The Current Scene
As we peruse the secular news of the day, anything concerning the nation Israel catches our eye. A blowup there, if it did not bring about World War 3, would probably seriously affect the economics of the West. The prospect of Arab oil being cut off envisions only a nightmare to the leaders of the free world. Israel is the only reliable ally in that part of the world that has become so vital to Western interests. During a celebration at the White House commemorating Israel’s 30th Anniversary, President Carter said to the Prime Minister of Israel, “The U.S. will never waver from our deep friendship and partnership with Israel and our total, absolute commitment to its security.” Begin hailed the pledge as “one of the greatest moral statements ever.”
Israel at this juncture probably has a keener ear for U.S. assurances of her national security than the unalterable promises of God. It is His land and He has pledged to give it to Israel in perpetuity. The title deed is in the covenant made with Abram, “And I will give thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8). To make this promise anything but the obvious is to question God’s veracity. In the light of this specific promise, the fact that Israel has suffered three exiles can only be counted as temporary affairs. The prophets abound with predictions of a final and climatic restoration of Israel, never more to roam. Here is a sample prophecy that has never been fulfilled simply because the date has not yet arrived: “Thy people (Israel) shall all be righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work o’ my hands, that I may be glorified” (Isa. 60:21). To apply this to the Church that has no promise of an earthly inheritance, is giving vent to unwarranted fancy. A lot must happen to Israel before such prophecies as the above are literally fulfilled. Their past 30 years of spectacular history has led many a Bible lover to conclude that Israel is at last moving in the direction of her finest hour.
The mindless, daring human ferocity of terrorism stuns the better elements of society. Germany and Italy are particularly plagued with this moral cancer. Is it a reaction from Facism? The perpetrators of this type of coldblooded murder claim that their deeds are done in the interests of the very poor. Hence the kidnapping and destruction of industrialists and middle-of-the-road politicians.
It is significant that where there are military dictatorships or communistic totalitarianism, terrorism is checked from showing its ugly head. This reveals that harsh discipline does afford some answers to this problem that will otherwise not go away. The summary execution of capital punishment is the Bible’s prescription for murder. At this point, there is always the problem as to who will cast the first stone. As sinners, all of us, judging other sinners. Yet there are those who have sold themselves to do evil (Isa. 50:1; 1 Kings 21:20). Unrequitted murdering was one of the reasons for Israel’s national judgment. Ezekiel reminded the captives removed to Babylon that their land had been “filled with blood.” The murdered Abel’s blood cried to God from the ground upon which it was spilled. King Saul’s covenant-breaking slaying of the Gibeonites brought three years of famine and was abated until seven members of his family were hanged to make “the atonement” (2 Sam. 21:4). God’s decree is “life for life” and human government, of whatever stripe, is not to bear the sword in vain. A sentence of life imprisonment does not, in God’s book, expiate for the crime of murder.
Thank God for what the Bible says about the blood of Christ: “That speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The very sword that pierced His side drew forth the blood to save.
As could be expected, President Carter’s popularity has plummeted considerably in the past six months. During his campaign for the Presidency he fired many of the voters with the expectations that their particular problems could be solved if they voted aright. There was something that sounded good for everybody. The politician running for office is either highly self-opinionated that he can keep his promises or he is appealing to those voters who are naive enough to believe him. Then again the candidate is in there to win. To him, nothing succeeds like success. With these things playing such a large role in the rules of the game, hopes are raised on rhetoric and not on honest to goodness reasoning. Now many are aware of their letdown.
The crowd is fickle. Many superficially believed in Christ when they saw His miracles. On another occasion they would come to make Him a king — on their terms of course. The Apostle John tells us, “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” Paul told the Galatians that he was not a man-pleaser. The heralds of truth generally bring out the opposition which always proves to be the majority — at least in divine things.
The reed shaken with the wind-complex of the crowd is well described by Sir Walter Scott in his “Lady of the Lake”:
O Lennox, who would wish to rule
This challenging crowd, this common fool?
“Hear’st thou,” he said, “the loud acclaim
With which they shout the Douglas name?”
With like acclaim, the vulgar throat
Strain’d for King James their morning note;
With like acclaim they hailed the day
When first I broke the Douglas sway!
And like acclaim would Douglas greet,
If he could hurl me from my seat.
Who o’er the herd would wish to reign,
Fantastic, fickle, fierce and vain!
Vain as the leaf upon the stream,
And fickle as a changing dream;
Fantastic as a woman’s mood,
And fierce as Frenzy’s fevered blood.
Thou many-headed monster thing,
O who would wish to be thy King!
“Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you.” We might add, it will not last for long.