How can a word that America is in decline and will not be restored be “good”? Because the nation has been utilized by God to impact the earth on so many levels, it is difficult to understand for many believers, who believe that God desires to restore the nation. That is how they pray and what they work towards. This system of belief cannot fathom what redemptive purpose God could have in breaking the economic, political and social structures of the nation – but that is exactly the view that we are putting forth.
STATE OF THE UNION:
Polarization & Political Gridlock
Polarization is in the U.S. Congress is at an all time high, and it derives from both sincere ideological differences as well as deliberate exploiting of those differences in order to win elections. Healthy debate, building coalitions and bi-partisan lawmaking is essential to the function of a democracy. During the 20th century – as American Empire was expansive and robust – the Congress was a highly functional body as measured by bills proposed and passed into law. But the last few years it has dramatically worsened. The level of gridlock is now higher than its previous apex 150 years ago, in the immediate post Civil War era, when deep divisions polarized the nation.
Polarization reduces the capacity of Congress to govern, causing Standard and Poor’s to downgrade America’s credit rating in 2011 for the first time in history, noting that: "American governance and policy making become less stable, less effective and less predictable than what we previous believed."
Prophetic Perspective - where is this going? Gridlock and ideological extremism will lead to:
✓ Extremely adversarial election process which will further deepen the rifts in 2016
✓ Continued downward spiral in the economy over the long term
✓ Inability to create a cohesive foreign policy in America's relations with the rest of the world
✓ The splintering of the federal system and the very probable secession of states
This series of articles is to provide you with the tools to assess this prophetic perspective which is the basis for our book The Arc of Empires, written to equip people to partner with God and stand strong in the midst of the crisis. Every word from God must be ultimately redemptive because that reflects the nature of God Himself. There are two key aspects of redemptive purpose that underlie the decline of America:
1. The crisis in the earth is a sign of the presence of God and His readiness to bring deliverance.
2. The crisis is a call to His people to engage in reformation and transformation.
1. The Crisis is a sign in the earth of the presence of God and His readiness to bring deliverance. A generally accepted view among believers is that God is absent from the affairs of the nation, which has led to its devolving right before our eyes. But the example of our brothers in Ancient Egypt shows us that God is walking in the earth, breaking the nations in order to deliver His people. People wonder “where is God?” We proclaim: He is here! The plagues of Egypt weren't just natural disasters or random events; they were a strategic assault by God against the darkness which held God’s people captive.
We know it was true in Ancient Egypt because the Scriptures strip away the facade and reveal the inner workings of God’s purpose that were behind the plagues. But the people living then didn't have the Scriptures – they had to know by faith and by prophetic decree that God was in the crisis and it was redemptive, even while it was destabilizing everything around them. They had to look beyond Pharaoh and perceive the will of God, just as we must look beyond Obama (and whoever will win in 2016) and recognize there is purpose in the decline of the nation.
“where is God?”
We proclaim: He is here!
He is breaking the nations in order to deliver His people
Crisis is the environment of the End Time Church, a truth which is repeated over and over in Scripture. Jesus said crisis would be a sign of the end of the age: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Mt 24:7-8). International upheaval, instability in the nations and multiplied natural disasters are the things that mark the end of the age, and they are called “the beginning of birth pains”. That means that like birth pains they will increase both in frequency and in intensity until God’s purposes are fulfilled.
Malachi proclaimed that the time Elijah was sent would be the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal 4:5). Elijah represents a powerful prophetic and apostolic dimension – he is “sent” by the Lord to equip the end time church. The time of these ministries which come in the spirit of Elijah is described as “dreadful” - the Hebrew word is yare. It means to be afraid, or to terrify and make afraid. It also means to hold something in awe or to inspire reverence. The word describes a fear of the Lord and His supreme mastery over the earth, and the nations coming to a new fear of God through catastrophic events which occur: “You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners' stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will honor you; cities of ruthless nations will revere (yare) you” (Is 25:2-3).
The second word Malachi used to describe the nature of Elijah’s sending is “great”, which is the Hebrew word gadol. It means to be large in magnitude or extent, to be intense, to be loud and to be great in number. The word is specifically used to describe the crises within Egypt when God was breaking the children out of slavery: “So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great (gadol) terror and with miraculous signs and wonders” (Deut 28:8).
The crises are God bringing us out with
a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,
with miraculous signs and wonders
When the two words yare and gadol from Malachi’s prophecy are combined and used together as descriptors of Elijah’s appearance, they describe a time when a great number of intense and forceful realities occur that inspire fear, terror and awe in the nations. It is a time when crisis is hitting the nations with increasing pulsations of intensity and frequency, and the nations are being overwhelmed. Our concepts of God must be enlarged and we must come to know the Sovereign God who both exalts nations and also breaks them. The breakage of American life is a sign that God is present and is working to bring deliverance to His people. The crisis is redemptive!
2. The Crisis is a call to His people to engage in reformation and transformation. There is a dramatic difference in God’s people between the first and tenth plagues. When Moses first arrived and announced that crisis was the new normal, the people of God largely rejected what he said. The Bible states that Moses spoke of deliverance and freedom, but “They did not heed Moses because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage” (Ex 6:9). But at the end of the process the entire nation – every single house – was walking in exact obedience to the Lord’s requirements as revealed through Moses.
"People will not spontaneously evolve into maturity; they
must be led there. Leadership is vital in the Body of Christ."
This requires the release of an authentic leadership component in the Body of Christ. Dr. Noel Woodroffe, the apostolic leader of Congress WBN, says, “People will not spontaneously evolve into maturity, they must be led there. Leadership is vital in the Body of Christ.” If God is calling His people towards reformation and transformation, leaders must go first and be personally transformed.
How can we recognize these leaders God is equipping? It won’t be by carnal ways of measuring success, such as popularity or the size of their church. There are key processes Moses went through that every authentic leader in America must also engage in. First, God delivered Moses from his loyalty to Egypt and his nationalistic bias: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (Heb 11:24-25). Church leaders focused on national restoration are not equipped to lead the people of God in this crucial hour. Nationalism is a toxin to spiritual leadership because it builds a false system of loyalty which affects a leader’s ability to hear God accurately. It creates a filter that presumes the correctness of the national standard, or which assumes national restoration is God’s agenda. This leads to severe warps in interpreting and understanding God’s purposes.
God used Moses to lead the people away from a focus on Egypt and instead put their focus on God. Our ancient brothers didn't pray for a new and improved Egypt; and we don’t need a restored America. We need radical transformation! We must invest our lives in reformation and in radical personal transformation. Those who do not respond to the crisis by making themselves ready by engaging in a process of internal transformation will not be equipped to stand as God deals with the nations.
|God used Moses to lead the people away from a focus on Egypt. Our ancient brothers didn't pray for a new and improved Egypt; and we don't need a restored America. We need radical personal transformation!|
Moses was transformed by God, and he then led the nation of Israel through a massive transformation process. The vital role of Church leaders is being re-emphasized by the Lord; God wants to get to the people to empower them and secure their families just as He did on the night of the Passover, and leaders are the God ordained doorway into the people. Therefore, leaders must change. Church as usual will no longer suffice. There must be a heightened transformational component – not just teaching the Word of God, but interacting with new levels of grace that comes through authentic apostolic relationship and transforms the people.
What is the Crisis Producing?
If you asked an Israeli in Ancient Egypt if he thanked God for crisis, he would say yes. He found God in a new way, was transformed in his identity, his family came to new levels of faith and obedience and they moved decisively towards deliverance – all because of the crisis. We can say that the crisis in the earth is designed to produce:
Faith not fear
✓ Confidence not uncertainty
✓ Partnership not passivity
✓ Movement not paralysis
✓ Maturity not immaturity
For Further Reading:|
It’s Worse Than it Looks, Thomas E. Mann, Norman J. Ornstein, (New York, NY; 2008) Basic Books
Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches, Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, Howard Rosenthal, (Cambridge, MA; 2008) MIT Press
Look How Far We’ve Come Apart, NY Times, 2012 (source of chart in online version)