America's Current Sense of Destiny
Jan 22, 2007
In 1851 author Herman Melville wrote his epic novel, Moby Dick, in which he wrote in chapter 36 about his concept of American destiny,
"Escaped from the house of bondage, Israel of old did not follow after the ways of the Egyptians. To her was given an express dispensation; to her were given new things under the sun. And we Americans are the peculiar, chosen people--the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. Seventy years ago we escaped from thrall; and besides our first birth-right--embracing one continent of earth--God has given to us, for a future inheritance, the broad domains of the political pagans, that shall yet come and lie down under the shade of our ark, without bloody hands being lifted.
"God has predestined, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls. We are the pioneers of the world; the advance-guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path in the New World that is ours . . . . And let us always remember that with ourselves, almost for the first time in the history of earth, national selfishness is unbounded philanthropy, for we cannot do a good to America, but we give alms to the world."
Such high-minded thinking abruptly ended with the Civil War just a decade later. By the time Melville wrote his poem, Clarel, in 1876, he had become very disillusioned and no longer had such high expectations of his country.
The Civil War shattered American idealism and perhaps brought us back to the reality of human nature. We discovered that we could form a Christian Republic and recognize God in our Declaration of Independence; we could incorporate many principles of biblical law into the Constitution; but we had failed to change human nature by the political process. This would lead inevitably to a failure of our ideals to be a blessing to others. Instead, we found ourselves more and more motivated by self-interest as we sought to be blessed on the backs of others.
Tuveson asks this question on pages 159, 160,
"Can nations so completely under the domination of tyranny, so 'subservient' by racial heredity, succeed in accomplishing their liberation by their own efforts? If a great and bloody battle is yet to take place, can the millennial country stay aloof? Or would our attempt to intervene lead us into a clever trap, designed to pull us back into Satan's own game of power politics, and make us forget our mission of world beneficence? Similarly, is expansion of American territory, especially into colonies, is the 'white man's burden' a means of extending enlightenment or merely another trap, causing us to disguise mere self-interest under pious professions?"
On page 164 he continues with an observation that is very relevant today,
"The United States had come to possess, in its own eyes and in those of many Europeans, an unreal image. Since world redemption is approaching, and since the newest great state must be the last in the succession of empires, it must represent the closest approach to perfection mankind has ever attained; it must be at least a proto-millennium. Its very real virtues were magnified and given a providential source. Exaggeratedly great expectations, disappointed, always produce great disillusionments. . ."
(p. 165) "When it became evident that the United States had its quota of rascals and hypocrites (but no more than its share, certainly) there was a tendency to move it, so to speak, from the side of light to that of darkness. And in fact the United States has seldom been realistically evaluated; it has been either fantastically exalted or extravagantly condemned."
The truth of this statement (written 40 years ago by Tuveson) has never been more evident than in today's world. We are "The Great Satan" to some, while others look to us as their saviors. Also, while most Americans still look upon themselves as benevolent even in wars, the rest of the world has come to an entirely different conclusion. We no longer see ourselves as the world sees us. When individuals come to that place, it is often a sign of mental unbalance.
In the current conflict in Iraq, now spreading fast to Iran and Syria, President Bush gave us a number of reasons for war. First it was to stop the production of weapons of mass destruction, then to overthrow a brutal dictator, then to protect the American (i.e., Babylonian) way of life, and finally to bring Democracy to the region. It seems that we had a war looking for the right cause that Americans would support.
The latest idea of spreading Democracy is an attempt to capitalize upon the original "white man's burden" of spreading enlightenment to the "pagans and savages" of the world. But it is too late for that. Our foreign aid has been used for too long to buy dictators and put them under the influence and predominance ("hegemony") of America. We have long proven ourselves to do good for a price and to have more self-interest than we care to admit.
Even so, the average American, who is unskilled in politics and big business, still has a strong desire to be a blessing to other people. This is seen especially in time of disaster. Our government recognizes this desire of ordinary Americans, and so when the media informs Americans of such needs, the government responds.
Even so, the underlying source of American failure and disillusionment is the fact that the nation was founded during the last centuries of the Age of Pentecost. The Fifth Kingdom of Daniel could not rise prior to the year 1993, for the reign of "Saul" did not end until then. Even if America had started out with a perfect set of laws (like ancient Israel under Moses), it could not have sustained itself as the Kingdom of God apart from perfect leadership.
Israel's example shows us that even with very good leadership under Moses and Joshua, the people's hearts were still hardened toward God. So it is with any Christian Nation. The power of Pentecost was limited because of the leaven factor. When God told Israel to leaven their Pentecostal offering (Lev. 23:17), it was to show us that perfection was not possible under Pentecost. Pentecost could give us only an earnest (downpayment) of the Spirit.
The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled only in the overcomers. Therefore, only the overcomers will be perfected in the time of the first resurrection when also the "change" occurs in the generation of overcomers alive in that day. The fulfillment of Tabernacles will produce godly leadership, which will in turn bring an Age of Peace to the earth. But keep in mind that most of the people will still be imperfect, and even though Satan is said to be bound during that Age (Rev. 20:2), this does not mean that all flesh will be perfect. This becomes more evident when Satan is loosed at the end of that Age and finds fertile ground for temptation and rebellion against God.
I believe that during the thousand years to come, the earth will experience a sabbath-rest, for it will be the 7th millennium "day." But it is not yet the Jubilee, which can occur by law only after 49 millennial "days." We are currently near the time of a great change of the Ages, but we are nowhere near the end of the divine plan yet, as most Christians tend to think.
We are now approaching the time of the first resurrection, which is figuratively called the "barley harvest," where the first of the first-fruits (overcomers) will be given to God. A thousand years later will be the "wheat harvest," where the rest of the Church will be given immortality (John 5:28, 29). Then the grapes will be put "under His feet" until the great Jubilee, when the creation will become the New Wine for God's Communion Table.
Dr. Stephen Jones