If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
Human beings have moral instincts, and the knowledge that “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly,”1 is one of them. That knowledge is in the Book of Proverbs, but it has also been part of the instinctive moral heritage of all mankind for thousands of years.2 But many in our day are discarding this moral common sense.3 Why?
God created man, male and female, in His own image.4 Though fallen, man still retains His image in the ability to reason and the freedom to choose. His intention for fallen man is that reasoning and choice would be guided by His great gift to mankind — the conscience. This is the true source of our accountability, for it warns us before we do wrong. It is God’s mercy to us that our conscience also has the power to condemn us if we go past that warning. The guilt that results is meant to soften the heart we had to harden in order to do what we knew was wrong. To continue to go against our conscience in spite of the increasing weight of guilt is to be on a path toward incurring eternal judgment.
For those who step out on that slippery slope of going against conscience in one area of life, it becomes increasingly easy to go against it in other areas. Along that path such people become more prone to deception as their consciences become duller. Things that were once unthinkable become thinkable and finally even attractive options.5 This is what happens to people who become used to taking the easy path instead of doing what their consciences once demanded. This path ends in the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, a place of unending torment. But where did this path begin? What was the original state of the conscience and the way of life it was intended to thrive in? And by what steps have parents and their forbears strayed so far away from that original state and way of life that it would make sense to them to discard the wisdom of the ages and of their own hearts and hate their own children so much as to withhold the rod of discipline from them?6
In the dawn of human history, God established an everlasting covenant with Adam and Eve after the Fall, giving them boundaries that would keep them and their offspring from the sins that would take them to the eternal second death:
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth; in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:16-19)
The life described above is the merciful provision and discipline of the Creator for fallen man. It is the way of life He intended for fallen people in which conscience can best thrive. In such a life, fallen men and women can best hold onto the image of God that remains in them, and successfully pass that righteousness on to their children. It assumes a life planted firmly in working the very earth that mankind’s own selfishness had cursed.
Within the boundaries of this covenant, a man must labor long and hard to bring forth food from the earth. He must be diligent, and care for his animals. He must rule over his wife and bring her alongside him in everything if the family is to do well. She must stand and labor alongside him and help him in everything, and not hinder him, or they will not thrive. Such a couple earnestly desire children, and genuinely need them. They must train their children diligently and teach them to labor alongside them wholeheartedly to keep up with the all the hard work involved in an agrarian life. He and his wife truly need their children’s help and the children know that they are truly needed. But the man works the hardest, and they know his hard work and see it on a daily basis. They love and respect him for this and honor his God-given authority as husband, father, and provider.
In such a life, to “spare the rod and spoil the children” is to court starvation and disaster. There is no room for trying out fanciful social theories. An agrarian family must live connected to the rhythms of the earth and acknowledge their total dependence on the Creator. They know that no matter how hard they work, if He does not send the rain and deliver them from evil and give the increase, they cannot survive. They must stand in humility before creation and the Creator if they are doing to do well.
This was the way of life of 90% of Americans only one hundred and fifty years ago, yet in current Western culture it is almost extinct. So what happened to this agrarian way of life that is the God-ordained foundation of a family life lived according to the everlasting covenant? Where did this foundation go? It was destroyed during the century before Dr. Benjamin Spock came forth with his newfangled “fables” about how to raise children. It was blown away by the winds of the War Between the States, the Industrial Revolution, and people’s desire to flee the hard life of farm work for an easier life in the towns and cities of America.
In 1850, farmers still sowed by hand, cultivated with hoes, and reaped with sickles, but John Deere Company began manufacturing 10,000 iron plows a year. Iron plows cut plowing time in half. Mechanical reapers began to replace sickles, turning two weeks’ harvesting into a day’s work.
In 1862, President Lincoln signed legislation establishing the Department of Agriculture. He called it “The People’s Department” since 90% of Americans at that time were still farmers. Lincoln also approved the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted full title of up to 160 acres of land to settlers after five years of residence. Although seemingly a good thing, the Act was corruptly administered. As a result, most land passed into the hands of large corporations through “dummy” homesteaders.
By 1870, the census showed that farmers, for the first time, were in the minority. Of all employed persons, only 47.7% were farmers. As farming became more mechanized, more farmers were forced to rely on bank loans for land and equipment.
The devastation of the agrarian Southern states by the North, the vastly increased industrialization of the North due to the war, and Lincoln’s “Homestead Act” combined to accomplish the unthinkable. The percentage of Americans working the land was cut almost in half (from 90% to 47.7%) in a mere eight years. America’s foundation as an agrarian society of hard-working subsistence farmers suffered a fatal blow. Most remaining farmers became debtors, a pattern that remains to this day. The much-lauded “Homestead Act” created great fortunes for large corporations as the actual number of farmers plummeted. This is possibly the most rapid shift from an agrarian culture to an industrial, urban culture that has ever occurred in human history.
By 1880, the U.S. population reached 50,155,783, with the farm population estimated at 22,981,000. 49% of all employed persons were farmers, and of those, one in four was a “sharecropper” who did not own the land he labored on, despite the Homestead Act.
By 1920, farms were still home to roughly 32 million Americans comprising 30% of the population. This would soon change. Migration, mostly of young people leaving the farms for the cities, escalated over the coming years.
From 1940 to 1980, the downward spiral continued. Farmers decreased to less than 3% of the population, completing the transformation from an agrarian society to an urban and industrial one. The biggest factor was this: people, especially the young, fled from the hard work of farming for an easier life in the cities.
But many righteous, hard-working families were forced off the land through larger factors beyond their control. Some tenants and sharecroppers were forced out, as owners with modern machinery were able to cultivate large areas without them. Other small farmers went broke or sold out to larger neighbors. Most small and poor farms were taken over by bigger operations. Drought, dust, debt and the Great Depression drove many righteous families off the land and into the cities seeking work. Once they got there, their character did not change. They remained righteous, hard-working people who did their best to raise righteous children. But where is the righteousness of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Many of us had such forebears, and we well know our character does not match up to theirs.
Today, less than 2% of Americans still work the land, and only 10% live in rural areas.7 The original American agrarian life of families laboring together in the soil and depending on the Creator for increase that is at the foundation of the Everlasting Covenant is virtually gone with the wind.8
Has the destruction and abandonment of this simple agrarian family life of hard work set the stage for the dulling of conscience that followed? Is it an accident that righteous Lot’s willingness to embrace the soft life in Sodom bore the fruit that it bore in his wife and children? Is it coincidence that the Amish people, who have been unwilling to abandon agrarian family life, have held onto a good deal of the righteousness that long ago disappeared from the mainstream culture in America? What has been the present result of abandoning the way of life that is at the foundation of the Everlasting Covenant?
Cut off from the land, and now living in cities, men generally have to find work out of sight of their wives and children. Away from the hard work of farm life, the greater physical strength and endurance of men is much less important. Women have become independent. Children no longer are raised in God’s intended context for them to learn obedience and the discipline of hard physical labor. Instead of learning what they need to learn from working alongside their father and mother, they are generally sent off to school where they are trained to go to hell by the school and their peers.
People live in an unreal environment, where it is easy to imagine that God is irrelevant. Conscience has been dulled to the point that it now makes sense to many parents to neglect disciplining their children. Indeed, no longer living the intended way of life for raising righteous children, they have an uphill battle in every way. As the residual righteousness they inherited from their forebears gradually erodes through the generations, the world is being engulfed in a flood of darkness that is sweeping away even the most basic foundations of conscience.
The children of the 60s threw out much of the moral common sense of their grandparents. Generation X threw off more, and many of the children of Generation Y do not even know that there ever was such a thing as moral common sense and the Natural Law of conscience. They know the Natural Law of their great-grandparents by new names: Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Child Abuse, Child Labor. For many of them, evil is now good, and good evil. What will their grandchildren be like? And what will the earth be like when filled with such children of hell?
The earth mourns and fades away,
The world languishes and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish.
The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
Changed the ordinance,
Broken the everlasting covenant.
Is there a way out of this bleak future? Yes! There is an Ark being built in the midst of this flood of darkness. Here a life can be found that is set apart, that floats above the present and coming darkness. This life is real, and exists in places every bit as real as the actual Ark in the days of Noah. This life is a light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, a beacon of hope calling to all who yearn for a real way out. We lift up our voices to you in love! Leave where you are, and come and see the life our Master Yahshua is giving us! This life is a common life of love and unity where the foundations of our Father’s original intent for human beings are being restored. The addresses and contact information of many of our communities are on the back of this paper. Please come for a day or to stay!