1980, 2016, What We Know, What We Need

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS

volume 15, number 49, December 8, 2016

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” -Proverbs 14:34

1980, 2016, What We Know, What We Need    

By the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency in January, 1981 the United States was still in the throes of the 444 day Iranian hostage crisis where fifty-two American diplomats were held hostage by Iranian students, supportive of the Iranian Revolution. They took control of the American Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and the hostages were not released until January 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new President of the United States. On April 24, 1980, under President Carter’s direction, Operation Eagle Claw was ordered as a means of extracting the hostages from Tehran. However the operation was aborted because of the eight helicopters sent to the staging area, only five were operational. One encountered hydraulic problems. Another was overcome by fine sand in the engine, and a third had a cracked rotor blade. When the operation was aborted, as one of the helicopters prepared to leave the staging area, it crashed into a transport plane containing servicemen and jet fuel. The fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight soldiers. The debacle of Operation Eagle Claw only accented the demise into which the American military had fallen under Carter’s presidency. America’s power and prestige in the world was at an all time low. The hostage crisis only exacerbated our weakness worldwide.

Then there was the economy. Inflation had been slowly building since the late 1960’s with President Lyndon Johnson’s buildup of the Vietnam War and his “War on Poverty.” The oil crisis in 1974 and 1978 by the OPEC nations served to speed up the inflationary spiral. I well remember Jimmy Carter’s solution to the crisis. We were using too much heating fuel. We needed to turn down our thermostats in the winter and wear extra clothing to keep warm. I also remember the long lines at gasoline pumps throughout our nation as OPEC put the squeeze on us. Then there was the so called “misery index”, a formula which added the annually adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. Carter suffered the highest misery index of any President. It averaged 16.27% during his four years in office and by the time he left in January, 1981 the misery index was 21.98%. Those of you reading this who were not yet born at the time may be shocked to know that we were suffering a 16% annual inflation rate, 12% unemployment, and a 22% interest rate. 

Under President Ronald Reagan’s leadership, the U.S. Military was built up, the economy flourished, communism in Eastern Europe was destroyed, and the self-esteem of Americans was restored. 

Two months before our recent election, I was telling people that this election cycle reminded me of the 1980 cycle. I was predicting a Donald Trump landslide election win. I saw many parallels between 1980 and 2016. Many are now encouraged that President elect Trump will appoint constitutionalist Supreme Court Justices, rebuild the military, end illegal immigration, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and make America safer against Islamic jihadists. 

In this light, however, I must state what is very obvious to me. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people,” (Proverbs 14:34). Though Ronald Reagan did many wonderful things in his eight years as President, he was still unable to remove the scourge of abortion from our nation. Crime continued to rise and our urban centers became a wilderness of devastation. 

And while I am hopeful that Mr. Trump can bring many beneficial and necessary changes to jump start our economy and make us safer in our country and the world, we should remember that our urban centers are still a devastation, that fatherlessness is a scourge which is destroying our nation, that we have a serious drug problem, that we have redefined marriage, that we still abort at least three thousand babies per day.

The temptation for Christians, when things seem to be going our way politically, is to be seduced by the Beast of Revelation, the Roman Empire, the state.[1] We know better, but we still tend to go there. 

Our salvation, my dear friends, is not in any one political leader. Right and just legislation can slow down evil, but it can never change the heart. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin practically required white restaurant owners to serve black customers. It did away with “colored only” drinking fountains and public bathrooms, but it could never cause a white man to love a black man. 

More than ever, we need revival and reformation. We need Spirit anointed preachers in the pulpit and in the streets who fearlessly, tirelessly proclaim the good news of salvation in the only Savior of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ. We need people in the pews who will take the gospel to their friends and neighbors. We need godly men and women in the public and private sectors to live out true, vibrant Christian faith which impacts the way that we do business and politics. We need millions of genuine conversions in all parts of our society. The heart of the problem continues to be the problem of the heart. We need millions of people whom the Holy Spirit has arrested from their blind and deadly slumber, who has taken out the cobra heart of original sin which hates God and loves sin; and placed within them the heart of Jesus in regenerating grace which loves God and hates sin. 

Without this great work of grace through the preaching of the gospel we will soon, once again, be deceived by the Siren call of politics and we will be sorely disappointed and disillusioned. We will be like dark clouds without water, carried along by the wind; like autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead uprooted; like wild waves of the sea, casting up our own shame like foam; like wandering stars for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. My friends, build yourself up in your holy faith, praying in the Spirit, keeping yourself in the love of God. Continue to seek God for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit.   

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1. See Kenneth Gentry’s book The Beast of Revelation for details. 

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