God gives us many examples to get our minds on the World Tomorrow. Even Solomon’s reign was a type of the wonderful World Tomorrow. And I believe that, in a way, the great British Empire gives us good insight into what is about to come on the Earth! Some really exciting things happened in that empire, and God wants it to be that way in our lives!
God had given tremendous promises to the descendants of Abraham (e.g. Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-6)—particularly the birthright nations, which descended from Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:2). These Josephite nations would receive great material wealth and would rule over other nations (Genesis 27:28-29). Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, would become “a nation and a company of nations”—a commonwealth, or empire (Genesis 35:11). They would become a “fruitful bough … whose branches run over the wall”—prophetic language for a world-girdling, colonizing power (Genesis 49:22).
The modern nation that descended from Ephraim is Britain.
As Herbert W. Armstrong explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, God withheld these promises for thousands of years, in fulfillment of specific prophecies, until around the year 1800. Study Britain’s history and you see that the foundations for its rise as an empire were built over time. Those sitting on the British throne are descendants of the royal line of King David of Israel. (This is also proven in The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) It was under the reign of Queen Elizabeth i that the British Empire began to take shape as part of the fulfillment of those promises.
God had big plans—world-ruling plans—for Britain in these latter days. Is it possible that, in order to help Britons in that task, God would do all He could to enable them to become educated? I think God would give His birthright nation who had David’s throne a royal education to give it every opportunity to do great things with the empire. It was, after all, an empire that reached out to the whole world! It is logical to me that God would want Britons to be able to think and conduct themselves as true leaders, and that He would educate them for that role. God gave them the birthright, so wouldn’t He want to help them in other ways?
I believe God had a hand in the life of William Shakespeare for that purpose. This man lived during the reign of Elizabeth i, while this future empire was in its infancy. Yes, he was just a carnal man with many flaws, but when it came to his literary work, no author has been more venerated.
Imagine sitting down in the early days of that empire and, for entertainment, reading the works of William Shakespeare, a man who thought more deeply than any man in the British Empire. Do you think God might have had a hand in that? It seems logical to me.
Shakespeare Knew the Bible
William Shakespeare was not a true converted Christian. However, there is something really unusual about him compared with other secular writers. In their book, The Facts About Shakespeare, William Allan Neilson and Ashley Horace Thorndike note that difference: “Shakespeare knew his Bible. Several volumes have been written to exhibit the extent of this knowledge, and it has been shown by Anders that he knew both the Genevan and the Great Bible …. Charles Wordsworth, a bishop of St. Andrews, and a scholar well versed in both Latin and Greek, wrote, ‘Take the entire range of English literature, put together our best authors who have written upon subjects not professedly religious or theological, and we shall not find, I believe, in them all united, so much evidence of the Bible having been read and used as we have found in Shakespeare alone.’”
Shakespeare had access to some very good translations of the Bible. The famous Authorized Version, commissioned by King James, who succeeded Queen Elizabeth, was published during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Shakespeare knew the Bible and wrote a lot about it.
The only way people could understand that new translation is if they were able to understand the English used in it. The richness of the English language really flourished at that time, and Shakespeare was a major reason for that. Perhaps his variety of expression even helped people better understand the Scriptures. Consider this: In 1861, in a book called Lectures on the Science of Language, Max Müller wrote, “A well-educated person in England who has been at a public school and at the university … seldom uses more than about 3,000 or 4,000 words …. [But] Shakespeare, who displayed a greater variety of expression than probably any writer in any language, [employed] about 15,000 words.” Actually, there are about 22,000 different words in Shakespeare’s plays! He had a powerful impact on the English language right at the time that the Bible’s best and most famous translation came into being.
Shakespeare’s own writing was heavily influenced by the Bible. There are a number of instances throughout his plays where his knowledge of Scripture is evident. For example, notice what Shakespeare wrote about King John:
With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil,
That broker, that still breaks the pate of faith ….
When you break people’s faith, it leads to their destruction. Sadly, the people of Ephraim today have almost no faith! If they had it, they could pray and God would intervene, and conditions would improve dramatically. But since their faith is broken, destruction will follow.
In The Merchant of Venice, a character named Portia says:
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself ….
Shakespeare realized that mercy is an attribute of God Himself. Not many nations are taught about this in their modern literature, but that is powerful teaching in the United Kingdom from Shakespeare.
Hamlet is arguably Shakespeare’s best play. Most people immediately think of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet. But President Abraham Lincoln considered the most important soliloquy in that play, “My offence is rank.”
The setting for Hamlet was the royal house in Denmark; however, I think Shakespeare probably got the idea from what was happening on the British throne. In the play, Hamlet’s father was king, but then Hamlet’s uncle, the king’s brother, killed him and married his wife in less than two months. This part of the play is very intense, as if this man who wrote it had some experience in that area. This soliloquy takes place when Hamlet’s uncle begins to realize what he has done. As you read through this, you can’t help but see how Shakespeare was influenced by the Bible:
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
A brother’s murder.
This is a reference to Cain and Abel. This type of murder took place from the very beginning, in the very first family! This world is cursed because Adam and Eve decided not to go God’s way, leading mankind down a terrible path instead. Shakespeare takes us right back to the beginning. Hamlet’s uncle continues,
What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? …
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? …
Try what repentance can: what can it not?
Yet what can it when one can not repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
This portion sounds a lot like the Apostle Paul saying, “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24). That is probably where Shakespeare got some of his inspiration for this scene. Could a poet speak about repentance in such an intensive way and not have been influenced by the Bible? That soliloquy continues,
O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!
All may be well.
Repentance heals just about everything if we truly repent.
Born to Set It Right
Hamlet then goes to his mother, who was an accomplice in killing her own husband. He tells her:
Mother, for love of grace, …
Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come ….
That is pretty strong for secular writing. In the next scene, Hamlet muses,
The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Hamlet really wrestled with himself: What must I do to set it right? Or should I set it right? But he understood that he was born to set things right.
In this end time, we have witnessed a whole Church turn away from God, and in a sense, like it or not, we have been chosen by God to set it right! And we will do so! We should be repulsed by what the Laodiceans have done to God’s Work. It needs to be set right.
Amos 9:10-11 describe this scene: “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” The tabernacle of David had fallen, and it is up to us to set it right.
In Act iv, Hamlet goes on to say, “What is a man …?” And he refers to man’s Creator as “he that made us with such large discourse.”
This sounds very much like King David asking, “What is man?” (Psalm 8:4). Scholars claim that Hamlet represents Shakespeare’s autobiography more than any of his other plays. And here he is talking about “He that made us.” Shakespeare believed there was a Creator—who made us “with such large discourse.” God really has big plans for us. Why would God create human beings in His likeness? We look like God, and we are about to be like Him in mind and character. This change in character is happening in the lives of God’s people right now. That change is leading into our being born as sons of God into His Family very soon. Hamlet continued,
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused.
Think about that: We can reason like God! We have minds like God. No animal has that capacity. There must be something truly special about you for God to give you a type of His mind! Why doesn’t man see that?
Did God give us that mind “To fust in us unused”? We all have that God-like reason! As Shakespeare asked, is it for nothing? While I don’t want to oversell a carnal man, thoughts like this reveal he had a good insight into the Bible.
Other places in the play also reveal that Shakespeare realized we are not animals. In Act iv, Scene 5, the king states,
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts ….
If you lose your fair judgment, you become just like a beast. What is the point of having all this judgment and yet not using the human mind the way God intended? If we don’t, we have no future, just like the animals.
Here is another statement in this play:
Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow.
Where did Shakespeare get that? Right out of the Bible (Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7). If God knows about the fall of a little sparrow, what does He know about you? He certainly knows enough to bring you into His Family!
Consider the timing of Shakespeare’s work with regard to the start of the British Empire. He came on the scene just at the right time in a number of ways.
“It may be doubted whether any language will be rich enough to maintain more than one truly great poet, and whether there be more than one period—and that very short in the life of a language—when such a phenomenon as a great poet is possible,” author James Russell Lowell wrote. “It may be reckoned one of the rarest pieces of good luck that ever fell to the share of the race that was true of Shakespeare, its most rhythmic genius, its acutest intellect, its profoundest imagination, and its healthiest understanding should have been combined in one man” (Shakespeare Once More).This author calls it good luck, but could God have had a hand in it? Shakespeare came on the scene just at the right moment to harness the English language so effectively.
“A language which is perhaps the noblest vehicle of poetic thought that ever existed,” Lowell continued. “Had Shakespeare been born 50 years earlier he would have been cramped by a book language not yet flexible enough for the demands of rhythmic emotion, for the natural and familiar expression of supreme thought. … All favorable stars seem to have been in conjunction at his nativity.” He is talking about “favorable stars” to mean something that is beyond coincidence.
“Under a wise, cultivated and firm-handed monarch also [speaking of Queen Elizabeth], the national feeling of England gave rapidly more homogenous and intense … while the new religion of which she was the defender helped to make England morally, as it was geographically, insular to the continent of Europe,” Lowell concluded. “If circumstances could ever make a great national poet, here were all the elements mingled at melting heat …. If a great national poet could ever avail himself of circumstances, it was the occasion and fortunately, Shakespeare was equal to it.”
Poetry Helps Us Understand the Bible
At least 25 percent of the Bible is written in poetic form. We probably don’t appreciate that fact as much as we should. Poetry is a way to communicate a powerful message in a compressed way. As a poet, Shakespeare understood this like no other.
Miriam Joseph notes that Shakespeare lived “in an age ardently devoted to the reading of the Bible, wherein a knowledge of the figures of rhetoric ‘help much for the better understanding of the holy Scriptures’” (Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language, quoting 16th-century author Henry Peacham). By understanding language effectively, they were able to understand the Bible much better. The same holds true for us today in our Bible study.
Shakespeare lived “in an age ardently devoted to the reading of the Bible.” This is an extremely condemning statement about how the British people have degenerated spiritually! No knowledgeable person would say that the British people are “ardently devoted to the reading of the Bible” today.
Shakespeare’s age was the beginning of a rising, mighty British Empire. Today, that empire is gone. And British society is experiencing dangerously serious problems. These problems can only be solved by reading the Bible and applying what it teaches.
Speaking of some other poets of the day, Joseph continues, “Finner, in the three editions of his work, took all of the illustrations for both his logic and his rhetoric from the Bible. Blundeville, like Robannes, Morris, seven centuries earlier, valued logic as a means to find the truth in Scripture, and perceive and confute the subtle deceits of heretics” (emphasis mine throughout). These poets used logic to help their understanding of the Bible, and therefore were able to withstand the crazy reasoning of heretics. Isn’t there a need for that today? For so many in this world, logic completely escapes them.
Noting Shakespeare’s abilities, Lowell wrote that “Ben Jonson [a contemporary of Shakespeare’s] was right also in thinking that eloquence had grown backwards. He lived long enough to see the language of verse become, in a measure, traditionary and conventional. … There was no man left to whom, as to Shakespeare, perfect conception gave perfection of phrase.” Shakespeare was a perfectionist. He just kept building on and improving his work year after year after year. As far as secular literature is concerned, there are some real masterpieces there.
Lowell wrote, “The hold which Shakespeare has acquired and maintained upon minds, so many and so various in so many vital respects, utterly unsympathetic and even incapable of sympathy with his own, is one of the most noteworthy phenomena in the history of literature.” Lowell marveled how Shakespeare was able to appeal to so many, his popularity growing so much that his writings are quoted more than the Bible!
Writing of a 1623 collection of Shakespeare’s plays, Lowell continued, “It should be deferred to as authority in all cases where it does not make Shakespeare write bad sense, uncouth meter, or false grammar, of all which we believe him to have been more supremely incapable than any other man who ever wrote English!” Shakespeare was incapable of writing uncouth meter or false grammar. He was a perfectionist! His poetry is remarkably perfect. Jesus Christ tells us, I want you to become perfect like my Father (Matthew 5:48). By studying someone who was a perfectionist, we can learn more about that goal. We can all strive harder for perfection.
Notice what Jonson wrote in his tribute to Shakespeare after he died:
… he / Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses’ anvil; turn the same,
And himself with it, that he thinks to frame;
Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn;
For a good poet’s made, as well as born.
Shakespeare made his lines live because he sweated and hammered away at the muse’s anvil. He even continued to improve his plays over the years. He set his play upon the muse’s anvil, beating here and there, correcting it as he went, and came out the other end with a perfect product! It wasn’t easy for Shakespeare to produce his masterpieces. God didn’t pour that ability into his plays. God would never do that, even if He actually led him all the way.
We have to follow that same formula in our lives. It is amazing what you can produce when you sweat to yield yourself to God.
Shakespeare wasn’t just for those in the early British Empire; he has something to teach us today. He knew how to think deeply, and God wants us to learn how to think deeply as well. God isn’t going to force education on us, but He wants us to think deeply so we will see, if we are childlike and use logic, that God’s truth is right!
The failure to think deeply plagues all of us. It plagued Shakespeare as well; he had to work hard to develop his mind! God didn’t just hand his ability to him—He made him work like He makes you work! If you want to be great, even intellectually, you must work at it! God makes you sweat and struggle. Yes, He will help you succeed, and He will put all kinds of opportunities before you—but He requires that you work!
As 19th-century English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne noted, “It’s not only the crowning glory of England, it is the crowning glory of mankind, that such a man should ever have been born as William Shakespeare” (Introduction to The Comedies of Shakespeare). I don’t want to oversell Shakespeare, but we can learn a lot from carnal-minded people who dedicate their lives to perfection in their field. Jonson said Shakespeare “left the world such creations of language as had never before and perhaps never would again come from one human mind.” We can learn from people like that.
We all need to grow and become more effective at understanding the very mind of God. We have to learn how to think like God. As Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” This world doesn’t understand God’s thinking. You can’t understand Shakespeare or God or anybody else unless you understand their thinking. And we must understand the mind of God—because He is our Father.
We encourage and praise the pursuit of perfection, but this modern world has really moved away from that. Shakespeare is taught less and less in today’s education in favor of literature of far less value. And even those who perform Shakespeare’s plays often take a very scholarly approach to them, reworking them with their own interpretations and modern ideas. In almost every case, they degrade what Shakespeare did and produce trash.
Christ condemned the scholarly attitude. The Israelite cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida were full of rich, scholarly people. Christ said to them: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you” (Matthew 11:21-22).
Continuing in verses 23-24, Christ said, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to [the grave]: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Now contrast the attitude of those Israelites to the attitude God was truly interested in. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (verse 25). That is the way we need to be: a babe, open-minded, willing and eager to be taught. This is not the arrogant, know-it-all attitude that was exhibited by the Israelite cities. If we can’t have that childlike attitude, God can’t even teach us.
It is likely Shakespeare had some of that attitude. His phraseology was 10 times greater than any other writer’s language.
Founder of British Imperialism
In The Mysterious William Shakespeare: the Myth and the Reality, Charlton Ogburn quoted early 19th-century Shakespeare commentator Hermann Sincheimer. Notice what he wrote: “At a distance of four centuries, Elizabeth Tudor and William Shakespeare look like brother and sister. He, too, had a unique receptivity. He assembled a thousand years around his throne. … To us, William’s work is embedded in Elizabeth’s role and William’s poetry is redolent of Elizabeth’s work. He is the Elizabethan poet, and she is the Shakespearean queen. The plays are Elizabethan, conquests, extensions of territory, expansions of privilege and power, additions of wealth to a nation that is experiencing a whole world. There was not room enough for him in the island of Britain. He had to roam far and wide in order to keep his genius supplied with raw material. Like Drake and Raleigh, he discovered and held as booty the material which set his imagination on fire. Between the lines and between the characters, one may read the legend, ‘Our island is too small, our kingdom is the world.’ Shakespeare was, in the realm of poetry, one of the founders of British imperialism.”
Shakespeare’s works testify that he believed in the expansion of the British Empire. His writings probably inspired many British leaders to see that little England was too small. They needed to expand.
God’s people need that same burning passion for God’s truth and God’s Empire. Are we confined to Edmond, Oklahoma? Or even to the United States, or to any other country we might live in? No, even Britain and America are too small for what God has planned for us. God called us in order to reach the world! We are going to be imperialists educating this world in God’s way of life. Every human being is a potential member of God’s Family.
If we get wrapped up in our little world, we are going to be left standing by the wayside. God’s plan is about the whole world—even the whole universe, and the whole Family of God. God isn’t planning to use us in a small endeavor. He wants and He expects great things of His people! We need to capture this vision and let it set our imagination on fire.
In his tribute, Jonson called Shakespeare both the “soul of the age” and “Britain’s triumph.” It was like calling Shakespeare the spirit behind the British Empire. God needed a real, vibrant spirit to lift it up into becoming a mighty empire. Shakespeare played a role in raising the empire’s spirit to achieve that greatness. He stirred Britons’ imaginations.
The whole world was looking to the theater where Shakespeare’s plays were performed. As reported by A.L. Rowse in Ogburn’s book, “By 1600, foreign visitors regarded the London theater as a chief glory of the nation.” The chief glory should have been David’s throne—and Shakespeare should have written a lot more about that! But the carnal mind is not really going to discuss that throne the way God insists that we do as His Family.
Shakespeare wrote in one of his sonnets,
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read ….
Shakespeare understood that what he wrote would outlive him. He knew that as God created more eyes, more people would see his plays. Surely he realized that it was impossible for an audience to pick up on everything he wrote. The plays might help drive the lessons home, but when you get into the depth of Shakespeare, you realize you need to slow down and meditate in order to understand the meaning. His plays need to be read to be understood.
God gave the British both the throne of David and the birthright to receive the blessings of Abraham. But God also wanted them to spread the word! He wanted them to learn to speak and write about that throne. He wanted them to promote that lamp of David through writing and speaking, to be a witness of it. God also wanted them to have the depth of education and thinking to rule the great British Empire that He was giving them!
Today, the throne of David is right in the lap of the Ephraimites, and they don’t even know it! There is no excuse for such ignorance. I think even Shakespeare, if he were resurrected today, would be shocked by the terrible state of the British nation and its ongoing degeneration.
Regardless of Britain’s feeble state, however, God’s promise about David’s throne continues to be fulfilled right now in London, England. There is an actual throne that the queen sits on. That throne remains, exactly how God said it would! And there is a message going out explaining what that throne is all about.
We need deep thinking to explain and teach about that eternal throne!
Jeremiah 33:15-16 prophesy of how the whole world will be united through the throne of David! In time, the whole world will begin to get this message, coming right out of those sweet heavens. That is what the key of David is all about. It is going to unite everybody!
Verses 17 and 18 discuss two covenants: One about those sitting on David’s throne, and the second about a group of people supporting a man who delivers a message about that throne. God focuses on David’s throne. That is what will unify this world. Delivering this message will continue right up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who is going to sit on that throne forever! (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:30-33).
We have a wonderful message for the British people. In an advertisement, we could ask: Will the British Empire live again? And we could answer: “Something much greater than the British Empire is going to rise again. It will be bigger and better, and it will lead the nations of the world.” The great British Empire is going to live again! This is such a positive message, and it is certain to impact many people in Britain.
Shakespeare Helped Lincoln
Shakespeare was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite poets. “Lincoln employed his leisure hours, which he did not altogether lack, by saturating himself in Shakespeare and the King James Bible,” wrote John Hay, Lincoln’s private secretary. According to Hay, Lincoln “read Shakespeare more than all other writers together.” Hay mentioned how he loved Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard II. On one occasion, Hay wrote, “I went with him to the Soldier’s Home and he read Shakespeare to me, the end of Henry V, and the beginning of Richard III till my heavy eyelids caught his considerate notice, and he sent me to bed.”
Out on the circuit in his law practice, Lincoln would carry Shakespeare’s plays in his pocket, and when he had a few moments he would read them. Through this, Lincoln received a tremendous education, despite almost no formal scholarly training at all.
Is it possible that Lincoln’s mind being so saturated in Shakespeare works was a factor in the North winning the Civil War? You can see why he loved Richard II when you consider his experience in that war. Suffering one crisis after another, he had to wonder, Where is it all going to end? Why must we suffer like this? In one of his favorite soliloquies from that play, King Richard states,
No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let’s choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
Doesn’t that remind you of this world in a powerful way? The king continues,
… let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings ….
Shakespeare had his mind on the kings on David’s throne in the past, and the kings at the present.
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court ….
What a history of kings! Read it in the history books. Read it in your Bible: On David’s throne, all kinds of things like that happened. The soliloquy ends with this passage,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
Shakespeare understood the ebb and flow of human history. The earthly throne the king sat on did not keep him from the feeling of every man. However, that will be different when we sit on the throne of David. Nothing is going to happen to you that God doesn’t approve. You literally are kings preparing to sit on a throne and to finally change how the kings of David’s house have acted throughout history.
Richard iiexpounds on those themes. Shakespeare understood history as what it was: a constant repetition of the same sins over and again. That is why Shakespeare wrote quite a lot about repentance. People will have to repent in order to change the course of history—or else we will just keep repeating the sad results. Lincoln believed Shakespeare addressed such universal themes that, in a sense, he predicted the future! Shakespeare definitely understood human nature, like practically no other secular writer did.
Lincoln believed that “on his words will the leading minds of the world always be nourished.” He also believed that Shakespeare’s plays, more than any other writings, brought hope to the common people.
Lincoln is further quoted as saying: “If all other books were destroyed excepting the Bible and Shakespeare, the world would still have the best literature preserved. Shakespeare’s mind was like a sea to which all others in the world were as tributaries. And why should we not drink from this inexhaustible fountain?” (David J. Harkness and R. Gerald McMurtry, Lincoln’s Favorite Poets).
In some cases Shakespeare is quite negative, and Lincoln was melancholy to a serious degree. Maybe he got too much into some of Shakespeare’s depressing plays. Human beings can never quite get the balance. But still, there are lessons to learn if we study them with a discerning mind.
Churchill and Shakespeare
Winston S. Churchill, a firm believer in the greatness of the British Empire, also studied Shakespeare at great length. In A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill concludes his chapter on the defeat of the Spanish Armada with Shakespeare’s words from King John:
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.
In other words, if England kept true to her principles, she would have a powerful British Empire! The same is true in God’s Church. If we are true to God and to what we know is right, we are going to have a powerful Church!
Look at Britain today and it is clear that its thinking is far from those words of King John. Scotland’s recent push to declare independence is just one example proving that the empire didn’t follow Shakespeare’s advice.
Don’t we have a message for Britain? We can answer the questions that many Britons are asking: Why are we such a pitiful spectacle before the world? What happened to the glory of the British Empire? Does anybody else have a solution to what is wrong with Britain, America and Judah—the birthright nations and the scepter nation? Nobody has the solution but God’s true Church—and we are about to tell them!
Churchill often lamented about the “little Englanders” who lacked vision. They didn’t see the purpose of the empire and what good it could do! They were selfish and small-minded. The same mindset exists in Britain today, but a lot worse.
However, God has raised up this Work to refute that small-minded thinking and to send a powerful message to the British Isles. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote,
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune ….
Lincoln applied this quotation to his own career many times and found great truth in it. There is a tide in the affairs of this Church, a spiritual tide. And if it is taken at the flood, it will lead you into marvelous and wonderful and dazzling rewards from God! There are no greater opportunities on Earth than right now in this Church! Jesus Christ is about to return, and we are going to introduce Him to this world. The high tide of mankind’s rule is upon us, and change is coming. We need to take it at the flood and move with power to take advantage of every opportunity God offers us. If we do, we will experience some of the most dazzling and indescribable rewards ever given to man.