I have on my desk a copy of Andrew Roberts’ A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. The 2008 book shows the positive impact of America and Great Britain and others in the world since the turn of the 20th century. From the defeat of communism and Nazi aggression to the invention of vaccines and new crop strains that saved millions of lives, the story is one of the most remarkable in history.
The author states at the book’s conclusion that the English-speaking nations are “the last, best hope for mankind.” He goes on to say that, according to the lessons of history, the time of dominance of these peoples will fade and other powers like China or one yet to appear will rise and exert a “global sway.”
A growing segment of Americans are concerned about the direction of the nation on many fronts. Fear and anger are working at many levels.
Roberts concludes with a note of prophetic inevitability in saying that when the time of the English-speaking peoples fades, “the human race will come to mourn the passing of this most decent, honest, generous, fair-minded and self-sacrificing imperium” (pp. 647-648).
What is happening and why?
Many voices today are saying America is near the point of no return. For months candidates for the American presidency have stood on a national stage shouting “America is losing!” and lamenting the nation’s ever-growing list of problems.
These statements have found a big audience. People know something is wrong. Has the nation, which for so long has solved one problem after another, reached the limit of its power and ability?
A growing segment of Americans are concerned about the direction of the nation on many fronts. Fear and anger are working at many levels. This entire election cycle has been turned upside down. Conventional leadership based on character and integrity seems lost and hard to discern within the messages. Visionary leaders able to rally the nation behind clearly stated goals are not on the stage.
All this reflects significantly deeper problems of a spiritual nature. By virtue of America’s historic and prophetic world role, this then becomes a larger problem for the entire globe.
A world changing before our eyes
Let’s step back and look at a few trouble spots in the world. Let’s examine what expert observers say about America’s relationship with the nations. It can give context to any discussion about America’s place in the world.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the United States has been the world’s sole superpower. Its military and economy are the biggest and strongest in the world. America led two coalitions into the Middle East to deal with anarchy and to attempt to instill democracy in nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. America’s men and women bled and died in places like Fallujah, fighting to give a better life to the people there.
In 2011 the last American combat troops withdrew from Iraq. Then came ISIS or the Islamic State, the largest terrorist force in modern history, taking over large swaths of Iraq and Syria and proclaiming itself a new Islamic caliphate. ISIS has been able to extend its terror attacks to Paris and San Bernardino, California.
Syria has been embroiled in five years of civil war, ever since it was caught up in the toppling of Arab governments in the so-called “Arab Spring.” Now, facing ISIS and other Islamist forces, Syria is virtually a failed state, its government propped up by military forces from Russia, Iran and Lebanon. A massive humanitarian crisis has led to more than 4 million people leaving Syria, with about 1 million Syrians flooding into Europe. The waves of immigrants threaten to upend an already fragile European Union.
Europe has been dramatically altered by the flood of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Germany has brought in nearly one million immigrants from Syria and other countries. Settling them into the orderly German society is leading to major social chaos.
Bible prophecy and history show the relentless opposition of powerful spiritual forces against God’s purposes. We’re seeing this play out in today’s headlines. It’s time you understand the true meaning behind the events making news today!
The migrant crisis comes on the heels of several years of economic uncertainty in the European Union, testing the limits of this diverse union of peoples. The multifaceted Middle East problem has become a European problem. And that was before the November 2015 attacks in Paris by Islamic fundamentalists.
Former United States diplomat Dennis Ross has observed that the vacuum in Syria was part of a greater American retreat in the Middle East, one which “has helped to produce the increasing competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia” (“How Obama Created a Middle East Vacuum,” Politico.com, Jan. 10, 2016).
Geopolitical analyst Robert Kagan, writing in The Wall Street Journal, said: “The horrific attacks in Paris, likely organized and directed by Islamic State from its base in Syria, and the prospect of more such attacks, threaten the cohesion of Europe, and with it the cohesion of the Trans-Atlantic community, or what used to be known as the West. The crisis on the periphery, in short, has now spilled over into the core” (“The Crisis of World Order,” Nov. 20, 2015).
Loss of the “special relationship”
Compounding this grave problem in Europe is the loss of what was long known as the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States. The longtime allies fought together in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and defended Europe from a potential Soviet invasion. Their ties run very deep. Yet now that relationship is unraveling.
The special relationship between the leaders of the English-speaking world has deteriorated in the last decade. This does not bode well for the rest of the world. In a few months Britons will vote on whether to remain in the EU. Britain used to be a bridge to other European powers along which the United States could easily navigate to maintain order and peace in a historically war-torn region. That has changed. Many perceive that America cares little for Europe’s problems. This is a dangerous world situation.
Kagan further highlights the problem with Europe, America and other Western nations when it comes to threats from other nations and powers that desire to push their religious or ideological agenda. Western liberal nations, bred on Enlightenment values of the perfectibility of mankind, assume that diplomacy, reason and education can chase away the dark demons of war, conflict and repression. This is a noble thought, but one completely at odds with the record of history.
What does it mean?
War, genocide and the inhumane acts of evil repeatedly rise to plague our world. This confirms the biblical teaching that human nature apart from the transforming Spirit of God is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Jesus Christ warned that war and the ever-present threat of conflict would be a feature of life right up until His return to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. But today’s world leaders do not factor this biblical worldview into their international relations strategies.
Bible prophecy and history show the relentless opposition of powerful spiritual forces against God’s purposes. History is a record of God fulfilling His purposes among the nations—but also of Satan using the nations to advance his own plans to oppose God at every turn. We’re seeing this play out in today’s headlines. It’s time you understand the true meaning behind the events making news today!
America should take the motto “In God we trust” seriously and look to God’s Word to understand its problems.
Kagan references a piercing 2002 observation from the British statesman Robert Cooper: “‘The challenge to the postmodern world,’ the diplomat Robert Cooper argued, was that while Europeans might operate within their borders as if power no longer mattered, in the world outside Europe, they needed to be prepared to use force just as in earlier eras.
“‘Among ourselves, we keep the law, but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle,’ he wrote.” Kagan observes that Europeans “failed to arm themselves for the jungle, materially and spiritually, and now that the jungle has entered the European garden, they are at a loss” (ibid.).
Spiritual warfare behind the scenes
Without knowing it, Kagan describes what the apostle Paul describes as the real, behind-the-scenes spiritual battle “against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world” (Ephesians 6:12, Contemporary English Version).
America may have armed itself materially, but it has woefully failed to arm itself spiritually. America is spiritually and morally blind because of its national sins. Because of this it has also entered this “jungle” without the guiding hand of God.
“Exhibit A” in foreign policy may well prove to be the recent agreement with Iran to lift sanctions in return for Iranian assurances that it will terminate its program to develop nuclear weapons. This will likely prove to be a strategic miscalculation. Iran is the world’s largest supporter of major terrorist groups in the region. Their stated purpose is to destroy the state of Israel. Those who have supported Israel, namely the United States, are targets of the same threat.
America’s handling of a nuclear arms treaty with Iran has alienated key regional allies and cast doubt on America’s commitment to their interests. In a world of such destructive power coming into the hands of forces whose avowed purpose is death to entire nations such as Israel, this becomes a matter of survival in a very bad neighborhood.
Shaping up for the world’s final battles
Iran occupies the lands of the ancient Persian Empire. Under two kings, Darius and Xerxes, Persia sought to extend its power beyond Asia. It launched two invasions of Europe. The armies of Greece repulsed both attacks. More than a hundred years later, under Alexander the Great, the Greeks countered with an invasion, completely taking over the Persian Empire. Again, history and Bible prophecy show us where the final battles of the world will arise.
Modern versions of these ancient empires will figure in rising power blocs that will bring about a world crisis greater than any in the past. Armies from Europe and the Middle East will lead in this. Daniel 11:40 speaks of the leader of a European-based power called “the king of the North” responding to a “push” or attack by a figure called “the king of the South”—a person yet to arise out of the fractious, explosive Middle East.
The subsequent conflict will eventually lead to the final chapter to many previous clashes, what the biblical book of Revelation calls “the battle of that great day of God almighty” (Revelation 16:14).
Are we watching the buildup to these events today? We need to understand the connection to the headlines of today and what Bible prophecy foretells. America’s withdrawal from its historic position of maintaining world order is setting the world up for these events.
Prior to America it was Britain that extended order to the modern world both in Europe and in other regions through its empire. That was eclipsed long ago. Now, as America’s stabilizing influence is withdrawn, the world is shaping up to be very different. That is what America’s decline in greatness and influence means.
Turning things around—facing up to fears
So let’s return to the question of whether America will ever be great again. The answer to this question is spiritual. It will require us to examine the bigger question of what has made America—and for that matter Britain, Canada, Australia and all the English-speaking peoples of the world—great.
The answer is not what many would expect. The answer will not be found in any political candidate or party now or in the future. The answer is only to be found in each of us turning to God in deep, heartfelt repentance.
It should be recognized that fear is driving much of the public discussion in not only America but other parts of the world. People fear Islamic terrorist attacks coming to the nearest shopping mall or large sports event. People fear recession, losing their jobs and their savings, and economic collapse. People fear that their world is threatened and the future is uncertain.
They look to politicians to provide policies of hope. They put their faith in political leaders only to be bitterly disappointed when the result is just more of the same—or worse.
This is what is happening with the current election cycle in America. “America doesn’t win any more,” cried out one candidate. “If I am elected we will win so much you’ll get tired of winning!” Other candidates promise to return America to the front lines of a world role to restore order. Still others promise to take the nation deeper into debt through massive social programs and taxation.
The heart of the problem
For generations America has placed on its currency the motto, “In God we trust.” Now is the time for us take that motto seriously and look to God’s Word to understand how America could get itself out of the problems it faces.
One of the key biblical passages to examine is found in the book of Isaiah. God sent this prophet to another nation who once trusted but then rejected Him. Israel’s spiritual condition mirrors ours today. The message of Isaiah fits us exactly.
Notice how the prophet begins in the first chapter: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider’” (Isaiah 1:2-3)
God says a people who once knew and acknowledged Him had forgotten what He previously did for them and turned their backs and ignored plain teaching and warning directing them to return to Him.
Open your Bible and read what God says. Apply it personally, recognizing this is what God requires of you. It is what you can and must do. Take steps to change yourself before God. Then you will be ready to face the monumental challenges before us.
America and the English-speaking nations have forgotten who made them great. These nations created the greatest expansion of wealth in the history of the world. But how? Because the God of Abraham was faithful in His promise to bless that patriarch’s descendants in the modern age. Yes, America and Britain are the foremost nations among them. Sadly, we don’t know this—as Isaiah said, we “do not consider.” Because we do not know this, we have turned to false religion and moral sin.
A nation like America cannot be replicated in this world. If it could, it would’ve already happened through all the foreign aid, intervention and nation-building. There is only one America. God placed this land and its people here for a divine purpose. It has grown large and great and free because the God of heaven made a promise to a man named Abraham. God has fulfilled that promise in history, and because He has, He will fulfill the spiritual promise of the offer of eternal salvation to all peoples.
The only path back to God
The unraveling of America’s time of greatness is a moment of opportunity to acknowledge God and turn to Him with a changed heart. Now is a time to understand that America can only return to greatness through the path of national repentance on the order of that called for by the prophet Isaiah, as he next states:
“Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:4).
“Sin” and “sinful” are not popular words. The modern mind does not want to consider that sin, the breaking of God’s law, could be the cause of so many problems. Sin is a huge problem, but it is a word that has all but disappeared from our common vocabulary. We cover up great moral problems devastating families and society by using language that softens and hides the impact of personal sin.
Continuing in Isaiah, the next passage shouts louder than almost any other Bible passage to describe the condition of a nation that has known the greatness of America but turned its back on its heritage and its God. He cries out to us today:
“Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5-6).
America, Great Britain and other English-speaking peoples are morally and spiritually sick from head to toe. The disease will kill us if we don’t cut it out and beg the mercy of the God of Abraham.
Can a religious reawakening happen?
God goes on in Isaiah 1 to describe how He hates our outward form of religion while we continue in our evil ways. This troubles and wearies Him to the point that He hides His eyes and turns His ear from hearing our prayers (Isaiah 1:13-15). This remarkable passage gives us insight into why our social and moral problems never see a solution—God has stopped hearing our prayers.
Right here is a warning to our religious audience who think the religious base of the nation will rise up to restore the moral underpinnings of the nation. They can’t. The religious leaders themselves are the blind leading the blind. They have forsaken the law and way of God at its core. They may wear a shroud of righteousness, but God doesn’t hear them either. Do not look to the conservative evangelical wing of the country to produce a solution. It will not happen.
Turn instead to your Bible and read what God says. Apply it personally, recognizing this is what God requires of you. It is what you can and must do. Take steps to change yourself before God. Then you will be ready to face the monumental challenges before us.
God finishes this passage in Isaiah with a direct challenge to those who have a heart to hear: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 1:16-20).
Will America be great again?
Beyond Today is on a multi-city United States tour called America: The Time Is Now! At the heart of our message is the question we ask here: Can America be great again? The answer is, yes it can. It’s not too late for a national repentance that acknowledges and seeks God.
God made a promise to the nation of Israel of old that applies today. If in a time of national distress and trial the people could find their way back to the right paths and ways, God would hear and help. He said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
The answer to the problems that concern us all lies in obedience to God and understanding God’s purpose for your life. Any revival, any change and effort to restore security and hope for the future, must begin at the personal and individual level. We’re taking that message to the public arena and invite you to come and engage with this message and find out more.
The return to greatness of America can begin now with you! Will you have a heart to hear and respond?