Our apologies to other countries for focusing this article on the United States, but in recent years America has been the unceasing target of an avalanche of media criticism from much of the rest of the world. America is held responsible for the current financial crisis, the Iraqi conflict and several other mega problems now afflicting humanity.
But rather than judging ourselves by worldly criteria, the Bible says that ultimately we will stand or fall by how well our people are living up to the standards and values of God's Word. How are we doing in our Creator's eyes? Are we meeting His expectations?
Let's first consider the current economic crisis—and even more importantly, a few of its basic causes.
Economically, the country is obviously threatened
It's obvious that America is in deep economic trouble. The "big three" automakers (a weather vane for a country so dependent on the automobile) are all in dire economic straits. General Motors (GM) and Chrysler stand on the verge of bankruptcy, and the two are reputedly seeking financial aid from the American government.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "Without a merger and possibly an assist from the U.S. government, two of Detroit 's big three could run out of cash within a year...U.S. car and truck sales are down 13% through September this year. GM sales have fallen about 18% while Chrysler's are down 25%, Ford's sales are down 17% so far this year. Ford's condition isn't considered as grave as that of GM and Chrysler because it has more cash on hand" (Jeffrey McCracken and John Stoll, "Bankruptcy Fears as GM and Chrysler Seek U.S. Aid," Oct. 28, 2008).
Clearly the big three are struggling to survive.
To narrow our financial focus, take a brief look at Vallejo, California. According to a Guardian (London) article, "The city has financially gone bust. Pushed over a financial precipice by wider economic woes, Vallejo's city authority has declared itself bankrupt...
"Funding for police, firefighters, senior citizens, road maintenance, libraries and parks is up in the air until a bankruptcy judge has scoured the books. The city of 117,000 people is $17 million (£8.7m) short of what it needs to pay the bills" (Andrew Clark, "A Sign of the Times in Bankruptsville, USA," June 14, 2008, emphasis added throughout).
Other cities (and states) are also in deep financial difficulties.
But what are these "wider economic woes" that Vallejo obviously holds partially responsible? Time International magazine stated: "For years the financial markets roared along as if there was nothing to fear. Now it's payback time—and all of us will be suffering the pain" (Andy Serwer and Allan Sloan, "The Price of Greed," Sept. 29, 2008).
So in an overall sense, what basically brought about our current financial woes? One American Protestant minister said: "We're greedy. America consumes more than its share of most everything. Gasoline, food, plastic, you name it. On a personal level, millions of us are overweight, overspent and overleveraged. The subprime mortgage crisis is all about people wanting more than they can afford. And despite greed's appearance on the list of 'seven deadly sins' and the Bible's admonishment to refrain from excessive borrowing, the average American carries more than $2,000 in credit-card debt on top of his household mortgage.
"Collectively, we behave pretty much the same way. The unpaid balance on our national credit card now tops $10 trillion" (Oliver Thomas, "Ungodly Hubris," USA Today, Oct. 28, 2008).
This pastoral observer may not be right on target with his views, but he is uncomfortably close in most respects. The Bible warns us against covetousness and the danger of being in debt to others. The book of Proverbs in particular says a great deal about how we should handle our personal financial affairs. (Request or download our free booklet Managing Your Finances.)
Concerning America's national greatness
No rational, sane American citizen wants to denigrate his or her homeland. I have lived abroad in England for 32 years, but I still love America and respond emotionally when the "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung at U.S. sports events (televised in the early hours of the British morning). Yet I cannot ignore that the transgressions of God's spiritual law (and the attitudes of compromise toward it) are beginning to badly undercut America's greatness.
Today it appears that the country is evenly divided about the validity of the Ten Commandments. Those of us who adhere to them seem to have been fighting a rearguard action to defend them for several decades. Exactly where the moral tipping point is located, we don't yet know. But negative national news and trends show that we may be perilously close to the cliff—the point of no return when it is too late to turn around. This, of course, assumes we haven't passed that point already.
Some 3,000 years ago God began to give both the northern nation of Israel and the southern nation of Judah a warning and time to repent before He pulled the plug. Finally a Hebrew prophet said of the kingdom of Judah that even if Noah, Daniel and Job were present before God in that nation, these three righteous men would only save themselves—not the nation.
In light of the present economic affliction and the threat of worse to come, several insightful observers have been looking back at the phenomenon of America's greatness in the world. A Scotsman, Sir Malcolm Rifkin (British foreign secretary from 1995-1997), wrote an instructive commentary for The Sunday Telegraph (Oct. 26, 2008):
"But America's dominance was not merely military. Its economic wealth was far greater than any other state. The US dollar has been the world's reserve currency since the decline of [British pound] sterling. Its language shared with the UK, was fast becoming the chosen alternative language for the rest of the world. Capitalism, which it championed, had vanquished both socialism and communism...
"The triumph of the United States has not emerged out of a vacuum. It was the latest expression of the extraordinary success and expansion of Western power and European civilisation. Britain, Spain, France and then the United States had conquered India, humbled China, colonised Africa, exploited South America and converted Japan. That Western domination has been the defining characteristic of our planet for well over two centuries."
What is surely coming
Then Sir Malcolm warned: "That phase of world history may now be coming to an end. The changes we are seeing in the global economy are not only a threat and challenge to the unique power of the United States. They may also be a watershed for the political, cultural and economic domination that Europe and America have enjoyed for centuries. This will be difficult for Europeans as well as Americans to understand and accept."
But there is yet another important dimension in assessing the national destiny of the American people. Most do not understand the true origins of first Britain's and then America's national greatness. Most do not realize that the Bible shows that God is the behind-the-scenes Author of the emergence of British and American success in the last 225 years.
From God's telling viewpoint, the nation's ultimate standing in the world is dependent on how its people live. Our Creator is giving America and Britain every chance to turn to His way of life expressed by the Ten Commandments. God allowed 9/11 to happen, followed by Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, and now He is hoping that their serious economic difficulties will turn Americans back to Him (see 2 Peter 3:9).
After a national tragedy people usually experience a brief repentance. The prophet Hosea stated that our faithfulness is like the dew on the ground in the morning (Hosea 6:4). It soon disappears!
The United States in prophecy
The legacy and destiny of the biblical patriarch Joseph have resulted in the emergence of Britain, and then America, as dominant world powers. Prophecies in both Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33 foretold that the descendants of Joseph would be doubly blessed beyond measure by our Creator. These prophecies have been fulfilled by the Anglo-Saxon peoples during the last 225 years.
But consider this. The 10 tribes of the nation of Israel (Samaria) failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Amos (8th century B.C.) and the nation of Judah ignored Jeremiah (6th century B.C.). Both countries suffered national captivity. Will God treat America any differently if it continues on its present path of increasing disobedience to the Ten Commandments? (See Malachi 3:6.)
Do we believe that the Creator has somehow lost His power and can no longer intervene in His creation and the lives of His people?
We are perilously close to what Jeremiah referred to as "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7). It will be a period of great distress for the United States, Britain and the Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and also South Africa—those peoples descended from the biblical patriarch Jacob.
The whole compelling story of our English-speaking peoples of today is told in our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. History, legacy and future prophecy are all covered in detail.
You cannot afford to be without a copy. You cannot understand present world news and trends without this unique biblical and historical knowledge. Be sure to request or download a free personal copy.