The Current Scene
When the writer was pioneering with a gospel tent, principally in rural Virginia, we used the chart, “Two Ways and Two Destinies.” A lot of emphasis was placed on the second coming of Christ and the fate thereafter of the Christ rejectors. Perhaps if there were a little more hell preached today there would be less practiced in the community. We are referring back to the early thirties. In those days most people were fascinated with their new President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his adage coined for the times, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” We have never caught on to just what that meant; but in all it seemed to spell out optimism. To our critics we in the tent were the calamity howlers. Certainly doomsday was not a popular theme. A lot of water has gone over the dam since then. The Big War climaxed with the use of the atomic bomb, and in the two not so big wars which have followed, it was in the last one that America got her fingers badly burned.
Now who are the doomsday fellows? The ecologists and scientists. Every now and then we hear of improved weaponry or other new inventions for human destruction. Yes, destruction of apocalyptic dimensions. Along with this we face a foe that is so intoxicated with a philosophy that will never content itself apart from worldwide dominion. Others before have coveted this unlimited power but have always fallen short of their goals. According to Daniel’s image there were to be just four Gentile world empires. Four and no more. They are now ancient history. Unfortunately for the world the aspirants to absolute power can do frightful damage before they are cut down to size. God allows these belligerent elements to rise up and He uses them as His scourge, then in turn executes His judgment upon them. There is a classic account of this principle in Isaiah 10. There God addresses, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger” to war against hypocritical Israel. After the task has been performed, we then read in verse 12, “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” However, that vision of Nebuchadnezzar did include a fifth kingdom set up by God Himself “which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). Since the kingdoms symbolized by the four metals proved to be literal, we conclude that the last shall be such. Our blessed Lord is destined to rule with a rod of iron and His present session on the Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21), from which now grace reigns, must not be confused with the Son breaking the nations “in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9).
The Christian has the best news around today; in fact, he always has. Man is not going to be allowed to make a cinder out of this world. The guarantee for this, Mr. Scientist, is that there is a God who rules and overrules, and the prophecies of Scripture abundantly prove this. True, the Christian sees the nations ripening for judgment, yet at the same time he has a message of hope for the believer and assures the world that its brightest day lies ahead. The only alternatives to this are the uncertainties of the infidel. We here use the word infidel as an umbrella word to include evolution, socialism and Communism.
One of the campaign promises of President Carter was to balance the national budget by the end of his four years in office. Senator Barry Goldwater added to this a little bit of his irony. He who ran for the Presidency on an ultra conservative ticket declared that if the President succeeded in this particular campaign pledge he would be willing to go over to the Democratic Convention and nominate the President for a second term. A radio commentator said if the President succeeded in this area that he would want to elect him as King! Admittedly, when the time comes around there can be a lot of manipulation with bookkeeping, but with the course that the United States has set itself upon, economic stability is out of the question. Deficit spending feeds upon itself. Like the horseleach that is ever crying, “Give, give” (Proverbs 30:15). At first “pump priming” produces an economic miracle, a heyday, a shot in the arm. Then it begins to multiply the problems it is supposed to solve. Now we are seeing the chickens come home to roost. Cities bankrupt, or going so, commodities bought cheaper abroad than produced at home, and consequently higher unemployment. Will Rodgers caustically defined it something like this, “Buying or doing things you can’t afford with money you haven’t got.” The economists with a Wall Street complex refer to deficit spending as the “Dismal Science.” In other words you cannot escape paying the piper. Our world is so structured that there can be no benefits without costs. There is nothing free, someone must pay. In the case of inflation it is generally the frugal and the industrious who foot the bill. Now that the United States as a nation has built up an astronomical debt our economy becomes increasingly sensitive to any further raids on the treasury. Twenty years ago it was hardly noticeable, but now the dollar erodes by the month.
One economist has written, “There is no surer way to sow distrust of representative government and thus prepare the way for radical change.” Whatever that radical change may be it will not be in the interest of free enterprise we can be sure. In Lenin’s book it was one of the easy ways to destroy capitalism.
The moral lesson is obvious; we live in a world of laws. Everything finally adjusts to fixed principles. This is quickly obvious in the world of science, but in the area of ethics the inevitables are not so speedy. The Ten Commandments are being flagrantly broken all around us and sooner or later they in turn will break the offender. The Puritan Ethic, so much decried today, did square up to realities. In its human approach it was strongly imbued with Calvin’s “total depravity.” It is interesting to note that where Protestantism took root it elevated those nations spiritually and economically. A glaring example of this comes out of a study of the two Americas. Both continents enjoyed about equal resources and area, but in one case it was settled by those who brought over the relics of a corrupted church; the other came with the Bible. Consequently, the United States particularly produced a soil for an economy of sternness and reward. This was not necessarily Christian, but certainly a by-product thereof. Biblical Christianity dares to regulate for those in its communion, at least, “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Modern humanism claims more compassion, but in doing so removes essential disciplines. In this connection someone has raised a pertinent question, “When does a welfare state destroy the productivity of the free society that established it?”
Well, if there are laws, reason demands that there be a Lawgiver, yes, God. Creation reveals a powerful and orderly God (Romans 1:20). The Bible adds where creation is silent and tells me that God is love, and has devised a righteous way for a sinner’s salvation for time and eternity. A Christian, if given an equal opportunity, is very likely to be found in some kind of gainful occupation and resourceful in hard times. This helps explain what David observed, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 27:25).