“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter…” Ecclesiastes 12:13 (first part)
I’ve written a number of posts about the Depression Years; now here’s my conclusion about the era and what it did for our world.
Someone has said the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history. If today is good, life will always be this way. We forget the rough patches we’ve been through; we file away the stories we’ve heard about hard times; we forget that finances can reverse in short order.
I think it’s great to be upbeat. However, God allows events to shake us every so often: we hear of –or come through– devastating storms, floods, droughts, threats of war. We’re reminded again of Jesus’ words:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
In the first book of the Bible we read that when evil became so prevalent God washed the earth with a flood. Then when the earth was dry again He promised He’d never again send a flood of water to destroy the earth; a rainbow is our continuing token of His promise.
Later, when He chose the nation of Israel to represent Him on earth, as they cried to Him for help He protected them or rescued them from all their enemies. But when they fell into idolatry He sent the Babylonian army “as a flood” to wash His holy land and hopefully purify the people. Which it did for a time. But finally when the Jewish leaders prevailed on the power of Rome to crucify Jesus, God used that same power to blow them away.
The Bible records different instances where God sent punishments on people when they’ve gotten too greedy and in their greed have trampled on other people and worshiped false gods. He often first sends a warning. (See the book of Jonah) If that doesn’t turn them around, then He sends some form of “washing”.
A quick study of the “Roaring Twenties” convinces me that North America did need some sort of cleansing from the corruption that was taking place. For example, in the 1920s:
prohibition gave organized crime such a boost
moon-shiners were making a killing both financially and literally
‘speakeasies’ sprang up and people flouted prohibition laws
drugs like heroin were becoming a social issue
morality slipped to a new low
strong returns on stock market investments encouraged greed and indebtedness
The Depression Years shook everything that people were placing their hopes in. They found they couldn’t hang onto anything of this earth.
Not jobs and/or employment opportunities
not bank accounts
not real estate prices
not the value of their goods
not food supplies
not even their soil in a lot of cases
I believe the Depression years were a kind of “washing” God put the world through. Granted, we brought some of it on ourselves: people put their trust in mammon and lost it all. Bad agricultural practices led to soil depletion. So the natural disasters of severe weather & drought brought down what the Wall Street Crash didn’t; together these brought a lot of folks back to “what really counts.”
Sad to say, a lot of people came apart in the wash. When folks found themselves destitute, all the earthly treasure they’d laid up was gone, they faced the choice of throwing themselves on God’s mercy or throwing their lives away — and some chose that option.
A Lesson For Today?
A lot of people have called 9/11 a wake-up call. But just how to fix what’s wrong wants to elude us. Perhaps North America was getting so peace-minded, so accepting of all the wrong things, that God allowed terrorism to shake us. Maybe we’ve been putting our hopes in tolerance as a means to abiding world peace – and tolerating way too much?
I feel Christians nowadays are too inclined to look to secular society to save us. Folks are saying, “If our society would straighten up, God would turn away His judgement.” I’ve read many statements by American evangelicals to the effect that “If America will come back to God, He will bless her again.” (I.e., enact laws; force people to behave; end abortion; end gay marriage; elect a godly President, etc.)
The Holy Spirit calls all men everywhere to repent, but I don’t believe God concerns Himself half so much about fixing secular society as He does about the state of His own children. “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” If we as Christians could get this back on track we’d be the salt (or preservative) of our countries. But when His children are swept up in the sins of secular society, God washes the whole. That’s the lesson I take from history.
How many more times will God wash the world? What methods will He use? Only He knows. But I really believe that He has our survival in His hands every day. If we put our confidence in Him and commit ourselves to His ways, we can say with the prophet:
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Hab. 3:17-18
Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”