How Great Nations Die | Telecasts | Tomorrow's World

How Great Nations Die

How Great Nations Die

Amidst debt, natural disasters, and war, one common factor sets every nation in history on a course to fail. Join Wallace Smith in this video as he shows from Bible prophecy the number one cause of collapse—immorality.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

What Causes the Death of Nations?

The world has seen many powerful nations whose wealth, influence, and reach would understandably cause any who dwelt within them to believe they would last forever—yet the path of history is strewn with their ruins. Today, two of the past century’s greatest powers—the United States and Great Britain—are on the verge of joining the failed states of the past. But, the true reason why goes generally unacknowledged.

Join us today on Tomorrow’s World as we explain how great nations die.

Economies in Turmoil

While many would, perhaps, rather not admit it, much of the modern world has been crafted over the past century by the economic, military, and cultural success the United States, Britain, and British-descended nations of the world have experienced.

As U.S. foreign-policy expert Walter Russell Mead said in his insightful 2007 book God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World,

It is unpardonably vulgar to say so, but in three hundred years of warfare, the English-speaking powers keep winning. To put this another way, either the British or the Americans or both have been on the winning side of every major war in which they have participated since the late seventeenth century. That history of victory shapes the world we live in…. The Anglo-Saxon powers did not just win wars. They changed the way the world lives, thinks, and organizes itself as much as any of the great civilizations of the past… (pp. 13–14).

It’s true. The United States, Great Britain, and the other English-speaking nations of the world have had an incredible impact on world culture and way of life, completely out of proportion to their size. The United States, in particular, has been the sole remaining “superpower” of the Cold War era—a financial juggernaut and a military power the likes of which the world has rarely seen before, if ever.

But things change. The higher the climb, the farther the fall.

Let’s briefly take a look at only one indicator of the current strength of these Great Nations: Their economic status.

The wealth of the United Kingdom was once considered the envy of the world. And today, the United States is still considered by many to be the chief financial engine powering the world’s economies. But just how trustworthy is that engine?

Looking under the hood to examine more closely—or, under the bonnet, for our friends in the UK—doesn’t give cause for hope.

It’s hard to report on American national debt because it is growing so quickly that numbers quickly become outdated!

But as of right now, as I am recording this program, that debt is more than 30 trillion dollars—that’s more than 97 thousand dollars for every single living, breathing citizen of the U.S.—from the newborn to the elderly!

That means that the U.S. public debt is currently about 120 percent of its gross domestic product—the financial output of the nation (“Federal Debt: Total Public Debt as Percent of Gross Domestic Product,” FRED Economic Data,, July 26, 2023).

And as noted by the non-partisan Peter G. Peterson foundation, “[w]ithin 10 years, net interest costs [Note: INTEREST COSTS] will exceed federal spending on crucial programs like Medicaid and [national] defense” (“Interest Costs on the National Debt are On Track to Reach a Record High,” Peter G. Peterson Foundation,, February 16, 2023).

Across the Atlantic, the UK is hardly doing better.

As reported by The Guardian in June 2023,

The UK’s total government debt pile in May reached more than 100% of annual national income for the first time since 1961 as state borrowing more than doubled, according to official figures.

In a blow to [Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak’s plans to cut taxes before the general election, which is expected next year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said net debt reached £2.6tn as of the end of May, estimated at 100.1% of gross domestic product (GDP)

(“UK government debt rises above 100% of GDP for first time since 1961,”, June 21, 2023).

And the citizens, personally, are hardly doing any better than their overspending governments.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data recently reported,

Total household debt [in the U.S.] rose by $148 billion, or 0.9 percent, to $17.05 trillion in the first quarter of 2023…. Mortgage balances climbed by $121 billion and stood at $12.04 trillion at the end of March. Auto loan and student loan balances also increased to $1.56 trillion and $1.60 trillion, respectively, but credit card balances were flat at $986 billion (“Household Debt and Credit Report,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York—Center for Microeconomic Data,, 2023).

Of course, economic troubles are only one sign of a nation’s declining health and power. We could spend the rest of our program today looking at others.

For instance, the U.S. military continues facing humiliation after humiliation after the scarring images of the nation’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and recruitment programs that seem more devoted to recruiting social justice warriors and drag queens than maintaining the top fighting force in the world.

As for the UK, The Times reported in May 2023 that Germany was preparing to spend more on national defense than Britain for the first time in modern history—the same Germany whose Gross Domestic Product is around 30 percent larger than the UK’s (“German defence spending ‘to overtake UK within years’,”, May 17, 2023; “Country comparison Germany vs United Kingdom,”, 2023).

Where the Anglo powers once seemed to govern the course of the world, when the U.S. was seeking Saudi support for its actions intended to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, news agencies around the world reported that the Saudi leaders would not even take U.S. President Joe Biden’s phone call.

History is clear: No great nation—no great empire—lasts forever.

Yet the real reason they die tends to be ignored.

Moral Decline

For truly great, globe-girdling nations, one source of downfall and demise rises above them all: MORAL DECAY.

In this area, we can learn a lot from ancient Rome. The Republic of Rome and the Empire that grew out of it ruled a large portion of the world for a millennium. Its might was unparalleled in its day.

But what is left of it today?

Ruins, ruins, and more ruins.

And while many point to overexpansion, economic policy, military spending and other causes of Rome’s fall, the truth of the matter is that before the borders of Rome could be breached by the forces that would destroy it, it was already rotting within due to decadence and moral degradation.

Many historians testify to the problem, including Roman historians, themselves.

Writing only a handful of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the ancient Roman historian Livy was well aware even then that Rome had fallen from its greatest heights, and expresses in Book I, chapter 1, of his History of Rome, his hope that each reader will consider gravely what he has recorded of his own people:

I would have every man apply his mind seriously to consider these points… what their life and what their manners were… as discipline gradually declined, let him follow in his thoughts their morals, at first as slightly giving way, anon how they sunk more and more, then began to fall headlong, until he reaches the present times, when we can neither endure our vices, nor their remedies.

The renowned Roman historian Tacitus pulled few punches in addressing the moral state of his people. Writing around 115 AD, in his famous passage mentioning the crucifixion of Christ, Tacitus was no fan of Christianity, calling it a “deadly superstition,” but his description of his nation’s capital city is noteworthy.

Observing how Christianity was only temporarily slowed down when Christ was crucified, but then mysteriously sprang back to life, more dynamic than before, he writes that it “erupt[ed] again not only in Judaea, the home of this evil, but even in Rome, to which all that is dreadful or shameful in the world flows and here is celebrated

(Annals, Tacitus Cornelius, 2012).

(Of course, one day Tacitus will learn it wasn’t just the faith of Christians that sprung to life again suddenly, but their Savior, as well!)

Finally, consider Seneca, one of the most celebrated Roman philosophers and writers in Roman history, born in 4 BC and living as a contemporary of the first Christian disciples.

His criticisms of Roman morals and culture in his day were stinging, noting that simple honesty and integrity were vanishing, such that mere agreements between men were no longer sufficient, requiring lawyers and legal papers to be drawn up to require individuals to live up to their ends of the deal.

“O, what a shameful admission of the dishonesty and wickedness of the human race! More trust is placed in our sealrings than in our consciences” (Essays, Book 3).

As for the state of marriage and family in Rome at the time, Seneca writes,

“Is there any woman that blushes at divorce now that certain illustrious and noble ladies reckon their years, not by the number of consuls, but by the number of their husbands, and leave home in order to marry, and marry in order to be divorced?… Is there any shame at all for adultery, now that matters have come to pass that no woman has any use for a husband except to inflame her paramour?” (ibid.).

Seneca noted that marital fidelity had become extinct, and the lack of shame in adultery and fornication only meant that the rot of promiscuity spread further and faster. His observations match those of a near contemporary, the Roman poet Martial [MAR-shəl], who implied marriage in Rome had essentially become legalized adultery.

Such ancient accounts fit well with the observation of famed English historian Edward Gibbon, whose classic work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire paints a picture of an nation whose leaders became degenerate in character, and whose military legions brought back corrupting vices and immoral practices from the lands they conquered.

Before Rome became a ruin on the outside, it had become a ruin within. And the death of that great nation became assured.

Family Destruction

A morally corrupt nation cannot suppose that it will last! And moral corruption causes great nations to die.

And my friends, this is vital to understand because America and Britain, and those nations which have descended from her, are in a MORAL FREEFALL!

As explained in detail in today’s free resource, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, they have turned their backs on the God who blessed them and are actively—even aggressively—turning their backs on His laws!

Let’s examine just a handful of biblical guidelines and compare them to current American and British culture to see how we measure up.

God stresses in His word the importance of family and the marriage bond between husband and wife. In Exodus 20, the fifth commandment reads,

“Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

Elsewhere in Leviticus 19:32, we read,

“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.”

The seventh of the Ten Commandments teaches the same principle expounded by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 13:4,

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

And in passages such as Matthew 19:4–6, Jesus Christ reaffirms the definition of marriage as designed in Genesis 2: A union between one man and one woman for life.

God cares PASSIONATELY about respectful relationships between generations, and between children and parents, and about the sacred union of man and woman in marriage.

Yet in the U.S. and Britain, younger generations are casting aside the guidance and wisdom of previous generations, and the nations’ supposedly enlightened academics, leaders, and social engineers are destroying any traditional or biblical notions of sex, gender, or family structure and replacing them with novel designations and configurations of their own design.

One effect of neglecting God’s design of and laws regarding the family is, believe it or not, economic.

In a 2008 study, the Institute for American Values concluded,

“[W]e estimate that family fragmentation costs U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion each and every year, or more than $1 trillion each decade” (The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing, 2008).

And that was their conservative estimate.

To put this in perspective, by some estimates that amount is the same as the total cost of the United States’ war in Afghanistan.

In the UK, the cost of family breakdown is estimated at more than 50 billion pounds per year, or more than 60 billion U.S. dollars.

But, of course, the real cost of broken families is not measured in dollars, but in the damage it wreaks on the people of a nation.

At the end of 2021, researcher and author Melanie Phillips wrote of this in a commentary for The Times in the UK. What she insightfully calls “the willed disintegration of the traditional nuclear family” has been devastating:

“It is the greatest cause of social inequalities, through educational underachievement, crime and juvenile psychological disorders. At its most extreme, it leads to neglected, abused and dead children. Yet this has become unsayable in the upper reaches of government and cultural life. So what we have instead are unspeakable acts of cruelty and degradation — and nauseating crocodile tears” (“Family fragmentation comes at a tragic cost,” December 20, 2021).

Let’s look another: the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet.” What would be the state of our national and private debt if so many of our citizens were not consumed with desire for the newest cars, technology, entertainment, all beyond our means—but within our credit limits. Jesus Christ teaches us in Luke 12:15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Yet our consumer-based national economies are virtually FOUNDED on the hope that people will IGNORE this advice, resulting in the culture of permanent debt we now enjoy.

Ultimately, our debt is enslaving our nations. In fact, Bible prophecy says that the U.S. and British-descended nations will eventually be crushed by debt, as explained in today’s free offer.

We read in Deuteronomy 28, verses 43 and 44:

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.”

Yet the solution isn’t more creative economic policy or more government handouts. The solution is to stop sinning, turn to Jesus Christ, and start obeying God.

There are too many examples like these for us to cover all of them in one program, but in summary let me refer to a statement by educator Vincent Ruggiero, made in his book Warning: Nonsense is Destroying America:

“If we are ever to solve this country’s social problems, we must acknowledge the moral bankruptcy of our time and the culpability, not only of the parents and teachers, but most of all the media. We must take responsibility for creating an environment that nurtures morality in children and adults…. To pretend the Ten Commandments are somehow irrelevant to moral living is a violation of common sense…” (p. 152).

Will Society Turn to God? Will You?

What is really at the heart of the problem?

There’s a verse in the Psalms that haunts me on this matter. Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

While our politicians discuss what color to paint the nation’s walls, they seem to ignore the fact that the foundation, itself, is destroyed—and, unless repaired, the house is doomed to collapse. Concerning the Constitution of the United States, established shortly after the birth of the nation, Founding Father John Adams once said,

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (“From John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798,”

Indeed, the freedoms inherent in any great nation rely on the moral self-restraint of its citizens.

The leaders of the U.S. and Britain SHOULD be seeking to turn their peoples to the God who created and blessed their nations—as discussed in today’s free booklet. Instead, they encourage and enable the people’s sin.

Of them, God declares in Isaiah 9:16,

“For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed.”

But you, personally, don’t have to wait for a senator, congressman, prime minister, or president to tell you to turn to the laws of God!

You don’t have to wait to begin experiencing the blessings that come from living life the way it was DESIGNED to be lived.

If you’re practicing sexual sin, indulging in lust in your body or mind, you can repent! You can ask God to forgive you, and to help you begin obeying His law! If you are letting yourself be carried away with covetousness and greed, in a real sense worshiping things and centering your life on your next purchase on Amazon, you can repent and turn away from that! You can begin obeying the tenth, first, and second commandments.

If you want a family that is strong and stable—a source of joy and comfort—God has given us laws that we can act on to help craft the sort of family we’ve always wanted to have!

And you can choose to follow those laws and build that family.

The only way to prevent great nations from dying is for the people of great nations to seek their God and Jesus Christ and turn from sin.

It isn’t too late. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says to King Solomon words that are just as true today:

“[I]f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

If we want to make a difference, turning in a heartfelt manner to the God of heaven and seeking His way with passion, zeal, and humility, that will accomplish more than 1,000 phone calls to your senator or congressman ever will.

Thanks so much for watching! All of us here at Tomorrow’s World work very hard to help you understand your world through the pages of the Bible.

If you’re interested in what we offer today, the free study guide The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, you can go to our website at You can get it there or you can click on the link in the description.

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The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy

More than 60 years ago, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) wrote a book entitled The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. This book builds on Mr. Armstrong’s research, and that of other authors, to point the reader not simply to the history of the past, but to history written in advance!

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