In truth God has placed the choice of life or death in front of every person from the beginning of time. Consider what He said to our ancestors. In the Garden of Eden there was the stark choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which brought death (Genesis 2:8-16). When the Lord spoke through Moses to explain His standards of righteousness to our fathers and mothers on the edge of the Promised Land, He said,
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV, emphasis added)
What are we to make of the upheaval happening around us in this centennial summer since World War I began? There are only a few possibilities. Either it is a restructuring of the current world order to some new equilibrium, or it is the destruction of the current world order and the establishment of something new, or it is the end of the world as we know it. If asked which of these is correct, my answer is, “Yes”.
My link to World War I is my grandfather, Garland Victor McCarn, a veteran of the American 31st Infantry Division. He arrived in France five weeks before the Armistice of November 11, 1918 brought an end to the fighting on the Western Front. Two days before the Armistice the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II brought an end to the German monarchy. Kaiser Wilhelm had ruled Germany for 30 years, having taken the throne in the year of my grandfather’s birth, 1888. My grandfather passed from this earth in 1967, the year Israel regained control of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.
This is the second in a series on World War I and its parallels with our current times. After a review of the events leading up to the Great War and of its aftermath, this series will investigate current events in light of biblical prophecy.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was and is something of an anomaly. All the other peoples of the Balkans dwell in relatively homogenous regions. With the exception of the Albanians and Greeks, all those other peoples are Slavs, akin by language and culture to the Russians. By religion these Southern Slavs (or Yugoslavs) are either Roman Catholic (Croats and Slovenes) or Orthodox (Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Bulgarians). Islam claims the majority of Albanians and a large portion of Macedonians, although there are many Roman Catholics (including the revered Mother Theresa) and Orthodox Christians among the Albanian population. Greeks, the other non-Slavic people, are also Orthodox Christians. By 1914 most of these Balkan peoples had emerged from centuries of Ottoman domination with states for themselves. Greece, Bulgaria, and Albania remain to this day largely within the borders they held a century ago. Serbia incorporated Macedonia and was a close ally of Montenegro. Croatia and Slovenia fell under the dominion of Austria-Hungary.
Most people have experience the peculiar phenomenon of the pink elephant in the living room, that awkward situation in which a group of people are confronted with an obvious, but uncomfortable, issue. Because it is obvious everyone knows or suspects what the others are thinking, yet because it is uncomfortable no one is willing to address it. Therefore the issue goes unresolved and the relationships within the group, however cordial, remain tense, fragile, and shallow.
My purpose is to address the pink elephants that keep Jews and Christians from cooperating in a spirit of mutual trust and support, touching on areas of disagreement and misunderstanding that have bedeviled us for centuries. The intent is not to pour salt old wounds, but to move through the uncomfortable territory and arrive at common ground where we may stand together as one people united in the service of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This journey is beset with many openings for offense. Given the likelihood that I shall stray into one of those openings, I ask in advance for pardon, for no offense is intended. I am confident that if we persevere together, we will overcome the awkwardness and find the common ground which we desperately need in this critical hour.