The bitterest international war of history is ended. And with it has passed an era. A bruised and broken world, heartsick and hungry, which for years has been longing for peace, is today face to face with a period of perplexity and turmoil unparalleled in all human experience. In millions of hearts hope is crushed. Despair has seized the sons of men. Darkness surely covers the earth today, and gross darkness the people. But in this hour God's call to His people is "Arise shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
Mankind's desperate plight lays upon the church of God new and enlarging responsibilities. His remnant people must sense this as never before. "A great work is to be accomplished," declares the messenger of the Lord. "A voice must go forth to arouse the nations," And for the accomplishment of this high purpose we are told that "broader plans must be laid."—Testimories, volume 5, p. 187. Are we laying them?
In the annals of history nothing compares with the plans and preparations made by the Allied leaders, as World War II moved to its final phase. Think of an armada of more than four thousand ships carrying five hundred thousand vehicles and two million men. Imagine pipe lines, twenty of them, being laid like cables under the English Channel, and then later extending for hundreds of miles on the mainland in order to supply the gasoline for this mighty moving mechanized army. Only broad strategic thinking and the keenest cooperation could make an invasion of such magnitude possible.
The plans were enormous. A terse summary of the naval plans alone required more than eight hundred typewritten pages, while a complete set, including the necessary maps, weighed more than three hundred pounds. And the detailed plans for the air and ground forces equaled those of the navy. The scope and complexity of such a program is bewildering. But, great as the plans were, there was something even greater. It was the spirit which drew the forces of sea, ground, and air into a unity of purpose, without which such an enterprise would have failed.
"When you put sea, ground, and air together," declared General Eisenhower, "the result you get is not the sum of their separate powers ; you multiply their power rather than add." What a lesson is this for the church ! We, too, are coming into the final phase of an even greater war. The "enmity" placed so long ago between the deceiver and the woman, between the devil and the church, has not slackened through the centuries. Instead, it has intensified as the devil has gone forth to make war with the woman and "the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
As generals in the army of God, the leaders of His remnant church need superhuman wisdom. Like that fought by the liberating armies of recent months, ours is not a defensive but in every way an offensive war. Like the apostles in the early days of the Christian church, we must carry our cause into the strongholds of the enemy, and by the power of God make inroads in His lines.
"We are living in a perilous time, and we need that grace that will make us valiant in fight, turning to flight the armies of the aliens. . Our warfare is aggressive."—Evangelism, p. 297.
Notice, it is grace that leads the militant hosts of God in this aggressive warfare. How manifold is the grace of God! There are occasions when we need the grace of meekness and forbearance. But in hours of crisis we need to do more than stand still, hoping to see the salvation of the Lord. Instead, we must hear the divine command, "Go forward !"
Ground, Sea, and Air Forces
Under the enabling power of the living Gody ours must be an advancing army united in purpose and co-ordinated in plans. The air force (radio), the ground forces (ministers, Bible instructors, departmental and institutional leaders, etc), and the sea forces (our foreign missionaries)—all must move into victory together, each supplementing the other, as we challenge the citadels of sin in a last mighty effort to rescue the sufferers from the prison house of death.
Nor must there be any spirit of defeatism in the hosts of God. We are on the eve of victory, and every moment is precious. These words of General Eisenhower, uttered at his first staff conference, are arresting and applicable. He said:
"Defeatism and pessimism will not be tolerated at this headquarters ! Any soldier or officer who cannot rise above the recognized obstacles and bitter prospects in store for us has no recourse but to ask for release. Those who don't will go home anyway."
That sounds like an Old Testament order. It was not the size of the army, but rather the spirit of the army and its wholehearted consecration to a purpose, that determined its success in the days of Gideon. It is ever the same. As the church moves into her final battle she must be united—united with God and within herself. There can be no substitute for unity. No artificial distances between leaders and subordinates must be permitted to hamper the prospects of victory. In spite of individual eccentricities, patterns, and tastes, there must never exist any cleavage, national or psychological, into which our great enemy can drive his wedges.
Unity and consecration are absolute and indispensable conditions to a final, favorable decision on the fields of conquest. The times demand a clarity of vision, an unblurred sense of values, and a fully focused faith. As the church of God moves into her final battle in the last great struggle of the ages, she is a liberating army, bringing good tidings of peace. We are not apologists defending a message, but heralds announcing the best news ever told to men. Ours is a world-wide responsibility.
"It is the very essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time."
"At this time there should be representatives of present truth in every city, and in the remote parts of the earth. The whole earth is to be illuminated with the glory of God's truth. The light is to shine to all lands and all peoples."—Testimonies, vol. 6 P. 24.
What a responsibility! The good news of deliverance from sin must be carried to "all lands and all peoples," for every unsaved sinner is in the prison camp of the enemy. And we have so little time for the accomplishment of this tremendous task. Our days of evangelism are almost over. Probation soon will close. The angel of mercy is about to fold his wings and take his flight. But before that awful moment, the greatest work of all ages is to be accomplished.
Israel is "My battle axe and weapons of war," declared the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. And what mighty things He accomplished through His people when the leaders of Israel were fully consecrated to Him ! When Jehovah passed before Moses at the beginning of their national history, He said:
"Behold, I make a covenant : before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation : and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord : for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee." Ex. 34:10.
Here is a wonderful thing—the God of eternity entering into a covenant with His people to accom-
plish the tremendous task of overthrowing the strongholds of iniquity, and bringing a knowledge of salvation to those who know Him not. It surely was a "terrible thing" He was about to do, and He purposes to do a similar work in our time. He wants to enter into covenant relationship with the leaders of His remnant church—the Israel of today. If His remnant church today would be His battle-ax and weapons of war, we must permit His Spirit to weld us into a unit.
May God make it so. Remember, it is not the size but the spirit of the army that counts in this spiritual warfare. The zero hour is striking. The captain of our salvation calls for advance. Today is our greatest opportunity. What is our response?
"The final scenes in the stage are set,
The time, the task, and the men are met,
The world at its worst needs the church at its best,
We're called for this hour!
Are we meeting the test?"
R. A. A