In the history of the world there have been several crucial wars that have decidedly turned the direction of the world’s history in the path that it took.
We may point to three main wars. The Persian wars, the wars between Greece and Persia; the Punic wars, the wars between Rome and Carthage; and the Arabian and European wars.
In the study of the book of Daniel, the first of these crucial wars is predicted and applied to the instruction of the Church. These wars change the course of the history of the nations. But it is also and mainly so, of instruction for the history of the church. If we read this history we find many striking parallels and much material for thought about the present world crisis that we are facing. For example, if we take the 11th chapter of Daniel, where the Lord predicts to Daniel the defeat of the Persian ruler, the fourth one who is the richest of them all, and compare it with the actual history—say as we read it in Herodotus’ account—how that that king was Xerxes, who marched with an army of 300,000 or 900,000 men into Greece and was defeated there, we may continue with the other crucial wars and compare with our own time and see that there are the same mighty forces, probably east and west again, facing another and probably final contest, the issue of which is probably doubtful for man, but which is to result in the revelation of the glory of the Son of God.
It is interesting to read the commentary of Calvin on Daniel. From the point of view of his warm touch for the heart of the church reader, but also from the point of view that he refers to the actual historical material with which he is familiar.
One thing especially struck me about this commentary of Calvin, and that was that he closed each one of his lectures on the book of Daniel with a very beautiful prayer. It impressed me that Calvin was living in that time of the history of Europe when Europe was in the crisis of the dangers of Islam which historians speak of as the crucial Arabian-European wars. It is no wonder then to see how that Martin Luther called the Pope antichrist and looked upon the Turk as the very fulfillment of the prediction of the hordes from the four corners of the earth. I think it was so too, in a measure. We face one more such cycle, one more such crisis. Each one rises higher we know.
But I would like to quote some of these prayers of Calvin.
The Need of Prayer:
It is our calling in these times as church to be instant in prayer. Often the question is, what shall we pray? I shall leave that question now as outside of the purpose of this column, but shall leave you with these examples of a Reformed leader through which we may receive same inspiration today.
“Grant, Almighty God, since it pleases thee to exercise our confidence by not allowing us any fixed or stable rest upon earth, that we may learn to rest in thee while the world rolls over and over even a hundred times. May we never doubt either our protection under thy hand, or perpetual issue of all things in our good. Although we are not beyond the reach of darts, yet may we know the impossibility of our suffering under any deadly wound, when thou puttest forth thy hand to shield us. May we have full confidence in thee, and never cease to march under thy standard with constant and invincible courage, until at length thou shalt gather us into that happy rest which is laid up for us in heaven, by Christ our Lord.—Amen (Vol. II, p. 300)
Grant, Almighty God, that we may remain quiet under thy shelter and protection, in the midst of those numerous disturbances which thou ever submittest to our eyes in this world. May we never lose our courage when an occasion is given to Satan and our enemies to oppress us, but may we remain secure under thy protection, and every hour and every moment may we fly to thy guardianship. Relying on thine unconquered power, may we never hesitate so to pass through all commotions, as to repose with quiet minds upon thy grace, till at length we are gathered into that happy and eternal rest which thou hast prepared for us in heaven, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Vol. II, p. 312).