What signs tell us we are living in the end of the age? Prophecies in the Bible about ancient Israel’s disobedience also apply to nations in our world today.
Most professing Christians have heard the biblical message that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). However, many today seem to have forgotten that God “chastens” every son that He loves (Hebrews 12:5–7). The Bible is filled with examples showing how this warning has applied to both individuals and nations down through history.
Professing Christians widely believe that the Old Testament has been superseded by the New Testament and that we no longer need to be concerned about that portion of Scripture—except perhaps to read the book of Psalms for occasional inspiration and the book of Proverbs for advice. However, we are plainly told in the New Testament that “all these things [recorded in the Old Testament] happened to them as examples, and were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The clear implication of this verse is that if we forget or ignore these examples and this admonition, it will be to our peril—especially as the end of the age approaches.
We also live in an age when a great many critics claim that the Bible is not a divinely inspired book, saying it was only written by men and that no one can unfailingly predict the future. However, there is strong evidence to back up the Apostle Paul’s pointed claim that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). God reveals through the prophet Isaiah that He alone can predict the future and then bring it to pass (Isaiah 46:8–11). Though many people own Bibles, few realize that nearly a third of the Bible is prophecy, that many of those prophecies are dual, and that many are focused on the end times in which we are living.
These prophecies contain important warnings about major world events that are going to strike specific peoples because they have forgotten or ignored vital lessons that their ancestors failed to learn.
Today, many are told that the Bible is only a collection of myths and stories that are no longer relevant to the modern world. However, the truth is just the opposite (for details, see our informative booklet The Bible: Fact or Fiction?). The Bible is actually a carefully preserved record of, among other things, God’s dealings with the patriarch Abraham and his descendants. Because of Abraham’s obedience to God’s instructions, God promised Abraham and his offspring that they would be a special people chosen for an amazing purpose (Exodus 19:3–6). The Israelites were given God’s laws to set them apart from other nations in order for them to be lights—positive examples to the world. To confirm this, God made a covenant with the Israelites that if they obeyed His laws, they would inherit blessings promised to Abraham, but if they disobeyed, they would be punished (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
The sad story recorded in Scripture is that the Israelites began turning away from God soon after they came out of captivity in Egypt—setting up idols, worshipping foreign gods, complaining against Moses, and violating God’s laws. Eventually, most of the first generation of Israelites, whom God had delivered from captivity in Egypt, were forbidden to enter the promised land—and they died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:26–34). This punishment is recorded in Scripture as a lesson for their descendants.
After entering the promised land, Israel reached a certain peak under King David’s son Solomon. But they forgot the lesson they should have learned from their ancestors that God blessed their nation as they obeyed and followed His laws. Eventually, Israel divided into two feuding, sinning nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. God then sent both disobedient nations into captivity—Israel to Assyria and Judah to Babylon. As time went on, neither the nation of Israel nor the nation of Judah inherited the major promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of possessing the gates of their enemies (Genesis 22:17) and in the case of Joseph’s sons—Manasseh and Ephraim—becoming a great nation and a great company or commonwealth of nations (Genesis 48:8–20).
The Bible records how God supernaturally delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, made them His chosen people, and gave them His laws so they could be lights to the world. However, God punished them for violating and rejecting His laws and worshipping other gods. These important lessons were recorded as a warning for the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites.
Thus we begin to see what the sins and punishments of the ancient Israelites have to do with us today. Historical sources reveal that the descendants of the biblical children of Israel are none other than the people of the modern United States of America, the British-descended peoples, and the peoples of other nations of northwestern Europe (see our booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy). These nations have been the recipients of blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But few understand that the continuance of the blessings these nations enjoy is dependent on their obedience to the God who gave those blessings, just as it was for their forefathers.
More than 3,000 years ago, Moses warned the ancient Israelites, “For 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). Today, in the Western world, nations that were founded on biblical principles of morality are actively promoting behaviors that the Bible condemns: divorce (Malachi 2:16), adultery and fornication (Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10), homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27), drag queens (Deuteronomy 22:5), tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), and abortion—the killing of their own children (Exodus 20:13; Jeremiah 2:34). Prior to the 1960s, many of these evil behaviors were not just frowned upon; they were illegal. Most did not dare to do these things openly. But in recent decades, these behaviors have been promoted and celebrated—in active defiance of God’s laws.
The prophet Jeremiah, writing around 600 BC, pointed out that while pagan nations had not changed their gods over the centuries, the Israelites, despite God’s promised blessings, had embraced different and false gods, following in the footsteps of their ancient forefathers (Jeremiah 2:11–13). And this is just as true today. Rather than embracing and guarding their biblical heritage, the modern descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim (e.g. America, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand) have embraced “gods” of their own making, such as secularism, evolution, materialism, and atheism. Instead of using the Bible and the laws of God as a guide for behavior, these modern post-Christian nations now view the Bible as a “strange thing” (Hosea 8:12).
The prophet Hosea warned the Israelites that “because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” and convicted them of having “dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children” (Hosea 4:6; 5:7). Today, headlines report on the precipitous decline in professing Christianity in England and Wales (Telegraph, November 29, 2022) and the mass exodus from professing Christianity that is underway in America (Grid News, December 17, 2022). Studies also show that more than 40 percent of young adults have no religious affiliation—a stark contrast from colonial America 200 years ago, when more than 90 percent of people were professing Christians.
Jeremiah also warned the Israelites that because they have forsaken their God and perverted their way (2:17; 3:2), “I will certainly bring calamity on this people—the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it” (6:18–19), and that calamity will come “suddenly” (6:26). Moses warned the ancient Israelites that if they would not listen to the voice of their God they would experience a national decline and go into captivity in a manner that would astonish the world (Deuteronomy 28:15, 37–48). This is what lies ahead for modern Israelite nations that have forgotten God and their true national identities.
It is also sobering to notice that secular historians are writing about the same things that these ancient prophecies have long foretold. Nearly 30 years ago, in 1994, researcher Jim Nelson Black recognized what was happening, writing in When Nations Die about ten warning signs of America’s culture in crisis, foreseeing that America was going down the same road of cultural decline as ancient Greece and Rome. In 1996, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington wrote Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order in which he described the decline of the West and the rise of other nations. In 2000, the European historian Jacques Barzun wrote From Dawn to Decadence to catalogue the last 500 years of Western civilization—a period during which Israel’s descendants dominated the world. In 2011, British historian Niall Ferguson wrote Civilization: The West and the Rest in which he commented that “we are living through the end of 500 years of Western ascendancy” (p. xv).
These authors are not alone in their assessments. In 2011, Patrick Buchanan, an advisor to three U.S. presidents, wrote Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? He warned that America is tearing itself apart. “America has taken on the aspect of a decadent society and a declining nation.... What once united us is dissolving. And this is true of Western civilization” (pp. vii, 7). This is the world we are living in today, and Bible prophecies have been warning about the same dangers for several thousand years.
Today, many people sense that something is seriously wrong in the world, but they do not understand that Bible prophecies have long warned that a time of trouble would come for the Israelite-descended nations in the latter days (see Jeremiah 30) because they would turn away from God and reap what they have sown (Jeremiah 2:17–19). In fact, they have sown “the wind,” and they will “reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). Jesus warned that His followers should watch for the emergence of world conditions that will fulfill these ancient prophecies just before His promised return (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
The handwriting is on the wall for the modern descendants of ancient Israel. We need to remember that God is a God of love and that He has a plan for all people. But God also chastens those whom He loves, to teach them that blessings come from obedience to His laws, while ignoring the warnings that God provides brings the serious consequences of disobedience. The question we each need to ask is, will we heed those important warnings, or will we repeat the mistakes of our ancestors?