WHAT, briefly stated, is the Eastern question?
The driving out of Turkey from Europe, and the final extinction of the Turkish Empire, with the world-embracing events that follow. It has been otherwise described as "the driving of the Turk into Asia, and a scramble for his territory."
What scriptures are devoted to the Turkish power?
Daniel 11:40-45; Revelation 9; and Revelation 16:12.
NOTE.—In the eleventh chapter of Daniel, Turkey is dealt with under the title of the "king of the north"; in Revelation 9, under the sounding of the fifth and sixth "trumpets"; and in Revelation 16, under the symbol of the drying up of the water of "the great river Euphrates," the chief river of the long-held Turkish Asiatic possessions, and still identified by its source with Turkey. In symbolic prophecy water represents multitudes of people. (See Isaiah 8:7; Revelation 17:15.)
Wheri did Turkey take Constantinople and round out its occupation of the former northern division of Alexander's empire?
In A.D. 1453, under Mohammed II. (See page 291.)
NOTE.—After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek Empire was divided by four of his leading generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, into four parts—west, north, east, and south. As time went on, the territory changed hands, but there remained the relative position of these parts. After the breaking up of the Roman Empire and the spread of Mohammedan- ism in the east under the Arabs, the Turks came in. They gained possession of the Holy Land in 1058, then Asia Minor, and finally Constantinople in 1453, with a considerable portion of southeastern Europe, thus occupying the terri- tory of the old "king of the north." In this way Turkey became the power which held the area on both sides of the Bosporus; and in spite of varying fortunes and shrinking geographical boundaries, she has held this strategic position ever since. The United States Department of State Bulletin, vol. 19, no. 472, July 18, 1948, says, "During World War H the Turkish Republic, as was natural in view of its strategic position at the crossroads of three continents, was of great interest to both the Axis powers and the nations united during that struggle. . . . This area was of considerable economic, political, and strategic significance."—Page 63.
How has Turkey been regarded by European nations?
NoTE.—Modern Turkey, now shrunk into Asia Minor and the tiny segment of Europe containing Constantinople, or Istanbul, and shorn of its former conglomeration of foreign subject peoples, has become considerably modernized and Westernized since the first world war, but this has taken place in comparatively recent years. Through the centuries the Turks had remained out- side the orbit of Western civilization. "They were always looked upon as intruders in Europe, and their presence there led to several . . . sanguinary wars."—MYERs, General History (1927 ed.), pp. 149, 150.
When was the fate of Turkey placed in the hands of the Western powers?
In 1840, at the close of a two years' war between Turkey and Egypt, when the fate of Turkey was placed in the hands of four great powers of Europe—England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. (See pages 291, 292.)
NOTE.—In 1840, during a contest with the pasha of Egypt, "just when it appeared that he [the sultan of Turkey I must capitulate, events were taken out of his hands by the ambassadors of the powers at Constantinople. . . . Great Britain, Russia, and Austria agreed to present an ultimatum to the pasha and force its acceptance by arms." Peace was negotiated, and the next year all the powers agreed "that the Straits be closed to the war vessels of all nations, and Turkey passed from the tutelage of Russia to the collective tutelage of the powers."—WILBUR W. WHITE, The Process of Change in the Ottoman Empire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937), pp. 242, 243.
What is one of the last predictions of the prophecy of Daniel concerning the king of the north?
"But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many." Daniel 11:44.
NoTE.—Upon this, Dr. Adam Clarke, writing in 1825, said: "If the Turkish power be understood, as in the preceding verses, it may mean that the Persians on the east and the Russians on the north will at some time greatly embarrass the Ottoman government." Such indeed was the case, and these conditions brought on the Crimean war of 1853-56, between Russia and Turkey. In this Nwar England and France came to the help of Turkey, and prevented Russia from grasping Constantinople, her coveted prize, and thus gaining access to the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean Sea, and so possessing herself of the gateway of commerce between Europe and Asia. Without a warm water outlet to the sea, Russia could not be a strong naval power. In his celebrated will, Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725) admonished his countrymen thus: "Take every possible means of gaining Constantinople and the Indies, for," said he, "he who rules there will be the true sovereign of the world; excite war continually in Turkey and Persia; . . . get control of the sea by degrees; . . . advance to the Indies, which are the great depot of the world. Once there, we can do without the gold of England." The authenticity of this will has been questioned, but it outlines a policy which Russia quite faithfully pursued.
What since 1840 has saved Turkey from complete overthrow?
The help and interference of various Western powers
NOTE.—A British political leader spoke of Turkey in 1896 as a nation "which for half a century we have petted and protected, which we have twice saved from destruction and complete subjection"; and said that "we repudi- ated the notion that Turkey was independent—in the same sense in which the other Powers of Europe were independent—in respect to internal government. We told the Turks [in 1876] that it was we who had saved them from destruc- tion twenty years before, in 1854-56, and that Turkey was now an empire which depended on the protection of others for its existence."—GEORGE Douc- LAS CAMPBELL, 8th Duke of Argyll, Our Responsibilities for Turkey (1896), pp. 89, 52, 53. Turkey's alliance with Germany in the first world war proved disastrous to its old empire. In the second world war Turkey managed to stay out of active hostilities, but preserved friendship with Britain and Russia. Both sides found it convenient to have a neutral buffer state as a protection to the German campaign in Russia and the British in Egypt and Iran. After World War II the political situation still required Turkey to lean on stronger powers to maintain her territorial integrity.
Why have these powers thus helped Turkey?
Not from love for Turkey, but for fear of the international com- plications that its downfall might entail.
NOTE.—In his Guildhall speech, November 9, 1895, Lord Salisbury, responding to a widespread demand for the overthrow of the Turkish power, said: "Turkey is in that remarkable condition that it has now stood for half a century mainly because the Great Powers of the world have resolved that for the peace of Christendom it is necessary that the Ottoman Empire should stand. They came to that conclusion nearly half a century ago. I do not think they have altered it now. The danger, if the Ottoman Empire fall, would not merely be the danger that would threaten the territories of which that empire consists; it would be the danger that the fire there lit should spread to other nations and should involve all that is most powerful and civilized in Europe in a dangerous and calamitous contest. That was a danger that was present to the minds of our fathers when they resolved to make the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire a matter of European treaty, and that is a danger WHICH HAS NOT PASSED AWAY."—The London Times, Nov. 11, 1895, p. 6.
"The Balkan or Near Eastern question has been one of the most com- plicated political problems of the world's history for half a century. . . . For four centuries and a half, ever since the conquering Turk crossed the Bosporus and took Constantinople, the grim contest has gone on to dislodge him by war and diplomacy."—American Review of Reviews, November, 1912, pp. 539, 540.
More than a century ago, Napoleon, while a prisoner on Saint Helena, explained that when emperor of France, he would not consent for Alexander, the czar of Russia, to have Constantinople, "foreseeing that the equilibrium of Europe would be destroyed."
After World War II the old problem still remained—that of control or internationalization of the Bosporus.
What is the divine prediction regarding the future and final downfall of the king of the north?
"And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." Daniel 11:45. NOTE.—Many Bible students believe that the place indicated is in Palestine, and that there Turkey will make her last stand and finally come to her end in fulfillment of this scripture, not long before the coming of Christ.
Under which of the seven last plagues is the water of the Euphrates (Turkey) to be dried up, and for what purpose?
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." Revelation 16:12.
NOTE.—For years the drying-up process of the Turkish Empire has been in progress, as may be seen from the following:
1. In 1783 Turkey was compelled to surrender to Russia the territory of the Crimea, including all the countries east of the Caspian Sea.
2. In 1829 Greece secured her independence from Turkey.
3. In 1830 Algeria was occupied by France.
4. In the same year Turkey lost possession of Serbia and Bosnia.
5. In 1878 the Treaty of Berlin granted autonomous government to Bulgaria, and independence to Roumelia, Roumania, and Montenegro.
6. In 1912 Tripoli was taken over by Italy.
7. In 1912 and 1913 the Balkan States and Greece dispossessed Turkey of nearly all her remaining territory in Europe.
8. In 1918, at the close of the first world war, Turkey was reduced to a nation with an estimated population of nine to thirteen million people.
Under this plague, what incites the nations to war?
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great, day of God Almighty." Verses 13, 14. At this time, what event is near at hand? "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Verse 15.
To what place will the nations be gathered for battle?
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Verse 16.
NOTE.—In Palestine, in "the valley of Jehoshaphat" (Joel 3:12), in "the valley of Jezreel" (Hosea 1:15), at "Armageddon," or the "Hills of Megiddo" (Revelation 16:16). These places, when considered together, seem to indicate that the whole of Palestine will be involved. Into the agelong meeting place of history "the kings of the earth, and of the whole world" will be gathered "to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:14.
When the king of the north comes to his end, what according to the prophecy, is to take place?
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Daniel 12:1.
NOTE.—The expression "stand up" occurs eight times in this line of prophecy (Daniel 11 and 12), and in each case means to reign. (See Daniel 11:2, 3, 4, 7, 14, 20, 21; 12:1.) Michael is Christ, as will be seen by comparing Jude 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and John 5:25. When Turkey is brought to an end, therefore, the time will have come for Christ to receive His kingdom (Luke 19:11-15), and begin His reign. This great change will be ushered in by the downfall, not only of Turkey, but of all nations (Revelation 11:15); by the time of trouble here spoken of; by the seven last plagues described in Reve- lation 16; and by the deliverance of all God's people—those whose names are found written in the book of life (Revelation 3:5; 20:12)—which shows that probation and the investigative judgment (see page 241) will then be past.
What will take place at this time?
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Verse 2
. NOTE.—At the resurrection of Christ there was a special resurrection, when many of the saints were raised from the dead, were seen of many, and were taken to heaven with Christ at His ascension. (Matthew 27:52, 53; Ephesians 4:8.) So, just prior to Christ's second coming and the general resurrection of the righteous, many of the sleeping saints, and some colossal sinners (those that "pierced Him," Revelation 1:7), it seems, will be raised to witness His coming, and hear God's covenant of peace with His people. This line of prophecy, therefore, brings us down to the resurrection of the righteous, which takes place at the Second Advent.
What false message will go forth before destruction comes upon those unprepared for Christ's coming and kingdom?
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction corneth upon them, . . . and they shall not escape." 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.