The Edge of Catastrophe

How does God speak to us in a time of social and political upheaval? Written 100 years ago, Eberhard’s words are still relevant today.

There has hardly ever been a time when it was as evident as it is today that God and his righteousness and love do not yet rule. We see it in our own lives and in current events. We see it in the fate of the hopeless, the millions upon millions of unemployed. We see it in the unjust distribution of goods though the earth offers unstintingly its fertility and all its potentials. There is urgent work that must be done to help humankind, but it is obstructed and destroyed by the injustice of the present world systems.

We are in the midst of a collapse of civilization. Civilization is nothing but humankind’s orderly work in nature. And this work has turned into a disorder whose injustice cries out to heaven. There are hundreds of signs that something is about to happen. Nothing in history takes place, however, unless it comes from God. So our plea to him now is that he make history, his history, the history of his righteousness.

And when God makes his history, we all have every reason to tremble. For as matters stand today, he can do nothing unless his wrath first sweeps over all the injustice and lovelessness, all the discord and brutality, that rule the world. His wrath will be the beginning of his history. First must come the day of judgment: then the day of joy, of love, grace, and justice can dawn.

But if we ask God to intervene, we must bare our own breasts before him so that his lightning can strike us, for we are all guilty. There is no one who is not guilty of the wickedness in today’s world.


No one can deny that the revolutionary movements have aroused the human conscience, thus violently shaking humanity’s soul. The conscience cannot find peace until its warning cry reaches into every person’s life. The attack by socialism and communism on the status quo is a call to our consciences – those of us who consider ourselves Christians. This call warns us more strongly than any sermon that our task is to live in active protest against everything that opposes God in this world. So poorly have we Christians filled this role that the question must be asked: Are we Christians at all?


Every awakening of humankind’s collective conscience is of deep significance. There is such a thing as a world conscience, the conscience of humanity. It rises up against war and bloodshed, against greed and social injustice, against violence of any kind.

April 1919

Wake up, you who sleep, and arise; then Christ will reach you! (Rom. 13:11) The call is meant for anyone who has slipped back into the gloomy twilight of his or her own heart: “Wake up and arise from the dead!” Christ, the true light, stands before you (Eph. 5:14). He will strengthen you so that you may do powerful deeds, the deeds of love that are born solely of faith in Christ.

You are living in the end-time. “It is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). See to it that you lead a blameless life. That means you must look to the future and shape your life in accordance with God’s future. Make use of the present moment, for the times are evil. The hour of extreme danger has come. People must wake up if they look for protection in the coming judgment. Therefore do not be foolish. Learn to understand the will of the most high in our day (Eph. 5:15–17). Be alert in these evil and dangerous times, lest in the hour of temptation you remain under the judgment. The foolish virgins became careless. You too will come to grief in the coming judgment unless you can borrow or are given oil for your lamps (Matt. 25:1–13).

July 1931

At this eleventh hour hearts must be made ready, through faith, to receive the powers of the future world, the spirit of the Jerusalem above (Rev. 3:10–12). The final kingdom is near, and the whole world should be on the watch. But the world will not take heed unless the church of Jesus Christ puts the unity and justice of this kingdom into practice daily. Faith will bring about true unity among believers who are ready to live a life of unlimited, active love.

May 1934

Adapted from God’s Revolution (Walden, NY: Plough, 2021).

Article edited for length and clarity.