God has endowed His creation with a self-adjusting mechanism that, unless altered by cataclysmic forces, brings things back to a state of equilibrium. For instance, here in the South, we endured four years of significant drought until last autumn when the skies darkened, the rains fell, gutters and drains filled, flashfloods came, creeks overflowed, and fender-benders increased. The drought has since been officially declared over, and the region is busily making up for the lack of precipitation. The natural balancing laws have worked again!
This is not only true over the short term but the long term as well. What environmentalists gloomily call "global warming" is nothing more than the planet's built-in mechanism to bring temperatures back to a mean. Several hundred years ago, the earth endured a "mini ice age," and since then, global temperatures have been rising ever so slightly to balance matters. We can expect these temperatures to rise and fall by a few tenths of a degree over our lifetimes, with more drastic changes of climate occurring only once or twice in a millennium.
This kind of equilibrium also occurs in other areas of nature. For example, in any ecosystem the ratio of predators to prey remains relatively constant. If in a bountiful year prey species multiply rapidly, predator births also increase. However, once the prey population declines to a point that it cannot support the large number of predators, competition increases and deaths of predators also increase, establishing equilibrium once again.
The law also functions among human activities, though the relationships may be harder to spot and substantiate. However, we can perhaps see this best in economic patterns. We have all heard of economic cycles or stock-market cycles. Generally, free markets are self-correcting. Booms are followed by busts, bulls by bears. Until late 2000, the United States had enjoyed nine years of unrivaled, sustained growth. Anyone aware of this law of equilibrium should have known that the economy would correct itself by shrinking, and this is what has occurred through the first quarter of 2003. Now, the pendulum has begun to swing the other way. A report today confirms that the Standard & Poors 500 index has risen almost 24% over the last three months, a good sign that the U.S. economy is back on its way up.
We can see equilibrium at work politically too. In America, Democrats were the majority party in Congress for forty years until Republicans took a slim majority in the 1994 elections under the "Contract With America." Now, for the last decade Republicans have consolidated their majority by winning a slim majority in the Senate and the state governorships, as well as the White House. This changing of the guard is a backlash to mounting liberal policies, culminating in the perverse and horrendous presidency of Bill Clinton.
A nation also has a moral cycle that maintains equilibrium so that things infrequently get so bad that God must intervene directly and spectacularly. This may be most easily seen in God's record of the Israelites during the period of the judges. After Joshua died, a cycle began that lasted for about four hundred years, as described in Judges 2:11-19:
Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals. . . . And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around. . . . And they were greatly distressed. Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out the hand of those who plundered them. . . . And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods.
This cycle of idolatry-subjection-deliverance-prosperity is still at work today, though it may be more difficult to see in our modern world. Were it not, mankind would never have lasted this long; he would have committed genocide long ago. We can be thankful that God has included this self-correcting mechanism within His creation so that there is a promise of a brighter tomorrow.
However, a time is coming—and maybe soon—that the natural cycle will not be enough to bring humanity back to equilibrium. Jesus Christ will have to step into world affairs to stop mankind from killing all life on earth (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-31). He warns us, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him" (verse 44). The question is, then, have we stepped outside the natural cycle of moral equilibrium and committed ourselves totally to righteousness?
- Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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