The Great War: Will You Take the Long View?

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Will You Take the Long View?

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The Great War: Will You Take the Long View?

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.04 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (459.41 MB)
MP3 Audio (7.49 MB)

As we mark the 100th anniversary of World War 1, what vital spiritual lessons can we learn and apply?



[Darris] On a quiet day in the city of Sarajevo in June, 1914, a man pulled a gun and killed two famous people. He had no idea what great effects his actions would have on the world. One small decision, a single person, can change the course of history.

It happened a hundred years ago with the beginning of The Great War. World War I drove entire populations into great hardship as the prosperity people enjoyed made way for giant war machines.

The decision of a gunman in that day changed the world. But it was another man's decision weeks later that truly determined the future of the nations. Those decisions, made that summer, affect your world today.

Both men failed to understand the effects of the past leading up to that day and didn't count the cost of what those decisions would mean for the future. Neither man took the long view of history.

Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we examine "The Great War" and ask, "Will You Take the Long View?"

[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely on Beyond Today!

[Darris] This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The poor decisions that led up to that conflict, and the ones made in its aftermath, have affected the entire world, even to this day. As we mark the 100th anniversary of The Great War, let's focus on how we can each learn from the mistakes of that war and create a better future for ourselves, our neighbors and the world.

So how could one person's action halt the progress of the entire world?

Let's look at one man. He was the emperor of Germany. His name was Kaiser Wilhelm II. A hundred years ago he made a decision that, along with many others made that summer, plunged a prosperous global world into the abyss of war.

100 years ago the world was beginning to become a lot like our world today; they were beginning to enjoy the benefits of globalization. People had every reason to believe that life would only continue to get better.

100 years ago, medicine was beginning to help people avoid dying from common diseases, instant communication was possible through the telegraph, air travel was just beginning to take shape, and more people were becoming educated.

100 years ago, the world had every reason to expect a great period of peace, prosperity and good will among nations. Human progress in every area promised good things.

But in the summer of 1914 events in Europe began to spin out of control. The nations were armed to their teeth and a spark, a political assassination of a little known member of the Austrian royal family, ignited weeks of tension. In August, at a small kitchen table in his dining room, Kaiser Wilhelm signed a piece of paper that committed troops to war.

That signature changed the world; World War I had just begun. And 100 years later, we still feel the effects.

I was fortunate enough to visit his home while on a personal trip a few years ago. I saw that table. Right in the next room where there is a huge floor-to-ceiling windows that look down a row of trees two miles long. After walking out of that kitchen, I looked out those windows and I wondered if Wilhelm had looked out of them, too, and thought that what he had just done would impact millions of people in every country of the world for the next century.

Did he look way off into the distance and think about the long-term consequences? Did he take a long view of history? As a husband and father of children, did he think about the long term impact of what he had just done and what it would do to other husbands, wives and children?

I wonder. But we should.

Do you think about the long-term consequences of your decisions? Do you take the long view of history? In other words, do you "think beyond today"?

Look at the world right now. Look at Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, China and Japan. While we have amazing luxuries like smart phones, there are also major problems boiling just under the surface in these and other nations. And just like Kaiser Wilhelm, it's possible that the decision of one person could change everything we enjoy so much. It could directly affect you—and the life that you enjoy today.

But the problems are not just political. They are spiritual.

In the Bible, the book of James explains why there are so many wars and problems. It asks: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war" (James 4:1-2 James 4:1-2 [1] From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? [2] You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.
American King James Version×

Human leaders will fail to solve the world's problems. Why? Because the problems are spiritual. It will take a change of heart to effect a lasting solution. The world will not get better unless we get leadership that measures up to the quality expressed by the biblical prophet Ezekiel, who recorded God's promises to Israel this way: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27 Ezekiel 36:26-27 [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.
American King James Version×

Let's consider the worldwide effects of that one decision by Kaiser Wilhelm. Then we can consider the lesson for each of us. History has much to teach us at our level, at the personal level.

Four empires—the Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires—they were gone after, at the completion of that war. They vanished.

In Russia, its empire went through a revolution that resulted in communism. And dictator after dictator killed millions of their own people there.

Germany, it was punished so severely after World War I through economic sanctions by the rest of its European neighbors that it plunged into a total economic depression which led to the rise of a man named, Adolph Hitler.

Almost every problem of fundamentalism and terrorism that we see today in the Middle East can be traced back to the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. You've heard of the conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims? These groups have fought each other for more than a thousand years. The Ottomon Empire kept all of these tension in check, much the same way that the Hapsburg Empire kept the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks in check.

The causes of World War I are stories about petty men who desired more—more power, more land, more prestige; more, more, and more. They sure got more—more death, more suffering and more destruction.

Like leaders who went before them and have come after, they did not take a long view of history in order to make the right decisions for their people. They did not make sound decisions based on truth, justice and temperance.

Back in the book of James, he continues by saying this, "Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God." (James 4:4 James 4:4You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

The leaders of the world 100 years ago did not submit to the values of truth, justice and temperance. They were not friends of the true God. Oh, they knew God, but they had a god created in their own image and their actions proved it.

But you can learn from history. And we don't have to repeat man's mistakes. We can learn what God's plan is from the Bible. By seeking out God, we can make right choices. Thinking beyond today can help us develop a friendship with God and become enemies of the culture of death so often spawned in today's world. It can help us change our lives on the inside and produce thoughts and actions that lead to peace.

We can make decisions in our lives that lead to peace, but what about on a global scale? If the problems of the world are spiritual, what hope is there for peace? I'll answer those questions coming up, but first I'd like to tell you about a free offer that we'd like to make to you today.

In any study of history, wars and mankind's problems, it will inevitably lead to a discussion about Bible prophecy. Through His Word, the Bible, God foretold that man would be unable to solve his problems, and that his attempts to do so would lead to end-time tragedy so great, that Jesus Christ would have to return to intervene (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
). Prophecy ministries will make outlandish claims about end time prophecies and scenarios from today's news headlines. Some even unfortunately make the mistake of setting dates and predicting a date that the world will end. We do not do that on Beyond Today. But we do teach Bible prophecy and we present topics and material that help you understand why events in today's world matter. And so, that's why we have prepared a special offer for you today.

Our free Bible study guide, Are We Living in the Time of the End? solidly grounds you in the Bible and helps you understand the "why does this matter?" of today's news. I'll tell you more about how to get your free copy later in the program—and you can call our toll free phone number at any time.

As we continue, you may be thinking why are we looking back 100 years to the beginning of World War I? But, we are showing how the decisions of one person can have far reaching consequences for the entire world—and our world today. 100 years after World War I, we are looking at the similarities between their day and ours. That's the big reason you should study history.

Every evening when I sit down to watch the news, there are commercials for charities that benefit wounded warriors. After more than a decade of war in two Middle Eastern countries, there are countless soldiers who could use the support after suffering injury at war. Every commercial tells a short heart-wrenching story about men and women who were wounded and survived their injuries from bombs and bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The miracles of modern battlefield medicine have allowed these soldiers to survive and to return home. But tragically, their lives are a shadow of what they once were. They require a lot of rehabilitation and ongoing help.

No doubt many of them, their families and even those watching those stories ask the question, Why? Why were we there? What caused these wars? Why were our sons and daughters in remote places fighting someone else's battle? What's the solution that will end those conflicts, if there are any?

Take Iraq, for example. Iraq as a country did not exist before World War I. It came to exist after the Ottoman Empire dissolved . That region of the Middle East had experienced a relatively peaceful existence for several centuries under Ottoman rule. The distinct ethnic and religious groups they all coexisted under the Ottomans. But when the European powers redrew the borders of Iraq after the War creating that nation, it lumped together into one nation people from different tribes, and ethnic backgrounds and religious leanings.

Throughout the 20th century, that country—Iraq—experienced sporadic unrest under ruler after ruler. Finally, for more than 20 years starting in the late 1970s, Saddam Hussein a strong, and a violent ruler kept that country under control. But when America toppled his regime, it not only deposed a corrupt strongman, but it "broke" the fragile and mostly peaceful coexistence that he managed to maintain between these peoples. America's Iraq War began in 2003, but you can draw a direct line back to the European leadership's failure to take the long view 100 years ago both in the lead-up to and the aftermath of World War I.

Again, I ask you, will you take a long view? Will you take the responsibility to make decisions in your life based on truth, justice and temperance? And on a global scale, are you oblivious to what's going on?

If wars erupt again in our time like they did 100 years ago, what will your reaction be? They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But if every citizen and every leader would take a long view of history, both in their personal lives and in the events unfolding around them, how much catastrophe, how much suffering could be averted?

Jesus' followers came to Him once and they asked what would happen in the world before His return. What would be the signs? And He gave them the answer in a famous prophecy—it's called the Olivet Prophecy. It was given on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Here is what He said, "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32 Mark 13:32But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
American King James Version×
, NASB).

So nobody knows exactly when Jesus will return. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't observe the world today and anticipate changes. In the very next verse, Jesus said, "Take heed, keep on the alert, for you do not know when the appointed time is" (Mark 13:33 Mark 13:33Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Jesus then compared His second coming to a man who traveled to a distant country, left his servants in charge of his property and asked the doorkeeper "to stay on the alert" until he returned.

He then warned His disciples a second time. "Therefore," He said, "be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming…" (Mark 13:35 Mark 13:35Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning:
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Next He warned His servants not to fall asleep on the job, followed by a third and a final appeal emphasizing the importance of their task. And He said, "And what I say to you I say to all: 'Be on the alert!'" (Mark 13:37 Mark 13:37And what I say to you I say to all, Watch.
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Three times Jesus urged His followers to be alert! This is critical. It's a critical beginning to think beyond today. Be alert to the events in the world, seek to understand them in the context of Bible prophecy, and consider the long view of history. That's what Jesus was saying.

Luke's account of this prophecy given by Christ emphasizes the teaching that He gave that day about our personal conduct. Christ warned us to be diligent in keeping our personal spiritual house in order and showing us exactly the kind of distractions to avoid. He went on and He said this, "Watch out! Don't let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don't let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth" (Luke 21:34-35 Luke 21:34-35 [34] And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares. [35] For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
American King James Version×

The vast majority of people, said Jesus Christ, will be taken by surprise. They will not be spiritually alert, much less aware, as conditions and trends that He foretold thousands of years in advance begin to develop. Christ wanted His servants not to fall into that trap of ignorance.

100 years ago the world of that day was taken by surprise in the First World War. But even when they saw it coming to a head, no one had the wisdom to head off the great catastrophe.

Today, we see the same signs around us. We see wars and conflicts that threaten the stability of the world order that we enjoy so much today. We see religious strife within the Muslim world with the potential to drag in other nations. We see major problems of climate and social change occurring that create fear and uncertainty in an age of global prosperity and technological wonder.

Today, we see a globally interconnected world of great wealth, while another world emerges in Asia, Africa and Latin America that puts pressure on the world order. 100 years after World War I we can see, with the long view of history, another looming crisis that could drag the great powers of today into an even greater war.

So if one person can make a decision that can destroy progress made, can that person be you or me? Can we stop the march of potential catastrophe on a global scale? If not, then what can we do?

Unless you're a world leader, most likely you can't make an impact on that large of a scale for the better.

But like I've been saying, you can change your own world by taking the long view, understanding the mistakes of the past, and then acting on that understanding you can change your life and by doing so, positively impact others. You can take a long view of life in your own life. You can begin to think beyond today about your decisions. You can decide things that are based on what you know to make your life better, more successful and more fulfilling. You can find inner peace and happiness because you can come to know the one true God, and His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent to be the spiritual and physical savior for the world.

We've talked about how being alert is the first step to thinking beyond today. Next I want to cover the second step, and in the process explain why taking that long view really does matter. But first before doing so, I want to tell you more about the free offers that we are making today.

Our free Bible study aid that we are offering today is titled, Are We Living in the Time of the End? Just what are the signs of the coming end of this age? This informative study fills in the details on other critical questions that are there. You really need accurate, balanced teaching on Bible prophecy. And this study aid will give you what you need for that.

To order your personal, free copy of our study aid: Are We Living in the Time of the End? simply call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to And when you call or write we are going to also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. In each issue of The Good News you will find valuable, Bible-based articles about prophecy, faith, family, doctrine and much more [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].

I really hope that you'll take us up on our free offers today. Again, the numbers are on your screen. Call 1-888-886-8632 or go online at for the free Bible study aid, Are We Living in the Time of the End? and The Good News magazine.

If you're just joining us, we've been looking at how the world of 100 years ago resembles the world of today. We've been examining the effects World War I had on the past 100 years and we've been drawing lessons about how that impacts our personal behavior.

The first step in taking the long view and thinking beyond today is being alert and understanding what is happening in today's world and making right decisions for personal success in your life. Jesus emphasized it so much, and His expectation of us is to know what's going on. He directly tied being alert—watching, examining, pondering, and considering being able to stand before Him. It directly impacts our spiritual relationship with our Savior.

However, it's the second step that is the most important. And that is to learn from the mistakes of the past—and to learn from history.

In other words, use the understanding of prophecy and world events—both past and present—as a motivation for personal growth and peace of mind to form a relationship with the true God. This is really the only real reason to study history in connection with Bible prophecy.

Start by getting to know God. God created us and has our best interests at heart. His Bible is the manual to a happy life. So in order to get to know God, read His manual. Study the Bible.

And as you study it, you'll find His instructions for how to live a good life. Then once you start to internalize that instruction, you have to change your life and begin to obey God. Doing that—obeying God—builds trust and confidence in Him through a daily routine of talking to Him by prayer—and letting God talk back to you through a study of His Word, the Bible.

In Luke 21, when Christ said to stay alert, He also gave the reason. He said this: "In order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36 Luke 21:36Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Could Christ have given us these warnings because He wants us to repent, change our life and turn to Him and the Father?

I think He has.

And the challenge for us is to understand why the modern world is the way it is and to react to that world and that understanding with a deeper commitment to live a life of faith in the Father and faith in Jesus Christ. Take a long view of where your life is, where it is heading. Take a long view on the decisions you are making today. Is God a part of that long view?

Quoting what the apostle Peter writes, "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" (2 Peter 3:11 2 Peter 3:11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Peter urged us to use our understanding of prophecy as a motivation for personal change. Peter says that because prophecy will come to pass; because The Day of the Lord will occur just as God's Word says it will; because society will be skeptical of God, the Bible and religion in general…because these things will come upon an unsuspecting world, you and I had better get our life in order and become godly people in all parts of our life!

This is a critical step to taking the long view, and that is how you properly understand history, prophecy and our world today.

Finally, as a reminder, please call, or go online, for your free Bible study guide: Are We Living in the Time of the End? It will help you clearly understand the times in which we live. Also, when you contact us, we'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine if you're not already a subscriber. Each issue will give your life much needed biblical direction.

Be sure to call: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to and get your free Bible study aid and magazine subscription. Be assured that our literature is always totally free of charge and your name will not be given to anyone.

In addition, the United Church of God has hundreds of Sabbath-keeping congregations meeting each Saturday across the United States and around the world. Go to—click on the "Contact" tab to find a congregation nearest you. Then, call one of our knowledgeable and caring pastors to share your story with them.

And if you'd like to discover more about the genuine truths of the Bible, we invite you to tune into our live, bi-weekly, Wednesday night Beyond Today Bible Studies. Join us as we cover important biblical subjects. Our Wednesday night studies are webcast live from the United Church of God home office. To find them simply by going to the Beyond Today website and click on the "Bible Studies" link.

As the world looks back on the 100 years since World War I, take a moment to reflect on how that conflict changed the world. Reflect on the similarities between then and now, and understand that small decisions can make lasting effects.

We must learn to take the long view of our lives. The world sorely needs leaders with a different view than those of the past. The world needs leadership with the long view. It needs people who take a view of what is best and what will benefit others, avoiding the destructive and bloody scourge of conflict and war. We desperately need leadership with the long view into the world to come, the Kingdom of God.

Thanks for joining us, and be sure to tell your family and friends about Beyond Today. Tune in again next week and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.

[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!