The Current Scene
The Silence Of God
Provoked over the affairs of his day, the great British author Carlyle said, “And worst of all God does nothing about it.” Many today feel equally frustrated over world conditions. A seeming unresponsive heaven is one of the big imponderables that Christian and unbeliever alike face since the close of the apostolic era. The charismatics insist that the miracles of the book of Acts are wanting only because of the prevailing unbelief of the majority of Christians. Our personal observation of such shows that sickness and death among them average out with the rest of us. Why such suffering, cruel oppression and national catastrophies? If there were no God we could conclude that man is just acting out his natural tendencies. The problem arises when we discover the claims of the God of the Bible. How can a God of love and righteousness allow such inequities in His universe? This is included among the mysteries. We are taught that “the mystery of iniquity” has been at work since the days of the apostles, or even more accurately since man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. In Revelation 10:6-7 we are told that there would be “time (“delay,” a better marginal reading) no longer.” At that point, obviously still future, “the mystery of God should be finished.” In other words, there is coming a time when God will break through His now silent heavens and openly intervene in the affairs of men. In the meantime God is allowing iniquity to head up. The world is to fully know the result of its rejection of the testimony of nature, conscience and the plainest teachings of the Bible. Until God makes His promised open display we must learn to live with a silent heaven. The Christian walks by faith and “not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) . God has already made His greatest breakthrough. The first coming of Christ was “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16), another of the mysteries of God. As a result of this the sin question has been righteously settled for every believer and we await the call, either while still living or at death, “to come up hither.” At the same time God has spoken to the world in terms of finality — “Hath in these last days spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:2). Repetition would only weaken the command to listen.
For God to openly interfere in the affairs of men today would introduce some disturbing problems. Absolute righteousness cannot be partial. From our point of view we would prefer to see the hide taken off the Russians, Khomeini and Castro. Rid us of the drug dealers and pornographic literature. Decisive righteousness would have to catch up with all of us; otherwise where would God stop? Our Lord is going to do that one of these days, “Because He hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained” — Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31). Now, “grace reigns through righteousness.” At the commencement of our Lord’s public ministry He cleansed the temple — set things right. Immediately following His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He went again directly to the temple and found it had returned to its original corruption.
Were our Lord to straighten out every crookedness unless it was accompanied by universal regeneration, or His personal presence ruling with “a rod of iron,” affairs would not remain correct very long. The Christian adjusts to the principles of this dispensation — namely, God calling out a people to complete the Church — the body of Christ. Parallel with this the world is ripening for judgment. Governmental judgment upon the nations in time and the great white throne judgment for individuals that are without Christ. The sentences on this occasion will be eternal — unsaved one, “flee from the wrath to come”!
The Battle Is The Lord’s
The outcome of a battle has often been a puzzle to the nations involved. Quite often those espousing a just cause have lost the day. (Is there a just cause when one considers all sides of the issue?) Certainly the patriot says, “My country, right or wrong.” In this country the honest pacifist is given other alternatives. No government can tolerate Kent State type demonstrations and remain long intact. The Christian is to obey all the powers that be (civil government) as far as his Spirit-enlightened conscience permits.
Since World War 2 the United States has been forced into the role of policing the non-commuinist world. The consequent wars we have fought have been so far from our shores and wanting in a Pearl Harbour type blitz that a united battle enthusiasm has generally been wanting. Democracies do not seem to sense danger until it reaches their doorstep. Our “no win” wars are understandable when one considers the atom bomb in the offing. The fear of a nuclear holocost imposes some sanity in the most responsible quarters, at least up until the present. With very little thanks from those who have benefitted from America’s role in keeping Communism out of Western Europe, South Korea and Japan, the cost has been great in lives and material, but no glory. With all of America’s wealth and might one is tempted to ask if God is allowing this nation’s wings to be clipped?
At this time of writing all of us are wondering what went wrong in our dismal failure to release the hostages held by the Iranians in Tehran. The one who leaves God out of the picture blames bad luck. Some blame poorly serviced or aging equipment. Nor can human error be overlooked. Not many perceive in all of this that God might be wishing to get America’s ear. God has a distinctive name, Jehovah Sabboath, and that suggests He is the God of battles. He not only deals with individuals on a salvation basis but has a relationship in a disciplinary way with nations. To such God’s sermons can be plagues, devastating storms and bloody wars. The prophet Habakkuk could not understand why God would allow the Chaldeans, more wicked than Judah, to vanquish God’s chosen people. The sin of Judah was committed in spite of their privileged enlightenment. Sin is measured by the amount of light we are sinning against. America has enjoyed an unusual share of gospel light. As a consequence, our sins are louder to heaven than those of other nations. We should know better. Abraham Lincoln said he was not so much concerned about wanting God to be on his side; he was anxious to be on God’s side. More important than MX missiles and nuclear submarines is a nation whose people are substantially moral. The thousands of evangelical Christians who crowded on to Washington’s Mall the last of April were voicing America’s greatest need, repentance toward God, humiliation and a return to God’s Word, the Bible. Its message is apropos to all nations. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. . 14:34) .
Right And Wrong
We live in a world of good and bad. The thinking man standing in the middle and viewing both must be swayed by one or the other. The philosopher taken up with the good can conjure up a rosy world; or looking at the other extreme he can become a dire pessimist. One such described the world as a prison with four walls, “you can beat your head against them, if you wish, but you won’t get out.” Those who have read Voltaire’s Candide soon discover that it is a satire of professor Pangloss’ unrealistic premise that “all is for the best in this best of possible worlds.” The three characters of the novel encounter all of the calamities imaginable, but the professor is adamant in his obsession and shortsighted dogma. This year the great French philosopher Paul Sartre died. The snatches we have been able to read about his views and life, not a moral man by any means, put him in the gloomy camp. Faced with life’s enigma a Bible believer writes, “Man is neither so miserable as infinite malice could accomplish; nor so happy as infinite beneficence could cause. There must be another dimension where the secret lies.” To rule out Satan, as does modern man, only compounds his dilemma. From the Garden of Eden on to the present, man generally has sided with Satan, who in turn exploits man’s weakness. Christianity not only accounts for evil but presents man with a remedy — a salvation to the uttermost through Christ.