The Current Scene
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon alerted a large section of the world that this was not just a local war. American foreign policy hinges on having a reliable ally in the area. Only Israel really fills that role. The P.L.O. has vowed Israel’s destruction and most Arabs secretly side with them. To keep oil flowing to the West and Japan is the American goal, Israel’s pre-emptive strike has so far been successful. The P.L.O. is a state within a state. Because of this and internal interference they were driven out of Jordan and moved to Lebanon. The Lebanese government was unable to prevent this on account of a large segment of its citizens being Mohammedan Arabs. From this base the P.L.O. carried on an indescriminate guerilla war against Israel. Along with this a secret build-up of Russian arms exhausted Jewish patience. In the conflict the retreating and canny P.L.O. took stands in highly civilian areas. Consequently, there was a high mortality among civilians. This has damaged outside enthusiasm for the Jewish cause. The investment of Beirut and the suffering of the innocent have generated a new wave of hate for the Jews, creating deeper animosities. As another observer writes, “They are guaranteeing greater conflicts in the future.”
A Lebanon incapable of defending itself shows how essential it is for a nation to have a loyal army to assert its sovereignty. The peaceniks that are so noisy in the Western nations would have the U.S. unilaterally disarm. The truth is that we live in a world where all men are inwardly deceitful and “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Hitler could be stopped only by brute force. Israel has no choice as long as a viable P.L.O. exists. We speak, of course, from the viewpoint of the principles of world leaders, especially that of Menachem Begin.
If Beirut is in dire straits just now, what of Jerusalem? It has probably suffered more destruction by invading armies than any other capital in history. Worse yet, it is to be the focal prey of all nations gathered against it during the great tribulation (Zec. 14:2). The obvious purpose of this investment would be to annihilate the Jews as a nation. This revenge will be sweet to Arabs and other nations. No doubt present memories of Beruit will further excite their fanaticism. In this war against Jerusalem the prophet informs us that half of the city will be taken along with the women being ravished. “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.” Our Lord confirmed this prophecy of Zechariah when He answered the disciples’ question, “And what shall be the sign of thy coming?” He revealed that Judea would be the focal point of the severest hostilities on the heels of His second coming (Matt. 24). Eventually, Jerusalem in the providence of God is “to bear double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:1). The excessive amounts of divine judgment upon Jerusalem past and during the great tribulation demonstrate a principle that God judges according to the amount of spiritual light enjoyed. Hence Jerusalem receives “double” for her sins. Our Lord’s words emphasize this principle, “And that servant which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required” (Luke 12:47-48). Peter tells us the same principle applies to the church when he writes, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God, and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” (1 Pet. 4:17).
Some believe that it is going to be harder for the Jews to get out of Lebanon than it was to get in. A government strong enough to assure Israel’s security may be hard to assemble. The pretext for Russia to aid and encourage a drive to block Israel’s lifeline to her forces around Beruit must look very tempting, but the time is not yet. Providentially, Russia has a food problem and a troublesome Poland and Afghanistan. Khomeini’s grand design has met setbacks which includes war against Israel. Persia (Ezek. 38:5) is included in Gog’s invasion of Israel. At the present time we may be witnessing the preliminaries of what the Bible defines as “the end of the age” (margin) (Matt. 24:3); we could expect some peace settlement in the Middle East. As Dr. Walvoord writes, “The struggles between Israel and the Arab nations cannot continue to push the entire world repeatedly to the brink of nuclear war. The overwhelming weight of population advantage, proximity to Russia as supplier of arms, and the tremendous power of the oil blackmail give the Arab world the ultimate advantage at the peace table.” Israel could well be forced to accept a dictated peace which would guarantee her survival. Walvoord also adds, “The fear of international economic disaster will cause the more sensible Arab countries, Israel, and the industrialized countries of the West to seek a final agreement at any cost. These realities are now present in our world.” This could well be, or lead to, a period associated with the “day of the Lord” — “For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh” (1 Thess. 5:3).
Espousers of minority causes unable to field armies resort to terrorism. Members of the outlawed Irish Republican Army have no limits to their foul exercises. The P.L.O. held no scruples about killing Jews, especially those of importance. Italy has its assassins and kidnappers. Then there are the irresponsible (or are they?), such as John Hinckley, who almost succeeded in his ambition to kill the President of the U.S. A narrow escape from death for some, then on the other hand there are the victims.
The U.S. President feels that he was spared to fulfill his mission. Others tend to become avowed fatalists. Solomon was allowed to write his observations on society. He was inspired to write his conclusions. These conclusions found in Ecclesiastes need not be any truer than the words of Satan also found in the Bible. Solomon wrote, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill: but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Eccl. 9:11). Solomon’s “under the sun” philosophy also likens men “as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” All of this is strongly descriptive of the world. The Christian listens to the One who is greater than Solomon — our Lord Jesus Christ. He taught that a sparrow does not fall to the ground unnoticed by God, and “ye (my disciples) are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:31). Saint Paul refers to his persecutions and afflictions, “but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” When he knew his time had come he could triumphantly say, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was often waylaid, yet he lived to the ripe age of 88 and said he “was immortal ‘til his work was done.” So let the Christian sing, “Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.”