“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
The overthrow of Satan’s empire is one of the main objects of our Lord’s return, as taught by Brother Paul S.L. Johnson. Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:27) This shows that Satan must first be bound, restrained and deposed, before Christ’s reign of righteousness and peace can be established.
Brother Johnson explained that Satan’s empire has three divisions that have enabled him to hold the human race in subjection: (1) false religions, (2) oppressive governments, and (3) predatory aristocracies. These institutions will be destroyed in the great Time of Trouble. (Dan. 12:1) Three great phases of this Trouble – war, revolution, and anarchy – are pictured in Scripture by wind, earthquake and fire.
The turbulent conditions of the past year remind us of the imminence of this overthrow. Below we present Brother Johnson’s description of the phases of the Time of Trouble as presented in Chapter IV of Epiphany Volume 17. Minor editing has been done to adapt it to the paper format.
We are not to think that Jehovah has been an unconcerned observer of the ruthless reign of Satan over the human family. His love for our fallen race prevented such unconcern. (John 3:16) Even before that reign began He prepared a Plan for its overthrow. One feature of this Plan is to keep Satan’s activities within certain metes and bounds, while God prepares The Christ and His supporters to become His agency for the overthrow of Satan’s empire, during the closing years of the Gospel Age and the opening years of the Millennial Age.
To those ignorant of God’s Plan, it could not but appear that Satan has hitherto been winning. His victory, however, has been only a seeming one. Actually, every feature of God’s Plan, so far due, has been fulfilling with unfailing precision and success, despite every effort of Satan to thwart it. Even in his opposition to Jesus and His Faithful, Satan’s seeming success has been a defeat for him; for his opposition furnished Jesus and His Church such experiences as better enabled them to oppose and overcome him in their hearts, and thus to develop characters fitting them for the work, in due time, of overthrowing his empire, of establishing God’s Kingdom and of ruling over the human race for its uplift to perfection. Thus God’s Plan purposes that the wrath of Satan as well as the wrath of man shall surely praise Him, and that He will restrain the remainder of wrath. (Psa. 76:10)
Ever since the Fall of 1874 (when 6,000 years from Adam’s fall ended – see The Time is at Hand, Volume II of Studies in the Scriptures) the human family has entered into a new epoch, characterized by the most unusual enlightenment, movements, events and changes of all history. We believe that this enlightenment and these movements, events and changes are more or less connected with the overthrow of Satan’s empire. We can better visualize matters if we keep in mind the Scriptural figure of The Christ (Head and Body) coming forth as an army, whose Commander is the Lord Jesus, to attack Satan’s empire. (Rev. 17:14; 19:11-21) The weapon that He uses is a “sword [that] proceedeth out of his mouth.” (Rev. 19:15,21) Certainly no sane person would contend for the proposition that this is a literal sword. It evidently means the Truth on secular and religious subjects. (Isa. 49:2; Hos. 6:5; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 1:16; 2:12,16)
How appropriate to the Prince of Peace it is to use such a sword, and how inappropriate it would be for Him to use a literal sword; yea, by reason of the contrast, how appropriate to Him is the Sword of Truth as a weapon of warfare in a conflict with an empire whose weapon is untruth, and whose ruler is “the father of lies!” (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 4:4) It is even so; for the “Truth is mighty and shall prevail” in the war of The Christ upon Satan’s empire.
In this war Christ is making an attack with secular and religious Truth upon the ignorance that Satan has fostered and upon the errors that Satan has spread. However, the most particular objects of His attacks with the Sword of Truth have been the three foundation doctrines of Satan’s empire: (1) The Divine Right of kings, (2) the Divine Right of aristocrats, and (3) the Divine Right of the clergy, and the three supporting doctrines of Satan’s empire: (1) the consciousness of the dead, (2) the transformation of the dead into spirits and (3) the bliss or torture of these spirits. Additionally, the Lord Jesus is spreading the Truth on secular and religious subjects, thereby arousing all the more opposition to Satan’s empire of error and wrong.
Of course, we are not to understand that our Lord has visibly appeared, attacking ignorance, error and wrong with the Truth; rather, we are to understand that He is in an educational and natural way opening the eyes of people to see the truth along all lines of human thought. Thus He is not only giving us truth on the Bible and on other religious subjects, not previously seen, but He is also bringing forth the light on secular subjects. This has resulted in our generation becoming much more enlightened than previous generations. A great increase of knowledge is spreading among the people on art, science, philosophy, history, law, government, rulers, political economy, sociology, capital, commerce, aristocracy, labor, production, distribution, wealth, poverty, unemployment, exploitation, wages, profits, losses, special privileges, political elections and parties, human rights, health, inequality, etc. (Dan. 12:4)
With all this enlightenment, the question of right and wrong as it applies especially to the common people, and to classes and nations in their various relations, is continually being thrust upon the attention of people everywhere. The Lord Jesus is using a thousand instrumentalities to bring the Truth on these subjects to light. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, booklets, books, lecture platforms, open forums, political parties, reform movements, labor organizations, clubs, societies, conversations, discussions, scientific laboratories, investigation commissions, courts, detective agencies, etc., are only a few of the many channels through which the Lord is causing the rising flood of truth to flow to the people. Like the statue of Liberty, Truth is holding up the torch of knowledge to mariners sailing over life’s dark and stormy main, as they are approaching the land of promise from the dark night of sin and error.
UNDERMINING THE FOUNDATION ERRORS
Many of our Lord’s attacks upon Satan’s empire have consisted of His exposing by the light of truth the deeds of darkness committed by the three departments of Satan’s empire: oppressive governments, predatory aristocracies, and false religious systems. Additionally, these exposures have undermined the foundation and supporting errors of Satan’s empire, and thereby have shaken that empire itself.
Before showing how the Lord has overthrown confidence in the doctrine of the Divine Right of kings, clergy and aristocrats, let us briefly refresh our minds on what is meant by such Divine Right. The doctrine of the Divine Right of kings, summed up in the proposition, “The king can do no wrong,” means the following: That the rulers are God’s direct appointees and vicegerents; that they do exactly what God wishes them to do; and that He sanctions all their acts.
The doctrine of the Divine Right of the clergy, summed up in the proposition, “The cleric is God’s mouth and hand,” means the following things: In religious matters God speaks and acts through the clergy; therefore the laity are obligated to believe and practice with blank and unquestioning minds whatever the clergy bind upon them.
The doctrine of the Divine Right of the aristocracy, summed up in the proposition, “The aristocrats are the stewards and almoners of the Almighty,” means that it is the Divine good pleasure that the aristocrats own and control practically the whole earth, and that others be their slaves, serfs or employees.
Every one of these three doctrines is erroneous, and the practice of them has produced terrible violations of the Golden Rule and cruel wrongs against the Lord’s saints, with which the history of Christendom is replete. When we view the acts that have flowed as a logical consequence from the doctrines of the Divine Right of state, church and aristocracy, we will readily recognize the erroneousness of these doctrines and the sins of those who hold and practice them.
The following is a partial list of the wrongs resulting from the doctrine of the Divine Right of kings: claims of unjust “prerogatives,” gross oppression of their subjects, ruthless and cruel suppression of rivals (real and imaginary), the rule of might as against right, unjust and cruel wars, robbery of one another’s territory and subjects, national hatred, revenge, envy, suspicion, etc., violation of the rights of other nations, violation and repudiation of solemn and binding treaties, support of false religions, union of governments and special religions, persecution of religious dissenters, debauchery and exploitation of weaker nations, traffic in human slavery, favoritism of the classes as against the masses, gross hypocrisy, dishonest and selfish diplomacy, etc. etc. Every one of these things violates the Golden Rule, professedly accepted by these rulers; rests under God’s disapproval, and is a demonstration of the falsity of the doctrine of the Divine Right of kings.
Ever since 1874 our Lord has, by many exposures made through various agents, been increasingly calling the attention of the people the world over to these violations of the Golden Rule by the kings and other rulers, and by these exposures has been powerfully proving that the doctrine of the Divine Right of kings is a gross error; for God will not sanction their acts of violation of the Golden Rule. As a result our Lord Jesus has almost entirely destroyed the confidence of the people in that doctrine. Thereby He has increasingly freed them from that kind of subjection required by those governments which claim the Divine Right.
The following is a partial list of the wrongs resulting from the doctrine of the Divine Right of the aristocracy: Exploitation, slavery, serfdom, legal technicalities, evasions, delays and violations, frauds, dishonesty, special privileges, monopolies, the manufacturing of financial and military panics and wars, indifference to the masses, gambling, wanton luxury and waste, unfair and destructive competition, corruption of politics, morals and government, support of oppressive and persecuting governments, etc., etc. Every one of these violates the Golden Rule, professedly accepted by these aristocrats, rests under Divine disapproval, and is a demonstration of the falsity of the doctrine of the Divine Right of the aristocracy.
Ever since 1874 our Lord has with ever growing emphasis been making known everywhere to the people by appropriate instrumentalities these violations of the Golden Rule by the aristocrats. By this knowledge He has unanswerably proved that the doctrine of the Divine Right of the aristocrats is a colossal error; for it is self-evident that God will not sanction their violations of the Golden Rule; consequently He has almost entirely undermined the confidence of the people in that doctrine, and thereby has increasingly freed them from such controllership as those aristocrats who believe and seek to enforce that doctrine require.
The following is a partial list of the wrongs resulting from the doctrine of the Divine Right of the clergy: Priestcraft, pride, intolerance, hypocrisy, superstition, error, persecution of dissenters, blasphemy of the Divine Person, Character, Plan and Works, sanction of the wrongs of rulers and aristocrats, union of religions and states, secularization of religion, fomenting wars and national hatreds, rivalries, distrust and revenge, destruction of real religion, etc. Every one of these things violates the Golden Rule, professedly accepted by the clergy, rests under Divine disapproval, and is a demonstration of the falsity of the doctrine of the Divine Right of the clergy.
From 1874 onward our Lord has been progressively exposing to the public through His amenable agents these flagrant sins against the Golden Rule by the clergy; and by these exposures He has proved beyond peradventure that the doctrine of the Divine Right of the clergy is untrue; consequently the people on all hands are repudiating this doctrine, and are casting off the shackles of obedience required by the clergy who believe and seek to enforce that doctrine.
UNDERMINING THE SUPPORTING ERRORS
Along with the overthrow of the people’s confidence in these foundation doctrines of Satan’s empire (the Divine Right of rulers, aristocrats and clergy) the Lord Jesus has been undermining their faith in the three supporting doctrines of Satan’s empire: the consciousness of the dead, the transformation of people at death into spirits and the bliss or torment of these spirits. This He has done, especially from a Biblical standpoint, through able and devout students of the Scriptures, though science and reason have also co-operated in undermining belief in these three supporting errors of Satan’s empire.
The Lord’s undermining of the confidence of millions of people in the foundation and the supporting doctrines of Satan has been accompanied by another of His works: His revealing to mankind everywhere a series of truths underlying men’s relations to one another governmentally, morally, socially, religiously, commercially, economically, and industrially – truths that in not a few particulars fundamentally contradict the notions on these subjects that Satan’s empire has spread and reduced to laws or established usages.
This double work of our Lord, in harmony with His object in making His kind of an attack on the kingdom of darkness, has produced an intense dissatisfaction with the theories, practices and departmental organizations of Satan’s empire among many millions, especially throughout Christendom. Naturally enough, this dissatisfaction has in the main seized upon those who have suffered most, and who have been advantaged least by the arrangements of Satan’s empire – the masses of common people.
CONSERVATIVES AND RADICALS
On the other hand, these exposures of the wrongdoing of the privileged classes, as well as their desire to advantage themselves increasingly by the many scientific discoveries that the Lord in this “the day of His preparation” (Nah. 2:3) has brought to light, have made these privileged classes more determined to perpetuate present conditions. Thus we find that from shortly after 1874, as a result of our Lord’s exposing and truth-revealing work, human society began to divide itself into two well-defined and mutually opposed classes.
One of these two classes consisted of the Conservatives – the rulers, aristocrats and clerics, with their supporters – who desired, because it was to their advantage, to maintain what, unknown to them, is actually Satan’s empire. The other of these two classes consisted of the Radicals – Trade Unionists, Socialists, Communists and Anarchists, with their supporters – who desired, because it was to their advantage, to set aside what, unknown to them, is actually Satan’s empire. The differences between these two groups grew, as from 1874 onward year after year new exposures of wrong-doing on the part of the privileged classes were made, and new flashes of truth on human conditions and rights aroused the masses.
The conflict between Labor and Capital became the overshadowing one between the masses and the classes. At first the friction between Capital and Labor was a wordy one, each side setting forth its real or fancied rights and grievances, and the other’s real or fancied wrongdoings. But the conflict did not remain simply a wordy one. On the part of Labor, it at times proceeded to strikes, intimidation, riots, incendiarism and boycotts; on the part of Capital it at times proceeded to lock-outs, injunctions, evictions, employment of strike-breakers and armed guards, and calls on government officials for state and national military support; and on both sides it sometimes proceeded to actual battles, with many casualties on each side. Birds of a feather flocking together, the three conservative parties usually supported one another against the Radicals, and vice versa. This led to each side becoming more and more set against the other in their efforts to win out.
The advantage usually being with Capital, supported, as it usually was, by State and Church, the Radicals became more and more embittered against the present order. They increasingly agitated for a complete change in the body politic, but differed sharply as to what kind of a change was desired. While they could not agree as to a definite program of procedure, more and more a revolutionary bent was taken on by the more radical of the Radicals.
Revolution against the present order thus became their program of immediate action, though they could not unite on a program of reconstruction after the revolution. With revolutionary agitations there came an increase of class consciousness and antagonism. The nerves of people generally were severely tensed, and almost anything destructive was feared by the Conservatives as coming from the Radicals.
Satan was no indifferent spectator of this conflict, which he promptly recognized threatened the continuance of his chosen order of affairs. Its overthrow, if preventable, of course he would not permit; nor would he permit changes contrary to his general order; but he would offer compromises to conciliate the masses. He therefore sought to effect a reconciliation by offering some concessions from the classes to the masses in the latter’s interest, especially in some European states, along socialistic lines.
To this end he aroused a number of reformers to activity. These denounced the more patent abuses of the Conservatives, urged upon Capital and State the necessity of making concessions to Labor and of restricting the power of the State and Aristocracy, and preached to Labor obedience to, and contentment with law and order. The sum-total of the reformers’ achievements, however, was small indeed. The breach between the Radicals and Conservatives became ever wider. A revolution subversive to Satan’s chosen order of affairs was imminent.
SATAN’S METHOD OF DEFENSE
Satan was determined to prevent such a catastrophe; and not only so, but also at the same time to bring the Conservatives and Radicals in each country into one camp, fighting for the maintenance of his order as it existed in each country, by making its inhabitants believe that other nations were, by aggression in warfare, seeking its national destruction. If he could fill the inhabitants of each country with the fear that their nation and institutions were in danger of destruction, he felt satisfied that he could arouse in each country practically all its people to fight the invaders.
This plan was pivoted on the thought that the Conservatives and Radicals in each country would forget their mutual antagonisms in the presence of their supposed common dangers, and thus would stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of their country and its institutions against the supposed threatened destruction from the invaders. This plan also had as one of its features a worldwide war, whose dangers would drive the divided Conservatives and Radicals of each country into one camp, fighting for their national existence against the invaders or prospective invaders.
But what could Satan make the excuse and the point of departure for the world-wide arming of the nations required as one of the features of his plot? The existence of the Triple Alliance, embracing Germany, Austria and Italy, and other alliances, furnished him this excuse and point of departure by giving him the materials for arousing the fears of other nations whom he stirred up through these fears to form a rival alliance, the Triple Entente, embracing Britain, Russia and France, and also other alliances.
The past experiences between these two sets of powers furnished them enough suspicions, rivalries, envies and grudges to make them quite hostile and obstructive to one another. Additionally, Satan saw to it that increased opportunities for arousing friction between them were not wanting.
Finally the feeling between these two rival alliances became tensed to the snapping point. They lived, as it were, over a huge powder keg, which only waited the lighting of a match to explode it with devastating force. The perfidious murder of the Archduke of Austria and the rash decision of the German Kaiser furnished these conditions, and the greatest explosion of human history up to that time occurred – the World-War of 1914-1918 – to which Radicals and Conservatives in each country rallied in defense of native land and institutions against the threatened destruction, which the inhabitants of each set of countries were led to believe their enemies sought.
THE WORLD WAR (PHASES I AND II)
Doubtless the sins and follies of statesmen figured in the events leading up to the explosion; but back of them worked Satan, the enemy of God and man, who used these as so many pawns in his game of ruling the nations. What cared Satan for the waste of mountains of human labor and treasure, and the shedding of rivers of human blood and tears, if by their expenditure he could conserve his empire! They were as nothing to him, if he could still continue his reign.
Thus to sustain his own empire Satan took advantage of human sin and folly even to the extent of involving the world in the World War (which in Phases I and II has been the greatest calamity of all history) in order to divert the Radicals from their threatened overthrow of his order of affairs. If he had done no other wrong, this alone would stamp him as the worst criminal of all history.
But one may ask, How do we know that Satan plotted and brought about the World War, and that for the purpose of preserving his own ascendency and his chosen order of affairs? We answer, a number of reasons prove it: (1) He is the ruler of the present world (2 Cor. 4:4), and of course such gigantic events, involving as they did all of earth’s nations, would not be without his ordering; (2) the condition and needs of his empire called for the diversion of the Radicals from their program of World Revolution, and this was accomplished by the war-accompanying propaganda in each set of countries, which set forth the thought that the other side sought its destruction; (3) the uniting of the Radicals and the Conservatives in each country for the purpose of preserving its national existence and order, so much needed by Satan’s empire, directly resulting from the widely heralded dangers threatened by the war, is explainable on no other ground than such a purpose; (4) the fact that there was so much of devilish wrong and ingenuity that led up to and accompanied the war proves the same thought; and (5) the fact that humanity free of Satanic influence is not capable of committing many of the deeds enacted in the World War also proves it.
Doubtless the adversary knew that a modern war would weaken his empire; but he preferred a weakened empire to none. He invented through perverted human brains the horrible weapons and munitions of the World War, whose destructiveness doubtless convinced him that the war would be short. He especially used Germany, Austria and Italy as his war agents, and therefore gave them the greater preparedness. And for a time it seemed that his plan in this respect would prosper in the speedy defeat of the Allies.
However, in this case the devil proposed and God disposed. God’s long-suffering with Satan was exhausted by the latter’s ruthlessness in plunging the race into the horrors of the World War. To Satan’s ruthlessness God opposed a “so far and no farther.” He caught the crafty Satan in his own craftiness, determining that He would make his atrocious deed the turning point in the existence of his evil empire. God decided to punish Satan’s crime against God and man (his working up the World War) by making it the first stage in his overthrow.
Satan counted on a somewhat weakened but comparatively powerful empire emerging from the war; but God determined that his empire should emerge from the war so weakened that it would be a comparatively easy matter to overthrow it. Therefore he did not permit Satan to end the war with a speedy and easy victory for Germany, Austria and Italy, which Satan expected would for years result in keeping Conservatives and Radicals united for revenge in each Allied country, and which would keep the Conservatives and Radicals in Germany, Austria and Italy united for protection against such revenge, and thus indefinitely postpone the danger of a revolution against his order of affairs. On the contrary, the Lord permitted the war to drag its “slow length along” until all of the involved countries became very greatly weakened in every feature of national strength, especially in man-power, resources, wealth and prestige, and hopelessly burdened with debts.
To be continued in our February 2017 paper.
 See Chapter I of Epiphany Volume 17, The Millenium, reprinted in our June 2015 paper No. 694.
 Brother Johnson suggested there could possibly be a third phase of the war. See Chapter I of Epiphany Volume 17.