The Current Scene
The Gaza Riots
Here is an area where political and ethnic relations have reached a peak. The TV viewings tend to create a biased understanding of the situation — that of Arabs as underdogs driven to desperation and fighting for their rights. This is so, but the real goal is to ultimately drive the Israelis into the sea. The Arabs in the Gaza have the misfortune to be living in conquered territory. It is a bastion of defense for Israel against an extremely hostile Syria. As it looks to this writer the Jews have no choice but to maintain a strong military presence in the area. Whatever, the necessities to maintain the present status must be continued, as other alternatives would give that one step directed against Israel’s destruction. For Israel to yield to the demands of the rioters would only stimulate an Arab appetite for more concessions. The avowed position of the 15 million or so hostile neighbours of modern Israel is: “No peace, no recognition and no negotiation.” There is little doubt that the rioting is being masterminded by outsiders. This is no brief for Israel as we have also listened to the tales of Arab friends. Many years ago we wrote in the now defunct magazine Help and Food, when the Jewish picture looked extremely critical, that if the Jews are not back in their land by a providential decree they just won’t make it. So far they have. As long as Arab leadership refuses to acknowledge the Israeli nation and arrive at some grounds for negotiation, they have no other choice but to continue hostilities; and the Jews to do anything but turn the other cheek.
Early in the last century an intense interest was aroused in the study of Bible prophecy. Up until then the general consensus of Christendom was that there was nothing beyond Christianity. The approach away from this was keyed in the conclusion that the covenants made to Abram and David are centered in the Jews and, since unconditional, await a literal fulfillment; hence a rebirth of the Jewish nation, and the return of Christ as their Deliverer and Messiah. Among the several signs given by our Lord to announce His second coming is the blossoming of the “fig tree” (Luke 21:29-33). If the “fig tree” here, as elsewhere, is an emblem of Israel, then their national rebirth is a very significant sign of the times.
Their importance as an ally of the West is the human factor in assuring their survival. If the brethren that assembled in the Powerscourt Castle in Ireland expressly to study prophecy were to come from their graves today they would not be surprised as they view the current scene.
Recent events, for better or for worse, in West Germany are occasioning some second thoughts regarding the nation’s security and interests. The Germans wonder just how reliable the United States is since it has reneged on some international commitments. Also, there is alarm over the removal of strategic nuclear medium range arsenals from their territory, thereby giving conventional superiority to the Soviets. In the event of war they see their country as the battle ground.
An interview with the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt reveals that he is an observer of world affairs. He reflects on German weakness saying, “The first little nuclear weapon—say an artillery shell—that explodes in Germany has strategic quality for my country; the war would be over. The Germans would throw up their hands.” After all, Japan capitulated after only two nuclear bombs dropped on their cities. Schmidt deplores the lack of leadership in Europe and appreciates how dependent all of Western Europe is on Washington. He says, “If Western Europe is to become a grand strategic factor, France will have to lead. Nothing can be done by the Germans until well into the next century because of Hitler and Auschwitz.”
The cry and need for a leader and the vague vision of seeing Western Europe a “strategic factor” in world affairs can be extracted from this interview. The substantial boundaries of the old Roman Empire were the Rhine and Danube Rivers. Those of us who appreciate the astute reasoning and lineup of Scripture that concludes in the revival of the Roman Empire have a problem as to the place of Germany in the end times. Not a few have that area allied to the “king of the North.” If our vision of prophecy proves correct, the leader that will be so acceptable to the world, “the beast,” will arise from the city of Rome.
Another line of Schmidt’s pondering is his misgivings over American politics, especially in our choice of a President. He sees them, the candidates, lame on the international scene. However, he has praise for Nixon and Kissinger, while Carter and Reagan had to learn on the job. The former Chancellor, and now editor of the weekly Die Zeit, commenting on the political campaign said, “America could become mired in impossible promises in 1988. What bothers me most is the prospect that the new President will have talked so much about what he is going to do and the additional welfare he will provide that he will find it difficult, first, to understand how much nonsense he has been talking; second, to make the decision to change the course; and third, to convince his followers.” This observer goes on to say, “So 1989 will be a dramatic year for the new President. Whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat makes no great difference.” The rosy speeches of the would-be President may be contradicted by the harsh realities of the immediate future. There is so much that approximates the days of Noah and Lot that makes it hard to see “God bless America.” A spiritually intelligent Christian will not be expecting too much from this present world. Our ups and downs in this life are included as valued training for a better world.
A strange and contradictory thing is cropping up everywhere in our society. We may say contradictory because the general trend in Christendom is to rule out anything supernatural. Where our Bible speaks of creation, or records miracles, they are accounted as exaggerations of superstitions. In other words, all things must be rationalized. Completely opposite to all of this is the use of spiritism, Satanism, witchcraft, and a consultation with the stars.
A cold world of laws with no God above, or if there is a God, He is treated as an absent landlord and brings no comfort to the human situation. Life is too mysterious and our cry for solutions that exceed all human ken call for something supernatural. Since the Bible is not allowed to be our guide, then the alternative is to turn to superstition. It has been said that even if there were no God the need for one is so great that man would invent one.
The New Age phenomenon is attracting large numbers. Its prophetess is the fast moving former actress Shirley MacLaine. Recently, at the New York Hilton, 1,200 followers paid $300 to hear her vagaries—“pain is a perception not a reality.” This is just part of a 15-day tour calculated to net $1.5 million. MacLaine has authored a number of best selling books. The New Age bag contains crystal balls, contact with deceased relatives through select channelers (mediums), and faith healing. Actually, it is nothing new but a revamp of Oriental religions with a bit of Christianity thrown in. Worse yet is the prevalent Satanism. In our rural community three teenagers removed a baby from a recent grave. Later the corpse was wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown to the wayside. Police later searched the homes of the culprits and found artifacts of Satan worship. Drugs play a major role and attendant violence, murder and suicides. It appears to be a middle class menace and parents are advised to look for Satanic emblems in the home.
With too much ease these youths enjoy idleness and easy money, also the use of the family car. Their energies are not spent in the disciplines of manual work or sports. Sodom’s iniquity was, “Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her. And they were haughty, and committed abmonination before me; therefore I took them away” (Ezek. 16:49-50). Our Lord said that the days on the verge of His coming would be characterized thus, “Likewise as it was in the days of Lot. Even thus shall it be when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28, 30). A note from Campus Crusade for Christ in West Germany reports that “young people are turning in droves to the New Age Movement. Poor career prospects and increasing skepticism toward reason and science are basic causes for the revival of interest in astrology, parapsychology, and the occult.” The lack of powerful teaching about Jesus Christ in the churches is another blame for such a condition. Nor should we be surprised with such a Scriptural verse as this before us, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).