Friday, December 31, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 114: "Fear God, and dread nought"

The title of this post -- culmination of the miniseries here, here and with side-branch here -- is taken from the motto of HMS Dreadnought (1906), the battleship that on being commissioned (after being built in an unprecedentedly short period: "a year and a day") instantly obsoleted the battle fleets of the leading powers, and was the declaration of the British Admiralty that they were determined to prevail, come what may, or must.

As the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought page summarises:
HMS Dreadnought, named after a ship of the line at the Battle of Trafalgar, gave her name to a revolution in naval warfare. Built in Portsmouth Dockyard in just over a year, she was the best-armed and fastest battleship in the world when completed in 1906. At a time when battleships usually mounted only four big guns and an array of smaller weapons, Dreadnought's ten big 305mm guns made all other battleships out-of-date. Powered by new steam turbines she had a top speed of 21 knots, 3 knots faster than battleships with traditional piston engines . . . . In the same way as HMS Warrior almost fifty years before, the construction of Dreadnought was intended by Fisher to deter Britain's enemy, in this case Germany, through a demonstration of technological excellence and to indicate that any challenge to British naval supremacy would be futile.
 This video slideshow gives a good summary:

 For, under the militaristic Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany had embarked on a programme of naval armament, building up a large high seas fleet that challenged the then traditional British supremacy that had played so great a part in securing the peace since Napoleon's final defeat in 1815. In addition, Germany built the (commercially unsuccessful) Kiel canal as a naval short-cut that would allow rapid switching of the German Fleet between the Baltic and the North Sea, so it could meet both the British and the Russian fleets in rapid succession.

So menacing was the threat that the Royal Navy, under Admiral Jack Fisher, was forced to rethink its traditional three-ocean deployment: the Home Fleet to secure the home seas and the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Fleet to secure the route to India, and a fleet in the Indo-Pacific to secure India as the jewel in the Imperial crown. (And, in so securing the three major oceans, Britain secured the freedom of the sea lanes for global commerce; so, despite the sins of imperialism, there were great benefits to the world, that helped trigger the wave of prosperity that since the late C18 has brought great benefits to the whole world.) 

The strategic re-alignment led the British to ally themselves to Japan and to closer ties with the Americans to secure the Pacific. They were forced to depend on the support of their traditional enemy for over 200 years, France, to secure the Mediterranean links in the chain to India. In turn, that led to the army staff talks of 1905 that -- less than a decade later -- would lead to the British army's deployment to Flanders Fields in defence of Belgium and France. Further to this, it led to Britain being aligned with Imperial Russia (both directly and through France's alliance to counterbalance Germany's weight), thus setting up the triple entente.

And so, out of the response to the Kaiser's provocation, we can see the looming outlines of the First World War, and the grim realities of the C20 just past, as the Great War led to the appallingly bloody destruction of the world of that time, the rise of Communism on the ashes of a collapsed Russian Empire, and of Nazism out of the bitter poisonous miasma of a defeated and humiliated but not humbled Germany.

In that horrible progression, one of the key opportunities foregone to move to a less dangerous world was the Kaiser's refusal to take the hint of the British resetting the status of the battlefleets to zero with the construction of HMS Dreadnought; which because of the increment in size, even took the Kiel canal out of the reckoning.

In short, this was a point of decision, and once the Kaiser determined to take up the challenge, it was the point of no return that set Germany on the road to the naval clash with Britain that would culminate at Jutland in the First World War, 

. . . and in the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second. (Which, was in reality an extension of the First, with Germany and Russia under new management.)

Thus, the ill-fated Kaiser stands out as an example of the domineering political strongman who so marks -- and mars -- the course of history, ever since the first, Nimrod.  The type illustrates the prophetic force of our Exhibit B; the Leopard-like, seven-headed, ten-horned and ten-crowned Beast from the sea of Revelations 13:

(Permission: "Art used by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992." [Image source here; as a part of a gallery of illustrations of the Revelation of John. Note the context of the similarly seven-headed Dragon of Rev 12:2, the Beast from the Earth and the Idolatrous Mark of the Beast System.])

Let us read the key text:
  Rev 13:1 Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. 3 One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” . . .  7 . . . He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, 8 and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed . . . . 

 11 Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. 13 He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people 14 and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. 15 The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. 17 Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. 18 This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. [NET]
 Now, in biblical, hebraic thought, the sea is typically a source and scene of chaos, from the chaos of the primordial world, to the flood of Noah to the sea-storms of Jonah, Jesus and Paul. So, the idea is that out of the chaos of the peoples, there arises a beastly empire that is unified under a strongman political messiah who seizes power and is aggressive and supreme in things military. The nature of that strongman is shown by the number: the numerical value of Nero Caesar, i.e this sort of evil ruler is like unto the demonically mad, bloodthirsty, cruel despot, Nero. Politics is blended with corrupt, deceiving religion, and both unite to control commerce, sot hat if you do not take the licence of the system, you are not permitted to even be able to eat. Thus, too, the conscience and soul are to be brought under the bondage of those who domineer the system, and who are inspired by the demonic Dragon who lives to express his ancient enmity to God.

 All of this was ever so familiar to C1 Christians living under the shadow of persecution. It doubtless will find culmination in a final, ultimate evil empire led by a demonic strongman, the notorious Antichrist. But as John warned in his epistles, already the spirit of antichrist is roaming the earth. 

Like unto that, the spirit of the beast -- as is unfortunately all too apparent -- is already roaming the earth, and can even take the guise of an unholy alliance between popular, charismatic, messianic politicians and apostate churches or ideologies led by false teachers and false prophets. Such will reveal itself by invariably leading to demonic state control that through unjust law or decrees and/or economic control, intimidates and tyrannises upon the conscience.

God's answer to such -- short of the final Beast -- is plain from what he did at Babel, when Nimrod, the first such strongman, set up a united kingdom and apostate religious system based on the astrological ziggurat-temple known ever since as the Tower of Babel:
 Gen 10: 8 Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”) 10 The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah . . . .
Gen 11: 1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”  5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. 6 And the LORD said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”

 8 So the LORD scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the entire world, and from there the LORD scattered them across the face of the entire earth. 
That is, a major reason why God created diverse peoples with different languages and races was to hinder such an evil unification under a demonic strongman. So, while we should seek amity and mutual respect in peace across the whole earth [not least, that is the context in which the gospel spreads best], we should respect diversity of nations and use a balance of power alliance to hinder the rise of evil strongmen and associated domineering religions, ideologies or economic systems. And, any time a rising threat to that balance of amity and power looms, we should take due note in good time to restrain it before it gets out of hand.

In our time, the Caribbean arguably faces two such threatening trends: 
(i) the militant evolutionary materialistic, atheistical [or agnostic], amoral, post-christian, dechristianising Secular Humanism allied to various Christian apostasies and neo-pagan movements that looms across our northern horizon, and 

(ii) from the east, we face totalitarian, militiant IslamISM (as sharply opposed to ordinary, peaceful people seeking to serve God and man best they know how, who have been raised under Islamic religious traditions).
 Events over the past two decades should suffice to show that these threats emerged as the major challenges, once Communism faded from the scene with the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. 

With that background, we will be better prepared to address a specific point of concern.

That specific issue we need to address in this post is tied to the first of these threats. Namely, the ongoing sustained, determined attempt to homosexualise marriage. That, in the teeth of the traditional consensus that our Creation-rooted nature as male and female -- complementary sexes playing distinct roles in procreation -- and the needs of child nurture for a stable family unit for decades -- justify marriage on terms much as Jesus of Nazareth summed it up in Matt 19:
Matt 19: 3 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. 9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” . . .  [NET]
Thus, marriage in the scriptures -- and by general consensus across religions, cultures and civilisations up until the radical secularists figured they could subvert the consensus in decaying Western Culture through dominating key institutions such as the judiciary, the major entertainment and news media, the college campus and key parts of legislatures -- was that marriage is the life-long covenantal bond between man and woman in which procreation and child nurture take place. The foundational, stabilising institution of the community and the civilisation.

The scriptures also lay bare the root of this movement that seeks to subvert marriage. 

[And I need to put it on the record before, predictably, disciples of Saul Alinsky with his angels-us, demons -those- who- differ- with- us divisive tactics resort to slander, denouncing and accusing of "hate speech" (which has already been criminalised as a thought crime in several crucial jurisdictions): to diagnose, in order to gently correct through democratic means by the power of free speech before ruin results, is not to hate; it is trying to stop a disastrous slide over the cliff.]


Rom 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things [in the old days, idols in temples, now too often images in museums, textbooks and "science" documentaries on TV or the Internet, cf here].

 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give [we can safely add: or even demand]  approval to those who practice them. [ESV] 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32
Plato, in his The Laws, Book X, speaks in much the same vein. 

We may hear this great Greek Philosopher say such [even from within the classical pagan culture, though of course Plato subtly stated his doubts], in the voice of the Athenian Stranger come to Crete and talking about the collapse of Athens through the course and aftermath of the Peloponnesian war, with men like Alcibiades being fingered in no uncertain terms by Plato:
 Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [i.e. domineering political ideologies and movements], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [such ideologies lead to tyrannies], and not in legal subjection to them.
Such sharp words, though an accurate diagnosis of how cultures in ever-deepening rebellion against God spin totally out of control, are hard to bear.  

They are the bad news for rebellious, willfully en-darkened and conscience-benumbed man. However, sound diagnosis and prediction of untreated consequences are the first steps to proper treatment and cure.

So, let us immediately balance them with some other words from the same apostle that, though they are also painful -- surgery is a painful experience; but if the doctor does not cut, he cannot heal -- they are words of encouragement, redemption and hope:
 1 Cor 6: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [note the company] 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Thank God for grace and hope in Christ!

Now, what has happened is that sight has been lost of the primary focus for marriage: the sound propagation of the race from one generation to the next, providing a stabilising context for procreation, nurture and giving a launch into life. Also, providing an independent, natural focus of loyalties that the state should respect, similar to how Christ points out that we should give what is Caesar's to him, but not what is God's. 

(Whenever Caesar oversteps his bounds as God's servant to guard the civil peace of justice, he is in the wrong and should be prophetically corrected. If he then defiantly wages war on or oppresses the peaceful, law abiding people of the community, lower magistrates should act with the people, under God, to restrain and if necessary replace him; for which, in the grace of God, in our day the free press and the ballot box are effective and peaceful means. [Cf more detailed discussion here, here and here.]) 

Instead, marriage -- in many hearts and minds -- has been turned into a temporary, attraction-based convenient, state-supported arrangement for one's personal enjoyment. This is a grave error, and is responsible for the rising tide of divorce and illegitimacy that are plagues on our communities, and even churches.  Fellow men, if you love her, marry her in a solemn covenant under God [and, respect her chastity!], then stand by her and your children and your solemnly pledged word, for life. That is a real man!

But in a climate that has already put marriage and family stability under pressure, we now see a determined move to take the next step: legitimise -- under false colour of law -- sexual passions twisted out of the natural Creation order, and lock that perversion into law. In my heads up of recent days, I spoke to that, and to a first step, the homosexualisation of the key institutions of the sword in the USA, a pivotal nation in our civilisation:
Now, in recent days, there have been several portentous developments, such as the ongoing homosexualisation of the US military. (Cf. WND's collection of responses by veterans, here.)
(That is, as Mr Obama delivers on some of his promises to a key cluster of backers, the homosexualists, the second shoe has now dropped on the agenda behind the don't ask, don't tell policy imposed on a reluctant military in the early 1990's. Through what is now plainly a first phase, penetration, a network of homosexual agenda activists has now been powerfully put in place in the military, the media and the government. So, now, the open homosexualisation of the strongest military in the world can proceed apace. The direct implications are troubling, as military members will be indoctrinated in the claimed "normality" of homosexual behaviour, and in the slanderous claim that to have a moral or conscience objection to such behaviour is to be a hateful bigot, comparable to a racist or a Nazi or an Inquisitor such as Torquemada. This also provides precedents -- and the muscle -- to back up the ongoing attempt to homosexualise other government agencies and international bodies, thence also marriage. After that, predictably comes the onward criminalisation of those who object, through the already in-place thought control hate crimes laws. In my considered opinion, if these two steps get through in so pivotal a country as the USA, the damage to our civilisation in its current form will be irreparable, and will lead to chaos, unresolvable conflict and collapse as civil consensus disintegrates. The sort of slander-driven open persecution hinted at in the Manhattan Declaration recently highlighted in this blog,  is therefore now looming over the horizon.) . . .
This is madness, and if implemented would (over the span of a few decades) predictably lead to such chaos due to family disintegration and the rise of a street-gang culture of youths desperate for a family substitute that desperate people would demand a strongman as political messiah. Historically, people in chaos will accept tyranny as a better alternative.

And, we know just where that sort of ill-advised political messianism points.

For, the beast-system ever rises out of the chaotic sea of the distressed peoples.

What is more, we are already on the track to such disintegration, through the ever rising breakdown of marriage and family. What homosexualisation of marriage would do in the North, is to render the breakdown legally irreversible and backed up by state power. Through hate speech law, those who object on conscience will be slandered as hateful bigots and as deniers of "rights," thus fit subjects for prosecution and suppression. (Cf legal analysis challenge to such homosexualisation here.)

And, in the south, if you want aid or trade, then you have to accept the strings that come with it. If you doubt me, observe this excerpt from the Governor of Montserrat's Christmas message for this year:
. . . Challenge yourselves to find the courage to reject the false prophets and to chart a new and inclusive course for Montserrat. One where individuals take responsibility for their actions, work together for the public good and welcome and acknowledge the assistance that Montserrat has had and continues to receive, both from countries and from individuals who come here to serve Montserrat. Forget about where they come from, or the colour of their skin, their religion or lack of it or sexual preference. Put simply, without those people this island has no future . . . 
Now, there is of course some merit in what is said, including some of the corrective remarks; though there is an unfortunately far too broad-brushed and dismissive tone. 

But, it is utterly out of order, destructively uncivil, and deeply hostile to link racism [which rejects the common image of God implanted in us all] with principled -- not merely prejudiced -- objection to far more specifically choice-based, morally loaded issues such as evolutionary materialism and its inherent destabilising amorality [exposed since Plato's The Laws, Book X, 360 BC], and the equally destabilisng twisting of sexuality into unnatural forms. 

However, from the chief spokesman of our Queen and Her Majesty's Government, Montserrat's principal aid partner in the aftermath of a devastating volcanic eruption, we find a not so subtle ultimatum: take our social-cultural agendas as imposed (most recently through the new Constitution pushed on us through the FCO) or else.  

In short, we face a serious challenge indeed; one that it may seem a daunting task to face and address.

But, we have a word of encouragement as we do so under the grace and boldness of God: 

"Fear God, and dread nought!" END 

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