Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] Soon after America’s founding fathers signed The Declaration of Independence, a statesman named John Page wrote these words to his fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. He said, “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?”
The allusion to an angel in a whirlwind is from the Bible. It’s talking about the guiding hand of God upon the founding of America. For more than 200 years, America has been blessed by the hand of God, and it has grown into the most powerful and prosperous single nation in world history.
Have we come to the time when the angel’s presence might vanish? Would God leave America to the violent winds of time and history? How can one know the outcome of this critical period in history?
America and the world is at a historic moment. My question is this: Does God still direct America in its historic and prophetic role in world affairs?
Join us on Beyond Today as we consider, “A Prophet, A President and a People.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] After a very bitter and long election, a new president takes office at a critical time in American and world history. Numerous challenges face this leader.
America faces increasing hostility from Russia, from China, Iran and North Korea. These nations do not wish America well. In fact, they would like to dethrone America from its world leadership role. What other challenges face the country?
There’s terrorism from radical Islamist groups that create fear and unrest. Terrorism is listed as one of the top concerns on the minds of most people. The threat from ISIS has also grown. Terrorist forces around the globe is broader, deeper, and wider than it has been at any time in recent years.
The economy of America and its impact on each citizen is another major concern. The nation’s debt is at historic levels and represents a clear danger to the nation’s security. Economic growth is flat and the gap between the poor and the wealthy has created a culture of anger and class hostility that threatens to tear the social fabric of the land.
Now I know when we start talking about budget deficits and economic matters, we tend to tune out. We have no idea what it means when they say that the U.S. national debt is 20 trillion dollars. No one understands what 20 trillion dollars really is, but let me try to explain. When you owe far more than you can pay for your car or your house, you know what happens? The bank comes and takes it away. America is in such a situation. And the only power keeping America afloat is the “angel in the storm.” God is holding this nation up to its world role, and this truth makes this subject all the more important.
You see changes in your life, too. Now, those changes, they may be subtle, but they are changes to your personal world. They are real. Your children, they go to school. They pass through metal detectors on their way into class. Your two-income household makes enough money to get by and put food on the table, but not a whole lot left for extras. You watch the news and you see all the bad in the world so to escape, you watch Netflix for the evening. Something just doesn’t feel right, does it?
What you need to understand about this time in which we live is there’s more to the story than the news and the analysis than you get from today’s experts in politics and journalism. These experts have been shown to be blind, ignorant—sometimes extremely biased in describing events of the world to you and me.
What you need is a biblical perspective that God gives us from His Word. This is what Beyond Today does in each program and magazine article. And it’s time that you understand the headlines of today, that they are rooted in your Bible.
The best way to explain what’s going on in the world is by taking you to the words of a biblical prophet named Amos. Amos was a common man of the people. He obeyed the call of God to go and stand in the streets of a nation to deliver a message from God.
The nation that God sent him to was Israel. A nation with whom God had a very special history and a very special relationship. God had brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery under Moses and set them in the land of promise. God made promises to Israel not made to any other nation, ever. Those promises included blessings in return for obedience. Israel had not lived up to the agreement.
Israel in the mid-eighth century B.C. existed in a Middle-East power vacuum. Babylon had yet to pull itself together into the great empire to come. Assyria was still a cloud on the horizon. Egypt, a very old and ancient empire, it had relinquished its influence this far from its homeland. Israel and Judah, small as they were, still stood as a regional influence in a very pivotal geographic spot. Despite internal strife, periodic attacks from smaller nations along with a civil war that split the nation, Israel continued to master every emergency and it survived.
Now here is the parallel for America today. For more than 200 years, America has grown and has become the single greatest nation ever to exist. Even today, with large internal problems and great challenges from hostile nations, America remains the world’s most influential, powerful and its strongest economy. Despite its problems, its influence for good in a troubled world is immense. A world without America would be a different and a far more dangerous world. Just as God used ancient Israel as a counter to other nations, so today America is an indispensable power still used by God to advance His greater purpose and prophetic plan for mankind.
Let’s look closer at the nation of Israel. In the year 786 B.C., a king called Jeroboam II ruled Israel. He was a strong leader and he brought a renewed power and wealth to the nation.
Jeroboam restored the nation’s borders. He opened the trade routes so that the economy once again began to grow and health flowed into the nation. Israel began to prosper within the global economy of the day. Ships and caravans carried goods from Africa into Asia and throughout the Mediterranean world.
The middle-class citizen of Israel and Judah was better off than he had ever been at any time before. It was a euphoric period of optimism. The level of prosperity was greater than anyone could remember. It’s likely that Israel was trading with every significant nation on earth at that time. It was truly an ancient period of globalization.
But Israel’s prosperity caused it to forget the true source of its wealth. God was the cause of such power and wealth. The nation had long since abandoned faith and belief in God and Israel outwardly professed belief in the God of Abraham. But the pagan cult of Baal and others were firmly rooted in the culture. People worshipped at pagan altars more than the true Temple in Jerusalem.
Paganism replaced the truths of God. The new religion hid Israel’s identity as God’s special covenant people. The true God was hidden from the people.
The same situation exists in America today. While America experiences unrivaled prosperity and freedom, it fails to understand the true Source of its blessings. Americans think that their wisdom and ingenuity have achieved greatness. But in truth, the United States has received its wealth and power from God through the promises He made to the patriarch Abraham.
When a founding father of America says an angel rides in the storm over America’s founding, it is not a coincidence. America’s creation was according to a divine plan. God was fulfilling a promise made long ago to His servant Abraham. That promise has been a blessing for the modern world.
The message Amos took to Israel has significance to America today in the 21st century. America faces the same problems today, as did ancient Israel.
The good times for Israel were about to end. What was thought to be unending wealth was but a final revival before the fall.
It was during this prosperous period that the prophet Amos walked into Israel’s capital city, Samaria, with a warning message that goes to the seat of political and religious power. Amos finds a nation awash in a sea of lies. Everywhere he looks, he finds untruth, injustice and inequity. Under the veneer of stability and prosperity, he finds a decaying structure on the verge of collapse. He is quick to give God’s verdict on the nation. He says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed’” (Amos 2:4).
Amos was not a traditional religious figure. He felt a unique and a divine call to deliver God’s message to the nation. He was not part of the mainstream religion. He could speak to the heart of the problem. He was not defending any entrenched position, but rather merely speaking the truth. Spiritual truth at the time was gone from the nation.
Amos was also a sheep herder. He wasn’t trained as a theologian or a priestly religious teacher. He was a common-sense man of the field who understood how life worked at the most fundamental level. He worked with animals who depended on him for survival. The health of his flocks determined whether his family would prosper. He could manage his life and his herds within the changing seasons. Amos understood life and death, good times and lean times. Kings in palaces surrounded by wealth and power did not impress him. He knew the king ruled only by the grace and will of God and if that king misused his office that good people in the small towns would suffer. Amos feared God more than any man. He was the right man God could use to warn the nation.
So Amos left his herds and he went to Samaria, the capital of Israel. He carried a message from God that was like the roar of a lion. Amos indicted every nation of the region for their foreign and domestic policies that led to war, treachery and regional instability.
He did not spare the people of Judah or Israel. No policy escaped his withering evaluation. He said God would judge the nation “because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble” (Amos 2:6-7).
Social justice was high on Amos’ list of problems to bring up to the king. The wealth flowing into the nation was not being used to establish a culture rooted in God’s law. It was not a matter of capitalism or socialism or any modern “ism” that we may know. Israel had long ago abandoned the foundational social economic system which God had enshrined in law.
The entire national structure was not working. Religion was corrupted. Government was broken. Social injustice and inequity had drained the life out of the people. It was happening in spite of the veneer of prosperity and order. Nations linger for a long time in spite of significant structural problems. Israel’s days as a nation were numbered, but they did not know this. Amos did. He had the unenviable job of bringing the message.
Does all this sound too familiar? America is very much like this today. The recently completed national election was in large part about the economy. The money in the pockets, or should I say, the money that is not in the pockets, of the middle class working person. In spite of the wealth of the nation, there is a growing sense that the future for many working people holds only stagnation and uncertainty. A growing number of people believe that life will not improve—that the American dream of financial security and progress will not happen for them. And there is reason to believe their fears are well founded.
Unemployment and underemployment figures reveal an unequal distribution of wealth and growing inability to fix the systemic problems. One solution is to increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for job growth programs or to fund social programs. Putting money into the hands of the government has not always been the best path toward economic growth and security. On the other hand, market capitalism has shown to promote the worst aspect of human nature at times and the wealthy have increased their already outsized share of wealth.
This unequal distribution has contributed to a culture of anger and distrust of the ruling class. The wealth produced by this strong economy has not been evenly distributed. An economic tide tends to lift all boats, but some boats displace more water than others. In the time of Amos, there was a gap between rich and poor. It’s the same today and the result is severe social problems.
Amos looked at the state of Israel in the mid-eighth century and saw there was little to salvage. The moral and ethical condition of the state was precarious. In his summation, Amos saw a vision of God and a time of judgment on the nation. “I saw the Lord standing on the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake…I will slay the last of them with the sword…and I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good” (Amos 9:1-4).
Amos’ message applies today to the United States, Great Britain and other English-speaking peoples of the world who have sprung from common ancestors. Today’s headlines can be found in these prophecies given to Israel more than 2,800 years ago.
This is a strong warning. It is from God and it applies today to America. This is a time for the nation and any who will hear to carefully listen to what God said to a king through a prophet in the ancient time. It has a modern application. While there may not be a prophet like Amos to walk into the office of a president, there are the words of God that speak directly to the nations today.
Imagine what a prophet of God might say today to the new American president.
He might say, “You are coming into office at the most critical moment in America’s history. America’s position in the world faces the greatest challenge since the end of World War II. The nation’s enemies are at the gates, the handwriting is on the wall. The security and prosperity of this nation and the maintenance of the current world order are at stake. Many wonder what your administration will do to meet the challenges and lead the country. The choice is yours as to which way you, and the nation, will go.”
Right now, I know you must be asking some critical questions. Perhaps you’re watching this program on your iPad while sipping coffee. Your life is comfortable. You have concerns about the present state of affairs but America has always pulled through and of course, it’s still the strongest nation in the world. What’s there to worry about?
The truth is America without God holding back the storm is in a dangerous place. This is a tough message to accept and believe and unfortunately most people are distracted with life and don’t believe it’s possible for America or the west to falter. The Bible and God have been removed from public life. So many don’t know where to go for understanding and for hope.
What is critical for you to understand is this God is patient. He is merciful. But He is also a God of judgment. God is the epitome of long-suffering, ever waiting for sinners to repent. But at the time of Amos’ writing, His patience with the house of Israel was rapidly running out. God had said: “I will spare them no longer” (Amose 7:8). And after showing Amos a basket of mature summer fruit, He sternly stated: “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer ” (Amos 8:2).
What can you do? Honestly, you are not going to change the course of this world, this nation and God’s plan for the nations. But you can let it stir you to a passion for God and for His way. You can do as Amos—warned his hearers to “grieve for the ruin of Joseph.”
You can also make intercession to God for America. Like other prophets before him, Amos did this. Notice. God foretold a plague of locusts upon the land and Amos begged, “…Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” God then changed His mind. Again, later God said that He would bring a fire to scourge the land and Amos pleaded, Oh “..Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” And again God held back (Amos 7:2-5).
Why would God do this? Because He does hear the prayer of a righteous man. Scripture shows God hearing prayers of His faithful servants when intercessory prayer is made. God, is not willing that any should perish. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He wants you to repent, to change your life and turn it around and stop the cycle of death. He wants you to turn and He wants you to live.
Amos’ account shows that even God’s mercy has limits. The sins of the nation were so great that God reached His limit. He said, “I will spare them no longer” (Amos 8:2).
Judgment on Israel occurred about 40 years after Amos ended his prophesies. Israel was taken captive by the Assyrian nation and scattered among the nations. But even with this, God said there would be a future for the people, a regathering. He would not totally destroy the people of Israel. History and prophecy show this has happened.
Today America, Great Britain, Canada and Australia—the major English-speaking nations of the world are proof of God’s enduring promise to fulfill His Word made to His servant Abraham and His descendants. This little known key to understanding history and the Bible is the missing element of modern world affairs.
While we’ve discussed much about the future of America and the world in today’s program, there is still much more to learn and to understand. To help you do this we have a free Bible study aid titled: The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. This valuable booklet will help you better comprehend how the eternal God foretold not only the rise of these two great nations, but also what will happen if—like their biblical ancestors—they rejected the true Source of their blessings.
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I’m joined now by my fellow Beyond Today host, Steve Myers to further discuss this important topic about America and its role in the world today. Steve, these are heavy topics to talk about, very important prophecies from the Bible.
Why is it the responsibility some might ask to follow God’s teaching, why is it so heavily weighted upon America, Great Britain, the English-speaking peoples today?
[Steve] When you think of the blessings that we have in the world, I don’t think there is any doubt that the world recognizes the United States is in a special position. We have been so blessed with so many things. And really when you get down to it, it’s undeniable that these blessings have come from God. When you think of that, the Bible itself tells us that there is no excuse for us not to see these things. It’s interesting that people like to re-write history. And so they look at the roots of America and they say, no it didn’t have anything to do with people believing in God or trusting God, or trying to follow God. But there is no denying, how did America begin? It began with people seeking religious freedom. That’s how it began. That’s why people came here.
And so, it’s ridiculous to think otherwise. And so we have at our roots the concept of God and His teachings and really the truth. And so, it is undeniable when you see what God says about that, too. That what’s happened over the years is we’ve shut God out. And there’s an amazing section that often times you’ve quoted in the beginning of Romans, where it says, we’ve put God out of our thinking. And, so we’ve done that over, and over, and over again in America. And whether it’s a Supreme Court decision on abortion or whether it’s a Supreme Court decision on marriage, those things point to that very fact that we’ve shut God out of our lives, out of our schools, out of our courts, out of our lives completely and so, we’ve shied away from the truth. And now God can’t do anything but hold us accountable for that very thing.
[Darris] Many people recognize the very things we talk about. What you say there about how God has been taken out of the public debate, the public arena. But this particular understanding is unique that our position in the world is due to God’s blessings. Going back to the promises that He made to Abraham. And, while leaving God out is very important, but not following God’s teachings down to even the truths of Scripture are part of this whole matter—that even, as Amos indicted Israel, they went into captivity for. And the Bible’s teachings apply to our country today, even coming down to the true teaching about God on idolatry and the Sabbath.
[Steve] If people would take the time to read the prophets and what they say, God says He’s not going to do anything unless He reveals it to the prophets.
[Steve] And you read what it says. And you will find that not only do these things apply to Israel and to Judah, but when He sends His prophets to the nations, what is that talking about? Those are applicable to today as well and so these are things that by example Israel lived through. And what happened when they disobeyed? When they violated the Sabbath? When they turned their back on God? He warned them, and warned them, and warned them, and eventually, they were carried off into captivity. And those things apply, none the less, to us today. And they are powerful!
[Darris] Now a critic would say or ask the question: Is it fair for God to hold America, Great Britain, the English-speaking peoples accountable for something they don’t understand or know about when it comes to this knowledge that we’re talking about here from the Word of God? Is God fair in doing that?
[Steve] Well God is fair, there is no doubt about it. I think the question then becomes why should we be held accountable? Well, how much do we know? Sometimes we like to kid ourselves that well, we don’t know that much. And I’m always reminded of the story of Mark Twain, who someone asked him one time, “Is it the things that you don’t understand about the Bible, does that bother you?” Of course, I am paraphrasing. And he said “No, it’s the things that I do understand that bother me.” And that is so critical. Our country can recognize very clearly that God’s hand has been here. And when God places His hand upon a people, there is a responsibility that we have to obey. And so, we try to blindly turn an eye to the truth, but God says we can’t do that. We have got to look at what He says and respond to His Word.
[Darris] And let is make a difference in their lives.
This God today stands in the darkening storms that hover over the nations. For the moment, He is shielding America and the other English-speaking nations from those who would attack and bring unspeakable destruction. While we trust in our armies and intelligence to keep the walls secure, this passage we have read actually shows us the true Source of our blessing and security. God is our refuge and our Source of blessing.
It’s time that this nation humbles itself in a deep, heartfelt repentance, unlike anything this nation has ever seen. America, as a world power, needs a great awakening of historic proportions.
We stand in a pivotal moment of opportunity. You can listen to this warning and let it make a difference in your life. The choice is yours.
Thanks for watching our program today. For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please, join us again next week on Beyond Today !