The Current Scene
Will History Repeat Itself?
The arrival of this year makes it 50 years ago that the Austrian painter, Adolph Hitler, became Chancellor of the Third German Reich. Two things particularly accentuated his rise to enormous power. A defeated Germany, chafing under the treaty of, Versailles, was experiencing chronic unemployment and the inability of the Weimar Republic to solve the country’s big problems. Second, Hitler exercised an uncanny ability to exploit his nation’s miseries.
The United States is facing similar problems; not least is the lack of faith in the government. The results of elections appear to be just a change of hats. Ten million unemployed are asking: “Who’s to blame for the mess we’re in?” Both political parties blame each other. Each administration promises solutions, but the problems continue to race towards a crisis. Those who ignore the plain discipline from the Bible compel God to resort to other means of communicating.
A situation in Jerusalem during the prophet Ezekiel’s day called for a display of divine displeasure “when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and will break the staff of bread thereof, and will send famine upon it” (14:13). Later in the chapter (1:21) God speaks of sending forth His four sore judgments, “the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast and the pestilence.”
Elihu, in the book of Job, reveals that divine chastening brings one near to the grave in order that he will be disposed to listen to God’s voice. He said, “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter (one who can explain the reason for his trial from the divine viewpoint), one among a thousand, to shew unto man His (God’s)…uprightness” then (33:23).
It is true that the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan are miniscule, but they are around. Just as disease spreads when sanitation is lacking, so certain political climates tend to spawn one-party extremists either to the far right or left. This is a drift we can expect, especially if we actually are hastening toward the end times. “The times of the Gentiles” are to culminate in a dictator of near world-wide proportion who rises out of the “sea.” The “sea” is a symbol of the masses in their consumate restlessness (Rev. 17:15). From this coming melee arises a man who will have condensed into himself all that fallen man idolizes. He will also be a Satan-possessed man (Rev. 13:4; 17:8). This monster known in Scripture as “the man of sin” and also “the antichrist” and the one who “comes in his own name” (John 5:43), is associated with the “great tribulation.” He is to supercede all that has gone before him, and since his end coincides with Christ’s return he is still in the future. There have been prototypes such as the Neros, some Popes and Mussolini, but that one who is to be the epitomy of wickedness the world still awaits.
The economics of the Western World continue to sputter. No confident upsurging. The U.S. has its share of woes, certainly the ten percent unemployed. A look in our stores and one soon discovers the scarcity of “made in America” labels on the commodities. Many of the articles are cheaper and better made than the products of the homefront. There are several contributing factors that have brought about this situation. Labor has won fat contracts that are unrealistic in a competitive world. Governments have soaked up capital investments which in turn create real jobs. Unions have insisted on featherbedding and have frustrated wise economics. However, this ill wind is not so bad that it does not blow some good. The salutary effect of our particular recession is that it is creating discipline and economic efficiency. After all, ours is the kind of world society has created. Free enterprise will always out-produce Socialism and Communism and no system is going to be without its victims. Communism’s casualties go into stockades; capitalism’s into unemployment relief lines. The 37th Psalm was one of the last from David’s inspired pen. He wrote, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (v. 25). The born again Christian should not have the expensive appetites of the worldling — alcoholic beverages, gambling, tobacco, divorce and dope. He does not take days off because of sickness produced by his excesses. Not a few are inclined to shun union shops. If Christian conservatism paid off only in this life, it would be a grand deal. However, we read, “But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8).
While many in the civilized world are occupied with the dangers of nuclear war, they are losing sight of what could be a world-shaking danger from another source. Practically all of those pillars that support modern society are being threatened by financial woes. We are at a loss to discover a government that is solvent. The coward’s way out has been to print paper money that like water finds its level; so this money soon drops to its real purchasing power. Money manipulation grants a “quick fix” followed by a backlash. It always demands more of the same, only bigger doses. Woe to the courageous politician that dares to “cold turkey” this state of affairs. As much as our government would like to play “Santa Claus,” the means are becoming exhausted. Fifty years of Communist experiment in Russia proclaims that the solution is not there. Rebel and military coups in several Latin American countries, presumably to overthrow the privileged few, have only been an exchange of who’s in power.
The enormous debts that countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Poland and the third world owe to outside sources alarm the lenders. A default could trigger a domino effect and bring on a worldwide crisis. To shore up one wobbly member, Brazil, the President, when recently visiting that country, promised them a billion-dollar loan. Such a procedure is hard for our own impoverished unemployed to understand. Actually, the austerity ax is being applied here and feverish loaning going on elsewhere, all representing frantic efforts to maintain a very fragile solvency. The present financial fears based on realistic facts are simply the fruit of man’s doings. We live in a world of laws and if these laws are abused by absurd economics the dictum is “be sure your sin will find you out.” There is always a reaping to what has been sown.
In Revelation 6 we have the opening of the sixth seal. It depicts a great upheaval insomuch that those living at the time are led to say “the great day of God’s wrath has come.” This is merely the conclusion of guilty consciences. There is the mention of a great earthquake and the sun becoming black as sackcloth and stars falling from heaven. Both William Kelly and F. W. Grant in their admirable expositions give good reasons for interpreting all of this as figurative. Something has happened that convulses the whole world. C. I. Scofield describes it as anarchy. The great depression of the 30’s gave us a faint rehearsal of what can happen when the financial structure of a nation collapses. The portents indicate that the world could have such an upheaval on a much larger scale than the depression. Would such be another rehearsal or is the world heading for the real thing that comes during the “great tribulation,” where none can buy or sell who have not the mark of the beast?