The Current Scene
The U. S. Supreme Court
Of the several books to gain an impact in 1980 was one entitled, The Brethren. No, it has no religious connotation. The brethren referred to are the nine judges that compose the U. S. Supreme Court, long considered the most secretive group in the country. Two Washington reporters seemed to have gained access to diaries, tapes and minutes of the meetings, as well as information from the subordinate lawyers that do research for the judges. Anyway, the book is hardly a eulogy of these supposedly august brethren. For the most part these men are depicted as being very human and at times, some of them, vulgar.
The one Roman Catholic judge displayed some conviction that had its source from Christianity. Otherwise the judges appear to ignore Biblical standards. They arrive at their decisions based on their viewpoint of fairness and practicality. There was no yardstick such as the ten commandments to guide them. As a result they could make abortion legal; pornography could be included in freedom of speech. The death penalty becomes cruel and barbaric. In other words, the law is what these nine men think it should be. We naturally wonder where this new approach to law-making originated. Is it an import from Europe or does our Supreme Court hold the monopoly? Certainly the direction the Court has taken now assumes the law-thinking of much of our present world. Flexibility and adjustment to the times; not absolutes, are the driving forces behind these decisions. Neither are economics a factor. They decide who is eligible for welfare and when, regardless of the already tight budgets of the cities that must find the money. Crime is the product of an unfair society. Christianity is viewed as just another of the many religions and deserves no priority in the public schools. As a result, every religion is treated as propaganda when introduced to a captive audience.
The decisions made by the Supreme Court become like the law of the Medes and Persians that could not be rescinded. Well-meaning groups that have so far tried to change the Court’s decisions on prayer in the schools and abortion are discovering how inflexible are the verdicts of the Court.
One reviewer of the book wrote, “Surely there are many among us who cannot accept the premise that the law is what we happen to think is right at the moment, as that which is given legal form by the legal profession, and on the highest levels by a body like the Supreme Court. There must be a return to the biblical understanding that there are absolute standards of right and wrong, of good and evil. There must be a return to an understanding that there are biblical insights that are valid not for certain people who enjoy going to church, but which are valid for all society.”
The Supreme Court savors of the sovereignty of man; he is capable of shaping his own destiny. God has made the laws of nature — gravity for instance, and He has revealed what is right in the ten commandments. Moses could say to the nation of Israel, “And what great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?”(Deut. 4:8). Biblical history, and so does secular, shout from the housetops that nations have prospered or fallen according as they have related to God’s absolutes.
The Beginning Of Travail Pains
Upon learning of their Lord’s anticipated departure, His disciples —realizing that much of His prophetic mission had not been fulfilled — asked a most natural question. They inquired, “and what shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Matt. 24:3). That the disciples here represent a Jewish remnant and foreshadow a similar remnant after the rapture of the Church is, to this writer, the basis for the best interpretation of Matthew 24-25. However, the introductory words of our Lord are general compared with the specific signs such as the one related to the Jewish temple (v. 15), the lightning (vv. 27-32), and the judgment of the sheep and goats (nations prior to the setting up of the kingdom). In verses 5-6 the signs to be looked for are false Christs, wars, pestilence and famine.
Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “All these are the beginning of sorrows,” or as the NEB renders the clause, “With all these things the birth pangs of the new age begin.” As F. W. Grant comments, “The mind of God cannot but manifest itself through nature, as well as the movements and convulsions among the nations of the world; and through specific lessons may have their difficulty, the general one is not hard to read. It is an unrest everywhere which cries from Him who alone has said — who alone could venture to say — ‘Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.’ And the cry sounds in His ears, and will find answer.”
Let us just look at these “birth pains.” That there have been those to have the audacity to claim to be Christ or divine is history past and present. The current deceiver is the man from Korea - Moon. We understand him to say Christ’s program has failed. His leadership is superior. The amazing thing is the “many” - from all appearances - fine young people that blindly follow him.
That there have always been wars and always will be until the coming of the Prince of Peace, and for the purpose of peace, can be a statement of observation as well as prophecy.
Since World War 2 the many subsequent wars have been so small by contrast that they have been termed “bush wars.” Now faced with Russia’s raw aggression in Afghanistan our great democracy feels compelled to beef up its military muscle. A draft registry has been reinstated. Along with this, new machines of destruction are in the works. The idea being that the best procedure is to prepare for war as the most likely way to preserve the peace. Already, so Dr. Tatford writes, “The stockpile of nuclear weapons is sufficient to destroy the whole of the population of the world 50,000 times over, and this takes no account of the suffering which might be inflicted earlier by bacteriological and biological warfare.” The issue facing our elected leaders is not simply the preservation of peace—we can have that on Russia’s terms—but how to preserve the peace without surrendering world dominion to an aggressor. Yet in spite of all the overtures to prevent the war that everybody fears and nobody wants, our Lord prophesies that there will be an unsurpassed tribulation (v. 21); its immediate cause being all nations gathered in warfare against Jerusalem.
Pestilence is another sign. Man’s ingenuity has wiped out the plagues that used to decimate humanities. Modern sanitation and inoculations have eliminated the scrouges of yesteryear. Yet it has been pointed out, however, that man is “creating” new viruses and seeking new mutants. The latest is a bug to handle the problem of oil spills.
There is the possibility of a germ escaping from the laboratory which could conceivably set off a universal epidemic without natural defenses or medicines capable of coping with such a problem. With the unpredictability of the weather and insects immune to pesticides, famines are not hard things to envision. Generally, in the past these harrassments to humanity have come one at a time. We gather from our Lord’s words that as we approach the end they will develop and accelerate simultaneously. Nor must we overlook the earthquakes and the eruptions of Mount St. Helens. Travail pains indeed, as if nature were pressing on the birth of a new and better time. That is contingent upon our Lord’s second coming so long foretold.