Fundamentally, nations are families grown large. In a real sense, a nation is as human as a family or an individual. It has its passions and vices, hopes and ambitions, strengths and weaknesses.
The father of the German people was likely a man of industry and precision who could perform painstaking work, who cleaned his tools and put each one in its place, and who would follow orders to a tee, especially on the battlefield.
That man had children, those children had children, and the line continued and multiplied, from family to clan to tribe to nation. As the Bible records this related group of people grew and retained the name of its forefather: Asshur.
The descendants of Asshur became known as the Assyrians. When they used their familial traits to successfully conquer the peoples around them, they became known as the Assyrian Empire. And as with other peoples, they possessed strengths and weaknesses.
Through the histories of the Germans, the Franks, the Carolingians, the Teutons and others, similar traits can be found. One of these is the application of precision, discipline, obedience—and cruelty—in warfare.
The Germans and their ancestors have a long history carrying out the ambitions of their rulers, including evil dictators. They followed kings and emperors into countless wars, crusades and tyrannies. In the 20th century, they followed authoritarian rulers into two world wars. After World War ii, the reinstitution of democracy was forced by the Allies. Despite all that horrible history, Germans tend toward authoritarian rule.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained in “Germany—A New King Is Imminent” (January 2019) that Germans’ yearning for this kind of leadership will again be exploited by an evil dictator who will lead the nation into war (Daniel 8:23-25).
But the Bible also shows us something else. The traits of the German people will be used for good, and not just to fuel an exemplary economy. Germans will overcome the evil of their warlike history for good. They will understand the terrible consequences of allowing a man to manipulate their desire for more authoritarian rule, and will learn how to submit to a righteous, perfect government: God’s government.
Groaning for Leadership
German journalist Heribert Prantl, in a 2011 article titled “The Longing for the Messiah,” noted two components of the German national character: incompatibility with democracy and the longing for a messianic leader.
A 2018 University of Leipzig survey found that 8 percent of Germans agreed with the statement, “It is in the national interest that a dictatorship is under certain circumstances the better form of government.” To “We should have a leader who rules Germany for the benefit of all with a strong hand,” 11 percent agreed. And to “What Germany needs now is a single strong party that represents the national community as a whole,” almost 20 percent agreed. Considering the nation’s authoritarian history, even these seemingly low figures are shockingly high. Other surveys show that desire for authoritarian rule is growing especially among Germany’s youth.
Germany’s oldest citizens still remember the consequences of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship. Those in Eastern Germany can recall Soviet rule from 1949 to 1989. Yet still, many Germans crave strong government. A 2018 Otto Brenner Foundation study found that more than 60 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds believe that they “have no control over what the government does.” Many question the principles of democracy. In Eastern Germany, 19 percent of youth disagree that “Democracy is the best form of government” (in Western Germany, 12 percent disagree). Twenty-six percent of young adults in Eastern Germany and 23 percent in Western Germany want “a strong leader who does not have to worry about parliaments and elections.” Fewer than half “totally disagree” with this statement.
One fifth of East Germans 18 to 29 years old so desire authoritarian rule that they are willing to give up democracy. Schools and most of the nation’s media teach that dictatorships are bad—yet young Germans who never experienced it yearn for a strong leader. They believe real progress must be led from the top.
The University of Leipzig study concluded: “Around 40 percent of Germans display authoritarian characteristics, while only 30 percent are explicitly democratic.”
In the Otto Brenner Foundation study, 86 percent agreed or partially agreed that “Troublemakers should clearly feel that they are undesired in society.” To “Proven practices should not be questioned,” 71 percent agreed or partially agreed. “People should leave important decisions in society to leaders”—57 percent agreed or partially agreed.
Germans hate stagnation even more than they want the freedom to vote. “There is a strong demand for a new leader in Germany,” Mr. Flurry noted. “People can’t agree on what his policies should be—but they want someone different from Merkel, and someone with vision” (op cit).
In the past, millions of Germans left their fate in the hands of one man and even followed him into horrifying evils. Hitler ordered the destruction of millions of Jews. His orders were followed, from the highest officers down to the guards who locked the doors of the gas chambers. Few questioned the decisions; even fewer rebelled. This blind obedience had devastating consequences.
But Germans do realize something most other nations don’t. They realize that the people themselves often don’t know what is best for them. Democracy has prevented some horrifying evils, but it brings evils of its own.
The Bible makes this point plain: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The Bible also shows that you cannot trust men to lead you: “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5). This is exactly what has plagued the German people for centuries: They trust in men—even when doing so produces enormous suffering.
But if the solution lies neither in the democracy of men nor the dictatorship of a man, where is it to be found?
The Only Nation That Ever Repented
The German people trace their roots to ancient Assyria (read “The Remarkable Identity of the German People”). Assyrian kings led their people to do some of history’s most horrifying deeds. King Sennacherib bragged about spilling so much blood that his horses had to wade through it as through a river. The Assyrian people were feared for their brutality, both in warfare and in torture of captives.
But the Bible records a time when the nation experienced a dramatic turnaround. “The Prophet Jonah warned the Assyrian city of Nineveh to repent. It is the only biblical example of a city or nation ever repenting,” Mr. Flurry writes in Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany. How could the bloodiest city of the time accept God’s message?
After the Prophet Jonah delivered God’s message, the king repented and proclaimed a fast throughout the land. He wrote, “[L]et man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands” (Jonah 3:6-8).
The people obeyed. They had followed an evil leader into wickedness—now they followed a repentant leader into a more righteous way of life. Thus, God spared the city from destruction.
Sadly, in this end time, Germans will have to suffer before God can lead them to repentance. But soon they will again experience a similar turnaround. They will come to realize that they have been deceived by evil leaders and by “the god of this world,” Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). They will recognize and repent of their hostility toward God (Romans 8:7).
The Bible indicates that they will then gladly accept God’s rule. Jesus Christ will return to rule this world as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will put down all rebellion and establish God’s law. Thus, Germans’ craving for leadership will be filled by God’s government on Earth (Daniel 2:44). Their desire for guidelines will be filled as they learn to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Their desire for law and order will be filled as Christ will rule with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27).
Other nations must be forced to accept this happy fate. Ezekiel 38-39 prophesy that Asiatic nations will rebel against Christ’s rule. Zechariah 14:16-19 indicate that the nation of Egypt and other Gentile nations may disobey God’s order to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
But there is no prophecy that Germany will again disobey as a nation. Instead, Isaiah mentions Assyria as a leading nation in this coming wonderful World Tomorrow (Isaiah 11:16; 19:23-24). Germany along with Israel and a few other nation will lead the whole world into prosperity. God wants prosperity for every individual, for every family and for every nation. But to achieve such prosperity, mankind must learn to follow Him rather than their own ways.
That doesn’t mean the Germans will blindly obey God’s orders like robots. God created humans with a free will to choose His way of life or reject it. But Germany’s past suggests that its people will come to quickly see that God’s way of life works best.
God’s laws are more than just a list of do’s and don’ts. Christ condemned the Pharisees for merely keeping the letter of the law (Matthew 23). He referred people to the “weightier matters of the law” such as judgment, mercy and faith—God’s love. The principle of God’s law as love toward God and love toward neighbor (Matthew 22:35-40). It is not merely taking orders: It requires individual decision-making based on the principle of love.
This will be Germany’s challenge in the near future. But when Christ returns and demands obedience, Germans on the whole will accept that challenge.
There is a wonderful world ahead for everyone who learns to submit to God’s loving government. God promises freedom from human dictators, freedom from Satan’s influences, freedom from the vices of democracy, our peers and ourselves, and freedom from sin and death itself.