Things Fall Apart

by Hal Lindsey


“The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats is one of the most widely quoted poems from the 20thCentury. In fact, one firm that watches such things says it’s being quoted this year more than ever.


The title does not refer to the return of Christ, but to the return of an ancient monster — paganism. The newfound popularity of a poem written in 1919 tells us a great deal about where the human race sees itself in 2016. And, without meaning to, it serves as a potent reminder that Jesus is coming very soon!


The poem begins;

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

“Gyre” means spiral or vortex. Yeats pictures the falcon flying in a circle too large for the falconer to maintain control. Then, with brilliant simplicity, he expresses the human dilemma from the time of Adam and Eve’s sin until now — “Things fall apart.”


Last month, The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the reasons for the poem’s rising popularity and influence. The Journal called it, “A warning of sorts for a world entering a dark, anarchic age.”


An analysis by the media database, Factiva, shows that the poem was quoted more in the first few months of 2016 than in any full year of the last three decades. “Things fall apart” is the most quoted line. The next most quoted goes back to Yeats’ picture of the falcon and the falconer — “The centre cannot hold.” “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” is the third most quoted phrase.


In his biography of Yeats, Oxford Professor Roy Foster, wrote, “There’s a sense of insecurity, instability, risk, and a feeling that something appalling is around the corner. I think we have seen rough beasts arise, notably in desert countries.”

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs.…

The phrase “Spiritus Mundi” means “world spirit.” Yeats used the sphinx as the embodiment of this spirit. “A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun.”


The monster’s moving, but where? Yeats saw it headed toward Bethlehem — the pitiless beast on its way to devour the Christ child.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats was no prophet of God. He had a lifelong love affair with the occult, practiced “automatic writing,” and admired Mussolini. Wikipedia says, “During séances held from 1912, a spirit calling itself ‘Leo Africanus’ apparently claimed it was Yeats’ Daemon.”


“The Second Coming” presents a nightmare view of the future, with Satan winning in his war with God. It’s a picture the devil would like everyone to buy into. And with interest in the poem so high, that’s apparently happening.


People turn to it today because the imagery seems to depict the world of 2016. In a time of terror, corruption, economic danger, and nuclear menace, people relate to and identify with the phrases, “the centre cannot hold,” “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” and, most of all, “things fall apart.”


But I have good news. Things are not falling apart. Yes, these are troubled times. Humpty Dumpty is having a great fall. And the leaders of the world have no idea how to fix it.


“But there is a God in heaven!” Daniel said. And that’s still the answer. Our God knows the end from the beginning, and nothing catches Him by surprise. Daniel went on to say, “He has made known… what will take place in the latter days.” (Daniel 2:28 NASB)


In an article posted on the Rapture Ready website, Jan Merkel wrote, “Things are not falling apart — they are falling into place.”


That’s exactly right. These are not days for Christian despair, but hope and awe. Before our eyes, Planet Earth is taking the shape God’s word described 2,500 years ago!


In the world, even the most powerful men and women feel insecure. The ultra-rich are building massive, luxury bunkers beneath their homes. Among regular houses, the biggest trend is to add a “safe room.” People are afraid. They sense that something huge is happening, but they don’t know how to get ready.


How exciting that we who are in Christ have the answer! And to prove it, God gave prophecy that predicts our times to a tee. May we be faithful to let them know. “There is a God in heaven and His word will be fulfilled!”
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