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Comment By Torchlight

History and the Media

"I read my newspaper to see how my heavenly Father is ruling the world". So wrote C. H. Spurgeon about a century ago. He had in mind, no doubt, the words spoken to Nebuchadnezzar by the prophet Daniel:

"the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" (Dan. 4:25). A similar statement is found among the words of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah: "I have made the earth... and I give it unto whom it seemeth right unto Me" (Jer. 27:5).

God disclosed to Daniel in broad outline the course of human history from the days of Nebuchadnezzar right on to the establishment on earth of Messiah's glorious kingdom. The events which will occur immediately preceding the dawn of millennial splendour are portrayed by the prophet in graphic detail. In particular, he focuses attention on the concluding phase of Gentile dominion represented by the feet and toes of the great image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. In those terminal years a diabolical world dictator, supported by a confederacy of ten kings, will mount the last and most daring challenge "against the Lord and against His Anointed". Then will follow the final reckoning: "In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (2:44).

Significantly, in "the days of His flesh", the Son of God pointed to an event in Daniel's prophecy (9:27) which will be a landmark to the faithful in days yet to come (Matt. 24:15). By so doing He not only confirmed the accuracy of the great prophet's predictions, but also gave a timely reminder to His apostles that in spite of the twists and turns of global events human history ever moves forward in a pre-destined course.

The doctrine of divine sovereignty is one of the bulwarks of the Christian Faith. In this connexion we draw to the attention of readers the article on "Election" by co-editor G. Prasher which begins on page 148. They will find there a helpful and reverent discussion of this fundamental subject.

We return now to the comment of C. H. Spurgeon quoted at the beginning of this article. The great preacher was a shrewd observer of the trends and portents of his times. In his sermons he drew many valuable lessons from current events. If with hindsight we discern an oversimplification in his conclusions that is because history in the making can seldom be assessed with complete accuracy. Which brings us to the problem posed in our heading - "History and the Media".

In Spurgeon's day the newspaper was the chief source of information on current events. In comparison with this late 2Oth century his was a leisurely age. News, particularly on global events, travelled slowly and coverage was scanty. Modern means of travel and communication have changed all that. Today the newspaper lags behind. News is flashed round the world as it happens, by television and radio. The observer of current events has little time for deliberation and this often results in hasty judgements. To present a clear picture of the history of our times can be as perplexing as fitting together the various pieces of an intricate jig-saw puzzle.

The intelligent Christian, like Spurgeon, is concerned to discern the hand of God in His rule over the nations. God's people need an "understanding of the times". The struggles and tribulation of mankind should be their constant concern. There is much which tends to depress as the media pours out its torrent of news day by day, but let us remember that human history is fulfilling Scripture prophecy. All is under divine control - "The Most High ruleth". Yet we have our part to play. I noted recently the emphasis on the words "first of all" in 1 Tim. 2:1 and their connexion with the phrase in verse 3, "this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour". Prayer "for all men" is solemnly enjoined upon us. As the climax of human history draws ever nearer let us resolve to be more persistent in private and public prayer for those on whom the responsibility of government rests, and for all men.

Plans for a Middle East settlement seem to be bogged down at present.

At the Begin/Sadat summit early last month there was full accord on the

Sinai withdrawals, but the two statesmen were "poles apart" on the

Palestinian problem.