Signs Of The Times

Written in 1933
by A.E. Knoch

IN these days of political upheaval it is very difficult for the student of prophecy to get a true perspective of the mighty events which are rushing toward us. In the immediate foreground of the picture, out of all proportion to their importance, is the papacy and the Roman empire and the United States. The only safe standpoint for the student is the sacred site of Jerusalem. There he sees not only the Romish communion, but the Greek and the Armenian and is reminded of the Nestorian. The pope of Rome dwindles down to a heretical bishop of the catholic church. Our native country is far away on the horizon. We are occupied with the land of Israel and the people of promise. This is the proper center of the prophetic stage from which all may be viewed aright.

There seems to be no question but that the nations of the earth are grouping themselves to play the final act in the great tragedy of human misrule. Many are the wild guesses as to the part each one plays in the time of the end. If we have a clear conception of that which God has revealed we will be strengthened in faith and sit with serene satisfaction as we see the shifting scenes before us, even if some movements seem to be in the wrong direction. But if we have a confused view there will be continual interest, it is true, but it will be accompanied by much turmoil and unrest.

As we have already hinted, it is absolutely necessary that we orient ourselves. Then the things which seem to fill our vision will dwindle out of sight. Besides, we will need to be more careful in scanning the sacred records, and believe them implicitly. It is usual that the two most prominent figures in present day prophetic study are the papacy and the Roman empire. There is not a single direct reference to the Roman hierarchy in the Scriptures, and I am convinced that it plays a very minor role in the end time. It never appears apart from corrupt Christianity as a whole. This has been a great relief to many, and has enabled them to give Israel the center of the stage, which is their right.

The idea that the Roman empire was a world kingdom like Babylon, Medo-Persia, and the realm of Alexander, is utterly without foundation. Alexander sighed for other worlds to conquer but Rome cried because she could not conquer them. The Scots, the Germans, the Far East--these and others made the Roman empire a military camp beyond whose borders was a world over which the Imperial standards never held sway. If the kingdom of the end time is to be the Roman empire revived, then it will not include a tithe of the earth's surface and only a small fraction of its population, whereas we are distinctly informed that it will embrace the whole world.

Of course, Rome claimed to rule all, and issued an edict to enroll all. But the fulfillment of prophecy is not a blatant proclamation, but the actual situation. It did not fulfill the words of Daniel, any more than did the later conquests of Genghis Khan or Napoleon. If we will wipe out papal and imperial Rome from our prophetic, view our vision will be greatly clarified.

Not only Caesar, but Satan claimed to rule the world in the days of our Lord. And Satan's was no idle boast, or our Lord would have rejected his words. Moreover, he made it plain that, whoever would rule over the next universal kingdom must get the authority from him. And so will it be. Only a worshiper of Satan can attain the sovereignty of all the earth.

Instead of looking for a revived Roman empire we should be watching the rise of the four wild beasts of Daniel's prophecy. Anyone who will examine the Unveiling closely will see that this figure of speech is used, not in connection with the throne, but with the tabernacle. The organizations are religious, rather than political. This makes matters much easier, for there are many nations on earth. It is impossible to select four to fit the prophecy. But there are only four great religions, apart from Judaism--"Christians," Buddhists, Brahmans, and Mohammedans, the first two with about half a billion each, and the last two with about a quarter. The point of greatest interest in these days is the union of Christendom, the Mohammedan and eastern alliances, and their attitude toward the so-called "Christian" nations.

We may look for more and more domination over the East by western nations, until the great Nondescript has devoured them all. . . . .

The vision of the wild beasts in Daniel seven was not given until after the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who was represented by the head of gold, so they cannot correspond to the great image of his previous vision. From the Hebrew we see that the fourth nondescript, with the ten horns, is west of (not merely before) the others. It is "Christendom." And is not this a terribly appropriate picture of the so-called "Christian" nations of today? Claws of copper and teeth of iron! No other religious section can compare with the monstrous military might of the west. The action indicated is a conquest of the east by the west. Already a large part of the population of eastern lands is under western rule.

So far Daniel takes us. In the Unveiling there is only one wild beast, a composite of the previous four. In other words, the whole world will unite in the worship of the Antichrist. The military might of the western wild beast is still figured by the ten horns. There are the ten western nations of special fighting power. They will, it seems, include England, the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, and perhaps three other European powers, most of which have had some serious practice among themselves and are experts in the art of destruction.

But the ten horns are singled out, not so much on account of their part in the conquest of the East, as for their relation to the Jews. At this point the two visions of Daniel come together-- ten toes and ten horns. The ten toes, we are told, are part of iron and part of clay. So Israel has been mixed with western mankind, and has weakened the steel of the nations, inasmuch as they are not of them, yet take their wealth from them. And it is these horns who especially hate the apostate Jews, who, under the figure of a woman who has been unfaithful to Jehovah, set up their monetary capital in Babylon and have financial control over the kingdoms of the earth.

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There will soon be a close connection between Jerusalem and Babylon. I look to see a great influx of wealthy Jews into the holy land. But they will not remain there. As foretold in the vision of the ephah (Zech.5:5- 11), they will entrain for the land of Shinar, and there, once more, will be a universal kingdom over the kings of the earth. The clay will dominate the iron. The apostate Jew will dictate to the world, which will work for him and worship his wealth. This financial despotism will be destroyed by the ten horns when they devastate the city and its inhabitants and pay their debts with a sword of steel instead of a wedge of gold.

Politically, a great conqueror will come. But that will not be in our days. We know now that such a man would easily win the dictatorship of the world. Enough experience has been given the peoples, so that they are heartily sick of democracy and will gladly hand over the steering of the ship of state to a hand in which they have confidence. But it is in the religious sphere that the signs are clearest, and the situation advanced almost to its culmination. But we must not let small disturbances, such as the present [1933] conflict between China and Japan, confuse us. The ten horns waged a far more deadly conflict among themselves not long since. That will not hinder a confederation for offensive warfare against the East and for the destruction of Babylon, when the time is ripe.

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But we do not await events--we look for the Lord from heaven, Who will save us from the terrible times to which all signs point. We are not appointed to wrath, but to the procuring of salvation. The whole world is apostate, and deserves God's indignation. So long as we are here He cannot wage war with the world. When we, His ambassadors, are withdrawn, then the thunders and the lightnings will break loose and the kingdoms of this world will be prepared to become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Let us look for Him. His coming is not dependent on events. He may come at any time. And it seems impossible that there should be much more delay, for the stage is almost set for the next act in the world's great tragedy. Let our hearts cry, "Come!"

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