Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?
DR. RANDY WHITE
When you study end-times, you will read of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. We know of the important role of Jerusalem and Israel. But what about the United States of America? Where is America in Last Days Prophecy?
Only by the greatest expanse of ingenuity can you read of the USA in the Bible. Granted, it is not hard to find those with that kind of creativity, but no tenable method of interpreting Scripture finds a specific reference to the United States in the pages of the Bible.
What happened to the greatest venture into democracy the world has ever known? Surely a nation as large, powerful, and prominent as the United States would have some quality role in the last day's government, wouldn't it?
I believe there are three possibilities concerning the United States. In advance, I must warn you that none of the three gives any hope for our future. As much as I love this country, I find it impossible to believe that the Star-Spangled Banner, as we know it, will continue to be the standard of liberty during the distressful last days of this age. Perhaps, and I pray not, our flag will cease to wave even much sooner than when the tribulation begins.
History has shown that most empires die from within before the enemy without comes in to clean up the mess. Before the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BC, prophets had been preaching doom and gloom messages for generations.
When Amos the prophet came to Israel preaching doom and gloom on neighboring nations, all the people said, "Amen!" But when Amos turned his heart toward home, they said, "Oh my!"
For Amos to talk about the greed, idolatry, and vice of the neighbors was fine; but Amos went to meddling when he said to Israel, "I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals," and they "turn aside the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl in order to profane My holy name." Further, "on garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every alter, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined" (Amos 2:6-8). Because of this sin, Amos preached, God would send punishment:
To the south, Judah had a slower decay from within and lasted 135 years longer than its northern partner. The storyline, however, was still the same; decline from within followed by the enemy from without. Like the Northern Kingdom, Judah had plenty of prophets to warn of the looming day of doom. Like the Northern Kingdom, Israel spurned the saving message.
Generally the inner decay sets in decades or more before the nation falls. Sometimes the nation remains in name, but the heart of the nation is radically altered. Today's Western Europe has nothing of the heart and spirit for which it was once known. The expansionist passions of Europe (fanned in no small measure by a longing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to new lands) that discovered the New World no longer remain though many of the country names and borders live on. The missionary fires of England have so been extinguished that what once fueled the desire to spread the Christian message to unreached lands, and that was at the heart of European proliferation for hundreds of years, has now given way to such Christian void that today these same lands are the beneficiaries of Christian missionary activity rather than benefactors.
The United States of America was born in principled courage. When our pilgrim fathers stepped foot at Jamestown, they celebrated through worship because they had come to worship. Personal freedoms and liberties and the ability to forge their own future were at the heart of their life-threatening quest across the Atlantic to an unknown and uncertain destiny. It took two hundred years for these forefathers to convey their notions of liberty to fulfillment in a nation born of their struggle and to achieve their purpose. These two hundred years, from 1620 to 1820, were overflowing with stories of moral courage.
Has the tide of courage upon which the Mayflower sailed begun to ebb?
Today little courage is evident among believers, even among the Christian faithful. Churches are filled with passive members who lack a primary comprehension of biblical values. Today, if a church can get one-third of its members to attend on any given Sunday, it is doing well. Rare is the church that is not on the decline (and in denial!).
Politically, there is much talk but little action. We have voted ourselves a raise over and over, and now we depend on the government sow for our milk. Until recently, when a disaster approached or after it passed, individuals took care of themselves and their possessions. What they could not move, they insured; what they could not insure, they were prepared to lose. Today, when a disaster like a hurricane approaches, we reach to the government to take guardianship of all of us. We have created such welfare cultures and dependent attitudes that we find large segments of the population unable to take care of themselves and expectant that the government will do so. If the government does not handhold its citizens to safety, the media will cry fowl. How different this is from 1792, when "We, the people" held the hand of government and kept it in line; we were the parent, and the government was the child. This kind of freedom takes moral courage, to a great extent lost in America today.
Without a return of principled boldness, our future is dim. A return of such boldness, of moral courage, will come only with a spiritual awakening.
Perhaps this is why America is not mentioned in the end times.
Loss of Military Courage
In its finest days America had military bravery that just wouldn't stop. It was in our DNA, spun into the fabric of our national soul.
In the early days General Washington and his troops, encamped in a cold Valley Forge winter-underfed, poorly clothed, ill-equipped-would not let the reality that they were far outnumbered and overpowered diminish their determination to let freedom ring.
In the midst of lost morale and on the edge of giving up, members of Wasthington's Continental Army received the words of Thomas Paine, words from his essay "The Crisis" that became a key to the success of that early American army: "These are times that try men's souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
On Christmas Day, 1776, just a few days after being inspired by Paine's words, General Washington led twenty-four hundred soldiers across the Delaware River. Each of them knew the password: victory or death.
How far from today's world. With victory in sight, we have been known to retreat. With the relative loss of a few, we are ready to give in. Modern America has such lack of military courage that this country has been known to lose won wars.
We have become a community of summer soldiers.
May God bless those who commit to victory or death. This disposition has seen us from 1776 to this day. Could the loss of this attitude be the reason we are of no mention in the end times?
Decimated by Rapture
One further, and more positive, scenario remains. It is possible, even probable, that the concluding scenario of the rapture is the final straw that breaks the country's back.
When the rapture occurs-and nothing is keeping its occurrence save the mercy and patience of Almighty God-large sections of America will be left decimated. Of all the nations of the world, perhaps the United States will be more negatively affected by the rapture than any other. Sadly, some nations will scarcely notice the rapture.
America, on the other hand, still has a sizable population base of born-again believers. While some areas will stand less affected by a loss of the Christian population, some communities and regions would lose a large share of the population, including key figures in their government and perhaps a greater part of their teachers, first responders, and businessmen and women.
In a recent sampling, 82 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Christians. While few would contend that these 82 percent have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the number is nonetheless large enough to merit an argument for an enormous and rapid breakdown of our national strength following the removal of the born-again community, instantaneously and without notice. Make no mistake, should the USA remain until the day of the rapture, it will develop into a Third-World country in an instant. This country-then ravaged by crime, hunger, lawlessness, and chaos-will long for a "savior" of its own. It is easy to imagine a scenario in which America quickly succumbs to the leadership of anyone who can help.Even if that person is the Antichirst.
Dr. Randy White is Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Katy, TX and the Bible teacher on Word for the World, a radio and internet broadcast. Register for his email newsletter here.