It's that time again for an annual analysis and assessment. That's when many observers look back to yesteryear—and also peer into a somewhat clouded future. Secular predictions for 2011 and beyond are multiple and varied. But does the Bible have a far bigger say in our future?
Some two decades ago when communism ceased to be a relevant force, world leaders looked forward to a so-called new world order. As James Hoge Jr., the editor of Foreign Affairs, stated, "Many observers foresaw a placid future with few challenges to approximate the hot and cold wars that had so scarred the twentieth century. Peace and prosperity were predicted" ("The World Ahead," November-December 2010, emphasis added throughout).
Just the opposite has actually happened! World peace has eluded us by a long shot, and we were eventually plunged into the worst recession, perhaps since the 1930s. What went wrong? Why are we witnessing what we now see afflicting this tragic world of ours? Is our plight strictly accidental (void of cause and effect)—or is there some purpose and pattern behind current world affairs?
Is there an unseen force that has been guiding and directing trends and events according to an ancient master plan set out well in advance of today's troubled age?
The Western world past and present
A special edition of Newsweek titled "Issues 2011" reports: "As the world enters 2011, we are adapting to the new reality of the post-crisis era. At its roots, the crisis was a symptom of a broader dysfunction in our global, political, economic and social order. We are now paying, and continue to pay, for the sins of the past" ("To Our Readers," December 2010 to February 2011).
It becomes a matter of far more than passing interest that our present plight should be so described in biblical terms by those heading up a popular American newsweekly with an international edition. According to the Bible, "Sin is lawlessness" (1 John:3:4)—the violation of God's law. Sooner or later, transgressing God's law exacts an inevitable penalty. Even nations pay that penalty!
This Newsweek preface goes on to depict some of our specific economic sins: "Governments have assumed massive debts to save the global financial system from total collapse. As a result, countries are now grappling with higher taxes, severe reductions in public goods and services, and dwindling investments in education and infrastructure. Public disillusionment in business and political leadership is dangerously high. Because of our continued tendency to put off problem resolution, to the detriment of our children and grandchildren, we may yet trigger a deep social and generational crisis. All these are the defining features of our new reality."
The Good Book simply says, "For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (2 Corinthians:12:14).
The editor of the previous piece in Foreign Affairs frankly stated, "The United States' influence, diminished by the rise of other states and nonstate actors, will be fatally undercut if the country does not curb its unsustainable reliance on debt." (As an aside, if you would like help in coping with any personal debt problems, request or download our free booklet Managing Your Finances.)
Paradise lost in one morning
British author Robert Harvey described the seismic significance of 9/11 in terms of America's previously vaunted national security: "The sudden, tragically devastating spear thrust at the commercial and military heart of America by a handful of religious (although technologically educated) fanatics graphically demonstrated that the continental United States, for all of its two-ocean barriers against the rest of the world, is no more insulated from its tragedies and struggles in an era of mass communication, than it is from global economic shocks" (Global Disorder, 2003, p. 9).
Meanwhile, many nations in the world are entering the economic high ground America has held for so long. As columnist Roger Cohen wrote in the International Herald Tribune Magazine: "Although there's talk in the West of a new Age of Anxiety, the neurosis is in fact fairly narrowly confined. True, the unease lies in what is still by far the world's largest economy—the United States—and is shared by the European Union. The problems there—of soaring deficits, high unemployment, aging baby-boomers and sporadic anti-immigrant anger—are intractable. Excess has given way to distress... But the vast bulk of the world's population lives outside these enervated and overextended enclaves. For billions of human beings opportunity is expanding rather than contracting, if very unevenly" ("The Age of Possibility," Dec. 2, 2010).
Stories about the economic emergence of China, India and Brazil fill our newspapers and newsmagazines. But more economic activity is taking place among other countries. For instance, the 540-mile border between Syria and Turkey was once pockmarked with some 60,000 land mines. Now $2 billion in mutual trade moves freely across this formerly hostile border. Turkey is increasingly labeled "the hub of Eurasia." During the last 10 years, trade between China and African nations has expanded from $10 billion to $100 billion. India and Peru have grown much closer as well. More and more South American nations are looking in the direction of Asia.
A new world economic and political order is taking shape. Noted columnist Philip Stephens of the Financial Times put it this way: "We are living through one of history's swerves. A multipolar world has been long predicted, but has always seemed to be perched safely on the horizon. Now it has rushed quite suddenly into the present. Two centuries of western hegemony are coming to a close rather earlier than many had imagined" ("On the Way to a New Global Balance," Dec. 16, 2010).
But why is the United States not a full participant in this new economic age?
America's decline foreseen in Scripture
The last book in the Bible, Revelation, was penned by the aged apostle John in the final decade of the first century, nearly 2,000 years ago. Yet the Bible remains the most up-to-date book available to our modern age. It reveals both the origins and the prophetic destiny of America and the British Commonwealth of nations, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Our free 110-page booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy charts the whole course, showing where we have come from and where we are headed. The final chapter of this attractive, full-color booklet sets out America's future—first severe national punishment but mercifully followed by a dramatic divine restoration accorded to the remnant of its peoples.
Far too many present-day Americans, Australians, Britons and Canadians have refused to acknowledge the true God and the bountiful, undeserved blessings He has bestowed upon our nations. Instead many have chosen to deny the very existence of their Creator and have even accepted the false theory of evolution as well as secularism in general. Some have embraced a false version of Christianity—one generally void of obedience to God's spiritual laws.
Many prefer to believe that the awesome blessings of national wealth and power came either by happenstance or are the results of their own efforts. Like their ancestors in ancient Israel, they have chosen and are currently choosing to ignore God's patient warnings in the Bible. The inevitable outcome of such persistent behavior has already been recorded in the pages of Scripture (see Deuteronomy:8:10-14).
Yet many biblical prophecies portray real repentance at the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. At that time Americans, Australians, Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans will turn to God. But only after they have suffered severe crises worse in many ways than the catastrophes that befell the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
The latter-day deliverance of the modern descendants of the patriarch Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, has been recorded in the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Read just one. "How awful that day will be! [the Great Tribulation also described in Matthew:24:21 and Daniel:12:1]... It will a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it"—after suffering through it, sadly (Jeremiah:30:7, New International Version).
What will happen next?
Our world today seems more unpredictable and unstable than perhaps at any time since 1942 during World War II, when it appeared that the tide could turn sharply in favor of the "Axis Powers." Many observers don't really know what to expect next. Any one of a number of current crises could very well explode into something very big.
What true Christians do have is the comforting words of the Bible promising eventual deliverance as well as a general outline of biblical prophecy. What the Scriptures give us is an overall outline of events to come—highlighting the signs and trends that would accompany the close of our present age of human misrule. Our 80-page booklet You Can Understand Bible Prophecy explains that a time of global conflict is on the horizon. But this booklet also depicts a wonderful world beyond that. Request or download your free copy. WNP