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Scotland at the Brink

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Today, on Thursday, September 18, 4.29 million registered voters living in Scotland will be able to vote on the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The prospect of an independent Scotland has sent shockwaves through the rest of the United Kingdom, and around the world. If the Scots vote “Yes,” Great Britain will, at a stroke, cease to exist in the form we have known for more than 300 years. What does this vote portend for the UK and the world?

Voter turnout is expected to be very high, and the outcome very close. The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), under its leader Alex Salmond, has long worked toward this tantalising moment. Should the “Yes” forces win, two years of complex and far-reaching negotiations with Westminster will follow before independence is officially sealed on March 24, 2016.

Impartial observers largely agree that both Scotland and the rest of the Union are likely to suffer in the short term if a “Yes” vote prevails. Potential benefits to Scotland may be many years away, if they materialize at all. In the meantime, the dissolved union would need to contend with numerous and incalculable consequences of the split.

For Scotland, the future after a “Yes” vote would surely be fraught with risk and uncertainty, as many a high-flown promise would be tested by the harsh and bitter winds of reality. Old military and political alliances would be strained, as the SNP is committed to ridding Scotland of the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine base. And the reallocation of offshore oil assets might be especially divisive. Meanwhile, decisions would need to be made regarding what currency to use, and how adequate financial reserves could be built up. All of these changes would weaken the UK significantly, at a time when it is still recovering from the 2007-8 credit crunch, and while serious problems involving Russia in the Ukraine and the barbarous ISIL movement in Syria and Iraq urgently need resolution.

Yet, even if the Scots vote “No,” the UK can never remain quite the same. The referendum will unleash powerful forces for reform, affecting how the UK functions in and among its respective parts, likely leading to some kind of new federal structure. The UK’s external relationship with the European Union will also come under further scrutiny. UK leaders have made it clear that a “No” vote will lead to additional powers being granted to the Scottish Parliament. But can such powers be granted without also granting more powers to Wales and Northern Ireland, or indeed to England itself, which effectively lacks its own exclusive Parliament?

Certainly, a “Yes” vote would have a profound impact on other aspirant peoples seeking more political power for their cause. Why not an independent Wales, or Northern Ireland, or even England itself, already clamoring for more control over its affairs? Outside the UK, what about the Catalans and Basques of northern Spain, Corsicans looking to separate from France or Flemish speakers in Belgium demanding greater autonomy or even a union with Holland? And the list could go on.

For Tomorrow’s World viewers and readers, the biblical perspective on all of this is of particular interest. Why is this grave new challenge being made against one of the world’s leading nations—a nation that despite its former glories has progressively abandoned belief in God and His prescribed way of life?

The Bible proclaims that it is God who sets up and breaks apart nations (Job 12:23). God is sovereign over all nations (Exodus 19:5) and holds the power over whether leaders come or go (Psalm 75:7; Proverbs 8:15-16; Daniel 2:21). When a nation’s way of life pleases God, He blesses it (Deuteronomy 28:1). When their ways disregard and offend Him, He removes those blessings (Deuteronomy 28:63). This is particularly so of the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman, and the sexual relationship designed to function within that relationship (Leviticus 18:20, 22, 24, 28).

To learn more about the historic role of the UK in Bible prophecy, ancient and modern, order our free booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy. And watch this space for continuing coverage of the Scottish referendum, and of other world events in the light of Scripture.