Who would be so foolish as to deny the fact that we live in a time of wars and rumors of wars?
Ask the parents of the young men who are drafted into the armed forces whether this is a time of wars and rumors of wars! It is not a pleasant thought or experience to have your sons taken away from family and church influence for their training in the armed forces. But that which makes it more difficult, fills the heart with heaviness and anxiety, is exactly that we live in a day and age when there is war all around us, and when there are rumors or reports of war that threaten to make that war very real for our land and for our sons. Ask the young men themselves who are drafted and must spend two years of their life in service, so that before that time they can do little planning and afterward they have lost an interesting and important period in their lives. Before their stint in the services they cannot get a good job because the employer knows they will soon be leaving. Marriage must be put off or shelved until things are more definite. And it is not peace that makes this training compulsory. It is wars and rumors of wars. Ask the draft boards why they are calling up so many more young men than in times past. The answer will not be that this is due to the fact that war is disappearing from off the face of the earth.
Nuclear bomb testing, in the air at least, has been suspended, but not because there is peace and rumors of peace. It is exactly because peace has proven to be such an elusive thing. Man wants to strive for peace, and that in itself again is an admission that there is war and rumor of war. But he is willing to stop making the weapons of war, if only he can put a halt to the increasing tempo of the war that does exist in men’s hearts and minds, if not on the actual battle field. Only the foolish would deny that this is a day of wars and rumors of wars.
Look at your newspaper and news magazine. Listen to your news broadcasts that are given hour after hour all day long. Glance even casually at the pictures published in newspaper and magazine. You see the weapons of war. You hear the sound of war. The word “fighting” crops up in so many items of today’s news. You receive reports of soldiers being killed, of bombings and air attacks. Take a newspaper or news magazine and with a scissors cut out all the columns and articles that refer in any way to war, and see once how much you have left. Try to avoid the front page and concentrate on the business world. Look at the stock market returns, and you soon learn that war makes quite a difference even in that market. Trace the history of the market for a few weeks and months, and you will find that wars of today and rumors of wars today have a tremendous effect upon that market and that the events of the recent past in that market also underscore the truth that we live in a time of wars and rumors of wars. Only the willfully blind fail to see this. Only the foolish, seeing it, pass it off as one of those things and try to put it out of mind.
Nor do men succeed in putting it out of mind. War has a way of making itself known to those who want to forget it and ignore it. Its rumor is something that just cannot be silenced. And traveling from one end of our country to another, taking a vacation to get away from it all, one still finds in distant and strange towns signs to direct him to the air raid shelter or to point out the evacuation route. And all this is because there is peace and rumors of peace? Our government and city fathers are looking forward to peace, and therefore they arrange air raid shelters and go to the expense of erecting evacuation route signs? To evacuate us from peace? How ridiculous! To shelter us from peace? What nonsense! O, indeed, the ungodly and unbelieving world knows we are in a time of war and hears the rumors. The wicked can read the signs of the times, even though they cannot know their significance. But, are there in the church those who doubt that we are in the days of Jesus’ prediction of the days that shortly precede His return? When added to these wars and rumors of wars there are also earthquakes in diverse, that is, various scattered places; apostasy in the church-world abounds; the means are here, if the actual fact is not there, for spreading the gospel to the four corners of the earth and to every nation, tongue, and tribe, are there still those who would say that the day of His coming is far off? The world itself says that “It is later than you think!” Let the church wake up and read the signs of the times. Let the church ask whether she is fighting the spiritual warfare, is training her covenant seed for the battle of faith and whether there are rumors, good rumors of war that indicate that she knows her calling and is not meddling with politics and social improvements instead of fighting for the truth and contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. The saddest part in the whole picture of wars and rumors of wars today is that there is so much quietness on the spiritual battle field. And the rumors in regard to spiritual warfare are not good rumors. Men go down without even fighting. Group capitulates to group in a false ecumenicity. Churches join with churches not in order to strengthen the position, to purify the church and preserve the truth, but to satisfy the longings of the flesh, for earthly power and pomp.
It is true that today many cry peace, when there is no peace. The desire in man’s soul is for peace. And we do not say that in itself this is wrong. Certainly we do not say that it is right to desire war with all its bloodshed, death, suffering, and devastation. But the means for ending it must be right. The motive for its abolishment must be righteous. The way of seeking it must meet with God’s approval. It is quite possible to have a good motive, to use proper means and to fight in a righteous way. Israel’s wars were not condemned by God but commanded. And one of Israel’s glaring sins with repercussions for generations was exactly that they did not fight enough! They left the enemy in the land to plague them and their children in later days. God spoke in the beginning of enmity between seed and seed. God’s very first promise to His church was that of warfare. But the enemy must be God’s enemy. The battle must be fought for His glory. The peace sought must be the peace of His kingdom. And the armor must be the whole armor of God. In any other warfare victory is absolutely hopeless.
Men have tried their League of Nations. It failed. Because of the increased tempo of wars and rumors of wars and in desperation, man is now trying the United Nations. And just yesterday the leading newspapers in our land featured a cartoon of two vultures sitting on top of the UN building waiting for the last gasps of life to leave so that they could feast on the dead body. That is not a biased evaluation of some church-father. That is not some sarcasm of the enemy of a United Nations organization. It is simply the portrayal of the obvious fact that the UN has failed and is falling apart. And its falling apart not only underscores the fact of wars and rumors of wars but also gives prediction of an increase in both wars and rumors of wars.
Man is afraid of that last, terrible war that he is able to introduce and into which he is equipped to plunge the world. His fear of the consequences for himself will make him think twice before he realizes it. It is not the fear of the Lord that holds him back. It is his only fleshly ambitions and aspirations. He must be very sure that such a terrible war is either going to benefit him, or that he has no choice but to begin it for his own vindication and revenge. And so, we can expect wars, many of them in confined areas and on many fronts. Rumors will crop up, and an uneasy peace in one sector will produce reports of the battle beginning in another area. We have a world war going at the moment, and let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we do not. All the leading nations are in it, and the countries allied with them are indirectly involved. Soldiers of all nations are dying, even if the fighting is contained in sectors of the world. Let us not be so ridiculous as to boast of peace when the battle drums can be heard so loudly and clearly. A drunken man hears it and it makes no impression upon him. Are we so spiritually drunken that we do not see the signs of the times? Or are we so carnal that we do not want to see them?
Definitely the wars and rumors of wars today are signs of the coming of Christ, if for no other reason than that they are signs of His immediate forerunner, the Antichrist. As Christ’s forerunner he is also Christ’s servant, and therein the church finds comfort and does look directly at these signs of the times. Paul makes a point of it in his second epistle to the Thessalonians that the day of Christ will not come until that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. And we may certainly expect that Christ will return shortly after the appearance of this man of sin. There will be no big lapse of time between his ascent to power and Christ’s powerful return. This Antichrist has his work to do according to God’s eternal and sovereign counsel; but in that counsel also is Christ’s return to destroy this man of sin.
And the wars of today will serve to produce this Antichrist. The world itself will tell you that, even though they will not call him the Antichrist. Men of the world have for long spoken of “One World.” The very essence of the League of Nations and the United Nations is that the safety of the world lies only in unification under one government. The only hope of bringing an end to the fightings amongst the nations is to combine them all into one big nation with one government to employ and dispense the vast treasure of resources upon the face of this globe. Socialism has tried to bring peace by trying to remove jealousy and covetousness by trying to realize equality among men. Wars and fightings come because we have not and our lusts war among our members, so James teaches us. And foolishly and hopelessly men have tried externally to realize a peace that cannot be had because of the internally corrupt heart of man. The UN will fail! The kingdom of the Antichrist will fail. Even though for a time that Antichrist may seem to have united men, satisfied their ambitions, given them a mock peace, the whole business will fall apart, according to Revelation 17:9-18.
There simply is no rest for the wicked. Men cry peace when actually there is no such thing for them. And all the wars and rumors of wars will not drive the natural man to The Prince of Peace and to His cross but only to the Antichrist, the son of perdition and man of sin. All the wars and rumors of wars will lead the unbeliever only farther away from peace, until he finds himself in all the torment of hell and forever separated from the God of all peace and His Son, the Prince of Peace. They will find the awful warfare of God’s holy wrath as He assaults them without end and without mercy in the lake of fire.
In His fear we will not fear what men can and shall do unto us. But likewise in His fear we will not ignore and reject these signs of Christ’s coming. To reject them is to reject the Word of God in them. This the believer will not do. He will receive them with thanksgiving and acknowledge, as he hears of wars and rumors of wars, the faithfulness of God to His promise. He will receive this sign by faith and be strengthened in his faith that God’s schedule is being kept, that all things are safe in the hands of a faithful and unchangeable God, whose word stands and whose promises are sure of fulfillment.
He will also look for the signs. One who travels looks for the signs along the way which indicate the turns he must take to reach his destination. The pilgrim who walks in His fear will also look for the signs which God places along his way. He has been given the eye of faith exactly for that purpose. We must walk by faith. Of the ungodly it is stated that seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not. But he who walks in His fear sees and understands, hears and rejoices. Though his flesh may suffer in that war and shudder at the rumors of war, his faith responds with quickening anticipation of the appearance of his Lord and Redeemer. He becomes spiritually more excited and lives in increased anticipation of that wonderful day.
Do the wars and rumors of wars today threaten the peace which you want and for which you look? Or do they, as the Word of God to His church, assure you of the certainty and nearness of the lasting peace of God’s kingdom and of your everlasting joy therein with the Prince of Peace Himself?