(This material was penned many years ago by a devoted Christian minister. Though old in origin, it is up to date in practical fact and application. It is well worth reading, considering and applying again today in our modern society.)
“Mine eyes fail with tears … for the destruction of … my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, ‘Where is the corn and wine?’ when they swoon as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mother’s bosom…Let tears run down like a river day and night; in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.” (Lam. 2:11,12,18-19.)
Far more is being done today about housing problems that about home problems. If you could not have both a real home and a lovely modern house, which would you prefer? Which DO you prefer? Our thoughts and actions in the past have already proven which we prefer, have they not? Our homes have been ravished and robbed by proud passion to build, to invent, to erect modern walled cities. And our so called Western Christian civilization now has its own type of walled cities that are no better fortified to withstand the terrible onslaught of our real enemies than were the walled cities of China prepared to stop the airplanes of Japan.
Our colossal school system was supposed to be an impregnable bulwark against the return of the jungle methods of settling disputes by “tooth and claw.” Instead of being protecting walls for us, these proud schools have proven to be no more than Trojan horses brought into our midst to flood our homes and churches with smart snobs and infidel parrots, poisoning our social life with pleasure-mad, covetous youth who have been taught to think that the simple old Godly firesides were, and should be, the last relics of primitive peoples.
Then, having come to believe the modern lie that toil and grime and tears are man’s enemies which must be walled away from mankind, restless man has built great mass-producing machines and factories which were supposed to be friendly walls, keeping drudgery and enslaving poverty out while affording delightful and wholesome leisure on the inside. However, instead of these mechanical and technical walls proving to be helpful protection, they are being found to be brutal “Frankenstein monsters” that are destroying the jobs of millions and making bored robots out of the few specialists who may be required to feed the heartless monsters which now lash out, first in this and then in that part of the world with man-made ability to bomb and gas and terrify as no sweat and toil in the older times ever could.
Over two thousand years ago God said through Isaiah to a people who were guilty in a measure of this same sort of destructive building; “The houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall” (Isaiah 22:10).
And let us note well that as these imposing walls of our foolish and feverish civilization have gone up, the houses have gone down. Sitting in our little half-log house over in the woods in N.W. Arkansas a few months ago, I was reading Jeremiah when I came upon a verse that is an amazing command from God to those who are dissatisfied with the quiet simplicities of Godliness. Listen to this, (Jer. 46:19) “O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, furnish thyself to go into captivity. For Noph shall be waste and desolate without habitant.” The city of Noph is the same city that is better known as Memphis. It was here, in this particular section of Egypt, that the twenty great pyramids were built. Nor is there in all the world today such imposing evidence of a proud and capable generation of mechanics as were those ancient Egyptian pyramid builders. Awe-inspiring evidences of their artificial life are still there but where are they and their children? They are gone and are only to be traced by gigantic masonry and bejeweled mummies. With all of their Godless furnishings they did as God said: “furnish thyself to go into captivity.”
And what furniture factories, furniture stores and furniture salesmen” we have today! The machines have freed us from long hours of toil so that we now have time to crowd the rapidly multiplying theaters (video stores, televisions, multimedia computers, etc. today) where we are furnished with the captivating suggestions and scenes of illicit “love,” smart crookedness and enslaving liberalism. We are, as a people, about thoroughly furnished to go into captivity. We are captivated by “love,” – “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2Tim 3:4).
Nor is this to be said merely of the confessed unbeliever. It can be truly said of the vast majority of professed Christians. All the while the Lord Jesus Christ says: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God…If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (James 4:4; 1John 2:15).
In the 81st Psalm we hear God crying out in grieved love to the ungrateful and uselessly enslaved Israelites: “I am the Lord, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt…but My people would not hearken to My voice, so I gave them up to their own hearts’ lust; and they walked in their own counsels.”
The essence of all sin is dissatisfaction with God and that which He says is enough. Have you noticed that the ten commandments begin and end with this truth? The first commandment is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” and the tenth, or last, is “Thou shalt not covet.” In other words, God and His provisions are enough. “Godliness with contentment is great gain…Having food and raiment be therewith content” (1Timothy 6:6,8). How we Christians need to face such passages as these and 1Timothy 6:9-14.
The bloodless religionist, Cain, who killed his brother, was the first city builder and his grandson, Tubal-Cain, was the first artificer in brass and musical instruments. The Creator never intended for man to proudly and feverishly wall himself in from earth, from flowers and trees and from animals and birds and skies while he becomes bored with professional barnyard imitators and disgusted trying to smell artificial flowers or get lead poisoning while painting pictures of beautiful nature. God never intended that man should become artificially cultivated to such a high pitch of musical temperament that he himself becomes unstrung while seeking to string a fiddle or banjo or harp. God never intended that we should forsake the forests, the fields and gardens and hover around radios (televisions and VCR’s today) listening and watching one set of sales-ladies reciting recipes from competing food-faddists until we get sick at our stomachs and then dial away from dietitians to the doctors or the drug store “alkalizers” and then to the beautiful solicitations of the morticians. How sordid and sickening it all is! What ceaseless unattainment! What insatiable desires characterize our so-called civilization.
A RICH MAN’S INVENTORY
There is but one man in all of history who is duly qualified to speak concerning the real value of things, the vast accumulation of temporal and material possessions. The man is Solomon. You remember that God promised him any single gift that he should desire. Solomon asked and received the gift of wisdom so that it was truthfully said of him: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than any man…and his fame was in all nations round about” (1Kings 4:29-31). Then God gave Solomon the opportunity to take a careful inventory of this whole feverish world with all of its material wealth, sensuous pleasures, illicit wives, great power and prestige. This “number one” man of affairs, this leading soldier of good fortune, this man who had reached the very top rung of earth’s ladder of success, was inspired to accurately record his ripened convictions and seasoned philosophy of life, (that is life “under the sun,” temporal, earthly life of man). The book of Ecclesiastes is this record.
In this book of twelve chapters we have the words of “the gatherer” or worldly accumulator, the words of earth’s very first capitalist. In the King James version of the Bible we have an unfortunate rendering of a Hebrew word which literally means “gatherer.” In this version we have the statement in the first verse of Ecclesiastes that these words are the writings of the “preacher.” A careful reading of the book will reveal that the writings are actually the words of the “go-getter” or successful “gatherer.” The King James translators seemed to have thought that because the Hebrew word meant “gatherer” and Solomon was the gatherer in this case where he was serving as a preacher or teacher, therefore, the Hebrew word for gatherer meant the gatherer of people, or a preacher. (Note please, that I mean to prove the correctness of my criticism by pointing you to the context of the book and not by a mere reference to a Hebrew dictionary.) Be that as it may, the fact is very clearly and repeatedly brought out in this little book of twelve chapters that worldly gain, though it be great wisdom and prestige, is nothing but “vanity of vanities” and “vexation of Spirit.” “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear with hearing.” “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance, with increase; this is also vanity” (5:10). Note the disgust and despair expressed in the second chapter (read Eccl 2 )
“PROGRESS” A DELUSION
God help us to see that this gluttonous god called “Progress” is the most fiendish of all cannibals. The finest things in our lives are being thrown into the greedy mouth of this idolatrous god of the evolutionists. In the bewitching name of “Progress” parents are persuaded to hand their children over to bobbed hair sissies, childless professors and intellectual fiction peddlers with the assurance that such teachers are better qualified to train children than their own parents. Thus relieved for most of the day from their little “brats,” the parents, especially “Pa,” are free to battle down in the money marts and vicious industrial jungles in order to make enough money to build extravagant school buildings, and costly playgrounds, and pay the increasing number of teachers that are being demanded by dictator-god, “Progress.” My friends, it’s all a delusion. It is all the proud, swaggering, boastful and foolish efforts of men and women drunken with self-righteousness, and unbelief.
For over three hundred years now this public school system (and the whole thing is only about three hundred years old), of artificial training of children has been at work, weakening the position and the preeminence of parents and strengthening the state with its artificial functions and enslaving institutionalism, and now, all over the world we are witnessing what is being termed the threat of the “Totalitarian state.” Shall Christians allow the newness and size of a word to obscure the fact that this condition is coming on us so rapidly and is being so feared by those who still have some conception of the sacredness of individual and home life? I say, shall we allow this popular word, totalitarian, to separate the sad condition from the things that have necessarily caused it? In other words, the very things that all our biggest teachers and preachers have boasted most about are those things which have gradually and surely robbed the individual and the home in order to create and maintain the mass movements, the public schools, both day and Sunday schools!
Little wonder that we have a generation of disrespectful and lawless youth that forces our nation’s chiefest police official to warn and seek to arouse us by writing such articles as J. Edgar Hoover (long time head of the F.B.I.) has been writing lately on the staggering juvenile crime situation. Little wonder that our best trained youth have the least respect for their parents and for constituted civil authority.
AS PARENTS SIT IN THE GALLERIES
And why should youth respect their parents any more than brute beasts remember and respect the animals that gave them physical birth when our modern youth see so clearly that the things most highly esteemed among modern men are the things that their parents did not give them, but rather are the things the day school and Sunday school teachers and experts give? It’s all wrong. It’s terribly wrong. We are a generation of “bleacherites” who have so little genuine life of our own we are bored to tears or the point of suicide unless we can crowd and cram into a theater to see pictures of somebody living.
How ironical it is for so much to be made today of “honest Abe,” his homespun mother and his rugged determination to help his fellow man in the midst of no labor-saving gadgets or social security. What chance has the modern boy, sired by a race track gambler, born by a cigarette queen, educated by a pol-parrot of the evolutionary fool-osophy and given thirty minutes a week in association with other pampered youth in an enticingly equipped Sunday School room and then sent out to make the world safe for democracy — I say what chance has that poor novice of ever becoming an Abraham Lincoln, to say nothing of his ever becoming “a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” able and willing to endure hardness?
We have walls today. Oh yes, great imposing walls! But how and to what purpose were they built? Let me repeat the vivid statement in Isaiah 22: “Ye have broken down the houses to fortify the walls.” Our boasted “freedom and progress” has about wrecked us.
What a pitiful spectacle this is; here we can’t possibly cut out our extravagances in order to get out of depressions and recessions. If we cut out our staggering expenditures for these death dealing cigarettes, liquors and movies we will throw millions out of employment and that would further retard this gay progress and so, in order to lengthen our shortened sheet, we cut the bottom off and proudly sew it onto the top. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Isaiah 47-15 needs no modernizing to bring it up to date. It is God’s sufficient indictment of the condition all clear-eyed people see about us now.
RAHAB’S RAY OF HOPE
Truly and soberly do I “view with alarm” when I look with any honesty of heart about me. Nor will I listen to any of the new dreams being offered by the very same schools of false prophets whose past schemes did not have God’s authority or His blessings. However, with the Bible enlightened eye of faith I look above with great joy and glorious assurance.
Do you remember the story of the harlot, Rahab? She had a house on the wall of the wicked place with its more wicked inhabitants. That great city was soon to fall along with its proud walls. Then what hope was there for the poor harlot whose house was on these walls? There was the hope of the otherwise hopeless, the crimson thread that leads from the place of sin and death to the home of the redeemed. In fact, that harlot’s house became the only real home there was in all that proud city of houses. Listen to this (Joshua 2:18). “Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which you didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.”
This heathen harlot hid the two Israelitish spies who had come into Jericho to spy out the land before their army entered for the conquest. She had heard of the way the true God had owned and blessed these people and she tremblingly received and hid these two from the hateful hands of her fellow sinners in Jericho, with the pleading that they would remember her and her family when the time of God’s judgment should fall on the wicked city. They told her to hang a scarlet thread in her window as a token of her desire and her faith in the God of Israel. She did so and was saved.
A builder builded a temple
He wrought with care and skill.
Pillars and groins and arches
Were fashioned to meet his will;
And men said when they saw its beauty:
“It shall never know decay.
Great is thy skill, O builder,
Thy fame shall endure for aye.”
A father builded a temple;
He wrought with skill and care,
Forming each pillar with patience
Laying each stone with prayer.
None saw the unceasing effort;
None knew the marvelous plan;
For the temple the father builded
Was unseen by the eyes of man.
Gone is the builder’s temple;
Crumbled into the dust
Pillar and groin and arches
Food for consuming rust;
But the temple the father builded
Shall endure while the ages roll;
For that beautiful, unseen temple
Was a child’s eternal soul.