The United States today is the undisputed global power in all the measurements that count. Its military power can be projected unchallenged anywhere in the world. Its economy is the main engine of the global system. When disasters strike, America has the will and the means, along with other nations, to provide massive aid to areas in need. Its wealth flows to many areas of the globe.
Because of all this, it is hard to imagine a world without America having this dominant role. For many of you reading this, it may be difficult to grasp that Bible prophecy has much to say about the role of the United States and Great Britain in the modern world. The rise of both nations was long foretold through the words of Jacob, the biblical patriarch, as he blessed the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48).
Time of trouble
Yet God also shows there is coming a period of national decline for the U.S. and British peoples called the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7-11). It will precede a time of world trial unprecedented in history (Daniel 12:1). Jesus spoke of this as a time of "great distress" (Matthew 24:21-22, New International Version).
The reason for this time of trial is the blatant national sins of sexual immorality, corruption and violence against the covenant of God (Ezekiel 7:2-4, 25, 27). Sin is the breaking of the great spiritual law of God. This includes an almost total disregard for the law given at Sinai, which invites God's judgment. Among the often unrealized violations of the Ten Commandments are Sabbath-breaking and idolatry—two reasons for His judgment against the modern descendants of ancient Israel (Ezekiel 22:3-13).
There are indications in prophecy that a turn of events could come swiftly, seemingly without warning. Notice how Jeremiah terms it. "O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried, for the whole land is plundered. Suddenly my tents are plundered, and my curtains in a moment" (Jeremiah 4:19-20).
Yet how could America be brought so quickly to the point of collapse? With all our early warning defense systems, satellites and intelligence systems, wouldn't we detect and prevent an enemy attack of such proportions? But remember, 19 Arab terrorists were able to penetrate these systems on Sept. 11, 2001, and launch an attack on America. Americans have learned a great deal since, and no doubt further attacks have been prevented due to that vigilance. But there are reports that warn of the possibility of a greater attack.
Since 9/11 we have been more acutely aware that Islamic militants like Osama bin Laden have been plotting to destroy America. We know that North Korea has nuclear capability and Iran is close to achieving the same.
These groups have hostile intentions toward the United States. Keeping them from obtaining or developing any weapon of mass destruction is a primary goal of the U.S. government. But it is possible that such an opponent could obtain a specialized nuclear weapon that could effectively bring the United States to its knees in an instant. The weapon is known as electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
How does this work?
Frank Gaffney, a former assistant Secretary of Defense and expert in nuclear forces and arms control policy, recently spoke on this subject and gave a brief explanation about how this type of nuclear device works.
"A nuclear weapon produces several different effects. The best known, of course, are the intense heat and overpressures associated with the fireball and accompanying blast. But a nuclear explosion also generates intense outputs of energy in the form of X- and gamma rays. If the latter are unleashed outside the earth's atmosphere, some portion of them will interact with the upper atmosphere's air molecules.
"This in turn will generate an enormous pulsed current of high-energy electrons that will interact with the earth's magnetic field. The result is the instantaneous creation of an invisible radio frequency wave of uniquely great intensity—roughly a million-fold greater than that of the most powerful radio station.
"The energy of this pulse would reach everything in line-of-sight of the explosion's center point at the speed of light. The higher the altitude of the weapon's detonation, the larger the affected terrestrial area would be. For example, at a height of 300 miles, the entire continental United States, some of its offshore areas and parts of Canada and Mexico would be affected.
"What is more, as the nuclear explosion's fireball expands in space, it would generate additional electrical currents in the earth below and in extended electrical conductors, such as electricity transmission lines. If the electrical wiring of things like computers, microchips and power grids is exposed to these effects, they may be temporarily or permanently disabled" (speech to Hillsdale College, May 24, 2005).
Last year the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack submitted a report to Congress detailing the threat to America and the West from such an attack. It clearly stated the vulnerability to an attack from several sources.
The report said: "The electromagnetic fields produced by weapons designed and deployed with the intent to produce EMP have a high likelihood of damaging electrical power systems, electronics, and information systems upon which American society depends. Their effects on dependent systems and infrastructures could be sufficient to qualify as catastrophic to the nation" (Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, p. 9).
The critical structures that sustain our modern technologically based society would be wiped out in an instant. The electric power grid, telecommunications and the Internet would be gone. The means of getting food, water and medical care to citizens would be crippled. Industrial output would cease. The lifelines of trade with other nations would be cut. It is likely the blast would destroy the electronic circuitry of modern automobiles, thus rendering them useless.
America's electric power grid is already vulnerable to accidents that can shut off power to millions of citizens. On Aug. 14, 2003, a power outage due to faulty equipment caused a massive blackout to 50 million customers in the Midwest and on the East Coast of America. A similar outage was narrowly averted in May of this year (www.washingtonpost.com).
It is well known that the U.S. electric grid is overloaded, outdated and vulnerable. Should an EMP attack occur, it would take a long time to rebuild the network to current levels. The commission's report commented on the long-term impact of an attack:
"The longer the outage, the more problematic and uncertain the recovery will be. It is possible for the functional outages to become mutually reinforcing until at some point the degradation of infrastructure could have irreversible effects on the country's ability to support its population" (Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, p. 10). Society's clock would be turned back 150 years.
In short, America and other Western nations are critically vulnerable to such an attack. In one stroke the nation would be brought to its knees, leaving it open to further attacks from those who wish it harm. Its power, and its pride, would be destroyed. What God prophesied in Leviticus 26:19, the breaking of the "pride of your power," would take place nearly instantaneously. The door to fulfilling the many prophecies of Scripture would be opened. These threats are very real and are being discussed at the highest levels of government.
So why do we bring this to your attention? Is this just a sensational attempt to scare you and preach a message of gloom and doom? No, that is not our intent. But the events of Sept. 11, 2001, brought their own sensational gloom. And there are more frightening stories being told in the mainstream media and through government commissions like this than at any other time in recent memory.
The men behind this study on EMP are respected scientists and leaders in the fields that would be impacted by an attack. They are sober realists who are sounding an urgent warning in an effort to move the United States to some preventive action.
Their threat assessment provides a possible answer for a realist who sees today's world scene, with America at the pinnacle of power, and casts a skeptical question, "How could this powerful nation be cut down in its prime?"
The answer is it could happen virtually overnight and tear the calm fabric of our society to shreds. It is, therefore, not surprising that the U.S. government is trying to disrupt the development of nuclear arsenals in nondemocratic nations, as well as attempting to disable similar efforts by terrorist groups. The United States is trying to prevent a scenario such as an EMP strike from becoming a reality.
Not in darkness
Nonetheless, the apostle Paul wrote, "But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5).
Paul is saying we should let prophecy mold us into people of faith and righteousness. You can be a "son of light and day" by taking seriously this and other warnings of the clear and present dangers in our world. Let them move you to a change and a closer walk with God, your Creator. It is the only way to deal with the fear and uncertainty of our times. WNP