The Bible says that God's wrath is already upon the world. (Romans 1:18, Ephesians 5:6).
Jesus said that the coming Great Tribulation will be the worst time on earth that ever was and ever will be. (Matthew 24:21).
So, if man is evil and His wrath is already upon the world, why is it that we don't have complete and total anarchy all the time?
There is a difference between types of wrath.
- Eternal wrath- this is the wrath that unbelievers endure in the Lake of Fire forever, (Mark 9:48)
- Eschatological wrath- this is the wrath that will be unleashed upon the world prior to Jesus' Second Coming, the one spoken of in Matthew 24
- Cataclysmic wrath- The Flood, the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeobiim, the historical times when a cataclysm occurred such as Vesuvius erupting in 79AD or the Christmas Tsunami of 2004,
- Sowing and Reaping wrath- such as AIDS upon the homosexual,
- Abandonment wrath- when God turns a society over to its sin.
The second answer to my own posed question as to why the earth doesn't descend into anarchy all the time is because The Holy Spirit restrains sin. He does so through four means-
- Legal Order
- Church/Holy Spirit in believers (source)
As for law enforcement, Satan is currently doing a good and evil job destroying our trust in this basic foundational block of one of the means through which the Spirit restrains sin in society. Of late, there have been a number of tragic murders of law enforcement personnel across the nation.
America’s Legal Order Begins to Fray
Amid the escalation of violent crime are signs of a breakdown of basic respect for law enforcement.
Jim McDonnell, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the nation’s largest, tells me that the current anticop animus puts the nation in a place where it hasn’t been since the 1960s. “The last 10 years have witnessed dramatic decreases in crime,” Sheriff McDonnell says. “Now, in a short period of time, we are seeing those gains undone.”The current hatred of police/law enforcement in America, the overt disrespect, with the attendant killings of cops has prompted the question, "is there a war on cops?" Certainly, the statistics indicate something going on, but maybe not what one wold think by looking only at the surface. Yes, cop killings have doubled this year, but that only seems high because last year was the safest year for law enforcement in history. By comparison to only last year, it seems that more police are being killed, but the numbers remain consistent with most of previous history excluding last year. (Source)
Yet...yet...the more measured Wall Street Journal notes that-
"The lawful use of police power is being met by hostility and violence, often ignored by the press. In Cincinnati, a small riot broke out in late July when the police arrived at a drive-by shooting scene, where a 4-year-old girl had been shot in the head and critically injured. Bystanders loudly cursed at officers who had started arresting suspects at the scene on outstanding warrants, according to a witness I spoke with."
Jim McDonnell, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the nation’s largest, tells me that the current anticop animus puts the nation in a place where it hasn’t been since the 1960s. “The last 10 years have witnessed dramatic decreases in crime,” Sheriff McDonnell says. “Now, in a short period of time, we are seeing those gains undone.”
Police officials I have spoken with in recent months say that they long to hear America’s leaders change the tone of the national conversation before respect for the rule of law itself deteriorates further. They’re still waiting.Personally I don't remember this level of hatred for law and its representative, police. I know there is a general feeling that justice is not prevailing, and perhaps people are lashing out for that reason. Perhaps a lot of reasons, but mainly, remember that nations exist because God ordains them, and each inhabitant of that nations populates it because God ordains it.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, (Acts 17:26).
The Holy Spirit converts each person and dwells inside them as the restrainer, there's the conscience, and there's the visible representation of God's family on earth for the purpose of making disciples and bringing glory to God through their worship. How about the civil authority? Here John MacArthur explains the biblical basis for civil authority and how God restrains evil in the world:
Biblically, the prime duty of civil authority – if you look at the Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament – it’s not charity, it’s not economics. The primary duty of civil authority is the moral well-being of its citizens. It is restraining sinners and rewarding those who do good so that we can be civilized; enjoy a measure of peace and joy in life and God’s creation.
The civil government uses an even increased threat. The law of God in the heart has a threat, conscience, which will pile guilt on. The family has a threat, the rod, which will discipline the disobedient child. Civil government has an even greater force, even a deadly force if necessary. Civil government is a God-ordained institution to restrain sinners.We have the nation of America where the personal conscience is seared, where family is breaking
I remember an episode of Andy Griffith called Lawman Barney. The show hearkens back to a more innocent time, and most of the problems presented during the course of the show were small compared to our day and were usually resolved by an aw shucks attitude and a sweet appeal to the conscience.
In the show, two big men had set up an illegal farm stand within Mayberry's jurisdiction. Andy sent Barney to tell them to move on. The men refused.
Andy went out to where the men were. Unbenownst to Barney, Andy told the men that he was going to send his mad-dog, volatile Deputy to move them along, and after a scary speech Andy asked for their next of kin in case things went wrong.
Andy did send Barney out there and the men, remembering Andy's speech, hastily packed up and took off. Barney was elated.
Later as the men stopped at the local filling station, where Floyd the Barber was getting a pop, they happened to mention the mad-dog deputy, and all the filling station men and Floyd laughed at such a thought, scoffing about Barney in front of the men. The men turned the truck around and went back to set up their stand.
Floyd came to the Police station and laughingly told Andy about the silly notion the stranger men had about Barney, while Barney was in the back room, overhearing. Andy vowed to go out there and stop the men. Barney asked Andy why he wasn't going to take his gun. Below, starting at 18:37, is the rest of the story.
Barney: Ain't ya going to take your gun?
Andy: I'll get them out without a gun. Like you said earlier, this badge does all my talking for me. I'm sworn to uphold the law and that's what I mean to do. Folks better respect it. Simple as that.
On the ride to the site, Barney asked Andy to let him handle the men.
Barney: Fellas. I warned you before and I'm warning you for the last time. You take your truck and you get out of here.
Perps: [remain where they are.]
Barney: This is the Deputy Sheriff talking. So git moving. Now!
Perps: [move closer to Barney]
Barney: Do you see this badge? It says that I'm sworn to uphold the law.
Perps: [move closer to Barney and bookend him]
Barney: Now that's what I mean to do and you fellers better respect it. Understand? It's just as simple as that.
Perps: [tower intimidatingly over Barney and glower at him]
Barney: [looking up at each of them] You're both a lot bigger'n I am. But this badge represents a lot of people that are a lot bigger than either one of you. Now are you going to get moving?
Of course today a gun is necessary and there are much worse perps than illegal fruit stand men. But Law Enforcement is about the authority police have to protect citizenry from mayhem and to ensure a peaceable community. Police restrain evil sinners by the authority given them. It's why you see them show their badge and say "stop in the name of the law." They don't say "stop in the name of Phil".
When the general population's respect and restraint of their own evil under that authority disappears it's because they no longer see the police as representative of the greater authority. This is when mayhem will occur. I believe that this is happening now. It's why teenagers or even adults get into a flash mob and overrun a store, vandalizing and stealing with impunity. The following Bible verse ends the sad story of a nation that threw off civil restraint and immediately descended into moral anarchy. They formed a plan to get wives by kidnapping/raping the dancers at Shiloh and carrying them off. Why?
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible explains:
In those days there was no king in Israel,.... No supreme magistrate, Joshua being dead, and as yet no judge in Israel had risen up; for all related in the five last chapters of this book were done between the death of Joshua and the time of the judges: every man did that which was right in his own eyes; there being none to restrain him from it, or punish him for it; and this accounts for the many evil things related, as the idolatry of Micah and the Danites, the base usage of the Levite's concubine, the extreme rigour and severity with which the Israelites treated their brethren the Benjaminites, the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead, and the rape of the daughters of Shiloh.When there's no respect for authority the nation has set over the people, and/or no fear of punishment and you have the very expression of the verse I began this essay with: every man's thoughts were of only evil all the time. Those thoughts don't stay thoughts though. they become actions.
The final restraint God uses in the world is the church with its Holy Spirit-dwelling believers. And one day God will remove that restraint, also:
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7).
Here is an article from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on common grace and the operations of the Holy Spirit in society. I recommend reading it in its entirety here. Or listen here.
God, through the Holy Spirit, restrains the foulest manifestations of sin, but there are times when He gives people up to them. Are we, I wonder, living in such an age? Compare the twentieth century with the nineteenth. It is obvious that the moral level is very much lower today. That does not mean that everybody was a Christian in the Victorian era, but it does mean that even people who were not Christians were better men and women, speaking generally, than people now. Why?
It was because of the general influence of the Holy Spirit. But it does look as if again, today, God is giving humanity over 'unto vile affections' as Paul outlines in Romans 1. Therefore I deduce that one of the results of the operation of the Holy Spirit in common grace is that God does restrain men and women. He does specifically restrain sin. That is why God has appointed governments, authorities, magistrates and powers: it is to keep sin within bounds. Though God knows that there are certain people in the world who will never be saved, He does not allow them to live just as they please and to give fuller manifestation to sin; He restrains it in them.We have a magnificent God who uses all these means, including law enforcement, to restrain evil on our behalf, when we certainly do not deserve it. Did you ever stop to think that Law Enforcement Officers are an expression of the Lord's common graces? Pray for our Officers of the Law.
Sirs . . . we also are men of like passion with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities [these gods] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15–17)
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