By Donald S. Conkey
How many of the last two generations remember, or even care that yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the day America entered World War II, a war that caused the destruction of 50 million people. Eighty years before that, in 1861, America’s Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
As I ponder these wars I am reminded of words found in Judges 2:10-12. They read “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt (freed from slavery), and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.”
I remember World War II as if it were yesterday. Fear reigned across America as gold stars replaced blue stars in the windows of homes whose family members had been killed in that war, including many in my extended family. A reality reminder of World War II, and December 7, 1941, occurred just a year ago when I spoke at the funeral of a dear friend, Doug Ellis, who went in on D-Day and crossed Europe as the Allies destroyed the Axis powers. It was a war to end all wars but didn’t! Wars continue!
These words in Judges fit out time well. Few of our current generations know ‘what God hath done’ in restoring freedom to the world via the Founding Fathers or of the bloodshed it required to achieve that freedom, or of the bloodshed that has been required to preserve that freedom so many cherish, but seem willing to forgo for hollow promises, promises that no man or government can ever fulfill. Those words in Judges are also vivid reminders of what happens when “current generations” fail to appreciate or to understand what previous generations have done for them in order for them to have their present freedoms and riches.
Because many in our current generation have been snookered into believing “there is no God” we find our government in a similar situation that Cicero described in 55 B.C. just as the Romans began their descent into obscurity. He said: “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” Cicero’s words describe what is happening in America today, especially his use of the words “the arrogance of officialdom?”
Any student of history, biblical or secular, fully understands that there is a cycle of rising and falling of civilizations that began with freedom but end with the people being enslaved by their own greed and corruption. Is that happening to America today? Many think it is. And when greed and corruption prevail it is easy for wise men to predict the future as did Heber J. Grant in June 1940 at the very beginning of World War II. Grant predicted what we have today by analyzing a previous war. Said he: “… Put into modern terms, we can understand them. First there was a forsaking of the righteous life, and the working of wickedness; then must have come the extortion and oppression of the poor by the rich; then retaliation and reprisal by the poor against the rich; then would come a cry to share the wealth which should belong to all; then the easy belief that society owed every man a living whether he worked or not; then the keeping of a great body of idlers; then when the community revenues failed to do this, as they always have failed and always will fail, a self-helping by one to the goods of his neighbor; and finally when the neighbor resisted, as resist he must, or starve with his family, then death to the neighbor and all that belonged to him. This was the decreed ‘fullness of iniquity.’” Nearly fulfilled!
It is time for this generation to remember what their fathers have done for them and change course else they “provoke their Lord to anger.”