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Written early in World War II
by Dr. John R. Rice
Nations, like Individuals, Reap What They Sow;
U.S. Now Getting What We Have Deserved;
Japan Agent of God's Punishment
Dr. Hymers' note: The following sermon by Dr. John R. Rice was preached shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and appeared nation-wide in the Sword of the Lord a few months later. It came out in book form in early 1943, as chapter 3 in When Skeletons Come Out of Their Closets, which was published in nine editions by Sword of the Lord.
Dr. Rice was America's leading evangelist when he preached this sermon in 1942, a few weeks after Pearl Harbor, and published it a few months later in 1943, during the height of World War II. Today we have no such prophetic voice in our nation. Jerry Falwell retracted and apologized for his remarks that the attack on America was a judgment from God. Where are the men of God who will stand up and preach the truth, as Dr. Rice did? Are there any preachers of God left in our land? "Is there here not a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?" (I Kings 22:7).
How wicked the Japanese are! We sold them millions of pounds of scrap iron with which to make bombs and guns and ammunition and tanks and warships; but we had a clear understand that they were to kill helpless Chinese with them. And now, after murdering something over a million Chinese, mostly innocent non-combatants, women and children who could not help themselves nor fight back, Japan has now begun to kill Americans with our own scrap iron! How wicked, how sinful are the Japanese, to kill armed American soldiers and sailors, instead of killing helpless Chinese as the understanding was when we sold them the scrap iron along with the airplanes, the oil and some of the bombs to do it with!
Certainly we must win this war against Japan, Germany and Italy. Every Christian must be a Christian patriot for God and country. I believe we should back up our government in the war with our earnest efforts, our money, our toil, our prayers, and if necessary, with our lives. The decadent pacifism of the modernist, of the pink [Communist] professors, is not the Christian attitude of Bible Christians. Defense of the weak, safeguarding our liberties from the horrible slavery of Hitlerism, are Christian duties. But we are late in beginning; and America must now suffer for our godless indifference to the oppression of others, our sinful isolationism, our crazy greed for our own wealth at the expense of the suffering of millions of the innocent, the helpless and the poor.
America is now united, thank God, and we people are agreed in our war effort. And may God grant that it may be as President Roosevelt said: that never again will America think she can go her way isolated from the rest of humanity, ignoring what sinful and wicked oppression and slavery go on by assassins and bandits as Hitler and Mussolini and the Japanese war lords. But now it is only our self-interest that unites us, I fear, not godly principle. And as God's prophets we preachers must warn our people that we have all brought the ruin, and waste and suffering and death on us by our sins.
I. How America Sowed to the Wind
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God," says Romans 13:1. And the same passage continues saying that the ruler of the government "is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (verse 4). So governments are of God, they should put down and avenge wickedness; and Christians are to be good citizens by being subject to them. God uses governments to do His will many, many times. We people in the United States, through our government, are accountable to God for putting down bloodthirsty tyrants when the matter is subject to our control. We should have acted for international righteousness and peace long ago. It was clearly in our power to stop Japanese aggression long ago, with little cost, and perhaps with no bloodshed. We did not do it. In fact we hardly cared. What did we care about the rights of poor heathen people in Manchuria, or in Korea (where there is a large population of Christians), or in China? Instead of stopping aggression we aided it. We sold Japan iron, oil, airplanes; even some bombs dropped in China were made in America, says Mr. Shepherd, confidential adviser to General Chiang Kai-Shek of China. And we sold all this material with the clear knowledge that it was to be used against China, continued selling it during the slaughter, did it most of the time with the consent and help of our government, so the Japanese would not be angry with us. We, for six months, closed the Burma road to China, cooperating with Britain. And then we even furnished the Japanese with the money to buy our war materials, getting for it in return, silk for our ladies' stockings! So our children had toys "made in Japan"; our ladies covered their legs as little as possible with skirts so the sheer silk stockings would show; our junk dealers, factories and oil companies got the money which helped lift America out of the depression; and everybody was happy - that is, on this side of the Pacific.
Of course, murder of Chinese was going on, with our ammunition, by the hundreds of thousands; Chinese girls were being raped, thousands of them; missionaries were being run out of China and Japan; thousands of Koreans, Christians, were being killed or imprisoned because they would not bow before the idolatrous Shinto shrines in worship of the Japanese Emperor. An American has recently returned, and was in Wheaton, Illinois, when this was written, who had been jailed six months recently by the Japanese for refusing to bow at a Shinto shrine. But modernists from America said the Shinto worship was not so bad, and encouraged the Koreans to submit and worship. We were dwelling in luxury. It was not our war, we said, to fight. Evidently we believed it was only ours to make money out of. But an angry God who hates sin, and who loves the poor and hears the cry of the oppressed, will see that we reap what we have sowed. So now America gets back her scrap iron!
What happened to Czechoslovakia, to Poland, to Belgium, to Holland, to Ethiopia, to Norway, to France, to Greece, to Albania, to China, to Indo-China, to Thailand, was none of our business. "Let them settle their own war," we said. "We are safe; they can't cross the Atlantic Ocean, because they can't even cross the English Channel," we said. So now God has allowed it to become our war. It did not matter about the murder of millions of others, but how wicked Japan is, we think, when she uses our scrap iron to kill American boys! The long war against China was never declared; it was as unprovoked as the attack on Hawaii and that on Manila, and as deceitful. But we had little indignation against that, and verily helped it. But how deceitful of the Japanese to attack America with weapons we furnished her to kill Chinese with!
Japan marched into Manchuria in 1931. England and America could have stopped her, and talked about it, but did not. Public opinion in America would not support it. If the League of Nations, led by England, France, and the U.S., had stopped that aggression, the world-wide war now on could never have started.
Italy savagely overrun Ethiopia. Again the League could have stopped it, but America would not help. There was a vote on economic sanctions against Italy, but public opinion of rich, proud America ("Christian America," some people call her) did not care about African tribesmen trying with spears to protect their homes against bombing planes. Mussolini's son was feted in America, and we let the slaughter go on.
Thus encouraged, Hitler began his rise; occupied Alsace-Lorraine, then demanded Sudetenland, took Czechoslovakia. England and France agreed at Munich. America said it was not our trouble, and that it could not reach here. France and England, in desperation, entered the war when Poland was attacked; but it was too late to soon stop it. And for long years America said we were neutral. It was the other people who were getting hurt; we felt we were safe three thousand miles away; our factories were very busy; and with a "holier than thou" attitude we looked complacently on. When the president led in the Lend-Lease Act the majority agreed that in self-defense we must help furnish England arms. But Lindberg kept Hitler's medal, said we had as well be content to let Hitler rule Europe and make peace with him, said it was the Jews who wanted us to go to war anyway, and was cheered by many thousands wherever he went.
So now America has an awakening! America gets back her scrap iron!
II. Nations Reap What They Sow: Are Punished For Their Sins
God has a hand in every war. For His own reasons He allows the suffering and death and ruin that come when wicked men bring on war. Obviously the government must punish criminals. The policeman is the agent of God as well as the agent of government. Armies are simply a national police force, and our navy and army and air force act as our police force, and as "the minister of God" in protecting America and punishing Japan. But God allowed Japan to bring on the war, and doubtless it was in punishment for our sins.
II Chronicles, chapter 36, tells how God sent Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, against Jerusalem, a heathen king against His own Judah, because of the sins of kings, priests, and people. They were warned:
"But they mocked the messengers of God and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand."
- II Chron. 36:16, 17.
So God does send the heathen armies against the people who know about Him but go on in sin!
I Chronicles 5:25, 26 tells how God "stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Asssyria and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria" and how he carried away the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh into captivity because of their sins. And the same kind of thing is told in II Kings 21:12-15, in II Kings 24:1-4. And six times in the book of Judges we are told how God raised up heathen, wicked nations and kings against His own people Israel because of their sins.
God does punish nations for their sins! God is using Japan to punish America for our sins.
III. How God Has Punished Russia
Russia is our ally against Germany, and we are glad that recently Russia has stopped the German hordes, is pursuing the retreating enemies, and is, we hope, on the way to a great victory. We are helping Russia with arms, and I believe it is not only best for our self-defense, but our duty to do so. Germany must be stopped, and I am glad for Russia to help stop Hitler. But we should not forget the sins of godless, atheistic, Communistic Russia under Stalin's rule. In an editorial The Pathfinder recently said:
Can They Forget?
President Roosevelt has undertaken one of the toughest selling assignments in his career. The other day, when he essayed to point out at a press conference that the Russian constitution contained guarantees for freedom of religion, and endeavored to work up American sympathy for the Stalin despotism, Mr. Roosevelt took on a task that perhaps should not have been attempted.
Can the American people be hoodwinked into the thought that now that Russia is the ally of the British in the European malestrom of war, they're not so bad after all? Can the American people forget the purges that have swept every evidence of religion from Communist Russia? Can they forget the slaughter of priests and nuns?
Can they forget this list of wholesale butcheries, this roll call of death, charged to Stalin thru such semi-official agencies as Entente Internationale Anti-Communist from its Switzerland headquarters:
7,824 University professors
65,000 police officials
120,600 government officials
45,940 army and navy officials
48,000 agricultural agents
What a ghastly army to stalk the plains of Russia in refutation of Mr. Roosevelt's thesis! - Pathfinder.
The New York Times recently said: "We are aiding Russia today, not because there is any moral choice between Hitler and Stalin, but because Nazi Germany is much stronger than Soviet Russia and incomparably the greater threat to ourselves." It added: "Stalin's invasion of Finland was as ruthless and unprovoked as any of Hitler's."
The American Federation of Labor, representing millions of American workers, in its resolution recommended full and complete aid to Russia for the purpose of defeating Hitler. It added: "…the teachings and practice of Communism are just as dangerous to American institutions as in the past," and "a victory by Stalin over the other countries of Europe would be as dangerous to free institutions as a victory by Hitler."
For that murderous rage of the Communists, God has allowed Russia to pay dearly. Russia made a treaty with Germany. Russia agreed to divide the spoils. Her attacks on Finland, her overrunning of Latvia and Esthonia were as wicked in principle as the more far-reaching oppression of the Germans. I said, when Russia was invaded, that doubtless Russia would lose as many men as the Communists murdered. I think she probably has lost millions killed, with other millions wounded, and only God knows how many more will be slaughtered before the horrible war is ended. Russia is reaping what she sowed.
And we had better beware lest we are a party to Russia's Communism and atheism. In a recent news dispatch the Associated Press gives us this solemn warning from the Dies Committee in Congress investigating subversive activity:
"Communism and Criminality" in C.I.O. Coalition,
Washington, Dec. 2, 1941 (AP). - Declaring the organization of the Congress of Industrial Organizations was "marked by a coalition of communism and criminality," Chairman Martin Dies (Dem. Tex.) of the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities told the House yesterday he had police records of twenty C.I.O. officers arrested for offenses ranging from petty larceny to anarchy.
Dies said he was submitting a cross section of the information his agents had uncovered "and before the end of the year we will have similar records of almost 1,000 C.I.O. officials."
"Communists and criminals have gravitated toward C.I.O. from its inception down to the present," Dies charged during debate on pending bills aimed at strikes in defense industries. Dies said hundreds of men went from prison cells to C.I.O. union jobs after they had "seen the government yield disgracefully at the time of the sit-down strikes."
If by our help to Russia we are led to tolerate her sin and take up the doctrines of the Communists, or allow them to multiply or influence our government, then the fierce wrath of God will be upon us, and we shall sin grievously, and grievously suffer for our sin! God will punish such sin with bloody war in America as He has in Russia.
IV. Time for America to Repent!
America's sins have brought us the wrath of God. We are suffering for our sins. If we do not repent, our boys will die by hundreds of thousands, our cities will be ravaged with bombs, our territory taken, our people enslaved. Do not minimize the Japanese. They are fighting close to home, they have a greater navy than we can at once put in the western Pacific. They have their own air bases. They have conquered and occupied territory equalling the United States in area. We must keep much of our navy in the Atlantic Ocean. Hard days are ahead, years of war, the loss of great armies or many men, the hardships of rationing, censorship, war dictatorship. If America does not repent we are in for a terrible chastising, I very believe. I wrote the same thing nearly two years ago in my book, World Wide War and the Bible. I believe it even more today.
What has America to repent of?
1. Of our lust and lewdness and adultery, we must repent or perish. We were startled by the reports from the Surgeon General's office of the United States Army, that venereal disease was rapidly increasing among the armed forces. Although no men with venereal disease were accepted in the draft, yet these new men had been so infected, in the wickedness rampant about the camps, that the new army now has as high a per cent of the deadly syphilis as the former regular army had, and a higher per cent of gonorrhea than the former smaller force had! Although army officers have the power to clean up the area surrounding the camps of prostitutes, in most cases it had not been done. Soldiers told me how in some cases officers had tacitly encouraged adultery, freely furnishing contraceptives, etc. Can America win wars ignoring decency and morality?
Yet these sad conditions do not mean that the soldiers are worse than others. Men when taken away from home and decent women and churches and responsibility will often degenerate in morals. In the last world war, illegitimate births doubled, and a horrible train of lewdness followed, even to this day. But let us not fool ourselves; soldiers are just Americans, and the standards so low and so hurtful are really just American standards. Venereal diseases are widespread all over America. Adultery is common. It is encouraged by a movie industry as vile as the immorality of Babylon and Rome before their fall. Sex is exalted. Petting, lewd dancing, nudeness, unchaperoned love-making all over America tend to lead young and old to adultery. Divorce, unfaithfulness to marriage vows are commonplace. Preachers do not cry out against such sins. School buildings, sometimes church buildings, are used for lust-provoking dances. America needs to repent of her lust, her lewdness, her glorification of naked, immoral women, her widespread adultery!
2. America needs to repent of drunkenness, her government-endorsed and protected beer, wine and booze business.France can trace her startling, sudden fall largely to an alcoholized army and a wine-sodden people. Shall America get by with the same sin? Our present administration brought about the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. Does any sensible person believe there is less drunkenness, less crime? Does not every day's news tell of more ravages of drink, more drunken driving accidents? More Keeley Cure institutes are open, more young people are learning to drink, far more alcohol is being consumed than ever before. I rode on a train in Canada the other day with a detachment of ten Canadian soldiers, half of whom, at least, were under the influence of alcohol, it appeared, with loud talking, cursing, singing, trying to fight. In America it would have been as bad at the same time. Yet soldiers are not worse than the rest of America, except that they are uncontrolled youths away from home, youths never disciplined, never controlled by godly parents, never won to Christ and taught Christian character. And God's Word says, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink" (Hab. 2:15). America needs to repent of her drunkenness, her official taking of bribes from the liquor business, which are making drunkards, harlots and paupers!
3. America needs to repent of her lawlessness, her unprincipled indifference toward the punishment of sin.Our war is a punishment of that very sin. We had no conscience about stopping the banditry of Mussolini or of Hitler or of the Japanese war lords. And the reason was that we had no clear convictions about sin, no holy indignation, no determination to see that right was done. America has grown morally soft, decayed in principle. We do not whip our children to make them mind nor demand and get their respect for their superiors, nor teach them to work to earn their way honestly. We do not mind much the lawlessness of sit-down strikes nor violence and murder and gangsterism, particularly if it be in the name of the labor unions. We do not want the death penalty for murder, nor for rape nor for kidnapping, though the Bible clearly gives us God's command for it. We do not want sin punished. Most of our pulpits do not preach the wrath of God against sin. America, on the whole, has not heard about Hell and judgment. So we have become a people without strong principle, a mushy, fat, well-fed, luxury-loving people. We fear hardship, we hate discipline, and to many there is nothing worth fighting for but money, and nothing worth dying for! God help us, America needs to repent and learn to hate sin, to know it must be punished and brought to judgment. We need to learn to boldly advocate righteousness, and to be willing to live or die that righteousness shall reign in our lives and nation, and wherever we are responsible to God.
Some time ago, before America was in the war, a Christian woman wrote me that she disagreed with my article on "American Friends of Hitler," and she deplored the idea that a Christian should ever fight about anything. In the same letter she asked prayer about her wayward son who was grieving his parents by going on in sin. I feel that likely that attitude of never doing anything about sin, no judgment of sin, no punishment, no sense of responsibility, no respect for authority, was responsible for her son's waywardness. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." She may have felt she was too good a Christian, too loving a mother to punish her boy and make him obey, make him do right. But her thought, if that be what she thought, was folly and sin. It is not Christlike to ignore sin, to laugh it off, to pet wickedness. Christians who are too good to come out against Hitler or other such international bandits, or against sin anywhere, bring the curse of God on our country.
Since war is upon us, since our own people are killed, our country in immediate danger, I wonder what that woman thinks who was so religious she did not want to bother Hitler or other such international criminals? Her son is of draft age. Will she still think Christians ought not to do anything about such sin and wickedness? Oh, America, repent!
4. American Christians need to repent of their lukewarmness, their halfheartedness.Every church in America should plan for revival services soon. There should be a time of honest, plain, hard preaching against sin, a time of confession, of restitution, of rededication. There should be thousands of all-night prayer meetings; and in literally thousands of churches there ought to be days of fasting and prayer with humiliation and confessions of our sins as individuals, as churches, as denominations, and as a nation. Individual Christians should start the family altar in their homes, should take up daily, earnest Bible reading, should set out to win souls, earnestly seeking to have the fulness of the Holy Spirit and soul-winning power. The American Christians' salt has about lost its savor. American Christians' light is under a bushel. May God send a revival, a genuine, home-righting, life-changing, sin-killing revival in the hearts of Christians. Oh, for the flood tides of power upon the people of God! Church members need to repent!
5. Unconverted sinners need to repent toward God and be saved. America is a land of the gospel. On nearly every radio station the gospel message goes forth. Literally millions and millions of tracts are printed and scattered everywhere. Every town and village has its church steeples pointed toward God. Most of the millions of unconverted people have been followed by the prayers of godly mothers or fathers, or can remember the plaintive haunting refrain of some invitation song, heard in their childhood. Most Americans have heard the gospel, and yet a vast majority of Americans have never known Christ as a personal Saviour. The average American has never repented of his sins, has never turned with a contrite heart to God for mercy and forgiveness, has never trusted in the atoning blood shed on Calvary by the Lord Jesus Christ to save poor sinners. The average American does not know what it means to be born again, though Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:7), and "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The new heart, the new life which one has who comes to Christ as a lost sinner and depends upon Him for everlasting life is utterly unknown and unclaimed by the vast majority of Americans. All the Catholics, all the Protestants, all the adherents of Jewish synagogues, all the adherents of the churches are less than half the population. Including all the false pagan cults that deny the blood atonement, deny the deity of Christ, a literal Heaven and Hell, the need for a new birth - such cults as Christian Science, Spiritualism, Unity, along with all those that never teach salvation by simple faith in Christ, including the modernist, the rationalist, everybody in America that claims any form of Christianity - I say altogether they are less than half of the population in America. America is preponderantly a heathen land that does not know Christ. And multiplied thousands of those who are members of the churches have never been born again. No doubt there are millions who have a form of godliness but are utterly ignorant of the power that changes lives and hearts when one knows Christ as a personal Saviour.
No doubt the curse of God on our country, the war and all the dangers we face, are largely because of the great majority of people who do not know God, who never pray earnestly in Christ's name, who do not love the Lord Jesus, who will not have Him as Lord. Every lost sinner is a Christ-rejector, an alien from God, a child of wrath, following his father, the devil. And on such a nation as ours, composed principally of Christ-rejecting sinners, God must bring judgment if we do not repent!
These lost people are our loved ones, our kinspeople, our husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, our neighbors, our fellow workmen, our fellow citizens. Oh, God help us to win them! We cannot have the blessing of God on a nation of Christ-rejectors.
If you who read this are an unconverted sinner, then I beg you today to seek Christ and be born again! Today turn your heart from your sins. Confess to God your wickedness in heart. Ask Him for forgiveness and depend upon Him today to save you for Jesus' sake. To minimize your sin, to make excuses, to offer alibis, to hold on to your flimsy, pharisaical, self-righteousness will be the doom of your soul. And it may mean the utter ruin of America in a bloody holocaust of war! America must repent. Will you, dear sinner, repent today and turn to Christ? If so, then remember that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). When you put your trust in Christ, He forgives and saves, and then you are God's own child.
Let us prosecute this war with earnest thoroughness. Let us back up our government, our army and navy by buying defense bonds, by paying taxes cheerfully, by giving of our boys to the service; but above all, may God help us to meet this crisis by confessing and forsaking of sin and turning to God. Should not every Christian citizen pray every day for the blessing of God upon our army and navy and air force? Let us pray that God will protect them, that God will give them boldness and success in their tasks, that God will destroy the aggressors or bring them to their knees and stop their wickedness. If thousands of Christians would pray every day for good news from the battle front, then America would soon be successful, and there would be a heart-turning to God throughout America and boundless blessings.
Meantime, let us have the tenderest hearts towards those minority groups, such as Quakers, Mennonites, and any others who for conscientious reasons cannot go to war. Most of them are sincere, loyal Americans, who will help keep home fires burning. Let there be no hate, no class wars, no attacks on Jews, on foreign groups loyal to America.
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