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What Makes a Great War Great?

The Great War began in 1914. Never had the whole world been at war at the same time. No doubt that’s why the word “great” was still available when they went to name the war. Afterwards, since there was a sequel, they rechristened it World War I.

The Spanish flu epidemic followed in 1918-19, right on the heels of the Great War. It originated in the United States and spread earth wide. It is the greatest, most intense, pestilence in history, before or since. It claimed more lives than did the war.

On the heels of the war came the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. When Stalin rose to power, in the 1920’s, he instituted a man-made famine, to tighten his control over the peasants. The famine claimed 10 million lives.

These, and similar, events have been connected with Jesus prophesy starting at Matt 24:3-7

While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things? And in answer Jesus said to them……..For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.

Luke’s [another gospel writer, there were four] account of the same event reads: Then he went on to say to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages…

All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress. - Matt 24:8 

Apparently, a time period is involved. It starts with a bang, and is followed by “pangs of distress.”

Question: Could 1914 have marked the beginning of the time period Jesus spoke of? If the greatest war in history, followed by the greatest plague in history, and massive food shortages as described does not fulfill this scripture, what does? Just what would it take?

The Greek word parousia is often translated return, as in what will be the sign of your return? But it should, more accurately, be translated presence - what will be the sign of your presence? When parousia occurs at Phil 2:12, every translator translates it as presence.

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence (Gr parousia) only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Since a sign is needed for Christ’s presence, it is apparently invisible. He is not to be found tromping around on the earth, so that you need only open your eyes and see him, but he is empowered in the heavens.

Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet. -  Ps 110:1

Nearly 40 years in advance, Jehovah’s Witnesses pointed to 1914 as a marked year. [How they were able to do that will be the subject of another post.]

The World, a leading New York newspaper, featured this headline in its August 30, 1914 magazine section: “End of All Kingdoms in 1914”

“The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy….For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses], best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”


Two other passages link Christ’s coming to power with chaos on earth.  Bracketed comments [ ] are my own.

And I saw, and, look! a white horse; and the one seated upon it had a bow; and a crown [Christ empowered in the heavens] was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest……And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him…..And I saw, and, look! a black horse; and the one seated upon it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice as if in the midst of the four living creatures say: “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the olive oil and the wine.”….And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation  6:2-8

And Revelation 12:9-12

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ [Christ comes to power in the heavens] , because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down….On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.

The common thread in all these passages is as follows: Christ comes to power invisibly in the heavens. [in 1914] He cleans house, just as a new Republican administration will toss out all the Democrats, hide though they might. (Or vice versa, not to liken either party to the Devil! Don’t even think it.) The Devil and his angels, now on earth, proceed to...um....raise hell. They know they’re time is short. So the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the heavens means, temporarily, horrible conditions on earth. How’s that for counterintuitive!

But it’s only temporary pangs of distress. (Matt 24:8) In time comes inauguration day, in which Kingdom government extends over the earth.

These are among the facts one may learn through a personal home Bible study.


Civilization entered on a cruel and perhaps terminal illness in 1914 - Frank Peters, St Louis Post-Dispatch, January 27, 1980


Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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