Has God abandoned us, or have our societies turned against Him? What tragic consequences will come of the West’s disbelief?
The shocking events of the year 2020 led many to worry and wonder as never before, “What is happening to America and the West?” How could the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation suddenly burst into flames, with killings, riots, torched buildings, looted stores, anarchists taking over portions of cities, and ordinary citizens fearful for their lives? How could a nation respected around the world for its political system find itself so sharply divided, with partisans on each side firmly convinced that the other was seeking the nation’s ruin?
On a larger scale, why have other nations seen their own versions of what the United States has endured? Why are democracies around the world, built on Western values, erupting in flames and violence? What has shattered the social unity in nations once admired for their stability?
Few today see the real connection between the growing social chaos and the fundamental changes that have transformed the Western world over the last several centuries, let alone the rapid changes of the last few decades. Although we have experienced incredible revolutions in scientific understanding, the ease of global travel, and the development of computers and the Internet, the most profound changes in the Western world have involved what people believe, as seen with the rise of secularism in what has historically been referred to as “Christendom” and with growing doubts about God and the Bible. This has led to the precipitous decline of Judeo-Christian culture and the rejection of a morality strongly influenced by the Bible—a morality that formed a vital part of Western civilization’s very foundation. As a result, that civilization’s very survival is in question, as cultural changes work to tear it apart from within.
This might sound like an unwarranted assumption or overblown assertion—however, the facts are stunning and sobering, though few in the media, academia, politics, and even religion are connecting the dots. Even more surprising is that the Bible, which many consider just a collection of myths and legends, actually foretold that these momentous events would occur at a critical point in time. The Bible also reveals why these shocking events are suddenly erupting today and where they are leading. You need to understand and be prepared, because there are important lessons to learn from this major cultural shift occurring across the Western world.
It is no coincidence that the decline of biblical morality has been accompanied by the growing prevalence of divorce, cohabitation, drug abuse, abortion, homosexuality, sexually transmitted disease, mental illness, and even suicide. Yet many today do not realize—or do not want to acknowledge—that these pathologies are the fruits of seeds that have been sown over several centuries in the West, especially over the last few decades.
One tragic consequence of modern schools’ efforts to curtail the study of Western civilization is that few understand just how much religious belief has changed over the last few centuries. Failing to educate people about the Bible has eliminated a vital perspective on our world—especially the Western world. Many today have been taught that religious beliefs are largely irrelevant, that biblical morality can be cast aside without consequence, and that important lessons recorded in both God’s word and secular history can be ignored. According to the pied pipers of modernity, these “progressive” changes are moving us forward toward a brave new world on the winning side of history. This dangerous and short-sighted view has blinded us to the real significance of dramatic events occurring today—and to where these changes are leading us.
The rise of Western civilization—in particular, the unparalleled prosperity of the United States, Great Britain, and the Commonwealth nations—was not a matter of coincidental good fortune. History shows that the West has a heritage that has largely been forgotten. The Bible reveals that God promised Abraham and his descendants that if they would obey His instructions, they would become great and be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:1–3). In Genesis 22:16–17, this promise of national greatness was made unconditional; that is, such national greatness would come about, even if later lost due to disobedience. This promise has been fulfilled in remarkable ways among Abraham’s modern descendants, including the “Israelite” peoples of northwest European descent. (See our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy for details.) Yet when Columbus set sail in 1492, he had no idea he would discover a continent that would be developed by Abraham’s descendants.
Many of the values that Western civilization took for granted for centuries were rooted in biblical teachings. Yet few today understand that some of Jesus Christ’s earliest disciples spread His teachings into Europe and the British Isles, promoting the virtues of compassion toward neighbors, honoring one’s parents, respecting women, and rejecting the wrong use of sex—including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. These teachings included the importance of giving versus getting and the value of mercy, justice, and service to others. While Europeans have not always adhered well to these teachings—especially as European Christianity increasingly apostatized from the true faith—Western civilization was transformed for the better to the extent they were observed.
Because of the biblical perspective that God created the universe to function according to laws that could be discovered and used for our benefit, science could thrive in the West and remarkable discoveries were made in physics, chemistry, and medicine that improved the lives of millions. Values enshrined in legal documents of the West promoted freedoms that attracted immigrants. These facts are part of the historical heritage of the West that modern generations have forgotten—because they are no longer taught, only derided. One of the tragic consequences of disbelief is that many in the West do not even know their own history.
Sadly, after centuries of thriving under a somewhat biblical worldview, tragically flawed new seeds were planted in the soil of Western civilization during the so-called “Enlightenment” period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Philosophers came to believe that human reason was superior to divine revelation, and that science was not the fruit of biblical understanding but was rather a replacement for that understanding. The discoveries of science, not a returning Messiah, were soon considered mankind’s true hope. In the mid-nineteenth century, philosopher Karl Marx theorized that communism and socialism made religion irrelevant and that eliminating the family, private property, and biblical morality would bring a more just society. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution fed on this new godless approach, appearing to make the Bible irrelevant for “modern, intellectual” mankind.
As these intellectual seeds have taken root and “blossomed” throughout the West, Christian ideals and biblical moral values have wilted and withered. Robbed of knowledge of their true history and fed a package of bankrupt philosophies and speculative lies, it is no surprise that many who live in Western nations—including millions living in the modern Israelite nations that inherited the blessings God gave to Abraham—are wondering what is happening to their culture and civilization.
Indeed, why are all these troubles in modern Israelite countries erupting today? And will the collapse of Western civilization be just as astonishing as its meteoric success? What does the Bible say about the future of these ideas?
Ideas have consequences, and the idea that religion is useless and irrelevant in our modern world has blinded many to vital information in Scripture that explains what is happening. For instance, the Bible records that God gave His laws to the Israelites so they could be a positive example for the world (Deuteronomy 4:1–8). He entered into a covenant with the nation of Israel, promising to bless them as they obeyed His laws but also to visit curses upon them should they ignore and disobey those laws (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 28). Moses warned the Israelites, on behalf of their Creator, that “it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15). Those curses included “confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me” (Deuteronomy 28:20).
With these prophecies in mind, it is sobering to note that even as President Donald Trump set out to “Make America Great Again” and leaders in Britain anticipated a brighter future outside the European Union, everything suddenly seemed to head in the opposite direction with the arrival of 2020. Scripture makes it clear that turning away from God and ignoring His laws—which condemn fornication, divorce, adultery, abortion, homosexuality, lusting, killing, lying, and stealing—will bring serious consequences, which include increasing social chaos and eventual sudden destruction. More than 3,000 years ago, Moses warned, “I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:29). Sadly, Moses’ sobering warning is no longer common knowledge, because reading the Bible in schools has been abolished and his words are seldom read to modern church audiences who want their pastors and ministers to preach messages that make them feel good about themselves.
The prophesied curses for disobedience to God and His laws are actually quite specific: “But if you do not obey Me… if you despise My statutes… I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever.… Those who hate you shall reign over you.… I will break the pride of your power” (Leviticus 26:14–19). While activists in the West are busy “redefining marriage,” undermining support for the biblical family, and promoting abortion and homosexuality, we witness terrorist attacks in Western nations that are transforming our society piece by piece—as anyone walking through security in an airport is quick to observe. The “advanced” and “developed” nations of the West are plagued with heart disease, cancer, the ravages of sexually transmitted diseases, and now a coronavirus pandemic—all as their “pride of place” among the nations of the world continues to fade and become tarnished. These prophecies are coming to life, yet few are connecting the dots.
And still more prophetic warnings are coming alive today. Moses warned the Israelites that because of disobedience to God and His laws, those of different nationalities would come to dominate them: “The alien who is among you will rise up higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43–44). Today, peoples within the Israelite nations are becoming more bitterly divided by race and ethnicity than they have been in generations, with many demanding reparations for past injustices and apologies for perceived privileges. Various pressure groups—with help from commiserating academics, politicians, theologians, and commercial organizations—are working to discredit and rewrite the history of Western civilization. Nations that were once major donors to the world are now major debtors to foreign nations unfriendly to Western ideals. It is a sad commentary on our modern age that these remarkably accurate prophecies are hardly mentioned in schools, the media, or even in churches. Rather, most today assume biblical religion and prophecy to be out of date and irrelevant to our modern world. But that is a dangerous assumption.
Both biblical and secular history remind us that the Israelites, who were given the laws of God and were delivered from their enemies by His intervention, eventually turned away from Him and went into captivity in Assyria and Babylon—despite multiple warnings from the prophets. Disbelief was at the heart of their problems. Jeremiah’s sobering warning has ominous implications for modern Israelite nations today. He proclaims, “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But my people have changed their Glory [their true God] for what does not profit.… Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the Lord your God when He led you in the way?... Your own wickedness will correct you” (Jeremiah 2:11, 17, 19).
Many modern nations with non-Christian backgrounds have retained much or all of their ancient belief systems. Confucius’ values survive in China despite Mao Zedong and communism. Ancient Hindu values and Islamic counterpoints frame much modern political debate in India. By contrast, the Western nations have undergone a massive cultural and spiritual shift away from even a pretense of their former values—beginning in recent centuries and accelerating in recent decades. And the shift does not bode well for the future of the West.
The magnitude of the West’s shift away from God, the Bible, and Christian moral values has been shocking. While the U.S. and Britain still retain an image of attachment to faith—placing “In God We Trust” on currency or singing “God Save the Queen” on ceremonial occasions—that image is a thin, pale shadow compared to the substance of the past. Consider the “Founding Fathers” of the United States. The nation’s first president, George Washington, stated in his farewell address that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” His successor, John Adams, wrote, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time… I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just….”
Even Benjamin Franklin, despite his irreverent morality, recognized the importance of a nation’s connection to its Divine Benefactor. He reminded the members of the Second Continental Congress, “In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered…. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need its assistance?”
Longtime readers of this magazine will recognize that the “Founding Fathers” had already departed in various ways from the true Christianity that Jesus Christ taught. (For more on this topic, read “What Happened to the Christianity of Christ?” on page 12 of this issue.) Yet they were far, far ahead of most leaders today, as they retained a respect for God’s word and a desire to uphold the truth of God as they understood it. Their biblical foundation, even when shaky, let the nation continue to receive God’s blessings for quite some time. As U.S. President Harry Truman was able to note with joy, “Our forebears were a people who read one book. Happily for them and for us that book was the Bible.”
Today, however, increasing numbers in the West now see their nations’ founding principles as more burden than blessing, and movement towards a more faithless, godless society is the tragic result. Prayer and Bible reading have been banned in public schools, and military chaplains have been forbidden to pray in Jesus’ name. Street preachers have been arrested for citing certain Bible verses in response to questions, while taxpayers bear the burden of supporting behaviors the Bible clearly calls sin. Churches that once held crowds of worshipers are sold and converted into buildings that have nothing to do with religion—or are simply abandoned. All this is occurring today in nations that once claimed to be havens of Christian culture.
And these are just outward signs of a much bigger problem. God, through Jeremiah, tells a generation wanting little to do with Him that their fathers may have been distracted by “other gods” and various false religious ideas, but “you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know” (Jeremiah 16:11–13).
Can nations, cultures, and entire civilizations change their fundamental beliefs and practices without suffering dire consequences? Can they reject their religious heritage like a useless old shoe and still continue to exist? While many in the West have swallowed the lie that religion and biblical morality are irrelevant, outdated, and clearly on the wrong side of history, more perceptive voices reveal a sobering message about the tragic consequences of disbelief and distrust in God.
Historian Christopher Dawson once observed, “The suppression of the family means not progress, but the death of society, the end of our age, and the passing of European civilization.” In his book Enquiries into Religion and Culture, Dawson notes that “the society or culture that has lost its spiritual roots is a dying culture, however prosperous it may appear externally.” Research analyst George Barna reported a similar condition in the U.S. in his book The Seven Faith Tribes: “The United States is clearly immersed in a down cycle.… [We] ought not be surprised by the cultural chaos and moral disintegration we see and experience every day. Such conditions are the inevitable outcomes of the choices we have made that are designed to satisfy our self-interest instead of our shared interests.”
These sobering assessments of modern Western culture certainly echo the sobering warnings God sent to the ancient Israelites. “They sow the wind,” He says of the rebellious descendants of Israel, “and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). The prophet Jeremiah looked ahead and saw a time of trouble for Israelite descendants that would dwarf any other period in history with its suffering (Jeremiah 30:4–7). But he saw, too, that the Israelites would eventually be “saved out of it” at Jesus Christ’s return to the earth to set up the Kingdom of God.
The lessons of history are clear: There are tragic consequences for disbelief, and no nation or people can afford to give up their trust in their Creator. “In God We Trust” must be more than a slogan on a nation’s currency. Sadly, the modern Israelite nations of the West have forgotten that there is a God who “makes nations great, and destroys them” (Job 12:23–25), that “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:20–22), and that He still “rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:25). But you need not make the same mistake. You need to—and you can—understand these powerful lessons to be prepared for what is coming in the days just ahead.