What lies ahead for the United States? The Bible predicts both an American decline and a magnificent rise for the people of the most powerful nation on earth.
In the political arena in the United States, impassioned hyperbole abounds. One major party says it needs to make America great again, while the other says America is doing just fine.
These contrasting views—that the country has serious problems or that it is getting better and doing well—seem to be the underlying tenets of almost every election. The parties simply switch positions based on which is currently in power.
As regular readers of this magazine know, those of us who produce Discern magazine seek to transcend politics. While we deeply care about what happens to our nations, we do not take sides or get involved in politics. Instead, we focus on proclaiming what God reveals through His Word. That message will help all Americans and the peoples of all nations understand Bible prophecy, have a better relationship with God, and receive the benefits God wants to provide for everyone.
In this article we will focus on the United States because the way in which God has blessed this nation and how He will deal with its shortcomings are examples for everyone. Peoples and nations who follow God’s instructions are destined to prosper.
Assessing the United States
According to a poll by the Barna Group, “72 percent of registered voters indicate they believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction.” The percentage among those claiming to be Christians was even higher (“Voters Want a Different America,” May 11, 2016).
The report stated that voters “know something substantial must be done, but either they don’t know what that prescription is or they don’t have the courage to pursue it.” The prevailing perception is that “America has lost its mojo. And they realize restoring it at this point will be much harder than simply maintaining it might have been.”
It isn’t hard to figure out what is causing Americans concern. Racial tension has exploded in many cities across the nation over shootings of young black men by police officers. Adding to the concern was a shooting of nine black church members in Charleston by a mentally unbalanced, young white man during a Bible study. There have also been revenge killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Racial tension isn’t the only problem, of course. A Gallup report earlier this year noted that the “economy tops Americans’ concern as [the] most important issue” (“Economy, Government Top U.S. Problem List,” April 14, 2016). Many are underemployed or have given up on looking for work, as landing a good paying job has become more difficult.
Added to these issues are concerns over immigration, terrorism, the federal budget deficit, national security and dissatisfaction with government.
Even though the U.S. is currently grappling with these problems, it continues to be the most powerful nation in the world. But what will the future bring?
A lesson from history
Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So what does the history of the American people tell us? Let’s not just go back to 1776, when the United States declared its independence. That’s too short-sighted. Let’s go back to the much earlier history of the ancestors of the people who formed the United States of America.
America and the blessings of Abraham
Careful biblical and historical research shows the pre-1776 history of today’s Americans goes back to the Israelite tribe of Manasseh. Manasseh and his brother, Ephraim, were granted the birthright blessings of Abraham that had been passed from generation to generation. The peoples from these two brothers were prophesied to rise as a “great” nation and a “multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:13-20). This blessing was never fulfilled during the time of the ancient Israelites. It has only come to pass in recent centuries. But we’re getting ahead of the story.
As one of the tribes that comprised the ancient Israelites, the early history of Manasseh is tied in with the history of ancient Israel. And the narrative is really quite simple.
Cause and effect and America’s ancestors
God gave them many blessings because of His promises to Abraham and because He wanted them to be a model nation. But the law of cause and effect was still in force. When the ancient Israelites obeyed God’s laws, their nation prospered. When they disobeyed, their country declined.
Sadly, disobedience became the norm. When they continued to disobey, their divided kingdoms fell to conquering nations sent by God to punish them for their sins. This eventually happened to both the northern tribes of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 17; Jeremiah 52).
Having ignored the warnings God gave them through His prophets, the ancient tribe of Manasseh, along with the rest of the tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel, fell to the Assyrian Empire in 722-721 B.C. Over the centuries, the descendants of Manasseh, along with those of their brother tribe of Ephraim, migrated west to the British Isles.
New nations, same instruction from God
In fulfillment of the latter-day birthright promises given to them by their grandfather Jacob, the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh became Great Britain and the United States of America (Genesis 48:13-20; 49:1, 22-26).
To learn more about the biblical and secular evidence that connects the American and British peoples to these ancient brothers, see our booklet The United States, Britain & the Commonwealth in Prophecy.
As the recipients of many of the blessings of Abraham, these people of all peoples should obey God’s laws. These instructions include worshipping Him on the seventh-day Sabbath, observing the biblical holy days, helping the poor, treating everyone with respect, living moral lives, upholding the traditional family, practicing truth and honesty, and keeping the 10 Commandments.
Unfortunately, most Americans (and Britons) ignore these biblical teachings and no longer uphold traditional moral values. They mistakenly consider them to be outdated and irrelevant to life today. As a result, the God who does not change and who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) will once again punish these peoples for breaking His timeless, beneficial laws. (For further explanation, see the articles in the Life, Hope & Truth “Where Is America in Prophecy?” section.)
Punishment to come: American decline
This future punishment—called the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7)—will come upon Jacob’s descendants, which include the United States and Britain. God says to these peoples, “I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished … because your sins have increased” (verses 11, 14).
And what will the punishment be? The answer is found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, where both the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience to God’s laws are laid out.
Punishments for disobedience include economic disaster (Deuteronomy 28:16-18), mental illness (verse 28), “extraordinary plagues … and serious and prolonged sicknesses” (verse 59), drought and starvation (verses 24, 53-57), military defeat and captivity (verses 25-26, 41). Read all of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 for a more complete explanation of this terrible time to come—with conditions worse than any other time in history (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21).
The good news is that the prophecy in Jeremiah also notes that the modern-day descendants of Jacob “shall be saved out of it [this punishment]” (Jeremiah 30:7).
Restoration: a return to greatness prophesied for America
A return to greatness is prophesied for the American (and British) peoples, as a part of the restored 12-tribed nation of Israel, after they repent of their sins and turn to God. The Bible reveals that this will occur after Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Speaking of conditions the descendants of Jacob will enjoy when they turn from their transgressions during the millennial reign of Christ, Isaiah prophesied: “The abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. … Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders” (Isaiah 60:5, 18).
The economic problems and violence within America’s cities today will give way to prosperity and peace because, as God explains, “your people shall all be righteous” (verse 21).
The lessons for everyone
While there are many lessons that could be drawn from the biblical prophecies about the modern-day descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, here are two important ones.
First, if Americans and the peoples of other nations will repent of their sins and turn to God, they will not have to suffer the punishment predicted for them. As God explains, “If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it” (Jeremiah 18:8).
We must remember that God loves the peoples of all nations and wants to bless everyone. The proverb states it succinctly: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Second, while we cannot single-handedly change others or control what our nation will do, we can change our own lives for the better. As the apostle Peter explained, “In every nation whoever fears Him [God] and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35).