By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
When I was in high school I had the opportunity to play soccer in Europe with the East West Ambassadors. We were the only American team in the tournaments. I recall one tournament – the night before the games were to begin – a ceremony took place where each team walked around the field as the fans in the stadium cheered. It was a thrilling experience to be waving our American flags and representing our country.
In all my travels, I am constantly made aware of the greatness of America and how God has blessed this nation. Yet I see the greatness of America fading. While she is still the most influential nation in the world, her superpower status appears to be declining. I wonder what America will be like when my six children are older. Will the American dream be a faded memory of the past?
“What will be the future of America?” is a common question my father and I are asked when we speak on end-times prophecy. While there is no specific prophetic passage that mentions America, there is much biblical truth which sheds light on America’s future. In order to understand what is to come we must consider America’s past and present.
God is sovereign over nations and kings: “Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth” (Psalm 67:4). The truth that God governs the nations of the world is spoken of by Daniel after God revealed to him the details of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings (Daniel 2:20, 21).
Anyone who comes to power does so by the sovereign will of God. Regardless of whether the individual chooses to use his or her power for good or for evil, their authority derives from Almighty God.
Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler over the Babylonian empire, came to recognize this divine truth the hard way. As he surveyed his empire, he made the following boast:
Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30).
Babylon certainly was a place of beauty and majesty under Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. He constructed the hanging gardens, which were recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In addition, his capital city was surrounded with a double wall that was 10 miles in length highlighted by the elaborate Ishtar Gate. And further, he brought Babylon to world dominance as he expanded the empire, becoming the first Babylonian king to rule over Egypt. In the midst of boasting of these great accomplishments, the following occurs:
The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.” (Daniel 4:31).
The Bible says that pride goes before a fall, and Nebuchadnezzar was a living example of this! The passage in Daniel goes on to tell us that Nebuchadnezzar was driven away from his people, and lived like a wild animal until he acknowledged that the Most High is ruler over the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:32, 33).
A contemporary example of how pride and arrogance lead down a destructive path, is Saddam Hussein, former ruler over the nation of Iraq, who desired to be the next Nebuchadnezzar. He planned to rebuild Babylon and gain prominence over the surrounding nations, and like Nebuchadnezzar, he was humbled. The man who lived in opulence while his subjects lived in poverty was found hiding like an animal in a hole in the ground.
However, contrary to Saddam, Nebuchadnezzar was restored to power. In his humility, he came to realize that honor and glory belongs to God alone (Daniel 4:34, 35).
The truth that God is sovereign over nations and kings was commonly acknowledged early in American history. In reading letters and documents by the Founding Fathers, one quickly sees that this was an assumed truth. While not all of them were Christian, the following examples (a small sample), show that those who influenced America in its infancy were impacted by a biblical worldview. Numerous quotes by America’s Founding Fathers not only acknowledge God’s sovereignty over the establishment of America, but over every nation in the world.
Patrick Henry in his speech to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, not only uttered the famous words, “give me liberty or give me death,” but also said, “Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
George Washington, first president of the United States of America, uttered these words in the opening statement of his thanksgiving speech on April 3, 1789, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
In his address to the Constitutional Convention held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin made this profound statement, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Ps. 127:1).’ I firmly believe this….”
America’s past is saturated with men and women who realized that their nation’s existence and continual preservation was a direct result of the providential hand of Almighty God.
The first constitution of Pennsylvania (the state in which I was born and raised) was established in 1776. The following is an excerpt from this document, which each member of the legislature had to declare before he took his seat in office:
“I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.”
As this 1776 document reveals, the earliest form of government in Pennsylvania required its officials to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. It is amazing how far America has wandered from its foundational principles!
God Uses Nations to Fulfill His Prophetic Plans
Just as God used the Persian king Cyrus (c. 580-529 BC) to bring the children of Israel back to their land after their long exile, He has used America to fulfill His prophetic plan. One aspect of America’s role in prophecy has been her support of the nation of Israel. Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 by the Roman general Titus, Israel as a nation ceased to exist. The Jewish people were scattered across the earth, while the land, which was given a new name called Palestine, became a barren land occupied by people of both Jewish and Arab descent.
Following World War II Britain was given authority over Palestine. However, because of the ongoing problem between the Arabs and the Jews, Britain gave up its authority of Palestine to the United Nations. Driven by a desire to avoid a repeat of history, where the Jewish people were nearly exterminated by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, and to help resolve the ongoing Arab/Jewish conflict, the UN proposed to partition the land into two states. Right away this proposal faced opposition.
World leaders were forced to choose whether or not to support the proposal for an independent nation of Israel, and President Truman found himself in the middle of this battle. Many in the State Department and leaders in the military voiced their opposition to this proposal. They felt America’s support of an Israeli nation would create unnecessary tension with the oil rich Arab countries.
Despite facing opposition within his own cabinet, President Truman held to the belief that Israel had a prophetic destiny. This belief came about through his reading of the Bible (which it is reported he had read through it twice by age 12), and conversations with a Jewish friend by the name of Edward Jacobson. These two factors proved to influence the decision that Truman had to make on May 14, 1948. For it was on this day that Israel made a declaration of statehood. Shortly thereafter President Truman declared America’s recognition of the nation of Israel.
A story is told of Truman being introduced by his Jewish friend Jacobson to a group of professors in the following way, “This is the man who helped create the state of Israel.” The story goes that Truman responded by saying, “What do you mean create? I am Cyrus. I am Cyrus.”
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promised that Israel would come back to its land after being scattered among the nations:
Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land….”
Just as God had used Cyrus to fulfill His prophetic word, so too, God used the American President, Harry Truman, to bring about His prophetic plan to restore His people to their land.
America has also been used to fulfill prophecy through her role in fulfilling the Great Commission. No other nation in history has done more to promote worldwide missions than America, helping to fulfill Jesus’ prophetic words in His Olivet Discourse:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
God Blesses and Judges Nations
In Genesis chapter 12, God calls Abram (whose name is changed to Abraham in chapter 17) to leave his country and relatives for a land that God will show him. God then gives the following promise:
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2, 3).
Here we see that God not only makes a prophetic promise to Abram, but to all other people depending on how they deal with him. Of course, we know that the great nation God promises to Abram is the Jewish people.
We can see the second part of this prophecy fulfilled in America. No modern nation has supported Israel and been a better friend to the Jewish people than America. This fulfillment of the prophetic statement God made to Abram is a major reason why America has been such a blessed nation. Consider the status of America since 1948 when President Truman set the precedent of supporting Israel as a nation. America has been blessed economically, militarily and become the envy of the other nations.
Moving to the present situation in America, I am sure it is not hard to see how far we have strayed from our past. Just as the nation of Israel walked away from God, the same pattern is being repeated in America.
Israel was commanded by God to pass on a spiritual legacy to the next generation. They were called to show the next generation how faith is related to every area of life (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).
For a time, the nation of Israel took seriously this mandate from God (as recorded in Judges 2:7). However, just three verses later, we find a drastic change:
All that generation were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor the work which He had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).
The result of just one generation not fulfilling God’s mandate to teach the next generation about the Lord, lead Israel on a destructive path:
Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger (Judges 2:11, 12).
No longer did the next generation follow the commands of the Lord, instead, “… everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Tragically this same path is being taken by America. Our spiritual past and the way in which God has blessed our nation is forgotten. We no longer seek the wisdom of God and His Word. Instead, like the children of Israel, everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes.
We are forfeiting the blessings and freedoms for which America’s founders gave their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
As we contemplate the present reality in America the obvious questions arise, “Is there any hope for our future? Can we once again experience the blessings of God?”
While many answers are proposed – changing laws, legislating conservative values, changing the political makeup in Washington, D.C. – none of these solutions will ultimately succeed. There is one thing America must do to ensure its future. As Solomon reminded the children of Israel of what they should do if they walked away from the Lord, so, too, America needs to heed these words if she expects to see God bless this nation once again:
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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).