The Current Scene
This little country continues to make the headlines. As a Jewish writer observes in the Wall Street Journal, “Since Hitler pointed the way to the ‘final solution’ without being stopped, many people probably still accept the premise that throwing stones and spitting at Jews is normal and even plausible behavior… If those territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were populated instead by Mamclukes, Tartars or Georgians nobody would say a word, but since it is Jews… Every day I pray to God to try out, if only for a time, another people as his ‘chosen’, and leave us alone for a little while. It would be just, after several millennia, to test the endurance and spiritual strength of some other nation.” It is as Saint Theresa, a Spanish Carmelite and mystic, of the 16th century reportedly has said, “Lord, your friends are so few, because you are so hard on them.” The witnessing Christian not living in a democratic society also knows the truth of the Lord’s words, “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).
This same Jewish writer says, “Under no circumstances could Israel allow the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories, because this would amount to its own suicide.” He sees the hopelessness of coming to any agreement with the Arabs. The heart of the PLO is for the “reconquest of all Palestine.” Any moderate Arab that would negotiate with Israel is marked for assassination, which has been the lot of so many including Sadat of Egypt. This Jewish apologist continues to write, “If we agree that Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem belong to the Arabs, then we had better start rewriting the Bible.” He is not for agreeing to buy off trouble at the moment with its long-run effect to be suicidal.
Why does Israel who has won five wars against the Arabs feel so wary of conferences and determined to keep its conquered territories? Because it can only lose one war. Behind the boys throwing stones are the big battalions ready to pounce. As the late Golda Meir said, “We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs—we have no place to go.”
If, and there is good Scriptural support, a dispensational interpretation of the Bible is in principle a correct one, then what is happening in the Bible lands has much going for it. More than Meir’s secret weapon is “a sure word of prophecy.” That is, that the glorious descriptions of a literal Messianic Kingdom is yet to be fulfilled. The key to this is the final spiritual rebirth of the nation of Israel. The present could be the setting of the stage for the great tribulation and the millennium.
It is quite largely conceded that democracy is the best system of government that man has yet come up with. Churchill said that it was the best of the worst. The American experiment speaks a lot in favor of democracy. The slogan, let the people decide their government, means power to the majority. Where there is a strong minority the squabbling that can result may hold up important legislation. At the same time, it does mean that those who lost their vote are still being heard. Considering what man is from the Biblical viewpoint, we wonder that matters work out as well as they do. The Bible’s description of man is fully substantiated by history and current events.
In observing the primaries it has been interesting to see democracy at work. One disturbing element has been the fickleness of the crowd. Some will jump and wave banners simply because they have just heard from a candidate exactly what they wanted to hear. They do not weigh what it will take to implement unrealistic promises.
Woe to those candidates who emphasize the disciplines that would be required to remedy present ills. One who did, Peter du Pont, soon discovered that he was a voice crying in the wilderness. Then a favorite may just say the wrong thing, or an opponent dig up something of his past. Many will vote on a single issue or just because they like the looks of their candidate.
That such a system has worked so well in this country should invoke thankfulness. Unfortunately, it is not a panacea for every nation. Human government is a divine institution. The Bible does not tell us what kind. In the Old Testament full instructions were listed for those who would rule over Israel. The Church is in the world but not of it. The behavior of elders, deacons, husbands and wives is fully developed, yet no rules for a king. Presumably those classified as pilgrims and strangers would hardly be found running for an elective office. Ours is to obey whatever powers that be and to disobey when compelled to respond to laws that violate a conscience that is grounded in the Word of God.
History is filled with examples of humans surrendering to mob psychology. Crowds carried away by promises of revenge, soak the rich, religious intolerance, you name it. Recall how the Jewish leaders could persuade the whole multitude to answer Pilate’s question with the cry “Crucify Him.” Days before, the whole world was going after Jesus of Nazareth. In the time of the end circumstances will be such that a superman will be hailed as its deliverer. Our Lord referred to him: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:44). So, while we pray for kings and for all who are in authority, we longingly await that bright future when He comes whose right it is, even our Lord Jesus Christ.
By the time this gets into print the nation will probably know who the two candidates are that will be vying for the presidency of the U.S. Then, let the people preside. Those of a democratic persuasion have demonstrated their popularity. The last elections gave them an influential majority in the House and Senate. At the present an expressed popularity of Jesse Jackson reveals a strong urge to consider the needs, yes, the rights of those who are out of the orbit of prosperity—the homeless, needs of the aging and jobless. If put into effect, a raid on pension funds, insurance and inflation will take place. A serious tap on the energies of the resourceful and a drag on our ability to cope in a highly competitive world will be made. Women who could be home must enter the work force while the welfare recipients can remain at home duplicating themselves. Prices rise while services diminish as exampled in the rise of postage rates. What we are hearing in the stump speeches has been practiced in England when headed by the Labour Party. The result—lost markets and no longer the world’s foremost shipbuilders. If our competitors are working hard, we must match them at their own game. As more socialism is put into operation, such will ultimately prove so much rhetoric. It ignores that man is a sinner. As long as basic Biblical ethics are flouted, men and nations will discover how baseless are their nostrums. Note Mikhail Gorbachev’s problems in Russia. Its citizens queue up for staple foods.
In a look at Revelation 2:14-22 we have God’s last word to the churches. There has been a succession of development. Quite significant is the name Laodicea, which could mean “rule of the laity.” To quote F. W. Grant: “If Christ’s yoke is not accepted, the will of man will assuredly assert itself as never before.” The people’s rights have in church and state become the watch words of the day.
Nor must we rule out “that the way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15). Gambling, alcohol, tobacco and perverted sex are major contributors to man’s miseries. Such vitals are off limits to those running for public office. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). God still can show His displeasure with the nations which pay no respect to what has been legislated. “Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?” (Job 40:9).
Theoretically communism should not need changes. Since to them man is merely a stomach, what more does he need above the natural essentials. Russia has no homeless people, we do. With this comparison communism appears as a haven compared with America to those who see no future for them under capitalism. Communism fails to reward the energetic; capitalism does but fails to accommodate the unproductive. It does foster charity. If economic success is the yardstick, then the free world is to be envied, and is!
The university educated leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbechev, inherits an economy where most of his citizens are squeezed into apartments lining up for the essentials of life. He is attempting a dare; he is liberating and modernizing some of the nation’s sources of productivity. This means new bosses, layoffs and unemployment.
He is not without opposition. This glasnost (openness), as Gorbachev calls it, has opened a pandora’s box. A hegemony such as Russia with her satellites should be at peace according to Marx’s economic determinism. Economic forces would overcome nationalism and religion. The Sandanistas expressed it succinctly, “a revolution without borders.”
Communism could be the best solution to man’s lot if God is left out and man is in an evolutionary process. Russia is composed of 130 nations, or ethnic groups. Several are restless and under glosnost are showing it. We doubt with a publicity-conscious Gorbachev at the helm, whether the army tanks will roll in as they did back in the 50s in Hungary.
Certainly neither communism nor capitalism can cure the world’s woes. Atheism is bound to create emotional traumas characteristic of its system. Neither has a society that respects the individual’s inalienable rights created a heaven on earth. It does better in adjusting to that individual as created in God’s image.
Recently Mikial Gorbechav paid a good will visit to Yugoslavia, a breakaway country from Moscow’s centralism. He must have said it with his tongue in his cheek; “Show me a country without nationalist problems, and I’ll move there right away.” This may give him some comfort as he broods over his own problems. But, why all of this? The “mystery of iniquity” has been at work since the fall of Adam. It is destined to reach its climax. If we are near that point, then world conditions certainly help justify such a conclusion. In a world such as this the Christian cannot be surprised at what takes place in church or state. He is a surprise to himself if he succeeds in keeping himself unspotted from the world since his conversion. The new birth should lead to just that with the accompanying indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For, says Christ, “without me ye can do nothing.”