The Current Scene
This word of little significance a while back has leaped into widespread significance particularly in the world of Islam. It signifies a return to the basics of a religion and becomes a force behind political drives. The Islamic world, for a millennium a sleeping giant, has been quickened and made to be a convenient tool against the great SATAN — a secular world. The Ayatollah of Iran is the titular head and example of the extremists. Their propaganda or selling point is salvation from Western corruption such as the influence of soap operas, movies, mixed bathing, alcohol and secularism. Such feel that they have a messianic mission to convert all the followers of Islam. If successful it would be a formidable threat to the world’s supply of oil. Also, there are restless pockets of sympathizers throughout the Arab world. The one local barrier that exists is Iraq which has held out against Iran’s grand designs by six years of war. After that the only nation that could balance Iran’s power is Egypt whose present loyalty to the democratic process will come under increasing pressure. Egypt has a large fifth column of Fundamentalists. The fire behind all of this rivalry, killings, hate and cupidity is the undisputed presence of Israel in the area and the vast oil reserves.
As to our understanding of prophecy concerning the end times, we use this term in a very general way and avoid details. Personally, F. W. Grant is my mentor on the interpretation of the Revelation. However, few could disagree who have given the subject of prophecy a candid inquiry that there are two distinct lineups of the nations. One is for Israel and the other fanatically committed to Israel’s annihilation. Again, using the term generally, we see the West supportive of Israel as the only reliable ally in the critical area. On the other hand, the Arabs, at loggerheads over other issues, are unified in their antipathy for Israel.
The Old Testament prophets were principally occupied with the lands to their East and North, excepting Daniel. This was from where their enemies came, the Assyrians and Nebuchadnezzar. In Ezekiel we have the King of the North and his allies again invading the promised land.
The New Testament sees a Western Empire under its undisputed Caesar making a seven-year covenant with the Jews (Rev. 13).
The term “Fundamentalist” has arisen to significance in America. It is an ardently religious segment of society centering around a literal interpretation of the Bible, and pro-lifers, many joining protest marches. It represents a decided recoil from the secularization of society. They form a voting block that no political aspirant can afford to ignore. Extremism begets extremism and polarizes nations and society which can get into the hands of the bigots. The danger is to get so involved in moral issues at the expense of neglecting collective prayer and Bible study.
The Iran-Contra probe, already costing four million dollars, brings to mind an observation of Solomon, “One sinner destroyeth much good” (Eccles. 9:18). The President in his speech on August 12th said, “Just look at the damage that’s been done and the time that has been lost.” He went on to describe the affair as the “Iran-Contra mess” and added that it was a saga of “lies, leaks, divisions and mistakes.” There is the possibility that all of the truth will never come to light. There are two reasons for this conclusion: Casey, head of the CIA, had his finger prints all over the covert operations. His secrets have gone with him to the grave and also much of the damaging printed data has been shredded. However, we live in a world where “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known” (Luke 12:2). This applies to all who are not sheltered by the blood of Christ. A fair trial awaits every sinner at the Great White Throne of judgment. Well might the prophet ask, “What wilt thou say when He shall punish thee”? (Jeremiah 13:21). At that final assize there will be no cover-ups.
The televised hearings of Colonel Oliver North last summer created a national sensation. This uniformed, highly decorated Vietnam hero, handsome, delightfully intelligent and articulate, charmed millions of his viewers, insomuch that some sparked him for the Presidency. A living James Bond, ignoring red tape and with an earned “can do” reputation, North was motivated by his own ideas, right or wrong. Actually, his patriotism championed by his superiors has dangerously muddied the waters of the U.S.’s foreign policy. This Ollmania shows how a majority can be mesmerized by a personality with an abundance of charisma. This may be an exaggerated example, but the principle is there. Napoleon and Hitler appointed themselves as men of destiny and were so until providentially cut down like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4). We have yet to see a man arise described as a composite “beast” which all the world will wonder after (Rev. 13). He will have all the outward trappings that will sway a confederacy of nations. The world will have plunged into such a crisis that this Satan-possessed man will be hailed as a last and only hope. He is to be destroyed at the second coming of Christ and at the establishment of His kingdom.
How different was the Lord Jesus, fully accredited as Messiah, King of the Jews, but who came as the meek and lowly One seen voluntarily washing His disciples’ feet. He was certainly not the choice of the world, particularly the entrenched religious element. What grace has been wrought in the heart of some to acclaim Him, “King of kings and Lord of lords”! They are those who have continued with Him in His temptations. To each He says, “I appoint unto you a kingdom” (Luke 22:29). Well might we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” The hearings have been an education to some of us. We have learned more of how the government works, or should work. Also, some of the operations must needs be behind closed doors. A case in point were the preliminaries before Nixon went to China. Henry Kissinger’s advance trip proved a successful secret mission. Some feel there was a genuine opportunity to open Iran, but now all has been bungled. One letter to the editor in the “Wall Street Journal” read, “The Iran-Contra hearings really set the stage for the most disgraceful spectacle the American people have ever witnessed.” Again a quote from the same source, “The hemorrhage of sinister materials, the cascading revelations of secret talks, the detailed reporting of private conversations — all have arctic effect on other governments which take meticulous care of their own secrets.” This is still the world’s hour and “the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). A born again Christian with an intelligence that Scripture begets, if himself engulfed in politics, may experience what was said of Lot, “that his righteous soul was vexed from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Pet. 2:8). Christianity has no secrets or initiatory rites; even its mysteries are for those who have advanced sufficiently to be instructed.
When Paul preached to King Agrippa he declared that the subjects of Christianity were not done in a corner (Acts 26:26). May these be the principles of those who seek to serve Him who declared Himself the Light of the world, “but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2).
The United States is a world power whether it wishes to be or not. This entails moral responsibilities that it virtually impossible to run away, from. To do so would leave one world power, Russia. Certainly that nation with its ideology, aspires to such. We, because of our view of Bible prophecy, look for a United Europe to eventually be the dominant world power. As the nations that once comprised the Old Roman Empire become increasingly aware of their peril, this is reasonably foreseeable (Rev. 13).
The legacy of the Vietnam War has drastically changed the foreign policy of the United States. There must be no direct use of our forces to counter Soviet insurgencies, as was done in Korea and Vietnam. The resort to dialogue (detente) has no rapport with those whose only ambition is power. The other option, the so-called “pious isolationism” by its critics, is incapable of squaring up to the ugly designs with which we are surrounded. As a result, a pragmatic approach has been developed by the so-called Reagan Doctrine. It has little promise of total victory but does hold the possibility of containing Communism — a last resort short of committing U.S. forces to armed combat. Some call the situation “bush war,” others an attempt to wear down and exhaust the patience of one or the other side first. The stakes are so high, the two sides so polarized, that neither dares run away. We naturally wonder how long this type of proxy warfare can continue. The introduction to World War II was the so-called “phony war.”
Since the close of the last major war we have had “the cold war.” Its temperature has varied but with a Communist bridgehead in Central America and the risky situation in the Persian Gulf, matters are getting uncomfortably hot.
If Satan is not “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), who is? The Lord Jesus said, “I pray not for the world” (John 17:9). In His rejection the world has taken sides, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). His holy presence here had brought out all of the latent venom in the human heart. Since then the world has not changed. Our Lord’s prayer for the world in the Second Psalm is that He might come and smash the nations “as a potter’s vessel.” It is a mercy for the world that He does not yet pray for it. But how soon will the present grace cease? “Kiss the Son, lest ye be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little” (Psa. 2:12). We appreciate the lady who was confused over the different interpretations of prophecy and wisely said, “Well, I’m a pan millenialist.” “What is that?” was the rejoinder, “It’s all going to ‘pan’ out all right.” All of the different schools wind up triumphantly with the last chapters of the Revelation.
Worship is the believer’s response of all that he is — mind, emotions, will, and body — to all that God is and says and does.
—Warren W. Wiersbe