Discerning the Times

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 10
God's Word does not give to the believers of this age—the Church—any signs that are to be looked for as a prelude to the coming of the Lord for His own. We can say with the poet, "No sign to be looked for." The Christian of an early day—the year A.D. 70—had a specific sign to introduce the destruction of Jerusalem and the razing of the beautiful marble temple: "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." Luke 21:2020And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. (Luke 21:20). This was to be a positive sign of the approach of the destruction of Jerusalem, and at that sign they were to flee. Unbelief might have argued that with a besieging army outside the walls, escape would be impossible; but God's Word never fails. The Roman general withdrew his armies for a short season, thus giving the believing Jews the opportunity to escape. This they did, and went out to a place called Pella where they were preserved.
The God-fearing Jews of a future day are to flee from Jerusalem and its environs when they "shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place [of the temple].... Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." Matt. 24:15, 1615When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: (Matthew 24:15‑16). This will be a visible sign to the godly Jewish remnant at the beginning of what is accurately called, "the great tribulation."
Now it is evident that neither of these signs are for us, for we are not in Jerusalem or Judea. In Rev. 13 we are told more about this abomination of desolation; it will be an image of the beast of the revived Roman Empire which will be set in the holy place of the temple in Jerusalem. By some means the Jews will have a temple by then, and this idol (called "abomination") will bring on desolation—"because of the protection of abominations [or idols] there shall be a desolator" (Dan. 9:2727And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27); J. N. D. Trans.). Desolation will be the sure result.
Now, while no signs are given to us to indicate the moment of the Lord's coming for His own, we are not to be ignorant of the trend of these days. These are "the days" of this dispensation, and we should be able to discern the last times. Everything around should tell us that the age of grace is about over. Mankind in general has despised the grace of God, and God's judgments will soon break over this world that cast out His beloved Son. The laxity and lukewarmness of real Christians, the great moral decline which is on every side, the growing power of the Church of Rome, the increase of atheism and the general inculcation of atheistic evolution through the school systems, the pride and arrogance of man, his boastfulness amounting almost to his human deification—everything tells us that we have come down to the very end.
The Apostle Paul, when refuting a false report among the Thessalonians that their sufferings were the result of having reached the dreadful "day of the Lord," reminds them that they had no need for him to write concerning this error; for they knew perfectly that the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. They belonged to the day and would be gone before the night of judgment set in. He said, "yourselves know perfectly." Are there not some areas concerning the future that we know perfectly? Are we not assured that after the true Church of God—all believers in the Lord Jesus—have been taken home to be with Christ in the Father's house, this world will be divided into armed camps? Are we not assured that the Roman Empire, which for centuries controlled most of the known world, will be revived in a different form? Has not God told us plainly in Dan. 2 that the last state of the image which represents Gentile supremacy will be composed of ten toes of iron and clay? And the ten horns of the great beast of Dan. 7, and the ten horns of the beast of Rev. 13, all remind us of a European confederation of ten nations? There should not be a question about what will actually take place after we are gone to be with Christ. It is as sure as if it were already accomplished. Therefore, when the European trends, which we have many times commented on in this column, are daily becoming more apparent, should we not be looking up in confident expectation of seeing Him? Every fresh indication of the shaping of things here in preparation for those dreadful days which are to follow our departure to heaven, and everything that points forward to His coming back with His saints to execute judgment and reign, should cheer our hearts.
We refer our readers to previous issues which called attention to the European Common Market (EEC) development (it is also published in separate pamphlet form under the title of "European Trends"). Now the latest word on this great forerunner of the revived Roman Empire is that it has developed more strength and sinew. It is not a receding prospect, but a constantly growing power. Recent state visits of French and German leaders have done much to cement an inner core of solid steel in the European Economic Community. To see France and Germany so firmly welded together is an astonishing feat in itself after centuries of the bitterest rivalries and many wars-two bitter wars of attrition in this century alone.
There has been much talk about Britain joining the select club; now there is no more doubt about it, although there may be some hurdles to jump yet. Britain's chief difficulty lay in her previous commitments to her commonwealth partners, whose lands were once a part of the world-wide empire. It was a matter of national pride to preserve at least the semblance of the old grandeur of the British Empire, but the realization has come upon Britain's rulers that self-preservation demands her alignment with the European union. Prime Minister MacMillan said recently, "Britain cannot isolate herself from Europe.... History has made that clear."—Newsweek. Sept. 24, 1962. Another comment from the secular press indicates which way and with what determination the union of Europe is going, speaking of the British Prime Minister:
"With greater confidence than he has shown the nation in months—and looking, in the daily Mirror's words, 'like a genial bloodhound'—MacMillan took to TV to warn that a Britain excluded from Europe would become a pigmy 'in a world of giants.' In fact, his government has already crossed the Rubicon. MacMillan admitted as much by declaring that Britain will ultimately have to act in its own best interests—not the Commonwealth’s. 'After all,' said he, 'we're independent too.'" -Time, Sept. 28, 1962.
According to the same source, as soon as Britain's conference in London with its 15-nation partnership Prime Ministers ended without giving public censure against MacMillan's plans for entry into the European Common Market, Edward Heath, Deputy Foreign Secretary, a special negotiator for Britain with the EEC, went to Europe and a round of conferences with the officials of the great new alliance.
A new Europe is in the making. One British businessman recently said: "there will soon be no more difference between the English and the French than there is between the English and the Scots.... A new Europe where national tastes and economic expectations are increasingly giving way to a single European pattern.... The roster of top European executives today reflects profound changes in Europe's business community."—Time, Sept. 14, 1962.
We do not want to forget that the new European Community has been forged in a compact called "the Rome treaty." The name of Rome is prominent in this gigantic step toward the revived Roman Empire. Italian businessmen have taken the lead in many ways; for instance: "Since Genoa Industrialist Enrico Piaggio sent his Vespa motor scooters swarming through Europe as the first postwar apostles of the Italian look, Italy has become firmly established as the fountainhead of European design. •.. British Motor Corp.'s Harriman turned to Italian Stylist Pinin Farina to design autos that would sell better on the Continent."—Time, Sept. 14, 1962.
Another paper recently received by us stresses the importance of the EEC. We quote from one dated July 31, 1962, and published by the Philadelphia INTER-National Bank:
"The European Common Market was born of the enlightened recognition that Europe could not realize its economic potential and the growth to which its people aspire under the old system of independent national policies.... Political motives were also discernible in the formation of the EEC. Among its architects were those who saw in it the first steps toward a United States of Europe. The preamble of the treaty contains the words, 'Determined to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples... "
In another paragraph we read this: "Some leaders recognized that these [earlier European joint efforts] cooperative arrangements among independent states were insufficient. It was felt that a bolder move was needed, a move that would involve the transfer of some elements of national sovereignty to a European organization acting on behalf of the constituent states." This treaty of Rome went into effect on January 1, 1958, and its development is considerably ahead of the planned schedule; there seems to be a determined effort to proceed at all speed.
Again we quote from the Philadelphia bank's letter: "This is no loose confederation of nations cooperating in the economic sphere as it seems to serve their current purposes. Rather, it is a bold venture in institutional innovation—the creation of an organization with a considerable measure of sovereignty in its own right, reaching deeply into all principal aspects of economic life. In view of this, the rate of progress achieved thus far in building the EEC is remarkable. It seems inevitable that such complete economic integration will result in closer social and political ties."—PNB PHILADELPHIA Inter-NATIONAL BANK NEWS LETTER, July, 1962.
History records many instances of complete subjugation of a nation or of nations by conquest of another nation or group of nations, but we are not aware of any such case in all history where proud, strong nations have joined in an effort that required the sacrifice of their individual sovereignty in such a degree. We except the alliances founded in times of war for defense against a common foe. But this present development is a sure precursor of the fulfillment of prophetic events. Not that such events must precede the coming of the Lord for His own; but since His coming must precede the full prophetic development, and we see this much now, the moment of His coming must be almost here—perhaps before this reaches our subscribers. We are not prophets, but we see what we never expected to see before His coming. 0 glorious prospect!
A remark by a representative of a giant financial institution shows how some businessmen rate the importance of the Common Market. We herewith quote Dr. George Mehren, Director of the Giannini Foundation. "The establishment of the European Common Market is the most important event in the Twentieth Century.... In four years, there has developed among the Common Market nations the second strongest economic entity in the world." He says that it is greater in importance than the development of the nuclear bombs, or the invasion of outer space. This is as reported by the Orange County, California, Farm Bureau News of June, 1962. And all this has developed in the last few years. Surely we can "discern this time."
Another angle of the Common Market is the recent reaction of Russia to it. We quote the following: "A new specter has arisen to haunt the Kremlin—the Common Market and its vision of European unity. Only recently has Moscow begun to appreciate the significance of the Common Market and the threat it poses to Communist objectives."—U. S. News and World Report, Aug. 13, 1962. At first Moscow did not consider it seriously, but now that it is in operation with accelerated pace, Moscow is plainly worried. Yes, the revived Roman Empire is to be a behemoth; and when its full strength is achieved, it will be headed by a man Scripture calls "the beast." He will be a man who will at the end seize the full power of the super government and defy men and God. But his end will be inglorious in the extreme, as the Christ of God comes to accept the kingdoms of this world from the hand of God (Psalm 2:8, 98Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalm 2:8‑9)). His armies will be destroyed and he will be cast into the lake of fire without a trial. Such will be the end of the world's greatest MAN, and of man's greatest pool of resources. It will all come to nothing before Him who was once "despised and rejected of men." That will be the day of His appearing; do we "love His appearing" when He will right the wrongs of ages?