The Rise and Fall of the United States: A Biblical Perspective

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust” (Isaiah 40:15).

U.S. FlagThe United States is a relatively young country. It had its beginning when thirteen colonies declared their independence and defeated the mighty British army. From its beginning, its citizens have enjoyed liberty. This liberty led to prosperity, which led to the United States becoming the most powerful nation in the world.

However, the United States is still just “a speck of dust on the scales” of Almighty God. Lately this country has seemed to be in decline – morally, economically, and in terms of personal liberty. Will this decline result in the inevitable fall of the United States? No one knows. But it does have people asking questions:

  • Does the United States hold a special place in God’s plan?
  • Has God blessed the United States because of its founding upon Biblical principles? (Not that it is a “Christian nation” – there is no such thing.)
  • Is the United States in danger of divine punishment for the growing tolerance and practice of sins like abortion and homosexuality?

In this article, we are going to examine certain passages of Scripture that will help give us some perspective as we consider the rise and eventual fall of the United States.

God’s Chosen Nation

In the Old Testament we read of the nation of Israel being God’s chosen people: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Yet the Old Testament also contains prophecies of a new kingdom that would be established (Daniel 2:44) – not the same kingdom restored. So what nation or kingdom is God’s chosen one today?

God’s chosen nation today is not the United States – it is the church. In writing to Christians, Peter said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). These Christians that made up God’s “holy nation” were not united upon the basis of a common citizenship in an earthly kingdom. They were all “living stones” who were “being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus came to be king, not over an earthly kingdom, but over a kingdom which “is not of this realm” (John 18:36-37). This kingdom needs to be our top priority. Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

God’s Use of Nations in Biblical Times

As our opening text from Isaiah indicates, God is far above every nation that has existed or will exist. Nebuchadnezzar was told, “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Daniel 4:25). While God ruled over all nations, there were certain nations that would play a role in God’s larger plan. Nebuchadnezzar’s nation – Babylon – had a specific place in God’s plan, as did a few other nations. But what was their purpose?

The nations that God used in the Old Testament had one thing in common – they were used in a way that related to the coming of Christ. Egypt would provide the place for the children of Israel to grow into “a great nation” (Genesis 46:2-3). The nation of Israel itself was established and the lineage preserved so that the promise of the Christ could be fulfilled (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Zechariah 8:12-13). The kingdoms referred to in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires – were all leading up to the “fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4) when Christ’s kingdom would be established during the time of Rome (Daniel 2:44).

God’s Purpose for the United States (and Other Nations)

Because God had a specific purpose for certain nations in the Bible, many assume that the same must be true for the United States. However, no modern nation is mentioned in the Bible – nothing beyond the Roman empire. All we can say by faith (Romans 10:17) is what the Bible says. Anything beyond this is opinion and speculation.

The Scriptures teach that God has a purpose – a divinely ordained role – for every nation. They are to punish evildoers and protect the innocent (Romans 13:3-4). They are to provide and maintain a free environment “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2). Every government – including the government of the United States – has this as their divine purpose.

Sin: Consequences and Divine Punishment

As our government forsakes its divinely-appointed purpose and our society becomes more immoral, do we have to fear divine punishment for such things? In other words, as God punished nations (not just individuals) in the Bible for sin through wars, captivities, pestilence, economic hardship, and more, will He do the same to the United States today? Notice some important points:

  1. Without divine revelation, we cannot confidently affirm divine action – “Surely the Lord does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). When God punished nations in the Old Testament, there were prophets who revealed God’s message indicating that those nations were suffering God’s wrath for their sins. We do not have prophets working like this today (1 Corinthians 13:8). We also have no Bible prophecy that refers to the United States. Therefore, we have no Scriptural basis upon which to declare that God will punish this country for sin.
  2. Sometimes tragedies just happen – “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’” (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus spoke of two tragedies – one caused deliberately by man and one caused by an accident. In both cases, there would have been a tendency for men to attribute some divine action to the tragedy as a punishment for sin. Yet Jesus told them not to jump to such a conclusion. As the wise man wrote, “Time and chance overtake them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
  3. There is another punishment for sin – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The death that comes as a punishment for sin is not physical death, but rather is one that is contrasted with the “eternal life” offered through Christ. The punishment for sin that we need to avoid today is not physical death (or any other type of physical hardship), but rather is a separation from God for eternity in hell (Revelation 20:14-15).

Even though we cannot affirm by faith that God will punish the United States as a nation, what we can affirm by faith is that sin often has negative consequences that come with it. Solomon said, “Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous [transgressors, KJV] is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). As the people of our nation because more tolerant toward and engaged in the practice of various sins (abortion, homosexuality, divorce for any cause, slothfulness, Islam, etc.), there will be negative consequences. We are seeing many of these consequences of sinful behavior in our generation. Without a change in the people, these sins and their consequences will only get worse.

What Do We Need to Do?

The United States will eventually fall, whether this is in two years or two hundred years. But as Christians, we are part of a kingdom “which will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). While being a citizen of the United States certainly has its advantages, we must remember that first and foremost, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

We also need to pray for “all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2). Why is “a tranquil and quiet life” important? Paul explained: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Liberty and security are the best conditions for the gospel to be spread. We must pray for our leaders that we might be able to enjoy our natural, God-given rights unhindered so that we may be able to influence as many people as possible.

As we try to influence others, the Scriptures teach that there are certain things about which we must try to persuade them:

  1. Persuade them to believe the gospel, for it is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16).
  2. Persuade them to give up sin by obeying the truth (John 8:32-34). If everyone was obedient to the word of God, civil government would not even be necessary (Romans 13:3-4, 8-10).
  3. Persuade them to put their faith in God, not in man. The psalmist wrote, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).

Conclusion

With everything that is happening in our society and around the world, many wonder if God is with the United States today. But we should take comfort in this fact – God is, and always will be, with His people (Matthew 28:20). Notice what Paul wrote to the saints in Rome:

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Let us be sure that we remain faithful to Him, no matter what happens in the world around us.


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Comments

  1. Very good. False views of divine providence lead some to speculate about some special divine influence that God allegedly exerts over and through the United States. Millions of slaugtered babies is not the work of God. It is the work of free agents who misuse their free agency. Gay marriage is not ordained of God. It also is the work and practice of sinners. Free agency empowers people to either strengthen their nation, through principles of righteousness, or destroy it by sin (Prov. 14:34).

  2. While I do not have any sharp disagreement with your article or conclusions, I may differ in one area. We no longer have prophets but we do have the written word which was designed to replace them. (1 Cor. 13:8-10) As a result, I can see no indication in Scripture that God would change his manner of ‘ruling thru the nations’. An example to serve as comparison is the idolatrous lifestyle of the Israelites before they were finally punished by the hand of God by way of Assyria is very similar to the abortions, homosexuality, etc. referred to by one of those comments on the article. My conclusion is that there is no need for N.T. Scripture or prophets to remind us of how God rules among the nations. As your passages indicate, He has told us the role and responsibilities of governments.

  3. Jim, thanks for your comment. It is certainly true that God reigns supreme over all rulers today just as He did in Bible times. It is also true that sin has terrible consequences, even for a society at large. The question is whether God is the active force behind these consequences today or if He simply gave us warning in His word and allows these things to run their course. When God was active in judging nations in the Bible, He always preceded such judgment by specific prophesy about it. Without such prophecy today, we should be hesitant to conclude that these consequences are God’s direct judgment as opposed to the natural consequences for sin that God allows to happen.

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  1. […] Because God had a specific purpose for certain nations in the Bible, many assume that the same must be true for the United States. However, no modern nation is mentioned in the Bible – nothing beyond the Roman empire. All we can say by faith (Romans 10:17) is what the Bible says. Anything beyond this is opinion and speculation. (The Rise and Fall of the United States: A Biblical Perspective) […]