Throughout this current election cycle, we have heard the U.S. presidential candidates say a lot about American greatness. One candidate, Donald Trump, has used the phrase “Make America Great Again” as the slogan for his campaign. This phrase is now found everywhere from baseball hats to bumper stickers. It captures Mr. Trump’s message that America is in decline and that his leadership is needed to restore it to greatness.
On the other side of the race, Hillary Clinton has used the slogan against Mr. Trump, accusing him of an inaccurately negative portrayal of the country. She has tried to campaign with the positive message that America still is great—and that her leadership will continue and accelerate policies she believes will make it greater.
Political slogans aside, Americans have used the adjective great to describe their own nation for years. Books describe America’s “rise to greatness.” U.S. politicians refer to the United States as “the greatest nation in the history of the world.” In addition to great, they have extolled the nation as “the last best hope of earth” (Abraham Lincoln), “a place called Hope” (Bill Clinton) and a “shining city on a hill” (John Winthrop and Ronald Reagan).
But is America great? And, if so, why is it great?
Is America really great?
Though different people would define greatness in different ways, people around the world generally recognize that America has been and still is a great nation. Consider some reasons why:
- Several times throughout its history America has joined its allies in defeating tyrannical regimes to bring freedom to millions of people, defeating the Central Powers in World War I, the Axis powers in World War II and Soviet communism in the Cold War.
- America has the largest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product about $7 trillion more than its closest competitor (China). Some of the world’s greatest technological innovations have come from America, and these have been a major factor in its economic might.
- America has been generous. Programs such as the Marshall Plan helped the world recover from the devastation of World War II. Though other countries today give more as a percentage of gross national income, the United States is still the biggest donor by virtue of the sheer size of its economy. In 2014 the United States provided $35 billion in economic aid to other nations (the top five recipients being Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan and Pakistan). Most of this aid is for military assistance, but substantial amounts of humanitarian and development aid go to developing nations (particularly in Africa).
- America has made national mistakes, but it has also shown the desire to correct many of them. For instance, though slavery was legally practiced for 89 years of its history, after a bloody civil war, the United States made slavery unconstitutional and slowly provided equal civil rights to the descendants of African-American slaves.
Of course, America also has its critics, and for every measurement of greatness, others can find faults. But it is undeniable that since the end of World War II, the United States has led the world, becoming the only current superpower. Its military, economic and cultural influence on the world has no equal in our modern world.
Because of his faith, God made certain unconditional promises to Abraham.
America’s true founding father
Why did the United States rise from 13 small colonies of the British Empire to become the most powerful nation on earth today? Is there more to America’s rise than the factors a college professor might list—cultural, geographic, economic and historical? Is there a missing dimension to the source of America’s greatness that you can’t find in an American history textbook?
Many would be surprised to learn that the real source of America’s power goes back much further than 1776. In fact, it predates the Declaration of Independence by more than 3,500 years. Before there was George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; before there was Lexington and Concord, Valley Forge, the Battle of Gettysburg or the World Wars—there was a man named Abraham.
No, not Lincoln.
This Abraham did not live in North America. In fact, he lived thousands of miles away in the Middle East. This is the Abraham of the book of Genesis—the man three religions trace their roots back to. You may be wondering, What connection does Abraham have with the United States of America?
Over the past two years, I have been involved in a major project to write a booklet that thoroughly answers that question. In July of this year we were excited to finally publish this 120-page booklet, which is titled The United States, Britain and the Commonwealth in Prophecy. The booklet begins with the story of Abraham and how he demonstrated living faith in the Creator God through four major tests he experienced. We only have space for a condensed overview of the story here, so please download the booklet free of charge for more details.
Because of his faith, God made certain unconditional promises to Abraham. One of those promises, which is known as the birthright blessing, involved Abraham’s descendants inheriting vast physical blessings—including land, natural resources and ideal agricultural weather—and becoming multiple nations long after Abraham’s own lifetime. That blessing was passed down to certain of Abraham’s descendants. It went to Isaac, then to Jacob and was eventually passed to Joseph’s two sons—Ephraim and Manasseh.
Many assume that these blessings were fulfilled historically through the ancient kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon. But, as you will read in the booklet, this simply cannot be the case if we are to trust what God actually promised in the Bible. The booklet shows how many of these promises (which were also prophecies) go far beyond what Israel ever received in ancient history.
One of Joseph’s sons was promised to become a great people (or nation), and the other was to become a multitude of nations (you can read that in Genesis 48:19). Combined with other detailed prophecies in the Bible, the booklet shows why we believe these promises were fulfilled through the United States, Great Britain and other nations of British origin.
Making history make sense
Not only does the booklet cover promises and prophecies God made thousands of years ago, but it also tells the inspiring story of how they were fulfilled in modern history. Things you learned in history class will take on much greater meaning when you understand how they are connected with biblical prophecies.
For example, you will learn:
- How and why the northern 10 tribes of ancient Israel went into captivity to the Assyrian Empire—and what happened to them after they supposedly became “the lost 10 tribes.” You will learn why they weren’t truly “lost”—instead becoming known by different tribal names as they migrated out of the Middle East.
- How a portion of the Israelites came to possess the British Isles and then spread throughout the world—building an empire that encompassed lands in nearly every corner of the globe.
- How that British Empire was able to literally rule the seven seas through its control of a network of strategic sea passageways and islands. The booklet will show you where the Bible prophesied about this specifically.
- Why the American Revolution was successful despite the odds.
- How and why the United States grew from 13 small colonies into a weak isolationist nation—and later became the most powerful nation in the world. Or, in other words, how America became great.
As you read the booklet, you will see how Bible prophecies come to life in modern history, demonstrating the unmistakable power of God to declare “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). You won’t come to just an academic understanding of prophecy and history—you will also, hopefully, come to know the true God at a deeper level by seeing His unshakable faithfulness to His promises and His awe-inspiring power to shape history to accomplish His will.
Ultimately, the booklet is designed to take you full circle. It begins describing Abraham’s faith in God and how he demonstrated that faith through obedience. Then it shows the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies God made as a result of that faith. It concludes by helping you to see your personal need to develop that same faith and obedience to God in your life.
American greatness in proper context
Though the booklet shows the origin and cause of American greatness, it also presents a dimension of the issue that you won’t hear from politicians or historians. It shows why neither of the major presidential campaigns is entirely correct in its angle on American greatness.
Neither campaign understands the true source of American greatness, the real issues that are leading to a weakening of that greatness and the only path back to greatness. The final chapter of the booklet shows in plain and, frankly, strong language the deep moral and spiritual issues that are leading to America’s decline and why there is only one true path to make America great again.
Sadly, neither candidate is running on or talking about that path. That’s why we believe this booklet is so desperately needed today.