By Mark Cathey
Over the last two months, most of my contemplative thoughts have been dominated by three separate lines of study and the intersection of those studies has produced thoughts I’ll attempt to share.
First has been the presidential campaign and election this year. It drove my “due diligence” efforts to new levels as I attempted to identify Biblical values and find God’s will in an election process that had most of us frequently asking,
“How has our country come to such a state?”
I’ve found some potential answers to this question in the second and third areas of study that I’ll touch on in a moment. As for the election, I was left voting values that were apparent to me: the sanctity of life, religious liberty and a conservative judiciary. Time will tell where our country will go from here. Though the election has been heralded as a victory for Christian values, the fact that the national majority vote was in opposition to the values listed above, raises the question, “what will ultimately become of our country?”
My second area of study focused on Historian David Barton’s The American Heritage Series videos, a study undertaken jointly by several adult Sunday school classes at Riverlawn. The videos recounts the true history that recognizes the godly influences at work during the birth and formative years of our nation. These videos also highlight the work of revisionist historians, activist judges and humanist educators, that commenced in the early 1900s, and moved forward at full speed with the 1962 Supreme Court ruling that removed prayer from public schools. This event triggered the removal of references and supportive teaching that reinforced Christian values and morals in our society. They were replaced initially by nothing, but eventually increased immigration and shifting student populations drove concepts of multiculturalism in the 80’s and 90’s to the forefront of the classroom. The result, intended or not, has been the continued stripping away of the Judeo-Christian foundations of American society that were the source of blessings from God, and replacement of those foundations with an unstable mix of stones representing the cultures and religions of every race we allow into our country as well as the values of marginalized people groups such as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.
I’d say public education certainly fits as a significant factor when one wonders how America has come to the place it is at today.
It seems our country continues to move further and further from God as depravity and wickedness is celebrated publicly. Lord, hear our prayers!
Finally, several members of my church family have been absorbed in studies of prophesy during the past year and discussion with them drove me to my third area of study: Revelations and prophesy. In prior readings and study of the book of Revelation, I have always been struck with the question of where is America during the Chapter 16 Battle of Armageddon. For whatever reason, we don’t seem to be present. How could this be?
The answer is obviously that the United States of America no longer exists, at least in our present form.
I recently listened to Pastor Greg Laurie of Riverside, California preaching a sermon titled “America and Armageddon,” in which he offered the following three possible scenarios that could bring American absence about.
The first scenario is that America had been destroyed in some manner of nuclear attack. This doesn’t seem likely but it must be admitted that it is a possible outcome in a world that contains upwards of 25,000 nuclear warheads.
The second and more plausible scenario is that the USA has simply declined as a world power. The prophet Isaiah tells us in chapter 40 verse 15, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales.” Great civilizations of the past (i.e., Babylon; Persia, Greece and Rome) all ultimately faded into history. Historians frequently make comparisons between America and ancient Rome; Pastor Laurie uses two separate quotes to draw interesting parallels between the two empires. Will Durant, American Writer, Historian and Philosopher, wrote the following in his book, “Caesar and Christ.”
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.”
From Juvenal we have the words of a First-Century Poet who had firsthand vision of Rome’s demise. In his Roman Satire X, Juvenal wrote, “… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”
Interestingly, Roman politicians passed laws in 140 B.C. to keep the votes of poorer citizens, by introducing a grain dole: giving out cheap food and entertainment, “bread and circuses” became the most effective way to rise to power. Sound familiar?
Pastor Laurie’s third scenario for an “Armageddon absent America,” is that our prayers are answered and our nation experiences an unprecedented nationwide spiritual revival! In this scenario, a huge percentage of Americans would leave during the Rapture and the remaining country stripped of key people would decline immediately from super power status.
We live in a fallen world and our God allows it to be so. We wish for the ability to end this national slide away from righteousness but we must remember that it is not our role to fix God’s world! He will do that in His own time.
Our role is to have faith, keep our Joy and glorify God with our works sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we see. I’d say our Riverlawn goal to be a church making disciples who make disciples is right where the Holy Spirit wants us to be and we’re ready to glorify God doing our part!