T H S K I N G ’ S B U S I N E S S
“ the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.” “Foa the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21), and every word of God shall have complete fulfillment. —Kenneth M. Monroe. Can Ye Not Discern the Signs of the Times ? “Despise not prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:20). Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus demanding signs of His author ity (Matt. 16:1). They were queer bed fellows, but it was not the only time the ritualists and the rationalists have gotten their heads together to try to put Bible Christianity on the spot. SIGNS—signs—said Jesus—are you not surrounded with them? The sign- seekers were great students of the barometer. “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering.” They were weather-wise, but they paid no attention to other kinds of signs. At the same time, they scoffed at all who put stress upon pro phetic things. What did our Lord say to them? “ O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times ?” Our Lord calls for men to interpret the events that make up the history of their day and to give witness. These events are signs to be searched into, and they have meaning. John Wesley said he read the papers “to see how God was moving in the world.” Do men today want signs that the Word of God is true? Let them put the morning newspaper alongside the prophetic portions of the Bible. If these ecclesiastical leaders of the Saviour's time should have seen that prophecy indicated the time of the Messiah’s ad vent, there should not be the slightest doubt in our day that events are flow ing in the very molds of prophecy at a rate probably never before witnessed in history—nor that the same Messiah’s predicted second advent is very close at hand. Yet we find good, earnest preachers avoiding prophetic topics because they believe them controversial They argue that it is better to give full attention to preaching salvation, failing to realize that all about them are hundreds of Christians so' utterly perplexed by the day’s events that they have completely lost their bearings and need the light of the prophetic Word to get them to lift up their heads. [ Continued on Page 250]
G od o f L o v e - a n d t h e H o r ro rs o f W a r By JAMES R. GRAHAM, JR.*
F REQUENTLY we hear the ques tion asked, “How can a Giod of love permit the injustice and bloodshed that is in the world today? Innocent women and children and peace ful citizens and nations are made the victims of the passion for power o f ra pacious war lords.” From these condi tions, they deduce the conclusion that God either does not exist at all, or else that He is indifferent to suffering (in which case His righteousness disap pears), or that He is impotent to cor rect matters. Any of these conclusions concerning God would seem to disqual ify Him as an object of love or worship. We believe it is high time that Chris tians were clarified on this point and able in meekness to instruct “those that oppose themselves” and to vindicate the character of our holy and righteous God, who, in the very essence of His nature, is loving-kindness and tender mercy! In the first place, it must be pointed out that the popular presentation of the character and 'attributes of God has given great prominence to His love while disparaging His holiness and power. The resultant picture has been false and has led to untold error. Solemn Truth We find God’s testimony to Himself as recorded through the prophet Isaiah: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45:7). What mean these words? Does God “ create evil” ? Yes, that is what He says of Himself, but He does not say that He is the Author of sin. There is a great distinction. God is the Sover eign Power of the universe—holy, right eous. He is the Framer of all laws, spiri tual, moral, and physical, and He it is who determines the penalty that will follow the breaking of those laws. Any individual or body that has power to make laws has power to decide what will be done to the offenders against such laws. In this very true sense, then, God does create evil as a recompense for the in fraction of His laws in any plane. In a very true sense, the drunkard who de bauches his body with intoxicants and wallows in the gutter can be said to have been put there by God. A man thrusts his hand into a flame of fire, and when it is burned and charred, there is a very true sense in which it can be said that God has burned his hand. It is written: “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made *Missionary and Bible Teacher.
all the earth drunken . . . Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, . . . I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion” (Jer. 51:7, 20, 24). Babylon was used as an in strument to visit judgment on Judah, but she in turn received the recom pense of her own evil. Make no mistake about it. God does create evil as a recompense for sin, in dividual and collective sin. The awful things we see taking place in the world today are the inevitable recompenses for moral and spiritual evil. There are undoubtedly degrees of wickedness and evil, but there is no nation or people that is “innocent” in God’s sight. All the nations now actively involved in the bloodshed and carnage have not only been guilty of the worst kind of moral sin, but (which is worse) they have col lectively “ trodden under foot the Son of God, and . . . counted the blood of the covenant . . . an unholy thing” (Heb. 10:29). The attitude of the world has always been to desire a murderer and to kill the Prince of life. It is the responsibility of the Sov ereign Power to visit punishment where it is due, but it is not His fault. It is the duty of an earthly judge to pro nounce sentence upon a proven criminal, but the pain to the criminal and his family is not the fault of the judge. It may be well a^this point to add this word: While we can be sure that the main utility of evil in God’s order of things is as a penalty for the breaking of His laws, He uses it correctively as well as punitively. It is a sound pro position that sin will inevitably bring an eVil recompense, but it is unsound to say that every manifestation of evil or trouble (especially toward a believer) is a penalty for some sin. Tribulation worketh patience, and evil purifies as well as punishes. Fire consumes. . But every fire we see in the distance is not a house on fire; it may be a smelting furnace! Failure to understand this as pect of the question was the great error of Job’s friends. Our God is indeed a God of love who desires not that “any should perish, but that all should come to repentence” (2 Pet. 3:9). He makes peace before He creates evil. After sin has run its course and the evil which must result has taken its toll, then Shiloh—the giver of peace—will come, and to Him will “ the gathering of the people be,” then “of the increase of HIS govern ment and peace there shall be no end” (Gen. 49:10, Isa. 9:7).
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