To the observant Christian whose sanctified judgment is guided, by the infallible rule of the Word of God and whose discernment is sensitized by the Spirit of Christ Whose testimony that Word is, there are many phenomena of our times which remind him that the Scriptures are being fulfilled before his very eyes, that the end of all things is at hand, and that the signs of the coming of the Lord, the precursory signs, are multiplying as we approach that end.
Thus it is, for example, with today’s space exploits.
That it is a tremendous technological accomplishment that men can venture into the far reaches of the firmament, that they can achieve a pin-point landing on the moon, that they can explore the moon and make it the object of their scientific inquiry, and that they can safely return to earth and bring with them samples of moon rocks, no one will deny. One can but marvel at the powers which God has given to man and the degree to which he can succeed in subduing his environment even now, while he has but remnants of natural light.
But there are other aspects to which we should not be blind.
One of these aspects is the tremendous amount of boasting and vainglory connected with these exploits. One is literally bombarded with this boasting through all the media, especially, of course, at those times when the Astronauts are making their journeys and when they return to earth, until he becomes nauseated. “We will do this; and we can do that, and we are planning this achievement,” etc., etc. It is all man, man, man. And when the first moon explorers had safely returned to earth, the boast was uttered, “We can do everything and anything now!” Did it not remind you of what the Lord said when He came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men built at Babel, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do?”
Not only so, but boastful and vainglorious Man succeeds! Sometimes it is only with difficulty that one can stifle the wish that the Righteous Judge of heaven and earth would blow into the plans and strivings of these boasters and bring their towering pride crashing down in disaster. But this may not be; it must wait until the day that the crooked shall be made straight. Man .succeeds. And I believe we may expect him to succeed. We must not look for many failures, but rather for increasing success. Man must succeed. For under the sovereign government of Him Who sitteth upon the throne and under the sovereign direction of the Lamb Who is able to open the book with its seven seals, Man must achieve the goal described in Revelation 13:4: “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” For until that goal is reached, the end of all things cannot be attained.
In the third place, one can begin to understand a little of the possibility of all the world wondering after the beast when he observes what a tremendous impact the success of the lunar flights had upon men throughout the world. By means of television and radio the whole world was kept informed of these flights; and especially at the time of the first lunar landing almost the whole world was watching and listening. And when the astronauts triumphantly toured the world, they were almost everywhere greeted with receptions such as other world figures do not receive. The popular acclaim was almost unbounded.
Nor must we be deceived by the fact that a religious tint is sometimes given to these exploits. There are those who can become very excited about the fact that passages of Scripture are read from space. And they can institute campaigns to guarantee that more of this shall take place, or they can campaign to have Genesis 1:1 engraved on a postage stamp commemorating the Apollo moon-flight. But be not deceived. For, in the first place, how hypocritical it is to read Genesis 1” from space, but at the same time refuse to accept the testimony of Genesis concerning the origin of the universe. Yet this is exactly what is being done. The folly of ungodly science is manifested in the fact that “science” expects to “learn” about the “origin” of the moon from these explorations; and that same folly is compounded when scientists try to calculate the age of the moon by means of the samples of moon rock that they have obtained, and then in their “wisdom” that knows not God talk about some samples that are 4.6 billion years old and some that are 4.4 billion years old. O the folly of unbelief! But, in the second place, we must not expect that all these strivings to achieve the Kingdom of Man will be without religious tints. We must not even merely expect that they shall have a tint of religion in general. We must rather expect that they shall have an anti-Christian character. That is, they must not only be opposed to Christ; but they must stand in the service of an opposing Christ, a pseudo-Christ. They must have a form of godliness without the power thereof. The kingdom of Antichrist shall combine the forces of the ungodly world-power and the false church. Its picture is presented in the picture of the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth in Revelation 13. The Man of Sin, the son of perdition, “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:4.
No, this does not mean that we have reached the point in history of the final manifestation of the Antichrist. There are yet many things to be accomplished before that point is reached. For one thing, unity among the nations has not yet been achieved, the unity that is an indispensable characteristic of the anti-Christian dominion. Nor does it mean that the space program is the sole facet of American life which is subservient to antichristian strivings. It is only one facet among many; but viewed properly, it and its spectacular successes constitute clear evidence of the character of our times and clear evidence of the tendency of the age.
Yes, we are moving, moving rapidly toward the end of all things. On the stage of history is emerging the image of the beast having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy,—the picture of the beast with one of his heads as it were wounded to death, but with his deadly would healed. (Revelation 13:1-3) As the Rev. H. Hoeksema puts it in his “Behold, He Cometh!” (pp. 456-457): “Hence, there is but one thing in past history which can be indicated by this scar on one of the heads of the beast. It is the attempt in the days of mighty Nimrod and the building of the tower of Babel to establish a universal world-power. Also then it was to be a combination, rather than the dominion of one individual or group. They planned to form a mighty federation, a mighty league, with a common center in the city and tower, with common aims and purposes. But then it received the death-stroke for a time. That death-stroke consisted in the confusion of tongues and the consequent separation into nations with their national differences and aspirations and the resulting wars and strifes. But that death-stroke is now healed. After many an individual power has made the attempt to gain the world-power and to obtain control of the whole earth, the nations have finally come to the conclusion that the way of combination is the only way. National differences have been overcome; national aspirations have now been combined into the aspiration of all. No more world wars, no more strife and competition, but a great world-wide empire, including all nations and comprehending them all under one-head, has now been realized. The death-stroke has been healed, and what was prevented in the days of Nimrod now is accomplished.”
Thus we view current events.
But how does the world, the antichristian world, and the false church view those same events?
They view them in the same light, though with the opposite spiritual motivation.
Of this I was strikingly reminded when I listened, via radio, to the welcome for the astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins) at their triumphal entry into the City of Chicago. At that occasion there was a parade (as in all our large cities, coast to coast) which ended with a ceiemony at Chicago’s Civic Center. At that ceremony, John Cardinal Cody, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, delivered an “invocation.” Through correspondence conducted by one of my students I have obtained a transcript of his invocation from the Office of the Archbishop. Permit me to quote it:
“To the age-old question, ‘What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?’ (Ps. 8), we are gathered today to proclaim an answer, O Lord our God. We celebrate the fact that he is an inquisitive and inventive creature, gifted with insight and courage, capable of working with his brother in unison, undaunted by challenges and grave responsibilities.
“Today we proclaim that we are proud to share the family name of “Man” with Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins ‘who have traveled the paths of the stars and explored the work of your hands.’ (Ps. 8)
“Today we pray that the wonder of a walk on the moon will indeed be more than ‘one small step for a man.’ Joined together as we watched a brave step to the moon’s surface, fulfilling the labors and dreams and sacrifices of so many, the family of man became increasingly aware of the links binding us on this small spaceship we call earth.
“Once before, men built a tower, ‘reaching to the heavens,” but the end result was a Babel of confusion, a scattered people, a broken family. Today let us commit ourselves to ensuring a ‘giant leap for mankind’ by guaranteeing that we will use our fullest resources, our noblest qualities, our best men, to enlarge liberty and extend justice. We have begun a new history, the age of the family of man. What then is man? ‘Little less than the angels,’ the Psalmist said, ‘crowned with glory and honor . . . Lord over the work of your hands. Yahweh, our Lord, how great is your name throughout the earth.’ (Ps. 8)”
There you have it even the pseudo-Christian world views the twentieth century in terms of a rebuilding of the Tower of Babel!
Perhaps the only thing that is surprising about this is that it came from the lips of a Roman Catholic Cardinal. For usually the Roman Catholic clergy are a bit careful to preserve their peculiar Roman Catholic distinctiveness. But even the latter has changed rapidly in recent times. The underlying humanism—antichristian humanism—of the old Roman Catholic Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism is coming into its own. Our reforming fathers of the 16th century were after all basically correct when they viewed Rome and its pope in terms of the Antichrist.
But let me conclude this editorial with the point made at its beginning. The end of all things is at hand! And if the world itself views current events in terms of the rebuilding of the Tower of Babel, the healing of the deadly wound of the beast of Rev. 13, how much more ought the child of God to do so!
Be not deceived!
Discern the times!
And redeem the time!