Upside Down

Surveying the current geopolitical landscape can give me a headache. The world is embroiled in a spiritual battle. Right is made to look wrong; wrong is made to look right; security threats loom large; and if we don’t keep our eyes on the Lord, we can easily be deceived. Here is a glimpse of what’s happening today.

External Threats

Today we see wars and hear threats of wars. Everywhere we turn, there’s trouble.

North Korea. A May 2017 U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee called North Korea “an antagonistic state actor [that] remains a critical security challenge.”1 A May report from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said, “North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program, public threats, defiance of the international community, confrontational military posturing, cyber activities, and potential for internal instability pose a complex and increasingly grave national security threat.”2 In September, North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

Iran. The intelligence report said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran remains an enduring threat to US national interests because of Iranian support to anti-US terrorist groups and militants. . . . Iran continues to develop a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target US and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs, ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles.”3
Syria. As the civil war in Syria drones on, so does the death toll, along with the human misery. To date, some 500,000 are dead. Millions have been uprooted, and hundreds of thousands are now refugees looking for safe havens. This ongoing humanitarian crisis places tremendous stress on countries trying to help and creates huge border risks.

Russia. Since Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia has repeatedly denied Ukraine and Central Europe natural gas, occupied and attempted to annex Crimea, destabilized eastern Ukraine, and deployed its military to Syria to prop up the Bashar Assad regime. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called Russia’s occupation of Crimea an attempt to “redraw international borders by force.” It is clear the Russian bear has no intentions of hibernating.

Radical-Muslim Terrorist Groups. No one can predict when radical-Muslim terrorist groups, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood, will strike. These groups are at war with Western civilization and want to destroy it.

Security threats, of course, are nothing new. When Israel faced them 2,700 years ago, Assyria attacked from the north and swept the 10 northern tribes into captivity, leaving Judah and Benjamin in the south. Assyria then hoped to conquer Judah; and Egypt, although in decline, still posed a threat. Yet God sent the prophet Isaiah to warn Judah not of the external threat but, rather, of His impending judgment due to Judah’s own behavior.

Judah’s condition then mirrors our condition today: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). What God loved, the world despised; and vice versa. The Jewish people had stopped listening to God’s voice and had rejected His standards, so God sent Isaiah to warn them. We, too, are rejecting His standards.

Internal Threats
Our families are falling apart. Ungodly, dangerous lifestyles abound. Abortion has become a way of life, and now our children are being told they can decide their gender.

In August, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which requires health insurers to fund abortions for anyone who wants one (including non-citizens) excluded from Medicaid. One website hailed the legislation this way: “Good News Alert.”

Health clinics in Oregon are killing unborn babies, requiring Oregonians to pay the freight, and people are calling it good news. Actress Martha Plimpton proudly told a Seattle audience she got her “first” abortion at age 19, and it was her “best” abortion. She told the crowd, “Notice I said first.” The audience burst out laughing.

One in three babies born in the United States will arrive to a home without a father. More than 10 percent of American children have one parent dealing with alcohol problems, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.4

Alcohol consumption is celebrated on billboards, television, social media, and in magazines. However, the reality of drinking is devastating: “In 2012, 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9 percent of all global deaths (7.6 percent for men and 4.0 percent for women), were attributable to alcohol consumption,” the Institute said.5 In 2014, the World Health Organization reported that alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions.

When a child begins kindergarten around age 5, there is a good chance his or her curriculum will contain such topics as transgenderism and gay behavior. An August 2017 Toronto Star (Canada) article boasted that the family birthing center at Michael Garron Hospital is LGBTQ inclusive. The accompanying photo showed a married male couple alongside a woman surrogate. Today this is considered a normal family. Things are so haywire that “men” have babies and “women” grow beards.

Society has been turned so upside down that the victims are becoming the enemies. As a young girl in Somalia, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was the victim of genital mutilation (a practice of radical Islamists). She has spoken out eloquently against it. Yet the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has accused her of being an extremist.

Ironically, the SPLC, headquartered in Alabama, claims it is dedicated to social justice. Ali responded by saying, “These groundless smears are deeply offensive, as I have dedicated much of my adult life to calling out the true extremists: organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.”

The Unhappy Upshot
More than 200 years ago (1787), Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. For 20 years he studied the Roman Empire, trying to determine how a nation could be so great and then suddenly collapse. How could that happen? It’s difficult not to think of the United States when reading the five reasons he came up with:

  1. Rapid increase in divorce and undermining of the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of society.
  2. Higher and higher taxes; people spend money for food and celebrations.
  3. The mad craze for pleasure, with sports becoming more exciting and more brutal each year.
  4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy lies within; people become decadent.
  5. The decay of religion; faith fades into mere form and loses touch with life, becoming impotent to guide it.Though Judah faced dangerous outside forces, its worst enemy was itself. Regrettably, the Judeans paid the price when Babylon took them captive in 586 BC.

King Solomon said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12).

May 2018 bring a revival to us before it is too late.

Those of us who know God personally through faith in Jesus Christ must keep our eyes on Him. As hymnist Helen H. Lemmel wrote, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

ENDNOTES
  1. Vincent R. Stewart, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment,” United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, May 23, 2017 <goo.gl/8axZ7S>, 11.
  2. Daniel R. Coats, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence, May 11, 2017 <goo.gl/cH7upj>, 16.
  3. Ibid., 23.
  4. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism <goo.gl/Njwzgz>.
  5. Ibid.

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