[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Introduction: Are You a Slave?
The word Prom in North America refers to an important high school dance at the end of each school year, but “proms” has a very different meaning on the other side of the Atlantic. The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (better referred to simply as, “the Proms”) are held over an eight-week period each summer, but controversy was stirred up regarding the BBC Proms this past September over the British patriotic anthem, Rule Britannia. Why? There is more to this story than meets the eye, and the implications go far beyond the British Isles and touch every living person on planet earth. What is it that virtually everyone is missing? What is the real story behind Rule Britannia that you will not read in your daily papers? My friends, you need to know!
On today’s Tomorrow’s World program, I’ll explain what this controversy is all about, and what it means for you, no matter where you live.
Rule Britannia!: Britain’s Past and Future Hopes?
A warm welcome to all of you from those of us here at Tomorrow’s World. On today’s program, I’ll be explaining a controversy that emerged this past summer that few outside of Britain even know about, and I’ll show how it’s significant for everyone in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and it will touch all lives far beyond these nations. And I’ll be offering you a free DVD, “The Rise and Fall of Britain and America.”
These daily classical music concerts referred to as the proms, are sponsored by the BBC and broadcast to millions at indoor and outdoor settings around the world, but most notably at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory are sung with great fanfare on the last night—not so in 2020. How fitting for a year that has seen so much controversy and conflict.
As it turned out, both WERE played AND sung by a limited, self-distancing orchestra and choir. The usual Royal Albert Hall audience was missing, but not elsewhere, where it was beamed live to millions. Nevertheless, some controversy was stirred over whether these patriotic anthems are suitable for Britain. As The Guardian wrote:
“The core of the story is: the Sunday Times reported that some people at the BBC held discussions about whether both Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory… could be played as part of Last Night of the Proms. After some very mild consideration, the BBC announced that yes, they could” (“This phoney war over Last Night of the Proms is everything we deserve,” The Guardian, August 25, 2020).
The coronavirus was the reason given for possibly dropping both anthems from the program, but many suspect there was far more behind it. While extremely popular among most Brits, others want Rule Britannia silenced forever, seeing it as representing Britain’s former slave trade and colonial past. Of course, it was Britain who ended slave trade.
Rule Britannia began as a poem co-written by James Thomson and David Mallet, and later set to music by composer Thomas Arne in the year 1740.
“The song has military connections, particularly with the Royal Navy, made evident by the words ‘Britannia, rule the waves’. However, according to Classic FM, when the piece was first written it was not celebrating naval success but instead ‘a cry for help’ as the Royal Navy at that time did not have much control over the seas, while other countries were establishing empires. The song became more patriotic in the 1800s when the British Empire expanded across more of the world” (“Rule Britannia lyrics: The meaning and origins of the song, and the controversy over the Last Night of the Proms explained,” Inews.co.uk, September 12, 2020).
The article goes on to explain a subtle change from Thomson’s poem, “Rule, Britannia! Rule the waves” (expressing a hope to do so), to the later “Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves” (expressing mission accomplished as Britain grew in power). Another change is found in the second line of the refrain. Thomson’s poem was written: “Britons never will be slaves,” but was changed to “Britons, never, ever, ever, will be slaves,” and still later to the current version:
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves
And then the refrain is enthusiastically repeated:
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves
This reference to never being slaves is open to interpretation in our politically correct environment. Britain was involved with the slave trade, and some interpret the last line to mean that, while Britons traded in slaves, in contrast, they would never become as those slaves. But this can be understood totally apart from the slave trade as though Britain would never be conquered by other powers. For example, in the modern context, when you see Nigel Farage lustily singing those words, you have little doubt that he means Britons never, never, never shall be slaves of the European Union.
You don’t have to be British to be emotionally stirred by the patriotic strains of “Rule Britannia!” The grandeur of the refrain is moving and plays to the human desire for greatness and independence. Words on paper fall woefully short of stirring the emotions to the degree the same words do when set to music, but either way, words should be weighed and understood.
It’s not the purpose of this Tomorrow’s World program to take sides on the Prom controversy. We’ll leave that to the Sunday Times and the British tabloids. Instead, I’ll explain what you will never read in the papers and what no one else is seeing.
Sin as the Ultimate Enslavement
We’re looking at the significance of the patriotic song itself. What is it that journalistic opinion will never tell you? What is it that you need to know about this anthem no matter where you live?
As explained in the previous portion of this program, the following line is repeated twice in the refrain:
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
There’s no doubt that Britain ruled the waves during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. It was through their dominant navy and the armies it transported that they controlled so many lands and peoples that it could be rightfully stated that the sun never set on the British Empire—an amazing feat for a group of small island nations off the northwest coast of Europe.
However, the part of the refrain, “Briton’s never, never, never shall be slaves” belies the truth. Britons have been and currently are slaves. And so are Americans, Canadians, Filipinos, and all other peoples. How so, you may ask?
As with Britain and our whole world, we can read of another nation that was blind to their servitude. The account is found in that book of all books, where Jesus told the Jews of His day,
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [They answered Him…] “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” [Jesus answered them…] “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin’” (John 8:32–34).
Jesus introduced a concept so foreign to those of His day that they could not comprehend it. It’s no different today. Britons are every bit as much slaves as the Jews of Jesus’ day, and they’re not alone. Our whole world is blind to the bondage in which we are held.
What did Jesus mean when He spoke those words? What is the relationship between sin and slavery?
The epic movie, “The Ten Commandments,” plays every year on television around the time the world knows as Easter. The logic behind this is obvious in that it was at this time of year when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. Easter is never mentioned in the movie as it has nothing to do with the Exodus and is nothing more than the name of a pagan fertility goddess. This explains the association of that holiday with eggs, rabbits, and lilies—all fertility symbols. The word Easter is only found in the King James Version of the Bible and only once, and it’s agreed upon by all scholars that it is a mistranslation of the word for Passover. The true Biblical story, as portrayed in the movie, was about Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
The Exodus was the time when a slave people were set free from harsh bondage. They were protected by the blood of a lamb surrounding the doors of their homes when death passed over them. But they were not free from slavery until they did their part by walking out of Egypt, something that took seven days and the miracle of the Red Sea. During that seven- day escape from Egyptian bondage, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise, but ate unleavened, or flat, bread. The Bible shows that leavening typified sin and Egypt was a symbol of both sin and bondage, thus making the connection between sin and bondage, but today, instead, we call it addiction.
Addiction comes in many forms. Sexual behaviors outside of marriage quickly become bad habits from which it is difficult to free oneself, even though the results are often diseases (some of which are life threatening), unwanted pregnancies also, and broken marriages that leave spouses devastated and children confused and often in poverty.
Addicted to Sin, Slaves to Unrighteousness
Britons proclaim they “never, never, never shall be slaves” but as we’re seeing, they already are slaves to sin, and sin truly is bondage. The tobacco industry once portrayed smoking as something that cool people do, but what is the result? People shortly become addicted to nicotine and are enslaved to a nasty habit that offers a variety of cancers, emphysema, heart disease, wrinkled skin, stained teeth, and nasty breath. Millions who think they can quit anytime find it difficult to break the enslaving habit, and many die miserable deaths as a result. Smoking today has diminished in our Western world, only to be replaced with vaping—something that is also addictive and not without risks.
Many Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians, and people of all nations are slaves of alcohol, recreational drugs, a lack of self-control, telling lies, stealing, and gossiping. These are all addictive behaviors with negative consequences. Again, instead of calling these actions bondage, we refer to them as bad habits and addictions. It’s human nature to think we are in control of our lives. Just as the Jews of Jesus’ day could not see they were in bondage, so people today are blind to who and what controls them.
The biblical Apostle Paul equated sin with slavery and death in Romans 6:16:
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
But what is sin? Many agree that using enslaving recreational drugs and dabbling in pornography are sins, but why? Who determines the definition of sin? Is it not God? And if not God, then who has the authority to determine what is and what isn’t sin? Do you know God’s definition of sin? It’s found in 1 John 3, verse 4:
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
[Or as the older King James Version puts it…]
“… sin is the transgression of the law.”
This broadens the definition of sin beyond drunkenness, sexual immorality, or murder. It’s not difficult to see that some sins are harmful addictions, but other sins bring about more subtle, but not less painful, enslavement.
The first four of the Ten Commandments define our relationship with God and when they are violated, they enslave us to painful doctrines and ideas. If we substitute other gods for the true God, if we limit His power by shaping Him with cheap plastic or even precious stones, if we disrespect His name and character, or if we rebel by choosing our day of worship over the day He set aside; we open ourselves to a host of wrong ideas.
For example, is believing that a lost loved one is currently suffering in hellfire any less mentally enslaving than suffering from an incurable disease? Not knowing the true God of creation, most people live only for today and do little to prepare for eternity. And instead of knowing God’s wonderful plan for mankind through His ordained Holy Days, people substitute pagan days and slap Christ’s name on them. These sham celebrations, no matter how sincerely held, leave people in the dark about God’s Plan for mankind.
That the days people observe come from heathen origins and therefore obscure the truth, is without question. These compromises open the door to a host of wrong doctrines. As Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity explains:
“When in 321 Constantine made the first day of the week a holiday, he called it ‘the venerable day of the Sun’ (Sunday)…. The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun-worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17-21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays” (p. 131).
Few people understand how contrary to true doctrine these compromises with paganism truly are and how empty they leave one in the end. The erroneous doctrines the Jews were steeped in during Jesus’ day were different from professing Christianity, but both are equally enslaving. How many comprehend Jesus’ declaration,
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Mankind’s ideas of freedom are deceptions. How many professing Christians maintain that to keep the law of God is bondage? And yet, James calls it the perfect law of liberty that we will be judged by, and John tells us,
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
And Peter warns against those who give a false hope of liberty:
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).
Conclusion: How Can You Be Made Free?
As we have seen on today’s program, not only the British, but all nations and races are enslaved by sin. Yet there is another more traditional kind of slavery on the horizon that the British descended nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, along with the United States, need to be aware of. The refrain, “Briton’s never, never, never shall be slaves” is sadly untrue, nor is America going to be great again. We have forgotten our heritage. We no longer know our roots and we have forgotten our God. As the prophet Isaiah records in chapter 1,
“The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.” Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward (Isaiah 1:3–4).
Because we have forgotten our God, our God will forget us. Many prophecies show that the British descended peoples will indeed be slaves, as explained in today’s free DVD—“The Rise and Fall of Britain and America.”
Notice this remarkable prophecy for both Israel (that is ten of Jacob’s twelve sons and their descendants) and Judah (that is the Jews). The time is at the time when Christ returns, as seen in the reference to David being resurrected:
“‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD…. Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah…. ‘For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. “For it shall come to pass in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,” says the LORD, “nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity”’” (Jeremiah 30:3–4, 7–10).
This is clearly speaking of these days. As verse 24 explains,
“… In the latter days you will consider it” (Jeremiah 30:24).
It’s difficult to understand how the English and American peoples can be physically enslaved in our current context, but don’t dare think it cannot happen. Twice in the last century these nations were knocked back on their heels. We have witnessed in 2020 just how fast our world can change and the Bible describes greater natural disasters, disease pandemics, and divisions within nations that can change circumstances overnight. What God has prophesied will come to pass. The patriotic refrain, “Briton’s never, never, never shall be slaves” is simply wrong. And the slogan “Make America Great Again” is equally wrong. We are already slaves to our sinful ways, and we will be physical slaves in the not very distant future unless we repent, unless we turn around and go another direction.
But there is good news as the previous passage of scripture shows. We will be saved out of it. As God explains through the prophet Hosea,
“I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up” (Hosea 5:15; 6:1).
And for the other nations of the world, don’t think that these future events will happen in a vacuum. The whole world is in for a very rough time until we learn a very painful lesson. Yes there is good news in the end, but how much better if all people everywhere were to turn to God. But sadly, we do not see that happening, but each of us individually can turn to God wholeheartedly while there is still time.
Thank you for watching! Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss another Tomorrow’s World video, and if you would like a copy of our DVD, “The Rise and Fall of Britain and America” for free, click the link in the description. See you next time.