A Prophet, a President and a People

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A Prophet, a President and a People

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Soon after America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, a statesman named John Page wrote these words to his fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson: “We know the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”

Few today would recognize it, but his reference to an angel in a whirlwind is from the Bible. He was talking about the guiding hand of God in the founding of America. (Some might recall that former U.S. President George W. Bush quoted these words in his first inaugural address in 2001.)

The best way to explain what’s going on in the world today is by taking you back to the words of a biblical prophet named Amos, 2,800 years ago.

For more than 240 years America has been blessed by the hand of God. Because of God’s promise and enduring faithfulness it grew from a ragtag collection of colonies along the Atlantic Coast into the most powerful and prosperous single nation in world history. America is great because God is great. For years its citizens openly acknowledged this truth.

But have we come to the time when the angel’s presence might vanish? Would God leave America to the violent winds of time and history, to be toppled from its position of global supremacy and collapse as has happened to so many major powers before?

Understanding this critical time

How can one know the outcome of this critical period in history? America and the world are at a historic moment. A vital question is this: Does God still direct America in its historic and prophetic role in world affairs?

What do you need to understand about this time in which we live? There’s more to the story than the news and analysis you get from today’s experts in politics and journalism. These “experts” have been shown to be blind, ignorant and often extremely biased in describing world events.

What you really need is a true biblical perspective that God gives us from His Word. This is what Beyond Today seeks to provide in each magazine article and television program. It’s time you understood that the headlines of today are rooted in your Bible.

The best way to explain what’s going on in the world is by taking you to the words of a biblical prophet named Amos, a common man of the people who obeyed the call of God to stand in the streets of a nation to deliver His message of hope and repentance.

The prophet Amos’ message for today

The nation God sent Amos to was Israel—a nation with whom God had a special history and relationship. Israel’s forefather, Abraham, was one to whom God made unconditional promises of national prosperity and greatness. Because of these promises, God brought the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery under Moses and set them in a land of promise.

Israel was the recipient of blessings and promises not made to any other nation, ever. “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth,” God said (Amos 3:2 Amos 3:2You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
American King James Version×
, New International Version). Those promises included blessings for obedience. But sadly, Israel did not live up to its part of the agreement. And because Israel had rejected God, He said, “Therefore I will punish you for all of your sins” (same verse, NIV).

Israel at this time was in a strong position amid other countries. Following the death of King Solomon in the 10th century B.C., the kingdom of Israel split into two nations—Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The two nations went through decline but, weathering serious difficulties, experienced a resurgence during the eighth century, reaching their height of prosperity and power since Solomon. Both were major regional influences in a pivotal geographic spot.

Here is a parallel for America today. For more than two centuries America has grown to become the single greatest nation ever to exist. Even today, with severe internal problems and great challenges from hostile nations, it remains the world’s most influential power and its strongest economy.

In spite of its problems, its influence for good in a troubled world is immense. A world without America would be a different and far more dangerous world. Just as God used ancient Israel as a counter to other nations, so today America is an indispensable power used by God to advance His greater purpose and prophetic plan for mankind.

Israel at the time of Amos

Let’s look closer at the nation of Israel. In about the year 782 B.C., a king called Jeroboam II ruled Israel. He was a strong leader who brought a renewed power and wealth to the nation.

He restored the nation’s borders. He opened the trade routes so that the economy once again began to grow, and wealth flowed into the nation. Israel began to prosper within the global economy of the day. Ships and caravans carried goods from Africa into Asia and throughout the Mediterranean world.

The middle-class citizen of Israel or Judah was perhaps as well off as at any time before. It was a euphoric period of optimism. The level of prosperity was greater than anyone could remember. It’s likely that Israel was trading with every significant nation of the region at that time. It was an ancient period of globalization.

But Israel’s prosperity caused it to forget the true source of its wealth. God was the cause of such power and wealth. The nation had long since abandoned faith and belief in God even though some outwardly professed belief in the God of Abraham. Instead, the pagan cult of Baal was firmly rooted in the culture. People worshipped at pagan altars more than at the temple of the true God in Jerusalem.

Paganism replaced the truths of God. The new religion hid Israel’s identity as God’s special covenant people. The true God was hidden from the people.

History repeats itself with America today

The same situation exists in America today. While America experiences unrivaled prosperity and freedom, it fails to understand the true source of its blessings. Americans think that their wisdom and ingenuity have achieved greatness. But in truth, the United States has received its wealth and power from God through the promises He made to the patriarch Abraham.

When an early American statesman recognized that an angel rode in the storm over the country’s founding, it was not his imagination. America’s creation was according to a divine plan. God was fulfilling a promise made long ago to His servant Abraham. That promise has been a blessing for the modern world.

The message Amos took to Israel has significance to America in the 21st century. America faces the same problems today that ancient Israel did so many centuries ago. The good times for Israel were about to end. What was thought to be unending wealth was merely a final revival before the fall.

It was during this prosperous period that Amos came on the scene with a warning message that goes to the seat of political and religious power. Amos saw a nation awash in a sea of lies. Everywhere he looked he found untruth, injustice and inequity. Under the veneer of stability and prosperity, he saw a decaying structure on the verge of collapse.

He was quick to give God’s verdict on the nation: “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not let them go unpunished any longer!’” (Amos 2:6 Amos 2:6Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation 1996, emphasis added throughout).

God’s message from an unexpected messenger

Amos was not a traditional religious figure. He felt a unique and divine call to deliver God’s message to the nation. He was not part of the mainstream religion. He could speak to the heart of the problem. He was not defending a position, but rather merely speaking the truth. Spiritual truth was gone from the nation.

Amos was a sheepbreeder who shepherded his own flocks and tended sycamore fig trees. He was not trained as a theologian or a priestly religious teacher. He was a commonsense man of the field who understood how life worked at the most fundamental level. He worked with animals that depended on him for survival. The health of his flocks determined whether his family would prosper. He understood life and death, good times and lean times.

Amos was a shepherd, not a trained theologian or religious teacher. He was a commonsense man of the field who understood how life worked.

Kings in palaces surrounded by wealth and power did not impress him. He knew that the king ruled only by the grace and will of God and that if that king misused his office, good people in the small towns suffered. Amos feared God more than he feared any man. He was the right man God could use to warn the nation.

He carried a message from God that was like the roar of a lion. Amos indicted all the nations of the region for their foreign and domestic policies that led to war, treachery and regional instability.

He didn’t spare the people of Judah or Israel. No policy escaped his withering evaluation. He said God would judge those of the nation because “they have perverted justice by selling honest people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and deny justice to those who are oppressed” (Amos 2:6-7 Amos 2:6-7 6 Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; 7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in to the same maid, to profane my holy name:
American King James Version×
, NLT 1996).

Great sins of injustice and inequity

Societal justice was high on Amos’ list of problems to bring to the attention of the kingdom. The wealth flowing into the nation was not being used to establish a culture rooted in God’s law. Israel had long before abandoned the foundational social economic system that God had enshrined in law.

The entire national structure was not working. Religion was corrupted. Government was broken. Underneath the facade of prosperity and order, societal injustice and inequity were draining the life out of the people.

Nations can linger for a long time in spite of significant structural problems. Israel’s days as a nation were numbered, but the people didn’t realize it. Amos did. He had the unenviable job of bringing the message.

Does this sound all too familiar? America is very much like this today. The recently completed national election was in large part about the economy—the money in the pockets, or more properly the money that is not in the pockets—of the middle class working people.

In spite of the wealth of the nation, many clearly felt a growing sense that the future for them holds only stagnation and uncertainty. A growing number of people believe that life will not improve—that the American dream of financial security and progress will not happen. And there is plenty of reason to believe their fears are well founded.

Unemployment and underemployment figures reveal a great disparity in wealth and growing inability to fix the systemic problems. One proposed solution is to increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for job growth programs or to fund social programs. Yet putting money into the hands of the government has repeatedly shown that while government’s size and number of employees grows, the number of people mired in poverty remains largely unchanged.

Sadly, the economic system we have, with cronyism and collusion, is not fair in many respects. Hacked e-mails of government insiders have revealed a cozy insiders’ club where the elites float easily between big corporate interests, government, academia and lobbying—all the while increasing their net worth exponentially.

This inequity has contributed to a culture of anger and distrust of the ruling class. In the time of Amos there was a growing gap between rich and poor, as people increasingly took advantage of others. History repeats today. The result is severe social problems that “trample helpless people in the dust.”

What would Amos say today?

Amos looked at the state of Israel in his day and saw little left to salvage. The moral and ethical condition of the state was precarious.

In his summation, Amos saw a vision of God and a time of judgment on the nation when all would come crashing down: “I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and He said: ‘Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake, and break them on the heads of them all. I will slay the last of them with the sword … I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good’” (Amos 9:1-4 Amos 9:1-4 1 I saw the LORD standing on the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that flees of them shall not flee away, and he that escapes of them shall not be delivered. 2 Though they dig into hell, there shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, there will I bring them down: 3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out there; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: 4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good.
American King James Version×
).

Amos’ message applies today to the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking peoples of the world who have sprung from common ancestors. Today’s headlines can be found in these prophecies given to Israel nearly 2,800 years ago.

This is a strong warning. It comes from God and directly applies today to America. This is a time for the nation and any who will listen to carefully heed what God said through a prophet in that ancient time. While there may not be a prophet like Amos to walk into the office of a president today, there are still the words of God that speak directly to the nations and their leaders.

Imagine what a prophet of God might say today to the new American president. Perhaps it might include something like this: “You are coming into office at the most critical moment in America’s history. America’s position in the world faces the greatest challenges since the end of World War II. The nation’s enemies are at the gates. The handwriting is on the wall. The security and prosperity of this nation and the maintenance of the current world order are at stake. Many wonder what your administration will do to meet the challenges and lead the country. The choice is yours as to which way you, and the nation, will go!” No doubt there would also be admonishment to turn to God and follow His ways.

Holding back the storm

Right now I hope you’re asking yourself some critical questions. Your life is comfortable. You have concerns about the present state of affairs, but America has always pulled through—and of course it is still the strongest nation in the world. What do you have to worry about?

The truth is, America without God holding back the storm is in a very dangerous place. This is a tough message to accept and believe, and most people are too distracted with life and don’t believe it’s possible for America or the West to falter. God and the Bible have largely disappeared from public life. Many no longer know where to go for understanding and hope.

What is critical for you to understand is that God is patient. He is merciful. But He is also a God of judgment. God is the epitome of patience, waiting long for sinners to repent. But at the time of Amos’ writing, His patience with Israel was rapidly running out. God had said, “I will spare them no longer” (Amos 7:8 Amos 7:8And the LORD said to me, Amos, what see you? And I said, A plumb line. Then said the LORD, Behold, I will set a plumb line in the middle of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
American King James Version×
, NIV). And after showing Amos a basket of mature summer fruit, He sternly stated, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer” (Amos 8:2 Amos 8:2And he said, Amos, what see you? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD to me, The end is come on my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

What will you do?

What can you do? Honestly, you are not going to change the course of this world, this nation and God’s plan for the nations. But you can let what you see stir you to a passion for God and His way. You can do as Amos warned his hearers, to grieve for the ruin of the nation.

You can also make intercession to God for America. Like other prophets before him, Amos did this. Notice that when God foretold a plague on the nation, Amos begged: “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob [Israel] survive? He is so small!” (Amos 7:2 Amos 7:2And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech you: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
American King James Version×
, NIV). God relented. Again God said He would bring a fire to scourge the land. Amos pleaded: “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” (verse 5, NIV). And again God held back.

Why would God do this? Because He does hear the prayer of a righteous man. Scripture shows God hearing prayers of His faithful servants when they offer heartfelt intercessory prayer. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
). He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
American King James Version×
). He wants you to repent, to change, to turn your life around and stop the cycle of sin, suffering and death. He wants you to turn and to live.

But Amos’ account also shows that even God’s mercy has limits. The sins of Israel were so great that God reached His limit. He said, “I will spare them no longer.”

God then began rendering His judgment on Israel. The nation soon fell into sharp decline and, about 20 years after Amos ended his prophecies, most of the northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrian Empire and scattered among the nations—and the remainder were taken away a little over a decade later. But even with this, God said there would be a future for the people, a regathering. He would not totally destroy the people of Israel. History and prophecy show this has happened.

Today America, Great Britain, Canada and Australia—the major English-speaking nations of the world—are proof of God’s enduring promise to fulfill His word made to His servant Abraham and his descendants. This little-known key to understanding history and the Bible is the missing element in studying modern world affairs.

The same God today stands in the darkening storms that hover over the nations. For the moment He is shielding America and the other English-speaking nations from those who would attack and bring unspeakable destruction. While we trust in our armies and intelligence to keep the walls secure, God’s Word reveals the true source of our blessing and security—He is our refuge and our source of blessing.

It’s time that this nation humbles itself in a deep and heartfelt repentance, unlike anything that has ever been seen. America, as a world power, needs a great awakening of historic proportions.

We stand at a pivotal moment of opportunity. It’s up to you to allow this warning to make a difference in your life. Make the right choice! 

 

=======

Major Challenges Facing America

After a very bitter and long election, Donald Trump takes office at a critical moment in American and world history. As he takes office he faces many challenges.

America’s role in the world has dramatically changed over the last eight years, a fact recognized by foreign policy experts. Its historic and prophetic role could be turning in a different direction. Let’s look at a list of those challenges.

• Russia has been aggressively extending its reach and influence. It seized the Crimean Peninsula and other parts of the territory of Ukraine and has been engaged in a low-intensity war with that nation for several years. Russian planes have buzzed U.S. Navy ships in the Baltic Sea. NATO and American aircraft have been harassed by Russian aircraft.

Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has prolonged Syria’s civil war and the suffering of its citizens. American diplomatic efforts regarding the conflict have been frustrated by Russia’s involvement.

When Europe has faltered, Russia has been quick to exploit its weakness—desiring to see a fractured European Union rather than a unified bloc of nations.

Given past history, Russia has reason to fear a powerful and cohesive Europe. However, provoking Europe into a reactionary posture, given the stress it has from the massive influx of immigrants from the Middle East, could lead to ominous developments.

• China’s relationship with America is changing. China seeks to replace America’s longstanding influence in Asia. It is rapidly expanding its navy and its interests with regional neighbors like the Philippines and Australia. China wants to be the arbiter of relations between Asian Pacific nations.

Disputes with Japan over joint claims to Pacific islands aggravate the historic bad blood between the two nations. If armed conflict were to arise between the two, America would be treaty bound to support Japan with military force.

China holds more than a trillion dollars of U.S. debt. This fact handicaps America’s ability to effectively deal with serious issues like Chinese cyberhacking and the creation of a hostile business environment for American companies.

Despite diplomatic smiles, China wants to assert itself as the dominant world power. World leaders wish that China would rein in North Korea’s nuclear program. The unstable rogue regime of Kim Jong Un is China’s client. It suits China’s interests to give North Korea a long leash. No one knows how much control and influence China has with North Korea. One wild action could create a nuclear conflagration that could spin out of control.

• Radical Islamic terrorism has not disappeared. ISIS, Iran and al-Qaeda have grown in their capacity to attack global targets. Their ability to strike is wider and deeper than it has been for years. 

Over the last eight years America’s economic debt has doubled to nearly 20 trillion dollars. This huge, incomprehensible figure represents another significant national security threat. You don’t have to be an expert to look at this and wonder what keeps America economically viable in the world. The unrecognized fact is that God is, for the time being, keeping America strong and prosperous in spite of this and many other glaring problems.

God is the “angel in the storm” who continues to watch over the United States of America. The long and prosperous history of the nation is testimony to God’s enduring faithfulness to His promises to create this single great nation in the modern world.

While nations like Iran, China, Russia and North Korea and desperate terror groups like ISIS plot and wish to dislodge the United States from its position as the dominating world power, the fact is that they cannot until God removes His hand of blessing from America.

America and its new president have a moment of reprieve. There is time to hear a message of hope and to turn to God in heartfelt repentance.