Despite all the trials, troubles and problems this great nation has endured, the United States has survived. But at what price? And for how much longer?
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The near future. Another Fourth of July arrives. People assemble at a park, setting up lawn chairs, conversations flowing, kids playing and laughing, everyone getting ready for the fireworks to come.
Then the final rays of the sun fade away, replaced by a dark, starry expanse. A fever of anticipation grows among the crowd as it anxiously waits…waits…waits…until the first flare of light shoots into the night. It explodes into multiple colors spread across the indigo-black canvas above. The fireworks have finally begun.
Onlookers cheer and clap. A brass ensemble plays the “Star Spangled Banner.” The people hold their hands to their hearts in patriotic reverence.
This scenario describes the last Fourth of July.
Despite numerous signs to the contrary, the average American citizen takes for granted that his way of life will continue. He is convinced there will be many more July Fourths to come. But he is wrong.
For well over 200 years, this mighty nation called the United States of America has experienced a blessed existence. It has overcome the Great Depression, two world wars, a civil war, pandemics and devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and firestorms. It has resolved the issue of slavery in a land where all men are said to be free. It has had to juggle religious freedoms with the “right” to eject God from public schools and government facilities. It has had to grapple with abortion, capital punishment, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and other “sensitive” hot-button topics that have gone unresolved.
But, despite all the difficulties—despite all the marches, riots, lynchings, assassinations, military campaigns, ever-widening political polarization and national soul-searching—this great nation has survived.
But at what price? And for how much longer?
One day in the future, America will celebrate its final Independence Day as a free nation. Imagine that day was right now: As citizens throughout every state in the union gazed up at the fireworks and listened to patriotic hymns, what would they be thinking?
Surely thoughts of pride would well up in the minds of most. Though U.S. troops are currently bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and under relentless criticism from the international community, America’s military power retains some bite in its teeth. The current President may have many critics, both at home and abroad, but no one doubts his tenacity in fighting the “War on Terror.”
Yet, America’s enemies are increasingly emboldened. They recognize that the U.S. armed forces are over-stretched, actively engaged in two warfronts while elsewhere racing to contain hotspot situations before they reach a volatile stage. No matter how great, no matter how powerful, a nation can only do so much. It cannot police the world.
Other thoughts of pride center on the economy and the fact that America continues to be the “land of opportunity.” Citizens and immigrants alike can still rise above humble beginnings and achieve phenomenal success. They can become leaders in government—local, state and federal. They can start their own businesses and guide them to Fortune 500 status. They can reside in palatial homes, drive gas-guzzling, impractical vehicles, accumulate vast financial portfolios, graduate from elite universities and colleges, and pursue virtually any career.
If there is one thing Americans are most proud of it is their way of life, democracy and the liberties it brings.
For instance, freedom of expression—to create works of art, to publish one’s thoughts and beliefs, to criticize, to denounce prominent leaders without fear of retribution. With this “freedom” comes human nature’s proclivity to “push the envelope,” to see how far past the boundaries of good taste one can go before society declares, “Enough!”
Sadly, these moral boundaries—which were once clear to all—have eroded, faded. Soon they will no longer exist. Even sadder, few people will care.
Americans have the freedom to vote presidents, governors and legislators into office and decide which judges should sit on the bench. However, when such monumental decisions are made, soundness of character is seldom a consideration.
Consider the example of the administrative law judge who tried to sue a small, family-owned dry cleaner for $54 million for losing a pair of his dress pants. Pants! An attorney for the dry cleaners said the owners made three settlement offers, but the plaintiff was not satisfied. Instead, he increased his demands, which included money for renting a car so he could drive to another dry cleaner.
Consider the Nevada judge who has a reputation for throwing pencils to the ground and ordering the bailiff to pick them up. The same judge who orders the bailiff to rub her feet and massage her back. Who calls the court clerk “the evil one” and “the anti-Christ.” And who makes statements revealing her bias against lawyers, especially those who did not contribute to her election campaign.
Such judges are actually being allowed to render life-altering decisions!
Then there is the freedom to believe—or not to believe. To worship the deity of your choice—or to reject religion altogether. America is said to have been founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. Today, this has been replaced by the religion of secularism—moral relativism—situation ethics—political correctness. Its “gospel” is evolution (a theory taught as fact), a message that proclaims human beings are on the same level as animals. Therefore, there is no such thing as right and wrong; no one moral compass by which people should live; no single standard by which behaviors should be judged. Thus, each individual decides for himself how to live.
Fornication, especially among teens?—“Everybody does it.”
Adultery?—“As long as it’s between consenting adults.”
Sexual experimentation?—“Who are you to judge?”
No wonder then the family unit—the basic building block of civilization—has crumbled—has been redefined—shelved. And forgotten.
Then there are those who profess to be religious, who are proud to confess their faith, proud to “witness for Jesus.”
But few religionists wonder why their ministers focus on preaching, “Here’s what God can do for you!” instead of teaching what God expects from those who claim to love Him: obedience to His Law (I John 3:18, 22). Even fewer wonder why their religious leaders preach endlessly about the Messenger (Jesus Christ) but do not announce or explain His message—the all-important kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15).
The issues of this life of which most people are proud are like a house built on sand: It is only a matter of time until the foundation will collapse, and the house will crash to the ground (Matt. 7:24-27).
On this final July Fourth celebration another proud thought would be on the minds of most: America’s boundless wealth and natural resources, perhaps best symbolized by the country’s flowing abundance of food.
Decades ago, when refugees from the Soviet Union or some other totalitarian state escaped to the U.S., they were amazed by the nation’s supermarkets—the limitless variety of fruits and vegetables, grown domestically and imported from all over the world, the varying qualities and choices of meats, the sheer number of grocery stores found in every city, town and suburb.
America’s wealth of food is clearly evident in its diversity of restaurants: Italian, Mexican, French, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, steak house, seafood, gourmet, family-style, all-you-can-eat buffet, fast food, take-out, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, 24/7—so many choices, so little time.
And when people aren’t dining out, they are watching television programs—even entire TV networks—devoted to food: how to cook it, how to shop for it, how to serve it. Yesterday’s obscure restaurant chef is today’s cooking guru elevated to rock star celebrity status.
America’s abundant and vast selection of foods is the envy of the world. In light of the meager existence most people endure in Third World nations, the amount of food the U.S. populace throws away daily is appalling. More than 50 million tons of food are thrown away in the U.S. per year. Each American household throws away 1.2 lbs. of food a day, not including scraps. This translates into $43 billion worth of food a year.
So much to be thankful for, so little appreciation given.
As with almost all decisions in life, when it comes to diet most people choose what is pleasurable—what tastes good—over what is good for them. Enriched (in reality, worthless) flour; white sugar; soda and other artificial drinks; manmade ingredients the average consumer cannot pronounce; virtually everything overly processed, artificially preserved and fried—the typical American meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
No wonder obesity is so common. Someone is eating those “billions and billions served”! No wonder high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are so prevalent! The annual estimated cost for treating obesity in the U.S. is $100 billion.
Yet the people are not to blame, the voices of political correctness tell us. It’s the fast food restaurants that are at fault!, say the lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes. Welcome to an age when overeating is considered a “disease”; when choosing to clog one’s arteries with fried foods rather than regularly eating green, leafy vegetables is considered a “genetic predisposition.”
Whatever happened to exercising character? Instead of eating to live, millions are living to eat, accumulating a “promissory note” that will one day be “paid” in wretched health—for themselves and their children. And who will they blame? The healthcare providers!
Another thought might cross the minds of some who gather for that eventual final Fourth of July: the abundance of recreational distractions.
In times past, people went for walks. Family get-togethers and reunions were common. Family members sitting together for dinner and taking part in lively discussions were routine.
During summer vacation, children played outside, running, jumping, swimming, riding bicycles, flying kites, playing football, baseball and basketball seemingly all day.
Or they read books, expanding their fund of knowledge and inspiring their imaginations. They learned how to think, to solve, to see the “big picture.” And television viewing was limited (in some households, it was intentionally nonexistent).
But not today. The only walks many children take now are from the refrigerator to the microwave to the TV set, where they can snack on something greasy while wasting the day surfing through 500 cable channels or playing the latest blood-splattering video game.
Or they can log on to their computer and venture through the virtual highways and back alleys of the Internet. With millions of websites to choose from, young minds have access to online encyclopedias, news reports from every nation on earth, and other educational resources—yet are also just a few clicks away from every twisted perversion imaginable!
With so many distractions available, the minds and bodies of children and adults alike are deteriorating. This microwave, power windows, air conditioned, high-speed Internet age has produced an unprecedented era of conveniences. In its wake, a lifestyle of shallow recreational pursuits, shallow news reporting, shallow leadership in government and shallow family relations have become the norm.
America’s abundance of idleness is its national curse.
Pride. Fullness of bread. Abundance of idleness. The ingratitude, arrogance, irreverence and depravity that spring from these three are indicators of a nation in decline. The problems, ills and troubles plaguing America—as well as the rest of the world—are physical symptoms of a spiritual condition.
Manmade solutions merely serve as dressing for a festering wound that is cancerous to its core. Savvy politicians, prominent social thinkers, educators, news pundits and other authorities cannot “heal” it. This world’s religious experts are even ignorant of how to address it.
However, there is a source—much maligned by secular thinkers and terribly misunderstood by millions of professing believers—that identifies the root cause and provides true solutions.
The rise of the United States (as well as the British Empire) was foretold millennia ago in an ancient promise God made to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to be fulfilled through the modern-day descendants of Israel: primarily the American and British peoples. (The book America and Britain in Prophecy, written by David C. Pack, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Real Truth magazine, explains this in astounding detail.)
As occurred in ancient Israel, the blessings and opportunities that were given to America have been taken for granted—and, in effect, despised, spat upon by an increasingly secular people. Prophetically called “the house of Israel,” God describes the U.S. and Britain as a “rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me” and “impudent children and stiff-hearted” (Ezek. 2:3-4)—peoples He spiritually calls Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa. 1:10) because of their moral corruption and religious hypocrisy (vs. 3, 10-15).
Notice: “The show of their countenance does witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded [brought] evil unto themselves” (Isa. 3:9).
The modern “house of Israel” has no shame for its immoral behavior. Take, for instance, a news report of an Oregon bus driver who, at the request of an offended passenger, removed from his bus two 14-year-old girls who were kissing each other. The driver was reprimanded. His employers apologized to the girls and their families, adding that the driver “will be disciplined.” The mother of one of the girls hoped his punishment would not “be just a slap on the wrist,” and is even mulling over whether to sue for damages.
Incredible! A real-life scenario that was unthinkable 20 years ago—but no longer. Where is the moral outrage? Where is the shame?
Since God likens the American and British peoples to Sodom—declaring His people have gone even further than that ancient perverted city!—what made that city’s spiritual condition so corrupt, so vile? Notice: “Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness” (Ezek. 16:49).
The laws of God, which were intended to be ancient and modern Israel’s “wisdom and…understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deut. 4:6), have been banned from public display in the halls of government and in public schools. Apparently, leaders are not to be mindful of them in making executive, legislative and judicial decisions, and school children are to remain ignorant of the spiritual values God’s laws would bring to their young, impressionable minds.
No wonder, then, today’s generation of leaders was foretold to be morally bankrupt “wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain” (Ezek. 22:27).
And no wonder a new generation is coming of age—one that “curses their father, and does not bless their mother…that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness…whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men” (Prov. 30:11-14). A new generation that will become tomorrow’s leaders.
Pride. Fullness of bread. Abundance of idleness. These sins were evident in Sodom thousands of years ago, and they are prevalent today.
So the final Fourth of July draws near, and some time afterward national punishment will be administered. It is no longer a matter of “if”—but “when.”
Thankfully, the One who in righteous indignation declares to the nation, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12) also offers individuals a way of escape!