“The Sea and the Waves Roaring”

A SINGLE ten-minute newscast lately reported that school teachers were defying an injunction against striking, 400 nurses had walked off their jobs at a prestigious suburban hospital, and protesting police were creating havoc with the peace and traffic of a large American city. All this, to express dissatisfaction with present wage scales.

From just one page of a recent issue of U.S. News & World Report (September 27, 1976) we glean the following items, which give some indication of the universal unrest with which this uncertain world is presently beset:

“There’s trouble in Russia’s back yard. Soviet soldiers insure ‘cooperation’ in Eastern Europe, but some satellite leaders complain about being locked into Russia’s second-rate economy. Portugal grapples with a disastrous economy. Spain struggles to achieve a democratic system. Political and economic problems that promoted Communist fortunes in Italy remain unresolved. Greece and Turkey still are at loggerheads over Cyprus and rights to drill for oil in the Aegean Sea. Nato’s southern area remains a tinderbox.

“East Germany, backed by Russia, stopped 13 busloads of West Germans from entering the city [Berlin] to demonstrate against the Berlin Wall. … The crackdown may be part of moves by the Communists to stem unrest in East Germany. … They’ve been flooding Bonn’s offices in West Berlin, asking for [emigration] visas. Their chances of leaving? Infinitesimal! One doctor who applied 14 times for permission to go was finally tossed into jail.”

A few days later (October 3, 1976) the New York Times headlined an article, “East Germans Build New [900-mile] Border Barrier.” The barrier, the article pointed out, is “designed to keep the East Germans in rather than the Americans and West Germans out.” It then describes the cruel devices built into the barrier to prevent the escape of East Germans from their huge, unhappy prison.

“Number One Problems” in Abundance

In communist Yugoslavia the people “travel freely, read Western books and newspapers and have more cars and luxury goods than communist-ruled people have elsewhere,” says U.S. News & World Report (September 27, 1976) Yet, it is only the unique personal power commanded by President Josip Broz Tito, aged 84, that is keeping this divided, polyglot nation from being torn apart.

The country is made up of many diverse elements, among each of whom there is a deep-rooted, ages-long yearning for national independence, which has lately found expression in killings and terrorism in various parts of the world. The latest evidence of the touchy situation that exists in this small country was seen in the recent skyjacking by Croatian nationalists of a U.S. jetliner flying from New York to Chicago with 80 other passengers and a crew of seven.

This tiny nation, in the opinion of many, is the No. 1 problem on the Western world’s worry list. Indeed, the world’s worry list seems today to be made up of a great many “No. 1” problems.

In Poland, when the government last June announced 60% increases in food prices, the New York Times reported that “Angry Poles responded with strikes, demonstrations, and, in some cases, riots, forcing the Government to delay the cost increases.” The situation got so bad that the communist Government “turned to an unlikely ally, the Roman Catholic Church, to help calm the temper of the Polish people.”

Racial Unrest Universal

Not the least of the world’s unrest today involves race. Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles, and other large American cities worry on a continuing basis as to when the next racial disturbance may break out. “A new generation of ghetto youths is casting a long shadow across many of America’s big cities,” reports a national news weekly. “Poorly educated for the most part and lacking in job skills, such black youngsters are drifting by the hundreds of thousands toward aimless lives of poverty, drugs, crime and violence. … What is emerging is a hard core of black youths left behind in ghettos from Boston to Los Angeles, seemingly consigned to limbo for the rest of their lives. Here [in Detroit], their bitterness spilled out of black neighborhoods in recent months when roving gangs of young toughs terrified Detroiters of both races with assaults, robberies, … and even murders.” Other big cities are managing, so far, to keep the lid on trouble. “Yet they, too, see an explosive situation taking shape.”

Another magazine article is headlined, “Boston: A City Driven to the Brink by Busing.” The subtitle is ominous: “This is a time of decision for Boston—either curb the racial violence or face disaster.” The article that follows is studded with such phrases as worsening racial turmoil, another Belfast, financial crisis.

The continent of Africa is a veritable seething pot of racial discontent, ranging all the way from mild protest to active armed conflict between the opposing elements. For the past half-century the former African colonies have been rejecting the domination of their Western world masters, country by country, the Portuguese colony of Angola being the latest in the list to gain its independence. And the struggle continues.

It comes as rather a shock to learn that even staid and stolid old England is being shaken by racial violence. The New York Times reported (September 5, 1976) that “Last week’s explosion in Notting Hill was the worst in two decades,” and said it provided fresh evidence that Britain is far from solving its racial troubles.

And this is true not only of England, for we read further that “the [racial] troubles are not Britain’s alone: Few if any of the old colonial powers of Europe have successfully assimilated the people whom they once dominated. In France, Holland and Italy as well, the servants of the old European empires have returned to haunt their former masters.”

Democracy Dies in India

In India a promising experiment in democracy that began in 1947 has fallen under the imposition by Indira Gandhi of a ruthless near dictatorship. The country is suffering from malnutrition, economic stagnation, black-marketing, colossal corruption, and serious erosions in living standards. In the State of Bihar alone the jails are literally overflowing with more than 50,000 political prisoners.

An article in the New York Times Magazine says that Bombay “was averaging 24 mass public protests a day. Calcutta, where one of every five persons can find no work at all, was more mutinous still.” Restless people, indeed! And how could it be otherwise, in a nation where some two-thirds of the population are living on the equivalent of 20 cents per day, or less!

And so it goes; almost wherever one looks in this troubled world, potentially explosive conditions are in evidence, largely the result of unbearable poverty and hunger, widespread social injustice, thwarted aspirations, and oppressive rule. As the inhabitants of this troubled planet grow daily more impatient with the futile efforts of world leaders to improve their lot, they are taking matters into their own hands in an effort to better their living conditions and to gain a more equitable share of earth’s good things. They have become restless, agitated, and unruly, as the waters of the lea in a gathering storm.

The Roaring of Mighty Waters

Indeed, we find that the Scriptures make frequent use of just such symbolic language. Thus, the Lord uses the word mountain to picture a kingdom, and earth to describe organized society, or the social arrangements of earth. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom], for the earth [society] shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:9

And we find the restless, protesting masses of humankind described by the prophet as the roaring of mighty waters. “Ah, the thunder of many peoples,” writes Isaiah, “they thunder like the thundering of the sea. Ah, the roar of nations, they roar like the roaring of mighty waters.” (Isa. 17:12,13 RSV) How eloquently descriptive this is of the cries of the people that are even now in process of rising all over the world!

Our Lord Jesus made use of this same symbology to picture the troublous conditions that would exist in the world at the time of his second presence, and which would indicate the near establishment of his kingdom reign in the earth. He said, “There shall be … upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.—Luke 21:25,26

No Way Out

In this passage, the English word perplexity is translated from the Greek word aporeo, the literal meaning of which, according to Professor James Strong, is to have no way out. It is because the fearful world has now begun to see their bewildered leaders are helpless before the rising tide of world problems that they have become troubled and agitated, and are loudly raising their voices in universal protest.

Surely, we are even now witnessing the beginnings of the foretold distress upon the nations with perplexity; and surely, we are hearing the rising of the voices of protest against’ injustice and inequity. They tell us that we are drawing closer to the time when Christ’s kingdom shall be established in the earth, for Jesus added, “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”—Luke 21:31

The psalmist uses similar symbolic language to describe this same time of trouble with which the present age ends, and which foretells the coming establishment in the earth of Christ’s righteous kingdom. He says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth [human society as at present organized] be removed, and though the mountains [the great ruling powers of the earth, the kingdoms of this world] be carried into the midst of the sea [unrestrained masses of mankind]; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled [protesting humanity], though the mountains [ruling powers of earth] shake with the swelling thereof.”—Ps. 46:1-3

In the 6th verse the psalmist writes, “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” (Ps. 46:6 RSV) Though we are even now hearing the raging and roaring of the troubled seas of humanity, and seeing the kingdoms of this world consequently totter, yet the final disintegration of society (described by the psalmist as the melting of the earth) is still before us.

The Apostle Peter speaks of this time of trouble upon the world as the coming of the day of the Lord (Jehovah) in which this present evil world, or social order, is destroyed, in preparation for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom of righteousness. He tells us of “the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”—II Pet. 3:12,13

As the trouble and distress upon the nations rises toward a climax, with “the sea and the waves roaring” ever more loudly, men’s hearts will indeed be filled with fear. They do not see the cause of the trouble as being the result of man’s own sin and selfishness; nor do they yet know that beyond the trouble will come the long-promised rise of the glorious Sun of Righteousness, to spread its healing rays into every corner of that coming new world wherein dwelleth righteousness for the blessing of the whole resurrected world of mankind.—Mal. 4:2; Gen. 22:18

“We Will Not Fear”

But the Lord’s own people will not fear, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”—Ps. 46:1-3

And we find it to be so; for though the nations shall be “in tumult, kingdoms hurled down” (Ps. 46:6 NEB), yet his people shall not be moved. They are safely dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, in the holy of his tabernacle, feeding upon his Word, and enlightened, strengthened, and comforted with his Truth. “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. … The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”—Ps. 46:5,7

As the Heavenly Father has been with his children in troublous times of the past, even so shall he be with them in the present time of trouble. In Matthew’s account of the trouble to come upon the world in this end of the Gospel Age, he records our Lord as saying, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”—Matt. 24:21,22

A proper rendering of this passage would be, “but by [Greek dia, by] the elect those days shall be shortened.” This suggests that before the time of trouble reaches its culmination, the Lord will take the remaining members of his little flock home to their reward. (Ps. 149:5-9) Luke’s account gives the Lord’s people similar assurance and comfort. He records the promise of our Lord Jesus that “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”—Luke 21:28

When the coming storm has wrought its cleansing destruction of all that makes up this present evil world, the Lord will bring it to a halt, even as Jesus calmed the troubled waters of the Sea of Galilee. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen [nations], I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps. 46:10) Then it will be that “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.”—Ps. 46:9

The beloved Apostle Peter, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was able to look down the long centuries of the Gospel Age to the very time in which we are now living. He foretold the destruction of this present evil world and the establishment of the glorious new world of righteousness that would follow. And he urges us on to special faithfulness during these trying times.

“But Grow in Grace!”

Since the present evil world is to break up in this way, he writes, “think what sort of people you ought to be, what devout and dedicated lives you should live!” Think what great things are in store, both for you and for the world! Look beyond the troubles of the day! “Look forward to new heavens and a new earth, the home of justice. With this to look forward to, do your utmost to be found at peace with him, unblemished and above reproach in his sight”—II Pet. 3:11,13,14 NEB

How Peter would have rejoiced to see this day and this hour; to see the very events which he so long ago forecast in the process of coming to pass; to see the signs of the coming millennial reign of Christ and his faithful followers, for the blessing of all the families of the earth!

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”—II Pet. 3:17,18

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |