The Current Scene
Back in the 60’s the world had well recovered from the devastations of World War II. It seemed that the dismal science — economics — was yielding to the new ideas and intent on prosperity for all. No more great depressions and numerous bank failures — there was sufficient underpinning to take care of both. China was taking the “Great Leap,” Kruschev was banging his shoe in the U.N. and foretelling that the Soviet economy would “bury” the West. The British thought they were developing a cozy welfare state. The backward nations were getting the expertise and money to bring them too, into the orbit of prosperity.
Just now this rosy outlook is being blurred. All of the diverse experiments are in trouble. Even the Far East countries depending so heavily on the buying power of the U.S. are not exempt.
The October plunge of the stock market and its creation of an air of uncertainty reminds me of a verse I read recently (Isaiah 29:14), “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people; for the wisdom of the wise men shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid.” It would appear that President Reagan’s supply-side economics is gaining as much suspect as that of John Maynard Keynes. Both systems beaten out by philosophers and financiers are laced with worldly wisdom. God often allows the pursuits of men to run their course. Nebuchadnezzar could boast of his conquests only to be brought low by God; Belshazzar reached a climax in his hedonism until he was weighed in God’s balances. Every form of government (none without their good points) has eventually failed or is now being sorely tested. God wants men to discover that this world is blighted with the Edenic curse. Like Abraham we should “look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). Such will not be disappointed. History has and will be, ‘til Jesus comes as found in Ezekiel 21:27. “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He comes whose right it is: and I will give it Him.”
The present financial uncertainties have been referred to as “a meltdown.” In other words, bringing ballooning stocks down to realistic worth. The adage says, “It’s an ill wind that does not do some good.” Now our politicians are belatedly compelled to do something to reduce the nation’s alarming budget. In other words, there is a return to basics. With financial orthodoxy so much in disarray, it will be very informative to discover what elective officials can accomplish. The Christian also sometimes needs a real jolt in his life to bring him into new grips with God — “examine yourselves.”
The pessimists are beginning to wonder if history is not about to repeat itself. In 1929 the stock market had a dramatic fall and was the harbinger of the great depression. Note, that it is not the Christian now that is the calamity howler but rather the realists of science and finance. Those Christians who have majored on eschatology have for nearly two centuries seen a world ripening for divine judgments. Certainly a financial wizard is yet to come with dictatorial control over economics, but only world circumstances could reach such a desperate stage as to justify the rise of “the beast out of the earth” who causeth, “that no man might buy or sell” (Rev. 13:11-18).
Last fall the Los Angeles area witnessed a considerable earthquake. The scientists are giving no comfort as they say the big one is yet to come, and anytime within the next 30 years. This latest shake is just a reminder that the big one will be far more extensive.
At the time of this writing Wall Street is in a state of jitters. Clever safeguards imposed since the 1929 crash so far are working, but one wonders. The traders appear to have lost a lot of confidence — they ought to know. Unless dragonian steps are taken by a timid government to bring the national debt under some control, financial prognosticators see a big money upset in the offing.
While there is some dismantling of atomic missiles, it has been discovered that the Soviets have a tremendous build-up of chemical weapons. Now the U.S. sees the need of catching up. Indeed in such a world the only way to keep the peace is to constantly prepare for war. Many in all this see the build-up for the big one. This means the last two World Wars were but rehearsals of the Great Tribulation.
Maybe the cry to the watchman in Isaiah 21:11 is in order here, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” His reply is significant, “The morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will enquire, enquire ye, enquire ye: return come.” Giving this reply a Christian setting the morning is the prospect for the redeemed when the Lord cometh for His own — a morning without clouds. At the same time the night comes for the unsaved —“the blackness of darkness forever.” Then there is the invitation to inquire.
The impending events may cause an alarm cry to God for light. Or to quote again from Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
War in the Persian Gulf
The significance of the two wars in Korea and Vietnam was never considered vital by a large number of Americans. This was attested by the riots and unrest in the universities. Our commitment to the treaties made by Dulles was hard to explain to the average man. The present contest in the Persian Gulf is, or should be, more understandable. Oil has become the main ingredient to keep modern civilization humming and prosperous. Allowing the enemies of such to gain the mastery here would occasion the remaining sources of oil to be insufficient and prices to skyrocket. The prospect of such a crisis has triggered our otherwise reluctant allies to action. A multi-national armada of naval power is ample witness to the concern of the free world. Also, a meddlesome Russia must not be counted out.
Where the issues are sufficiently demanding and singular enough to include the interests of many nations, concerted action soon develops. Maybe this will throw some light on a statement made by our Lord and related to His second coming, “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matt. 24:28). The carcass here could be apostate Israel under the sway of a false Messiah, the antichrist. At the same time Jerusalem has become “a burdensome stone for all people” (Zech. 12:3). This attracts “all nations against Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:2). During the great tribulation the interest of “all nations” will be sufficiently challenged to justify their armies for or against Jerusalem. The prophetic Word has all the time been depicting the Holy Land as the gathering contre for the greatest of all wars, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21). At the present we only observe trends and principles that make the prophetic Scripture feasible. Just now Iran appears to be “the carcass.”
At the moment the worldly prognosticators see a long contest of wills in the Gulf. As U.S. News plainly puts it, “The threat to this flow of oil and its preservation in friendly hands is a direct geopolitical challenge to the West.” There is no secret to the grandiose ambitions of Iran to dominate the whole area. (See Ezekiel 38:16). So, some of us cannot be blamed if we with bated breath watch the trends. Again, resorting to worldly wisdom, some are inclined not to push too hard for a cease-fire in the Iraq-Iran War as the world is much safer while the two countries are fighting each other. Henry Kissinger’s observation is, “The best news would be if both lost” and consequent exhaustion could eliminate the radicals and make room for moderates. The Christian realizes that his God is the God of battles. He is the final arbiter, only He will eventually “make wars to cease” (Psa. 46:9). God, time and again, makes Himself responsible for world upheavals: “Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth.” Or, “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). On the other hand, world unrest is but fallen man expressing his plight, “the wicked are like the troubled sea.” This obviously is not the age of the Prince of peace. The present is the age of His High Priestly succour to His own who have been made by their spiritual new birth “pilgrims and strangers” in this present scene.