Current Scene

Current Scene

Edwin Fesche

Although the U.S. election is now history, the Editor felt that it was appropriate to include Mr. Edwin Fesche’s comments on “The Election.” His words merit our thoughtful contemplation (regarding Mr. Fesche’s column on “The Current Scene,” please see the details appearing in “From the Editor’s Notebook”).

The Election

At the time of writing the verbal battle between the two Presidential contenders rages on. Fortunately, in a democracy it is a conflict of words only. Other systems can be conducive to bloodletting. We wonder what China will have to go through before a successor to Mao arises. History recounts the foul ends to which men will go to fulfill their ambition to rule their fellows.

Some seem to think if a candidate is a Christian that this is a strong reason why he would make a good President. This is wishful thinking. Many feel that this is the best guarantee when they are putting a top priority on character. After Watergate we can sympathize with their desire. In reality we wonder if such a candidate, in the first place, could ever get the limelight and airing necessary to push him to the top of his party. Then again, would a spiritual man with the Biblical viewpoint of this present evil world ever generate sufficient ambition to soar so high where his Lord was only given a cross? When William Kelly was informed that with his endowments he was well-fitted to make a name for himself in the world, the rejoinder was, “Which world?”

In the Old Testament we discover detailed instructions for the kings that were to rule over Israel. In the New Testament there is complete silence. Although the Church is spiritual and heavenly in its calling, there are, nevertheless, ample down-to-earth commands in which Christians are to function in whatever niche happens to be theirs in society. For instance slaves, masters, husbands, wives and children are told what is expected of them now that they are members of the household of faith. Church elders and deacons are answerable to even greater responsibilities, but there is no counsel for a king, or his modern counterpart — the politician. Believers will find their numbers scarce among the top echelons of humanity — “not many noble are called.” Since it is the meek that are to inherit the earth the New Testament does not contemplate a disciple becoming a king. Perhaps the most Biblically instructed and spiritual man ever to find himself at the head of his country was Oliver Cromwell. He imposed the sabbath and a stern morality everywhere. His disciplines were possible because the iron of the army was ever his support. England became what Geneva had been under Calvin. All the while the country was longing for its Barabbas and rejoiced to choose the desolute Charles II. The unregenerate feel more comfortable with one of their own kind lording it over them — “as with the people, so with the priest.”

Christians have more going for them in a democracy than in any other form of government. It is the free countries that are sending out missionaries, printing Bibles and producing a wealth of religious literature. It promotes industry and frugality, and Christians are generally in that category. We do not see why we should not do all that is Christian and legal within the system to keep it that way. The alternatives only create concern. Even if we vote, and our man loses, it will communicate to the winner the size of his opposition. This would at least help for balance.

The pressures created by one man one vote are being felt in our society. The fabulous efficiency of free enterprise is being hamstrung. Compassion for the underdog is the promise of the successful politician. But where is the abundance coming from if we tamper with the human drives which produces it. Students of history and those who know the truth of the Bible’s definition of man, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), know that power in the hands of the majority can be just as terrifying as when secured by the despot. In fact, “Mobocracy” soon terminates in, and gives a pretext for, the rise of a strong man. Without going into details at this time we do observe in Revelation 13 a “beast” rising up out of the sea. The sea symbolizes restless humanity and the “beast” the last man of destiny to head up Gentile supremacy. The future will not be a world safe for democracy, but just the opposite. The present trends abroad in the world are anticipating conditions prior to our Lord’s return to the earth. Looking out on the national scene the Christian has every reason to concur with Scripture, which says, “this is man’s day” (1 Corinthians 4:3, JND trans.). “The day of Christ” is another matter and is the real hope of the Christian.

A Man

History reveals that the rank and file of humanity have always been willing and excited about following a leader. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the undisputed masters are rare. The Mohammeds, Napoleons and Hitlers inflict more misery than blessing. In spite of this, men sense today that only some great chieftain, national or international, can solve the nagging problems such as inflation, unemployment, and need for security. Such leadership, however, finds itself hamstrung with the checks and balances of democracy. So right away our cherished freedoms would be in jeopardy. Hitler filled the political vacuum that had been unwittingly created by the Weimar Republic that preceded him. His leadership was not established apart from the most revolting violence and purges. There is nothing so corrupting as power, and there is nothing so terrifying as complete power in the hands of the wrong individual.

This yearning for a leader and unifier is innate in humanity. It harps back to the Bible truth that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Sin has brought into the race suspicion and disunity. To overcome a fragmented society the warrior has sought to enforce unity on his terms. Their empires have all fallen apart. Then the approach of federation has been tried. The European Common Market is the latest experiment. It is the brainchild of some noble minded souls. The Common Market significantly covers a large section of what was once the Roman Empire. A forte of the “Brethren Movement” has been an original study of prophecy. Consequently, 150 years ago some startling conclusions were reached. Among them was the restoration of Israel as a nation and the resurrection of the old Roman Empire. Though considered fanciful at the time, such conclusions are not unrealistic today. Present trends tend to confirm that God was revealing to His servants of that day things which must shortly come to pass. Nor must we leave out Peter’s counsel: “Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8). There are some convincing things about the Common Market to suggest that it is laying the foundation for the eventual restoration of the old Roman Empire. The constant threats from Russia and her own economic straits could create the need and cry for a man of destiny. The “Brethren,” in the main, concluded that most of the book of Revelation dealt with world affairs after the removal of the Church. John, the inspired writer of Revelation, often writes quite obviously of the Emperor and empire under which he lived. Some of the things of which he spoke were fulfilled soon thereafter, such as the Christian persecutions. This preteristic interpretation, while possessing some merits, is unsatisfactory unless treated as rehearsals of still greater events. John, with his Empire still in mind, prophecies of a time when its ten representatives will surrender their power to the “beast” (Revelation 13:4). This Satan-filled man will be readily worshiped as God. Like Napoleon and Hitler, his immediate successes will be phenomenal but he is marked out for what he is by the coming of the Lord Jesus and is to be cast alive into “the lake of fire.”

Certainly mankind is not going to be cheated in its aspirations. The desire for a sinless and fruitful earth is a vestige, along with conscience, of the divine that still persists in fallen humanity. The dispensational explanation of Scripture allow’s for Christ’s kingdom to include a literal existence. In Revelation 20:4 we learn of Christ reigning a thousand years. He is to reign where He was rejected. His royal glory is yet to be witnessed on earth, as was His moral glory during His first advent. The present role of Jesus Christ now seated on His Father’s throne is not to be confused with what He terms “my throne” (Revelation 3:21). Now He is saving the whosoevers that come to Him for redemption; when on His own throne He will “rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12:5). This will answer the oft repeated prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” This will be earth’s grand finale— “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him” (Ephesians 1:10).