This Week in AG History -- December 13, 1941
On the first Sunday after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Assemblies of God church members opened their weekly magazine, the Pentecostal Evangel, to an article by Iowa evangelist (and later Kansas City pastor), William E. Long, asking them, “Can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
Long laments that when he was younger he possessed more Bible knowledge than he did in later years. When he started in ministry he “knew” the identity of the Antichrist and could easily ascertain the meaning of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 and the Man-child of Revelation 12. He recalled the sermons he had heard proffering various identities of the Beast of Revelation, among whom were Kaiser Bill, Woodrow Wilson, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.
Long also recollects the fear of a dear old saint greatly disturbed about a sticker on the back of his car displaying a Blue Eagle (the symbol of President Roosevelt’s “National Recovery Administration”). She met him in front of the church in tears and, pointing to his sticker, exclaimed, “Oh, Brother Long, you have taken the Mark of the Beast!”
Looking back as an older, more experienced preacher, Long had good advice for the Evangel readers of 1941 and for Pentecostal believers today. He cautions against two extremes in handling biblical prophecy. The first being that we would be “carried away with every foolish idea that blows our way.” As Pentecostals we are anxious to see the prophecies of the Bible fulfilled and, in our enthusiasm, can fall prey to absurd and short-sighted teachings.
The second extreme is that these “wild, weird ideas” would lead to a reluctance to preach prophetic sermons. Neglecting biblical prophecy is just as alarming as the first extreme, according to Long. He pleads, “We must keep preaching the second coming of the Lord and not quit just because some have read into the Bible prophecies things that were not there.”
After World War I, the “war to end all wars,” Long states that many American preachers have “stood before large audiences and said they wouldn’t insult their audience by believing there would be any more wars.” Saying we have “beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks,” these preachers forgot Jesus said that right up until the time of the end “there shall be wars, and rumors of wars.” Having heard their president declare war on Japan that very week, his words took on a somber tone for Evangel readers.
Long also points to Jesus’ proclamation that the Jews “shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9) and reminds his readers that “in America today there are clubs and beaches and areas with signs which say, “For Gentiles Only.” Even though Long and the rest of the western world did not yet know the fullness of the atrocities of the Jewish Holocaust happening at that very moment, he warns this would be a sign of the nearness of Christ’s return.
He also mentions that Pentecostals should learn from the Jews who watch for the appearance of Messiah and who await the fulfillment of “the return of the Jews to their own land,” a reference to the Zionist movement for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. “The Jews are looking for Him and praying that Messiah will come. But let us ask ourselves this question: are we really anxious for Jesus Christ to return? We in America are not so anxious to have Him come. We have good jobs, we live in luxury, we have comfortable homes, we still enjoy peace.”
Long ends his exhortation to remember the urgency of Christ’s second coming with an application from His first coming. He hearkens back to Luke chapter two and Simeon, a man who lived his entire life longing to see Jesus, yet who only saw the Lord for a few short moments. “Why lament because we did not have the privilege of knowing Jesus as the shepherds did, and Simeon, and John? We are going to be in His presence forever! … My prayer is ‘Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!’ Is that your prayer, too?”
Read Long’s article, “Signs of the Times,” on pages 2 and 3 of the Dec. 13, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
* "Are You a Fruit-Bearing or a Withered Branch," by Clara A. Grace
* "A Scientist Meets the God of Science," by James R. Graham, Jr.
* "News from our School and Orphanage in Syria"
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.