Insight on the News
● “In all history there had been no sterner, swifter visitation of death,” says “Science Digest” of the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic. The article notes that the sixth-century plague of Justinian “supposedly claimed 100 million lives—but it endured for 50 years.” The 14th-century bubonic plague was said to have taken 62 million lives world wide, but it lasted for three years. However, though the first world war “had killed over 21 million people in four years of dogged conflict,” observes “Science Digest,” “the influenza epidemic took approximately the same toll in about four months.”
The magazine marvels: “With an irony that surpasses man’s understanding, the plague faded almost simultaneously with the ending of the Great War. . . . Why it began, why it ended, where it went, no one knows to this day.”
Yet many students of Bible prophecy know that Jesus Christ had predicted just such events to mark the beginning of the end of this present system of things. Adding to his prophecy that “nation will make war upon nation, kingdom upon kingdom,” Jesus said that there would be “famines and PLAGUES in many places,” heralding the “end of the age.”—Luke 21:7-11; Matt. 24:3-8, “New English Bible.”
Religion—For Peace or War?
● A recent “Redbook” magazine survey of 65,000 women’s views on how religion affects their lives revealed that only 14 percent believe ‘it’s a sin to take part in any war.’ “Redbook” also noted: “Very religious women say that ‘taking part in a war is a sin’ far less often than nonreligious or slightly religious women.” Hence, the magazine remarked, “if our government were to become more pious, that might not herald an era of peace on earth.”
Similarly, the “National Observer” published a poem that commented on the religious conflicts in Ireland, Lebanon and the Hanafi Muslim siege of buildings in Washington, D.C. It concludes:
“How historically constant, yet unseemly odd,
This hatred and gore in the name of God.”
Throughout history, world leaders have seemingly been blind to worldly religion’s role, both in fomenting wars and in fostering blood lust during political wars. Will such religions always escape responsibility? No.
Bible prophecy pictures the world’s politically meddling religions as being like a “great harlot . . . with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication” and who bears responsibility for the blood “of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Soon, the prophecy shows, these same “kings of the earth” “will hate the harlot . . . and will completely burn her with fire,” ending her bloody career.—Rev. 17:1, 2, 12, 16; 18:24.
‘What Price God?’
● A Florida circuit court judge recently ruled that a Jewish couple would have to pay $90 in back dues to their former synagogue. The temple had filed suit when the pair fell behind on their pledge during the 1974 business recession. “What’s the price of God?” asked the wife. “Judaism is not a business,” countered the synagogue’s executive director, but “where it is housed, is.” He also told the court that most of 20 other families who had been sued for nonpayment had settled out of court.
Similarly, a Catholic in Rhode Island complained to the Providence “Evening Bulletin” that after seven generations with a parish, “I’ve just gotten a letter from my priest, saying we are no longer entitled to full services . . . because we have not fulfilled our budget obligations. . . . My friend, an 80-year-old parishioner, has no money at all, but she got the same letter.”
How unlike the spirit of the Biblical Jewish and Christian congregations! “Whosoever is of a willing heart” and “of every man whose heart maketh him willing ye shall take My offering” was God’s own expression on how to obtain the needs of the ancient tabernacle.—Ex. 35:5; 25:2, “Jewish Publications Society.”
And of the early Christian practice, Tertullian (c. 190 C.E.) wrote: “Even if there is a chest of a sort, it is not made up of money paid in entrance-fees, as if religion were a matter of contract. . . . for nobody is compelled.”—“Apology,” XXXIX, 5.