The Current Scene
Our Modern Pundits
Man has always been inquisitive regarding the future. Sorcery and oracles (crystal balls, astrology, etc.) still tend to relieve the non-Christians of some of their anxiety and feed their credulity. The Bible is full of prophecy but even many Christians shy away from it as too difficult to understand, or are confused by so many schools of thought on the subject. Also prophecy, along with all other Bible study, requires a measurably consistent life from those to whom it would yield its treasures. The occult has no moral stipulations. Then there is that other cluster of prognosticators of which we wish to write. Their predictions are based on the Wall Street fluctuations, price of oil or rate of inflation. Nor must we overlook some of the distressing conclusions that some dour scientists and environmentalists are voicing.
Ever since F. D. Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard our social planners and politicians have been enjoying a heyday. Promising something for everybody, “excelsior” could easily have become their watchword. Of course, similar to communism, socialism considers man little more than a stomach. His only kingdom is his middle kingdom — the one under the belt. Our Lord, quoting from Moses, said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Few, it seems, care to call to mind the parable of the rich farmer. After becoming a worldly success story he said to himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). His well planned materialism was short-lived, as he died that night. Our optimists of yesterday must be chagrined as the stark laws of reality come crashing down upon all of us. You cannot spend yourself rich. The economy of the whole nation is threatened with the continuation of deficit spending. Planned economies will never introduce us to the millennium. Man’s fallen nature is ignored. In spite of all the flowery oratory of the expected great society, God’s word is more aligned with the time and states that things will “wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13).
The savants that are always promising us a better tomorrow must realize that their predictions depend upon money. Just now we are compelled to listen to those who know most about finance. David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, forecasts “treacherous economic seas and gale force winds enough to capsize” our fond hopes. Economics has been called, not without good reason, “the dismal science.” Keynes labeled gold “a barbarous relic” for a good reason — it meant fiscal discipline. Nor can we wholly blame government that is in the grip of the majority. Recently Canada made a bold attempt to bring some saneness to its coffers. Its perpetrator was quickly voted out of office. A lady mayor of the city of Chicago is wrestling with that city’s red ink and her popularity immediately plummeted. The Scripture reveals to us that the “last days” will be characterized by “lawlessness.” When the so-called “money tree” (government spending) exhausts itself, then we will really see the mobs taking to the streets.
Another group of fearfuls are the armchair commentators. Their insight into geo-politics is often convincing. They are the fellows in war time that can tell the generals how to win the battles. From this source we are hearing that the super powers are heating up for World War III. They see Russia as having armed herself several times more than would be required for her self-defense. Also, she feels that her destiny is to promote world communism. The role of Russia in Africa through the presence of thousands of “advisors” and proxy Cuban soldiers occasions alarm. Corolary with this is the invasion of Afghanistan, a pincer movement where both adventures meet at the Red Sea and thus control Arab oil.
In all of this the world is just catching up with what the Bible has been prophesying all along. Many of our most respected Bible teachers have understood that Ezekiel 38-39 refer to Russia in the latter days as making a dash into the Middle East to liquidate Israel and no doubt to grab the oil fields to boot. What our worldly prognosticators do not see or know is how the northern invaders of Palestine are going to meet their doom. God Himself is to vanquish them. A rehearsal of what awaits the future besiegers of Jerusalem is seen in the fate of the Assyrian army under Sennacherib in Isaiah 37:36-38.
Another group of moderns is warning us of a possible doomsday. They are reminding us of the effects of a problem that is becoming almost worldwide. Our wastes are creating dangers in land, sea and air. Already there are some diseases and premature deaths that can be traced to some type of pollution. One pragmatic scientist writes, “Man is an epidemic, multiplying at a superexponential rate, destroying the environment upon which he depends and threatening his own extinction. He treats the world as a storehouse existing for his delectation; he plunders, rapes, poisions and kills this living system, the biosphere, in ignorance of its workings and its fundamental value.” Back in the 30’s when we were preaching in our gospel tent with a premillennial emphasis we were considered by some as “calamity howlers.” Our warning was that Jesus Christ was coming to judge the world (Acts 17:31) in righteousness. To the scientist a combination of natural causes will bring about doomsday. An editorial along these lines caught our eye: “Despite the horrors of world wars and nuclear weapons, scientists have until recently been generally optimistic about the future. But the voices of doom are being heard with increasing frequency and volume. They are not coming from wild eyed, long haired, robed fanatics carrying placards proclaiming the end of the world tomorrow. The modern doomsdayers are sober, respected, responsible scientists who are warning us that the world as we know it is coming to an end. Fairly soon now.”
The materialist’s horizon extends no further than this world. The Christian knows that this world is not his ultimate home. He, like Abraham, “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). The pressing problems of today are preaching to those who have ears to hear that this world is not the grand finale anyway. God has put “eternity” (Ecc. 3:11 margin) in the heart of every man. We are made for something more than “to grunt and sweat under this weary life.” Says David, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Or as the hymn writer has put it, “Things that are not now, nor could be, soon will be our own.”
Just now, the United States is caught up in the hurly-burly connected with the choice of its next President for the next four years. Not without some reflection politics have been defined as “the art of the possible.” Which means no matter what system of government is imposed on the nation it can only at best achieve the possible. Changes and revolutions decide who is to get the biggest slice of cake. Often what amounts to one man’s justice is another’s injustice. Then there is that rock on which all human systems eventually founder; it is that stubborn, intractable, recalcitrant thing which the old theologians called “original sin.” What the nation needs, and the world, is that Man who can do the impossible — “the Man-child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”