By D.M. PANTON
inevitability of war among unregenerate mankind history proves. The Russian author Novikow says:- From the year 1496
B.C. to A.D. 1862, in 3,358 years, there were 227 years of peace and 3,130
years of war. Within the last three
centuries there have been 286 wars in
has any radical change occurred in the two decades since. How active are the seething passions which
create war - for whence come
wars? come they not hence, even from your lusts that
war in your members? (Jas. 4: 1). Mr. Winston Churchills words in the House of Commons (Times, Nov. 29, 1934) prove,
words which almost equally fit three other greatest Powers of the world,
One consequence of the Great War is that we are watching an agitation for world peace probably without precedent in history.* But a dominant factor of the world situation invisible to the world, and scarcely less invisible to the Church, is that war can come on men and nations passionately desiring peace as a judgment from God. It is by no means impossible that peace will be achieved. A peace of universal slavery is perfectly conceivable; and one powerful urge to a restored Roman Empire, come to birth by the offer of universal rule made to Rome by the Dictators of the world (Rev. 27: 13), will be a world peace which only such an Empire can create, a restoration of the Pax Romana. For the coming peace will be neither reconciliation with God nor the eradication of human passion, but a vast slave mentality acquiescing in world-wide tyranny; and the mastery which already controls the massed populations of Russia, Italy, and Germany needs only to become universal to make such a world peace a certainty.** It is upon such a peace as this that the Red Horse-man of the Apocalypse advances from the Throne to upset the plans of an anti-God world with a shock that can no more be withstood than can an earthquake. And to him it was given TO TAKE PEACE FROM THE EARTH, and that they should slay one another; and there was given unto him a great sword (Rev. 6: 4).
* It cannot be too clearly stated that Christian pacifism - if it can rightly be so called - is purely the temporary, dispensational expression of Gods wondrous grace which, not imputing to the world its trespasses, sends forth ambassadors harmless as doves, so as to win by love; whereas national and international pacifism is based on economic and political expediency, totally regardless of God, or any revelation from God. The meetings of the League of Nations Union are characterized by a complete absence of the word God.
It is extraordinarily confirmatory that the most
explicit and exhaustive proposals for universal peace yet made emanate from the
great anti-God Power of the world,
The locus classicus on war as judgment is in Jeremiah. It is the picture of a banqueting hall, in which are seated all the nations of the world; and the Cup of Jehovahs Fury is circulated amongst them, with compulsion on all to drink. Take the cup of the wine of this fury at My hand, AND CAUSE ALL THE NATIONS TO DRINK IT (Jer. 25: 15). God has said through Ezekiel (14: 21), I send My four sore judgments, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beasts, and the pestilence; and so here, under the figure of this circulating cup of which all the banqueters must drink, God announces this form of judgment to the nations at the End: I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of, the earth. Our Lord also prophesied it:- For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places; but these are the beginning of travail (Matt. 24: 7). That is to say, at the End, after the removal of the Holy Spirit and the watchful of the Church, war - universal war, war involving all nations, and war on a scale and with a ruin never before contemplated - will fill the world.* The diplomacy of statesmen will become fuddled and blundering - drink ye and be drunken; the whole economic structure of the State, and its political stability, will become unsafe and insecure they shall reel to and fro; the national policy will become insane reel to and fro, and be mad and whole nations, stupefied by war, become helpless and powerless, and involved in disastrous ruin be drunken and fall, and rise no more: and all this BECAUSE OF THE SWORD WHICH I WILL SEND AMONG YOU.
* It is too often overlooked that the last judgments, the overwhelming punitive catastrophes of the Day of Wrath, can by no possibility occur in our gospel age, the era of grace; the Hinderer must first be removed (2 Thess. 2.); and only when the dam bursts can the flood of iniquity and judgment come. Until a rapture has occurred the Day of the Lord is not here. The Great War may have been a judgment, but was not the judgment war, which will involve all nations and overspread the world.
This prophecy also reveals, most remarkably, that the
nations, having learned the agony of war, will attempt to refuse the Cup. And it shall be that if they refuse to lake the cup at thine hand, then shalt thou say unto them, thus
saith the Lord of hosts, YE SHALL SURELY
DRINK. The refusal of the Cup has long been in
process of careful preparation. With an
endowment of £2,000,000 a peace propaganda is being pushed through all nations;
a Peace Palace costing millions sterling has been built at The Hague, largely
out of wealth created by the manufacture of enormous modern guns; in it is a Library
on international peace of 75,000 volumes; all known cases of arbitration have
been codified and a body of permanent judges, eminent jurists, sit at The Hague
for international arbitration. All
nations have conspired in the erection of this magnificent palace. The grand stained glass windows in the Court
of justice come from England; the massive gates at the park entrance from Germany;
the gorgeous marbles of the interior from Italy; the silk tapestries in the
Council Chamber from Japan ; the priceless porcelain
vases from China ; a marble throne from Greece; Gobelin
tapestries from France; a vase of jasper from Russia; marble statuary from the
States; costly carpets from Turkey, with minor gifts from all the minor States
of the world. But what is this peace
worth? Five of the monarchs and
presidents whose pictures hang upon its walls have been assassinated since the
palace was built. There are a million more men under arms in
For there is only one Creator of peace in heaven or earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder (Ps. 46: 9). But the Angels said, Peace on earth, good will toward men, only after they had said, There is born to you this day a Saviour which is CHRIST THE LORD (Luke 2: 11). All peace based on a disregard of Christ assumes the falsity of the Christian Faith, and the gross untruth of the whole revelation of God. The Lord hath a controversy - a lawsuit with the nations: the controversy is over Calvary: all nations, by refusing the Sacrifice, endorse the Crucifixion: therefore peace, apart from Christ, and His atonement for sin, is peace establishing wickedness, and making mankind happy and prosperous in iniquity. Nor does God need to create war: all He has to do in order to plunge a sinning world into chaos is simply to withdraw His own gracious, restraining influences. Ye lust - empire-lust, glory-lust, commerce-lust, power-lust and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain - in perpetual friction and faction: ye fight and war (Jas. 4: 2). So all national judgments down the ages close in the last. Then took I the cup at the Lords hand, and made all the nations to drink, AND ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD WHICH ARE UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.
* * *
A LAST REVIVAL
When current events are studied in the light of fulfilled prophecy, there can be no doubt about the impending crash which Jesus referred to as the great tribulation. Spiritual insight is required to grasp this truth because an attitude of dark expectancy is revolting to the average person. Human nature is prone toward silly optimism. No matter if it is as revolutionary to modern thinking as Noahs prophetic voice was to the antediluvians, Armageddon will come! But, true to history and prophecy, there will first come a spontaneous outburst of supernatural religion. The coming revival will not last very long, but it will sweep the earth like lightning. And as a result, the world will be evangelized. The prophecy of Matthew 24: 14 will then come to pass. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. This great awakening will overflow the beaten paths of denominationalism and standardized missionary endeavour. It will be spontaneous, cyclonic, dynamic, world-wide! It will not be the result of any humanly devised programme, but an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
- GERALD B. WINROD.
* * *
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Sermon on the Mount contains the principles of the
The Korean not only memorizes Scripture; he puts it into practice. One day there came into one of the mission stations a sturdy Christian from the north. After the usual greetings, he was asked the purpose of his visit. His reply was: I have been memorizing some verses in the Bible and have come to recite them to you. He lived a hundred miles away and had walked all that distance, travelling four nights - a long stroll to recite some verses of Scripture to his pastor, but he was listened to as he recited in Korean without a verbal error, the entire Sermon on the Mount. He was told that if he simply memorized it it would be a feat of memory and nothing more; he must practise its teachings. His face lighted up with a smile as he promptly replied: That is the way I learned it. I tried to memorize it, but it wouldnt stick, so I hit on this plan. I would memorize a verse, and then find a heathen neighbour of mine and practise the verse on him. Then I found it would stick. - JAMES S. GALE.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all.
False swearing was forbidden of old; but every kind of swearing is forbidden now by word of our Lord Jesus. He mentions several forms of oath and forbids them all; and then prescribes simple forms of affirmation or denial, as all that His followers should employ. Notwithstanding much that may be advanced to the contrary, there is no evading the plain sense of this passage that every sort of oath, however solemn or true, is forbidden to a follower of Jesus. Whether in court of law or out of it, the rule is Swear not at all. Yet in this Christian country we have swearing everywhere, and especially among law-makers. Our legislators begin their official existence by swearing. By those who obey the law of the Saviours Kingdom, all swearing is set aside, that the simple word of affirmation or denial calmly repeated, may remain as the simple bond of truth. Believers should not yield to an evil custom, however great the pressure put upon them; but they should abide by the plain and unmistakable command of their Lord and King. - C. H. SPURGEON.
Our Lord reviews in the Sermon on the Mount much of the Law, and sets up a new and higher standard. The Law generally taught as its principle - righteousness, or strict justice. Man was to render to God His dues; and then he might exact what was due to himself from his neighbour and fellowman. If injured, he was to seek and obtain redress. If men strive ... and if mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life ; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exod. 21: 22-25).
This rule Jesus expressly repeals. The Christian is not to resist the evil man; but to be patient under injury, whether that be inflicted on our person, or on our property; by an individual, or by the oppression of a government (Matt. 10: 38-41). We are to forgive without limit the evil world in the midst of which we are set; that God may also without limit forgive us. (Matt. 6: 12, 14). As the Law taught justice, the Gospel teaches Grace.
Now this is an answer to those who would distinguish between a Christians personal enemies, and those of his country. We are to resemble our heavenly Father; and He is not making any such distinction of countries, He is calling men of all nations to be reconciled with Himself. And the Christian is one who has left his standing as one of the nations of the world to become a member of Christ, and one of the Church, which is Christs body. We are no longer of the world, even as Christ was not (John 8: 23; 15: 19). We are pilgrims and strangers on earth, seeking a better country, even an heavenly (Heb. 11: 13-16).
This one principle then, that WE ARE TO RESEMBLE GOD THE FATHER AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND TO EXHIBIT THEM TO THE WORLD, seems to me to settle this question for those who are candid. Under the Law God took as His title Jehovah, God of armies: (Ps. 80: 7, 14; Amos 5: 27, etc.). Then war was lawful: and, the courage of Jonathan, and David, and Samson, glorified Him. What says the Son of God concerning Himself? The Spirit of God came on Him to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and to set at liberty the bruised: (Luke 4: 18). How then can any resemble Christ in warfare - breaking the hearts of wives and families, seizing prisoners of war, and detaining the wounded? - ROBERT GOVETT.
In the year 1830 George Muller writes in his journal: My wife and I had grace given to us to take the Lords commandment, Sell that ye have and give alms (Luke 12: 33) literally, and to carry it out. Our staff and support in this matter were Matthew 6: 19-34; John 14: 13, 14. We leaned on the arm of the Lord Jesus. It is now twenty-nine years since we set out in this way, and we do not in the least regret the step we then took.
This was written in the year 1860, but his testimony to the possibility of carrying out this command literally lasted to the end of his long life of ninety-three years. Thus we have the instance of one man who for sixty-eight years dared to take the Lords commands literally, and carry it out.
He also remarks about Matthew 5: 39-44: It had pleased God, in His abundant mercy, to bring my mind into such a state, that I was willing to carry out into my life whatever I should find in the Scriptures. For instance: Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.
He comments on these commandments thus:- It may be said, surely these passages cannot be taken literally, for how then would the people of God be able to pass through the world? The state of mind enjoined in John 7: 17 will cause such objections to vanish. Whosoever is willing to act out these commandments of the Lord LITERALLY will, I believe, be led with me to see that, to take them LITERALLY, is the will of God. Those who do so take them will doubtless often be brought into difficulties, hard to the flesh to bear, but these will have a tendency to make them constantly feel that they are strangers and pilgrims here, that this world is not their home, and thus to throw them more upon God, who will assuredly help us through any difficulty into which we may be brought by seeking to act in obedience to His Word.
It is sometimes contended that the Sermon on the Mount is to be in force during the Millennial Reign of Christ. But we can gather from the Sermon itself the character of the age for which it is intended.
Corruption is widespread - for they are to act as salt for the preservation of society.
Moral darkness covers the people - for they are to be light in the world.
Mammon competes with God for the allegiance of men - for they are warned that it is not possible to serve both.
The Lord is absent - for they are fasting.
world-rulers of this darkness are in control; the
The contrast between the age to which the Lord spoke and the age of His Millennial Reign could not be set in sharper contrast, nor can we fail to recognize in it the characteristics of our own.
- C. F. HOGG.
* * *
THE NEW UNIVERSE
One fact links up for ever the old creation in which we are at this moment, and the new creation, and makes the birth of both identical. It is summed up in the word Logos. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and all things were made by him (John 1: 1). So it is again when a new universe comes into being. As God said, Let there be a universe, and the universe was, so again, throughout the birth of the new creation there is only One Speaker, the Logos. And I heard a great voice out of the throne; and he that silleth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new: I am the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 21: 3-6). As though the pent-up desires of His heart have found full vent at last, God alone speaks; and He speaks as Alpha and Omega - the Alpha that produced the worlds that are; the Omega who will at last produce the imperishable worlds. And to John, nearly two thousand years ago, He saith, Write! For these words are faithful and true. And he said unto me, They are come to pass. God can put into a past tense - so certain that it is already accomplished - what even now is at least a thousand years ahead.
has been made ready, by all-searching judgment, for something completely new
and clean. The Evil Angels are in the
So now, as we should expect, the whole universe, because it is sin-soiled, is annihilated, and the fact is stated in words impossible to be misunderstood. I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; AND THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THEM (Rev. 20: 2). Such words have only one meaning: if there is no place for a material object, it can only be because it has ceased to exist. So again:- the first heaven and the first earth are passed away (Rev. 21: 1). Even the Millennial earth, with all the wonder and glory of this old world brought under the complete control of Christ, is no lasting home for a child of God, any more than for our Lord Himself. The apostle Peter makes all clear:- The heavens shall pass away with a great noise [a crashing roar: Lange] and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (2 Pet. 3: 10). The inconceivable power of God in summoning the vast universe out of nothing is simply exercised again, in the reverse, so plunging it back - equally inconceivably - into the nothingness out of which He summoned it.
new universe now dawns, the final goal of all the
longing of all the pious, of all revelations of salvation, and all prophecies,
even the final goal of all judgments, which make room for the eternal City of
a new metropolis of the universe, its central city, now appears. And I saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It is new in its materials, in its size, in its location, in
its style, in its permanence, and in everything characteristic of it (Siess). The City descends twice: first, out of the
invisible heavens, before the Millennium, throughout which it hovers over the
earth, unattached to it; then secondly it descends on to the new earth, there
to abide, as its metropolis for ever. Hitherto
it has been the
supreme consummation now unfolds. Behold, the tabernacle of God
is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and
God himself shall be with them, and be their God. The astounding
revelation is here given that God and man are to share one home; to enjoy a
fellowship together never to be interrupted, never to be marred by a single
sin. No longer does God choose one
nation for Himself, nor even one spiritual people separate from mankind, but God is with men, and they shall be his peoples; that is, the Most High is visible and approachable,
even as Adam walked and talked with his Maker in the first garden of the world.
consequence is a completely new world. He
shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither
shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: no mourning - sorrow
over the dead; nor crying - a sharp cry, or scream; nor pain - no anguish,
mental or physical. Only the Hand that
made our spirits can reach into the deep sources of our sorrows, so changing
everything that we shall never weep again;*
no deathbeds, no funerals, no cemeteries; and better still, no heart-break. The first things have passed
away: they never belonged even to
the first creation, as such: the sweating, the groaning, the bleeding, the
dying are not laws of God, but fruits of the violation of the laws of God; and therefore the
final universe will never know them. Robert Hall, the preacher, was such a
sufferer that he would roll on the carpet in agony: on his tombstone in
A visitor returning from
shadow only falls, but a shadow unutterably awful:- but there is the lake that burneth with
fire and brimstone; which is the second death. As there is a
second and higher life, so there is a second and deeper death; and the fearful
fact is that it is in the imperishable universe that the Lake of Fire is found:
that is, the literality and imperishableness of the heaven, the earth, the
city, puts beyond all doubt the literality and imperishability
of Hell.* And
in the nature of the case it is inescapable. All the incurable wickedness in the universe
has to be confined, as leprosy is confined in a lazaretto, to one spot; and
those in the
* Equally decisive is it (to name but one detail) that the Antichrist and the False Prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19: 20): men cannot be cast alive into a figure of speech. So far from hell-fire deflecting men from belief, it is an historical fact that where it has been most preached, most have been saved.
** On he that overcometh shall inherit these things Mr. Govett remarks: Probably there may be two aspects of overcoming: overcoming so as to be rewarded, and then partaking in millennial glory; and overcoming as compared with the total unbelief of the worldly. This is the victory which overcometh the world even our faith, and the final entry into eternal life in the city of the risen.
Most wonderful is an Apostles practical inference from these stupendous facts. Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved - that the world, on which we are walking, is a world that will melt away for ever what manner of persons, ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness (2 Pet. 3: 11). In the comment of Dr. Alexander Maclaren:- Make haste about cultivating a Christ-like character: the harvest is great, the toil is heavy, the sun is drawing to the west, the reckoning is at hand: there is no time to lose; set about it as you have never done before, and say, This one thing I do.
* * *
THE CITY OF
Non habemus hic manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus. Heb. 13: 14.
O Heavenly city, timeless dwelling-place,
Where we shall meet the Loved Ones, face to face,
To thee our thoughts ascend, our hopes aspire,
Whose bulwarks gleam, touched by no earthly fire.
Immortal are thy courts: eternal life
Bides there, triumphant over death and strife.
Sin cannot enter, and no sorrows come
To mar the glory of the Souls true home.
Here, amid mortal mists, we grope our way;
There, shines the light of everlasting day.
Here hate has power; but, in that City fair,
Love rules alone, for God is present there.
- E. H. BLAKENEY.