Why Compare America to Egypt and not Rome?
In one sense every empire in history is comparable because they were all built on the same principles and therefore have the same basic shape or architecture. For example, there is always an imperial center that extracts resources from the margins. That is what was in play when Caesar issued a decree for a census in the colonies whereby everyone had to return to their hometown to pay taxes, a decision God superintended to ensure that Christ would be born in Bethlehem as prophesied hundreds of years previously.
Rome has captured the attention of history as the greatest empire in history, and there are definitely some strong comparisons between Rome and modern America. For example, the American political system where there are three branches of government so that no one branch holds complete sway was a Roman invention. Rome had a very active Senate even though there was an Emperor, a radical concept for that time in history. The concept of a veto was also taken from the Romans, as was the emphasis on individual freedoms enforced by the legal system with things like trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, the right of appeal, etc.
The empires of Rome and America also compare militarily. In 2005, America had 38 large and medium sized military facilities spread around the globe in 2005. These are only major military bases, not the hundreds of smaller bases the U.S. built across the earth, and they are mostly air and naval bases for bombers and fleets. By comparison, Rome had 37 bases at the height of their empire in 117 AD. We could also include Britain’s empire in the military comparison; at their imperial zenith around 1890 they had 36 naval bases. Although separated by thousands of years and significant advances in military technology, these remarkably similar numbers caused one political analyst to speculate that perhaps the optimum number of major citadels and fortresses required for an imperial power to dominate the world is somewhere between 35-40.1
Why Ancient Egypt?
Why then, if there are so many valid points of comparison with Rome, did we compare Modern America with Ancient Egypt? The answer is simple and somewhat ironic in that Arc is not really about empires at all – it is about the fulfillment of God’s ultimate purpose. God requires that His people come into greater partnership with Him while He is in the process of shaking the nations and systems of the earth. The Arc of Empires describes that the releasing of plagues in Ancient Egypt is a Biblical metaphor that describes the series of crises which are hammering the earth in our day. The events in Ancient Egypt occurred so that we who are living at the End of Time would have understanding and patterns of how God will move in the final act of redemption. No other empire in history contains that parallel. That is why we can say that:
- The crisis in the earth is a sign of the presence of God and His readiness to bring deliverance.
- The crisis in the earth is God's urgent call to the Church to engage in reformation and transformation.
- The crisis in the earth signals a time for a mass movement of the Church to positions of final maturity in the Faith. We cannot afford to to be immature in a time of crisis.
- The crisis in the earth is God's chosen environment for bringing the Church into mature partnership with Him to bring about the Finish of His purposes.
The Arc of Empires documents the Biblical reality of crisis being part of our movement to the Finish of all things, and is a call to the Church to make herself ready for ultimate events. The greatest danger, therefore, is to have misunderstanding of the End Times and to diminish the importance of God’s requirement that the Body of Christ mature and grow into fullness to accomplish His purpose.
It’s almost uncanny how often a movie is released right at the time God is emphasizing a truth in the earth. By that I do not mean the movie glorifies God or affirms the truth, but instead it distorts it and seeks to divert people’s attention away from what God is really doing. For example, the movie The Apostle came out just a few years after true apostles were being restored by God to His Church. Robert Duvall directed the movie and also played the starring role, winning an Academy Award nomination in the process.
But the character portrayed certainly bore no resemblance to the authentic apostolic reality we were experiencing. The “apostle” of the movie was a Pentecostal pastor with no power to build and no revelation of the nature of God. He had a poorly built family including an adulterous wife, and in a fit of rage he killed his wife’s boyfriend with a baseball bat to the head.
The focus of the film is him running for his life and then starting his ministry anew, a process that is filled with error and distortion when compared to authentic apostolic reality. He manufactured his own spiritual re-birth in which he baptized himself an apostle and then began to build another church in a new city while also pursuing a woman who had a troubled marriage. The apostle gets in a fight to defend his church and one of his parishioners is heard to comment “I never seen a preacher fight like that”.
In essence The Apostle released values that are completely contrary to the Biblical descriptions of authentic apostolic leadership, including:
» Poorly built family life that is sacrificed for the sake of ministry
» Breach of covenant, lust, divorce
» Self-transformation rather than being changed and equipped by God
» The concept that apostolic leadership can be bolted on to existing church
structures and mentalities
The movie is not the primary culprit in the vast distortion of the apostolic that exists today – but it certainly reflects the warp experienced in the wider Church where many are called “apostle” but their lives and ministries look nothing like the Biblical reality. Like Duvall’s character, many in the Church today assume a form of apostolic ministry but they refuse to walk in the levels of death to self demanded by God for personal transformation. Instead they transform themselves, and utilize ministry titles to build their own ministries (and their pocketbooks) rather than build up and equip the Body of Christ.
I don’t think there is a Hollywood conspiracy or that the actors and directors are deliberately attacking our faith. Hollywood simply puts out movies it thinks will make money. In Duvall’s case it was a personal project that no studio would get behind; he finally had to finance it himself, and when he screened his movie at the Toronto Film Festival studio heads actually got up during the film to go outside to bid on it. Nothing like a little lust, adultery, murder and violence sprinkled with a hint of a guy starting over to make movie executives salivate.
Beyond the natural activities of writing scripts, directing and acting, there is often spiritual intent that opposes God’s purposes, even if none of those involved in the movie business are aware of it. Consider the recent release of Noah, who the Bible declares is an icon for the End Time church because Jesus said “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt 24:27). Noah is a builder of God’s purposes, a righteous man who attracted God’s gaze and who was given a responsibility to move God’s purposes towards fulfillment. Peter writes that “God waited patiently while Noah built the ark” (1 Pet 3:20); we are being built by God and our process of maturity becomes a time clock of God’s dealings with the earth at the end of time. But instead of focusing on our movement towards more intense levels of partnership with God’s purpose, the movie has people gazing at Russell Crowe interacting with a false version of God portrayed as angry and vindictive.
Likewise the recent Hollywood epic The Exodus portrays Moses as an ambitious terrorist leader often angry with the purposes and ways of God rather than the patriarch of covenant and law who led God’s people. The movie trailer featuring Christian Bale snarling and brandishing a sword is enough to separate the movie from the Biblical reality all by itself. These two recent releases affirm from a negative perspective that the comparison with Ancient Egypt is quite apt and correct.
Of course the primary issue is not movies – it is attempts by the enemy to bring confusion, distortion and ultimately a lack of true movement in the earth towards fulfilling God’s purposes. Arguments and theological debate around the 10,000 differing views of the End Times serves the same goal. Darkness wants to sow confusion into the very people that God wants to draw near to walk with Him to the End of Time.
Yet I am filled with faith and hope that the people of God will rise up and partner with Him regardless of all the obstacles thrown against us. God is doing a work within His Church; He is identifying those who are hungry for His Kingdom, and putting within them a new zeal to migrate away from limited positions and historic dysfunctionalities. New spiritual resource is flowing from heaven into God’s people, transforming and empowering us to live strongly in the End Times. We are in the same process as our ancient brothers who overcame massive obstacles to rise up and partner with God as they walked with God through the crises of their day. Consider the following “Exhibits” excerpted from The Arc of Empires that testify to the powerful work of God among His people in Ancient Egypt:
Exhibit 1 – From Anger and Rejection to Partnership
When Moses began to confront Pharaoh on Israel’s behalf in Exodus 5, the response of Israel was one of anger and rejection. They did not like Moses. They rejected his leadership and they even negotiated with Pharaoh to remain in slavery. It did not even cross their minds that they could be free. Yet, by the time the Passover came, the entire nation of Israel was heeding the commands and instructions of Moses. Every family had to kill a lamb and put blood on the doorposts of their houses lest the Angel of death kill their firstborn. In the Biblical account, not one Jewish family was afflicted by death because each father, mother and child had come to the place of hearing the voice of God through Moses and following his commands. Clearly significant transformation had taken place in the perspective and attitudes of an entire nation before they were delivered. Like the children of ancient Israel we must also discover that process.
Exhibit 2 – From Single to Corporate
When Moses arrived in Egypt to confront Pharaoh, he stood as a single man with only Aaron at his side. But by the tenth plague the partnership was extended beyond Moses to all of Israel. An entire nation was brought into an understanding of what God was doing and they all acted in a manner that allowed Him to accomplish His will to set them free. At the beginning there was one man; but by the end, it was an entire nation. What facilitated this transformation that empowered all the people, not just one prophet?
Exhibit 3 – From Fracture to Cohesion
At the beginning of the confrontation between God and Egypt, the picture of Israel was one of a community who fought among themselves, rejected God-ordained leadership and had no social structure except what Egypt allowed them to have. By the time the tenth plague had arrived upon the land, Israel had become organized by families, entered into community life and care for one another, and had abandoned their own preferences to embrace God’s. How did a nation become unified as the empire they lived in was becoming increasingly fragmented by successive and unrelenting crises?
Exhibit 4 – From Unbelief to Faith
When Moses first reminded the people of Israel of the promise of God to Abraham on their behalf, his words were met with disbelief and disdain. The promises of God had been relegated to mere historical accounts incapable of ever becoming relevant to their present-day reality. The people had prayed and groaned to the point that they had Heaven’s attention and a deliverer was sent, but when he arrived they discounted him. They all prayed, but no one expected that deliverance would happen in their lifetime. But by the time the final plague arrived in Egypt, every Israelite was convinced that God was about to bring His word to pass and that they were the ones whom God had spoken of to Abraham hundreds of years before. Their posture had been transformed from one of disbelief to one of faith, from one of disdain to one of deep reverence. Where did this faith come from? How was it nurtured and built inside the people during a time of devastating crisis?
God worked in His people who were enslaved in Ancient Egypt, and He is mobilizing and maturing His people in our day. The Biblical clues which point to their transformation reveal that there is massive spiritual work being done by God in the hearts of His people today. We have to respond to that. While the earth staggers from crisis to crisis – ISIS, Ebola, the economy, social and political policy which erode a nation – God is building His people. That is the approved focus for a believer that is moving towards the End of Time!
1 Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis, (New York, 2006) p 138
Look for upcoming articles that deal with the question: Will America be Restored?