The Current Scene
The destructiveness of modern weapons is appalling, even if we leave out the atom bomb. Fresh on our minds are the wars in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands and the Iran-Iraqi conflict. Deadly missiles are relatively cheap and easily acquired. This is certainly so when one considers their destructiveness. One hit on a British warship in the Falkland affair and the whole vessel was destroyed. Their long range, lightning speed and accuracy can easily create trigger-happy commanders. In the case of the U.S.S. Vincennes a sad mistake was made. Yet from recent lessons we cannot be surprised at a shoot first mentality and settle questions later.
On land these fearsome missiles have been exchanged between Baghdad and Tehran making a heavy toll of civilian casualties. Iran, seeking to take advantage of its superior manpower, has sent thousands of infantry into battle. These waves of attack were composed of boys that were mercilessly mowed down without significant gains — a repeat of the tactics of World War I of over the top into no man’s land. A million casualties from this war is considered a conservative estimate. The present cease fire is creating a sigh of relief not only among neutrals of the area, but is very agreeable to U.S. foreign policy. If it were not for the West’s vital interests, particularly oil, they would have callously left the war to its own destiny. The threat of a dominant power arising in the area has been stayed for the present. However, in the light of Ezekiel 8 a crusade against Israel includes Iran (Persia) in the end times. A concerted effort is yet to arise whose aim is to settle the Jewish question once and for all — eliminate the nation. Success will almost be their reward and Isaiah describes it perfectly:
“And the multitude of all nations that fight against Ariel (Jerusalem) shall be as a dream of a night. It shall be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold he eateth, but he awaketh, and his soul is empty; so shall the multitude be, that fight against Zion (29:7-8).”
This rude awakening to reality will be realized by the second coming of Christ as the Jewish Messiah as prophesied in Zechariah 12-14.
Still on the subject of modern wars we make a different discovery in Afghanistan. There the Soviets poured into the conflict their best men and equipment and were not capable of victory against hide-and-seek guerrillas. This has proved to be their Viet Nam. Yes, Jehovah is the God of battles and the final arbiter.
The Bible has some good advice about the declaration of war. Solomon in his wisdom wrote, “In good advice make war” (Prov. 20:18). Our Lord spoke of a king who, confronted with an aggressor with superior numbers to his own, had better wisely seek a deal than fight. When two boys get into a fight and an adult intervenes the first cry to be heard is, “He started it.” So with nations it is the one that initiates the war that often loses public support and sympathy. This has some balancing influence. However, in such a world as this, America has no choice but to arm to the teeth. So we can expect the arms race to continue and even more deadly weapons for offence and defence to be invented. All proves that this is not the age of Messiah’s visible reign, but in the Father’s appointed moment He will come and tarry not.
Watchman, What of the Night?
Is a new day about to dawn upon this plagued, overpopulated and war-tortured planet? Both of the men that are now running for the Presidency of the United States of America are promising a new day for all of us. This may turn out to be nothing more than politics, since the electorate is hankering for a change from past failures. This is a trait of human nature, no matter how good things may be new ideas become exciting. We like to hear men prophesy “smooth things.” Isaiah encountered this fact when his people demanded of him, “speak unto us smooth things.” He did just that when he spoke of the coming Messiah and gave glorious glimpses of that millennial day.
Certainly in the area of geopolitics some balmy zephyrs of peace appear to be descending upon the world. Russia is changing her leopard spots, or is she? The short range missiles on both sides of the European front are being liquidated. The Soviet pull out of Afghanistan creates a sigh of relief. The Arias peace plan for Central America has so far produced a nominal cease-fire. We now have reasons to hope that the blood bath in the Persian Gulf has reached a cessation of hostilities. In the six-year war between Iraq and Iran there have been a million casualties and countless others maimed for life. Many of them boys and teenagers. In the present peace talks the stakes are high for each nation. The fearsome hate that exists on both sides will make negotiations at the peace table extremely difficult. Whatever agreements are reached will not satisfy the hardliners and the cries of sell out or treason can be expected.
If the present outcome of the Persian Gulf War sticks with neither side being a winner, this will suit the best hopes of the free world, It should also put a halt, if only temporarily, to the spread of a Fundamental Mohammedanism whose aim is to unify all of Islam. This constituted a threat to the access of the West to the world’s greatest known oil reserves. Hence the multi-national armada policing the waters of the Persian Gulf. Nations must have adequate armaments to protect their interests in this fallen world. Woe be it if they don’t. So far the United States has been taking the brunt of things, but this might be changing, as we insist that our allies take a larger share in the policing of the free world.
The present cessation of hostilities in the Iran conflict could invoke new fears in Israel. Already Israel is surrounded by implacable enemies who are further inflamed by the Arab version of Israel’s suppression of the Palestinian rioters. What better excuse for Iraq to initiate a march on Israel. What an opportunity to become the hero and champion of Arab interests. Iraq certainly possesses a battle seasoned army and an armory of modern weaponry. Also she has not been ashamed to use poison gas in defiance of international war codes. Leave God out and the unconditional covenant He has made with the descendants of Abraham and present events do not favour Israel. They may be looking around for more friends besides the U.S. for assurances of their survival. In the light of Daniel the Jews get those assurances from “the prince that shall come”.
The ninth chapter of Daniel gives us a week of years that defines the length of “the great tribulation.” During that time a covenant is made with the Jews by “the prince” (who is certainly not the Lord Jesus) for seven years guaranteeing Israel’s survival. Without going into details we do see in the end time the Jews in such a plight that the need for such a covenant becomes increasingly feasible.
The poor we have with us always, regardless of the type of government. Some just cannot be helped—the way of the transgressor is hard. To care for the unfortunate is certainly a command of Scripture. In the New Testament this obligation is imposed on the church and in the Old Testament upon theocratical Israel. The adoption of humanism into government policies has created a welfarism that has become an acceptable way of life for may. Without some disciplines the thing has been feeding on itself. Prior to the welfare state Christendom did initiate schools, hospitals and hostels. In the New Testament not much instruction, if any, is given to Gentile governments. They are to continue in the tradition of the Noahic covenant to curb man’s propensity to sin and execute capital punishment. A life for a life. Present humanism thinks it knows better. Consequently we have bloated prisons, riots and the murder of guards and the repeat behaviour of escapees and often those on parole. A strict impartial execution of capital punishment may in the long run save more lives, certainly the lives of the innocent. Even the so-called Christian nations echo the Jewish cry before Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar.” The Caesar of the present is the one that can get the most votes. We search in vain to discover much evidence of the fear of God in the whole process.
Certainly we are gliding ever more toward a government of, by and for the people. Subsidies, child care, farm and bank bailouts, and we could go on. While many will applaud a government that attempts to avert or ease every disaster that threatens, still there is such a thing as milking the cow dry. That there are areas where only the government can act, and should, cannot be disputed. However, let us all be mindful that the more we demand from the government the more the government must demand from us. This in turn curtails free enterprise, the most proved and efficient method of creating true wealth. Socialism and humanism can easily be stepping stones to Communism, the logical goal being security from the cradle to the grave. Fine, if it can be made to work and if man is only a stomach. Economically, Communism accounts for scarcities in the food markets and fails to get the best out of the farmer. Because of this Gorbachev is desperately trying to liberate the Russian economy. True, Capitalism has its drawbacks and can be heartless. If man were not a sinner, and therefore basically selfish, then humanism could produce the material paradise that the politician, more or less, must promise if he hopes to be elected. Actually God is always upsetting man’s “tower of Babel,” or “shall there be evil in the city, and the LORD hath not done it” (Amos 3:6). Somehow the Lord is trying to get through to us that what happened in the garden of Eden was real and its effect will always catch up with us until the Lord’s promised return to the earth. The conscientious voter should consider what is best for the country, not some single issue. It is disturbing to observe some of the ingredients a candidate must resort to in order to be elected. Sometimes dirty politics. No holds are illegal providing you win. Amid all of this the words in Daniel are consoling, “The most high ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”