The Current Scene
A Communist has no scruples regarding honor. Consequently, he cannot credit anyone else with higher ideals than his own. As a result, both Reagan and Gorbachev have faced each other with equal wariness. Still, while the opposing superpowers are talking, actual fighting, which eventually seems to be inevitable, is delayed. As former President Nixon says, “In the age of nuclear parity when each superpower has the means to destroy the other and the rest of the world, summit meetings have become essential if peace is to be preserved.”
Despite the smiles, external cordiality and rhetoric, the analysts tell us that little or no substance was accomplished at last November’s summit. Others tell us we will have to wait on history to really appraise this recent summit meeting. The one item that the Kremlin leader tried his hardest to persuade Reagan to compromise upon was the so-called Star Wars capability. This seems to be an obsession with the Russians. If ever achieved it could neutralize the attack potential of nuclear weapons. At the present it appears to be an advantagious bargaining chip for America and her allies.
President Reagan’s formula for peace is to remain as strong as his adversary. The numerous peace demonstrators that abound in all the Western countries would prefer a unilateral disarmament as a solution to the present rivalry. Neither will assure peace, but human nature being what it is, the adage of a former President, Teddy Roosevelt, has the most pragmatism, “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.”
The Christian who rightly divides the Word of Truth, the Bible, knows that there is no recipe for peace. Righteousness must precede peace, and since man is incapable of bringing righteousness into the world, peace will always be an elusive thing. When Jesus Christ returns to reign, the psalmist has ably described the outcome, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psa. 85:10) .
In the light of Bible prophecy two significant events have taken place since World War II. The establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation and the phenomenal rise of Russia to a world power. The Bible says these are occurrences related to the “last days” or “later years” (Acts 15:16 and Ezek. 38). Historically, Russia has played no impressive roles until our times. Ecclesiastically, she has had no Reformation nor produced great theologians. In the area of discovery and inventions she is eclipsed by the West. As to human rights, she has always been backward. Shackled to an atheistic materialism, Russia, nevertheless, has become the world’s number one military power. Such an ascendancy is only to be attributed to God’s permissive will. Only by America’s superior technology, this “king of the North” (Dan. 11:40), late in time to arise, is held at the bit and still has a significant part to fulfill during the great tribulation. Yet, the prophetic dictum is “he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Dan. 11:45). What was said of Pharoah will one day be applicable to Russia,
“Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout the whole earth” (Rom. 11:17).
Time and again we read in Ezekiel the changes on this phrase, “And thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” The context of these affirmative statements is generally associated with judgments upon Israel for idolatry. Russia’s atheism is an equal offence to God and inevitably awaits God’s time clock for judgment. When this prophetic judgment has come, God says, “Thus will I magnify myself and sanctify myself: and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezek. 38:23). How tragic that the world will only know God through His judgments, “For when thy judgments are in the earth, then the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9). All because “ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).
No matter how benevolent the programs there are always those who are left out or who are losers and victims of exploitation. Thousands have been driven from their homes or livelihood by political takeovers or wars, breeding anger and frustration. Such are inclined to give a listening ear to demagoguery and their latest envy and hate can be fanned to fanaticism. Now we are seeing to what ends the human heart is capable of expressing itself. The prophet Jeremiah said it right in 500 B.C.: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” The definition goes for all of us. Only those who have really tried to be good know experientially how desperate is “the law of sin” that reigns within us. Then too, some who would never be immoral outwardly, or commit murder, often take pleasure in those that do. Hence the craving of the news media for juicy or exciting incidents.
The terrorists feel this is the only way they can air their hang-ups. In some of the escapades their do or die daring makes truth stranger than fiction. A giant ocean liner was hijacked with 400 aboard. The vengeful Arabs found it gratifying to vent their spleen on one of the Jewish passengers, so they shot Leon Klinghoffer and unceremoniously cast his body into the sea. The recovered body gave evidence to their lie that he had died of a heart attack. The sickening thing with terrorism is that the innocent are generally their victims.
Where hostages are involved the terrorists demand the release of their comrades who are imprisoned. To so trade with terrorists may alleviate an immediate situation. But it would only increase future scenarios. So the present sees American hostages under a death threat pleading, with their loved ones, for the authorities by practically any means to bring about their release. The government has reached an uncompromising stand — no deals with terrorists is the wisest course to take. There are areas in Christianity where one must be intransigent. It is daubed as intolerance and irritating to liberals. But Christianity is a religion of absolutes. The Saviour’s words are unyielding when He says, “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Philipp Melanchthon’s oft repeated maxim fits, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.”
It has been said that the best things are capable of the worst corruption. This usually applies to religion, marriage and government. Now sports are being debased. Race horses must be tested before racing lest they have been doped. Some of the paraded heroes of the gridiron dope themselves before entering a game. Recently, in Lexington, Kentucky, the baseball stars of the university, 26 out of 33, confessed to reporters that they had taken gifts and favors from boosters in violation of the rules governing college sports. It was like athlete like fan. The expose in the newspapers brought an incredible amount of protest. The editors’ excuse was, “We didn’t feel we could sit on this information and live with ourselves.” The upsetting thing about it all is the total lack of sportsmanship. In this area particularly we expect fair play. Isn’t that what sports are all about? Then too, there is approval or indifference to the rules of the game. Anything goes providing one can get away with it. To win is the name of the game.
The popularity of sports is good as it affords an outlet and a getaway from it all for the nation’s workers. On the other hand, when we see the thousands filling the bleachers on Sundays compared with church attendance we feel that we are back to the times when the ancient arenas were filled. Contemporary with those ancient days came the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). Nor can we leave out “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). The millions of dollars involved incites cupidity and instability of character. Indeed, “how are the mighty fallen!” Sportscaster Howard Cosell writes, “Sports have become a murky blur in a morass of hypocrisy, corruption and deceit.” The kids are easily given to make athletes their heroes. This is a trust the stars should appreciate and aim to be examples to impressionable youth. Better yet if the young became acquainted with the heroes of Scripture, too.