"The Lord your God proveth you." #De 13:3.
THE foregoing text is applicable to the Lord’s people in a special way; yet as we look at the world to-day, we can recognize that the Lord is surely Judging the Nations, especially those that have been greatly blessed with His favor.
Consider Europe, for instance: How wonderfully those nations have been favored with opportunities for coming to a knowledge of the Lord! Ever since the days of Jesus and the Apostles, Europe has had Gospel privileges, more or less. Of course, we are not to hold the people of to-day responsible for anything in the past. To do so would be unfair. But we are to consider that in a general way the influences of Christianity have spread over the world, especially in Europe.
Gradually the world has come to esteem itself to be Christian. The nations of Europe are generally styled Christendom. Nevertheless, the Bible declares that the world is not Christian, and has not the Spirit of Christ in its activities. The world, therefore, is self-deceived.
To the extent that the nations have had light, to that extent they are responsible. The Bible does not show, however, that the world has full responsibility.
Only those have full responsibility who have taken the step of entire consecration to God through Christ, only those who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit. These have been illuminated and have come into the highest place of opportunity and blessing in the Lord. These have a deep insight into His Word that no others possess.
The World’s Judgment Has Begun.
But so far as the world is concerned we can readily see that in proportion as they have seen, they should be required to do. We can feel quite sure that God would expect more of the peoples of Europe than of those of Asia and Africa, who have little knowledge of Him. So just at this time, when Bible chronology shows that God’s leases of power to the Gentile governments has expired, we see exactly what we should expect—that He is permitting these nations to pass judgment upon themselves, so to speak. He is permitting them to show themselves, to manifest their real condition of mind and heart, to demonstrate whether or not they have made proper use of their opportunities and blessings in the way of development in righteousness.
The nations of Christendom have had much to say about the Lord. His name is to be found in all these countries. The nations have held aloft the Cross of Christ in an outward way. They have many places for prayer and worship. They have abounded in forms of godliness. They have had much wealth and treasure. They have had hosts of priests and preachers of all denominations. With all the advantages and experiences of the past nineteen centuries, we might have expected Europe to be in a much better condition than it is—that it would have learned much more than it has as to what is the Spirit of the Lord and what it is not.
Loosing the Four Winds.
God is now letting loose the winds of strife. He is letting the nations
OV433 take their own course, in order to prove to themselves and to others that they are not what they claim to be, and to humble them into the dust. Thus they will be brought to realize their own helplessness and their dire need of God.—#Re 7:1-3..As we look back over the past thousand years, we can see that God has been holding the peoples of the earth more or less under restraint, permitting them to go only so far at any time. Otherwise they would have destroyed themselves long ago. The hearts of fallen humanity are so selfish that, had mankind been permitted to go their full length, the race would have been annihilated long before now. But God’s due time has come to let loose the winds of strife, with the result that the long-expected storm has burst in fury upon the world. The trouble is spreading from nation to nation; and it looks as if ultimately every nation will become involved—surely every one which formed part of the old Roman Empire. (#Da 2:44.) Whether the strife will extend beyond the boundaries of the Roman rule we do not know—nor whether it will involve America.
Minds of the People Astray.
These United States have had many advantages over other countries. Our temporal blessings have been multiplied on every hand. Nevertheless, we must confess that there is much of mere outward forms of godliness here, much of ceremony, hypocrisy, dishonesty and crime. Great light has been given and largely ignored. Therefore it would seem that sooner or later our land may become involved in turmoil. There is much of Christian profession here, an outward form of godliness devoid of its power.
Consequently it seems hardly possible that America will fail to escape full share in the judgment of the nations.
There is much restlessness amongst the people everywhere. Indeed, the whole world is becoming crazed as the angry passions of men are being stirred up against one another.
In the countries at war where the soldiers in the trenches are killing one another by the thousands—sometimes sixty thousand in one day—necessarily a hardening influence goes with this course of action. The soldiers must become more or less benumbed in their sensibilities, as a natural result. As a whole, the world to-day seems to be telling the Lord, telling His people—who are not of this world—and telling the angels—who are looking on—what their spirit really is, and demonstrating that it is not the Spirit of the Lord.
It reminds us of the spirit of James and John, the two Apostles whom our Lord surnamed "Sons of Thunder," because of their courage and fiery zeal. On one occasion they wished to bring down fire from Heaven to destroy the people of a little Samaritan village because they had refused to sell bread to our Lord and The Twelve. But the Master reproved them saying, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of;" that is, they had become His disciples, but had not yet realized what is the spirit of a true disciple. It was, therefore, no wonder that they did things contrary to the Lord’s Spirit.—#Lu 9:51-56.
After the disciples received the begetting of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they would not have even thought of doing such a thing; for then they received the Heavenly illumination and could discern that the Spirit of Christ prompted its possessor to help others, not to destroy them. Previous to Pentecost these disciples were zealous Jews, courageous in defense of what they thought right, as against wrong. And so it is now in Europe. Many are zealous, and are trying to find some good reason for what they are doing.
The leaders tell the people various things. In some cases the people are told that their liberties and the development of their country are held in check by jealous neighbors.
On the other hand the people are led to think that militarism is their greatest foe, and therefore must be crushed. On both sides of the question at issue the
OV434 people seem to have hypnotized themselves into thinking that theirs is the righteous cause. But more and more it is being manifested that some great wrong is being promoted, that some great misconception is influencing the people.
Selfishness the Root of the Trouble.
The true explanation is that the Lord is judging the nations—letting them manifest their real condition. More and more the world is revealing just what is behind all this trouble which is spreading everywhere—selfishness. Note the case of Greece, for instance.
What pressure was brought to bear upon that country to force her to enter the war contrary to her own will! Bribes have been held out to the various kingdoms—offers of certain territories, etc.—to induce them to take part in the conflict. There is almost an insanity behind it.
None of these nations see what Bible students see. They do not know that the Kingdom of God is just at the door, that the Reign of Righteousness is at hand. Therefore, they do not have the degree of responsibility that we have who do see. All know, however, that it is wrong to take life; and yet they are plotting both to take and to surrender life in order to hold a little more territory, or to gain some commercial advantage over their rivals. Everywhere selfishness is manifest. It has kept up rivalry between the nations for centuries. It has cost them billions of dollars in the way of preparation for war, and now it is costing them billions more to fight it out—besides the appalling loss of life, etc.
Desolation and Destruction.
We are not able to foretell all that will take place; so we leave the matter, merely knowing that the Lord has arranged to grant this great opportunity for the world to deceive themselves and to destroy themselves. The people are all more or less deluded.
Many noble souls are going down into death under the impression that they are doing a good work for the coming generations.
Just so it is now with these professedly Christian nations. And now desolation is coming upon them, even as it came upon the Jews in the end of their Age. Bible students have expected this state of affairs to develop; for the Bible long ago foretold that it would be thus in our day.
Judgment of God’s People.
If then God is now judging those who are only nominally His people, and permitting them to demonstrate that they are not His, will He not judge also His true people? Yes, God is now judging His people. (#Heb 10:30.) But let us not wait for Him to judge us personally. Let us see to it that we are proving faithful to Him, faithful to our responsibilities as His children. Let us examine ourselves, and correct whatever we can find to be out of alignment with His instructions to us. Let us put some kind of chastisement upon ourselves in order that we shall not need to be corrected by Him, in order that we shall not be condemned with the world.
We have reached the "Time of the End," the close of the Gospel Age, and the dawning of the New Dispensation, the time when the judgments of the Lord are designed to accomplish a separating work, which is especially appropriate and needful at this period. Let us see to it, then, that we make our calling and election sure, preparatory to our association with our dear Lord in His great work of correcting the world in righteousness—"for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet."—#1Co 15:25.