Signs of the Times

[Basil Mathews, in the Christian Advocate, New York, New York]

My wife and I stood, not very long ago, on an ancient bridge across the Yarmuk River, where it brawls down from Transjordania to lose itself in the quieter depths of the River Jordan not far from the place where John baptized Jesus. Above the noise of the waters came the thin, sweet piping of a flute. Looking along the bank, I saw a tall seventeen-year-old Arab boy playing a flute and behind him a donkey carrying his two younger sisters. He came nearer. After salutations, I asked him to show me his flute. It was a gun barrel used by some Briton or Turk or German in the last war. He had picked it up, had filed it in two, had perforated it with holes, and now played the airs of peace upon it—played them to his listening people, to his tribe around the campfire, to his sisters, and on that day, to the foreigners from another land. It came to me then, and remains, as a symbol of that ancient prophecy, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks." It was a picture of ... youth taking the modern instrument of death and making it the instrument of peace.

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January 30, 1932
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