Sabbath and Prophecy In the News
In the space of several weeks, issues at the heart of accountability to Scripture have received publicity on network news, in particular on CNN's "Larry King Live." Two weeks ago, during a discussion of the issue of homosexuality, as prominent Baptist Pastor Jerry Falwell waxed eloquent in defense of the absolute authority of Scripture, Falwell was asked by Larry King about the Sabbath. Falwell replied that the seventh-day Sabbath was no longer binding because of Jesus' resurrection and the transfer of solemnity to Sunday as a result. No Bible verses were offered as evidence.
Not long thereafter, on the evening of June 14, Larry King monitored a discussion on the ordination of women, following the decision of the Southern Baptist Convention to reject such status for women at their yearly meeting. On the panel, in opposition to women's ordination, were Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University and Janet Parshall of Dobson's "Focus on the Family." Jones and Parshall declared unsparingly that regardless of how politically incorrect such views might be, God did not intend for women to lead the church, and that Christians must stand uncompromisingly for Biblical authority in such matters.
Then Larrywho is Jewish--asked Jones and Parshall, "Doesn't the Bible say we shouldn't eat pig's meat?" Parshall responded, "Yes, but Jesus did away with the law." As if that wasn't enough, Larry next inquired, "Wasn't the Sabbath in the Old Testament on Saturday?" Jones replied, "Yes." Larry responded, "Then who changed it?" Jones answered that Jesus and the apostles changed the Sabbath to Sunday in honor of the resurrection. Again, no Scriptural support was given.
So much for absolute Biblical authority. One can only guess at how amused and amazed Catholic leaders must be at one who only recently declared on this very program that he and his university still upheldunpopular though it wasthe Reformation view of the Catholic system. Catholics know full well who changed the Sabbath, and they know it wasn't Jesus.
Less than a week later, on the evening of June 19, Larry King hosted on his program Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the best-selling "Left Behind" series of novels detailing the secret-rapture theory of end-time events. Since their release, Larry King mentioned that these books had made the New York Times bestseller list, and that the most recent book in the series, The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession, is now at the top of this list.
The next book in this series is scheduled for release in November of this year. Its title? The Mark.
Some have wondered if perhaps our historic emphasis on Bible prophecy is a bit out of date in today's world. If the New York Times bestseller list and "Larry King Live" are any clue, it is those who allege this who are truly out of date.
Inspiration has written:
"The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. . . . They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take placethat the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis" (Prophets and Kings, p. 537).
When we see the great issues which lie at the core of our faith brought into public discussion on talk shows, etc., the following prediction comes to mind:
"Our people have been regarded as too insignificant to be worthy of notice; but a change will come. The Christian world is now making movements which will necessarily bring commandment-keeping people into prominence. . . . Every position of our faith will be searched into; and if we are not thorough Bible students, established, strengthened, and settled, the wisdom of the world's great men will lead us astray" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 546).
School Prayer Decision
On June 19, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for a public Texas university to schedule public prayers for school-sponsored sports events. The lawsuit in question was brought to the high court by Catholics and Mormons who felt they were being proselytized at this largely Baptist institution. Barry Lynn, leader of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, praised the Court's ruling as forbidding the use of state institutions as a means of promoting the beliefs of one or another religious group.
Those who defend the Biblical principle of church-state separation, enshrined in our Lord's declaration that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), must applaud the decision of the Supreme Court on this issue. Prayer arises from a doctrinally oriented conscience, of necessity affirming certain beliefs and denying others. Catholics pray to Mary and the saints; Protestants do not. Christians pray in Jesus' name; Jews and Muslims do not. In a truly free society, government has no role making judgments as to whose prayers, and thus whose theology, will be promoted by a state institution. Religious minorities in such settings will inevitably find their convictions set aside and overruled by the majority.
While the Court made the right decision in this regard, it certainly won't be last we hear of it. The Court's ruling is likely to galvanize the Religious Right for more political and social warfare, especially as the presidential campaign heats up. Already Gov. George W. Bush, in whose state the university in question is located, has expressed dismay at the Court's decision.
On the Larry King show noted earlier, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins were asked for their reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. Jenkins replied that the separation of church and state was designed to protect the church from the state, not the state from the church. By contrast, Inspiration predicts that intolerance in our land will result from the church taking over the state:
"Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state, that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured" (The Great Controversy, p. 581).
Natural Disasters Watch
According to a recent CNN report, spring 2000 has now gone on record as the very hottest in U.S. history. The heat has fed wildfires from northern California to Colorado and Florida. Scores of Southern counties have been declared dangerously short of water because of the drought, with the outlook for many crops most grim. Floods and severe storms continue to savage the Midwest, from North Dakota and Wisconsin to Texas and Louisiana. And on the sixth of June, yet another earthquake struck central Turkey, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale and killing at least 16.
Each week we observe accelerating evidence of the truth of the following prediction so often cited in this newsletter:
"Even now he [Satan] is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. . . . These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (The Great Controversy, pp. 589, 590).