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THE GREAT BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
The whole world involved in the last great clash of nations. "The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come.' "Rev. 11:18,
THE sure word of prophecy that foretold the rise and fall of ancient empires, and outlined the general course of world history through the ages, describes also the last great struggle of the nations.
The proverb says, "Peace is the dream of the wise, but war is the history of man." And divine prophecy assures us that the history of this present world will end amid scenes of conflict.
Many in our time have come to think that civilization must reach a better way of composing the rivalries of the nations.
The prophecy forewarns us otherwise. In fact, the prophetic word points to the talk of peace and safety amid preparations for war, as a distinct sign of the latter days. "In the last days," Isaiah says, "many people shall go and say:"
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isa. 2:2-4.
This is what "many people" were to be saying. But the real conditions in the last days are described as exactly the opposite. The prophet Joel describes the real spirit of the world in these times:
"Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles [the nations]: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong." Joel 3:9, 10.
The context shows that the prophet is speaking of the last times, when "the day of the Lord is near." Verse 14.
The Prophecy Fulfilling
This is what we have seen in our time, as never before in the history of man,― the product of the plowshare and the pruning hook being turned into instruments of war.
About twenty-five years ago the late Marquis of Salisbury, speaking as a man grown gray in the service of the state, asked a London audience the question, "What is the great change that marks this time as different from the times when most of us were young men?" The aged statesman answered his own question, saying that it was the arming of the nations, the swift race upon which the powers had then recently entered, to increase their naval and military armaments. It is a sign of our times, answering to the prophetic forecast.
Throughout the present generation the thoughtful have watched with grave forebodings the preparations of the nations for war. Queen Alexandra, of Britain, once said of it:
"I was educated in the school of a king who was, before all things, just; and I have tried, like him, always to preach love and charity. I have always mistrusted warlike preparations, of which nations seem never to tire. Some day this accumulated material of soldiers and guns will burst into flames in a frightful war that will throw humanity into mourning on earth and grieve our universal Father in heaven."
As the race of armaments went forward on a scale never before thought of, statesmen and writers began to make use of the word "Armageddon" to describe the conflict that they saw was inevitable. Years ago the London Contemporary Review said:
"Odd things are happening everywhere. . . . Russia, Germany, England these are great names; they palpitate with great ideas; they have vast destinies before them, and millions of armed men in their pay, all awaiting Armageddon."
In June, 1909, Lord Rosebery, in a speech before a press convention in London, commented gravely upon the significance of the feverish haste with which the nations were arming themselves, "as if for some great Armageddon, and that in a time of the profoundest peace."
To quote from a popular American magazine, of the same year:
"Today all Europe is divided into two armed camps, waiting breathlessly for the morrow with its Armageddon."- Everybody's Magazine, November, 1909.
Thus, everywhere, observers saw that the rivalry of interests among the nations was leading to a conflict so overwhelmingly vast that only the Scriptural word "Armageddon," with its appeal to the imagination, seemed adequately suggestive of its proportions.
Every passing year added to the intensity of feeling and the antagonism of interests. In 1911 the London Nineteenth Century and After said: