Marching off the Map

Scripture: Romans 1:32, Hosea 4:6, 1 Timothy 3:1-5
The things we see taking place in the world today have never been witnessed by any previous generation.
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When Alexander the Great was leading his victorious armies down through Asia Minor, he came at last to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya mountains, beyond which lay the Khyber Pass and India. For Alexander the Great this was a new and strange experience. As far as he was concerned he was standing at the end of the world. You see, up until that time no maps had been charted of that vast territory beyond the Khyber Pass; and when he led his troops into those gorges, he was actually marching them right off the map of the world as far as he was concerned.

Do you know, friends, for a good long time now, this generation of ours has been marching off the map of the world? You may ask, what do you mean by that? I simply mean that the things we see taking place in the world today have never been witnessed by any previous generation. History is not repeating itself today as it has so often in the past. The headlines of the daily papers scream out current news that is so startling, our ancestors could not have conjured it up in their wildest dreams. Even the science fiction writers of the past were unable to imagine circumstances much more incredible than the things we have viewed on the television newscasts lately. Our age is moving off the map into territory that has never been explored or charted by any who lived before us. No wonder there is so much consternation over the rapid revolution taking place in our society. Every segment is in a wild ferment of change and upheaval. Everything from religion to art to dress to music, and on around the circle, is being turned upside down by unpredictable, and often unconventional shifts. No one seems able to explain or understand why it's happening, and perhaps only the very young are reasonably happy about the direction in which we are moving.

But one thing is beyond question, we are marching off the map. We are facing problems and decisions that are more explosive than any faced by all the generations that preceded us. It is our contemporaries in government who must decide how many more multibillion dollar jaunts we can afford to take in space, especially in view of the social and economic problems that plague us and seem to proliferate with time.

If our grandparents and great grandparents could suddenly be resurrected and be made to understand the nature of today's major issues, they would be completely overwhelmed. As far as that is concerned, friends, even some of our fellow world citizens living in areas like the Middle East and Far East would be baffled at the type of problems the United States is struggling over. It would be incomprehensible to them to look at the millions of TV-studded American homes that have been declared poverty stricken and in need of federal welfare support. The reason it would be so incredible is that these "poor" needy families have so much more than the majority of families in those lands of Asia and the Orient. This is a land that has always prided itself on being fiercely self-reliant and independent. Who says we are not marching off the map? And the direction we are marching is not very pleasing to most of us.

And look at the crime and violence figures for the last few months. More crime is reported in Washington, D.C. in 24 hours than in the city of Moscow for an entire year. Now, let us hope the reporting methods are different, friends, and I have no doubt that they are. But it is still rather alarming, isn't it? Do you think any of our forefathers anticipated a time when bus lines and service stations would operate only on a cash basis for fear of violent robbery? Or when almost a third of American families would keep a watchdog for protection? And who among our sturdy, staunchly honest ancestors would have believed that this country would ever see one violent crime committed on an average of every 25 seconds, one burglary every nine seconds, one rape every seven minutes, and over ten million dollars being stolen every day by employees from their employers. Of course, it would have been asking too much for them to accept the amazing fact that their descendants would be guilty of stealing more than a million automobiles in a single year. They did not even imagine that that many horseless carriages would ever be produced, let alone stolen.

And what do you think they might have said about the child abuse cases that increasingly come before our courts? Would they believe that more children under five would die every year from injuries inflicted by parents and guardians than from tuberculosis, whooping cough, polio, measles, rheumatic fever and appendicitis combined? Perhaps that would have been the greatest shocker for them, because, for one thing, most of their children died from those very diseases which have now been brought under control. A little over a generation ago, polio was the major child killer, and a ruptured appendix was usually fatal because there was no antibiotic to kill the infection. And anyway, the parents of yesteryear were not child abusers. Oh, yes, they believed in the laying on of hands alright; they believed that biblical text about sparing the rod and spoiling the child, but I've never met an adult who grew up under those principles who did not appreciate it in later life. And they didn't lose respect for their parents or hate their parents for loving them enough to keep them in line, either.

Let me ask you something right here, friends. Where did those parents of 75-100 years ago get the wisdom to bring up their houseful of children with such discipline and character? There were no humanistic psychologists to warn them about the danger of physical punishment and all the possible psychological damage brought on by spanking. Listen, those were the days when the Bible was believed in and lived by. They didn't spend their time looking for mistakes and contradictions; they had confidence in the preacher because he also believed the Word and was not afraid to proclaim it. Some cloistered theologians might have been harboring doubts about the creation story or the virgin birth, but it would have been a shameful admission to air those doubts. If a pastor had breathed one fraction of the skepticism of the average popular preacher of today, he would have been asked to change his profession. It would have seemed more than outrageous to provide a livelihood for a man to tear down what the church itself was trying to build up. Yet, this is the incredible situation that exists in the religious world of the late 20th century whose final years are rapidly fleeting away.

Sin is no longer being called by its right name, because it has become too fashionable and respectable. It almost seems that if enough people are united in doing wrong, the Christian establishment thinks it ceases to be sin. For example, the shameful acceptance and defense of homosexuality by the modern church would have been more than blasphemy to our godly forefathers. They could read, and they believed what Paul wrote about that ancient perversion. The Bible calls them fools, and Paul says, "They which commit such things are worthy of death." Romans 1:32. No doubt they should be pitied, and they should be labored for, like all sinners; but they should not be comforted as grace-saved Christians. The fact that there are a dozen congregations across the country made up of homosexuals only, pastor included, does not change the fact that it is an abomination in God's sight. If the Bible contains any clear-cut truth which is laid out in unmistakable language, it's the condemnation of this perverse evil, friends. There is no point in denying something that God Himself affirms. For the church to approve of evil and treat it as something good is making a mockery of the Word of God.

Yes, we have marched off the map with this thing, even though there was a Sodom and Gomorrah. But even at that, I seriously doubt that anybody in the days of that wicked city tried to defend sodomy as meeting the approval of God. In that sense we have gone farther than they did and have taken positions that none dared take before us, not even the Sodomites themselves.

And what should we say about the population explosion, the pollution of air and water, and the grim prospect of mass famine? Surely we are treading into a future whose horror exceeds that of any time or place in man's history. Our industrial and scientific development has taken place at the expense of our own survival, or so it seems right now. No one has come up with any answer that will change the gloomy predictions concerning the death of our planet Earth. They say it is inevitable; nothing can stop it now, no matter what we do. They even tried to get an answer from the computer on what the future holds. Seventy five intellectuals and industrialists actually met with heads of state around the world. All the available data about the world ecological crises was fed into the huge MIT computers. Every possible, hypothetical solution was also fed into the circuits, but the only answer which came back was pessimistic in the extreme. In other words, neither man with all his experimental knowledge, nor the computer with its massive programmed information, has been able to find a solution to the environmental mess and state of social chaos we are in.

Alright, let's take a look at another way our generation is moving off the map. And, friends, this is one that alarms me the most. I'm talking about the tremendous and rapid growth of spiritualism, astrology, witchcraft and other occult practices. It seems to be a world-wide phenomena right at this time. For many it seems to be almost a religion, and they have opened their minds in trusting submission to whatever the priests of occultism want to put in. Instead of seeking guidance from the Bible, they have turned to that which has been condemned in the Bible as satanic and evil. But once again, the Word of God is ignored and millions are calling something good which the Bible calls sinful. Not even in the days of ancient sun worship was there such universal, superstitious, and unashamed cavorting with the powers of darkness. Over 40 million Americans are depending on the daily horoscope column as though their lives were being directed by the magical influence of stars instead of a God in heaven. We are outstripping Babylonian paganism itself in our traffic with the enemies of God. No wonder God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee..." Hosea 4:6.

But here is something else the Bible says, and it says it about the very times we live in. "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves...." Let us stop right there a moment, friends. I'm reading this from 1 Timothy 3:1-5, and it sounds like a perfect description of your home town, doesn't it? Is there a safe place today? It is dangerous and perilous to walk the streets or drive on the highway. Men do love their own selfish ways. But notice the rest of this list of current sins: "disobedient to parents...despisers of those that are good...lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof..." I Timothy 3:4,5. Please notice that the last days of this earth, just before Christ returns, will be marked by spiritual decline, extreme gratification of carnal, selfish desires, and a breakdown of the home ties. And that includes alienation of parents and children, often with divorce involved. Jesus described this time in similar language when He said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." Luke 17:26,27.

And then Jesus said something that gives us hope. After describing the signs that would have to take place, and we have seen every one of them already in our day, Jesus said, "When ye shall see all of these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."

Are you looking up today, friends? On the authority of the Word of God I can tell you that rescue is right at hand. There is no cure for the ills of this sick planet; rescue is our only hope. Even so come, Lord Jesus.

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