The Current Scene
In the years that we have supplied a column for current events we have had a selective eye on the destiny of God’s chosen people—the Jews. Especially so since they have become an established nation now for over 40 years. All along they have met with hostility from their Arab neighbors. From the viewpoint of the Palestinians this is understandable.
Up until now the Israelis have had the enormous backing of the United States. Such an attitude throughout history has merited God’s approbation, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee” (Gen. 12:3). At the same time to the extent that the Jews have been divinely blessed above all other nations with covenants and promises, (Romans 9:4-5), the same has measured the extent of their discipline for failure and apostasy. In no ambiguous terms their prophets have declared an eventful, national recovery of Israel. The big question is, are these preliminaries to Israel’s spiritual rebirth, or just another phase of history?
At this time of writing Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Shamir, has made his visit to the White House. He was to disappointingly learn that the United States has made a basic shift in Near East foreign policy. The Palestinians are to have back land that they lost in war with Israel and be an autonomous political unity. To this agree the United States, Western Europe and the Soviet Union. If God does not work behind these ominous shadows, then Israel’s present future is in doubt. The Jews themselves are divided as to yield to outside pressure or hold on and fight on alone. If Shamir has his way, and the majority are behind him, he will make no concessions that would certainly work to their ruin in the future. It is easy to see that there is not room for two independent hostilities in such a small space. It boils down to what the Orthodox Jews have realized all along, “Either they or us.”
It is true that all of our planet belongs to its Creator, God. However, in the land of Palestine God designates a particular ownership for He has said, “The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23).
So the premillennialist in this instance is not getting his data from the new position of the White House, but waits to see the hand of God pursuing His ultimate purposes for Israel. We do not expect God to work at this time openly for His chosen people. This is the age of the church. When it is removed at the rapture, then heaven will be more apparent in dealing with earthly scenes. All these things are leading up to the time when God will gather all nations against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1).
All the pent-up Jewish hate will have been liberated to reach its climax. Then the Lord shall visibly appear, and His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives and in that day deliver His people.
Then and Now
The end of World War II resulted in the rise of two world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Germany, Italy and Japan were prostrate and the Allies exhausted. The holocaust made it imperative for the Jews to return to the homeland and by a successful war with the Arabs they were able to re-establish themselves as a nation. A few years after the war it was learned that the Russians had an atomic bomb. For better or worse this has stalemated the two superpowers from direct conflict. For the past 40 years this has been the world’s lineup. In all of this probably the most significant event was the national rebirth of a few million Jews. At least this is so for the premillennialists. The rise of Russia could well fit into Ezekiel 38.
Before World War II hostilities broke out, we had the “phony war”; now in the past 40 years the “Cold War.” At the beginning much appeared to be in Russia’s favor. Communism would be the dialectic of the 20th century. Even France and Italy were beset with strong Communist parties. The contest appears to have ended with the West the decided winners. Those behind the iron curtain peeped through the cracks and saw how much better off were the average citizens of the West. An ideological war was going on and time has proved the winner. The principle of the free market and the human drives it stimulates is bountifully productive compared with the monotonous equality of the Communistic comradeship.
Communism is atheistic, thereby denying that man is created in God’s image. Consequently, man’s needs are only material. If this philosophy were truth that man only needs succor from the cradle to the grave, Communism would have produced the paradise it has always promised to the slaves of Capitalism. Even when all amenities are met man still yearns for something more. As has been often concluded man was made for God and he is restless until he has found his rest in God. The stifling restraints that atheism imposes upon those who are under its umbrella would only make men, we would imagine, more aware of that vacuum in their life. The recent balloting in Russia approves that when the voters have been given a fair choice, as under “perestroika,” the Communist candidates are losers. It is true that the West largely adheres to Humanism, which is basically atheistic but is tolerant towards all religions. At any rate, by their fruits you will know them. The West when it comes to economics can beat Communism at its own promises. Wherever Paul preached, and there were converts close on his heels, there were Jews who would make Christians obligated to keep certain facets of the law. Paul realized that this was Satanic (2 Cor. 11:13-14), and that any form of bondage would curtail the potential of a Christian who was dead to the law and married to Christ. True political freedom has its pitfalls as Gorbachev is discovering when so many Soviet enclaves want independence and, freedom. This is especially so when these countries have been occupied by unwanted tanks and troops. NATO does not have that problem as it is a unity of common consent.
This century fell heir to the great reform movements of the last century. That there were ills enough to combat history does recall. In England child labor in the mills attended the industrial revolution. Here in the United States it was slavery. The lesser blights of society have been challenged by trade unionism and women suffrage. More recent is the outcome of Civil Rights. When human rights become the object one wonders where they should stop. The criminal guilty of the blackest crime learns of his rights. Outrageous suits have been won which might only be partially the fault of the defendant. Single parents turn a deaf ear to common sense family increases.
Billions of dollars have been poured into education, clinics, subsidized housing and food stamps. All of the humanitarian drives money and brains could conceive culminated under President Johnson’s “Great Society.” Charles Murray’s criticism fits: “We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead.” Now President Bush occupies the White House and acknowledges that his heart is big but government has a lean purse. The problem of how to cater to the needy and not sell the shop has not been solved by elected politicians. The draconian solutions would bring out the rioters. Thousands wait in the shadows for the excuse to do so. Other countries have already attempted to return to fiscal responsibility: Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico to name a few.
Protesters soon go to the streets. The abounding amenities that the lower ranks of society have won, especially since World War II, are tenuous at best. Allow another drought equal to the summer of ‘88 and our present problems, now held somewhat in check, could burst upon us, such as crime, prison over-crowding, a redundant population, water and other scarcities. Then too, the scientists may be right when they warn us of the “green house” effect on nature as we have been accustomed to know it.
Why regurgitate these upsetting possibilities? The scientist and economists have been reciting them with their superior secular knowledge for several decades. We can certainly say they are catching up with Scripture. The end of this church age, and many of us feel that this is where we have arrived, is not going to be a church millennium, or a Communist Paradise, or a Socialist’s assurance of security from the cradle to the grave. The iron and clay feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image foreshadow the conflict of conservative disciplines with the restless masses suggested by the clay. Then the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are yet to reach their full potential as they ride through hapless societies. Since this is “man’s day,” or as Lord described it upon being apprehended in Gethsemane, “but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53), the Christian is bidden to look beyond the present.