The Current Scene
Faced with present trends, it appears inevitable that free enterprise and individualism are steadily yielding to the rights of the whole society. A sort of “equal shares are fair shares” mentality has settled upon the majority. Complex as this might seem, its blessings, or otherwise, are being considerably fostered by an ever-increasing government bureaucracy. By this we mean those agencies set up to render social services to about all who can prove they need help. The original goals that prompted these concerns for the underprivileged, however unrealistic, were most commendable — banish poverty from the land. This in turn would decrease crime and disease and stabilize the shiftless elements in society. Admittedly, other factors have contributed to this ungovernable situation, such as high wages and the large numbers that are unemployable in our technical age. As a result, an ever increasing element saps at the structure of a stable society. It is a type of benevolence that feeds upon itself; like the horseleach ever crying, “Give, give” (Prov. 30:15). To placate this segement of irresponsibility demands large numbers of unproductive government employees. Not that the social worker does not work, but his labors are a treadmill affair. This has come to be known as “Parkinson’s Law.”
The more high wages and machinery dispense with otherwise essential workers, the more slack has to be taken up with welfarism, or make work. The guaranteed minimum wage keeps thousands of teen-agers from finding outlets according to their economic worth. May not all of this be symbolized by the “clay” that was mixed with the iron which composed the feet of the great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
Closely allied to this is the “Right’s Explosion.” This is pushed to the ridiculous, including the rights of prisoners, homosexuals and alcoholics, and completely ignoring the Bible’s dictum that “the way of the transgressor is hard.” All have a right to a good job, house and food, regardless. Drives, motivation and standards of excellence are of little count.
Boston University’s president has said, “Out of well-intentioned but inept concern with equality of opportunity, we have begun to reject anything that exceeds another’s grasp.” Non-negotiable demands are being made on legislators regardless of the hard facts dictated by economics. The rewards of industry and frugality are being called in question. Experts predict a nation in constant conflict with itself as the new theories of rights expand and more groups organize.
A noted Columbia University sociologist says, “A more egalitarian society inevitably requires more government regulation.” All of this runs contrary to the Christian ethic that would have the slave abide in his calling and render his best service to his master. Freedom could be sought within the system of that day (1 Cor. 7:21-24). Yet, wherever the gospel has triumphed, there one will find the most enlightened governments. The liberty to strike and protest, so shamefully abused, is a by-product of Christianity. Anti-Christian systems, such as Fascism and Communism, not only close churches but forbid dissent. When governments get overloaded with problems, and that appears to be our present course, inevitably freedom suffers.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer labels the present as a post-Christian era. The conservatism that had its roots in Christianity is fast yielding to humanism. Man intends to solve his problems without God. He will always find his noble goals just beyond his reach. The frustrations continually encountered here are intended to teach him to seek a better country. May more follow Abraham, “For he looked for a city which bath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
All such is anathema to the do-gooders of today. They little realize that the strains that they are placing on the government can milk the cow dry, instead of stimulating the ambition to rise, the successful are brought down to common standards, these do-gooders forgetting that without mountains there are no fertile valleys. Some are tempted to describe the present as mobocracy. It is significant that the Bible’s symbol for restless populations is the sea, “The waters which thou sawest — are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” It is the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13 that rises up out of the turbulent world situation in the role of a ruthless dictator. We read that “power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Man will always accept this when the alternative is anarchy. Since Nebuchadnezzar there has never been a man that fills the role so perfectly as this world’s last dictator. Never were forces more vigorous than the present that aim at obtaining a utopia. Over against this the Word of God prophecies, “This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”
All this raises the question of just what is the role of government? The Christian is instructed by the Apostle Paul to “be subject unto the powers that be.” This cannot mean to try and manipulate or attempt to control the government. It is significant that the New Testament tells the role of the Christian husband, wife, master, slave, widow and church leaders, but there are no orders for a political head. The Old Testament contains some vital orders for the kings of Israel. The enforcement of a Christian community such as Calvin established in Geneva or the Puritans in New England soon proved unworkable.
Government has been entrusted to mankind according to the Noahic Covenant (Gen. 9:5-6). Christians can and do add their “salt” to whatever system of government may be their lot. A recent book deploring big government sees but one remedy — “a greater degree of self-control.” We should add, however, that this is too realistic and not likely to happen. The same writer, apparently without the aid of Bible prophecy, shows nevertheless a matured insight when he writes, “Unhappily, we have departed from our Judeo-Christian heritage and one of the results of that is an ever-increasing economic psychic dependency on government with the result that we have a government of unattainable goals and unbearable control. Our government reflects our unlimited appetites, and if left unchecked, it will lead to a totalitarian state.”
Actually, the Bible-oriented Christian is in the world but not of it to the same extent as Christ was and is not of the world. Where faith is operative and enlightened the words of Micah are not amiss, “Arise ye, and depart; for this it not your rest; because it is polluted” (Mic. 2:10).
Once again our top strategists are asking the question, “What are the possibilities for a surprise nuclear attack from the Soviet Union?” In other words, what are the possibilities of another type of Pearl Harbour on a much grander scale? Obviously, such an attack would be designed to accomplish a complete, knockout as far as the United States’ ability to retaliate. It is common knowledge that Russia has built up a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons of intercontinental range that can have only one target in mind. True, America’s capacity to retaliate is enormous, or so we are assured by our defence planners. A U.S. News & World Report article informs us that “the Kremlin has embraced a doctrine not only at deterring nuclear war but fighting one.”
It is somewhat assuring to be told that there are spying satelites circling the globe that could message back that Russia is preparing for such an attack. This could give a few days of warning. It takes only the pressing of a button to signal the missiles into the air on their way to designated targets. When that happens, they cannot be recalled. That is one advantage of the man-piloted bombers; they could be brought back in the event of a mistake or hurried truce. Consequently, the decision-making process before the fatal button is pressed is understandably complicated. So much so, that I again quote from the article: “The biggest fear now among the defence planners is that the system may get into trouble because it is so complex.”
It has been asked, “Where does America fit into Bible prophecy?” This is quite natural, seeing that World War 2 has left the United States the wealthiest and greatest nation in the free world. Strange as it might seem, America is not identified in prophecy. Since American culture is predominantly Western European, many expositors place the United States within the orbit of the revived Roman Empire. This is quite plausible in view of the relations that have been developed in the defence of free Europe and the new Jewish homeland. Humanly speaking, neither would have survived Russia’s ambitions since the end of World War 2 but for U.S. determination. On the other hand, it is not hard to identify Russia’s role in prophecy from Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11. If this “king of the north” is not Russia or one backed by that nation, who else has the clout to invade Palestine and penetrate far into Africa? Certainly, the past has nothing its equal. It must be recalled that these events are in the “later days” and associated with the complete national resurrection of Israel — all twelve tribes.
Getting back to what we have already inquired about regarding the United States, we see that William Kelly considered the problem a hundred years ago. In his lectures on the Minor Prophets, when he comes to Joel he dwells at length on “the day of the Lord.” After reviewing the world situation in his day and the trends that were already set afoot, which we observe are in many instances realities today, Kelly gives his reflections on America.
He writes: “As to America, I conceive that the young giant power which has grown so fast, will sink still faster, probably through intestine quarrel, but assuredly somehow before that day comes. They will break up into different fragments. Their prime object is to maintain political unity. This is their great ambition, and though it may appear to stand and advance, as everything amibtious is apt to prosper for a time, it will be blown down before long. For it is a remarkable fact that there is no place in prophecy for a vast influential power, such as the American United States would naturally be, if it so long retained its cohesion. Is it concievable that there should be such a power existing at that day without any mention of it? Can the omission be accounted for save by its dissolution? However, I particularly wish everyone to understand that this is merely drawn from the general principles of the Word of God.”
Kelly would no doubt be surprised to learn of America’s deciding role in the last two world wars. Also, that she is the bulwark of a war-weakened Europe and the patron of Israel. That America’s foundations are threatened by internal strife cannot be ignored. Today, our defence planners are aware that America faces danger from another source — a possible sneak attack.