A recent European news analyst commented that both of the principal Anglo-Saxon countries—the United Kingdom and the United States of America—are in a state of chaos. Where will it lead? he asked. It’s a good question as we turn the page to 2020.
An obscure event in Great Britain recently caught my attention and made me think about a certain Bible scripture. Protests led by LGBTQ factions forced the mall housing the only UK restaurant of the American-based Chick-Fil-A chain to not renew the restaurant’s lease.
Chick-Fil-A is owned by a family with deeply held religious convictions. Its stores close on Sunday. It refuses to endorse the gay lifestyle. Until recently, it financially supported religious organizations that hold to the biblical teaching on marriage between a man and a woman—though under pressure from LGBTQ groups it seems to have recently dropped support for some such organizations, including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The chain’s strong stance upholding traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality has brought severe criticism in America. Now the only Chick-Fil-A in the United Kingdom has closed, a victim of the culture wars in the Western world.
Nations sapped of their strength
Reading this news made me think about what God said through the prophet Hosea. Speaking to the foremost tribe of the nation of Israel known as Ephraim and noting that the nation suffered crippling social problems because it had forsaken His law, God said this:
“The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the Lord their God or even try to find him” (Hosea 7:8-10, New Living Translation, 2015).
Great Britain’s government is hopelessly gridlocked over Brexit, and on another cultural level the gender wars target a food chain selling chicken sandwiches. National strength is leaking at both ends, yet very few can connect the dots.
Two of the world’s leading powers, Great Britain and the United States, are experiencing political and cultural turmoil threatening a loss of standing among the nations and even fundamental shifts diminishing their dominant role in the world. Events in coming months—Britain leaving the European Union (EU) and the 2020 presidential election in America—will have great impact on the future of both nations.
As this article goes to press, the British government still seeks Britain’s exit (or Brexit) from the EU more than three years after a majority of the electorate declared the desire to sever ties with the continental union the nation joined in 1973. That decision led to the resignation of the prime minister who called for the vote, David Cameron. His successor, Theresa May, failed to reach a settlement that her Parliament could agree to and had to step down in 2019.
The third prime minister to deal with this decision, Boris Johnson, is fighting the same severe headwinds as his predecessors. When he could not persuade Parliament to endorse his deal with the EU, the Oct. 31 deadline to leave was extended to Jan. 31, 2020. Those who want to leave the EU loudly cry out that the will of the people is being ignored, while the “remainers” predict economic catastrophe if the UK leaves the EU without an agreed exit arrangement—commonly referred to as the “no-deal Brexit.” It’s a generational breakdown in government no one could have predicted.
A critical U.S. election
Meanwhile, the United States government is locked in a constitutional crisis that will likely create unintended consequences in its relations with other nations, both friend and foe.
The House of Representatives, now controlled by the Democratic Party, has begun discussions and inquiries on impeaching President Donald Trump, who is of the Republican Party. An impeachment trial would require a vote of two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate to remove the president from office. While this seems unlikely, some argue the Republican leadership might use this circumstance to pressure the president to resign, hoping to secure a less divisive nominee for the next election. Others maintain that impeachment proceedings would backfire against the Democrats, helping President Trump’s chances in the next election.
In any case, what is clear is the deep political and cultural divide that has opened within the nation. The battle for its future hasn’t been so raw and brutal in its language and implication since the bloody Civil War more than 150 years ago.
Coming at a critical moment when the world is going through a shift of power alignments, the crisis that has enveloped both nations should make us ponder the question, Why does this matter?
What difference does Great Britain’s departure from the EU make in world affairs? What does the political and cultural turmoil surrounding an American president mean beyond the visceral emotions stirred by his character and worldview?
It makes a difference because these two nations have played a key role in the story of the gospel of God!
A central feature of the true gospel is the promises God made to Abraham, the patriarch of a people known as Israel. These spiritual and physical promises are relevant to our world today and hold a key to understanding what is happening in Great Britain and America.
It’s no coincidence that these two nations have shaped the world of the past 250 years and that America still dominates the world scene. The God who said to Abraham, “I will make of you a great people” (Genesis 46:3) directs the destiny of today’s nations. The role of the English-speaking peoples has, according to His will, impacted the modern world with more positive benefits than any other grouping of people in history. What happens to them definitely does matter in today’s world.
This little-known, yet critical, aspect of the gospel of salvation is known to longtime readers of Beyond Today. Our study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy tells the story in greater detail.
The what and why of Brexit
Great Britain’s desire to pull out of the EU is a multilevel story.
First, there’s the fact that more than half the voters expressed a desire to leave an economic and political union that includes 27 other European countries. Britain being one of the three largest economies in this union makes its exit a big deal. The prevailing sentiment among the British is a desire to retain their sovereignty as a nation.
Increasingly the EU has become a supranational power whose policies and laws override those of individual nations. Laws regarding immigration, taxation and economic regulation have been dictated to member nations from the increasingly powerful centralized EU bureaucracy.
The EU goal of diminishing national borders has facilitated movement of people and goods among the member states. While many other European nations have been more accepting in this regard, the British began to push back on this trend as they saw their unique culture and identity fading and reshaped by massive immigration from other EU countries—with the native population in effect having no say in the matter.
Many lawmakers and voters expressed their view that these trends had gone too far. Great Britain, in their minds, stands for something special in the world. Its national sovereignty, they reason, has to be maintained rather than gradually ceded to Europe.
This conviction is part of the historic fabric of a distinctly British culture developed over more than a millennium among the inhabitants of the British Isles. The political, economic and even religious culture here was different from what developed on the European continent during the same period and represents another level of the story.
In a new history of the United States, Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, historian Wilfred McClay describes what England developed: “England itself, as an island nation that developed in comparative isolation from other nations’ influences, devised institutions and customs that were very different from those on the European continent. It had a far weaker feudal tradition than its continental rivals, and a far stronger commitment to property rights. As in religion, so in politics and society, the English way of doing things was distinctive.
“The monarchies of early modern France and Spain embraced absolutism, which meant greater and greater centralization of power in the hands of a single sovereign whose royal prerogatives were grounded in divine right. But the English followed a very different route, creating a system in which the ruler was limited by forces that divided and restrained his power” (2019, p. 22).
This system restricting the power of rulers was enshrined in 1215 when the English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, an agreement limiting the power of the king and sharing it with the aristocracy.
Along with power sharing, the king had limited control of government at the local level—that was left to lesser officials. The Parliament, elected by the people, controlled fiscal policy and had authority to levy taxes.
McClay explains that the king’s power was “limited by a generally held conviction that the people possessed certain fundamental rights that no monarch could challenge or violate. Such rights were believed to be grounded in something more permanent than the wishes of rulers. They were seated deep in the unique English tradition of common law, an approach to law that relied on judicial precedents built up over many years by generations of judges. Rights such as the right to trial by jury or protection from unwarranted search and seizure were inviolable because they were enshrined in both law and custom, liberties woven into the warp and woof of English historical development.”
This distinctive English culture stands in stark contrast to the European continental model that developed over the same period. Europe developed a legal system based on Roman civil law codified in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian. This civil law placed the power of the state in the hand of the monarch—the Caesar (the Czar or Kaiser) or the king.
The modern European Union has developed into a vast intertwined bureaucratic “superstate” rooted in the Roman model. It’s in some sense a modern revival of the Roman imperial system begun by Caesar Augustus 2,000 years ago. Great Britain has decided to extricate itself from this system. Interestingly, it’s not the first time.
In A.D. 410 the Roman Empire in the west was crumbling under the weight of its own corruption and pressure from invading Germanic tribes. A revolt in Britain, which had been part of the empire for about four centuries, severed the country from Roman continental rule. A combination of distinct religious, political and cultural views came together, similar to what has happened today with Brexit.
In 410 there was a pro-European “remain” faction who desired to remain under Roman power. A compromise was effected whereby the Emperor Honorius was petitioned, asking for legal separation of the colony from the administrative power of Rome. The British were granted permission to separate. Nothing like this had ever happened. On June 25, 2016, when Great Britain voted to leave the EU, we saw a repeat of the same process. The United Kingdom again seeks to leave a Continent-based power that increasingly resembles the ancient Roman system.
Revelation 17 and 18 describe in graphic prophetic terms a global power called “Mystery, Babylon the Great”—a political, economic and religious union with roots going back to Rome (both ancient Rome and the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages) and ultimately back to the city of Babylon. It ruthlessly suppresses all opposition. It is, as it has been in times past, “drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” It’s a power that “reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:6, 18).
From the story of history and Bible prophecy there is every reason to believe today’s European-based economic power is the forerunner of the final revival of Babylon and Rome prophesied to be a dominating transnational global power in the end time. As we watch Brexit play out in our headlines, we are watching one of the world’s leading nations try to extricate itself from a Babylon-like system—and finding it extremely difficult. The fact is, Brexit is not an insignificant event in the course of world events. It has prophetic implications!
Since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, there has been a constant state of crisis against the man and his policies. Under the slogan of “Make America Great Again,” President Trump has sought to bring sweeping changes.
He has worked to renegotiate trade treaties that have been slanted against American interests and have instead given economic advantages to others.
He has criticized NATO countries for not paying more of the financial and military burden for the defense of Europe, saying America is no longer going to bear the majority share of costs while its NATO partners fail to pay their agreed-on portions.
He has pulled American troops from the Middle East, which has shifted the balance of power in the region, causing even allies like the state of Israel to question how much they can count on America’s support against their enemies.
His policy of building a wall on America’s southern border to cut off illegal immigration (and drug smuggling) has infuriated progressive-minded policymakers in America and other world capitals.
By trying to restrict immigration from nations that are havens for Islamic terrorists, President Trump has managed to alienate not only the governing Washington establishment and political opponents but a fair portion of international policymakers from every part of government and culture.
The reason for such opposition to virtually anything President Trump attempts to do should be understood by readers of Beyond Today. It’s not just partisan politics and challenging personalities.
More of what’s fueling the antagonism is presented by a Hudson Institute senior fellow, John Fonte, in an August 2019 article at the American Greatness website titled “Who Makes the Rules in a ‘Rules-Based’ Liberal Global Order?” Fonte describes transnational globalism as a utopian ideology derived from an age-long desire for the world to be ruled by one power, without individual sovereign nations.
In this globalist view, he explains, world peace, social justice and economic equity can be achieved only through the benevolent governance of all peoples by a global power that supersedes all national boundaries, ethnic diversities and religious affiliation.
This is a dream growing out of the ideas of Aristotle and Plato in considering who should rule and on what basis. But it’s actually older than the Greeks. Genesis 11 shows this focus at work in the post-Flood world when mankind gathered at Babel and began to form the first “transnational global world order.” God stopped it short by dividing the people through giving them different languages.
Fonte shows the plans for a new global order have been growing within the ranks of American officials and policymakers for several decades. He notes both Democratic and Republican officials in high positions of the State Department saying that “global governance meant nations would cede sovereign authority to supranational institutions in cases requiring global solutions to global problems” and that it “was time to ‘rethink’ [national] sovereignty” because “sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker” (emphasis added throughout).
This thinking permeates virtually all multinational institutions. The World Bank, United Nations, International Court of Justice, World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund are all led and staffed by people completely immersed in this ideology.
Fonte says, “The social base certainly includes the leadership of the European Union (which is a model for supranational governance) and its administrators in the European Commission, judges in the European Court of Justice, and other EU officials.” Transnational global thinking drives the leaders of the World Economic Forum, who gather to confer each winter in Davos, Switzerland.
Using the end of World War II as a benchmark, U.S. policy has been moving inexorably toward this global order. Beginning with the United Nations, international treaties and a growing position solely because of its immense economic and military power, America has become wedded to the developing global world.
In 2016 President Barack Obama openly declared his administration’s intent to push the United States into this system, telling the United Nations: “We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions ... I am convinced that in the long run, giving up freedom of action—not our ability to protect ourselves but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term—enhances our security.”
Fonte’s analysis shows the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back decades of policy movement toward the loss of American sovereignty. He includes Great Britain’s reaction to the EU as the key to understanding what is called the “state of chaos” in the two Anglo-Saxon nations.
“With the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of conservative democratic nationalists throughout the West, the global governance project has been seriously challenged for the first time. It appears that the ‘arc of history’ has been altered.”
Fonte concludes his piece saying, “On both fronts, externally and internally, we are now involved in a conflict that will determine, not simply the direction of politics, but the existence of the democratic nation-state in America, Britain, the West, and throughout the world.”
National resurgence or continuing decline?
What do Brexit and current Trump administration policies portend for the future?
We cannot predict the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Barring a dramatic reversal of the Brexit vote or incessant postponement, Great Britain will leave the European Union. And if America and Britain then create an even tighter trade union with the other major English-speaking nations (Canada, Australia and New Zealand), a potential trading bloc greater than the EU could emerge. Together these five leading nations of what some have termed the Anglosphere account for $27.5 trillion in GDP compared to $15.9 for the EU. The implications of such a potential trading bloc are consequential.
What this could mean for prophetic events is yet to be determined. We have consistently chronicled in these pages the immense value of the English-speaking nations in the modern world. Their wealth is a blessing from the God of Abraham. He will maintain it for a time according to His purpose and will. (Again, we tell this story in our free study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.)
Bible prophecy shows the world is headed toward an end-time transnational global order destined to stun the world with its power, wealth and influence. Centered in Europe, it will be the final revival of Rome and Babylon referred to earlier (see our study guide The Final Superpower to learn more).
All nations will “worship” this power for its promise to bring a utopian world order of peace, prosperity, and inclusive justice for all. Yet, although it will have a veneer of religion, that veneer will hide tremendous evil that will be murderously opposed to true biblical Christianity.
National lines will be strained and some may disappear in a final effort to create a new world—a new global order with no America, Great Britain or any other sovereign state. The only thing that will not be tolerated will be opposition to this world state. Opposition to this world state and its aims will not be tolerated.
The world has not come to this point yet. God’s message of the gospel of salvation and His coming Kingdom can still be proclaimed. You still have opportunity to understand today’s world and to understand the true gospel of God, and to act on it!