It was but ten short years ago that we entered a new decade. We were about to leave the “fifties” behind and proceed into the “sixties”. The fifties, in their own way, had been bad years. They had begun with the terrible and bloody Korean War. They were the years when the Cold War reached its heights and America and Russia stood on the brink of plunging the world into a nuclear holocaust. The country was just beginning to realize the extent of its social problems. Especially was the issue of race and racial integration an important element in the news that made the fifties. It was, now some ten years ago, with an audible sigh of relief that the nation (and the world) left the fifties behind and entered into a new era of hope.
Really, the sixties began with the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. He stirred hopes in the hearts of millions when he eloquently spoke of the fact that the torch is history had passed into the hands of a new generation. People were led to believe, and the news media echoed this faith, that the sixties were to be the age when the problems of the times would be solved at last. The nation was committed to a solution of its race problems. People were coming to grips with the social ills that plagued the land. We stood on the edge of an era of space exploration dedicated to reach the moon by the end of the decade. Peace was sure to come through a resolution of the Cold War and a lessening of tensions through continued detente.
Now we are at the end of the sixties and how embarked on another decade. Have the dreams of men materialized? Hardly. Not too strangely the boasts of our leaders are very much muted these days. For the country is in a mess such as the world has seldom, if ever, seen. The pages of the history of the sixties were written in blood. The eloquent words of John F. Kennedy were silenced by the ringing shots of the assassin in the streets of Dallas. His brother died the same cruel death in California. And violence struck down the voice of the negroes: Martin Luther King Jr. The racial problems were not solved; they became more vexing and terrifying. Racial rioting plagued the land and integration faded in the wake of racial polarization and the rise of militant black movements. The hopes, of peace between black and white went up in the smoke of burning ghettos from Newark to Detroit. But the violence between the races was a part of violence that struck every part of the country. Crime increased as law broke down and the criminal became the protected one by the courts while the innocent were left to suffer at the hands of the armed robber, the rapist, the murderer. It was the decade of war on the campuses; of crime among the youth; of hippies, yippies, drugs, immorality, obscenity, nudity; in short it was the decade of moral anarchy. The Korean War which began and ended in the fifties was replaced with the bloodier and hated war in Viet Nam. And still, as we drag our weary feet into the seventies, the war goes on.
The fault of the crime and anarchy which has all but brought this country to its knees does not lie alone with those who violate the law. The fault lies with those who are called to make the law and enforce it. The root of the trouble lies in the fact that the law of God was ignored and despised. And here the churches led the way. A “situation ethics” was preached from the pulpits of the land. And it is a situation ethics which destroyed the standard of God’s will for men. The result was that the courts (especially the Supreme Court) destroyed the possibility of enforcing the law and curbing the excesses of crime.
It is in this situation that we stand at the beginning of the seventies. Few dare to speak of a new age of hope. Newsweek spoke for most when it said: “We . . . have set too much in motion, have disturbed our institutions and ourselves too greatly to have any very clear ideas about how things will turn out. It has become chic to say that the decade began in great hope and ended in deep despair.”
The fact that the sixties did not live up to the great hopes of those who spoke so glowingly of a new age did not surprise the people of God. It was evident then as it is evident now that the Word of God holds out no such vain dreams for the children of men. This does not mean that the Scriptures make prophets who are able to predict the future out of the people of God. The Scriptures are not a kind of Jeanne Dixon crystal ball from which one may catch visions of events yet to take place. It is true that many have tried and many still try to predict events. But the Scriptures are not interested in enabling us to do this. And we must not be tempted into doing it either. As far as specific events are concerned, we ought to wait for God and not rush ahead of Him. God always has a way of surprising us anyway. Psalm 77 expresses it correctly:
“Thy way was in the sea, O God,
Through mighty waters, deep and broad;
None understood but God alone;
To man Thy footsteps were unknown.”
But the Scriptures do tell us that Christ is exalted at God’s right hand, and that to Him is given the sovereign rule over all things that He may execute with precision and in all its details the counsel of God. And the Scriptures surely make known to us “the things which must be hereafter” as Christ works all things to accomplish God’s purpose and to establish His own everlasting kingdom at His coming.
Thus Scripture gives us the main lines of history in order that we may interpret them and see in them the sovereign rule of Christ. It is, after all, because of this that we see in the unfolding of history the signs of Christ’s coming.
It is well that we pause to review the main events of the sixties momentarily to be reminded of all this.
One remarkable development of the sixties has been, no doubt, the lessening of the cold war. Russia and the United States are able to get along in many respects and have toned down their belligerence. They are sitting in comparative harmony in Helsinki discussing arms-limitations. They are able to cooperate in trying to find a solution to the troubles which plague the Mid-East. They are increasing their cultural and economic ties. They are exploring the possibilities of cooperation in various areas of scientific investigation. To this belongs the growing international consciousness of Europe and the continued desire to form a United States of Europe with ties to the satellites on the Eastern side of the iron curtain. All these things point to the gradual development of a one-world kingdom. It will not do to shout with the men of the right-wing that Communism is about to inundate the world. We cannot tell. But this is not the point. Whatever precise form a one-world government takes, it makes no essential difference. Such a one-world government will certainly emerge. But it will be the kingdom of Anti-Christ which lives in bitter opposition to Christ and to His Church. Surely the seventies will bring this goal much nearer than it is now.
The rise of lawlessness to staggering proportions is in itself a sign of Christ’s return. The Lord makes this clear in His discourse on Mount Olivet recorded in Matthew 24. But it is, I think, important to remember that lawlessness breeds lawlessness, and that the end is anarchy. The solution to anarchy is martial law – the suspension of all civil liberties. And martial law is but a step away from a dictatorship. This is precisely the way Hitler came to power. It is not difficult to see all this as an aid to the dictatorship of Antichrist himself.
Already the government has unbelievable powers. Stored away in its computers is a mass of material concerning every citizen of this country which gives the government information concerning some of the most personal and intimate details of our life. I sometimes think the government knows as much about us as we do ourselves. The census questionnaires which will have to be filled in this year will add to this information. It all gives the government the wherewithal to interfere in the personal lives of its citizens. There is a benevolent face of the government as it doles out its millions through welfare and social security. But even this kindly face of the government is hiding the grim power of government control. If the government holds its hands on our purse-strings, the government holds its hands on our life.
There is a fierce and impersonal face of the government which is heartless and cruel, immune to human suffering. The government has within its power (and makes use of this power through its vast bureaucracy) to seize under certain conditions all the assets of its citizens, to confine to mental institutions, to close down businesses—all without any kind of trial. With every form of electronic eavesdropping the government can tune in on the lives of anyone. All this, too, shall increase the power of government in the years ahead.
The church has played a major role in all this. Not only were the sixties the years of the continued growth of false and evil ecumenism, but the movement towards a world-wide church, embracing every religion, grew mightily. There was one striking feature of all this. Nothing characterized the church so much as that much-abused word “tolerance”. Everyone is tolerant. Every religion is asked to be tolerant of every other religion. We are all, so it is said, on the road to the same heaven, though the road we may be traveling is somewhat different from that of our brother. The goal is religion so broad and so tolerant that it embraces not only the different faiths within Protestantism, nor even merely the differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, but also the differences which separate “Christianity” from pagan religions. All must be brought into a general brotherhood of man. There is, however, one important exception to this general spirit of tolerance: there is no tolerance for the truth. Without those churches where the battle rages between liberals and conservatives, the conservatives must constantly listen to the contradictory appeals of the liberals: tolerate us. But when the liberals are in power and the conservatives make every effort to preserve the historic Christian faith, the mighty guns of liberal churchmen are trained against them and they are the objects even of persecution. A world-wide religion is indeed tolerant. But there is to be no toleration of the truth of Scripture. There is no room for the true church of God.
This kind of church is intent on joining hands with the secular government. Through the liberal church pour millions of dollars of government funds. To the government the liberal church speaks with a voice of politics, of earthly concern, of social solutions to social problems. The voice of the gospel is silenced as the church addresses herself to matters assigned by God to the sphere of those who exercise authority in the state. It ought not to surprise us then that the false church joins with the government in this aim of achieving a one-world government. No wonder that the W.C.C. and the N.C.C. are intent on doing just this.
The key to success is always the indoctrination of the youth. So the government has taken over education in this country. The public school system is fast becoming the organ for the propagation of atheism and evolution. The school is the pulpit for the government’s program. Shall the Christian Schools become a part of this? It seems as if this shall happen. If aid to private schools becomes a reality in the Seventies, then surely the private schools will also become agents to promote the government’s goals. Government aid, it is demonstrated in every area of life, means government control. Perhaps it can be argued convincingly that at this moment the government has no intentions consciously to take over the Christian schools. Maybe no concrete plans have been laid to do this. Maybe those who will presently dole out aid to the Christian and Parochial schools are not consciously intending to impose the government on these schools. But this does not mean that Satan is not intent on doing this. He is the implacable foe of the cause of Christ. He will do anything to destroy the witness and testimony of the people of God. And if the schools succumb now to this subtle temptation, they have opened the door to government control and they shall never be able to shut it again.
Is there a bright light shining in the darkness of the sixties? Some will say that this bright light is the fantastic achievements of science. We have entered a new age of technology. The boast to reach the moon in the sixties has been realized. Science has brought release from suffering in bold advances in medicine. Science has opened the doors to a new age of affluence and freedom from then drudgery of work. Perhaps it is science that will lead us into a new age—into a heaven on earth.
But this same science has denied the Scriptures and has the avowed goal of making man into God. Science has dedicated itself to all that is opposed to the will of God. Science has, if anything at all, held before the minds of sinful man the prospect of sinning as much as man pleases while escaping the awful consequences of sin’s destructive power. Science destroys the very planet that it wants to make a heaven. Science pollutes the atmosphere, the oceans, lakes and streams. Science litters space with junk and makes the moon a dump. Science, with all its powers, is pretty much capable of doing little else than destroying everything with which it comes into contact. And if technology makes freedom from work a distinct possibility, it only gives man more time to indulge in all the lusts of the flesh. This is the age of entertainment and pleasure. In his leisure man must be entertained. And his entertainment, to tickle his sensibilities, must become ever more brutal, ever more obscene, ever more violent. Man becomes sated with pleasure and weary of life.
But the point—the awful point—is that man has reached that segment of his development in sin where he will sell his soul for financial security and make himself a servant of Satan to gain to himself the things his wicked heart craves. How easy for one who is Antichrist to gain the world to himself and gather the loyalty of all men to his foul image. All he needs do is satisfy man’s lust for security and pleasure.
The sixties brought us far in this direction. The seventies shall bring us farther yet. Of this we may be sure. How close to the end do we live? We cannot tell. God only knows. But embarking on a new decade the child of God has this firm assurance: Christ rules over all. Nothing can happen without His will. And He will rule till all His enemies are put under His feet and until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. Lift up your heads; your redemption draweth nigh.