Turning Back the Clock
Ramon Arias | July 24, 2017“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
Two thousand years ago, Jesus told the Jews, historically, there are only two foundations for people and nations to build their lives and culture upon: rock (wisdom) and sand (foolishness). He is making reference to the only two world systems that have ever existed; understanding these foundations explains the reason why individuals and societies thrive and also why great civilizations with all their splendor, might, and dominion have collapsed.
Jesus’ generation should have understood his teachings and warnings since they had 1,300 years of experience of both perspectives for thriving and collapsing. The damage of living under the dominance of the Roman Empire was evident; there was nothing substantial left of their past culture when they had experienced the greatness of building upon the revelation of God’s word. Jesus also warned them (Matthew 24) of their coming destruction as the outcome of Israel’s rejection of moral absolutes—which happened in the year 70 A.D. The Jews refused to look back at their national history and disregarded all common sense of their demise.
The Cambridge Dictionary gives the following definition for, “turn back the clock (on something) to change something so that it behaves or exists as it did in the past.” Understanding history (the past), tells us where we are in the present and what to expect in the future. If the current trends cause people to be hopeless, it is a clear sign of pessimism. In a pessimistic cultural cloud of darkness, it’s natural for people to think that society "cannot turn back the clock." Others see the uncertainty as an opportunity to advance failed ideologies because they do not understand real facts from fiction (sand = foolishness) and solid (rock = wise) principles. When confusion takes hold of the mind, it’s not surprising that it becomes the norm and people feel incompetent to face the challenge, and what is worse, they accept to go with the flow and join the building of society upon foolishness, which is like sand.
The cycles of history should be taught in school, through the media, the church and in the family. When we understand that destructive social cycles can be broken, it is because history teaches that patterns can be stopped. Another important fact Jesus taught is the judgments of God against foolishness.
Jesus came not to teach about religion, rather, to reinforce that man is not autonomous (without God's moral law) even if he rejects divine standards it does not exempt him from the consequences of building upon the wrong cultural foundation. The illustration of the foolish builder is to expose the secular humanistic mindset that pretends to bring about an alternative foundation and effective construction apart from the one laid by the Creator, who regulates human conduct.
Just because people stop believing in the God of the Bible, it does not mean the definition of right and wrong or good and evil disappears from the culture. If Americans think that by removing God’s word from the public arena be it in history, education, science, economics, politics, civil law, literature, the arts, and the rest of the ideas manifested in culture, that they are getting rid of God, then they are sadly and tragically mistaken. They have to take a hard look at history, and at the foolish builder.
When Jesus uses the analogy of the two builders, the wise and the foolish, the lesson conveyed is the ability of the deniers of the God of the Bible and an unbelieving society that continues to build cities, bridges, develops technology, space travel, and a multitude of achievements to no avail. They defiantly develop their philosophies of life and transmit them through all means of education. But Jesus makes their inevitable collapse clear.
The wise and the foolish, both, have a system of beliefs defining who they are and the type of institutions they develop in society to create their identity and continuity. The difference is the moral and spiritual values the next generation will also inherit.
The wise builder knows the word of God and applies it to all areas of life; he never compromises by adopting and mixing the ideas of the foolish builder. The lesson for Christian America and the rest of Christianity in the world is that it is possible to turn the clock back and learn from the success of those who apply God's knowledge in their lives and culture. The wise builder was not called to be a Republican, conservative, libertarian or any other brand of political persuasion, rather, to imitate moral character of God and Jesus Christ to all that needs to be accomplished in this life.
Biblical Christians have only one way to rebuild; by returning to genuine biblical faith to prevent the decline and collapse of the nation. History will reveal if there were enough wise builders or if the foolish succeeded in destroying the future of America.