Pastors Report - 10 Aug 2018

This is Your Wisdom:

"I have taught you statutes and judgments ... Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations..." (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)

The Churchill Factor:

I have just finished reading a book entitled: "The Churchill Factor" written by Boris Johnson – who tends to make the headlines with his non-PC remarks, the latest regarding the Islamic culture, among other things. Mr Johnson's goal in writing this book was a lofty one – attempting to discover the very source of Churchill's character and therefore the origin of his leadership. His quest to discover Churchill's make up he puts as follows: "Character is destiny, said the Greeks, and I agree. If that is so, then the deeper and most fascinating question is what makes up the character? What were the elements that made him capable of filling that gigantic role? In what smithies did they forge that razor mind and iron will? What the hammer, what the chain, in what furnace was his brain? as William Blake almost puts it. That's the question." (the Churchill factor page 5-6)

The problem is, there is a glaring omission in what Boris Johnson presents. As fascinating as the book may be, it nevertheless has been clearly warped by the present-day secular yardstick away from what was then an almost universal recognition of divine providence and its effect within the international theatre. This Unseen Hand in the course of history – particularly the history of the English-speaking peoples – was something clearly recognised by Churchill, yet largely sidelined within the book. As an example we can see this recognition of the eternal power and Godhead shaping events clearly alluded to in his address to Congress shortly after Pearl Harbour:

... Sure I am that this day, now, we are the masters of our fate. That the task which has been set us is not above our strength. That its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause, and an unconquerable willpower, salvation will not be denied us. In the words of the Psalmist: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”...

... If you will allow me to use other language, I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honour to be the faithful servants. It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace. ( Dec. 26, 1941, address to a joint session of Congress)

Knowledge of Scripture:

The generation who listened while Churchill took the English language and sent it forth into battle were not ignorant of the Bible, which is unfortunately not the case as far as today's generation is concerned! Even the popular authors of this earlier age – such as Agatha Christie, and A J Cronin – would regularly use scriptural references, knowing that their readers were sufficiently educated to know where such quotations came from. So it was with Churchill. The smithies that did forge that razor mind and iron will included a firm recognition of the divine wisdom to be found within the pages of the Bible and its value when applied to modern life. Take as an example the following used at the end of an article entitled, "The United States of Europe" published in 1930 – some years even before Hitler came to power:

“We [Britain] are bound to further every honest and practical step which the nations of Europe may make to reduce the barriers which divide them and to nourish their common interests and their common welfare. We rejoice at every diminution of the internal tariffs and the martial armaments of Europe. We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonalty.

But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed. And should European statesmen address us in the words which were used of old, ‘Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or the captain of the host?’, we should reply, with the Shunammite woman: ‘I dwell among mine own people.'” (US Saturday Evening Post 15 February 1930)

Yet how many readers today would even know who Elisha was, let alone the Shunammite woman? And how many of today's writers could effectively bring such a relatively obscure quotation from II Kings 4:13 into the present realities of Brexit in a wise and understanding way? As God inspired Isaiah to write, at the very beginning of the book:

  • Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
  • The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
  • Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
  • Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
  • From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (Isaiah 1:2-6)
Broken Cisterns:

The problem with society today is not merely that we no longer have such profound scriptural wisdom – but that we live in a culture which actively persecutes and maligns any who would dare to promote it in any way. Again, as Isaiah points out.. "That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought." (Isaiah 29:21)

Such active promotion of evil makes the direction chosen largely irreversible – which is why God says through Jeremiah:

  • Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
  • Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
  • For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:11-13)
A God in Control:

But we can take encouragement in that the Bible repeatedly assures us that God is in complete control of events. The prophet Daniel declares that "God removes kings and sets up kings" (Daniel 2:21, RSV). To King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon, Daniel affirmed that "the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory" (Daniel 2:37). The seven years' punishment of Nebuchadnezzar as mentioned in chapter 4 was for the purpose "that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Daniel. 4:17).

The prophet Isaiah says it is God who " bringeth the princes to nothing" (Isaiah. 40:23). King David of ancient Israel declares that " For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another " (Psalm. 75:6,7).

And this understanding wasn't uncommon in the leaders of the last century, as it is today. Even for a career within the modern clergy it seems that a truly firm belief in God is merely an 'optional extra' ... and could almost be a hindrance!

In contrast, during 1942 Churchill told a group of mine-owners and mine workers delegates: “I sometimes have a feeling of interference. I want to stress that. I have a feeling that sometimes that some Guiding Hand has interfered . I have a feeling that we have a Guardian because we have a great Cause and we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that Cause faithfully."

Benjamin Franklin held a similar conviction. Speaking at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in June, 1787, Franklin asserted: "The longer I live the more convincing proofs I see that God governs in the affairs of men . And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice [a reference to Matthew 10:29], is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"

Lessons to be Learnt:

It's commonplace today to hear the phrase, "lessons must be learnt" when Social Services have again desperately failed a family, or there has been a disaster of some sort that should easily have been avoided. Sadly, without a basic understanding of what has gone before – Who we are, and Where we came from – actively influencing where we should be heading, it seems no meaningful lessons can be learnt. As these quite famous quotes show:

This lack of appreciation of what has gone before is clearly evident in society today as it allows mankind to think he has free rein to do whatever he wishes – regardless of the consequences. This is particularly true in the headlong rush in allowing deviant sexual practices to take place, ignorant or uncaring of the former fate of such cities as Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii and of course the fall of the Roman Empire.

I'm sure many of us share the same frustration - and longing - as King David expressed in this psalm:

  • O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.
  • Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.
  • LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
  • How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?
  • They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.
  • They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.
  • Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. (Psalm 94:1-7)

But God indeed does see, and His warning is very clear, as the next two verses show: " Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? ".(Psalm 94:8,9) And the end result is inescapable:

  • Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
  • And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
  • Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
  • (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
  • That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28)

But both Mr Churchill and Mr. Armstrong held a broad perspective of history and the moral dilemmas faced by our forebears. Mr. Churchill was the author of "A History of the English-Speaking People" which detailed Britain's colonies and possessions throughout the world, covering the period from 55 BC to 1914 AD. and with that background he was then able to give what was quite an astonishing perspective, and therefore leadership, to his cabinet – when so many of his peers were intent on negotiating with Hitler around the time of Dunkirk:

'And I am convinced that every one of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.'

The Two Trees:

Similarly, Mr Armstrong was well versed in the history of 'the English speaking peoples' – with a far deeper understanding than even Mr. Churchill, as he was given profound understanding of prophecy and the whereabouts of the 12 tribes of Israel, and was able to thunder out this understanding of the coming time of Jacob's trouble to the whole world, without making any apologies for it.

And one of the main historical lessons we in God's church have been given to understand is that of the Two Trees! That on making the wrong choice, mankind was given 6,000 years as a type of Aversion Therapy, so that indeed 'lessons must be learnt', if we are to bring about a millennial utopia on this earth. But as individuals now, being called to teach God's way in the future, how are we doing? Are we learning the lessons of our failures, our personal mistakes, as well as witnessing the demise of this world's societies, founded on sand? Do we feel we need to apologise for our beliefs or do we have the courage of our convictions, as not only did Mr Armstrong and Mr. Churchill, but also Moses, David, Samuel and our brethren mentioned in Hebrews 11, especially verses 35-40.

If we too have an educated understanding of history, held within a moral framework, we too can watch world events as they unfold today, and – for example – witness the parallels with what happened to bring Hitler to prominence happening in front of our eyes! In his book about the lead-up to the second world war, entitled "The Gathering Storm", Sir Winston Churchill writes, "The collapse of the mark destroyed the basis of the German middle class, of whom many in their despair became recruits of the new party and found relief from their misery in hatred, vengeance and patriotic fervour." Today, the financial system stands on the precipice of deep trouble — and it is the middle-class who once again appear destined to be at the brunt of the looming effects.

We can even see parallels between the current brainwashing drive to promote Darwinian survival of the fittest within our schools and the mad ideas of Hitler when Mr Churchill writes, "The main thesis of Mein Kampf is simple: Man is a fighting animal; therefore the nation, being a community of fighters, is a fighting unit. Any living organism which ceases to fight for its existence is doomed to extinction.... "

Admittedly, the above analysis was written after the event — recording the history of what had so recently taken place — but Mr Churchill also managed to see the gathering storm before it came. Most English speaking people at the time did not. The question is why? How? What was different between Mr Churchill's approach and the majority of those around him? What is the real value in reproducing these quotes ... is there anything in his life that are lessons for us, at this pivotal and dangerous time in history?

Moral Values:

Those of us who have read anything of what happened prior to the second world war understand that Winston Churchill was a fierce critic of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler in Munich on 29th September 1938. But to understand why, we need to note carefully what he said in a speech to the House of Commons shortly afterwards. Mr Churchill bluntly and prophetically stated to Mr Chamberlain, "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war." He did not merely view Chamberlain's action as an unfortunately "wrong" choice in hindsight, he saw it as the morally wrong choice. One difference between Mr Churchill and "the rest" was that he did not merely observe the events as they unfolded, but placed such events into an historically profound moral perspective that placed mankind's actions as ultimately conducted before the Almighty. True, he had not been begotten by God's Spirit, but he most certainly did recognise the eternal power and godhead of the Eternal in a purely human way and appeared to act accordingly. This historically moral vision seems to be the difference — noticeably missing from our leaders today.

  • As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths (Isaiah 3:12)

Two years after writing his initial autobiography, "My Early Life", Mr Churchill published "Amid These Storms: Thoughts and Adventures". It is a collection of essays on a variety of subjects, written mostly in the mid-1920s before he had to shoulder the mantle of power against Nazi Germany. Notice this quote from his reflections on Moses and the Bible. Can you imagine any leader in Britain today publicly promoting such a stance?

“We reject, however, with scorn all those learned and laboured myths that Moses was but a legendary figure upon whom the priesthood and the people hung their essential social, moral, and religious ordinances. We believe that the most scientific view, the most up-to-date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest human beings with the most decisive leap-forward ever discernible in the human story...... In the words of a forgotten work of Mr. Gladstone, we rest with assurance upon ‘The impregnable rock of the Holy Scripture." (Amid These Storms, Thoughts and Adventures - Moses)

Mr. Churchill then went on to make this challenge: "Let the men of science and of learning expand their knowledge and probe with their researches every detail of the records which have been preserved to us from these dim ages. All they will do is to fortify the grand simplicity and essential accuracy of the recorded truths which have lighted so far the pilgrimage of man" (Amid These Storms, Thoughts and Adventures)

The Big Questions:

Within this collection of essays is another called, "Fifty Years Hence" in which he describes what at first glance seems very far from an ominous vision – neither of tyranny, nor of war, but of a life of ease based on purely materialistic accomplishment. It is one Mr Churchill says he had recently encountered in a book he had read that "traced the history of mankind from the birth of the solar system to its extinction." "In the end a race of beings was evolved which had mastered nature. A state was created whose citizens lived as long as they chose, enjoyed pleasures and sympathies incomparably wider than our own, navigated the interplanetary spaces, could recall the panorama of the past and foresee the future."

He then goes on to say,

"But what was the good of all that to them? What did they know more than we know about the answers to the simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason—'Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?' No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is this fact, more wonderful than any that Science can reveal, which gives the best hope that all will be well." (Amid These Storms, Thoughts and Adventures - Fifty Years Hence)

We must keep in mind how God's guiding hand orchestrated the ultimate outcome of the second world war to the English-speaking Israelite's favour using Mr Churchill as His principle human leader. It was within the context of this larger-than-global, larger-than-material view of life that Winston Churchill took up his mantle of power in 1940. On the night of the tenth of May, on the eve of the ill-fated Battle of France, Mr Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain aged 65. As he went to bed, he tells us, at about 3 a.m., he was "conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."

Our own Position:

Those "simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason—'Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?'", are the identical questions that we too are forced by God to contemplate each year when keeping His Holydays. But unlike Mr Churchill, and other thinking men within this carnal world, we have been granted the revealed answers that do indeed bring "comfort to the soul", including what can only be described as a truly profound grasp of our position within the overall scheme of existence. But the question is, do we use such revelation to its full advantage? Are our choices, our day-by-day actions governed by such things? Or do we bumble our way through life, maybe overcome with the cares of this world, living merely day to day, burying this priceless talent, this pearl of great price and just hoping for the best when Christ eventually appears?

Whatever our position in life, whatever influence — or lack of it — we may have, how we use whatever we have been given is the criteria by which we are now being individually judged (Matthew 25:14-30; 1Peter 4:17). History is very much in the making, right now – and you and I, as custodians of God's Truth at this time, are expected to rise above the mere humanly perceived assessment of events. Via the Holy Days and the revelation of God's Plan we have been given a God-plane perspective of human existence, including our own.

Keep in mind that the greatest degree of His intervention within today's world is not in the minds of the presidents and prime ministers, the great and near-great of today's world leaders, but within you and me ... within the lives of the members of God's True Church! His amazing Plan is to develop His own Mind within us, imparting His spiritual DNA through the Holy Spirit, making us His sons – the very leaders of the World Tomorrow!

You may think ... "but I'm not of the calibre of a Churchill, a Roosevelt!" No, we can't all be Churchills, – and that has been a deliberate choice made by God, having called mainly the weak and foolish of this world, but He doesn't intend for us to stay that way. With the understanding of even PRE-history, and the significance of the fall of Satan and the Garden of Eden – and our appreciation of the incredible wisdom contained within the Holy Scriptures, we have this future to look forward to:

For to those that overcome...

  • ... I will give power over the nations...( Revelation 2:26)
  • ... I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem...( Revelation 3:12)
  • ... I will grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.( Revelation 3:21)
  • ... shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
  • The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
  • And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:5,6)

And when our birth into the family of God is indeed reality, we too might quite justifiably say something Churchillian along the lines of: "I feel as if I've been walking with Destiny, and that all my past life has been but a preparation for this hour and for this opportunity."