Winston Churchill—The Watchman
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
In 1932, there were 2 million members in the Nazi Party; 400,000 men belonged to Hitler’s semi-military “storm troopers.” Three of the Nazis’ most strident demands were: 1) They wanted an end to the Versailles Treaty—a treaty to make the Germans pay for the damage they caused by starting World War i! 2) They wanted to rearm—something they were not allowed to do after World War i. 3) They demanded that German Jews be removed from all walks of German life.
This last demand should have alerted the world to where Germany’s rearmament would lead! Any good watchman should have understood and warned the people. Actually, there was only one prominent leader who was alarmed by what was happening in Germany. He spoke out publicly against it. That man was Winston Churchill. He wanted to see Britain strengthen its weak military. Yet Britain’s foreign secretary, Sir John Simon, was working feverishly to get the British government to rapidly and comprehensively disarm! His appeal gained strong and enthusiastic support. Other members of Parliament were also working to achieve that goal.
Winston Churchill was a watchman crying in the wilderness.
How could so many of our leaders in the United States and Britain—almost all of them—have been so weak in dealing with Hitler? Why was the British Parliament thinking of disarming as Germany rapidly rearmed?
Across the Atlantic, America was assuming a similarly passive posture. We might have remained that way throughout World War ii if Japan hadn’t directly provoked us at Pearl Harbor. As Edward R. Murrow said, “America didn’t enter into the war, they were bombed into it.”
Our leaders lacked the watchman quality of a strong leader like Churchill. He faced reality and spoke the truth in a dangerous world. Most leaders in the U.S. and UK lived in a weak world of illusion.
Martin Gilbert wrote the greatest biography ever of this great leader, Winston S. Churchill. In Volume 5, The Prophet of Truth, he wrote, “Into Europe’s ‘highly complicated and electrical situations,’ Churchill declared, ‘our well-meaning but thoughtless and reckless pacifists expect us to plunge with sweeping gestures, encouraged by long-distance halloos from the United States’” (emphasis mine throughout).
The U.S. was even more pacifist than Britain. Both nations made horrendous misjudgments about Hitler. We should be embarrassed even today by our shameful fear and weakness against one of the worst tyrants ever.
The big question is, did we learn anything from this towering mistake that almost cost us our freedom? Did Churchill’s example teach us why we made such colossal misjudgments? The answer is no to both questions.
Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat its catastrophes! Today a nuclear first strike is apt to win the next major war. So our margin for error is much smaller. That means we would have to stop a Hitler-type movement before it gained power.
Never was there a greater need for political and media watchmen!
We can’t afford the pacifist attitude we had before World War ii and survive nationally. Yet our pacifist attitude today is far worse than it was then. And China, Russia and other nations are exploiting that weakness.
One of Winston Churchill’s greatest biographers, William Manchester, said that Churchill “saved Western civilization” in World War ii—not just Britain and Europe.
How important is it that we learn from that civilization-saving history?
Henry Steele Commager wrote an introduction to Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestor, Marlborough. In it Mr. Commager wrote, “… Churchill’s reading of history reinforced his early education to exalt the heroic virtues. He was Roman rather than Greek, and as he admired Roman accomplishments in law, government, empire, so he rejoiced in Roman virtues of order, justice, fortitude, resoluteness, magnanimity. These were British virtues too, and, because he was the very symbol of John Bull, Churchillian. He cherished, as a law of history, the principle that a people who flout these virtues is doomed to decay and dissolution, and that a people who respect them will prosper and survive.”
Learning lessons from great leaders of the past is critical to our national well-being. If we flout those heroic virtues of history, our nations are “doomed to decay and dissolution.” But if we respect and emulate them, we “will prosper and survive.”
That is “a law of history.” Our national survival is at stake!
The Lessons of History
Commager wrote, “[Churchill] accepted, instinctively, the attitude toward history which that century took for granted: that history, in the words of Bolingbroke, was philosophy teaching by examples. What is more, he was quite ready to stand there and point to the examples. Indeed we can say of Churchill what he himself wrote of Rosebery, that ‘the past stood ever at his elbow and was the counselor upon whom he most relied. He seemed to be attended by learning and history, and to carry into current events an air of ancient majesty.’
“Nowhere does this appear more simply than in the ‘Grand Theme’ which Churchill imposed upon his history of The Second World War: ‘In War: Resolution; In Defeat: Defiance; In Victory: Magnanimity; In Peace: Good Will.’ He read history as a stupendous moral scripture, and for him the writing was, if not divinely inspired, at least authoritative. More, it was straightforward and simple. History was a struggle between the forces of right or wrong, freedom and tyranny, the future and the past. By great good fortune Churchill’s own people—‘this island race,’ as he called them—were on the side of right, progress and enlightenment; by great good fortune, too, it was given to him to buckle these virtues onto him as armor in the struggle for a righteous cause.
“If history was philosophy teaching by examples, what lessons did it teach? …
“First, history was not just the pursuit of idle hours but was, itself, philosophy and, rightly read, furnished lessons which statesmen could ponder and apply.
“Second, history was both memory and prophecy. It provided the counsel and the solace of the long view both to the past and to the future. The contemplation of the ages which mankind had somehow endured, and survived, infused the student with patience, with humility, and with courage; the prospect of a posterity which, a thousand years hence, might pronounce the verdict that one generation had given to a nation ‘its finest hour’ encouraged resoluteness and hope, and strengthened the ability to confront crises that seemed insurmountable.
“Third, history followed great cycles: The same themes recurred, again and again, the same drama was played out, from age to age; and as men had somehow survived the vicissitudes of the past there was ground to hope that they might survive those of the present and the future. Thus four times Britain had fought to rescue Europe from the grip of a tyrant—Louis xiv, Napoleon, Kaiser William, and Hitler—and four times Britain had succeeded in saving Europe and, with it, the cause of liberty and justice. Here was a recurring pattern which augured well for the future of ‘this island race,’ and of mankind, for, as Churchill saw it, the welfare of mankind was inextricably intertwined with that of the English-speaking peoples.
“Fourth, history bore witness to the vital importance of national character, for character was as important to a people as to an individual, and every nation must be alert to defend and preserve it. That each nation had a special character Churchill did not doubt, and as he contemplated the long arch of centuries he was led to a fifth conclusion, that it was, above all, the English character which had lighted up the corridors of time, flickering now and then but mostly pure and clear and even luminous—the English character and that of England’s daughter nations around the globe.” Today, character isn’t even important enough to raise as a political issue in Britain and America!
Commager continued, “From all this flowed a sixth lesson, that the test of greatness was politics and war. …
“‘Battles,’ he wrote in the Marlborough, ‘are the principal milestones in secular history. … All great struggles of history have been won by superior will power wresting victory in the teeth of odds.’ [Our will power has been broken (Leviticus 26:19).] And elsewhere he concluded flatly that ‘The story of the human race is war.’ Like those statesmen he most admired, Marlborough, Chatham, Wolfe, Clive, Washington, Lee, he was himself a war leader; alone of great war leaders he was a great war historian.
“History—not least the history of war—taught a seventh lesson, and taught it not only to Churchill but through him: the vital importance of leadership”—another disastrous failure in Britain and America (Isaiah 3:1-4).
Education Has Failed Us
Today we hear many academic voices telling people that learning history is of little or no value. This is an extremely dangerous trend that may be too entrenched to correct.
This educational plague is rampant among the American and British peoples. And it seems that very few of our leaders understand what a colossal disaster it is!
Syndicated columnist George Will wrote this in his Dec. 23, 2001, column: “When history is taught at all nowadays, often it is taught as the unfolding of inevitabilities—of vast, impersonal forces. The role of contingency in history is disparaged, so students are inoculated against the ‘undemocratic’ notion that history can be turned in its course by great individuals” (Times Union).
He then implied that America probably would not have been born without the bravery and leadership of George Washington. We came dangerously close to losing the Revolutionary War.
Mr. Will wrote, “Two hundred twenty-five Christmases ago, history was being made around here. And recently Lynne Cheney … came here to advocate teaching history more extensively and more wisely than we currently do. …
“Cheney recalled a 1999 survey of college seniors at 55 elite colleges, from Princeton to Stanford, which revealed that only 22 percent knew that the words ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ are from the Gettysburg Address. Forty percent could not place the Civil War in the second half of the 19th century. … Twenty-five percent thought the pilgrims signed the Magna Carta on the Mayflower. … To the question of who commanded American forces at Yorktown, the most frequent answer was Ulysses S. Grant.
“Such questions should not be difficult for high school seniors. But at the time of the survey, none of the 55 colleges and universities required a course in American history. And students could graduate from 78 percent of them without taking any history course” (ibid.).
What a disturbing survey! Most of the students—78 percent—didn’t have to take even one history course!
Numerous authorities credit Winston Churchill with saving Western civilization. Churchill could not have accomplished that unparalled feat unless he had been steeped in history. It would have been impossible for him to become one of the greatest political watchmen ever without his profound understanding of history.
In spite of this recent World War ii history, our universities in America and Britain hardly require any courses in history. How important is a deep understanding of history? Massive fruits from Churchill’s life in World War ii loudly proclaim the importance of learning history.
How deplorable and dangerously lacking is much of our education today! These institutional leaders deserve the same contempt for not teaching history that most of them display toward teaching history.
It is inexcusable and deadly dangerous!
Educators are often out of touch with reality. And our people will pay the bloody price!
Educational institutions have produced most of our political and media watchmen today. The fruits are horrendously bad.
Most of these watchmen are ignorant of history and deeply confused in a world whose number one problem is that of human survival.
When are we going to wake up?
History Is Prophecy
Churchill made some astounding prophecies before and during World War ii. Many of them came true because of his profound understanding of history. He believed that history is prophecy.
He prophesied what Germany would do in World War ii because he understood German history so well. The Germans simply repeated what they had done so often in the past. For example, they not only started World War ii, they also started World War i! And many other wars before that!
How often have we heard that “history repeats itself”? It does—time and time again.
The Bible contains many prophetic books, including what are classified as the “major” and “minor” prophets. There also are “former prophets” in the Bible—comprised of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Samuel. These books are mostly about the history of Israel, but they are called former prophets for a reason: They were written by prophets and are filled with end-time prophecy. If we live the same lifestyles our forefathers did, we will attain virtually the same results—good or bad. History prophesies the fate of nations, whether they will thrive or collapse!
If we have a deep understanding of history, it’s much easier for us to learn Bible prophecy.
God always sends His watchman to warn Israel (that includes America and Britain) of imminent disasters. That is a historical fact.
Those who heed and support that watchman are protected from the catastrophes. They are also given majestic leadership roles in the imminent wonderful World Tomorrow. (Request our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.)
Murrow and Churchill
Here is what Joseph E. Persico wrote in his book titled Edward R. Murrow: “Murrow freely confessed that Churchill had been his hero. His own language was influenced by Churchill, not so much the rolling and grandiloquent sonorities, but the other Churchill, the one who spoke in simple, powerful Anglo-Saxon imagery that sounded like the Bible in modern dress. He saw Churchill as ‘a gallant gambler, an aristocrat, an historian, and 18th-century cavalry officer … and an indestructible juvenile …. He is, I think, the most considerable man to walk the stage of world history in 50 years.’”
The “historian” Churchill was Murrow’s hero.
During World War ii, Murrow, a media watchman, became acquainted with Churchill in a most unusual way.
“[Murrow] was not bothered at being out of doors in the middle of an air raid. He had thought through that risk. He never had gone into an air-raid shelter, except to get a story. ‘Once you start going into shelters,’ he told Larry Le Sueur, ‘you lose your nerve.’ Following his example, Janet did not go into shelters either, though there was one in the mews behind their apartment building. …
“For six nights, Ed stood on the rooftop. The German bombers never failed him. They came every night. He captured on recordings the unearthly howl of a bomb as its fins cut the air and the crumpling sound it made when it exploded. He caught the cursing of an antiaircraft battery as the crew worked its gun. He submitted his test records to the Air Ministry, which promptly lost them.
“He went back up to the rooftop on Portland Place and started over. The Air Ministry heard this batch of recordings and concluded that he had not betrayed any useful information. But it turned him down anyway. Who could tell what a man might blurt out with a bomb falling on him? At this point Murrow abandoned bureaucratic channels and got word to the prime minister. The journalist in Winston Churchill understood instantly what Murrow was trying to achieve. Furthermore, Churchill wanted America to hear what London was going through. Pressure from the top down worked, as it usually does, and Murrow at last received permission to broadcast live during an actual raid” (ibid.).
“The [watchman] journalist in Winston Churchill understood instantly what Murrow was trying to achieve,” Persico wrote. Murrow’s watchman ability caused him to want the world to see and be warned by what was happening between Germany and Britain—and learn from that history!
Murrow did his job supremely well. But did we learn what he wanted us to from that disaster?
No, we did not!
Here is what A.M. Sperber wrote in her book Murrow: His Life and Times: “In words that were to become classic, the poet MacLeish paid tribute not only to Murrow but to radio itself, to the qualitative change in mass perception brought about by the mass medium: ‘You burned the city of London in our houses and we felt the flames that burned it. You laid the dead of London at our doors and we knew that the dead were our dead … were mankind’s dead … without rhetoric, without dramatics, without more emotion than needed be … you have destroyed … the superstition that what is done beyond 3,000 miles of water is not really done at all.’”
How does that compare with what you see in most journalism today? Are we learning these powerful lessons today in our universities where our journalists are taught? To our great shame, we are not! And that portends dreadful days ahead for America and Britain!
Alexander Kendrick wrote this in his book Prime Time: “Murrow after the war characterized Churchill as ‘the most remarkable’ man of the age. ‘In some ways and in some moods, he creates the impression of a precocious and indestructible juvenile. At other times Mr. Churchill appears to be a combination of an early 18th-century cavalry officer and a brilliant student of history ….”
Again, many authorities say Churchill saved Western civilization. He did so in large part because he was a “brilliant student of history.”
Still, many dangerously ignorant university leaders think this history isn’t even worth teaching!
Any real watchman ought to see that these educational institutions are leading our countries into a deep sleep about what is happening in this dangerous world. That can only lead to a major catastrophe!
Sperber also wrote, “Murrow, no admirer of the rhetoric of policies of postwar Secretary of State James Byrnes, wrote an English friend that the situation in New York and Washington filled him with foreboding: ‘It isn’t so much that the men who are conducting our affairs are vicious or irresponsible; they simply fail to appreciate the importance of issues that they are deciding in an altogether offhand manner. Their knowledge of the dynamics of history is altogether inadequate, and I am fearful lest my country in the near future become what Professor [R.H.] Tawney described as “merely a great straggling island off the coast of Kamchatka”‘” (op. cit.).
Those words utterly condemn our leadership today. Our leaders have little interest if any in the “dynamics of history.” And Edward R. Murrow was seriously pessimistic about our future!
What he predicted has come to pass!
“The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:8). This is referring to the end time, after the nations of Israel have been cast out of their own lands, when God gathers the “outcasts.” The Great Tribulation will afflict Israel very soon. The terrifying end time is being discussed. “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest” (verse 9). The Gentile “beasts” are almost ready to devour Israel. The nations of Israel are living on the edge of disaster. We are entering into the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2-3). If ever there was a time to warn our people, it is now!
But then unfolds one of the strangest events ever to occur in our nations or in God’s Church! “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isaiah 56:10). At a time when America and Britain face their greatest danger, the watchmen are “blind.” Capture this dumbfounding picture. Ferocious Gentile beasts are surrounding Israel, ready to devour,and the watchmen are dumb dogs who won’t bark!
Under similar physical circumstances, if lions, bears and wolves were about to devour the inhabitants of a home, the watchdogs would be in a barking frenzy! But not these physical and spiritual watchmen. They are asleep, blind and dumb!
The worst time of suffering on planet Earth is about to explode! (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21).
“Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11). The shepherds, God’s lukewarm ministers, “cannot understand.” Why? Because “they are greedy dogs which can never have enough.” How could God ever work through such an attitude? These ministers put job and money, or “gain,” ahead of God. They have very weak faith, and God condemns them harshly!
God’s Watchman Warns, Gives Hope
Winston Churchill was a watchman before and during World War ii. Without a doubt, his efforts to warn the nations about Germany made a great impact on the outcome of the war.
Ezekiel 33:1-6 are about this end time and may be talking directly about what happened in World War ii: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman …” (verses 1-2). God did bring the sword upon our nations to correct us, and a man named Winston Churchill came on the scene, and the people set him up as their watchman. God had a hand in it, but still, the people chose Churchill.
Mr. Churchill’s warning in the 1930s would fulfill those verses better than any example I know of in America and Britain’s history in this end time.
In verse 7, however, it is no longer talking about World War ii or a period like that. The setting dramatically shifts to this present time: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” This is not a watchman that the people chose, like the one referred to in verse 2. God says boldly and strongly, “I have set thee a watchman.” This watchman is set there and sustained by God.
Why is this important? Because God has now taken the situation to another level. This is not the same as the people choosing a Churchill to save America and Britain, or modern-day Israel. That will not happen this time around. Times have changed dramatically! This time, people will either hear God’s man or suffer nightmarish catastrophe!
Here is an amazing point. By going through that tribulation, according to Ezekiel, all these victims are going to get to know God! They don’t know Him today.
If a Churchill came on the scene today, he wouldn’t be telling us to repent. He might tell us some of our flaws and weaknesses, but he wouldn’t tell us to repent of our sins toward God. Only God’s watchman would do that. And that is what Israel, or America and Britain, needs.
Can we appreciate the significance of this end-time event? God chooses a watchman and gives him words: Hear the word at
There is no solution in having a Churchill anymore. But God has a message that would save them if they would listen!
Will you listen?