The Current Scene
The failure that occurred on Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when its nuclear power plant released undue amounts of radiation has sounded a general warning. We are paying a high price in risk for our electricity. The affair, we gather, was very near being a catastrophy, so an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Now all atomic power plants in the United States are undergoing a severe inspection. All of this can be a blessing in disguise. As a result of future precautions real tragedies could be averted. Nor must we overlook the warnings that come to all of us at times reminding us of the brevity of life, and the heaven to win and the hell to shun. God speaks through circumstances, as well as sermons, to flee from the wrath to come. The Lord Jesus stands ready to save to the uttermost all those who come to God by Him and His finished atonement.
Another early warning that’s shaping up is the gasoline shortage. This has given credence with some that it is a manufactured shortage — a ruse to escalate prices. The President of the United States, and he should know, assures the nation that there is a genuine oil crisis. And unless more new oil is discovered, the situation is bound to get worse. The problem has developed at a snail’s pace. This allows time to seek other substitutes. All are hoping that the old adage will again prove true that “Man’s necessity is the mother of invention.” At present coal is the most promising replacement for oil. The processing is costly and cheap energy from this source cannot be expected. With practiclly everything mechanized in one way or another, we learn how vulnerable are our amenities. That we have been unduly extravagant with this irreplacable resource must be confessed. High prices and scarcity will remedy this with most of us. It will force a change of life styles and that perhaps for the better — more home life and time for books. A little more reflection on the issues of life would prove beneficial to most, if not all. May it lead for many to the discovery of eternal things. And may it lead not only to more walking, but to more walking in the Spirit. Both of these spheres of exercise require our attention.
This peace pact of a kind was formally signed at a summit meeting of President Carter and Soviet President Brezhnev in Vienna. The treaty basically calls for a numerical equality of strategic weapons. Presumably there is an equal division of the 2,250 nuclear missiles already in existence. To prevent the Russians from cheating, the United States must rely mainly on photography sent by satellites constantly flying over Russia. The more efficient listening post in Iran has been denied us since the revolution. We are informed that: “Salt II does not signal an end to the arms race. It does not mean an end to competition between the Soviets and the U.S. It is not a substitute for a strong defense. But it is decidedly better than having no treaty at all.” Since competition has not been ruled out, it is not hard to imagine that in the deep recess of secrecy, scientists are seeking to discover the ultimate weapon. The search for a death ray is held out as a possibility. Such a discovery could make overnight the present arsenals obsolete.
It would appear from Ezekiel 39:10 that the weapons which will be used in Armageddon have considerable wood in the makeup. Horses are also included. A death ray that would home in on metal would make such obsolete and could occasion the revival of ancient weaponry. The invention of gunpowder made knights in armour and castles a thing of the past. The ironclad monitor made the wooden navies vulnerable. In turn, the airplane has brought about the demise of the mighty battleship. Certainly some of the apocalyptic judgments that are yet to come upon the earth are brought about by man’s ability to self-destruct himself. Treaties, which often are nothing more than scraps of paper, are considered just breathing spells for Communists. By no means are they intended to deter them from their avowed goal — namely, to communize the world. In the light of Scripture, this will never be. That role is ultimately for Jesus Christ. America should not put its Central Intelligence into a straightjacket. Since we are in a fallen world, no nation is Christian; we must match gun with gun. The late John Foster Dulles wrote that since history began there had averaged out a major war every 25 years. If we can classify Korea and Viet Nam as “brush wars” we have been fortunate. These wars on the perimeter have acted as exhaust valves. A major war is so awesome to contemplate that the winner would only be in possession of a Pyrrhic victory. The present build-up of weaponry could be for “the great tribulation.” Logic asks what could be greater than the next war and what would be left to build up something even greater to answer for the tribulation? The tribulation, whatever school of prophecy we adopt, immediately precedes our Lord’s second coming (Matt. 24:21).
Humanism Versus Christianity
There have been, to be sure, short periods when Christians have been in the driver’s seat. They have been able to enforce a Biblically based morality on a nation, or sphere of influence — particularly so in Geneva, Switzerland, as long as John Calvin lived, and Holland and England under Oliver Cromwell. The Pilgrim Fathers brought it to Massachusettes. The ever-present opposition which has never been lax has magnified the faults of these noble souls. For instance, John Calvin’s consent to the burning of Servetus for his heresy, Cromwell’s Sabbatarianism and summary punishment for drunkenness and swearing, and the Pilgrims and their witch hunting. An in-depth study of these Christians will reveal a zeal for virtue and justice far in excess of their faults. However, hindsight has always revealed that Biblically inspired disciples to the unconverted and to the carnal Christians have been unacceptable.
The Christians we have mentioned accepted the Biblical doctrine that all men are sinners by nature. All have been fouled by original sin and are not the product of the evolutionary process. This gave them a realistic approach to man and his problems. They would have never worked from the starting point of the humanist —namely, the basic goodness of humanity.
Let us suppose that the influence of the Pilgrim Fathers was still in vogue. What would characterize our government? We would certainly expect a sound fiscal policy. Money would not be thrown at every problem. Depressions and the like would be considered as divine visitations, to be heeded for the lesson they are intended to teach. Individuals cast on their own resources would discover some means to keep the wolf from the door. The alternative — the welfare state — feeds on itself and creates an ever-increasing indigent population.
Our forefathers would have had no scruples about exercising the death penalty. No sophisticated arguments would be entertained that contradicted a plain categorical command from Scripture: “whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). Failure has resulted, and hundreds of prisoners rot in overcrowded prisons where further murder and mayhem could instantly develop the moment prison security is caught off guard. Those who have put forward the social clock have created a new set of problems that defy solution: inflation, disrespect for authority, and a breakdown of morals, to name a few. The tragedy is that when Christian standards are compromised, the slide always tends to accelerate. Soon the point of no return is reached. Now Christian philosophers, such as Francis Schaeffer, conclude that we have resorted back to a pagan society — it is certainly non-Christian. The fact that a Biblical morality is unenforceable in the world at large is a strong proof that sin amounts to rebellion against the Creator. Biblical disciplines appear as putting everyone into a straightjacket. If such were enforced the cry would soon be, “Away with such restrictions, we will not have them to reign over us.”
Just as Christian ethics are a priceless boon in the long run to the practicing Christian, so it is possible for a nation to invoke God’s blessing.
The inspired proverb says, “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). In turn, individuals and nations can provoke God’s displeasure. The Christian realizes that the present time is “man’s day.” Also, the words of our Lord when He was arrested in Gethsemane are still applicable; “… this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). That hour continues and will do so until He comes “whose right it is” (Ezek. 21:27).
As Christians we are in this world but not of it. Yea, we are delivered from this present evil world.
The Death Penalty
Florida’s execution of a convicted murderer on May 25th is putting the clock back to where it belongs. This is the first execution in twelve years and it breaks a logjam. “Judges and governors will be able to deny stays of execution without bearing the onus of breaking the death penalty moratorium.” Actually, the polls show that two out of every three Americans favor the death penalty. The death penalty is right because it is Biblical: “Whoso shedded man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). This is further born out in the New Testament. Here we learn that world rulers are “ministers of God,” and it is added, “he beareth not the sword in vain” and is “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). The present pressure to execute murderers is a confession of the failure to rehabilitate hardened criminals. Also, a sentimental attitude toward violent crime is probably a contributor to the accelerated growth of the deplorable conditions that surround us today. The majority in the nation that are fed up with life sentences for murderers are unwittingly going back to what God’s Word has been saying all along.
The argument that capital punishment does not deter crime may be proven by statistics. But that is not the point. The point is, what does God say? Then, too, incarcerated murderers full of frustration are ready to murder their fellow prisoners or guards given the least opportunity. One of the reasons for the judgment upon Israel in Ezekiel’s day was: “the land is full of blood.” In other words, the land was full of unrequitted murders. There was no death penalty for Cain and later Lamech appears to boast of committing two murders and faring no worse than Cain. No doubt such laxity brought on the conditions that invoked the flood. This has been called God’s moral surgery. Our Lord foretold that one of the signs of His second coming would be a repeat of the days before the flood. None of God’s commandments can be broken with impunity.