When Donald Trump in his U.S. presidential campaign issued the call to “make America great again,” it would have been more accurate to say “make America as great as it was”—since the country has not yet actually ceased to be great.
By every measure of modern superpower status the United States of America is a great nation. America is unrivaled as the world’s sole superpower. It has the world’s largest economy. The American military can project its power anywhere in the world to influence policy, wage war and aid in humanitarian relief. Politically, the world still looks to America for leadership in defending freedom, promoting humanitarian values and opposing terror and tyranny.
It’s vital that we understand the Source of this national greatness. America is a great nation not due to its own efforts, but because God made it great— as part of the unfolding of His plan for mankind through the ages.
America is great not because of any innate goodness of its people, but because it inherited the blessings God made long ago to a man named Abraham. This biblical patriarch, a pioneer of faith in God, was given a promise for his descendants of national blessing, power and prestige, along with a spiritual promise fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of his preeminent descendant Jesus Christ. Both promises are still alive and working in today’s world.
America, blessed with the modern manifestation of the physical dimension of these promises, will remain great as long as God wants America to remain great. The fate of this powerful nation, called by some “the last best hope for mankind,” is entirely in God’s provenance. No president, current or future, determines the ultimate destiny of the United States. America’s future is in the hand of God.
Understand this and you understand a fundamental reality behind world affairs.
Realize this, too: When America is no longer the world power that it now it is, we will live in a very different world. When God removes His blessing and protection from this land, the world will enter a darker and more dangerous time. We who produce this magazine love America and pray for its president and other leaders. But we understand the nation’s spiritual condition. And we know that unless there is a huge change, America’s future will not be great—but instead a great tragedy.
A critical moment
The world was stunned in last year’s U.S. presidential election. Counter to all predictions, Donald Trump won election over a candidate many thought would easily defeat him. His inaugural address then promised a new beginning for America, as he vowed to make good on all his promises to repair the economy, rebuild infrastructure and, in his mind, restore America to the greatness it once held. President Trump began a four-year term that could turn out to be one of the most decisive in American history.
America and the world stand at a critical juncture. Change is sweeping across the nations, arousing uncertainty and fear. Radical Islamic terrorism threatens the current geopolitical order as nations react to the impact of ISIS, al-Qaeda and massive immigration spawned by war in the Middle East. Vast cultural changes undermine traditional moral teachings about family, sexuality and gender. All of this has created a seismic shock wave rolling through society with devastating impact.
What should you understand at this critical moment in human experience? And what steps should you be taking to not just understand but to change your life to be prepared for the time when America is no longer great?
Ancient origins and prophecies of future greatness
Let’s look at the beginning of America’s story, starting with—in no doubt a surprise to many—Abraham in ancient Mesopotamia. At a time when men did not travel beyond their immediate environs nor held dreams of a life beyond what birth bequeathed, this man heeded God’s command to leave his home and ventured into a new land and a new life.
In Genesis 12 this singular man of faith, at first called Abram, obeyed the command of God, with God having told him: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3 Genesis 12:1-3 1 Now the LORD had said to Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you:
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
American King James Version×).
Abram obeyed God, and the story was underway. God later changed his name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of many”). To his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, God repeated and expanded the promise. Abraham’s descendants would be a vast innumerable grouping of peoples. They would possess the gates of their enemies, a promise of modern global power beyond the immediate land of promise and stretching into the modern world. When Jacob laid his hands on the two sons of his son Joseph, conferring both his name (Israel) and the physical promises of a single great nation and a company of nations (compare Genesis 35:9-11 Genesis 35:9-11 9 And God appeared to Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
10 And God said to him, Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name: and he called his name Israel.
11 And God said to him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you, and kings shall come out of your loins;
American King James Version×; Genesis 48:8-19 Genesis 48:8-19 8 And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? 9 And Joseph said to his father, They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray you, to me, and I will bless them. 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near to him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, I had not thought to see your face: and, see, God has showed me also your seed. 12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near to him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long to this day, 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the middle of the earth. 17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
American King James Version×), the stage was set for the future.
None of these promises were fulfilled in the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While they had some periods of regional strength under leaders like David and Solomon, they came nowhere near to fulfilling the national greatness and power God promised to Abraham and repeated to Isaac and Jacob. If God was faithful to His promises, we have to look elsewhere and to a different time to see how these came to pass.
God’s promises fulfilled
Through this thread of promise and blessing God gives us the foundation to understanding the modern world and the role of America and the English-speaking nations in shaping the events of our time. While these promises were expanded and repeated to Abraham’s descendants, it is in Jacob’s blessing to Joseph that we have the key sign for the modern fulfillment of these promises.
In Genesis 49 Joseph is described in the last days as a “fruitful bough by a well” whose “branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22 Genesis 49:22Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
American King James Version×)—a nation that would spread far beyond its beginnings as a vine extends its branches outward in all directions. The prophecy describes Joseph’s descendants contending with attacks by enemies who are stirred against his dominant role, but Joseph is made strong “by the Mighty God of Jacob” (Genesis 49:23-24 Genesis 49:23-24 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24 But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
American King James Version×).
God’s help is promised along with the “blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb” (Genesis 49:25 Genesis 49:25Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
American King James Version×). Joseph, the one separated from his brothers, is shown to possess incredible blessings of his fathers. These blessings are vast, nearly unlimited, “to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills” (Genesis 49:26 Genesis 49:26The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
American King James Version×).
Jacob’s prophecy points to “the last days” (Genesis 49:1 Genesis 49:1And Jacob called to his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
American King James Version×). When we look at the modern world only one nation, or grouping of nations, fits this description. It is not the Jewish people, though they are Israelites too. Rather, the description fits only America and the major English-speaking nations who share a common ancestry. By any standard of measurement, Great Britain and then America sprang to the front of the pack of nations and have led the world during the last two and half centuries. The role of the English-speaking nations during this period has been to lead the peoples of the world along an ascending path into what the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the broad sunlit uplands.”
Life-saving and life-enhancing advances in science, medicine, agriculture, economics and law have been nurtured in the lands inhabited by the English-speaking nations. More Nobel prizes, beneficial patents and technological advancement have sprung from these nations than from any other group in history. Other nations can pursue their destiny free from tyranny, and many people are alive today, because of the vast blessings given to the English-speaking nations by the God of Abraham.
You can dismiss this truth if you like. But you would be denying the clear evidence readily seen by an honest study of historical fact. Author Andrew Roberts’ 2006 magisterial work A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 chronicles this story with unmistakable detail. He opens his book with this quote from Professor Deepak Lal, a British economist who was born in India: “If one reflected on the most important events of the last millennium compared with the first, the ascent of the English-speaking peoples to predominance in the world surely ranked highest” (p. 1).
In Roberts’ view “the English-speaking peoples would remain the last, best hope for Mankind. The beliefs that they brought into the twentieth century largely actuate them yet; their values are still the best available in a troubled world; the institutions that made them great continue to inspire them today. Indeed, the beliefs, values and institutions of the English-speaking peoples are presently on the march” (p. 2).
Values rooted in God’s Word
The traditional values of the English-speaking nations are rooted in the Bible. It is no coincidence that the translation of the Bible into English and its propagation around the world by first Great Britain and then America was a key factor in promoting the values that have made these nations great.
In 1848 British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston justified government action by saying, “I hold that the real policy of England is to be the champion of justice and right … not becoming the Quixote of the world [a reference to the literary figure Don Quixote fighting imaginary enemies], but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks justice is, and wherever she thinks that wrong has been done” (quoted by Roberts, p. 6).
Palmerston’s words still drive American policy among today’s nations. The 2003 invasion of Iraq to liberate the nation from the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein and end his support of terrorism can be traced to this sentiment. American lives and resources have been committed to the cause of freedom and liberation for generations.
These values, policies and virtues that have made America great did not come from human reason, ancient philosophy or Enlightenment values. They were first revealed in Scripture. The great law given through Moses to the nation of Israel embodied personal freedom, economic freedom and responsibility, and moral and spiritual laws that have been the true foundation for the English-speaking nations.
A sculpture of Moses with the tablets of the divine law on the frieze atop the east side of the U.S. Supreme Court building does more than acknowledge the monumental role of a great lawgiver. It stands as a stark warning to America today that it must acknowledge its biblical foundation and carry on in its covenant obligation to obey God’s Ten Commandments. The same God who gave national promises to Abraham revealed this law to Abraham’s descendants through Moses. Failure to live by God’s law is at the heart of America’s growing problems that threaten its very survival!
Four great assaults—and the biggest threat
Roberts’ book about the English-speaking nations shows four assaults since 1900 that sought to remove their great-power status. The first two were the two World Wars of the 20th century, both led by a militaristic Germany. The third was the effort by the former Soviet Union to create a global communist state based on Marxist-Leninist doctrine. All three failed largely due to the role played by America.
The fourth assault is ongoing today. It is the effort by radical Islamic fundamentalism to overturn the “great Satan” of America and Western culture along with it. This terrorist threat accomplished something none of the three previous assaults did—a direct attack on the American mainland on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.
An American-led invasion of Afghanistan immediately after that attack and subsequent actions have not ended this decades-long scourge. Today the war on terror continues. Radical Islamic terrorism is considered by some to be America’s greatest threat, especially given the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons. And well it might be, but for another reason which most do not understand.
The spiritual blindness and lack of will by far too many in America to identify the mortal threat posed from radical Islam, uncontrolled immigration and, above all, moral sin is a deadly cancer spread throughout the body, rendering it incapable of discerning right from wrong and discerning the path out of the wilderness. The country has very little understanding or recognition of how it came to be great—by the hand of God. Having essentially abandoned a firm, biblically based moral center, most Americans no longer give serious consideration to the source of their great blessings.
America’s leading role in question
When President Trump vows to “make America great again,” he has in mind returning the nation to its preeminent post–World War II role of economic and political power. His emphasis is on jobs and the American economy, what he has called an “America first” approach. His stated desire is to rebuild American military forces, and his first budget has added more than $50 billion to accomplish this goal.
President Trump has also called on Europe to shoulder more of the burden in its own defense. His comments about the NATO alliance and the European Union have left many in Europe wondering where American policy toward that critical part of the world is headed. Stability in Europe is a valuable commodity. The World Wars of the 20th century started there. Keeping the peace of that region is in the world’s best interest.
In question also is America’s position in Asia. China’s growing role is causing its neighbors to reexamine their historic relationships with each other and America. The Philippines, long an American ally in the region, has indicated it may shift to a closer relationship with China. China’s role in Asian stability is critical, given the tensions with Japan and the nuclear capabilities of North Korea.
America’s role in both Europe and Asia is critical to the balance of power and peace in today’s world. America’s role in both regions has been critical to maintaining world order and peace since the end of World War II in 1945. If American influence in these two regions continues to diminish as it did during the Obama administration, the world will be facing historic change. Without the stabilizing influence of America in these regions, there will be no peace.
With the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had led Roberts’ third-listed assault on the English-speaking peoples, many thought that history as it was had ended. It was imagined that conflict and war could ease and a liberal, enlightened democratic world order could be created, with America leading this continual imperium.
Subsequent events in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, however, have proved this geopolitical theory wrong. As so often happens in the progression of history, power vacuums lead to great turmoil, with the darker aspect of human nature coming to the fore. It could lead to a desire for a strong leader to emerge and restore order to a world descending into chaos.
The question on the table right now is this: Does America have the strategic will to remain the world’s stabilizing influence it has been for more than 70 years? We have not really delved into the Middle East in this article, but the continuing instability in that region will impact all other nations—and, again, America’s role has been large and indispensable to maintaining order. You cannot ignore or overestimate the importance of America to the world.
America right now is still a great nation. But it suffers from great internal problems that, if not dealt with, will lead to it having neither the character nor the will to exercise its leadership role in the world. America must face the truth that it has forgotten and ignored the God who made it great in wealth, power, status and influence, placing the nation in grave peril (compare Deuteronomy 8:11-20 Deuteronomy 8:11-20 11 Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day:
12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein;
13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;
14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end;
17 And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.
18 But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if you do at all forget the LORD your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
20 As the nations which the LORD destroys before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
American King James Version×). God made America great, and only He will alter its historic role. It’s time for an honest assessment and examination of this problem.
Again, it’s only when God decides America’s leading role on the world stage is over that it will be over. No president or political party will be able to turn the tide of spiritual history that is in the hands of the God of Abraham. What does this mean?
With moral plummet, judgment looms
More than 40 years ago America began a precipitous slide from its long-established moral center by removing God from the public square. In 1962 the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in public schools. The next year the court banned Bible readings in public schools as well.
Then followed the rest of the 60s—a decade of social upheaval and sexual revolution. Then the Court again made a landmark ruling, legalizing abortion—the murder of the unborn—in 1973. Since then almost 60 million abortions have been carried out in the country, with an entire generation of children denied the right to life.
In 2015 the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage as legitimate. Through these court rulings America has removed God from public education, from the womb and from the sacred institution of marriage. Step by step the nation has thumbed its nose at God and slouched toward the spiritual condition of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.
How much more must happen before God removes His protective hand over America and lets the tide of history return with a vengeance? The words of the biblical prophet Hosea accurately describe the English-speaking nations today:
“Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: ‘There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.
“‘Therefore the land will mourn … My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge … The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me … They set their heart on their iniquity … So I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their deeds’” (Hosea 4:1-9 Hosea 4:1-9 1 Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel: for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood touches blood.
3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwells therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yes, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for your people are as they that strive with the priest.
5 Therefore shall you fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with you in the night, and I will destroy your mother.
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.
7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
American King James Version×). Just as God punished ancient Israel for its sins, He will punish its modern descendants for their persistent disobedience.
Proof of God and His promises to greatly bless all nations
History bears witness that America and the English-speaking nations have been a blessing in the modern world. Their scientific advancements, democratic ideals and generosity have made life better for many who have suffered from disease, human misrule and simply because of where and when they were born.
It’s easy to dismiss the plight of the human condition with disbelief and to deny the existence of God. But the same God whom many deny reveals Himself as the God who blessed Abraham’s descendants with unparalleled physical and spiritual blessings. His existence is demonstrated in the fact that America is great not because of what Americans themselves have done, but because God has blessed the nation and its people.
Today it’s fashionable to blame America for many of the world’s problems and to want to see America taken down a notch. And America certainly has not been a perfect example in all its dealings. But as Roberts says in his book, it has been a “most decent, honest, generous, fair-minded and self-sacrificing imperium” (p. 648). When measured against the yardstick of world history, this is obviously true. And the fact that America exists today should be seen as a sign from God that He intends to extend His promise of spiritual and physical blessings to all nations and peoples through Jesus Christ.
Our world today is cut off from the true knowledge of the God of Abraham. This is why we see the untold suffering of people in war, famine, pestilence, poverty and spiritual deception. Yet God has not condemned the world’s people to a future without hope. The only true hope this world has of experiencing the kind of blessings promised to Abraham’s descendants—which in total far exceed what America has thus far experienced—is through the promise of Jesus Christ’s return as King of the coming Kingdom of God.
America, the single greatest nation ever, is living proof of God’s promise and intent to lift all nations and peoples to an exalted position of peace and prosperity. God will reverse mankind’s chaotic and war-torn history and create a paradise on earth under the righteous rule of Jesus Christ. The message of Beyond Today is a clear call to understand today’s world in considering what God is doing to guide the course of history to His prophesied conclusion.
America is yet a great nation, and all mankind has benefitted from God’s commitment to His promise to the man we know from the Bible named Abraham.
The only way for America to remain great is through a return to God and His laws. While the nation may not make that correction, you can. We live in a critical time and moment. Are you willing to hear God’s warning and turn to Him to change your life?