The foundational pamphlets which brought this website into being were studies of the prophet Amos and his message to the northern kingdom of Israel. That message was of great relevance to our own nation. It took the form of stern warnings against a godless and selfish, money seeking society for which pleasure took precedence over all else. The warnings were of the inevitable judgements of God against such a corrupt society. The ultimate judgement was that the Israelites would lose their land and find themselves in exile. The Israelites were in no mood to take heed to such warnings and they were either ignored or bitterly resented. In the event it was some thirty years from the time that Amos first began to warn the Israelites until the ultimate judgement actually overtook them. During those thirty years, however, there were serious developments in the political life of the nation; developments which should have made them realize they were on a downward trend nationally. Those developments were in themselves judgements of God.
The first of these trends was growing political disintegration. I quote from an earlier pamphlet: “The first sign of the withdrawal of God’s favour from the nation came in the form of political disintegration and loss of stability. On the death of Jeroboam the nation was straight away plunged into political chaos. Within 12 months Jeroboam’s son who succeeded him was assassinated, and his son’s killer and usurper was also assassinated. The latter’s murderer, Menahem, managed to hold on for 8 years, but only in a bloodthirsty atmosphere of brutal civil war. When Menahem’s son succeeded him, he also failed to last a year, and was murdered. His murderer survived only four years before the Assyrians deposed him. Thus the mark of those years was a chaotic struggle among rivals to gain and hold power. This took precedence over everything else, dragging down the nation, and making effective government impossible”. Political disintegration is unfortunately becoming more marked in the western world, not least in the USA (where politics seem to have reached a lock-down), and our own country.
The second trend was of growing political incompetence, especially in foreign affairs. The Israelites badly judged their own vulnerability in the face of the growing Assyrian super power and eventually were responsible for the foolish policies which opened the door to Assyrian conquest of their land.
A third mark of divine disfavour can be found in the debilitating effect of widespread and increasing political corruption in the nation, not least among its political leaders. I quote again from a previous pamphlet: “Hosea, a near contemporary of Amos, and whose main prophetic activity was at its height during these decades of collapse, sums up the situation with Israel’s leaders in a few terse comments: “their rulers dearly love shameful ways” (4:18); “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones” (5:10); “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven …On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine … (7:3-7). Thus the personal degradation of the rulers was very marked were dishonest, they were dissolute, they were drunkards, and they loved it. They were arrogant. Justice and integrity had died. There was no political integrity because there was no personal integrity. The two, of course, can never be disassociated: humanity cannot keep corruption confined to one compartment of its life – it spreads all over. It is a sign of decadence when politicians insist that public life and personal life can be held in separate compartments.
I am writing this on the same morning that the resignation of our Defense Secretary and a senior Minister of the government has been announced. His resignation is due to the “sex scandal” among members of parliament. The same appalling “sleaze” which has been has been exposed at Hollywood threatens to rock the very centre of our government. More exposures are expected; and all this at a time when the stresses and strains of government are at an extreme level with disintegration not too far away. The situation is distinctly disturbing.
Has this behavior always been there? Many would say, “yes!” But many would suspect it has reached new levels. Sex is “in the air”, and open in a way that it has not been before. It certainly points at moral corruption. But does this exposure amount to a new moral beginning? Are we to see a new moral outlook? Or is that taking optimism too far? I suspect it is. The fact is our present position mirrors Amos’s position only too well. We are seeing only too clearly an aspect of the judgement of God.
Perhaps I should add a further quote from the pamphlet mentioned above: It was not political corruption in high places alone that marked the years of rapid decline, however. The corruption was endemic in the whole nation. Greed and gain among the rich provided not only a degenerate example to the less affluent, but drove those who were poorer to evil ways in order to keep up or even to survive. In this way corruption led to violence. Hosea again paints the picture: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (4:1-2). The corruption and evil with which the nation had lived for fifty years, and by which it had lived a profligate lifestyle, was now to become part of the cancer which was to render it incapable of a strong response to the danger it was to face. The political leadership was absolutely incapable of addressing these deep moral and social issues: it was actually itself a part of the problem”.
The signs are all there – time is running out!
Bob Dunnett 02/10/17