When it is evening you say, '[ It will be ] fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, '[ It will be ] foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites![a] You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot [ discern ] the signs of the times.
Matthew 16:2 & 3
September 11, 2001 is a day that will be remembered in infamy! This day will forever be seared in the hearts & minds of many Americans, because, as reports have it, almost 3,000 human beings lost their lives when terrorists orchestrated what might constitute one of the greatest such attacks on American soil in almost 60 years. Why did the terrorists choose those particular targets over all others? Maybe it was because they were two of the greatest monuments constructed in recent history to honor one of the greatest American idols!
Since that fateful day, the U.S. Economy has been embroiled in what is surely the greatest Recession since the 20s & 30s, probably even worse! The Housing Bubble collapsed in 2008 & has never fully recovered. Although one might say that our economy has gained back much of its former strength ( ?), it has only been bolstered by things like Government Bailouts & Government Incentives made possible by large loans from foreign nations such as China. The Mining Industry, which has traditionally provided much of the backing for the U.S. Economy in the past, has suffered over the past few years, especially, with inflation, among other things, driving the value of precious metals down!
Overall, even though the facade that the Federal Government has carefully erected is wearing rather thin, the U.S. Economy is falsely being touted as well on the way back to recovery! Things almost seem to be looking up until one remembers the $16 trillion dollar debt ( or whatever it is now ) that's hanging over our head. We now almost matter-of-factly pay upwards of $4 a gallon for gas & are almost ecstatic when it drops below $3 ( especially when it hits close to $2 )! Food prices are rising as well, not just because of shipping costs, though that is probably the greatest factor, but unecessary regulations on growers & producers are making it more difficult to put food on the table for the average American family!
Much like Israel of Old, most Americans have failed to rightly discern these signs! Although there are some out there who have woken up to this disturbing fact, most have failed or downright refused to acknowledge that the actions of the U.S. Inc., or The American Empire have brought this disaster upon us. Like an overwhelming flood, this cataclysm threatens to engulf us for many reasons, not least of which is that we are now reaping what we have sown!
American Christianity, almost as a whole, has viewed signs such as these ( if they even note them ) in an eschatological sense! Because American Christianity has taught for centuries that we will be raptured ( whatever that means ) out of the mess we have made, next to nothing has been done about it: most American Christians are more than willing to let the world go to hell in a handbasket because 'Jesus is coming soon'! The belief that all of our problems will soon dissolve into ashes has kept much of American Christianity from having a saving effect on the Culture & has instead allowed the Culture to have a damning effect on American Christianity!
Many Americans, even non-Christian Americans, are more-or-less correctly discerning these signs & realizing that 'the end is near'! No, not 'the end' that most Bible students look forward to, eschatologically speaking, but 'the end' of an era is definitely upon us! Whether it's the end of The American Empire, the end of America as we know it, or just the end of the lifestyle to which most Americans have become accustomed, something big is most definitely coming & it's not going to be pleasant! Gas prices continue to fluctuate, but it's pretty much a given that they'll never again drop to what they were even 20-30 years ago: food prices, on the other hand are almost spiraling out of control! One barely coughs anymore at having to pay $4-$5 for a loaf of bread ( depending where you are, even more ), milk is ridiculous, beef is getting harder to find at a decent price & we're even paying more for water & the bear necessities of life!
There is hope, however! No, unlike most American Christians believe, Jesus is not going to return & clean up our mess for us; this world is not going to be burnt up by fire so that we can begin anew, but it is being cleansed by fire, in a metaphorical sense, undergoing the adverse judgement of an infinitely just Creator God! What will our future look like, the future of America? We can be fairly certain that, when all is said & done, America will still be here! America as most have become accustomed to may have undergone an almost unrecognizable change ( or not ); she may no longer be the world-power ( empire ) she once was & it's possible we may even join the ranks of what we now call 'third-world' nations, but America will still be here!
Our greatest Stronghold, even though most American Christians do not realize it, is that this world, even though it be filled with devils, is the Kingdom of the Creator God! As Christians especially, we serve no mere earthly empire or political figurehead; the whole earth is full of His Glory & even though evil still exists & frustrates our endeavors: His Empire will never suffer loss, but as Christians begin to realize more & more His Rule & therefore ours; His Kingdom will expand ( infinitely ) beyond any borders we could ever hope to maintain!
Charles Haddon Shank