The Current Scene
A Look At The Present
There is a tendency to look back and recall “the good old days.” It is not good for a person’s or nation’s morale to dwell in the past. Solomon had something to say about this when he wrote, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this” (Eccles. 7:10). With an open Bible in our hands we are living in exciting times. From the viewpoint gained from the Scriptures, believers today may be members of that particular generation our Lord described when He said, “This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34). At any rate, we are witnessing some of the “signs of the times” shaping up that are harbingers of the second coming of Christ. Yes, just the things that we are commanded to recognize when they appear.
If we are to accept the opinion of two men who have had their hands on the pulse of world affairs, Moynihan and Kissinger, they describe this nation as lacking in courage. Soltzenitsyn, in his Harvard address, said, “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days.” They blame the Vietnam debacle and Watergate. These men would have us do all that is necessary to halt the advance of Communism in Africa or elsewhere right now. Kissinger rightly argues that where you are faced with an aggressive foe, you must choose a place where the nation says, “Here I stand.” It would appear that President Carter is going to avoid a real showdown in Africa. With the memories of Vietnam, he would receive few cheers from the citizens. Both the United States and Russia have their Rubicon. Let either side make any daring moves in Europe: if there is time for ultimatums, they will be served; failing this, a war that will exceed anything heretofore. It does not require much imagination to see the Saviour’s words fulfilled, “For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).
Russia has been building up a formidable array of modern armaments in the part of Europe she now occupies. We are told that she has four tanks to NATO’s one. Certainly nothing of this magnitude is necessary for mere peace keeping. As a result, NATO is showing more unity and purpose and America is beefing up its military forces in this area. This is no doubt the best strategy and possible deterrent. The Christian should know why and what he will stand and die for. Only his main interests belong in the spiritual world. Persecution does not make martyrs, it proves them. Also with the evil doctrine and disgusting immorality that Synods and Presbysteries are condoning, J. N. Darby’s formula may be timely counsel: “God’s principle of unity is separation from evil.”
It is clear at the moment that President Carter has made Europe the focal point of U.S. defences. He said, “Let there be no misunderstanding, the United States is prepared to use all the forces necessary for the defence of the NATO area.” Democracies do not rally to the colors until they are driven to the wall. It is not necessarily cowardice, but it is the only way a government of the people and for the people can acquire popular consent.
These remarks tend to make us look afresh at Western Europe. This is the territory, eventually including all of North Africa, that will comprise the kingdom of the beast out of the sea (Rev. 13). In other words, the revival of the Old Roman Empire. The NATO area has climbed from the devastation of World War 2 to new heights of peace and prosperity. The Common Market has done more to diffuse hostile frontiers than Europe’s many wars. This prosperity is the envy of the Soviet-muzzled nations behind the “Iron Curtain”. All of West Europe’s free countries, as in our own, are given over to a strong socialistic emphasis. The rights of the under-privileged cannot be ignored by the modern politician. Consequently, the campaign promises essential to win votes become unrealistic when one is in office. The masses become disenchanted, restless, and fodder for the demagogue. Terror squads take the law into their own hands and with one goal: to destroy the existing institutions and analyze later. This justified fear of anarchy plays on the fears of conservatism and pushes many to sympathize with the far right as the only assurance of law and order. As for the clay and the iron of Daniel 2, the restless masses could well represent the “clay,” while the “iron” suggests the firm hand necessary to control potential anarchy.
The Common Market is such by consent and all this harmonizes with prophecy. The ten horns of the beast, or kings, “have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Rev. 17:13). Also the Market’s members hover around the mystic number ten. It is not hard to envision a world wide economic blizzard (Winston Churchill’s description of the great depression). The collapse of the once almighty dollar could trigger such. With Russia prepared to exploit the situation that would have developed in Europe, a man of destiny could arise in that sector and be hailed as the free world’s saviour, and at the same time winning the popular acclaim found in the Scripture: “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4).
While considering the present scene we cannot exclude Russia. The phenomenal rise of that giant since World War 2 is still occasioning many of us to catch our breath. They are fanatically possessed with the thought that they hold the dialectic of the future, an ideology to be accepted or imposed on the whole world. Of course, this will never be. The image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream gives only four world empires. They have already made their history. Rome, the fourth, is yet to be revived and incorporate into itself all of the fearsome features of the other three empires. This is gathered from the composite and symbolic description of the beast out of the sea.
Through the years we have learned to hold in high esteem the writings of William Kelly. We count him as our mentor when it comes to prophecy. Back in 1874 there appeared in print his reflections on Russia based on his insight into Scripture. Here are some of the thoughts he penned at that time:
“Let me say here that according to Scripture, there cannot be the slightest doubt that Russia is reserved to play a most important part in this great future crisis. For the policy of that vast empire affects the same objects as the Assyrian of the last day. Russia from its position in the northeast is known to seek the lead as suzerain over the eastern powers, acquiring influence politically, so as to be able to mould and guide those vast hordes of central Asia down to the south. It is my conviction that western influence will ere long be completely annihilated in the east, and the dominion of our own country (Great Britain) in India is destined to be short-lived. But this is merely by the way, which if true serves after all to show the importance of having a scriptural judgment on these matters, and how they prepare the mind for what, when it comes, will shake if not paralyze those who have not believed it; whereas, on the contrary, the development of facts, which prepare the way for the immense changes of the latter day, falls in with the faith of those who believe the Word of God. They are not moved from their steadfastness by these things; they are prepared to expect them, instead of being surprised.”
True, the prophets are no longer with us, but we have their inspired writings. With the advent of the “Brethren Movement,” new light appears to have been thrown on the subject of prophecy. It was later synthesized and simplified in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible. It has suffered the sharpest scrutiny and criticism. Of late it has been ably defended by the professors of Dallas Theological Seminary. At the moment, a large segment of Bible-believing Christians are dispensationalists and for the most part can give a good Scriptural reason for the hope that is in them. Its very fabric is based on the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Defection is rare, if at all, in this area of interpretation.