The Prophetic Outlook

by A.E. Knoch

[This was written in 1935, when Mr Knoch was living in Germany,
and is presented here as an illustration of the peril we face when we
speculate on prophetic events based on our limited and localized viewpoint.

SINCE I am not a prophet, in the sense of predicting, the following remarks must not be taken as more than a pious opinion, based, as much as possible, on the impression made upon me by the prophetic Scriptures. There are many contradictory outlooks presented to the Lord's people. Some insist that there will soon be a new European outbreak. I cannot share this opinion. Since I have lived in this part of the world there has been continual tension. At times I was told, by those at a distance, that the war would commence within a few months. Having stayed for considerable periods in the middle of Berlin, which is in the center of the whirlwind of war rumors, and passing the Wilhelmstrasse almost daily at such times, I felt like one in the midst of a tornado, where, I am told, all is serene. The reason is that I see no necessity, in the Scriptures, for another European conflict, but rather the opposite.

Last night I listened to the great speech of the German "Leader" and Chancellor, which strongly confirmed me in my opinion, and leads me to share with my friends some ideas which I have hitherto been reticently keeping to myself. I do not often advise anyone to read what a man has said, but when the mouthpiece of the country which is continually paraded as the great war bogey speaks authoritatively, as in this instance, we can hardly get a true picture of the world in relation to the end time without considering it. All I wish to get from it is the fact that neither the German people nor the present government has any desire for war, and that they are making extraordinary concessions in order to avoid it. It was, it seems to me, the most powerful and practical appeal for peace ever made in Europe.

To us it is clear that the great war of the end time is between the East and the West. It results in the subjugation of the Orient by the Occident, the three eastern religions by the western pseudo-Christian nations. I used to have the impression that this was all future, and would be accomplished in the course of a single armed conflict. I question this now. For instance, in that case England would need to lose its Mohammedan and Hindoo subjects, in India and in Africa, and then regain them again, when combined with the western confederacy. The western nations, especially England, France, Holland, and Italy, have already devoured large pieces of the eastern concessions, and there is no reason why this should not be that which is pictured for us in the symbol of the wild beast of Daniel.

Is it not remarkable, to say the least, that such diminutive countries as England, France, Holland, Belgium, and Portugal should possess tracts of land so much larger than themselves, with populations greater, and with religions different? Can we think of a better figure for their forceful armaments than that of a horn? There, it seems to me, are the horns of the monster predicted by Daniel, and they have already accomplished a large part of their work, as predicted by John in the Unveiling. If this be true, we have the basic philosophy of England's conquest of India, and the real reason why the western nations were so successful in their subjugation of the non-Christian peoples in the past. The British seized India, the Dutch their vast island empire, and France Cochin China, and have held them for centuries. Almost all of Africa belongs to England, Belgium, Italy, France, Spain. Is it not the monster at work with its iron teeth?

The great war contributed its part in this direction. Though it is supposed to have been a European conflict, Turkey lost a large part of her possessions and population. These have come under the control or influence of the horns of Christendom. France has the mandate for Syria, and England has that for Palestine and Transjordania, and has the paramount influence in Iraq and Egypt. But the main effect of the war was to sharpen the feeling of the East against the West. Since then it is challenging Christendom, and is organizing and seeking to unite to throw off the Christian yoke. This, it seems to me, is only a reaction. If Japan should build more warships than all Christian nations combined, which is hardly possible, then Christendom would make her fleets still larger. The revolt of the East may bring on the last great conflict, in which the subdued Orient becomes a part of the nondescript monster which includes in one all the religions of the end time.

If the western confederacy is Christendom, with ten distinct offensive powers, figured by the horns, they are already bound together by religious ties, and these, not political bonds, are vital in this vision. Do not the Christian nations as a whole today fulfill exactly the picture presented by the fourth animal of Daniel's vision? It is described as terrible and awful, and excessively forceful, with monstrous iron teeth, eating and pulverizing, and stamping upon the remainder. It is different from all the animals before (or east of) it and it has ten horns. As these animals represent the whole world, they correspond, not to its political divisions, but to its religious. And it is just the western military powers which are divided into many nations. The picture is perfect, though some may balk at making Christendom the most terrible of the four animals. Yet Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and Brahmanism cannot compare with it in military might.

In Daniel the beasts are separate. In the Unveiling they are united into one, Daniel says nothing of the process. It does not come within the limits of the vision. The beasts are viewed as distinct right down to the end. Then the monstrosity which is Christendom is despatched and its body destroyed and granted to the glowing fire (Dan.7:11), while the other beasts are robbed of all authority and allowed to continue for a while. The rise of the little horn, which fells three of the foremost horns, will hardly take place while we are still here, so we have no distinct political change to look for in Europe, in order to prepare it for the time of the end. The changes indicated are in the subjugation of the East by the West. They are not, it seems to me, entirely future, but are going on at present. They have been going on in the past. In fact, they are the key to much modern history.

If this is a true picture of the past, does it not also unveil the future? Except for the ebb and flow of political tides, should we not expect the Christian nations to go on gaining the territory and subjects of other religious persuasions? This need not be in our days, for there is really not so very much more to gain, especially if we omit Russia, for it is nominally Christian beneath the present coat of atheistic slime. According to the dim presentiments of many, the seat of future conflict may be on the Pacific coast of Asia, where a strong movement is on foot to dispute the progress of the monster, and claim Asia for the Asiatics. Here, then, is where the Scriptures seem to locate the impending conflict, as well as in the near East. If Abyssinia were a Mohammedan power I feel that Italy would have a much better chance of subduing it, but it also is a Christian nation, so that that conflict does not fit into the prophetic picture.

Much was made of the revival of the Roman empire when the Fascists succeeded in gaining power, especially by those who consider Rome the last empire in the great image seen by Nebuchadnezzar. Let us hope that the disappointment of those who looked upon Il Duce as the antichrist who would regain all the territory for Italy which Rome once possessed has taught them the lesson that Rome is not in prophecy and that the last great empire is not by any means confined to the Roman world, but includes the whole earth. So long as this is not clearly grasped, along with the companion truth that these are religious confederacies, not political units (except the horns), the present foggy and changeable interpretations of prophecy will interest and excite and upset the saints, instead of making them calm and confident and clear-eyed in the midst of the prevailing chaos.

Such thoughts as these have kept me quite serene in the very center of this boiling European pot. But I may be quite mistaken. I do not consider the great war [WWI, ed.note] as within the predictions of the prophets at all. What a big book the Bible would be if it had a mere list of all the wars of mankind! There may be war in Europe, much as everyone desires to avoid it. But I think the nations are beginning to have a presentiment of trouble in the East. This is doubtless one of the reasons why the entente nations did not disarm as they had agreed to do. And now it is almost certain that, if any European nation should be engaged in a struggle at home, its Asiatic possessions would be in danger. See how quickly Germany lost her Chinese port and her archipelago in the Pacific. I cannot advise any nation with possessions in the far East to engage in a major conflict which will take all her attention at home.

Perhaps we may look for more unity in Europe on this account. I understand that Holland has already arranged to act in concert with England in the Indian Ocean. The common religion of the West, little as it deserves the name of Christian, will be enough to band them together in face of a common foe, just as was the case during the Boxer rebellion in China, when European soldiers, though foes at home, marched together to relieve their nationals in the Chinese capital.

At any rate it is our privilege to pray for earth's rulers, that we may live a mild and quiet life, and fulfill the commission which He has entrusted to us until His coming. God not only wills all mankind to be saved but also to come to a realization of the truth (1 Tim.2:4). This is true at all times. In peace and in war we have the inexpressible privilege of working along the lines of God's purpose, and of contributing our part to the final result. Much as we may be hindered now, small as our success may seem, we know that our efforts will yet be crowned with perfect success, for all will realize the truth when the eons are complete.

[From Unsearchable Riches, July 1935, pages 207-212.]

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