This word crashes onto the shore of human ingenuity like a wall of water. We humans solve everything. We have an intractable ambition to master our environment, overcome what stands in our way, and remake the world in our own image. The Enlightenment taught us to believe in progress, that all problems are solvable. Potential, progress, and pragmatism are the Western, secular trinity. This is faith in humanity.
And the problems of modern existence that are still pending are never abandoned in despair. We don’t admit defeat. We may endure temporary set backs and delays, but in our mind there are always solutions forthcoming. The advances in science, medicine, technology, industry, communication, and culture have promised us a better future of equality, prosperity, freedom, and happiness. Jules Verne and the early generation of futurologists would be shocked to see us eclipsing their most audacious fantasies.
However, right alongside this notable track record of progress are alarming discrepancies. Postmodernism recognizes that the Enlightenment paradigm has run its course. Fear, disenchantment, vulnerability, pollution, oppression, war have not disappeared. “The earth is polluted under the weight of its inhabitants” (Isa. 24:5). Romans 8 is an apropos description of the spiritual vacuum in postmodern society- vanity, slavery, corruption, groaning, and travail. We have not mastered our own sinful nature, and this is the source of our enduring Catch-22.
All the monsters of the wilderness, all the horrors of darkness have reappeared. The human person again stands before the chaos; and all of this is so much more terrible, since the majority do not recognize it: after all, everywhere scientifically educated people are communicating with one another, machines are running smoothly, and bureaucracies are functioning well.
Psalm 72 identifies some of these “monsters”, implying seven problems on earth that cannot be solved by man:
- Ecological problems–v.6
- Territorial problems–v.7-8
- Racial problems–v.10-11
- Political problems–v.11
- Economic problems–v.12-13
- Social justice problems–v.14
- Violence and crime related problems–v.14
Because these problems are unsolvable, we need a Savior. Here human nature is overtaxed. This psalm reveals that in His second coming, Christ will solve all these problems and take possession of the earth. “He will drop like rain upon mown grass, like abundant showers dripping on the earth” (Psa. 72:6). In His first coming, He mainly dealt with sin, accomplished redemption, and released the divine life. In His second coming, He will renew the earth, solve the problems of society, and bring in God’s kingdom. We are accustomed to preaching the gospel of His first coming, but His second coming is equally part of the gospel. I think it’s time to start preaching it, expecting it, and hastening it (2 Pet. 3:12).
The first coming of the Lord made the “fish” no longer “salty.” His second coming will make the “sea” no longer “salty.” In His first coming, the Lord saved us individually one by one. In His second coming, He will save the world as well… Today all of us who are saved through His first coming have a new life. When He comes again, we will inherit a new environment to match our new life within.
- Tragedy and Change (lifeandbuilding.com)
- Psalm 24: the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the Coming King (lifeandbuilding.com)
- The Central Thought of Psalms in Four Words (lifeandbuilding.com)