Bad timing. On June 15, just hours before President Barack Obama addressed the American people about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of BP’s tankers was struck by lightning and had to temporarily suspend its siphoning operations.
It was yet another setback for a cleanup effort that has been almost as disastrous as the spill itself. “From the beginning,” the New York Times wrote, “the effort has been bedeviled by a lack of preparation, organization, urgency and clear lines of authority among federal, state and local officials, as well as BP” (June 14).
This is the worst environmental disaster ever to strike the United States of America. Experts now say the gushing leak is spewing 2.5 million gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. It’s like having an Exxon Valdez spill every four days. And this has been going on for months.
“Everything We’ve Got”
In his national address, President Obama declared war on the disaster. First, he compared the Deepwater Horizon explosion to 9/11. Then, during his Oval Office speech, he unveiled his “battle plan” aimed at the oil he said is “assaulting” America. This is something “we will be fighting for months and even years,” the president said.
In order to win this war, he’s appointed a Nobel Prize-winning physicist to head up a team of engineers working to plug the hole. He has 30,000 people working in four states to help clean up the mess. And he’s deployed 17,000 National Guard members along the coast.
“We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes,” the president said.
Whatever it takes—no matter the cost. By now, that exhausted phrase must have its own function key on the president’s keyboard. Just 18 months into office, President Obama has already promised to do whatever it takes to revive the economy, send Americans back to work, stem the tide of foreclosures, help small businesses survive the recession, eliminate the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia, stop the spread of swine flu, defeat al Qaeda and rebuild Haiti.
America keeps pledging everything it has, and the disasters keep right on coming—and intensifying.
Consider this statement, from President Obama: “We’re moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in our history—to save lives and to deliver relief that averts an even larger catastrophe” (emphasis ours).
What does it say about the state of America today when, at first glance, you can’t tell if a statement like that refers to the oil spill or an earthquake that happened just five months before? (It’s the latter.)
Two thirds of Americans know full well that their nation is headed in the wrong direction, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey taken in June. They sense that something has gone terribly wrong.
Talk about a mess that isn’t being cleaned up! America’s shores are being assaulted—and not only by toxic waters. Americans are being pounded by waves of unprecedented curses. And the Bible says they will increase and intensify. “[A]ll these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee,” God says in Deuteronomy 28:15, before outlining all manner of economic, weather, military and social disasters.
Overtaken by curses. But why?
The answer is found in America’s astonishing history—specifically Louisiana’s.
The Greatest Real-Estate Deal Ever
Go back to 1803. Napoleon is in dire need of money to fund his conquest of Europe. So desperate is he for funds that he offers an incredible take-it-or-leave-it offer to sell New Orleans and the Louisiana territory for $15 million to the United States.
For the fledgling States, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. On a global level, the deal was one of the most important inflection points in world history.
Herbert W. Armstrong once said the Louisiana Purchase was the seminal event enabling the U.S. to suddenly rise from its status as a small nation of little geopolitical influence to that of the greatest single nation in history. “By 1804 London had become the financial hub of the world. The United States had exploded out of its swaddling clothes of the 13 original states and had acquired the expansive Louisiana Purchase. It was fast sprouting up to become the mightiest nation of all time” (The United States and Britain in Prophecy). At just 3 cents an acre, the Louisiana Purchase was probably the greatest real-estate deal ever. Thomas Jefferson called it “a transaction replete with blessings to unborn millions of men.” Henry Adams also wrote that this purchase was “an event so portentous as to defy measurement.”
With the stroke of a quill, America—small and relatively unproven in affairs of state—nearly doubled in size overnight. The Louisiana Purchase removed a competitor and potential enemy from America’s unprotected borders, and simultaneously opened up the great river superhighways to American farmers, explorers and nation builders. It set the country on course to becoming the greatest single nation ever to exist.
The vast bulk of the nation’s road, rail and goods distribution infrastructure, the veins and arteries of commerce, are all geared to one major clearing point—New Orleans—located on the southern end of the mighty Mississippi River.
Today, New Orleans houses the largest port complex in the U.S. (and the Western Hemisphere). It is the entrance and exit to a river network that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. For 200 years, it has been the aorta of America’s economy.
Thus in 1803, America took its first of many rapid steps toward superpower status.
No nation in the world even comes close to rivaling the blessings America has enjoyed—whether agricultural, geographic, military or economic.
How is it that such a small, largely insignificant nation—surrounded by superpowers like Great Britain, France, Russia and Spain—so quickly grew to surpass them all?
It is a question that puzzles many scholars because there is hardly a precedent for it.
Yet to those who know their Bible, there is a clear explanation as to why America (and Great Britain before it) so quickly became a global superpower—and why it is so rapidly losing that power today.
America’s prowess is a direct result of promises God made close to 4,000 years ago and recorded in Scripture.
He Never Breaks a Promise
In the book of Genesis, God promised the patriarch Abraham that his descendants would receive untold blessings of national greatness and globe-encircling empire. These promises were never fulfilled in ancient Israel.
By 721 to 718 b.c., the 10 northern tribes of ancient Israel were conquered by the Assyrians and carted away into captivity, from where they began migrating into northern Europe. Yet long before the national captivity, through the Prophet Moses, God told the Israelites that unless they remained obedient, He would allow their captivity and punishment for a 2,520-year duration before conferring upon them the blessings of global greatness He had promised to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (For more information on this prophecy, and proof that it specifically concerns the U.S., read our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, especially Chapter 10.)
If you do the math, counting 2,520 years from 718 b.c. (remember to add a year because there is no year zero) brings you to exactly 1803—and the Louisiana Purchase.
God’s promises cannot be broken.
Yet God did not promise to keep America a superpower forever. In fact, He specifically warns in His Word that disobedience will always result in curses.
It is these curses that America is experiencing today.
God has fulfilled His end of His promise to Abraham. National greatness began with Louisiana. But due to America’s disobedience to His law, national greatness is now ending there too.
Whatever It Takes
But why, exactly, does God send curses? How could a God of love permit disasters to persist and to spread like the oil slick in the Gulf?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Unfortunately, man has chosen to go his own way. And for that, we are simply reaping what we sow!
God allows it because in order for Him to reproduce His own holy, righteous character in us, we must voluntarily choose to follow His ways—to submit to His laws. He will not force us to follow His ways. Think of the howling protests there would be if God actually did force man to accept His laws and go the way that would automatically result in blessings of peaceful coexistence with God and with fellow man, of joyful abundance and contented wellbeing.
Deuteronomy 30 says we must choose the way of blessings or curses. If we choose to reject God’s laws and go the way of curses, God always sends a warning in love, to plead with man to wake up and to consider his ways and repent (Haggai 1:5-7). If we ignore the warning, then God pleads with man in the form of ever increasing, intensifying curses.
What we are experiencing now is the outer edge of a violent storm that will soon engulf the entire world—called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22). Even that—as horrific and widespread as the suffering will be—is God’s last-ditch effort to warn man of the error of his ways.
As Mr. Armstrong wrote in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, “God is going to keep multiplying chastening—correction—upon our peoples until they do turn from their evil ways—until they turn to the ways that cause peace, happiness, prosperity, all the good things!”
He won’t force us, but He will do whatever it takes for us to turn to Him in humble submission and obedience. ▪