When East Meets West
“OH, EAST is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” These words of British poet Rudyard Kipling remind us of the deep cultural differences that divide mankind, which contribute to the tribal, racial, and nationalistic hatreds that are exploding all around us today. Many ask, Cannot God do something about this situation? Yes, he can! And he is even now doing something! The next line of Kipling’s poem referred to this. How long would East and West be divided? The poet said: “Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”
God has delegated the responsibility of judging to his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 5:22-24, 30) But when does that time of judgment start? Who are judged, and with what outcome? It was Jesus who described in prophecy the world wars and accompanying distresses that began to afflict mankind in the year 1914. He stated that these mark “the sign” of his invisible “presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:3-8.
At the climax of this great prophecy, Jesus identifies our present time as one of judgment, saying of himself: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” Figuratively, all peoples of earth are now gathered before the Judge and are accountable for the way they respond to his message of salvation. When judgment is executed soon at the great tribulation, the disobedient goatlike people “will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones [the obedient sheeplike ones] into everlasting life.”—Matthew 25:31-33, 46; Revelation 16:14-16.
‘From the Sunrising and From the Sunset’
The judgment of this world actually got under way during the tempestuous years of World War I. At that time, Christendom’s clergy gave wholehearted support to the warring factions. This identified them as part of a corrupt world that merits “the wrath of God.” (John 3:36) Yet what of peace-loving Christians who exercised faith in God? Starting in the year 1919, these began to be gathered to the side of the King, Christ Jesus.
From all parts of the globe they have come, first the remaining ones of the 144,000 anointed ones, selected throughout the centuries of the Christian era. These are to be “joint heirs with Christ” in his heavenly Kingdom. (Romans 8:17) To these God’s prophet says: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. From the sunrising I shall bring your seed, and from the sunset I shall collect you together. I shall say to the north, ‘Give up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not keep back. Bring my sons from far off, and my daughters from the extremity of the earth, everyone that is called by my name and that I have created for my own glory, that I have formed, yes, that I have made.’”—Isaiah 43:5-7.
But that is not all! Particularly from the 1930’s, a great crowd, now running into the millions, began to be gathered. These are “the sheep” that Jesus referred to at Matthew 25:31-46. Like the anointed remnant before them, these come to “have faith” in the One who declares: ‘You are my witnesses, and I am God.’ (Isaiah 43:10-12) The gathering of this great crowd is also proceeding ‘from sunrising and sunset, from north and south, and from the extremities of the earth.’
These peace-loving sheep are being welded into one international brotherhood. They speak the many different languages of the 231 lands in which they live. Yet they are united spiritually in learning the “pure language” of the Bible’s Kingdom message, “in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) Their unity of belief, purpose, and action provides marvelous testimony that East has indeed met West, and peoples from all other points of the compass, to the service and the praise of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
In some lands this gathering is taking place under the most remarkable circumstances, as the following reports will show.