The late Rev. H. Hoeksema in his excellent exposition of the book of Revelation writes about the fact that many Christians are accustomed to run in the narrow track of their individual salvation, and no doubt this is very significant. Nevertheless it is only part of the truth. The Biblical truth is that all the world which fell into the power of sin will again be restored and raised to a far higher glory. That is why there must necessarily be continual war between God and Satan. In the final analysis this is the war of all ages. Unless we accept this cosmological view of salvation, we shall never be able to understand Scripture, least of all the book of Revelation.
It was in the year 1914 that the British statesman, Lord Gray, on the eve of World War 1 with an almost prophetic view gave the epitaph for an entire era when he said, “The lights are going out in the western world, and we will not see them lighted again.” Since then tremendous changes have taken place not only in the church world but also in the political, economical and social world. Nothing has been the same anymore. People who still think are stunned by what has happened in the last decades of history.
Recently one could read in the public press, “In a society where the computer increasingly has become the ultimate keeper of records, aren’t we becoming a nation of numbers with individuality rapidly becoming a thing of the past?” In the same issue one could read that science made significant progress by achieving human conception in a test tube. No wonder that even a magazine such as U.S. News and World Reportwrote, “This society has outdone Sodom and Gomorrah.” One who observes the world events stands in awe how Scriptures are being fulfilled. After Pentecost the white horse and his rider of Revelation 6 has, up to the present day, pursued in the main a definite course. Starting from Jerusalem, the Lord in His good pleasure and absolute sovereignty has sent the messengers with the glad tidings of salvation not eastward, to the old world, but via Asia Minor, westward to the new world, Europe (Acts 16:9) and in due time to the North American continent. These nations outwardly have been Christianized. Of course there are Christians all over the world, but there is a distinct difference.
During the course of the New Testament dispensation, the bright light of the Sun of Righteousness was shining from many pulpits in the western world, but especially in the last decades has been replaced more and more by the dim light of human philosophy. The goddess of reason is worshipped in many churches. Have we reached that point in history where there will be reformation no more? The western nations in general have rejected the Christ and the consequences are, “So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust; and they walked in their own counsels.” (Ps. 81:11-12)
We read in the book of Revelation that Babylon, the nominal Christian nations of the west, which are rapidly becoming anti-Christian, shall come to her final destruction. The Lord shall execute his vengeance upon Babylon. It was in Babylon that God’s people, the apple of His eye, were in tribulation. It was in Babylon that God’s people were made a laughing stock because of their other-worldly hopes. We read further in the same book that when the end draws nigh, the ungodly in despair shall ask the mountains to cover them; that the river Euphrates shall dry up; that the nations on the four comers of the earth shall rise up. Do we see the beginning of the fulfillment of these prophecies today?
The nominal Christian nations of the west have dominated the entire world for many centuries. The western nations have been the center of civilization. For many centuries, from the western world went forth the law over many nations and tribes and multitudes. But the world picture is beginning to change. Today there is much unrest in the western world. Inwardly we are plagued by inflation. Our economy is upset. Our international monetary system is in disorder. There is disregard for authority. (2 Tim. 3:2) Truth is fallen in the street. (Isa. 59:14). Outwardly there is the growing threat of the U.S.S.R. building a war machine as the world has never seen before.
The river Euphrates, in the N.T. dispensation the symbol of the boundary line between the Christian and heathen nations, shall no more serve its purpose. Today the western nations feel the impact made by the policy of the oil kings of the east. Will this be the prelude of the last conflict fought here on earth between east and west, the battle of Armageddon? For “the nations on the four corners of the earth” are awakening. I refer to the millions of people who live in Asia and Africa, nations which never have played any appreciable part in history, but today clamor for their own place in the midst of the nations of the world. They are becoming conscious of their tremendous manpower. Scripture even says, “The number of whom is as the sand of the seashore.” I refer to the United Nations where the western nations are outvoted by the heathen nations. I refer to a nation as China. This immense country with about 20% of the world population, that has lived in seclusion for many centuries, but today rapidly is becoming a world power to be reckoned with.
There was some interesting reading in “Oil Industry Officials, International Monetary Fund. ” Japanese imports played a major role in the monetary crisis that rocked the U.S. in 1971. Arab funds reportedly accounted for nearly a third of the 6 billion dollars that poured into West Germany to set off the February 1973 currency crisis. It is expected that by 1980 the foreign exchange holdings accumulated by Saudi Arabia alone could exceed the combined U.S. and Japanese hoards of gold and other reserves.
The shape of the future already is evident. The world supremacy of the western nations is declining rapidly. People who still think seriously are concerned about the future of the western nations. Some time ago one could read, “This age is lost, lonely, homesick, thinking of itself, as bits of matter floating in a hostile universe.” Like a worldly poet said, “There is no horizon and no shore, the last star has disappeared.”
How altogether different is the world and life view of the Christian, for he knows it is written that all these things must come to pass. For about 6000 years mankind has lived on this planet called earth, but in the last decades we have reached a standard of living unkown in history. Indeed, Scripture tells us that from a human point of view the antichristian time will be a glorious time for the flesh. Antichrist will take care of all our physical needs. For many even in the church, world life on this earth looks “good.” Why should one look for a better country. (Heb. 11:16) To them this earth is more like a playground instead of a battlefield. They don’t see that we are living in a sick society for they are spiritually blind because, “God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.” (2 Thes. 2:11) As history will come to a close, apostasy in the church and violence in the world increases. The Christian while he continues his earthly pilgrimage, looks beyond the treacherous waves of life’s stormy sea waiting for the dawning of that great day, the glorious return of his Saviour Jesus Christ. He will not come back like 2000 years ago as “the man of Galilee doing good, meek and lowly,” but this time as the Triumphator, riding on the white horse of victory, his eyes as a flame of fire, clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, ready for battle to destroy all his enemies, all who are not looking forward for that blessed hope, the glorious appearance of their Saviour Jesus Christ. Terrible will He be in His dignity. He for whom earth and heavens tremble.
“For when Jehovah shall appear,
He shall consume afar and near
All those that evil cherish.
As smoke before his dreadful ire,
As wax is molten by the fire,
So shall the wicked perish.”
* This special article is from the pen of a member of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan. We thank brother Woltjer for this interesting essay. HCH