The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
Peace and Safety
In its annual "Outlook" issue surveying the coming year, U.S. News & World Report featured a lead article with the title, "On not believing the good news" (Dec. 29, 1997 - Jan 5, 1998), detailing the outward decline of many of America's social problems like violent crime, welfare dependency, teen pregnancy, and AIDS deaths (pp. 45-46). The article describes how despite all this "good news," in addition to the robust economy, most Americans still think most of the country's social problems are bad and getting worse (p. 46).
A similar article appeared in Time magazine titled, "The Paradox of Prosperity" (Dec. 29, 1997), which spoke of the public's continuing fears that despite current good times, their jobs and financial security remain at the mercy of global forces beyond their control. The article also noted that many companies, like Boeing and others, are actually hiring spiritual advisors to offer guidance to their workers.
An outward easing of social ills is generally the consequence of good economic times, though altering the state of men's hearts is quite another matter. Perhaps, as time marches on, the public will come more and more to accept the current "peace and safety" cry. But God's Word still warns:
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.." (1 Thess. 5:3).
El Nino Rages On
Floods and heavy rains ravaged Texas and Louisiana during the first weekend of 1998, giving Waco its worst flood damage since 1913. According to reports on the CBS Evening News January 5, the scientific community expects even worse conditions through the rest of winter and on into spring.
Again the words of God's prophet are remembered:
"The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause." (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 408).
The recent cloning of a female sheep in England has raised the very real prospect that human beings will soon be cloned as well. On the January 7, 1998 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, it was reported that Dr. Richard Seed, a Chicago area scientist, has already announced plans to begin the cloning of at least 500 human beings a year. While both Congress and the President have announced plans to approve legislation to outlaw such experiments, most observers realize that the cloning of human beings is no longer a matter of whether, but when.
Current experiments in cloning may not be identical to the amalgamation described by Ellen White as occurring before the Flood, but it certainly raises the likelihood of such possibilities. We cannot but recall the observations of God's prophet:
"But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before him" (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, p. 64).
The words of Jesus likewise come to mind:
"And as it was in the days of Noe [Noah], so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26).
One is often led to wonder how long the perversity of man enhanced by technology will be permitted to work its will before God intervenes with the second coming of Christ as He did in Noah's day with the Flood.
Teaching the Bible in the Public Schools
The January 12, 1998 issue of U.S. News & World Report included an article titled, "Public schools teach Bible as history" (pp. 23-24), detailing the manner in which many public schools are seeking to instill a certain knowledge of the Bible in their pupils. The challenges confronted by these experiments involve primarily how to present the miracles and supernatural claims of the Bible without making religious judgments. Moreover, which religious convictions would be taught in such settings? Those of Catholics? Conservative Proptestants? Liberal Protestants? Jews? Muslims?
Even the conservative Christian Legal Society, which has often supported a greater role for religion in the public square, commented through its spokesman Steven McFarland, "I don't know why religious conservatives are anti-government in every other area, except to trust government officials to teach the Bible" (p. 24).
How much simpler and better it would be if Christians would just establish their own private schools and teach the Bible according to their convictions, rather than watering down the Bible in order to obtain its entrance "at any cost" into the public schools!
Long ago Ellen White spoke of the controversy created by this issue, and the opportunities it offers God's people:
"Evangelists should be finding their way into all the places where the minds of men are agitated over the question of Sunday legislation and the teaching of religion in the public schools. It is the neglect of Seventh-day Adventists to improve these providential opportunities that is hindering the advancement of the cause" (Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 51).
The Washington Post recently reported that Attorney General Janet Reno is urging Congress to pass legislation expanding the scope of hate crimes. Presently such crimes are defined as those based on race, color, religion or national origin. The proposed expansion would also include crimes based on disabilities and gender or sexual orientation. The FBI has been publishing hate crime data, voluntarily reported by police agencies, since 1993.
The Post also reported that President Clinton held the first White House Conference on hate crimes in November 1997. Attorney General Reno has asked all 93 U.S. attorneys to appoint coordinators who will meet in Washington D.C. in February 1998 to map out strategy on combating such crimes. Reno said the Justice and Education departments would soon distribute hate-crime prevention manuals to help teachers with anti-bias training among young people.
While deploring the unChristlike prejudice that contributes to such crimes, the increasing attention to the problem also has a potentially ominous side. There is a possibility that distribution of frank literature explaining the role of the papacy in history and Bible prophecy might be classified by some as encouraging hate crimes.
We are told that zeal for the Lord will bring some opposition that we might have thought highly unlikely..
"The words of Paul will be literally fulfilled, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." As the defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom, all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be under the control of Satan, . . . there will be strange developments. . ." (The Faith I Live By, p. 330).
Getting ready for the time of test involves sharing the messages of God with zeal now.
"The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances. The warnings that worldly conformity has silenced or withheld must be given under the fiercest opposition from enemies of the faith. ... This day is just before us. The members of the church will individually be tested and proved. They will be placed in circumstances where they will be forced to bear witness for the truth. Many will be called to speak before councils and in courts of justice, perhaps separately and alone. The experience which would have helped them in this emergency they have neglected to obtain, and their souls are burdened with remorse for wasted opportunities and neglected privileges" (Testimonies for the Church, Vol.. 5, p. 463).