"Twenty years have passed, O Kings!"
Section 1- FALLING KINGDOMS EVERYWHERE!
The Writings of Baha'u'llah and the public statements of 'Abdu'l-Baha throughout Europe and America made it clear that it was not the recipients of specific Letters who were summoned by God. All the rulers of men were responsible for the trust which they had accepted. And the day had come when this trust must answered for by acts of justice.
To no other group did this apply so specifically as it did to kings. The subsequent decline of royalty and the disappearance of so many thrones can be understood only in relationship to their
neglect of the Message of God. Baha'u'llah warned them of the great loss they would sustain if they did not heed the counsel given them:
"O Kings of the earth! . . . Ye examined not His Cause when to do so would have been better for you than all that the sun shineth upon, could you but perceive it."
Baha'u'llah searched in vain for that great leader of men who would be willing to make any sacrifice necessary in order to uphold justice; not for the East or the West, the rich or the poor, the light or the dark, the Jew or the Gentile, but for all men who lived in this one homeland, the planet.
Baha'u'llah extolled the greatness of such a leader of men:
"How great is the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause . . . Such a king is the very eye of mankind . . . the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world."
Through half a lifetime Baha'u'llah waited patiently for such a king or leader to arise. He longed to witness in His own lifetime, if possible, the fruits of such heroic action. The world, He declared, could have become another world, and the people another people, if they had responded to His call.
Instead of the "Most Great Peace," man would now have to content himself with the "Lesser Peace." Humanity, because of its lack of response would have to win its way to the goal of a united and peaceful world through suffering.
No king, however, and no nation arose in answer to His call. At last Baha'u'llah was moved to declare:
"Twenty years have passed, O kings . . . ye, nevertheless, have failed to stay the hand of the aggressor. For is it not your clear duty to restrain the tyranny of the oppressor, and to deal equitably with your subjects, that your high sense of justice may be fully demonstrated to all mankind."
The leaders of men had permitted the "wolves" to inflict "injustice" upon their "sheep." Therefore, the hour of retribution could be put off no longer. Baha'u'llah made a startling declaration. "Power," Baha'u'llah announced, had been "seized" by God from the kings, and the "winds of affliction" would soon "assail" them from every direction.
Baha'u'llah wrote of those tyrant kings, saying:
"They have been seized by their forelock, and yet know it not."
Only two years expired between the time that Baha'u'llah's first Letters to the kings were delivered and ignored, and the time the first kingdom was overthrown. the French monarch, Napoleon III, who had twice repudiated Baha'u'llah's Counsel, who had deliberately insulted Him, was the first to be toppled from his throne. He was followed by an endless line of his fellow monarchs during the subsequent decades.
The following, in chronological order, is a partial list of significant events related to Baha'u'llah's historic pronouncements to the crowned heads of the world, and the fate which overtook some of the major kingdoms of the world.
Vast and awesome is the spectacle which greets the eyes of men who survey the field over which the requiting wind of God has blown since the beginning of Baha'u'llah's Mission.
Volumes have been written by historians and politicians on the subject of these "falling empires." In vain scholars have tried to explain this spectacle in terms political or historical forces alone. Magazines and syndicated news articles have celebrated the glories of the Victorian and Edwardian ages with their colorful kings and unrivaled pageantry, but they have searched unavailingly to uncover the "fateful forces which drove them to their end."
No one, when Baha'u'llah wrote His first Letter from far-off Adrianople in 1867, could have foreseen the world-wide collapse of an institution which had been regarded as the central pillar of every civilization in history. The popular mind could not imagine a world without monarchies. No sane historian, no political philosopher would have been prepared to make such a prediction.
It was left to the Messenger of God to announce publicly, and around the world, the long, final "curtain-call of the kings."
"All the great houses shall have an end."
Section 2- From the Top of Carmel
With the completion of Baha'u'llah's announcement to the kings, the "great and dreadful Day" foretold by Jeremiah had dawned, and was rising towards the fury of its noonday heat. Jeremiah prophesied concerning the Day of the Promised One. Ho told us what God would do to the tyrant and unjust kings of the earth:
"Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee, to drink it . . . And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth . . . thou shalt say unto them, thus saith the Lord of hosts . . . drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you . . . Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of Hosts."
The punishment was far advanced.
Gone were the Houses of Hohenzollern, Hapsburg, Romanov, Bonaparte, 'Uthman and Qajar. Gone were most of the lesser dynasties and kingdoms that once ruled the earth. The "whirlwind" which Isaiah had promised would come and blow away kings and princes had now swept across the entire face of the earth.
Perhaps no Old testament prophet had foreseen that coming royal disaster more clearly than Amos. It was this same Amos who had so accurately described the physical events which took place at the time the Bab, the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, faced a death regiment of 750 muskets.
Amos prophesied, as had Isaiah before Him, that in the "day of the whirlwind," the "king" and "his princes" would go into captivity. There would be a "famine" and a "thirst" for hearing the "words of the Lord." A disillusioned mankind, godless and materialistic, would helplessly "run to and fro" in search of the "words" of God, but never finding them.
In that day, Amos declared, the Lord would "roar" from Zion and the "top of Carmel" would "wither" at His presence. The Lord would come "and not be silent."
Baha'u'llah's Words now echo ominously through empty palaces:
"O kings of the earth . . . If ye pay no heed unto the counsels which, in peerless and unequivocal language, We have revealed in this Tablet, Divine chastisement shall assail you from every direction, and the sentence of His [God's] justice shall be pronounced against you. On that day ye shall have no power to resist Him, and shall recognize your own impotence. Have mercy on yourselves and on those beneath you. -Gleanings, page 252
It is the astonishing assertion of God's messenger to our age that the time for the punishment of all forms of aggression had come. No aggressor, no matter how powerful, can cope with the forces loose in the world: "God hath not blinked, nor will He ever blink His eyes at the tyranny of the oppressor. More particularly in this revelation hath He visited each and every tyrant with His vengeance."
From His captivity in 'Akka, that "door of hope" promised by Hosea. Baha'u'llah in the final years of His life surveyed the world, its peoples, and their response to His summons. After many long years of continuous entreaty, Baha'u'llah was able to say with assurance, although no doubt with sadness: "We verily have not fallen short of Our duty to exhort men, and to deliver that whereunto I was bidden by God, the Almighty, the All-praised. Had they hearkened unto Me, they would have beheld the earth another earth."
The proofs had been delivered. The prophecies had been fulfilled. The seals were opened. The Promised One of every religion, nation and people had discharged His God-given Mission in a global proclamation, a world-wide announcement, such as the eyes of mortal man had never before witnessed.
Baha'u'llah in the closing days of His earthly Mission declared: "Is there any excuse left for anyone in this Revelation? No, by God, the Lord of the Mighty Throne! My signs have encompassed the earth, and My power enveloped all mankind . . . "