The Christian is naturally interested in the events that are taking place in the world today.
And although his interest does not exclude, but rather include, things temporal, such as the social problems, the economic situation, the political setup, it is not centered on these things as such, but considers these in the light of and with relation to something that far transcends them all: the kingdom of God.
Even in and through the present world crisis and universal madness of the nations, the believer is mindful of the word of the Lord Jesus: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you.”
And the chief question in the mind of the Christian is: how do the present world events stand related to the coming of the kingdom of God and the “day of the Lord”?
That they are related to that day, there is no doubt. The Christian believes that all things that take place in this present time belong to the coming of Christ, and must culminate in His final manifestation in glory, His coming on the clouds of heaven. Hence, for him the events of this present time are especially of interest as “things that must shortly come to pass” with a view to that final coming.
The world is looking for, and even now speaking of a new world order, an order in which justice and righteousness shall dominate all relations, in which there shall be freedom and abundance for all, an order of abiding and firmly established peace. And, indeed, there can be but little doubt that the structure of the present world order, socially, economically and politically, is crashing over our heads. It is quite safe to say that, whatever may be the outcome of the present world struggle, the old order is doomed. It will never return. Whether the dream of a new world order will be realized, and what form this realization will assume, is still an open question.
The Christian, too, looks for a new world order, but it is an order that in every sense transcends the present, so that it cannot be conceived in the line and as the ultimate outcome of the historical development of the present order. It, too, is an order in which righteousness prevails, but it is not the righteousness of Man, but the righteousness of God. It, too, is an order that is characterized by permanent and abiding peace, but it is not the peace of Man, established by treaties and maintained by force; but it is the peace of God in Christ that dominates that order. It is not of this world. It is strictly universal, for it embraces the whole creation, heaven and earth; and it is heavenly, not earthy: concentrated in the heavenly, resurrected Christ. Therefore, it cannot come by way of historical evolution: it will come through the final wonder, the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is regeneration!
But, although the present events cannot possibly give birth to that eternal kingdom of heaven, the Christian knows that somehow they lead up to the moment of the regeneration of all things. The measure of all things must be made full, before that “hour” can come. Cod’s alphabet must be read through, every letter of it must be historically realized, from the alpha to the omega, before that abiding order can be ushered in. And it is in this light that the Christian is chiefly interested to view the events of this present time, especially when these assume gigantic proportions and acquire special significance, as is the case in the present war.
Of course, as he attempts to interpret these events in the light of the kingdom that is to come, and of the end of the present world, he must be careful. Surely, Scripture reveals to us “the things that must shortly come to pass”. But even so it does not describe to us in detail the history of the world before it is realized. It gives us “signs”, that we may believe. And as the things do come to pass, the believer may recognize them in the light of prophecy, not to satisfy his curiosity, but to strengthen his faith and quicken his hope.
And so the question may be asked: is there even now something to be recognized of this realization of the purposes of God in the present conflict?
As we consider the present stage of the world conflict, things look still rather dark and confused.
In Europe and Africa the period of the German blitzkrieg, with its surprises and quick brilliant victories, appears to be definitely ended. On the other hand, the Russian counter-offensive did not result in cracking the German line, and as soon as weather and ground conditions permit we will probably witness one of the bloodiest battles of the war. In the meantime Japan is carrying on a blitzkrieg of its own in the southern Pacific, and, no doubt, has given the allied nations the surprise of their life by the manifestation of their power and the extent of their preparedness. In quick succession they conquered the Philippines, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and southern Burma. In the meantime our own country is exerting all its efforts and using all its resources to get ready. But the picture is still too confusing to venture any definite predictions as to the possible outcome of the war. Besides, the present line-up of the nations may be deceiving. Can it be expected, in spite of the momentary military alliances, that there is a fundamental basis of unity between Japan and Germany; or between the democratic nations and Russia? Humanly speaking, one can visualize all kinds of possibilities developing in the future.
Yet, it seems as if gradually something definite emerges from the confusion even now.
We know from the Bible that the time will come when the “nations that live on the four corners of the earth”, Gog and Magog, will awake. The devil shall be loosed with respect to these nations, and he will go forth to deceive them and to gather them for the battle of the great God. This implies that these nations, that for a long time lived outside of the pale of history, will gain their independence and unite. To these nations, I am convinced, belong especially the yellow peoples, the millions upon millions of the Asiatic nations, Japan, China, India. For centuries the white race dominated the world; the yellow races were considered inferior and brought into subjection. Their riches and resources were exploited by the white man. What would the British empire, what would Holland and other nations of Europe be, without their colonies?
There are signs that all this will be permanently changed through the present conflict. The allied nations anxiously look toward India, and are deliberating upon the question what can be done to align its millions and its fabulous riches on their side in the struggle against Japan. Already Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to that country to see what can be done about it. Gradually it begins to dawn upon the allied nations, even upon Great Britain (reluctant though Mr. Churchill evidently is to admit it) that India’s favor can be bought only at the price of her freedom and independence.
Reflecting upon an article by Edgar Snow in the Saturday Evening Post, the editor of that magazine writes:
“Edgar Snow asks on another page whether the United Nations can hope to defeat Japan unless we have the native peoples of Asia wholeheartedly on our side. The price of their help, he says, is their liberty. That would mean the end of the white man’s imperialism in Asia, but that is ended anyway, he believes.
“The American people have had a hard lesson in geography in the past three months. They have learned, and in a way they will remember, where their rubber, tin, silk, tea and spices came from. They have learned abruptly that the Asiatic is not an inferior fighting man, because we have seen what the Japanese can do against us, what the Filipino and the Chinese can do for us.
“There is another lesson yet unlearned, one which Mr. Snow is teaching out of a firsthand knowledge of
Asia as intimate as that of any living American. The lesson is that the curtain fell on December seventh upon a two-century era in Asia; dropped finally, regardless of the outcome of this war. From 1700 or thereabouts to 1941 the white man, the pukka sahib, dominated much of Asia, dealing with the natives as inferior and subject peoples. This white man’s Asia has had a great fall, and all our men and all our planes cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again, even if we wished.
“This is a fact the American people must face in the midst of war, so that they may understand what we are fighting for in the Pacific. We are fighting first of all to defeat the Japanese, of course, because Japan has stepped into the white man’s shoes with a vengeance, and is creating a huge Asiatic empire which directly threatens all America, Australia and New Zealand. Whipping Japan, then, is our immediate objective in the Pacific.
“But what of our long-range objective? When Japan is smashed, fenced back inside her little island world, what then? Do we intend to ask our Chinese allies to return to the white man the colonies and concessions which the Japanese have taken over temporarily? And what would be the Chinese answer? Are we committed to restore the white man’s Asia in China, Indo-China, Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, Burma, India?
“The sooner we face these questions, the better, because our answers may have an important effect upon the outcome of the war, certainly upon its duration. If the Asiatic peoples, the Filipinos included, get the notion that this is a war to determine whether the white man or the Jap shall rule them, they might decide that it is immaterial to them who wins, a choice of frying pan or fire. These Orientals will die on our side only if they are convinced that our victory will be their victory.”
“Pearl Buck, another American who knows the East’s head and heart, told a New York audience in February, as Singapore was falling: The peoples of Asia want most of all in this war their freedom. Japan aims to show them that if the United States wins, they will not have it. We cannot win this war without convincing our allies that we are fighting for freedom everywhere.
“If it is true, as we believe, that the white man’s Asia is gone forever, outmoded in time, then the quicker Great Britain and the Netherlands realize and act upon this fact, the better for them and for us. It is easy to give away other people’s empires, but what is the alternative?”
According to Edgar Snow, the Chinese realize rather clearly that the independence of the Asiatic peoples is one of the stakes in the present world-conflict. He quotes a Chunking spokesman as saying:
“The battle of the Southwest Pacific is a battle for the freedom of the Asiatic peoples. It is a battle to decide whether Chinese, Indians, Malays, Filipinos and other Asiatic peoples can have a future of free independent development.”
We are not trying to predict definitely what will be the outcome of the war. But it is easy to see that one of the results may be the end of many colonial empires and the beginning of the freedom and self-government of millions upon millions of the yellow race.
And this certainly would mean to us that the Scriptures are being fulfilled rapidly with respect to the “nations that live on the four corners of the earth.”
There is reason to ask: Are Gog and Magog awaking?