the melting-pot, both in Palestine and in those ancient parts of the world represented by Mesopotamia, and cities like Baghdad, Damascus, etc. Places sacred to the name of Abraham are upon every lip today in connection with this war.
It has been stated, whether true or not we do not know, that Greece has been offered a large kingdom in Asia Minor as compensation for her helping the Allies in this present war. It is clear from Scripture that the near East has to see a mighty revival in political interest in the last days, and the present war has shifted the centre of interest for the world alike from the far East and the Western hemisphere to Europe and the near East.
We gather from Scripture that this northern power will be sustained by and be associated with Gog and Magog, so that it is difficult to separate the two powers in mind. Gog and Magog are generally believed to be the ruler and the people of the land we call Russia. There seems to be no reason to doubt this. The descendants of Magog—the second son of Japheth—were Scythians, and his land was Scythia in the North of Asia and Europe, which covers Siberia in Asia and Russia in Europe. In Ezekiel 38:2, the Prince of Rosh is alluded to. In Rosh we find Russia is named 1450 years before its historical rise.
The Appearance of Antichrist
The way for this will be prepared by (1) The apostasy of Christendom, and (2) The establishment of the Jew in his own land. It is clear from Daniel 11:37, that this person will be a Jew, who will be characterized by not regarding the God of his fathers (see Dan. 11:37), and that he will have his seat in Jerusalem, for he will set up an apostate system of worship in that city. Revelation 13 foretells how he will use his power and authority to aid and abet the first beast in the west, causing him to be worshipped. The fact that he is commonly called “the false prophet” in Revelation shows that his influence is to be of a religious, though apostate, nature.
Since this war, as we have seen, has done its terrible part in preparing Christendom for the approaching apostasy, and likewise its part in preparing the minds of the nations for the return of the Jews, and the probable territorial changes that will be evolved, coupled with the immensely strong hunger of the Jew for Palestine, it will be seen how in these two directions the war is preparing the way for the Antichrist.
Along with this there is a movement going on that explains how Christendom and Judaism, hitherto implacable foes, will become friends. The well-known writer on Jewish subjects—Mr. S.H.Wilkinson—says:
“The new movement amongst the Jews runs side by side with the present day apostasy in Christendom. It is probable that before many years pass there will be a fusion between the new school of Jewish thought and the apostate rationalism that is, at present, Christian in name. The germ will then come to its full development, and that short creed which dethrones God and enthrones man will be ripe for the recognition of Antichrist.”
Not many steps will have to be taken by an apostate Christendom, honeycombed with infidelity, dabbling with Spiritualism, coquetting with Rome, before Mr Wilkinson’s words will come true; for come true they assuredly will, and that with startling rapidity.
It is a solemn thought that the person destined to be this awful Antichrist is more than probably alive upon the earth at this moment.
Briefly indeed as these things have been pointed out, it leaves no doubt in our minds that God is shaping things towards the fulfilment of prophecy, and that He is determined to bring things shortly to a head, in order to establish His beloved Son as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
CHAPTER 3. ITS CONCLUSION
When will this war end? Some say, who are optimistically inclined, in two or three months’ time. Others who are pessimistically inclined, in two or three years’ time.
Originally, the words—optimist and pessimist—were religious terms; the former meaning, one who believes in the final triumph of God over evil; the latter, one who believes in the final triumph of evil over good
In this sense of the word the enlightened Christian must be always and ever an invincible optimist. He believes a rosy dawn is coming for this world, a halcyon rest for this groaning creation, more glorious than any utopia of the philosopher’s dream, or any paradise of poet’s imagination. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming to reign as the true King of kings and Lord of lords—as the Messiah to reign over His ancient people, who will exclaim adoringly, like Thomas of old, My Lord and my God (John 20:28), and as the Son of Man to reign over the whole earth. Then sorrow and sadness shall pass away, and
“He’ll bid the whole creation smile
And hush its groan.”
“They shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).
Blessed day, when the Saviour shall hush the passions and strife and groans of this world subdue its fever, and bring it chastened and enraptured to His feet.
Does the Christian then believe that this war will soon be over? We answer, It is not within his province to afford an answer to such a question. But if he is asked, Will this war end wars? Will men be so tired of fighting that they will never fight again, at least not for a very lengthened period? Optimist as the Christian is, looking for a blissful millennium of peace as he does with assurance, yet he is obliged to give an answer to this question in the negative. Nay, more, his view of the immediate future, as directed by Scripture, must be more pessimistic than that of the gloomiest pessimist, and we shall seek to outline the reason why.
Of one thing we are most definitely assured. Peace—and by peace we mean permanent, settled peace on a righteous basis—will never come till the basis of it is God’s. As long as God and His word are left out of the reckoning, so long will there be unrest and fighting in this world.
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:1-3).
Men must be radically changed to produce a radical change in their ways. Doubtless this passage refers to individuals, but its principle extends to nations.
Is there any sign that the nations are turning to God through this war? With sorrow we must admit that the signs are all the other way. It is true that God is quietly and blessedly working, and many individuals are being reached and saved—many a soldier lad in the trenches, many a sailor lad on the battleship. But generally speaking men are becoming more and more indifferent, and their very sorrows only lead often to fierce denial of the goodness of God, and even of His existence. It reminds us in measure of those awful words:
“And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and REPENTED NOT of their deeds” (Rev. 16:10-11).
We know not when this present war will cease, but we believe that the signing of peace will mark the very day when preparation for the next war will begin. The beaten will cherish schemes of revenge; the victorious will quarrel over their spoils, and if outwardly acquiescent for the moment, will plot at once for the carrying out of their own schemes of aggrandisement.
Such are the signs to be read on the surface, but what does Scripture prophesy as to the last times? We have seen that Scripture does not directly prophesy this present war; but we have seen that the great events to be looked for in the near future after the Church is caught up are even now being shaped and hastened by this great war, so that we can justly conclude that these events, directly prophesied by Scripture, are at hand. What then are the signs of these times? Are they to be peace, disarmament, the nations living in accord one with the other; or is it to be the opposite? Let the Lord’s own words furnish the answer:
“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:3-8).
We see, then, that there is no Scriptural expectation of anything but sorrow and trouble in the future.
After “the things that are” (Rev. 2 and 3), which close with the rapture of the Church, an event greatly longed for and daily expected by enlightened Christians, we enter upon “things which must be hereafter” (Rev. 4:1). Do the succeeding chapters in Revelation lead us to expect peace? Nay, we at once read of the unloosing of the book sealed with the seven seals by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as a Lamb that had been slain. The seals speak of war, bloodshed, famine, pestilence, and earthquake, the upset of thrones and powers, and a state of unrest and political chaos of which we know very little, as the result of this war. Does this close the time of trouble? Alas it is but its beginning. The seven seals are followed by the seven trumpets or woes, judgments, not so much occasioned by God permitting man to chastise man, but by the direct inflicting of tribulation from heaven.
Suffice it to say that once these things begin there will be no cessation of unrest and trouble till the great battle of Armageddon will settle the doom of the beast and the false prophet and the hordes of their willing dupes and followers, then will come the shutting up of the devil in the bottomless pit, and the introduction of the millennium by the personal reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There may be a time of peace following this war, or trouble may arise out of the very peace proposals, who can say? But if there be a spell of peace of longer or shorter duration, it will not be more than a truce at best, a breathing space for the gathering of men, money, and munitions, for the invention and manufacture of still more terrible instruments of war.
Surely the poet, who lived years before such terrible things as armoured motor-cars, war-planes carrying Lewis guns, Zeppelins with their bomb-dropping frightfulness, and monster submarines, was prophetic when he wrote:
“Lord, Lord, Thy fair creation groans,
The air, the earth, the sea,
In unison with all our hearts,
And calls aloud for Thee.”
(Sir Edward Denny.)
When will true peace come? Not till Christ reigns, is the only answer that can be given. Through the gathering storms, the Christian can see beyond them all in the peaceful atmosphere of heaven a living, blessed Saviour (God, Who became man, though never ceasing to be God, how could He? profound mystery, beyond the creature’s ken but within the grasp of his faith). This Saviour the Christian trusts, and adores, and waits for as his personal hope, and the only hope of the world.
As the Bright and Morning Star He is soon to come for His people. This is what we wait for. Once this takes place, then will God’s judgments be abroad in the earth, culminating in the great Tribulation, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), though with world-wide bearing (see Rev. 3:10, and 7:4), followed by the Lord Jesus coming to the world as the Sun of righteousness arising with healing in His wings (see Mal. 4:2), and the setting up of His kingdom—the millennium of joy and peace for this poor world.
In conclusion, let it be urged that just as nations and the world will never be right till Christ has His rightful place, so no individual can be right till Christ has His rightful place with him. The world has achieved its greatest crime in the murder of the Son of God, and all its sorrows and sins are involved in this, and every individual must take sides. The Lord Himself said,
“He that is not with Me is against Me: and He that gathers not with Me scatters” (Luke 10:23).
There is no neutrality in this connection.
Reader, on which side are you? If unsaved, bow at once to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
We think that the reason why God has allowed this war has now been furnished with all the weight and authority of holy Scripture behind it. May God graciously use these pages or the help of those whose faith is tried. May such see clearly that God is vindicated in all His ways, and needs not to give an account to any.
And above all, may my reader, who has not bowed to Christ as Saviour, do so at once. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). The Lord is coming quickly. When He comes the day of grace will be over for Christendom.