By Chuck McCoy
This is called "Understanding the Times." If I was going to put another title on this, it would be, "Christian, Get Your Head in the Ball Game!" I've watched a lot of football games, and I've seen coaches like Woody Hayes grab hold of somebody, and I know that at least half the time, the essence of what they were saying was, "Son, get your head in the ball game. Pay attention to what's happening!" Brethren, I want to tell you, we NEED to get our heads in the ball game. We are behind, but we ARE winning because God's a Winner.
In I Chron. 12:23, 32 & 33, there's a description of David at Hebron. "And those who came to him from all the tribes of Israel to make him king," (you know that David was king over Judah for seven years before he was king over the rest of the tribes, and it tells us something about the kind of people who came to accept him as their king over the whole nation) "these are the numbers of the divisions equipped for war who came to David at Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul to him according to the word of the Lord. And the sons of Issachar" (and underline this) "men who understood the times with knowledge of what Israel should do. Their chiefs were two hundred. All their kinsmen were at their command. Of Zebulon, there were 50,000 who went out into the army who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war and they helped David with an undivided heart."Wouldn't it be nice to have people like that in the Lord's kingdom today? People that know what to do and are willing to take orders and are willing to see something accomplished and have an undivided heart. I meet too many Christians who've got one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom, and if you've ever straddled a fence, it's painful!
In II Cor. 10:3-5, Paul wrote, "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses..." We're destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we're taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. And then in Eph. 6:11 & 12, "Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places."
In the last 30 years, I have come to realize and very much believe in the existence of Satan. Thank God, we know One Who is more powerful!
I'd like to paint for you a little picture of the rise and fall of a culture. I don't care if you close your mind, but please paint a picture in your mind as you listen to these things.
"In the early days, a group of settlers moved in and took the land from the natives who lived there. Something of a distinction was made of whether or not you could trace your ancestry back to these early settlers. In fact, there was social prestige involved. Originally, the family was the major social unit with all education and religious teaching centered in and around the family and its values. (We hear a lot about family values today.) The aged were respected and cared for by their own families.
In the early years, the major religion and government were in harmony, and deity was viewed as having a special interest in that nation. The laws of that nation were seen as having a basis in religion and people accepted the government's right to dictate limits on their behavior, moral limits. A double standard applied to the sexes. Virginity was demanded of the unmarried woman, but not so much of the man. Men were taught that manhood meant that you had to be tough in public and sentiment and tenderness belonged to one's private life, if even necessary.
Well, slowly this nation grew to world prominence through success and a couple of periods of major military encounters. Things began to change. Great heroes were welcomed into the cities with lavish parades. In an agriculture that had begun as a nation of small farmers, slowly economic pressures had led to the creation of large farm corporations and the decline of the small family farms as small farmers had to sell out and move to the city to maintain themselves. Two problems began to arise: debt-ridden small farmers trying to remain in the country and a growing number of rootless discontented and unproductive people in the cities.
Great holidays saw large stadiums filled with spectators eager to watch races and all sorts of athletic contests. Political office came more and more to be so expensive to attain that the wealthy were the only ones that could afford to run. To keep the growing masses in cities pacified, a welfare system developed by which free food was regularly handed out, and politicians saw this as a way of getting and keeping votes. Attempts to decrease the handouts met with public outrage and riots, so the welfare system continued at increasing expense as a necessity to maintain order.
As citizens become concerned with their own amusements, responsibility was assumed more and more by the central government and its local agencies. As the money continued to roll in and people could climb the social ladder, realtors sold and resold properties every few years for ever-increasing prices. Hard work began to decline as more sought the luxuries and success that was made available.
Diets changed from simple, healthy vegetables, grains and fruits to more meats and sweets. As drinking increased, the individual became very conscious of himself and his own privileges, pleasures, and personal rights. The women also began demanding rights as they began more and more divorcing their husbands and showing less interest in raising children as being too demanding on their time. Both marriage and parenthood became a burden, as personal rights and recreation became the main concerns. Birth control and abortion became widespread and acceptable as children came to be viewed as an inconvenience rather than a blessing. The younger generation, also concerned only with personal gratification, had no interest in defending the territories once conquered. But now experiencing the incursions of invaders, children became disrespectful of parents and adults in general. Language in public became increasingly vulgar as did the amusements and entertainments.
More and more, money-making came to be based in investment and management rather than manufacturing real goods. Those things could be made cheaper in conquered countries and then imported. Contractors over-charged the government and corruption seemed to be everywhere. Workers, seeing how others were making large profits demanded ever-increasing wages or they'd rebel and go on strike. (That's very pertinent, isn't it?) Often doing great damage in the process, owners simply met their demands and simply raised the prices to customers.
Education was slowly invaded by cynicals, irreligious teachers and lecturers who doubted and denounced all the old ways, and their pupils carried such ideas in to the next generation as they took over in places of prominence in the society. The old religious values were ridiculed and the five senses were exalted as the only test of what's real and true. It came to be believed that nature alone existed and continued by its own self-creating, self- maintaining abilities. Heaven and hell came to be seen as only in this life, so create your own personal paradise and enjoy it now."
Does that sound familiar to you? That is Will Durant's summary of the Roman Empire up to the end of the 1st century A.D. It's real familiar because it also sounds exactly like ours. You see, there are patterns to history, and those who refuse to learn the lessons from history are doomed to repeat them. If you read Eccl. 1:9-11, you would hear this and it would ring true: "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there's nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, see this, it's new already? It's existed for ages before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things and also the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who come later still."
On November 11, 1993, I happened to turn on the TV. I'm not a regular watcher of Connie Chung; I just happened to turn it on. And on her Eye to Eye program, I heard they were going to have a segment about the 30 years that had transpired from 1963 to 1993. You see, it was the eve of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Well, I took interest in that because I've been pretty conscious of what's been happening the last 30 years, so I wanted to see what they had to say.
Essentially what they said, why, you've never heard as negative of preaching as I heard on that program! They said, it's terrible that things have gone downhill! It's awful! The families are falling apart! There's homelessness; crime has just sky-rocketed. Our kids are doing worse in school and even worse, our kids are having kids. It was terrible and I said to myself, "This is a trends summary of what's happened in those 30 years. I wonder what they're going to come up with as a solution and a cause."
Well, after the commercial was over, they came back and...