Feb 15, 2009

America's Future: Are we doomed?

The future of America is an oft discussed topic. The prophets and prognosticators came out in full force in the wake of the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001. And, perhaps it is good they've come out with their predictions, because they've caused Americans, many for the first time, to begin to ask questions about the future of America. Uncertainty mingled with a very real and present danger has a way of giving us intellectual, if not spiritual, hiccups.

Those whose Christianity is a nominal visit to the church on special holidays have now begun showing up in services with a little more regularity. They clutch their songbooks with a firmer grip and instead of glancing down at their watch or fiddling with the treasure trove in a purse, their full attention is on the message. They seek to glean seeds of hope, anything that suggests that "everything is going to be all right."

Some of the pulpiteers well versed in the politics of congregational growth and unity know there's a time for balms and a time for the stinging salve that brings the proverbial wince to the face. John Hagee, a Texas pulpiteer of no small renown was quoted by Christianity Today as saying that he believes "WWIII actually began on September 11, 2001." (1)

Still others see opportunity to almost literally rivet the pants of those new faces to their seats, insuring they never again leave the church. Their messages of doom and gloom predict horrid ends for America but always manage to weave into their rhetoric that there is "safety" in the church. There are, of course, some who are more clever and manage to gloss their message with the "true safety being found in Christ," a truth of course, even if preached by some with ulterior motives, to wit, to make their church a foxhole and of course, to gain more "foxhole converts" all of which has the effect of boosting attendance. The longevity as a church member of these "foxhole converts" remains to be seen.

Some prognosticators began their drum roll of "the end" in the nineties, predicting that the year 2000 of course was such a monumental event that it would no doubt usher in "the end," that phrase holding various meanings depending on what "tribe" was holding forth on the issue. In 1998, Daniel Wojcik, author of the book, "The End of the World As We Know It," said he was "shocked" to find 20% of Christians believe Christ will return somewhere around the year 2000. (2)

David Bay, Director of Old Paths Ministries, a ministry of Grace Baptist Church, wrote: "Also remember that the #1 objective of the New Age is to successfully stage the appearance of Anti-Christ. When the anti-christ stages his appearance, he will claim to be an ascended master from another dimension, i.e., an alien being. He is just as friendly as those aliens you have been seeing on tv and movies. He just has our best interests at heart and wants to lead the world into a new, peaceful existence." (3) (It is not clear from Scripture that the anti-christ will claim alien status and the Bible does not indicate that he will be an alien.)

Another writer, Chuck Loefke, who began predicting the "end of the world" some time ago, has a theory that suggests that America is the "seventh" great empire of history and is the last empire prior to the eighth one set up by Satan. (4) Loefke suggests through his article that the American system has become corrupt and has corrupted the entire world with its worldliness and materialism. He says, of the end, though, that it will not come from Russia or China or anyone else, but directly from the Lord. As Loefke put it: "Personally, I believe the Lord will destroy America without the help of mankind. When it happens, it will be quick, complete, and without a doubt, the world will know who allowed it." He suggests it will come from a huge natural reservoir of gas located under the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas called the Hugoton-Panhandle Natural Gas Reserve. He then describes an extra-biblical "vision" of America's destruction as seen by a man by the name of Vince Diehl of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Diehl said he saw a huge comet or asteroid hit the earth precisely over this reservoir of gas which destroyed America.

Prophets of the "end times" have existed almost from day one. The heretic Montanus(2nd Century AD), claimed to have some special insight as to when Christ would return. Of course, he didn't and he knows that now. And we know it, too. And so do all those who followed him into his error.

Tertullian, who was a supporter and follower of Montanus, writing of the nearness of the return of Christ, said: "What terrible wars, both foreign and domestic! What pestilences, famines . . . and quakings of the earth has history recorded!" (5) Each century following had their "predictors" of the return of Christ. Novation was one in the third century, Donatus in the fourth, and in the sixth century Pope Gregory predicted the end was near. He wrote of this imminent return of Christ the following words:

Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world, some we see already accomplished.... For we now see that nation arises against nation and that they press and weigh upon the land in our own times as never before in the annals of the past. Earthquakes overwhelm countless cities as we often hear from other parts of the world. Pestilence we endure without interruption. It is true that we do not behold signs in the sun and moon and stars but that these are not far off we may infer from the changes of the atmosphere. (6)

History's trail is littered with the shards of broken promises made by "prophets" of the end times. Popes and monks, laymen, preachers, women and even kings have made their mark on the pages of history, putting themselves down as somehow having special understanding of the "end times." Far too often, their error has caused many problems in Christianity. Joachim (AD 1135-1202), a Calabrian monk whose writings would later heavily influence the Catholic Franciscan order, planted seeds which would later cause scores who followed after him to enlarge his prophetic errors ranging from believing Frederick II would usher in the new Millenium, (7) to belief by one group, the Taborites, that they were to assist in the return of Christ by forced conversion and murder of those who were "enemies" of the Cross. In their words: "Accursed be the man who withholds his sword from shedding the blood of the enemies of Christ." (8)

In the 14th Century during the Black Plague, predictions of "the end" were rampant. Estimates of the numbers of dead range widely, with most scholars agreeing that up to a third of the population of the planet may have died during the cyclical plague years. There is little doubt that millions perished. Victims died within four to six days from the onset of symptoms (unlike Anthrax which can take a week or more) . (9)

In Asia, the disease was seen as a foreign disease brought to them by merchants. In what is believed to be the first germ warfare military action, the Asians attacked the Genoese city of Caffa and during the course of the campaign, put the rotting corpses, victims of the plague found amongst themselves and along the way, and catapulted them into the city. (10) The result was catastrophic in more ways than the spread of the disease into the city. Some of the merchants who escaped, brought the deadly disease with them and thus spread the disease ever further into Europe.

It would strike periodically, over the next three centuries, perhaps the most devastating being the bubonic plague that struck the London area in 1665-66 where over 100,000 perished. Imagine if such a number of humans were to begin dying in one of America's largest cities. Imagine the book sales! Prophets would come forth to tell us all the great mystery of "why" this occurred.

The invisible death angel that came upon London then was seen as "the end" by scores during that time. (The fact that it was 1666, and the "number of the beast" coincided, didn't help.) Bodies were stacked like cordwood. London and other towns, villages and cities had regular carts come around picking up bodies, though this became problematic when those who were hired to pick up the bodies, themselves became scheduled for "pick up."

In the June 24, 1997 issue of Sun Magazine, (11) they reported that in 1961 the then Pope John XXIII predicted that Doomsday will begin with the detonation of an atomic bomb in a major European city by a Libyan terrorist group. Of course, we recall the prognosticators' dire predictions as to what was going to happen with the "Y2K" event. Many Christian leaders (who ought to have known better) were making "gloom and doom" predictions about the event ushering in calamity that would precipitate "the end." Some of them no doubt made a lot of money with their message.

In the December 21, 1999 issue of Weekly World News (12), Nick Mann reported that thousands of Christians have reported sightings of angels swarming to the Holy Land. He predicted that Jesus Christ "is coming home...within a few months." Gary North, a Christian Reconstructionist predicted doomsday - a collapse of civilization on or before January 3, 2000. It would appear to those of us still reading this material, we missed the bus. And it is probable that somewhere buried in a maze of writings, Mr. North and Mr. Mann has put some "loopholes" in their End Time Contracts with God which permit them to "explain" away their predictions.

A Mormon splinter group called The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (13) allegedly predicted the end of the world would occur somewhere around mid September of the year 2000. Scores of members pulled their children out of school and began home schooling them. Presumably, the kids are back in school. Hopefully, they're learning that not all the leadership tells them is true.

The Terrorist Attacks

Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon said, in remarks about the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks on America: "The USA may be at the height of its powers, but we need to define our national purposes. We used to be confident of our place in the world. Now there's no consensus about what the danger is." (14) Even the politicians are unsure of the future. Kissinger's view matches former President Bush's view, to wit, extermination of the enemy. But clearly he and the rest of the nation are unsure of the future, and even more uncertain as to how to accomplish that task. Talk abounds on the networks about nuclear threats from the terrorists and of biological weapons unleashed that have the potential of decimating the American population. It is clear we are fighting an asymmetrical war.

D.A. Henderson, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Bio-defense Studies feels it isn't a matter of "if" America is hit with a biological attach, but when. In his opinion, "We're likely to see an attack within the next five to 10 years," (15) It is believed that those that hate America will surely bring it here. The fact that unleashing deadly organisms may destroy others of "like faith" doesn't seem to bother the suicide-oriented terrorists.

We don't understand that. We don't comprehend suicide bombers. In the modern era, it's a phenomenon rarely seen. America first saw real, mission-oriented suicide attacks with the Japanese Kamikaze fighters. Israel saw it in the 1980's with the advent of the Palestinian suicide bombers. But its origins go far back in history.

The principle of suicide as a means of killing one's enemy reaches all the way to the 12th century, with the assassins of Alamut who horrified the leadership and the populace living under the Persian caliphate. The Crusaders called them "assassins" and believed that the madness that caused their foe to commit suicide was the result of hashish. They didn't know about, nor did they understand the tenants of Islam that gave promises of lovely virgins and endless sexual pleasures to those who murder by suicide. It's only been in recent days that America has learned what Israel has understood for many years.

One man, Dr Rohan Gunaratna, a specialist on insurgency, predicted long ago suicide terrorism would reach America. According to him, there are at least 10 religious and secular terrorist groups wiling to use suicide as a weapon against their own governments and/or foreign governments. (16) He indicates that besides Osama Bin Laden's network, known as Al-Qaeda, "they include Palestinian groups and organizations in Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, India, Sri Lanka and Turkey." Such words lend themselves to our fears. We see terrorists everywhere, surrounding us.

Rhetoric like that is bombarding us on a daily basis, coming from the politicians, the news media, Hollywood and of course, the "prophets." Unfortunately, unless we take steps to guard out mind, such deluges of "horror information" makes us vulnerable to the prophets of doom.

America in the Bible?

Many of the modern prognosticators have placed America into the Scriptures as Babylon, a place mentioned 260 times in the Bible, second only to Jerusalem. Scholars differ as to the interpretations of who and/or what Babylon means. Some feel it is a religious/political system. (17) Others feel it is a specific city (New York is a favorite choice of the writers), while others have argued it is a nation, with many holding that it is Rome. But, some have selected America.

A typical conservative interpretation is the one given by author Larry Fox: "In Isaiah 18 there are two identical descriptions of an unidentified nation. In verses 2 and 7, it describes 'a people tall and smooth- skinned, . . . a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers.' That is a pretty good description of today's America." (18)

While Fox does not commit to America being found in Scripture, his position is that regardless, in the "end times," America will not play a significant role. This seems to be the consensus of many of the conservative biblical scholars. Others hold to the view that America will be destroyed and is not mentioned in the Bible because our nation does not exist or is so reduced in power and influence as to be akin to a third world status. Many of them hold to the view that New York is the Babylon of the Bible and will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Some hold that the "second beast" of Revelation 13:11, rising up out of the "earth," is America. Lately, there's been a number of programs on television about the year 2012 being the "end" of the world. Even The History Channel has gotten into the market with The Lost Book of Nostradamus.

Take a healthy mix of pulpiteers, the political prophets with their hidden agendas, and the "profiteers" (prophets who churn out the various End of The World books for lots of profit), mix it all up with a healthy dose of some brutally stark, catastrophic events, and you have a recipe guaranteed to make the most lethargic of us pay close attention to the doom and gloom prophets, and everyone else included. We're all looking for answers. We're looking for security. We're looking for hope.

Some of us find hope in the warriors' rhetoric and in their deeds of valor. We see something being done. And that helps. It gives us a sense of security. The concept of "payback" as a deterrent has always been a part of mankind's psyche and though flawed, it does have something of a calming effect on us. We hope that now that we've bloodied them, they'll go away. But deep down inside we've got that funny feeling they will come back-them or their sons or cousins, blood and spiritual and ideological relations.

And, some of us wrap ourselves in a blanket of doom and gloom rhetoric, going from book to book, prophet to prophet, looking to see who has the answers. We listen closely, hanging on every word and highlighting morsels of "truth" gleaned in scouring the writings of the learned. A few, perhaps a rare few, go about their business with little change. These folk see the danger of the prophet's rhetoric as well as it value and have learned to hear but not react-not accept as a declaration by God, the "prophet's" declaration of the "end" time. They've learned to take the truths they hear about the end times for what they were intended by God: biblical truths given to make us wise in our lives and to give us confidence, not fear.

They've also learned from history. (19) As was once said by Hank Hanegraaff of Christian Research Institute: "People who are obsessed with end times have never learned from history. They've been 100 percent wrong, 100 percent of the time." (20)

What Can We Know?

America's future cannot be known by anyone but God. We can make educated guesses about a large number of things about her future. We know, for example that, absent the intervention of God, the probability of America being hurt again by terrorism is fairly high. But, there isn't a whole lot we can do about it. The matter is in the hand of God, not us. We like to think of control as something we have but in reality, if a terrorist with a nuclear device comes into our land, only God is going to stop him.

God can stop him in more ways than we can count. The terrorist will not be stopped by our vigilance, though we ought to be vigilant. He will not be stopped by our superior technology, though we ought to employ it and use it. No, in the end, he will be stopped, if he is to be stopped, by God. Now, God may use us. And, God will certainly raise up some to intervene in prayer. But the future is absolutely, unequivocally in the hands of God.

That may not sound soothing to some of you but consider this: (Nahum 1:7) "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." It would be better to be at ground zero with the Lord, trusting Him, than a thousand miles away without Him.

Is the end near? I like to think it is. Like Paul, I believe the time is short. But we are told to look expectantly for our Savior's appearance. (21) We are to trust in the Lord and not lean unto our own understanding. (22) We can make our present circumstances look bleak and unpromising as did countless Christians, pagans and citizens of our history before us did. Did they have cause to think the end was near? Absolutely. World War II was a cataclysmic event. If a Christian were in those times, it certainly would be a time of wars and rumors of wars. There was famine. There was disease. There were signs in the heavens with missiles and bombs raining down on London. And across Europe, the raining death that came from Allied bombers must have brought conviction to many Christians there that the end had come upon them.

But the end was not yet come.

America faces some serious days ahead. None of us know the path that God will lead America down. It is possible that the reason America does not seem to be mentioned in Scriptures related to the end times is because God spares America. Perhaps America has true revival and God, willing to show His power, refuses to permit America to engage in the end time wars in order to show His power. Perhaps God wants Israel to know the power of God to deliver and not the technological weaponry of America. Is that not a possibility?

Speculation does us no good on this issue. Jesus said specifically: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33/ Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." (Mark 13:32-33). Note that Jesus said twice, emphasizing, that we do not know the time.

He gave us an assignment, though. He said to (1) take heed; and (2) watch; and (3) pray. That is all we can do. And if you wonder what it is that we are to "take heed" about and to "watch" for and to "pray" about, well if you read the rest of that passage, Jesus says: "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35/ Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning: 36/ Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37/ And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." (Mark 13:34-37).

It's pretty clear that we're not to fall asleep, that is, we're not to be inattentive to the work of God and our duties. We're to go about with a watchful eye towards heaven, realizing the time is short and the harvest is ripe. We're to pay attention to our lives. We are to be on guard against the enemies of Christianity. We're to hold up the work of God in prayer. We are to watch for His coming as well as for the enemy's coming. The Lord's time in the Garden of Gethsemane is instructive in this whole area.

Ladies, raise your kids. Cook those delicious, nutritious meals, wash their clothes, love your husband, attend to your chores, work your work...whatever God has placed in your hand to do. Husbands, fathers, care for your family. Do your best for your family. Be a good and godly example for them. Exercise yourself in a godly fashion before them and before all.

Quit yourselves like men.

And to all, go about your lives as though Christ were not returning for a thousand years, but be watchful and expectant and eager for His return, hoping that it will be today. Ignore the prognosticators of doom. Satan uses many vehicles to plant fear in the minds and hearts of God's people, knowing that fear displaces faith.

God has not given us a spirit of fear. (23)

But Satan will...if you let him.

Copyright 2001


1. Christianity Today, Week of Sept. 24, 2001: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/139/32.0.html

2. Barton, David, "2000: All eyes on the millennium," The Sacramento Bee," 1/1/98

3. Bay, David, Radio broadcast, "The Cutting Edge,"

4. Chuck Loefke, "The End Times Information Center," Internet file

5. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness (Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), p. 7.

6. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness (Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), p. 7.

7. When he died without that happening, major revisions were made by the "prophets" of the day which had him returning from the dead to fulfill Joachim's prophetic words

8. Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1992), p. 55.

9. Discovery, "Black Death, http://www.discovery.com/stories/history/blackdeath/pestilence.html

10. Id.," http://www.discovery.com/stories/history/blackdeath/caffa.html

11. Sun Magazine makes a comfortable income making these outlandish predictions. In 1997 it also reported Noah's Ark had been found and inside were some scrolls. On the third scroll the "end" was predicted to be January 31, 2001. Scroll two predicted the melting of the ice caps resulting in world-wide flooding (contrary to the biblical promise of God as found in Gen. 9:11.

12. This publication has put out so many bogus predictions that one has to wonder how they still have a subscription list. One of the latest issues is an article about "how to act when you meet Jesus." Unfortunately, these kind of publications are read (and believed) by thousands of people.

13. Formed in 1929 and ex-communicated by the Mormon Church.

14. Baxter, Sarah, "Kissinger Flies With the Hawks," The Sunday Times, Ltd., http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/09/16/stiusausa01009.html?

15. Williams, Michell, "US Biological Attack Said Inevitable," Associated Press, Feb 5, 2000: http://www.newsday.com/ap/rnmpnt0s.htm

16. Colvin, Marie, "Suicide terrorists find a new way to marry into death," The Sunday Times, Ltd., Sept. 16, 2001: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/09/16/stiusausa01013.html?

17. See a very interesting and fascinating study on Babylon and Revelations 17 & 18 at http://www.bible.org/docs/nt/books/rev/jhk3/rev-27

18. Fox, Larry, "The Supernatural Natural," excerpt at http://www.foxven.com/vcmr.html

19. While I do not vouch for some of the conclusions & positions advanced by the author, for an interesting look at some of history's predictions of the end times, see: http://users.iafrica.com/l/ll/lloyd/6-EndTimeIssues/Predictions.htm & http://www.sullivan-county.com/nf0/y2k/bible_ca.htm

20. AP- Herald Courier, 10/6/2001

21. Titus 2:13

22. Proverbs 3:5

23. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

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