America and the world continue to face rapid, stressful change. Will you be prepared for what's ahead or be caught unaware?
Where were you on 9/11 when America was attacked by terrorists? What ran through your mind as you watched the unfolding tragedy?
That Tuesday morning in September, we suffered the worst loss of life on American soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. What have we learned since that day? What is the state of the country and the world? Do we understand the most important lessons from this event?
On today's program, we'll look at what God wants America, and all of us, to learn at this critical juncture of its history. Join us for a look at "America-On the Hinge of History."
Every generation has its defining moments. For the World War II generation, it was the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. For another, it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. In our present time, it was the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington that plunged the nation into a global war on terror.
The 9/11 attacks have defined more than a decade of American experience. Every year on its anniversary, memorials are conducted, the dead are remembered and the country takes note of what that event has meant.
I well remember the day. Like millions of others I could not believe what I saw on the television screen. The collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The gaping hole left in the walls of the Pentagon in Washington. And the remains of United Flight 93 in the Pennsylvania field where it crashed--a moving testimony to the brave passengers who prevented the terrorists from killing more innocent people. It was a surreal day, that defied belief, even as I watched it unfold.
In the aftermath, most of the world came together for one brief shining moment. World leaders pledged their support to track down and find the leaders of the attack. Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, was among the first to call President Bush.
Americans from across the nation rallied to New York with support, ranging from condolences and prayers, to technical support to comb the wreckage of the Trade Center looking for any survivors. New York has not often been a target of sympathy, but on that day, its citizens were embraced by all Americans.
On the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, Senators and Congressmen stood that night and sang together, "God Bless America."
On that day partisan politics took a back seat to the suffering of the nation.
A few days after the attack, a prayer service was held in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The nation's leadership, both political and military, prayed and sang in remembrance. You could see on the faces of the soldiers the plans for the attacks that would come on the enemy. Prayers were offered by every major denomination - including Islam.
I watched the service on television. I listened carefully. I was looking for something very important, what I knew would be the real key to the whole national drama we were experiencing. I listened to hear a call to repentance; a clear call for the nation to admit its shortcomings - its moral, ethical and spiritual sins. I listened for a defining call to turn, to use this national calamity as a wake- up call and cry out to the God of Abraham for forgiveness. I listened for a call for righteousness to run down "like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24).
I listened, but it did not come. There were words of comfort, but no clear clarion call for repentance.
Only one religious leader used the word, and called for a changing of our ways. But it was only a passing reference, nothing more.
Here was a moment in history - an opportunity for a people to fall on their knees to the God of heaven and seek His divine guidance and deliverance. But it did not happen. Oh, there was a brief resurgence of religious observance. Church attendance went up in the weeks following 9/11. But it just as quickly went back to the same historically low levels as before the event, and has continued about the same to this very day.
We did not learn the lesson God wants us to learn from this event. The singular lesson is repentance.
In Christ's day, there were two major tragedies that shocked everyone.
We read in the book of Luke: "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?' I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 'Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?'"
Christ went on and said, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5).
Those workers at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they were in the right place, but at the wrong time. Time and chance in an evil world caught them in a final moment. The firefighters and the police workers were brave men and women responding to an emergency and trying to save lives. They too were caught in a snare set by evil men, bent on killing as many Americans as possible.
Christ's words are directed outward to others. He said, "…unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). His words are more important today than ever before. We face a time of mounting crisis everywhere we look in the world. Some are starting to openly talk about the end of an age - a time of transition in world events. There is talk of a new order that will bring something completely different than what we have always known. It is a time of uncertainty.
The truth is, we are watching a momentous period in history develop before our eyes. We are living at what historians often call a "hinge of history," when events happen that change the course of history.
Today, we are seeing a time of massive change among nations that is impacting our everyday life. We see it happening and yet we do not understand why.
Let's look at what we have seen since 9/11.
America, since 9/11, has been mired in three wars with no conclusive results. In Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, American incursions have cost billions while sapping much of the strength and the vitality of the nation in areas where its results are questionable. Our military has been stretched abroad to near the breaking point. It is on the verge of withdrawal from Iraq, and will do so in the coming months in a manner that does not ensure that any gains of the last 10 years will hold.
Since 9/11, the West, America in particular, suffered a recession unlike any in more than 60 years. It was centered on Wall Street and involved the near collapse of the mortgage market. On a September weekend in 2008, the entire American financial system came very close to gridlock and collapse. World markets rallied to keep the system propped up.
Along with this has come a prolonged decline in the U.S. dollar in value against other world currencies. There are increasing demands for the world to abandon the dollar as the reserve, or the primary currency, in world financial markets. For many reasons this has not yet happened. But when, not if, when it happens prepare to greatly reduce your standard of living.
America's debt is bringing the nation to the brink of serfdom. The nation could become an economic captive of its creditors. Debt is strangling the future vitality and security of several nations. Nations, you know, are really like people. They go broke slowly, over a long period of time by living beyond their income. Then suddenly, it's all over at once and bankruptcy occurs.
America is at that point. Bankrupt.
Now the world's nations are demanding corrective action of such magnitude that requires leadership that is not present today in any form.
Now let me tell you something. This is not just a financial or a news program. Beyond Today is rooted in the Bible as its source of authority and guidance. We don't make economic or political predictions. But we will tell you this: America and the major English speaking nations of the world will not collapse or lose all of their power until God allows it to happen. That our nations have endured all that they have in recent years, and still dominate in the way they do, is by the grace of God.
It is not by our power, or might, or our wisdom or our exceptional abilities. God is the power behind our peoples. He has blessed us beyond any other people, nation or tribe in world history. You and I enjoy the good life we do because the God of heaven honored His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the biblical patriarchs and their descendants. It is the most important and fascinating story in history, and one you should know more about.
America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia are great because of God's blessing. We have walked the high places of the world during the past two centuries because God placed us in our position. God made us great. He gave us our vast wealth, power and prestige. It is ironic that our forefathers acknowledged this but today's leaders have forgotten. But God is very patient and God is very merciful.
America will not fade from its world position until God allows it to happen. But could it be that God is offering one more opportunity to repent? To admit we have forgotten our roots and a chance to amend our ways before it is too late? America, Great Britain, Canada and Australia: It is not too late to wake up!
On this program today, we are offering a booklet that I think will open your eyes to one of the most astounding truths of Scripture and world history. You know students of the Bible and Bible prophecy often ask: Where in prophecy, where in the Bible are the United States and Great Britain, Canada and other English speaking nations mentioned? These are among the largest powers of the modern world - why would they not be mentioned in Bible prophecy?
The answer is they are mentioned in prophecy - you just have to understand their biblical identity. The free booklet we're offering today, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy reveals a little known truth, a key to unlock a 21st century understanding of the world. You cannot understand what is happening in today's world without this vital key. The role of the United States is changing. There are spiritual, biblical reasons underlying the crisis events of our times. This booklet tells you why! It will surprise you. You'll not want to put down this book until you have absorbed its entire message.
We offer you this booklet free of charge as an educational service. You can read this online at BeyondToday.tv. Or you can call: 1-888-886-8632 and request your free copy. That's 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Let me also mention that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. You will not want to miss these seminars where you will learn more about the Kingdom of God, so go to BeyondToday.tv. Look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link to register and attend. These live events are absolutely free!
Did you know that the Kingdom of God is mentioned in over 100 places in the New Testament? You need to see why Jesus Christ's original message of the Kingdom of God is largely unrecognized by Christianity today. Space may be limited, so sign up for the seminars now! Go to BeyondToday.tv and click on the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link.
Are America and the world at a turning point in history? Are we watching a pivotal moment when biblical prophecy and world events coincide? The Bible shows us that such times do occur. God determines the times and the boundaries of nations, their appointed times of power and prominence. God sets up kings, presidents and rulers and He alone sets the course of history.
When God begins to move His plan to the next phase, He always lets His servants understand what is happening.
In the book of Habakkuk, we read this. God said: "Look among the nations and watch - Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you" (Habakkuk 1:5).
In this verse, God is telling us to watch among the nations - to understand what and why the wars and shifting of powers and influence among nations. Are we seeing such a time as this now, in our day?
Let's look at our world today.
Across the Middle East, from Tunisia to Iraq, a wave of change has rolled. Long-standing governments have been toppled and threatened with change. Egypt saw the removal of President Hosni Mubarak after nearly 30 years in power. Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria have experienced riots against leadership. The unrest and instability across the region could redraw the geopolitical map. Such change has not been seen since the end of World War I when statesmen gathered at the Palace of Versailles and created the modern Middle East of our lifetime.
Add to this the mix of the threat of a nuclear Iran and the potential to destabilize the flow of oil from that region to the world. The festering unsolvable Palestinian refugee crisis is another unstable mix of people and events.
Bible prophecy centers on key events in the Middle East that bring the nations to a crisis in the days prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. We are seeing massive shifts impact the region, setting the stage for the next phase of prophecy.
China - another growing power and major influence in today's world. Now various predictions have been made about China overtaking America as the number one world economic power. You know, such predictions do miss a larger truth. The United States will lose its position, unless fundamental spiritual changes are made. One point is certain, China and other nations hold large amounts of American debt. They will require a reckoning at some point. It's inevitable.
And then there is Europe. We have spoken many times on Beyond Today about the changing role of Europe in world affairs. Bible prophecy has a great deal to tell us about the rise of a European dominated power in the time of the end.
Europe is going through a financial crisis like America. Yet the Bible predicts that they will survive this period. They may reinvent themselves and suddenly become the "indispensable" power that keeps the world from descending into another "dark age." Political and religious leadership will appear on the stage that will bring an order to a time of disruption.
There are repeated calls for a United States of Europe to solve the monetary problems of nations like Italy, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. For Europe to survive as a state, one nation, one power will have to rise and dominate the continent as a financial and political leader. This will happen. Europe will not dissolve and crumble. It will become a larger world power than we see today. We have been saying this on Beyond Today for many years.
Do not rely totally on what you hear about the future of Europe in most current media analysis. Commentators do not apply biblical understanding to world news reporting. All they have is a secular, often anti-biblical view of history that does not account for the spiritual dimension.
On Beyond Today, we provide that missing dimension. You can rely on this analysis because it's rooted in sound biblical teaching and understanding.
America is caught in the midst of these changes, in the worst possible condition. The nation faces an economic crisis of historic proportions. It's a debtor to other nations who, frankly, hold its future in their hands.
America, as I have said, is bankrupt.
Now what lies ahead for America?
There are different voices that are speaking to America today. Some are very anxious for the future of the country, while others see the best days of America in the future. Which one is correct?
Now, more than 10 years after 9/11, which voice should the United States and the English speaking peoples heed?
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God gave a warning message to the ancient people of Judah. That message resonates down to our day. Jeremiah's message speaks to us. He described unrepentant human nature. He described people and conditions that are the same as ours today.
Notice what he said, and you judge whether it sticks to today's world. It says, "For My people are foolish, They have not known Me. They are silly children, And they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge" (Jeremiah 4:19-22).
Does this not describe popular culture and political leadership today?
Notice another passage from Jeremiah: "But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; They have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, 'Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.' Your iniquities have turned these things away, And your sins have withheld good from you" (Jeremiah 5:23-25).
Why aren't the answers to our big problems easily found? Jeremiah's answer is because of sin; because a people, our people today, do not obey and put first the law of God and the knowledge of His way.
Jeremiah delivered his message at a time of great upheaval in the world of his time. It was a message intended for a people who had been blessed as a nation by God. God honored His promise to the descendants of Abraham, the tribes of Israel, and made a great nation of them. But they did not obey as their father Abraham had obeyed. They abandoned God and the true faith for a false set of gods and idols. It led to their ruin. The end result was national decline and captivity.
America and the English speaking nations have today been blessed by the same God for the same reason. God gave to our people in modern times the greatest blessing ever given to any group of people. The story the last 250 years has been that of Great Britain, the United States and their brother nations. There is no other way to describe the great national wealth and the power of these nations. But we too, like ancient Israel, have abandoned the true God and His laws and now we are approaching the twilight of our day. Unless we come to a sacrificial change of heart, our fate will be that of others--decline and defeat.
But Jeremiah was an optimist and so was Jesus Christ! Remember the scripture we read where Christ told His followers that unless they repented they would perish? He is saying, it is not too late to change, receive forgiveness and set a people back on the track to true righteousness.
Does God care for America? You bet He does!
Does He care for all mankind? Absolutely!
The God of heaven sees and knows what is happening to this nation today and it affects Him deeply. God does not wish that any should perish or suffer. But our sins have created our national problems and only a deep heartfelt repentance can turn around the present distress.
Notice God's answer to the prayer of Solomon about the nation. He says, "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 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 7:13-14).
It is not too late to turn around this great nation and its people. What would it take for you to hear God's call to change, repent and seek Him as never before? To admit you have not known Him in all the fullness of truth? Oh, it would be a big change in your life, no doubt. But the result would be a new and transformed life, different beyond your imagination.
To experience God at this level would be a memorable and a wondrous experience. Why not pray to God? For Him to grant this repentance to you? Why not pray for this to come upon the nation before it is too late?
We are living in a period of change and transition. God is doing something hard to believe and we need a spiritual renewal before it is too late.
Right now, I want to make you a special offer of a free magazine that can help you change and help you in your spiritual growth. The Good News is our premier publication. When you call and request today's booklet offer, we will send you a free subscription to this unique magazine. Six issues a year. Each issue contains subjects on prophecy, Christian living and biblical teaching. Your knowledge of the Bible, of God and of His great plan for your life will grow with each issue.
You can receive this free magazine by calling, 1-888-886-8632 and request your free copy and subscription. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online at BeyondToday.tv.
You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or attend one of our Kingdom of God Bible seminars.
Now I am joined by fellow Beyond Today host, Steve Myers.
Steve, what did Christ mean when He said, unless you repent you shall likewise perish?
Well it's interesting Darris, how He categorizes that example that He used. When He talked about a couple of events that happened. In some ways we want to condemn others that have problems and issues, that they better be the ones that change because they deserve what they got. And I think Christ puts us all in the same boat. That, likewise, we've all got issues. We've got problems. We need to be more godly. We need to have a godly perspective in our lives - we need to change! And so by saying that, He's saying we better get our own lives in order, our own house in order, so that we can begin to live by God's standard.
Describe this concept of repentance, it's not well understood today, I don't believe by a lot of people? What does it mean on a personal or a national level?
I think that's what Christ was pointing to, right? We have to repent. So when He talked about that, He's saying we have to change. We've got to change our mind. And, you know, the good ol' American values…
And the way we live….
And the way we live, we live the American dream. How did we get to where we are? Well, we as Americans, tend to think we did it by American ingenuity. That we deserved it because we worked hard, or we're smarter, or we're better and we were the ones that made it happen. But God's telling us, wait a second, that is not the case.
If it hadn't been for Abraham and the promises that God made to him, we wouldn't be where we are today and we better straighten our lives out. We better turn around and go God's way. We better see that we're not living by God's standards. We are not doing what's right. We are not obeying God and He's telling us, we need to repent and put our life in order.
So this idea of American exceptionalism, really, we need to acknowledge God for that, not ourselves?
Absolutely. And that's what Christ is saying. We need to repent of that kind of thinking, that what do we deserve this? That we've earned this somehow? That's not the case at all! God blessed us with these tremendous things that we have; the tremendous country that we live in, the natural resources. It's just phenomenal when you think of all those things. Those aren't things that we earned. That wasn't because we're better than anyone else. But it's because of God's blessings and so, we've got to change the way that we think and line our values up with what God would have for us.
Is it too late for America to turn around?
I don't think so. I don't think so. Here we are…we're at the hinge. And a hinge can swing that door either way, can't it? And so if we repent, if we do change, the Scripture is clear over and over again when people repented and they changed and they turned to God, phenomenal things happened. And I think that could be the case if we would turn and we would look to God.
There is still hope.
There is hope.
Remember our free offers that we're giving today. The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, this booklet's going to help open your mind to understand the real meaning beyond today's news headlines.
You can get your free booklet now or you can read it online at BeyondToday.tv. Download it, or request a copy by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. You can get a free copy and we'll mail it to you free of charge.
And don't forget the subscription to The Good News magazine. This magazine will help you understand God's purpose with all kinds of articles that are relevant to all of your life. Now remember, all of our publications are provided free. There is not cost.
Let me also remind you that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. If you're interested in learning more about the Kingdom of God, then go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link and register to attend. These are absolutely free events.
You need to see why Christ's original message of the Kingdom of God is largely unrecognized by Christianity today. Now space may be limited, so sign up for these seminars now at BeyondToday.tv. Click on the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link.
Make no mistake, our world is at a turning point--the most critical juncture in our day. Nations, alliances and whole regions are going through great change at rapid pace. We are swinging on a hinge of history. When it stops, the door will open upon a different world than today.
Will you be prepared for those changes? Or will you be caught unaware, in a trap set for an unsuspecting world?
The choice is yours and mine. We are all in this together. Jesus Christ urges us to repent and seek the Kingdom of God. It is not too late.
You can know what lies ahead and with God's help, you can traverse the challenges and the uncertainties. This program, Beyond Today, and the Work behind it will be here to offer a guide and assistance for you.
Thanks for watching. For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely.