|The Biblical Examiner |
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
Y2K, a worm prepared by the Lord (Jonah 4:7)?
'My Take on Y2K.' By Perry Need [Perry Need is Pastor Need's brother. Perry is currently the Data Base Administrator for Hurff-Jones, the ring manufacturer.] Speaking from 15 years of business software systems development (vs weapons systems), 12 years of which were in govt software contracting...
Sadly, there are pastors telling folks there is no cause of concern over the millennial bug, e.g., "Remain spiritually minded, be concerned about souls, and there will be no problem. Let the world worry about those things." I must admit that Christians have no need to fear, for God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Nor should Christians fear what men can do to the body, but fear him who has the power to destroy both the body and soul in hell. (2 Tim. 1:7, Mt.10:28.) We are also assured of God's divine providence caring for his own. However, all the promises of God's watchful care of his own will not void the results of sin and indifference. We occasionally have tornados in our area. Only fools say, God will take care of us, and remain in the path of an oncoming tornado. (I personally have found that when the lights go out in the homes of the wicked, my home is not exempt from the failure because I am a Christian. We have some good Christian farmers in our community, and they have found that they must endure the same inclement weather as do the antichristian farmers. Mt. 5:45.) Yet there are some preachers are telling folks: Just remain unconcerned, and the approaching storm will pass over. When your neighbour's lights go out, yours will not because you love God and the souls around you. Computer chips are smart, but are they smart enough to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked? Maybe those pastors think that the Lord will supernaturally intervene and make the chips operate contrary to their design. Maybe those pastors think the Lord will somehow send utilities to his people while bypassing the wicked. Who knows what their thinking is, but we do know what the results of their thinking will be--very unpleasant.
Is that the Spirit says that in the last times there would be mockers who would say "peace and safety" -- God's threats are not for the "church age of grace." The reason the mockers deny the validity of God's Law-Word, deceiving many to follow their pernicious ways (2 Pe. 2), is because they desire to walk after their own ungodly lusts. (Jude 15-18.) The mockers may point to surrounding immorality, and say that evil does result in great physical ailments, e.g., AIDS, VD, ulcers, &c. Yet these "pointers" refuse to apply the same doctrine of cause and effect in a manner that will affect them; they seem to think that God's people are exempt from any evil results of their ungodly ways, or of the ungodly ways of those around them.
"But, the US is a Christian nation. God would not let anything happen to it."
A common number bandied about is that over 80% of Americans claim to be Christians. Yet a reason given for TV shows not having high ratings is because they do not contain enough vulgarity and sexual content when compared to programs that have a lot of such filth. Filth draws a crowd, or the programs would not be filthy.
The November/December 1997 Barna Report reveals the continuing decline in the influence of Christianity on American society. Eighty-four percent of Americans consider themselves to be Christians. Nevertheless, "Christians' beliefs are basically inconsequential because nonbelievers see Christianity as benign and irrelevant."
Fifty-four percent of Christians read the Bible during the week; 61 percent attend church each week; and 71 percent support their church financially--behaviors that are "expected" by nonbelievers. Christian behaviors that cause non-Christians to "question their own actions" are regular participation in prayer groups, being active in a local church, and claiming to be born again.
Sadly, differences between Christians and nonbelievers are often minimal. Thirty-three percent of nonbelievers watch MTV; so do 26 percent of Christians. Forty percent of non-Christians watch R-rated movies; 30 percent of Christians admit to doing so as well. And 12 percent of believers agree with 17 percent of nonbelievers "that money means success" (Current Thoughts and Trends, 5/98).10
God assures us that every action must have a reaction, an effect -- whether good or evil, there will be an effect. Thus both in individuals and in society in general, there must be results of our modern antichrist social climate. God's established law of cause and effect is not voided by denial.
Who is accountable to the Covenant-Law as summed up in the Ten Commandments? Only Israel at the mount promised to obey "The Law," (Ex. 19:8) but does Scripture support any theory that those outside of Israel were not accountable to the law? If non-Israelites were unaccountable to the Ten Commandments, they would have been righteous, i.e., saved, without even needing a sacrifice for violating the law. (Where there is no law, there is no sin, 1 Jn. 3:4.) There are those who reverse this thought, saying that God's "New Testament people" are not accountable to the law, yet the unsaved are, i.e., they are sinners based upon the Commandments.
The truth is that the Lord made the covenant with every living soul, not just with the ones present at the giving of the Commandments. Deuteronomy 29:14, 15, appear to restrict the Covenant-Law to the literal descendants of those who came out of Egypt (Paul places the church as the legal descendants of the fathers who came out of Egypt, 1 Cor. 10:1). However, we must dogmatically say that the whole human race was/is accountable to the Covenant-Law because all men are included in God's judgment against sin (Rom. 6:23). We know whom the Covenant-Law is given to by who is judged by its righteous standards.
As we note these several points, see how God's judgment is commonly equated with natural disasters:
1) Israel was devoured by her enemies because she ignored the covenant (Isa. 5:24, 25);
2) it is the Lord's judgment against his own people that proves he will judge all the inhabitants of the earth according to the Covenant-Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments (Jer.25:25, 29, 32). The Lord's judgment will go from nation to nation as a great whirlwind. The Lord calls for a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth. (v. 29.) Normally, we think of the Lord's judgment against the heathen as proof that he will judge his people, e.g., "If the Lord does not judge modern American style Christianity, he will have to apologize to Sodom." However, we are told that God's judgment against his own people should cause the heathen sodomites to tremble -- God's judgment against his people witnesses against the pagans, not the other way around. All should tremble who read Joshepus' record of the destruction of the Israelite nation, for it witnesses of God's patience (why did he wait so long to destroy them?), justice, righteousness and to his mercy (the Christian remnant escaped). We should, therefore, say, "If God does not judge America, and all the world that is now in rebellion against him, he will have to apologize to Old Testament Israel and to Jerusalem for what he did to it in 70 AD (cf., Heb. 10:29);
3) the reason for the curse against all mankind is because they have violated the Commandments (Jer. 11:2, note v. 3, the man, obviously meaning any man);
4) the reason God's judgment is against the inhabitants of the earth and the reason the whole earth, including the pagans, is devoured is because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant. The reason the pagans are judged is not because they are non-Israelites, but because they have transgressed the laws of God (Isa. 24:1-6, 21, which in no way contradicts John 3:18, 23.);
5) every nation under the sun was/is specifically included within God's Covenant-Law. (Isa. 13:1-23:8 [13:11, marg. Bab. Empire].) The Lord promises to punish the world for its evil, and the rest of the passage describes that punishment (see also Jer 25:29ff, &c. God describes his judgment as a shaking of the heavens and earth);
6) any nation removing God's law from public policy will be destroyed (Ps. 9:17, Jer. 18:7-10, they self-destruct, Jer 13:22, &c.).
7) God destroyed Babylon because she violated the Covenant-Law, sinning against the Lord (Jer. 50:14). The Lord's curse is against all who violate his Commandments -- not only is it against his people (OT Israel and the NT Elect, Deut 28, 29), but his curse is against all nations of the world. Every nation that forgets God and breaks the Covenant will be judged accordingly as covenant breakers (Rom. 1 & 2);
8) Malachi concludes the Old Testament by summing up the covenant relationship between the Creator and all of his creation (ch 4). Paul repeats Malachi's words. (Rom. 2:6-16.)
The Covenant-Law covers all the inhabitants of the earth. Though man tries to hide in his religion, &c., he has no place to hide, no place to escape from God's Law of the Covenant -- it is as total as is his creation. (Ps. 139:7ff., Isa. 24:18.) The wrath of God is upon the world today because it has forsaken his Law of the Covenant.
Cause and Effect
God is immutable. His standard of holiness and justice does not change. He hates sin as much today as when Satan sinned. Therefore, evil must come upon all people and all the nations that forget God. (Ps. 9:17.) The Lord tells us that the prudent man, the sensible person, sees what is going on around him, and he takes proper action. The prudent, godly person sees society's total commitment to sin, and he knows that God will move against it.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. (Pr. 22:3.)
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished. (Pr. 27:12.)
The above statement by the Spirit is not to be taken lightly, for it is given verbatim twice.
Crafty, prudent, subtle. The adjective 'arum is construed to be a positive virtue when rendered "prudent." The prudent one does not vaunt his knowledge (Prov 12:23), ignores an insult (Prov 12:16), acts with knowledge (Prov 14:8), looks where he is going (Prov 14:15), sees danger and acts appropriately (Prov 22:3 = 27:12), and is crowned with knowledge (Prov 14:18).8
The word is used negatively to describe Satan's subtility (Gen. 3:1), and to describe those determined to do evil (Job 5:12, 15:5). "Given this seminal passage, the comment of our Lord to his disciples is even more surprising: "Be shrewd [phronimos] as serpents, and innocent as doves" (Matt 10:16, NASB). (Ibid.) Note should be taken that part of the shrewdness of the early church was heeding the Lord's words to prepare for the coming judgment upon the great whore, Jerusalem (Mt. 24).
Wisdom applied to practice. Johnson.
Prudence implies caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity in discerning and selecting them. Prudence differs from wisdom in this, that prudence implies more caution and reserve than wisdom, or is exercised more in foreseeing and avoiding evil, than in devising and executing that which is good. It is sometimes mere caution or circumspection.
Prudence is principally in reference to actions to be done, and due means, order, season and method of doing or not doing. Hale.9
Throughout God's word, he has promised to reward both good and evil. (Exo. 20:3-7, Josh. 24:15, Ezk. 20:25ff., Rom. chaps. 1 & 2, 6:16, 8:6, Gal. 6:7ff, Eph. 5:6ff., &c. Note that passages such as Dt. 28, 29, Ps. 81, Ez. 20 & Ho. 5 were given to a nation rather than to individuals.)
Let me quote several comments on Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12, and then draw some conclusions. Though the following quotes draw primarily spiritual conclusions, can we so restrict them? The warning to God's people in both the Old and New Testaments many times called for physical preparation for the coming evil. The conclusions for each are in the footnotes.
[Pr. 22:3] is intended to be said what immediate consequence on the part of a prudent man arises from his perceiving an evil standing before him; he sees, e.g., the approaching overthrow of a decaying house, or in a sudden storm the fearful flood, and betimes betakes himself to a place of safety; the simple, on the contrary, go blindly forward into the threatening danger, and must bear the punishment of their carelessness. The fut. Consec. 3a denotes the hiding of oneself as that which immediately follows from the being observant... the general meaning of being punished, viz. of the self-punishment of want of foresight.1
[Pr. 22] Ver. 3. A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, &c.] A wise man, whose eyes are in his head, who looks about him and before him, and is cautious and careful of his conduct and behaviour; he foresees the evil of sin he is liable to be drawn into by such and such company, snares, and temptations; and therefore he keeps from them, and abstains from all appearance of evil, or what would lead him to it; and he foresees the evil of punishment, or the judgments of God that are coming on for sin; and he betakes himself to the Lord, to those hiding places and chambers of retreat and protection he has provided for his people, till the indignation be overpast; see#Isa 26:20;
but the simple pass on, and are punished: foolish persons, devoid of the grace of God and the fear of him, go on careless and unconcerned in their sinful course of life, transgressing the law of God; they proceed from evil to evil, from lesser to greater sins; they go on in the broad road to destruction, and are punished with temporal judgments here, and with everlasting destruction hereafter.2
[Pr. 22:3] 1. The benefit of wisdom and consideration: A prudent man, by the help of his prudence, will foresee an evil, before it comes, and hide himself; he will be aware when he is entering into a temptation and will put on his armour and stand on his guard. When the clouds are gathering for a storm he takes the warning, and flies to the name of the Lord as his strong tower. Noah foresaw the deluge, Joseph the years of famine, and provided accordingly.
2. The mischief of rashness and inconsideration. The simple, who believe every word that flatters them, will believe none that warns them, and so they pass on and are punished. They venture upon sin, though they are told what will be in the end thereof; they throw themselves into trouble, notwithstanding the fair warning given them, and they repent their presumption when it is too late. See an instance of both these, #Ex 9:20-21. Nothing is so fatal to precious souls as this, they will not take warning.
[Pr. 27:12] This we had before, #Pr 22:3. Note,
1. Evil may be foreseen. Where there is temptation, it is easy to foresee that if we thrust ourselves into it there will be sin, and as easy to foresee that if we venture upon the evil of sin there will follow the evil of punishment; and, commonly, God warns before he wounds, having set watchmen over us, #Jer 6:17.
2. It will be well or ill with us according as we do or do not improve the foresight we have of evil before us: The prudent man, foreseeing the evil, forecasts accordingly, and hides himself, but the simple is either so dull that he does not foresee it or so wilful and slothful that he will take no care to avoid it, and so he passes on securely and is punished. We do well for ourselves when we provide for hereafter.3
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. ("It aggravates Israel's sin, that God is not about to inflict judgment, without having fully warned the people, if haply they might repent." JFB, Online Bible. See Ps. 25:14, Jn. 15:15.)
[Amos 3] Ver. 1. thru Ver. 8.
The scope of these verses is to convince the people of Israel that God had a controversy with them. That which the prophet has to say to them is to let them know that the Lord has something to say against them, #Am 3:1. They were his peculiar people above others, knew his name, and were called by it; nevertheless he had something against them, and they were called to hear what it was, that they might consider what answer they should make, as the prisoner at the bar is told to hearken to his indictment. The children of Israel would not regard the words of counsel and comfort that God had many a time spoken to them, and now they shall be made to hear the word of reproof and threatening that the Lord has spoken against them; for he will act as he has spoken.
I. Let them know that the gracious cognizance God has taken of them, and the favours he had bestowed upon them, should not exempt them from the punishment due to them for their sins. Israel is a family that God brought up out of the land of Egypt, #Am 3:1, and it was no more than a family when it went down thither; thence God delivered it; thence he fetched it to be a family to himself. It is not only the ten tribes, the kingdom of Israel, that must take notice of this, but that of Judah also, for it is spoken against the whole family that God brought up out of Egypt. It is a family that God has bestowed distinguishing favours upon, has owned in a peculiar manner. You only have I known of all the families of the earth. Note, God's church in the world is a family dignified above all the families of the earth. Those that know God are known of him. In Judah is God known, and therefore Judah is more than any people known of God. God has known them, that is, he has chosen them, covenanted with them, and conversed with them as his acquaintance. Now, one would think, it should follow,
"Therefore I will spare you, will connive at your faults, and excuse you."
No: Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Note, The distinguishing favours of God to us, if they do not serve to restrain us from sin, shall not serve to exempt us from punishment; nay, the nearer any are to God in profession, and the kinder notice he has taken of them, the more surely, the more quickly, and the more severely will he reckon with them, if they by a course of wilful sin profane their character, disgrace their relation to him, violate their engagements, and put a slight upon the favours and honours with which they have been distinguished. Therefore they shall be punished, because their sins dishonour him, affront him, and grieve him, more than the sins of others, and because it is necessary that God should vindicate his own honour by making it appear that he hates sin and hates it most in those that are nearest to him; if they be but as bad as others, they shall be punished worse than others, because it is justly expected that they should be so much better than others. Judgment begins at the house of God, begins at the sanctuary; for God will be sanctified either by or upon those that come nigh unto him, #Le 10:3.
II. Let them know that they could not expect any comfortable communion with God unless they first made their peace with him (#Am 3:3): Can two walk together except they be agreed? No; how should they? Where there is not friendship there can be no fellowship; if two persons be at variance, they must first accommodate the matters in difference between them before there can be any interchanging of good offices. Israel has affronted God, had broken their covenant with him, and ill-requited his favours to them; and yet they expected that he should continue to walk with them, should take their part, act for them, and give them assurances of his presence with them, though they took no care by repentance and reformation to agree with their adversary and to turn away his wrath.
"But how can that be?"
"While you continue to walk contrary to God you can look for no other than that he should walk contrary to you,"
#Le 26:23,24. Note, We cannot expect that God should be present with us, or act for us, unless we be reconciled to him. God and man cannot walk together except they be agreed. Unless we agree with God in our end, which is his glory, we cannot walk with him by the way.
III. Let them know that the warnings God gave them of judgments approaching were not causeless and groundless, merely to amuse them, but certain declarations of the wrath of God against them, which (if they did not speedily repent) they would infallibly feel the effects of (#Am 3:4):
"Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey in view? No: he roars upon his prey. Nor will a young lion cry out of his den if the old lion have taken nothing to bring home to him; nor would God thus give you warning both by the threatenings of his word, and by less judgments, if you had not by your sins made yourselves a prey to his wrath, nor if he were not really about to fall upon you with desolating destroying judgments."
Note, The threatenings of the word and providence of God are not bugbears, to frighten children and fools, but are certain inferences from the sin of man and certain presages of the judgments of God.
IV. Let them know that, as their own wickedness was the procuring cause of these judgments, so they shall not be removed till they have done their work, #Am 3:5. When God has come forth to contend with a sinful people it is necessary that they should understand,
1. That it is their own sin that has entangled them; for can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth where no gin is for him? No, nature does not lay snares for the creatures, but the art of men; a bird is not taken in a snare by chance, but with the fowler's design; so the providence of God prepares trouble for sinners, and it is in the work of their own hands that they are snared. Affliction does not spring out of the dust, but it is God's justice, and our own wickedness, that correct us.
2. It is nothing but their own repentance that can disentangle them; for shall one take up a snare from the earth, which he laid with design, except he have taken something as he designed? So neither will God remove the affliction he has sent till it have done its work and accomplished that for which he sent it. If our hearts be duly humbled, and we are brought by our afflictions to confess and forsake our sins, then the snare has taken something, then the point is gained, the end is answered, and then, and not till then, the snare is broken, is taken up from the earth, and we are delivered in love and mercy.
V. Let them know that all their troubles came from the hand of God's providence and from the counsel of his will(#Am 3:6): Shall there be evil in a city, in a family, in a nation, and the Lord has not done it, appointed it, and performed what he appointed? The evil of sin is from ourselves; it is our own doing. But the evil of trouble, personal or public, is from God, and is his doing; whoever are the instruments, God is the principal agent. Out of his mouth both evil and good proceed. This consideration, that, whatever evil is in the city, the Lord has done it, should engage us patiently to bear our share in public calamities and to study to answer God's intention in them.
VI. Let them know that their prophets, who give them warning of judgments approaching, deliver nothing to them but what they have received from the Lord to be delivered to his people.
1. God makes it known beforehand to the prophets(#Am 3:7): Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, none of that evil in the city spoken of(#Am 3:6), but he reveals it to his servants the prophets, though to others it is a secret. Therefore those know not what they do who make light of the warnings which the prophets give them, in God's name. Observe, God's prophets are his servants, whom he employs to go on his errands to the children of men. The secret of God is with them; it is in some sense with all the righteous (#Pr 3:32), with all that fear God (#Ps 25:14), but in a peculiar manner with the prophets, to whom the Spirit of prophecy is a Spirit of revelation. It would have put honour enough upon prophets if it had been only said that sometimes God is pleased to reveal to his prophets what he designs to do, but it speaks something very great to say that he does nothing but what he reveals to them, as if they were the men of his counsel. Shall I hide from Abraham, who is a prophet, the thing which I do? #Ge 18:17. God will therefore be sure to reckon with those that put contempt on the prophets, whom he puts this honour upon.
2. The prophets cannot but make that known to the people which God has made known to them(#Am 3:8): The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy? His prophets, to whom he has spoken in secret by dreams and visions, cannot but speak in public to the people what they have heard from God. They are so full of those things themselves, so well assured concerning them, and so much affected with them, that they cannot but speak of them; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak. I believed; therefore have I spoken, #Ac 4:20. Nay, and besides the prophetic impulse which went along with the inspiration, and made the word like a fire in their bones (#Jer 20:9), they received a command from God to deliver what they had been charged with; and they would have been false to their trust if they had not done it. Necessity was laid upon them, as upon the preachers of the gospel, #1Co 9:16.
VII. Let them know that they ought to tremble before God upon the fair warning he had given them, as they would,
1. Upon the sounding of a trumpet, to give notice of the approach of the enemy, that all may stand upon their guard and stand to their arms: Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people be not afraid, or run together? so some read it, #Am 3:6. Will they not immediately come together in a fright, to consider what is best to be done for the common safety? Yet when God by his prophets gives them notice of their danger, and summons them to come and enlist themselves under his banner, it makes no impression; they will sooner give credit to a watchman on their walls than to a prophet sent of God, will sooner obey the summons of the governor of their city than the orders given them by the Governor of the world. God says, Hearken to the voice of the trumpet; but they will not hearken, nay, and they tell him plainly that they will not, #Jer 6:17.
2. Upon the roaring of a lion. God is sometimes as a lion, and a young lion, to the house of Judah, #Ho 5:14. The lion roars before he tears; thus God warns before he wounds. If therefore the lion roars upon a poor traveller (as he did against Samson, #Jud 14:5, he cannot but be put into great consternation; yet the Lord roars out of Zion (#Am 1:2), and none are afraid, but they go on securely as if they were in no danger. Note, The fair warning given to a careless world, if it be not taken, will aggravate its condemnation another day. The lion roared, and they were not moved with fear to prepare an ark. O the amazing stupidity of an unbelieving world, that will not be wrought upon, no, not by the terrors of the Lord!4
(Pr. 22:3, 27:12) It is a great part of wisdom to see what God is doing, or about to do. When evil is come, most men can see it. But the prudent foreseeth it. that God hath given to us the knowledge of futurity. This would only have encouraged presumption. But he has given us prudence, naturally foreseeing evil, and forecasting the most effectual means of deliverance. David was thus directed to hide himself from Saul ; (1 Sam. xx. 19 ; xxiii. 19-21 ; xxvi. 1) Elijah from Jezebel. (1 Kings, xvii. 3 ; xix. 3.) The disciples were taught to flee from impending evil. (Acts, ix. 23-25 ; xvii. 14 ; xxiii. 17.) Paul repeatedly hid himself from threatened destruction. Even our Divine Master acted on this rule of prudence, (Mark, iii. 6, 7. Luke, iv. 29, 30. John, viii. 59 ; x. 39.) till his hour was come. (Matt. xxvi. 46.)
But to apply it to spiritual evils foreseen--"Noah, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house." (Heb. xi. 7.) Josiah endeavoured to ward off the threatened judgment by humiliation before God. (2 Chron. xiv. 21.) Paul "laboured" for the covering of present acceptance, foreseeing the tremendous evil of "appearing" unsheltered "before the judgment-seat of Christ." (2 Cor. v. 9,10.)
Not that the prudent man is gifted with supernatural knowledge. He only uses the discernment which God hath given him. He regards the signs of the times. He studies the word of God in reference to coming judgments; and he acts accordingly. To walk carelessly in the midst of evil, is reckless folly. We stand "not by faith" only, but "by faith" balanced with fear (Rom. xi. 20); yet not the fear of bondage and scrupulosity, but of care, watchfulness, and diligence. (Heb. iv. 1,11.) Guilty, wandering, tempted, afflicted, dying as we are, common--at least Christian--prudence shews us our need of an hiding-place. Except we seek one in time, we are lost for eternity. Did we but realize the huge mass of guilt lying upon us, and the infinite wrath that for that guilt hangs over us, could we rest in an unsheltered state? Should not we tread upon all that lies in our way to run to shelter? Coming judgments there may be. But let us set our face towards our hiding-place. God will undertake for our danger. His own most loving voice points us to a shelter in the chamber of his own perfections. (Isa. xxvi. 20. 'It is nature which teaches a wise man in fear to hide himself. But grace and faith doth teach him where. Where should the frightened child hide his head, but in the bosom of his loving Father? Were a Christian, but under the shadow of the wings of Christ his Saviour?'-Hooker's Remedy against Fear.)
Very different is the course of the simple. (Chap. xiv. 15,16.) Devoid of all prudence; foreseeing no evil; fearing none; given up to their own ways, and reckless of all consequences, they pass on, and are punished by their own folly. (Chap. vii. 7, 22, 23.) Oh ! many such are there, who "when the Lord's hand is lifted up, will not see" (Isa. xxvi. 11) ; who will not hear the distant thunder, betokening the approaching storm ; who in their fancied security laugh at those, who are preparing for an evil day ; laugh even on the brink of that destruction, which, unless Sovereign grace interpose, will make them wise too late.
[Pr. 27] 12. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished. (Chap. xxii. 3.)
Even animal instinct is the exercise of prudence. (Jer. viii. 7.) Every intelligent man acts upon it. It is natural to see the evil when it is come, or close to our door. But the prudent man foreseeth the coming evil. God is the same unchangeable God of holiness and justice. Sin is the same abomination to him as ever. There must therefore be evil to the sinner. The prudent man sees the effect in the cause, the consequent in the antecedent. He must therefore provide himself with a shelter. We often see the Christian's patience, security, and hope. Here is his prudence, securing a refuge. The evil is imminent. But "God in Christ" is to him "the munition of rocks ;" not a cold and barren refuge, safe from enemies, but exposed to hunger; but a storehouse of food, as well as a citadel of defence. "Bread shall be given him, and his water shall be sure." (Isa. xxxiii. 16. Comp. Ps. cxlii. 5.) The man, who has never realized the evil, is without an hiding place. The man outside the gate perishes, as if there were no refuge. Only he, who "runneth into the strong tower, is safe." (Chap. viii. 10.) A mighty blessing is any dispensation, that awakens from slumber, and brings care, prudence, confidence !5
The Israelites, warned of the destruction of the firstborn, (Exod. Xii. 13, 13, 21-23.) and many ages after, of the ruin of their city, hid themselves. Matt. xxiv. 15-21.) This prudence combined with faith, rouses us as the man-slayer to flee from impending danger, and to "lay hold of the hope set before us." (Heb. Vi. 18.) For him there were six cities. (Num. xxxv. 11-13.) For us there is but one. (Acts. Iv. 12.) Nothing short of vital faith brings us into it.
But the simple -- the wilfully foolish -- let things take their course. God is so merciful. All will be well at the last. They will not be warned. The fooleries of the world engage their heart. All besides is forgotten; they pass on, and are punished. The prudent hide themselves in God. The simple rush blindfold into hell. Oh ! sinner, does not thy ruin lie at shine own door ? What will it be to take the mad pleasures here, and to "lie down in everlasting sorrow ?"" (Isa. l. 11.) The tears of the penitent are but for a moment, and end in everlasting joy. (Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6.) Thine will be for eternity, "the weeping" of utter despondency. (Matt. viii. 12.) Wilt thou scorn this warning ? The ox is driven to destruction. The sinner plunges into it, in despite of every effort to restrain him.6
Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. (Jer. 8:7ff.)
(e) He accuses them in that they are more ignorant of God's judgments, than these birds are of their appointed seasons to discern the cold and heat.7
1) The prudent man sees the impending overthrow of a decaying house, and prepares accordingly. Overthrow speaks of an intentional violence against the decaying house. There can be no question that when 8 and 9 year old boys murder a girl for her bicycle that the house is certainly decayed at its very foundation. The prudent man understands the word of God, that God must overthrow such a society. [Kiel-Delitzsch, VI.84.]
2) The prudent accepts the word of God, and "foresees the evil of punishment, or the judgments of God that are coming on for sin." He prepares himself accordingly. (And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 1 Jn. 5:19.). On the other hand, the simple refuse to acknowledge the fact of Causality -- they refuse to admit that world-wide sin will be judged by God in time and history, particularly during their time in history -- "God will judge, but it won't affect me." [John Gill, Online Bible.]
3) Noah and Joseph both took physical action based upon God's words of warning. Noah, especially, took action based upon God's promised physical judgment against sin. (Cf. Heb. 11:7, &c.) [Matthew Henry, Online Bible.]
Moreover, God commonly warns mankind before he sends the evil upon the land because of its wickedness. The purpose of his watchmen is to warn the people for God concerning the approaching evil according to his word. We must also say that the purpose of the evil is so the people will know that the Lord, he is God. (See Ez. 33:2, 7, 11, 29, &c.)
4) Though God's church has experienced the abundant mercies of God, she is not exempt from the results of her sin. (See Heb. 10:26ff.) [Ibid.]
Note that evil is not brought upon a society by the Devil. Men, in their own wickedness, procure their own judgments, set their own snares. The judgments will not be removed until sinners repent. (Pr. 28:13, 14.) Whoever or whatever might be the instruments of the evil, God's providence brings it about. Though God is the principal agent, men are to blame. God's warnings go out about men's sin in plenty of time for men to repent and prepare. Sinners are snared in by the works of their own hands. Thought speaking his warnings primally through his prophets, every child of God should be able to see the snares, and thus prepare to avoid them.
It is sad when folks will be summoned together for the common good against a physical enemy, yet refuse to acknowledge the validity of a summons against the spiritual enemy -- they continue in their indifference and sins.
God warns before he wounds. O the amazing stupidity of those who refuse to head the warning and take proper action.
5) God has not given his people knowledge about the future, but he has given them wisdom to see what he is about to do. Most men can see when evil comes, but God's wisdom allows his people to see it coming. Godly wisdom, the prudent man, will prepare as much as possible, as exemplified by his people of the past: Noah, David, Elijah, Paul, the disciples, and even Christ himself. God does not move against sin, bringing about evil, without first warning his people. [Charles Bridges (1794-1869), Proverbs, 398-401, 1846. Banner of Truth Trust, 1981.]
The prudent man's preparation is not based in any "supernatural knowledge," but in his knowledge of God's word "in reference to coming judgments." He recognizes the doctrine of Causality; he recognizes the "signs of the time", and he acts accordingly. The prudent man does not act out of fear, but out of cautious watchfulness and diligence -- not only preparing for the future meeting "before the judgment-seat of Christ," but preparing for the promised evil results of man's rebellion against God.
The simple makes not the "cause and effect" connection, so hearing not the distant thunder, he takes no precautions against the approaching storm. In fact, the simple, though on the brink of destruction laughs, at those who do take heed and prepare.
6) The word of God is replete with illustrations of God's warnings that required both spiritual and physical action to be taken. Yet the unbelieving plunges on, despite of every effort to restrain him. [Bridges, Proverbs, 513.]
7) The birds with their natural instinct have more common sense than do his people -- birds can see approaching evil, while those claiming to be wise in the word of God cannot. They say, "We are wise, and we have God's word with us. Even though his warnings are clearly written in his word, we do not have to worry." They refuse to admit there is a result of rejecting God's Command-Word. In fact, they looked for peace despite the unrestrained sin. (Jer. 8:15.) [Geneva.]
If God is unchangeable, then evil must come upon the sinner though God's patience seems unceasing. (Cf. Rom. 2.) The prudent man foresees the effect in the cause -- sin moves God to bring evil upon the sinners. Throughout history, it has always rained upon the just and upon the unjust. Thus the just will "suffer" with the unjust when God moves against the nations that forget him.
Biblical history, the Israelites, is replete with instances of prudence combined with faith. The simple plunges into destruction, in despite of every effort to warn and restrain him.
Commenting on Matthew 24:6, 7, Matthew Henry said, "The old house must be taken down (though it cannot be done without noise, and dust, and danger), ere the new fabric can be erected: the things that are shaken (and ill shaken they were) must be removed, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain, Heb 12:27." Though speaking of the soon coming destruction of the house of Israel, 70 AD, the application is clear -- the house of sin and rebellion against God "must be taken down" and it cannot be done without a lot of noise, dust and danger to God's people.
It is the mercy of God that "the old house" of sin is taken down, for it is not, oppressive, sinful men would gain total control, much like Nimrod. Though there is a great amount of noise, dust and danger, it is God's mercy that brings down all things that are in rebellion against him.
What is coming upon the US and upon the world that is in rebellion against the Lord and his Christ? Only the Lord knows. However, we are confident that, based upon God's word, God's providence is moving against the sinners. The prudent man puts the obvious 2 + 2 together, and prepares accordingly.
8 TWOT, #1698c; adj. 9 1828 Webster. 10 What in the World! Vol. 23, Num. 12. A news service prepared by Bob Jones University for the local church. Free church subscriptions: 864 242 5100, ext. 3074.
Pastor Ovid Need
[Perry Need is Pastor Need's brother. Perry is currently the Data Base Administrator for Hurff-Jones, the ring manufacturer.]
I Don't Know.
Which in itself is not surprising and is not cause for concern.
But no one else knows either, and that is cause for concern.
There are many things I don't know. After 15 years of business software systems development (vs weapons systems), 12 years of which were in govt software contracting, I know less than when I started. But what I do know I know for a fact.
What I do know is that no one can accurately predict what will happen on Jan 1, 2000. I know this from common sense (not that I have a lot of that either). There are two simple reasons why no one knows: 1) Across the board in everyday working life no one can accurately predict or manage even the most simple & everyday software tasks in their own shops, let alone a giant software task all over the country/world. 2) Because the Y2K is so universal, no one can accurately get a handle on it.
I know several other things.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the size of the numbers in the computer world make it hard for an individual to understand. We all can understand numbers in the size range of hundreds and thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands. But as numbers approach the million range and beyond we really can't grasp them in a personal sense. How fast is a nanosecond? How complicated is a program of 3 million lines of programming code?
The scope and size of Y2K: No one knows. There are two major areas that I loosely call 1) embedded chips and 2) business systems (or what used to be called Data Processing).
Business Systems: I think of this as referring to all the computer hardware, software, and infrastructure (networks etc) that support business activities that typically, without computers, would be done by people.
Activities like maintaining a General Ledger, balancing accounts, making checks, printing Invoices and Bills of Lading, and so forth.
All of these activities are essential to a business operation and the volume of activity across the country is huge. It is mostly automated so Y2K failures will have a big impact. BUT, it is all activity that can be understood and mostly performed by people. People can take orders, make invoices, cut checks and post to the General Ledger (although at considerable cost in terms of time and throughput). I have seen this happen before in the govt where they routinely screw up on a large scale - and it can be done.
And just as importantly Business Systems are activities that individuals can monitor for themselves. I can keep paper records and prove what my bank account balance is. I can prove that I've made 127 mortgage payments
and only have 233 more to go and I owe this much.
Embedded Chips: This is my major concern precisely because it is a mystery. Embedded chips are the computers (or more correctly, the processors) that do things people can't do, or can't do fast enough to be effective.
Embedded chips are in the guts of all kinds of machines and devices (hence the term 'embedded') and oftentimes they are the 'brains' of the device. There are a huge number of them and they work 24 hours a day in terms of
nanoseconds. Most of them don't know or care about dates - but some of them do care because they need dates to do their job. Generally speaking these chips are the ones that function as the 'brains' that monitor and
control all kinds of activities from the very small to the very large. And oftentimes do so at a rate and complexity that people can't do.
An example: (This is not necessarily correct but illustrates the dilemma.) Control chips do things like monitor a thousand times a second the amount of current on an electric transmission line. If it detects something wrong
it immediately tells a smarter chip what is going on. That activity by itself has nothing to do with dates. But the smarter chip may very well be concerned with dates because it will have to decide alternative transmission paths to switch to based perhaps upon which path is the most least-recently used. It may make that decision based upon the total number of seconds (or nanoseconds) since the alternative path was last used. Or it may do that based upon a date calculation.
Taking another step into the bigger picture - the chips detect an increasing drain on the power line (everybody turned on their air-conditioners). This is reported up the line to the point where a processor is in charge of bringing another generator on-line at the power plant or increasing the load on a generator that is already on-line. The processor may consider which generator has the most time remaining before it is due to be shut down for maintenance and therefore will use that generator. If this is a date calculation that spans over the turn of the century then it may very well think that the generator is not available and won't use it. It may also think that the currently running generator is way over-due for shutdown and will turn it off.
Who knows what it will think and do? That's the problem, but its only the tip of the iceberg.
This is where the size of the numbers have a big impact. The first problem is identifying the chips, the second problem is knowing the specifics of each one, how they interact with each other, and how to fix/replace it. If
a gigantic map existed, like a road map, that identified where every chip is and what type it is, and how it is programmed, then it would be a do-able job because at least they could be located and either replaced/fixed or temporarily disabled.
But such road-maps don't exist.
I think that the number of grains of sand on a typical beach is about one billion. I'm dead certain that the total number of embedded chips in use today exceeds that by an order of magnitude. But nobody knows. Imagine
having to find which of those grains of sand are potential problems, then determining if it is a problem, and then fixing or replacing it.
That is the scope of the embedded chip problem.
The cause of Y2K: Typically it is ascribed to 'programmers'. This is true only in a very limited sense. Programmers work for management. Management decision-making is based upon, in order of importance, political, financial, and technical considerations. Management, being fully informed of the technical issues, time and time again deliberately sacrifice the right way of doing it on the alter of short-term expediency in order to
meet or beat the next quarter's numbers. In publicly traded companies this is called serving the stockholders, of which the company's executives are usually a significant minor percentage.
An example on the positive side is the Fortune 100-sized company that I worked for in the early eighties that did things the right way. All dates were handled in full century Julian format (Julian is the consecutive numbering of days in each year so that May 15, 1998 is 19980135, or the 135th day of 1998) Doing date arithmetic with full Julian dates is obviously straightforward: 2000031 minus 19980135 will give the correct result. This was done not with a spiffy new computer language but with the (almost) oldest computer language of them all - assembler. It was an intentional management decision to build software with the highest practical degree of reliability, flexibility and durability in accordance with the company's overall business philosophy. (in the trade this is termed robustness)
But how many companies do you come in contact with that actually do business like that? Or more to the point, how many don't?
The companies that don't, if they use embedded chips, are in imminent danger of going belly-up.
Any govt assurance, pro or con on any issue, is meaningless. They own the universe and make the rules. It's not that the govt lies - its just that truth or ethics do not exist in any bureaucracy - bureaucracies exists solely to perpetuate themselves. Any good or bad that happens is purely coincidental. The government, especially the federal government, is riddled with incompetence. From experience - "The organization of any bureaucracy is very much like a septic tank - the really big chunks always rise to the top." The irony is that individually most of the bureaucrats are regular citizens, but collectively every day they work as a bureaucracy.
According to power elite, the unseen hand of the capital market acts in the best long-term interest of the economy. But to date the only action that has occurred is that Wall Street has banded together to find, fix, and test their Y2K problems while exerting no pressure in the equity markets for businesses to do the same. Judging from my experience the only way to get an executive's attention is to hit them in their personal pocketbook as
they loot a company. Only Wall Street exerts that kind of pressure, where just a rumor can kill a company's stock price. Apparently Wall Street attaches no business importance to Y2K problems in publicly traded companies (but they sure do for themselves). I think that the facts show that the vultures are sharpening their knives to be ready, willing and able to feed on business distress. Which would also seem to indicate that a good personal strategy, if one is in a position to do it, would be to get liquid prior to 1/1/200 and then join in the potentially huge feeding frenzy over the next 3 to 6 months, either in the equity markets or just in the local business market by buying distressed businesses, etc.
Business Assurances - typical data:
(08/12/98; 7:44 p.m. ET) By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, InformationWeek
With just over 500 days left before the new millennium, only 15 percent of companies and government agencies expect to have their critical systems more than three-quarters tested and compliant for year 2000 by Jan. 1, 1999, according to a study released Wednesday by IT-services firm Cap Gemini America.
88 percent expect to have about 76 percent of their systems compliant by Jan. 1, 2000. But to meet that ambitious deadline, companies will have to aggressively ramp up year 2000 work over the next 16 months or so. "As it is, even companies that started their year 2000 work early have slippage, or are missing deadlines. The work takes longer than people think it will," said Howard Rubin, CEO of consulting firm Rubin Systems, which assisted in the survey. Rubin is also a research fellow for Meta Group and chairman of the computer sciences department at Hunter College of the City University of New York. "Everyone is behind," he said. The average slippage is about 12 percent among companies, meaning they are 12 percent behind in hitting key milestones with their year 2000 work.
The biggest laggards are in the government, health care, utilities, and transportation sectors, according to the survey, while the winners, so far, in the year 2000 preparedness race are software developers, financial-services firms, computer makers, manufacturers, and telecommunications companies. Ranking in the middle are aerospace, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and distribution companies. In general, small and medium-sized companies are furthest behind in their compliance work, Rubin said. However, the work these companies need to do in general is not as complex as the projects in larger firms.
Because IT organizations are running out of time to fix year 2000 bugs, they need to re-examine priorities of compliance work, Rubin said. Among the top six priorities listed by survey respondents were conversion and testing of mission-critical systems, creating an operational environment, ensuring network and desktop integrity, assessing the year 2000 status of vendors and business partners, assessing and acting on supply-chain issues, and developing contingency plans.
Although contingency planning is on the list of top priorities at most companies, very few have actually developed those plans, Rubin said.
Note that the biggest laggards are govt, health care, utilities, and transportation. All of those sectors have some sort of govt protection shielding them, although I find it hard to believe that the trucking industry is vulnerable and I think the railroads can run, albeit inefficiently. Health care owns the legislatures and public opinion (AMA is the most powerful labor union in American history, and has the most waste, fraud & abuse. The deliberate fraud rate in medicare/medicaid billings is at least 30% and some estimates put it above 50%. But even
mentioning such a thing brings howls of protest - yet I've been on the inside of state medicare systems and seen the data) Utilities have legal protection - its no skin off their nose if service is disrupted because the executives will not be held accountable for their mismanagement.
On the Other Hand:
In business areas with a minimum amount of govt protection of management, I know firsthand that many companies are on top of the problem. A case in point - WalMart (and others in the same category). I was recently recruited to go to Wisconsin for an obscene amount of money plus travel expenses to work on a Y2K project (I declined). The project was for a large (5+ billion/year) company that is a supplier to WalMart - in fact WalMart is their largest single customer accounting for about 20% of their annual sales. They are in imminent danger of WalMart pulling the plug on them - no idle threat. WalMart has already pulled the plug on any supplier who did not respond to their initial 'signing up' of everyone in the supply chain, and continues to do so to anyone who doesn't meet the timetable. They just turn away trucks from the docks and cancel all outstanding orders. Imagine if you were the CEO and when you woke up one morning you learned that as of last midnight you had 50 trucks turned away from the docks and all those en-route are canceled and you just lost a billion dollar account. You immediately have a vision of your bonus and stock options flying out the window - consequently heads will roll because the cost of your leadership incompetence is now coming out of your pocket.
My only conclusion is that nobody knows for sure what is likely to happen - so its best to be prudent. Who knows, with the current state of world affairs a Y2K fiasco could kick off a world-wide depression. Or the Y2K scenario may be the equivalent of recovering from the effects of a severe storm, although on a wider scale than usual. Or even Y2K may just be a hiccup in daily life. I believe that whatever the magnitude, we will cope and move on. But how much disruption it causes in life is impossible to say and will be until January 2000. One thing for certain - the rich will get richer. But there may very well be such a business upheaval that it will offer plenty of opportunities, large and small, and anyone that is prudent will be in great shape to play.
What constitutes being prudent is mostly a matter of individual circumstances. Regardless of Y2K, I have for many years wanted to build a secure, long-lasting, disaster-proof, energy-independent house that is fully stocked with the essentials. Unfortunately I can't due to my circumstances.
So I am doing what I can. I liken it to preparing for an incoming storm or a natural disaster like a hurricane.
I am maintaining paper records - really maintaining with an organized system of file folders & a general ledger. I will be able to prove what I've paid, what I owe, and what I own. I am trying to buy a house with an independent well & septic system. An old house built out of native hardwoods by old timers who knew how to pick
a site & built to last. And its less than 2 miles from work. I will put in a backup generator so I can have water.
I'm starting to lay in canned food. If we have to we can live on pork & beans. (going through the "judicial" system with a
divorce several years ago taught me how to live on macaroni and cheese) I have proper clothing, sleeping bags, and the
like. I'm arming myself. I got a simple basic bike and am riding it. Don't laugh - I can easily get to & from anywhere within
a 15 mile radius - which covers about 700 sq miles. (And its healthy - which is a good thing if the health care system is compromised)