The Current Scene
We live in a world where the free market is undergoing severe tests. Can it survive the pressure brought about by its bleeding heart critics. The Prime Minister of England, Mrs. Thatcher, confesses she cannot be overly sympathetic when she is trying to bring her nation out of the economic doldrums to which an overindulgent socialism must bear some of the blame. President Reagan has vetoed two bills, excellent in themselves which would clean up the polluting wastes and repair deterioring highways. The President’s interest was what would be best for the nation in the light of the frightening national debt. The Congress had in mind the states they represent. Now that the President’s veto has been overridden, it remains to be seen whether the nation will get its money’s worth knowing how notoriously such government enterprises are so often filched. Look for interest rates and inflation to be back with us. Economics are brutal; spending ourselves rich is a myth. The benefits of the two bills will hamper free enterprise as it is further robbed of a sound dollar and investment capital. Isaiah the prophet illustrates what happens when a person, or a nation, lives beyond its means: “For the bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower that he can wrap himself in it” (28:20). If he covers his feet his shoulders get cold; he adjusts to warm his shoulders and his feet suffer.
Good management and capitalism go together. As Churchill remarked, “Democracy was the best of the worst forms of government.” It does tolerate economic, political and religious freedom. In the light of Scripture there is ample justice for private ownership. An ideal situation is described in: “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree” (Micah 4:4).
Attempts to regulate the economy send prices up and services down. Now the minimum wage is being considered to be raised only to increase unemployment among those with limited skills. Elevator operators are no more; milk delivery and auto windshields are no longer cleaned. In our area two large orchards have closed. The excuse is that red tape has made it too costly for the hiring of migrant workers. More mechanical pickers are on the way in agriculture. The local man with 1,200 beehives that he farms out to the orchards is also bewildered. Mexico continues to profit from America’s agriculture problems. Communism and trade barriers have their appeal to those who are displaced. Then the black market flourishes. Remove the profit motive and man in his fallen condition is not likely to do his best. If someone will work harder and better the consumer decides who will eventually win.
Well has Solomon observed, “That which is crooked cannot be numbered” (Eccles. 1:15) . A perfect world is nowhere in sight; in fact, the prophetic Word says matters “shall wax worse and worse.” The worldling describes the present as a dog eat dog society. The Christian accepts it as God’s school fitting one for eternity. He in no wise is exempt from the shocks and scorns our flesh is heir to and discovers that Jesus Christ is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Also he rejoices to know that eventually a king (Christ) shall reign.
Two New Words
At least these watchwords are foreign to us since they hail from Russia. They are “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring). These have become the buzzwords of Mikhail Gorbachev, something like our slogans, New Deal, Square Deal and so forth. Primarily the catch words are for Russian consumption. The Russian leader is giving attention to the private sector which we are told is riddled with alcoholism, absenteeism and lack of civic spirit. Mortimer Zuckerman asks, “Is it possible that the aim of their government may shift from striving to be the greatest military power and exporter of Communism into one where the principle aim is to improve the quality of life for its citizenry?”
The director of defense studies, John Erickson of Edinburgh University, advises caution that the liberal moves do not mean “perestroika” which means breathing “spaces.” This was Lenin’s policy when it was unwise to push his goals at that moment. The West has a wily foe that will resort to all kinds of strategies but will in no wise change its ultimate goal — a socialized world. Avowedly the Communist insists that the human race can only achieve its desire for peace and plenty by a universal surrender to a single system of economics. All pockets of freedom must be brought into the Communist orbit.
This craze to unify the world has been the dream of the philosophers on the one hand and the Caesars on the other. Nebuchadnezzar was the most successful, as he was able to address “unto all them that dwell in all the earth” (Dan. 4:1). Yet, in all attempts to the present, ultimate success has been wanting. The Antichrist, yet to come, Satanically motivated, will be the final loser and summarily cast alive into the lake of fire at the second coming of Christ, for He alone is Lord of lords and King of kings.
Bible and secular history affirm the following three facts that come from the pen of the late C. F. Hogg:
1. Sin is a disintegrating force, a dividing and scattering power in the shepherd in which it works.
2. Man is engaged in an age-long struggle against sin, striving to defeat this disruptive power.
3. Man’s struggle against sin is carried on in vain.
It is natural to ask what it is all about, living in a no-win world? When we bring God into the quandry we have only enlarged the problem. The non-Christian says, “If your God loves the world, why all this misery and inequality?” If his lot is in the third world, he finds it easier to settle for the gospel that Communism offers. Eventually, and to his chagrin, he will discover Communism to be as helpless as any other “ism” to battle the dilemmas of life. Instead of wringing our hands in the air we are driven to turn to the Bible for the answer. There we learn that this life is introductory to an eternal existence. Then the believer will know he has been in God’s school and will not be sorry as to how much he had grunted and sweated under this weary life. Yes Hamlet, it is “to be,” for, as Paul says, “to depart, to and be with Christ, is far better.”
Winds of Change
Militarily great changes are in the offing. With Russia taking the initiative there is an offer for a joint reduction of nuclear weapons positioned all over Europe. The start is for each side to completely remove their short range missiles — zero —zero. These arms talks taking place favorably impress the average man of the street; though not their governments. If these trends succeed it would still leave Russia formidably superior in conventional forces. Writes one reporter, “The last six months have shaken America’s NATO partners as no other period in the alliance’s 38 year history has done.” Europe cannot count on America keeping 300,000 troops on the wrong side of the Atlantic forever. This has been a stable editorial in European newsprint for a considerable while. Actually, Free Europe has both a larger population and larger economy than either of the present super powers, but if left to fend for themselves some unpopular economic changes would be felt because “its present wealth and manpower do not translate into equivalent military force.” The British and Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, warned that Europe needed to become self-reliant. In his speech he said, “We do need to be alert to trends in American thinking which might diminish our security —perhaps not today or tomorrow, but possibly in the longer view.”
The colossal buildup of conventional arms on the Soviet side is frightening. For instance, the Soviets are fielding in the zone 19,500 tanks to NATO’s 9,000 in artillery; the disparity is 10,000 to 4,000. The well documented lead article in “U.S. News” rightly observes, “the net effect is that America’s allies are on guard, unable to take long term comfort from what they are hearing.”
Such a buildup of military prowess presents a big temptation to the adventurer. A comparable deterrent is the only choice for those who would most likely be the victims. If we are reading the prophetic Word aright, it is Europe that is to be the dominant world power during the great tribulation. Headed up under the beast we look for some semblance of the old Roman Empire to be revived. The potential is there and the ominous threat from the East may make sense to the pacific mentality that abounds in Europe. The only real peace to be found in this life is: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).