Living and Learning
By Hal Lindsey
When I wrote The Late Great Planet Earth, I included a section titled, “Do We Really Live and Learn?”
In some areas, we clearly do. A farmer tries a new technique. Even if it doesn’t work, he has learned something useful. Learning from mistakes is one of the reasons fewer and fewer farmers feed more and more people. It’s true of any successful scientific endeavor.
Sometimes we overlearn. A man drives down a quiet street and suddenly gets caught in a traffic jam. He determines never to drive down that street again. Later, his wife points out that there was a wreck on that street that day, and that it’s usually quiet. But the man refuses to ever try that street again. He has overlearned.
In other areas, humanity does not learn. We’re like a famous 1950s TV character — Beaver Cleaver. Many years ago, the TV Land network ran a commercial for “Leave It to Beaver” that nicely sums up the problem. “Why doesn’t the Beaver ever learn his lesson?” the ad asked. “He is often taught his lesson. He promises to remember his lesson. But the next day he has forgotten his lesson. Is he deliberately ignoring his lesson? Not exactly.”
The ad then showed a still close-up of Beaver’s face. A graphic was added to the forehead area. It seems to show a vast empty space inside Beaver’s skull. A small brain is depicted at the top of the empty space. The word “Lesson” is shown entering the head through one of Beaver’s ears, then bouncing around in the almost empty chamber. The announcer says, “New evidence suggests that Beaver’s lesson enters one ear, floats around his head a few seconds without any contact with his brain, then floats out the other ear.” We then see the word “Lesson” floating out the opposite ear.
Too often, that’s us — that’s humanity. And it’s not just on little things, but big issues like conflict and morality. We don’t learn the lessons of past mistakes. Those lessons just float in one ear, and out the other. We keep making the same mistakes.
War makes a great example. History tells us to avoid war if we possibly can. But too many nations are quick to the trigger. History also teaches that you cannot avoid war by ignoring the possibility of it. In fact, ignoring war seems to encourage it. But nations forget that, too.
General Douglas MacArthur said, “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace… military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative.”
Or does it?
Humanity has a long history of eventually using every weapon it invents. And today’s weapons are devastating. That’s true even of non-nuclear weapons, but the nukes are the worst. In just the last year, several nations openly spoke of using nuclear weapons preemptively.
It is by the grace of God that we have not yet experienced a full blown nuclear war. Since the 1950s, we know of dozens of instances when humanity was within minutes of an all-out nuclear exchange. But information on nuclear devices is highly classified by the nations that have them, or plan to have them. So, we only know some of the near misses.
The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 is the most famous close call of the nuclear era. But there have been others. For instance, in 1979, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, received a call from NORAD headquarters. Their news was unthinkable. They said the Soviet Union had just launched 250 intercontinental ballistic missiles and they were on a trajectory for the United States. They said the time window in which we could respond was 3 to 7 minutes. Then new information came in, raising the number of incoming missiles to 2,200.
In seconds, the US prepared for a full nuclear response. Nuclear bombers prepared for takeoff. ICBM crews prepared to launch missiles. Fingers hovered near fire-buttons. But US officials held back, waiting for satellite data to confirm the attack. Six minutes later, NORAD realized it had all been a computer-generated illusion. A technician had inadvertently loaded a training program into an operational computer. The program simulated a massive Soviet attack.
There are many such stories. The world is still intact — but not because human systems are so efficient, or because human beings are so good. The world is still intact because God is so good. In situation after situation, we see that the hand of God stayed the hand of man.
But it won’t always be so. Before one of the major judgments of God on humanity, the flood of Noah, the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.” (Genesis 6:3 NASB)
2 Thessalonians 2 tells about Antichrist and the coming culmination of lawlessness in the world. Verse 7 says, “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.”
“He who now restrains” is the Holy Spirit working through God’s people, the Church. At the Rapture, the Church will be taken out of this world and the Holy Spirit’s ministry of restraining lawlessness will end. As bad as things seem now, they are going to get much, much worse.
If you have never turned to Christ, received His pardon and joined the family of God, now is the time.