The Current Scene
The nation of Israel, though so little among her neighbors, continues to make the news headlines, and rightly so. This is probably a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, howbeit in most cases unwittingly. The news media for the most part are biased against Israel. A little nation fighting for its very survival is more often than not shown only in the light of Israeli soldiers bullying stone-throwing Arabs. We are not reminded that all of the territory lost to the original Arabs was the result of the wars they initiated; wars with the avowed intent to annihilate Israel.
The avowed goals of the Arabs so firmly committed to the P.L.O. stubbornly reject a political solution. This in turn justifies (or accounts for) Israel’s intransigence. They express their dilemma in this way: A choice between land and no peace or less land and still no peace. Israel’s only choice seems to be to get the present violence under control. Since force has been initiated by the occupied Arabs, superior force must come into play. The niceties of litigation will be foregone, affording plenty of opportunity for the media to major on half truths. On the human side, Israel’s future looks gloomy. The good will of the U.S. appears on the decline and their economy is faltering.
The prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks, to this writer, as interpreted by Sir Robert Anderson, presents the least amount of difficulties. In the tribulation, Israel’s protector will be the head of a European coalition resembling a revival of the old Roman Empire. The covenant made for Israel’s security to last for seven years is broken in the midst. This letdown will eventually bring Israel as a nation to the end of all human help. Then there will be a real turning to the Lord and this humbling discovery that their long promised conquering Messiah is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s worth is not realized whether by an individual or a nation until the discovery of our own utter worthlessness — namely repentance.
Of the several disturbers of social tranquillity, not the least are the zealots who oppose the status quo. Generally they crusade as the champions of peace or the cause of the poor and oppressed. Or it can be those of the far right who fear the takeover of the unpredictable mob. The zeal of the leader and his hard-core followers compensate for their lack of popular support. To air their grievances they will often resort to killings. This is a mental disease that plagues so many countries. The zealot’s notion of his moral superiority or the supposed rightness of his cause justifies the horrendous means to gain his ends. Mere rules don’t matter, nor do the rights of others providing they can be given an odious label, such as “oppressors,” “reactionaries,” or “fascists.” Anyone but of their ilk can be counted as an enemy or a victim. Religion can spawn its zealots also: the Inquisition, as well as today’s terrorists both Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland and the rise of Fundamental Mohammedanism. In fact, the zealot may be but a step to terrorism.
The Apostle Paul thought he was doing God’s service when he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 8:1). After Paul became a Christian he was more than paid back in kind. Jewish fanatics hounded him wherever he preached. In 2 Corinthians 11:26, Paul’s worst enemy comprised his own countrymen. They were known as Judaizers who would have Christianity as little more than a Jewish additional sect, much the same as different Catholic orders, independent, but still under the Pope’s umbrella. The zeal of the Judaizers went way beyond the significance of their cause. Get someone to major on a minor and you have it. The zeal of the cults puts most Christians to shame. Then we cannot overlook that glaring example of religious zealotry when 40 Jews “banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul” (Acts 23:12). They were completely unaware that their designs were against one who was “immortal until his work was done.” The Christian needs to acquaint himself with the “whole counsel of God,” which will give him a sane balance of truth. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:8).
The Lord Jesus exhibited the right kind of zeal at the first cleansing of the temple. This action brought to His disciples’ minds the Scripture, “the zeal of thine house has eaten me up” (John 2:17). Our zeal too, should be for the assembly as Scripturally ordered. This is not a popular ambition when it involves the scourge on the modern defilers of “the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:17).
At the time of this writing the world is analyzing what took place in June at Moscow. Some deep thinkers see real progress; others have serious doubts. The avowed ambition of Communism is world conquest. Has this changed or just been put to rest for a while? When it comes to the amenities of life, free enterprise far exceeds Communism. Half a century of experimentation leaves little reason to argue otherwise. The new and dynamic Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, aims to improve his country’s neglected domestic sector. Hopefully, this will relieve Soviet adventures in areas of unrest. The retreat from Afghanistan encourages some signs of relief.
The mutual destruction of the short range missiles in Europe is another indication that the cold war is over. The skeptics say “wait and see.” No doubt this is the best we can expect where lying and deceit are never far away from solemnly signed treaties — as all history doth record. The Scripture has a pertinent warning for “the children of light” who are not of the night, nor of darkness. What a contrast! We read, “For when they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3). The British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, said after he had struck a deal with Hitler, “Peace in our day.” Two years later London was being blitzed.
Before the long prophesied “great tribulation” breaks upon a startled and astonished world there will be a prelude of peace. This is how we interpret the rider on the white horse. He is acclaimed and credited with making world peace, for “who is like the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4). It will be a fragile peace, for after the white horse come the three other horses of the apocalypse. We may be hearing the distant sound of their hoof beats. The present drought on the world’s bread basket if not the actual “black horse” (Rev. 6:5) could still be a rehearsal of what lies ahead — the greatest of tribulations.
Practically all of North America is in the grip of a dry spell. The repercussions will begin to be felt by the time this gets into print; namely, higher prices at the food market. As to the reason for this drought the geologist can explain the immediate effects of a high pressure here and the movement of certain air currents. The scientist sees a possible greenhouse effect. Our auto exhausts are disrupting the ozone layers around the earth. In the Bible famines were a common occurrence and often a voice of God’s judgment. All of our remarkable achievements in agriculture are nevertheless dependent upon the ordering of the God of the heavens.