Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

QUEEN ELIZABETH LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH

Westminster Abbey's bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.
Westminster Abbey’s bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Today at 5.30pm British Summer Time, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, overtaking the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

She still has some way to go to pass the longest reigning European monarchs,   Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1848-1916) and France’s Louis XIV (1643-1715).   However, the latter doesn’t really count as he was only five when he became “king,” meaning that his mother and Cardinal Mazarin ruled in his place.

Thailand’s current king was crowned in May 1950 so he’s been around even longer than the British monarch.

A PBS documentary on the queen aired last week.   The one-hour documentary is available on DVD.   It’s part of the “In their own words” occasional series.   There was one mistake in the program when a BBC broadcast announcing that “the king’s life draws peacefully to a close” was applied to her father, King George VI, who died in 1952.   The recording dates to January 1936 when his father, George V, was dying.   The queen’s father was found dead in bed on February 6th, 1952.   He had been out hunting the previous day. Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya, on a tour of the empire, when he died.

The monarchy goes back over one thousand years.  It has evolved through the centuries into today’s constitutional monarchy.   The system has worked very well, giving Britain and the other Commonwealth realms (which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an unparalleled period of political stability, without which economic progress is difficult to achieve.

The very complimentary documentary highlighted Elizabeth’s role as constitutional monarch, using her influence rather than authority in chaperoning the country for over sixty years.   It’s been a time of unprecedented change, as was Victoria’s in the nineteenth century.

The program began with then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa.   In her own words she pledged herself to serve “the great imperial family to which we all belong,” a reference to the Empire and Commonwealth, which included South Africa.

Immediately after these words were shown on the documentary, a royal expert then added a comment about her lifelong service to Britain.

There’s a blind spot here, which obscures Britain’s incredible decline during her reign.   As she is a constitutional monarch, the blame for this decline rests with the politicians, especially the twelve British prime ministers who have served under her.   Her Canadian, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers can also share some of that responsibility.

The fact is that the British Empire has gone and its successor, the Commonwealth (the “British” was dropped 50 years ago) is no more than a shadow of what it was.   It may not even survive the queen’s passing.   The queen remains Head of State of 16 countries and has 138 million subjects.   She is also titular Head of the Commonwealth, an organization of 54 former colonies.   It remains to be seen if Prince Charles will be able to hold it all together after he succeeds his mother.

Sir John Major, her ninth British prime minister, said in the documentary that throughout all the changes of the last six decades, the queen has been the one “constant” in the country, giving a sense of continuity and stability during monumental and significant changes.   This is true, but it hides some painful realities.

The loss of empire saw a rapid decline in global power.   The country’s military capability is about one-twelfth of what it was at the beginning of her reign – and continues to decline even under a Conservative administration.   The queen’s international role remains at the core of British “soft power,” along with the BBC World Service and British aid.   This soft power has replaced the strong military power it used to have.

With the empire gone, Britain entered the European Common Market (now the European Union), which has progressively taken away the UK’s independence.   Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, millions of people from other European countries have been able to move to Britain, changing the composition of the nation’s population.

Added to this has been mass immigration from Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan.

The changes are so significant, it’s fair to say that the Great Britain she inherited in 1952 and the Great Britain of today are two very different countries.   It’s amusing to remember that in 1949, when she was Princess Elizabeth, she spoke out against the evils of divorce.   The nation would not take kindly to such comments today and the queen would not be qualified to speak on the subject anyway as her own family has seen a few divorces.

None of this detracts from the great accomplishments of Elizabeth II.   She has set an incredible example of service.   Her sense of duty is unsurpassed by anybody in any field.   In her own personal private life she has set a fine example, never putting a foot wrong.

In many ways, the world was a better place when the Queen ascended the throne on February 6th, 1952 (the Coronation was in June the following year).   At that time, she presided over the greatest empire in history.   As countries were given independence, all too often they were taken over by self-serving bad leaders who destroyed much of what Britain had accomplished, enriching themselves by stealing from their own people.   They were often from the lowest echelons of society, suddenly receiving absolute power, which they abused in every way.

I remember an incident 35 years ago at a time when Ghana, in West Africa, was going through a long period of political instability and economic chaos, I stopped to buy some food at the side of the road. When I opened my wallet, the lady who was selling me the items, saw a British bank note with the portrait of the queen on it.   The lady sighed and said:   “Ah, Queen Elizabeth.   She used to be our queen.   Now we have so many presidents, we cannot count them all. And we are in such a mess.   And England still has the queen.”   Stability is so important.

Two verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes illustrate this so well:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time —
For strength and not for drunkenness!”   (Eccl. 10:16-17.)

Britain has been greatly blessed with Elizabeth II as Queen.

As many are saying today:    “Long may she reign!”

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TO HELL WE MUST GO

Hell

Williamston and Okemos are two cities that are a part of the Greater Lansing area, where we live.  Whereas we live on the west side of Lansing, they are east and south-east respectively.

I’ve just finished reading a short book on a particularly gruesome murder that took place in Williamston in 1897.   The book told the story of a man who came home for lunch (dinner as it was then), to find his mother’s head on his dinner plate.  His wife had gone crazy and killed her mother-in-law.

The murder is not as interesting as the detailed descriptions of life in Lansing at the time, almost 120 years ago.   In 1897 many people could still remember when the city of Lansing was chosen as the state capital.   The city was served by a number of railway lines, none of which exist now.

What was particularly interesting to me was the fact that the murderer was charged, tried and sentenced within six days.  Yes, six days!   What a contrast to today, where a trial may take more than a year, sentencing months and punishment is often delayed for years. Will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ever actually be put to death?   His victims died instantly!

Reading the book, I was reminded of the scripture in Ecclesiastes 8:11 which says:  “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

It’s no wonder that we are seeing more crimes of violence when our legal system is a joke.  The system has little to do with justice.

Another legal issue came up in the book.  Again, the contrast with today is quite marked.

The murderer was sentenced to life in an asylum.   She died about eighteen months later from tuberculosis.

Her husband, meanwhile, turns up again in the historical record, three years after the murder.   He was found co-habiting with a woman in Okemos, a few miles away.  They were both charged with “lewd and lascivious behavior.”  He was sentenced to ten months and she got eight.  That’s curious in itself.   I’m sure they were both equally to blame, so, therefore, why were their sentences different? But they both went to jail.

America today, with less than 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s prisoners.   Can you imagine what our prisons would be like if all those co-habiting were sentenced to a jail term?   If biblical commands were upheld in our communities, we would need a lot more jails and prisons for long-term offenders.

I was reminded of this last Friday when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.  Can you imagine what the village elders would have done in 1900 Okemos if they had found two men co-habiting?

It shows how far we have come as a country.   And not just us, other western nations are the same.

Many Christians interpret the latest Supreme Court decision as a sign that the end of the age cannot be far off, that just as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah when they were beyond being saved, that the US and other nations must face the same.   A number of conservatives said that the decision was a blow to marriage.

But the fact is that Friday’s decision is just the latest blow to marriage.

Marriage laws were progressively weakened throughout the twentieth century and churches said nothing.   In 1971 no-fault divorce became the law across the country, a decision that, arguably, did more harm to traditional marriage than any decision before or since.

The lives of millions of innocent children have suffered needlessly because of this change to the law, which reflected increased selfishness in our society.

Just two years later, abortion became legal.   This decision led to the murders of almost 60 million children in the United States alone.

Same-sex marriage is certainly not approved of in the scriptures. Nor are adultery and fornication, yet churches turn a blind eye to both, or punish them less severely.

The Apostle Paul treated them equally in I Corinthians 6:9.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,  nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.   And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  (verses 9-11)

Clearly, Paul here condemns fornication, adultery and sodomy equally.

If churches had done the same in recent decades, they might not be in the mess they are in now with regard to same-sex relationships.

If churches are to have any credibility at all on moral issues, they need to condemn these sexual sins EQUALLY.   That’s the only way they will be able to turn away same-sex couples who request a church wedding.   Churches need a statement of belief that upholds a biblically sanctioned marriage and only a biblically sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman who have chosen chastity until marriage and are committed to fidelity afterwards.   Divorced church members should be directed toward a civil marriage, not a church wedding.

If churches don’t do this, they are, in effect saying that one sin is worse than the other, just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  In today’s western world that will open them up to charges of discrimination and intolerance.

One final thought before we leave this subject.

The book on the 1897 murder was titled:  “To hell I must go.”  The title came from the murderess herself.  She kept saying that when the police came to arrest her.

When it comes to the morals of the last fifty years, it’s more a case of “to hell we must go.”   Our society is falling apart as a result of our national sins.  Lax laws have destroyed the family.   The latest change to the law is just another nail in the coffin.  Still to come, inevitably, are polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.   In England, they have already stopped prosecuting the latter.

It won’t end until we suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah.   We will, but it may be some time yet and more changes are still to come.