It’s the critical question of the moment. The world’s leading nation is in mortal danger. Still powerful, still capable of great and noble deeds, but under attack—its future in question. The handwriting is on the wall. What should you understand about the future of the United States?
Looking back over the past year, it’s not unreasonable to ask, What is holding the United States of America together? The year 2020 began with an unsuccessful attempt to oust the nation’s president through impeachment—a preview of more to come. Soon after, severe societal lockdowns were imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. America took a particularly hard economic hit, with millions of people sent into unemployment and massive debt racked up as the government pumped money into the economy and people’s wallets, along with a host of special interests.
The U.S. economy had been booming before this happened, with near full employment and the stock market hitting one record high after another. Yet it all tumbled within a month. Entertainment, sports, business, schools and much of the economy closed. The nation has struggled to recover, and it is greatly divided over how to respond to the pandemic. America’s economy remains on top, but the hounds are at her heels.
Making matters worse were months of rioting in major cities. Incidents of black citizens dying in police actions were argued by many to be the result of systemic racism. Riots, arson and looting not seen since the 1960s followed, leaving sections of Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago and Seattle scarred like battle zones. The debate over racism is more heated and divisive than it’s been in decades. What’s missing are enough voices of reason seeking peace, understanding and needed solutions. Like other segments of American culture, wisdom and sound leadership are sadly lacking.
Then of course came the presidential election. On top of mainstream media and big tech companies heavily controlling what the public was permitted to see before-hand, voting irregularities created questionable scenarios in six key states that led scores of millions of Americans to conclude the election was fraudulent. To get to the truth will take months or years, if ever. It now seems the uncomfortable questions and evidence will likely be buried.
The U.S. Capitol violated
Next we saw the tragic events of Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress met to confirm the vote of the Electoral College. President Donald Trump addressed a huge rally of perhaps hundreds of thousands gathered to show support for lawful challenges in Congress to the election results. Yet before he was finished speaking at the Ellipse near the White House, groups of protestors entered and occupied parts of the U.S. Capitol Building—some breaking in and others permitted to walk in freely.
As many wandered about, some barged into congressional offices and chambers while certain ones broke windows and caused other damage while trying to press into more guarded areas. Lawmakers hid and were evacuated. One protester was shot and killed by police. Outside some harassed police and pressed in on the Capitol. One injured officer suffered a stroke later that day and died. Though only a small few participated in the assault on the Capitol in comparison to the many thousands of peaceful rallygoers, it was a dark and ugly moment, creating a backlash pounced on by the media to paint Trump supporters as violent terrorists.
It was not reassuring to the nation and the world to see the world’s largest constitutional republic reeling over first the division about whether the election was fair, second the assault on the Capitol Building and third yet another impeachment that swiftly followed.
America has long prided itself on peaceful transitions of executive power. The prestige of the United States has taken a major hit. The nation’s enemies, no doubt perceiving weakness, are watching to see how to exploit this time of upheaval.
The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of the republic. Its classical architecture and soaring rotunda and statuary evoke a secular cathedral. While not a religious temple, it is in a sense a secular temple to the virtues and ideals enshrined in the Constitution. Angry protestors tramping through its halls created a symbolic and actual desecration. It was a stunning scene in a building that represents the highest ideals of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
While America is still strong and still a force for good in the world, its days are numbered. The handwriting of judgment is on the wall. God, who made America great, will not be mocked. Has the nation reached a point of no return?
A tale of two gatherings
We need to realize that the roots of what’s happened are spiritual. A spiritual battle rages over America.
As I watched the news reports of the crowds at the Ellipse and around the National Mall on Jan. 6, I was reminded of another group that gathered at the same spot a few months earlier on Sept. 26. I was an observer among that group that gathered to pray for the spiritual renewal of the country.
On that day tens of thousands had answered a call to come to Washington to pray for the nation at a time of great peril. It was a peaceful day. Many people offered prayers, both public and private. Some speakers called for the nation to repent while there is still time. I wrote about that event in the January-February issue of Beyond Today. There were no riots or riot instigators then, and many were still hopeful of an election outcome that would not lead the nation further into moral degradation.
The gathering on Jan. 6 had significant differences. Yes, there were prayers and hymns. Many devoted religious believers were present. And the vast majority of attendees were peaceful—as they had also been in huge post-election rallies in November and December. But this time there was also among some a marked anger and fervent desire for the people—and the president—to be heard.
Most felt any discussion of vote-counting irregularities in the 2020 election had been constantly dismissed without any fair hearing. There was also great upset over where Congress and other officials were allowing the country to be led.
The president called on people to remain peaceful. But this time, unlike before, a few extremists, equipped with chemical spray, crowbars, gas masks and helmets, came clearly prepared to fight. And, sadly, a number of others in the crowd were swept up into joining in the rioting—though at the same time many others tried to stop them.
Looking at the footage of the scenes was sickening to any who respect the country, the Constitution, and law and order. Such violent protest resulting in destruction and even death is utterly inexcusable.
But such lawlessness and violence has shamefully become more normalized through media and officials declaring many months of far worse riots in major cities to be acceptable. Police in Minneapolis had to evacuate a police station when an angry mob attacked and set fire to the building. A federal building in Portland was besieged for many days with law enforcement officers barricaded inside. An entire section of Seattle was seized, occupied and even declared a “sovereign” territory with no police allowed.
Many forget that major rioting broke out back in 2017 in Washington, D.C., on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. Of course, none of it is acceptable.
When people gather in prayer to repent and seek God’s will, there is of course a different spirit. On Sept. 26 thousands of Americans prayed to the God of Abraham with focus on the nation’s need to return to Him and follow His ways and not on the national election directly. While much was lacking in that call for repentance, the sincerity and humility in prayer set a high tone, mood and atmosphere for that event.
Much more of that kind of focus was needed on Jan. 6.
Opening the door to dark forces
Three days before the terrible scene at the Capitol something happened that is little understood. Largely ignored at the time, it was quickly forgotten in the dramatic events that followed.
As is traditional, the newly elected Congress was convened on Jan. 3 and opened with prayer. The prayer was delivered by Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), an ordained minister. He asked, “May the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace, peace in our families, peace across this land and, dare I ask, O Lord, peace even in this chamber.” So far, so good.
But he then concluded with this: “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘God’ known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.” His “awoman” comment garnered some attention and rightly-deserved ridicule. The Hebrew term “Amen” means “truly” or “so be it” and has nothing to do with male or female, as if it needed balancing out.
Note again, though what came before. The “Brahma” he called on is the chief Hindu creator deity. And the further reference to “‘God’ known by many names” includes any other god from any other belief system among mankind. This congressman invoked the name of a pagan deity and inferred any other pagan god or goddess one chooses to believe in. This was a desecrating sacrilege against the God of Abraham, the God of the Bible invoked by the Founding Fathers.
The God of Abraham, the God of the Bible, is the God intended in the national motto “In God We Trust.” He is the same God meant in the Pledge of Allegiance declaring the United States “one nation under God.” Scripture warns us that God will not be mocked—that all will reap consequences for what we do and say (see Galatians 1:7-8; Matthew 12:36).
Pagan gods cannot be lumped in with the true God as though they are the same. The apostle Paul explained that those who worship pagan idols actually worship demons: “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21; compare Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:16-18; Psalms 106:35-37).
To be clear, a demonic force was invoked in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on that day.
We might ask ourselves whether and how God responded to this blasphemous prayer. Is there a connection between this sacrilege and a mob storming through the Capitol three days later, sending these same representatives running and cowering in fear?
It’s a question worth asking. And while some instigators may have already been planning the attack at the Capitol, God could certainly have prevented it—yet He didn’t. We don’t know all of His purposes in this, nor can we know whether this was His answer or whether He is simply letting us make our foolish decisions and reap the consequences.
But we should understand that prayers matter—and that sin reaps the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Are we looking at God perhaps lifting His hand, His protective presence, from America after years of growing rebellion against Him?
There is nothing logical or rational about what has happened in recent months. So many have suffered under lockdown restrictions and economic toil. We have watched widespread mockery of the rule of law. Officials excused months of rioting, looting and destruction in many cities. As candidate for the office she now holds, Vice President Kamala Harris said that riots and protests not only would not stop in American cities past the 2020 election, but also that they should not stop.
No effective remedy was taken to restore order or administer justice for months, as actions designed to alter the traditional fabric of American life erupted across the land. No wonder the nation is divided to a point unseen since it experienced civil war more than a century and a half ago!
What is really happening? Beyond the wrongs and errors of human beings, we are seeing the work of spiritual wickedness in high places. The Bible tells us how the world really works, encouraging us “to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
The Bible reveals the leader of these unseen evil spiritual forces, Satan the devil, to be “the god of this age” and “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). He dominates an evil spirit realm working to thwart God’s plan for humanity.
God has previously used the United States of America to impede totalitarianism. We saw this during World War II and the Cold War. And ongoing promotion of freedom is vital, as the Bible reveals that a coming totalitarian power will dominate the world before Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. America and the other English-speaking peoples bear the blessing and responsibility of the tremendous national wealth and power God long ago promised to Abraham and his descendants in the last days (see our study guide offered at the end). That’s a big reason the evil spirit forces under Satan are bent on destroying these nations.
National downfall looming
What then, as asked at the outset, is holding America together? God is. The enduring promise God made to Abraham is what stands between America’s continued place atop the present world order and what is still kept at bay—a plunge into devastation and servitude in a new geopolitical order dominated by transnational powers yet to arise. These powers are characterized in the Bible as like a ravenous “beast” (Revelation 13; 17; 18) that deceives, devours and trades in “the bodies and souls of men” (verses 11-13).
Are we at a tipping point in America’s long story?
Many centuries ago, the prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of God’s presence rise up and depart from the Jerusalem temple (Ezekiel 10:18). The nation’s sins filled the land. The cities were full of injustice. Idolatry had created an empty culture where people desperately sought truth and righteousness but found only false and empty ritual that robbed them of purpose and understanding.
Israel and Judah had long ago lost sight of their mission to be a light to the other nations. They assumed God paid them no attention and would let them continue to get away with their evils—but He warned they would pay for their actions (Ezekiel 9:9-10). A great many today make the same mistake.
As we look at America and other nations heading into the 2020s, we see events happening at a rapid pace. We wonder what the cumulative effect of the momentous events of the last year will be and where it will all lead. I find little comfort in those voices saying we’ve been here before and that events will return to normal. A biblical worldview shows me the events we’ve been going through could well be the precursor to larger prophetic turnings. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I have to take my wisdom from His words and “know how to interpret this present time” (Luke 12:56, New International Version).
Again, Ezekiel saw in vision the presence of God hover over the temple and depart, representing His leaving the nation to what it has brought on itself. What a tragic reality! Their sins had reached a tipping point. They worshipped pagan gods and goddesses in God’s own temple. A building once dedicated to the God of Abraham, whose glory had dwelt in it, was now effectively an empty and meaningless shell. The mission of the Israelites as a light to the nations was forgotten. God removed His blessing and His presence, and the nation was doomed.
The Angel in the storm
Just over 20 years ago on a dark, cold and rainy day, George W. Bush stood on the west side of the Capitol and gave his first inaugural address. Near the end he quoted the words of Virginia statesman John Page to Thomas Jefferson soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We know the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?” President Bush concluded: “This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.”
Page’s reference was to Ezekiel’s vision of God’s protective hand watching over Israel. In the nearly 245 years since the Declaration, America has been blessed by God watching over its growth into the most powerful and prosperous single nation in world history—exactly as God had promised to Abraham and his descendants.
We might well ask if that Angel of God’s presence is, in a figurative sense, now hovering above America and about to leave the nation to doom that awaits at the hands of other powers rising out of the world’s people? Arrival of that time may be evident in the nation tearing itself apart from within. As Abraham Lincoln said of national destruction: “. . . If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us . . . If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
What is holding America together now? For the moment, the hand of God is—but for how long? While there is time, you can give thanks for that and turn to God. You can understand His guiding hand in your life. You can understand how God’s enduring promise has upheld this nation and will yet lead it and all peoples to the end of the raging storm!