(with excerpts from a Joe Sproule Article)
It was November 11th, 1918! A day that marked the culmination of World War I. A war tragically brought about by a series of interlocking treaties between nations and triggered by an assassination that should not have had the weight given it. It was reported that 26 million people lost their lives in that conflict, a conflict that changed the fabric of the world forever. There was euphoria everywhere that day as the world celebrated its Armistice. “Peace,” blared the headlines of the world’s newspapers. And in the millions of churches that dotted our lands, thanks were given the Lord for hearing the prayers of so many in the then unprecedented event in history.
Those of us familiar with the Israel Truth understand the significance of the war, as well as the year 1918. For God had meted out seven times or 2,520 years for the duration of the Babylonian succession of kings, began by the emperor Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel the prophet, through a vision, had written: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down.” In 1918, 2,520 years from Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem , the Babylonian thrones of the Czar of Russia, the Kaiser of Germany, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary and a number of lesser monarchies fell in accordance with this prophecy in Daniel 7: 9.
Yet, an armistice isn’t peace. It’s exactly what it means, a truce or ceasefire. In reality, World War I was just part one of the conflict. World War II was simply a resumption of the war, part two, so to speak, where 55 million more lives were consumed. A total of eighty-one million sacrifices to the evil of war, millions of which were of true Israel stock, primarily the flower of our youth.
From our vantage point in this year of 2003, can we ever possibly understand what that generation of mostly young men embroiled in the horrific war to bring about the end of the tyranny from Kaiser William were thinking about as they faced death. One young Canadian gave us a glimpse in this poem.
In Flander’s fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scare heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, and sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flander’s fields
Take up the quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch – be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep though poppies grow
In Flander’s fields.
Lt. Colonel John McCrae, a young man from Guelph , Ontario , wrote these words by candlelight in a dugout in France. The next day he went into battle and was killed. One wonders if he had some sort of premonition. We are told in the book of Jeremiah, in Chapter 51: 20, “Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms.” Colonel McRae was one of God’s battle axes and weapons of war and whether he knew it or not, his willing sacrifice, along with all those others fighting with True Israel, was to participate in fulfilling one of the great prophecies of the Lord.
As I read his poem, which became a symbol of sacrifice and freedom, my eyes are drawn to the line, “If ye break faith with us who die,” I wonder, “have we broken faith?”
The fragile peace lasted only a short time and in 1939, part two of the conflict broke out. More horrendous sacrifices, and once more True Israel prevailed. Another poet, American R.H. Lillard, gave this appropriate response to Colonel McRae’s apprehension that we might not pick up the torch.
Rest ye in peace, ye Flander’s dead.
The fight that ye so bravely led
We’ve taken up, and we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep,
With each a cross to mark his bed
And poppies blowing overhead,
Where once his own life blood ran red
In Flander’s fields
Fear not that ye have died for nought,
The torch ye threw to us is caught
Ten million hands will hold it high|
And freedom’s light shall never die
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flander’s fields
“We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught,” says Mr. Lillard. But, have we? On Remembrance Day each year, we still go through the motions of wearing our poppies but as the thought of the two great wars grow dim, there are relatively few in the nations who really honour those who made the supreme sacrifice. Yet, when we listen to Colonel McCrae’s charge, “If ye break faith with us who die,” we have to reflect on the last half-century and ask ourselves some painful questions.
We have to ask ourselves, “Did we break faith with all those who gave their lives or were maimed in the Korean conflict.” I often recall General MacArthur’s words when he said “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” MacArthur was prevented from carrying out his strategic plan in Korea and as a result, the war ended in a stalemate. For some political reason, we chose not to win. We broke faith with those who died. It’s not unlike the armistice of World War I when it resumed twenty years later, at a cost of 55 million more lives. For today, North Korea is not only threatening South Korea but is a danger to world peace, through its nuclear and arms build-up. How many more lives will be sacrificed if we have to return to hostilities?
What of the staggering casualties of the Viet Nam war. Did we break faith with those who died as we limped out of South Viet Nam , pretending to have a victory, but in reality having been disgraced? Was the political solution a sellout to those who made the supreme sacrifice? And did we further break faith with them by not treating returning veterans with the respect and dignity they deserved.
How about those veterans who returned with the debilitating Gulf War Syndrome in the early nineties? Did we break faith by not recognizing the agony experienced by these brave souls? And what of America ‘s sudden change of course halfway to removing Saddam Hussein in that 1990 campaign? Were there political or financial considerations that took precedent over keeping faith with initial stated goals? Was it another case of an armistice of sorts? Because, American and British troops are again in Iraq . They won a swift battle but the war continues, and every day, it seems there is a fresh attack against our soldiers, many ending with more casualties. Is the fact that the reason for war may have been a manufactured one, breaking faith, or heaven forbid, that an economic reason favouring the multinationals is at the root of this war? If so, is this breaking faith with armed forces putting their lives on the line over there right now? And finally, if President Bush and Prime Minister Blair sink any further in the polls, will we see the inevitable political solution and if so, how will that keep faith, with both the living and the dead?
Sadly, we never really know. This is the world in which we live and reasons are so often clouded. Still, we will soon arrive at November 11th, a time to remember our dead and maimed, from all wars this past century. This year, let’s give a special thought for their sacrifice and thank God for their lives. And on this day, let us pray that our Israel nations and her leaders will take special notice of the penultimate line of Mr. Lillard’s response, “We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught.”