The Current Scene
The two political champions of the present are President Reagan and Britain’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. First, let us look at the latter. Britain has just survived the longest significant strike in its history. The coal miners had been out for nearly a year over the closing of nonproductive mines. Consequently, districts and miners were thrown into economic suspense. A less conservative government would have collapsed as when Heath faced a similar situation. If the sympathetic Labor Party had been in power the miners would not have suffered a decisive defeat. The outcome has further identified “the Iron Lady.” Mrs. Thatcher says she needs two full terms to turn England around. At the moment her chances for such look excellent. By May 1987 she will break Asquith’s (1908-1916) longest stay at 10 Downing Street. The struggle for national survival is a costly affair for the losers and unprofitable. On the other hand, socialism’s concepts of equality soften the spirit to survive in a competitive world. What’s the answer? Our Lord who said, “For ye have the poor with you always” (Mark 14:7), did approve of being the recipient of a costly anointing.
An Englishman writes amid the amenities of the welfare state, “We live in a chilly, loveless world where, in political life, the stronger nations exploit the weaker ones, and these in turn goad and irritate the more powerful by pathetic explosions of narrow nationalism. In social circles business is often carried on as if we were a pack of wolves instead of a band of brothers.
“Men are ruled by the love of money, a root of every kind of evil, and by the cruel laws of supply and demand, which, in their inexorable working, fling out the unfit and the aged on the scrap heaps of society.”
In the U.S. the President is looking realistically at the farm problem. The billions spent on the farmers in subsidies have led to their present plight — enormous surpluses. No doubt the dragonian free market would eventually have brought about adjustments, but not without casualities.
The voice of humanity has always been, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15), especially when confronted with the claims of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Few are saying when brought face to face with the command to repent, “Take the world but give me Jesus.” Christianity is never presented as solving the world’s problems. It can do much for the individual economically (the Christian can be wise in the use of what means happens to be at his disposal), physically (he has peace of mind and no call for alarms), and accepts the present as part of the disciplines that point toward a bright and glorious eternity. Christianity does not take the bumps out of life, but through them we learn to appreciate that “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
A characteristic way the world feels obliged to go about its business is to be seen in the present arms talks. The ostensible purpose is to curtail the buildup of atomic weaponry. At the same time Defense Secretary Weinberger informs the committees that Russia is feverishly at work in experimentation and research to make its arsenal superior to that of the U.S. The U.S. can hardly be exempted from doing the same. The President executed an intense lobbying campaign that enabled the additional MX’s to pass through Congress, the reason being that it was needed as a bargaining chip. The star war research is to go on apace. It is obvious that each side harbors its suspicions.
All this reflects the kind of world in which our lot is cast. Even when treaties have with their usual fanfare been concluded, they are seldom honored. Belgian neutrality was not honoured by the Germans in World War I. Hitler’s unkept word with Chamberlain comes to mind, and Pearl Harbour must not be forgotten.
Daniel tells of two rival kings, those of Egypt and Syria, and their failure to secure peace through negotiation. This prophet relates mostly to “the times of the Gentiles,” a large bulk of which has been fulfilled. That is a reliable indicator of those yet remaining. Getting back to the two particular kings mentioned, their actions are past and authenticated history. Yet their deliberations have a modern ring, “And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak less at one table; but it shall not prosper” (Dan. 11:27).
The present deliberations are certainly preferable to an out-and-out arms race. At Geneva the interests of both sides seem to be mutual and it is possible that the talks may go on for months, even years. That the U.S. is the chief actor poses a problem for us premillenniallists, for we find no Biblical place for the U.S. in prophecy. The late Irishman, William Kelly, in his commentary on Joel wrote over a hundred years ago, “So as to America, I conceive that the young giant power which has grown so fast will sink still faster, probably through intestinal quarrel, but assuredly somehow before that day comes. They will break up into different fragments. Their prime object is to maintain political unity. This is their great ambition, and though it may appear to stand and advance, as everything ambitious is apt to prosper for a time, it will all be blown down before long. For it is a remarkable fact that there is no place in prophecy for a vast influential power, such as the American United States would naturally be, if it so long retained its cohesion. Is it conceivable that there should be such a power existing at that day without any mention of it? Can the omission be accounted for save by its disolution? However, I particularly wish everyone to understand that this is merely drawn from the general principles of the Word of God.”
Kelly’s Scripturally oriented foresight added, “India, I presume will be part of the northeastern system spoken of here and elsewhere. The British will lose possession of India, as nationalities wake up to yearn after their own distinct position. And such is even now the tendency, which prophecy distinctly recognizes as characterizing the end of the age. The Russian empire, as being itself northeastern, is destined to be the suzerian power there. They may not be aware of the role divine prophecy attributes to them, of their immense success, and of their total destruction under the hand of Jehovah. But Scripture is clear (compare Ez. 38-39). Divine judgment will not slumber.”
The leader of the “Moral Majority” movement, Jerry Falwell, has developed into an articulate exponent of Puritanical ethics. He has held his own in lectures and open debates in such hotbeds of liberalism as Harvard and Yale. In a televised debate with Senator Edward Kennedy this Pilate and Herod combination aired their views on Africa in general and apartheid in particular. Here the display of cordiality was indeed praiseworthy. It is evident that destiny has raised up a voice for conservatism that is now being heard.
Now Dr. Falwell has graced Oxford University, noted for its wrangling and ventilation of ideas. The main subject was nuclear arms —something more ruffling than apartheid. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, little considered otherwise, has won attention. David Lange, a liberal, has closed New Zealand’s ports to American warships to show his abhorrence of nuclear arms. In the debate with Falwell he said, “There are some things worse than living under Communism,” which he said includes starvation in Ethiopia (better red than fed). At the same time Lange showed his inconsistency when challenged to pull out of ANZUS he refused, saying, “I prefer to change it from within.” He wants the protection but not the responsibility. It is pretty well conceded that the only thing that saved Europe from being overrun at the close of World War 2 by the overwhelming forces of the Soviet was the deterrent of U.S. atomic weapons.
America has the nasty job of policing the free world. We dread to think what would happen if the U.S. would decide to shrink within her own borders. New Zealand and other small nations would soon be victims of ambitious aggressors. It’s the kind of world humans have always lived in. We are learning, or should be, the reality of the fall in Eden’s paradise. The bliss of sinless innocence has been forever lost. Those who turn from this world’s false ways, and take Christ’s redemption are assured of a place in the Father’s house (John 14) which, says Paul, is “far better.”