Sermon title: VETERANS DAY AND GOD’S HAND IN WORLD EVENTS
Psalm 44:1-7; Jeremiah 18:7-11
Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, November 10, 2019
Tomorrow, November 11th, is Veterans Day.
It’s a special day to remember our veterans—
all those brave men and women
who have served in the armed forces.
They have defended our freedom
who would have taken our freedom away.
We appreciate our veterans
and their service to this country.
The holiday was originally named “Armistice Day”
after the armistice, or peace agreement,
that ended the First World War
on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month
They didn’t have instant communication back then
like we have today.
So, the armistice was agreed at 5 a.m. in the morning
and they allowed 6 hoursfor the cease-fire command
to reach all the men on the front lines.
The last living veteran of World War I
was Florence Green, who died in 2012 at the age of 110.
But many of us knew WWI veterans
when we were growing up, and we appreciated
how they kept the world safe for democracy.
President Woodrow Wilson had explained to the country
that he brought the U.S. into that war
“to make the world safe for democracy.”
The enemy was a 3-part alliance of un-democratic dictatorships:
The German Empire of Kaiser Wilhelm,
the Austrian Empire of Kaiser Franz Joseph,
and the Islamic Empire of the Ottoman Turks
under Sultan Mehmed the 5th.
They had already been fighting in Europe for 3 years
against England and France,
when the United States entered the war in 1917.
In 1915 a German U-boat torpedoed and sank
the civilian British ocean liner Lusitania,
killing the 1200 people on board,
including 128 Americans.
People often cite that event
as the reason the United States entered the war.
But America didn’t actually go to war until 2 years later.
What finally triggered American entry into that war
was a January 1917 telegram from the German government
to the government of Mexico—
intercepted by British intelligence.
The Kaiser promised Mexico
to help them take Texas, New Mexico and Arizona
away from the U. S.,
if Mexico would join the war on the German side.
Soon there were 10,000 American troops
pouring into Europe each day—
a million American fighting men
before the war was over.
They made famous the George M. Cohan song ‘Over There’
with the famous lyrics
Over there, over
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming
The Yanks are coming
It went on to say repeatedly, So prepare, say a prayer
And it concluded with
And we won't come back till it's over
American Veterans made all the difference in winning that war.
Now, all that I’ve said so far was from our human standpoint.
But, from a biblical standpoint, the outcome of that First World War
rested in God’s hands.
And God pre-determined the outcome
because Bible prophecy was at stake.
We tend to think of the World War One
in terms of the battle in Europe.
But God’s hand was involved
in re-drawing the boundaries of nations
in the Middle East.
Deuteronomy 32:8 tells us of
God’s interest in national boundaries in the Middle East
from the very beginning—
because that’s where Israel and Jerusalem are found
Deuteronomy 32:8 begins by saying,
“When the Most High
gave the nations their inheritance
and it concludes with,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of Israel.”
The Bible talks about Jerusalem
more than any other city on earth,
from early in the first Bible book, Genesis
to the end of the last Bible book, Revelation.
But Mohammed’s Islamic empire
took control of Jerusalem and the rest of the Promised Land
more than 1200 years before the First World War.
And, except for a short period during the Crusades,
the Islamic Empire—the Islamic State—
continued to control Jerusalem.
That had to change,
in order for Bible prophecies to be fulfilled
about a restored nation of Israel,
and a Jewish Jerusalem welcoming Christ’s return.
So, God used human armies—including our WW1 veterans—
to make that change.
In the Bible book of Job, Job 12:23 Says,
He makes nations great,
and destroys them;
He enlarges nations,
and sends them away.
And it’s not talking about just ancient history.
Modern events and familiar places are involved, too.
The events in Bible book of Daniel
all took place in the land we call Iraq today.
Many American veterans
saw action in Mosul, Iraq, in Iraq’s Nineveh province.
And the prophet Daniel’s prophecies
speak of future wars in and around that region.
Daniel 2:21 says that God
controls the course of world events;
he removes kings
and sets up other kings.
So, God used the First World War
to change the rulers in the Middle East.
The Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks
would never have allowed
Israel to be resettled by millions of Jews
and Jerusalem to return to their hands.
The First World War took the Promised Land
out of the hands of the Islamic State
and turned it over to Great Britain,
through a League of Nations Mandate.
But Psalm 44 helps us appreciate
credit for winning the warreally belongs to God.
Psalm 44 is actually speaking about
how ancient Israel came into existence
through warfare thousands of years ago.
But the same thing applies to modern warfare.
Beginning with the first verse, Psalm 44 says,
1 O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
2 You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
3 They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm
that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face
that helped them,
for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.
5 Only by your power
can we push back our enemies;
only in your name
can we trample our foes.
6 I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
7 You are the one
who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
Yes, it wasn’t human military might,
but rather the power of Almighty God
that took the Promised Land—
away from powerful pagan empires,
and gave it to the people of Israel.
And Bible prophecy makes clear
that God’s power
would come into play in world affairs
over the centuries,
and especially as the time draws close
for Christ to return.
Besides what we see going on
in Washington and Moscow and Beijing
there are invisible forces at play
that really determine the course of human events.
Satan the Devil
has repeatedly tried
to block the fulfillment of prophecy about Christ.
At our Wednesday night Bible study,
we recently read the book of Esther.
Its setting was at a time when the Persian Empire—
the land we today call Iran—
controlled most of the known world.
And it describes a satanic attempt around 500 B.C
to kill all the Jews
and eliminate the Jewish people, worldwide.
God’s miraculous intervention
stopped that from happening.
But modern Persia, modern Iran,
says today that it wants to wipe Israel off the map.
At the beginning of the New Testament
we read how king Herod
killed all the babies of Bethlehem,
in a satan-inspired attempt to kill the baby Jesus
before he could grow up into the Messiah.
But a miraculous warning from God
sent Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus
to safety in Egypt.
After the First World War took the Middle East
away from the Islamic State of the Ottoman Turks,
tens of thousands of Jews
began streaming into the Promised Land each year.
Even Adolf Hitler,
who wanted to get all the Jews out of Europe,
took part in sending Jews to the Promised Land.
In 1933 Hitler signed the Haavara Agreement
with Zionist organizations.
In exchange for around $160-million in today’s money,
between 1933 and 1939 a series of ocean liners
flying the Nazi swastika flag
transported around 60,000 Jews to British Palestine.
But Islamic leaders kept pressuring Hitler and the British
to stop that immigration.
After the First World war,
the French and British had put an end to the Islamic State.
But a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed
named Mohammed Amin al-Husseini
set up the World Islamic Conference
and served as its president.
He demanded that Hitler kill the European Jews,
instead of sending them to the Middle East.
In turn, he promised to raise Muslim armies
to support the Nazi war effort.
Hitler finally listened to Muslim demands—
inspired by Satan and his demons—
and set up gas chambers and execution squads
that killed 6 million Jews—men, women and children.
You can see a YouTube video online
where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—
whose father was an historian—
talks about this.
In the video Netanyahu says,
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time,
he wanted to expel the Jews.”
Then Netanyahu saysthat the Islamic leader
had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,”
referring to the Promised Land.
“‘So what should I do with them?’”
Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking.
And he said the Islamic leader’s response was
--which is what the Nazis then did,
in the ovens of Auschwitz and other death camps.
But the Allied victory in the Second World War
put a stop to that slaughter of the Jews.
As I’ve mentioned before,
my own father was a World War II veteran.
And he took part in liberating one of the concentration camps
where Hitler was holding Jews to be gassed.
The Allied victory
came in time to keep the Jewish people
from being wiped out.
Enough Jews survived
to found the State of Israel in 1948.
Most of us
paid little attention to the Middle East
until Osama bin Laden launched his 9/11 attack
from a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan
and took down the twin towers
of New York’s World Trade Center.
Our servicemen and women
have been in Afghanistan ever since then,
still serving in America’s longest war.
But few Americans realize
that our wars in Kuwait and Iraq and Afghanistan
and the recent struggle
against ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria,
all have their roots
in World War One and World War Two.
During WW1, printing plants in the Kaiser’s Germany
printed pamphlets calling for Islamic jihad.
Germany’s ally, the Islamic State of the Ottoman Turks
used that printed propaganda to stir up Muslims
to fight against the British and French.
During WW2, Adolf Hitler also printed pamphlets
calling for Islamic jihad
in territories controlled by the British and French.
Hitler also put on the radio
the president of the World Islamic Conference,
calling from Muslims to join with the Nazis.
Some of those jihadist sentiments
stirred up during those earlier conflicts
have grown into the support for terrorism
in today’s jihadi movements.
After the First World War
the British and French carved up
the Islamic Empire of the Turks
into territories to be administered
by Britain, France, Russia,
and the League of Nations.
So, instead of the Middle East all being under
one Islamic State—as it was for over a thousand years—
we now have the modern nations of
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria.
President Erdogan of modern Turkey
has let it be known
that he wants to see Turkey reclaim
the territory lost by the Turkish Islamic Empire
in the First World War.
He wants Turkey to head up the modern Islamic State,
and his invasion of Syria last month
was his first step in that direction.
ISIS, whose leader al-Baghdadi died last month
during a raid by American Special Forces—
ISIS is trying to do the same thing:
to re-establish the Islamic State
that once ruled over Portugal, Spain,
Eastern Europe, North Africa & the Mid-East.
And many of the Islamist terror groups
that our servicemen and women
are facing off against today
in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan
as a rallying cry to recruit terrorist fighters.
They want to put Jerusalem back under Muslim control.
Osama bin Laden, ISIS, the Al-Quds Brigades, Hezbollah—
they all have the same goal:
to re-establish the Islamic Empire,
put an end to Israel,
and ultimately put the whole world
under the rule of an Islamic caliphate.
And that’s the challenge facing the men and women
of America’s military over the past couple decades.
It would be discouraging,
if we didn’t know that God is in control
and that the Bible tells us the outcome
of the coming battles.
Respected Bible commentators
like Sir Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards,
John Calvin and Martin Luther
all saw prophecies in the Bible
telling of the rise and spread the Islamic Empire.
Luther saw the Islamic Empire as the “little horn”
of Daniel Chapters 7 & 8.
Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards and others saw the
200-million mounted cavalry troops of Revelation 9:16
as the Muslim forces
that swept over Christian lands
in North Africa and Europe.
Some see the Islamic conquest
in the words of Daniel Chapter 11, beginning at Verse 40
where it speaks of huge armies that would
“conquer many countries,
and even Egypt will not escape”
and that would
“gain control over the gold, silver,
and treasures of Egypt,
and the Libyans and Ethiopians will be his servants.”
And the prophecies of Ezekiel and Zechariah
give us some details
of the coming wars
that will lead to the return of Christ.
Ezekiel says that he saw his visions
while at the Kebar River, a tributary of the Euphrates.
This means the prophet was
either in Iraq, half way between Karbala and Basrah—
places familiar to American war veterans—
or in nearby northern Syria,
close to where
the remaining U.S. forces are based
after President Trump
moved them last month.
Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39
foretell an end-times multi-national attack
against a restored nation of Israel.
The opening verses
name several of the nations whose troops
will take part in that attack.
Iran, called by its old name Persia,
is the only one we can identify for sure.
And we know from recent news headlines
that the Ayatollahs governing Iran
have made speechesdeclaring their goal
is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Commentators believe that either Russia or Turkey,
will lead the attack described in Ezekiel,
along with other neighboring states in that region
designated by their ancient names.
Zechariah Chapter 9
seems to speak first of recent decades
when modern Israel
has repeatedly defeated its Arab neighbors
in a series of wars during our lifetime.
In Zechariah 9:2 God says,
2“I am going to make Jerusalem
a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling.
And then he goes on to speak of
a final end-times attack
by all the nations—maybe meaning the United Nations:
3 On that day,
when all the nations of the earth
are gathered against her,
I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock
for all the nations.
The Lord describes the battle
and then he gives the outcome in Zechariah 9:9,
where he says,
9 On that day I will set out to destroy
all the nations that attack Jerusalem.
And then he concludes
by saying that Israel will turn to Christ at that time:
10 “And I will pour out
on the house of David
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and supplication.
They will look on me,
the one they have pierced,
and they will mourn for him
as one mourns for an only child,
and grieve bitterly for him
as one grieves for a firstborn son.
Yes, as we read at
God “controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.”
And the World Wars
and wars in the Middle East
that our veterans took part in
have played a role in the fulfillment of prophecy.
All these things will come to a head,
when the final battle for Jerusalem
leads to the mass conversion of the Jews
and the return of Christ.
Then we will see the end of this wicked world
and the answer to our prayer
for God’s kingdom to come
and for his will to be done
on earth as it is in heaven.