This article represents the conclusion of a series which was anchored by the post, “Will America Ever Become A Lawless Nation”. The second article in the series offers a view of six major trends currently taking place in America that could bring down the most powerful nation in the world. There is a small but reasonable chance that our country could reach such a state in the next 10 years.
It would be a time when there are no expectations of external protective services (medical care, fire, police, military), no reliable supply chain of goods (food and water), and no or limited electricity (power grid down). Should Christians hide and/or otherwise attempt to protect themselves and their families? Or, should we provide comfort to others by offering what little we have, in exchange for a witnessing opportunity, which will assure our accelerated death. In the relatively unlikely event Christians are faced with these choices, there is no middle ground. Further, how we respond, to hide, or to perish, will be the most important decision Christians make.
There are numerous ways America may fall as a nation. They can be summarized under three broad categories: Progressive, Immediate, and Scriptural. The underlying assumption across all three is that God does not intend to Rapture Christians out of the world before some level of significant persecution and turmoil. Biblical theology behind pretribulation and post-tribulation eschatology and their subsets are beyond the bounds of this post. However, regardless of the methods God uses to insert His will, Christians must be watchful and prepared (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Today in America
Consider our most recent experience with COVID. It was a pandemic with 10% of the US population having confirmed cases resulting in a 1.8% mortality rate for those infected. Over the course of a year, we lost our 1st Amendment rights on multiple levels. Stores, restaurants, and offices shut down. Travel was blocked. Meetings of any size were made illegal. Schools were canceled. Our country was upended in ways we could have never imagined or anticipated. But that is only a fraction of the true picture.
Reflect on the limited exposure you had with your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, and, perhaps most significantly, those you did not know. Did you feel the anxiety and tension as you waited your turn, standing in a line outside the local Wal-Mart? Did you experience the isolation and lack of eye contact as you passed unknown faces in the grocery stores and those other limited venues, each with your masks on?
Consider a country with an overwhelmed police department, hospitals filled beyond capacity, no fire department or ambulance services. Reflect on a country where the grocery and department store shelves are empty, having been looted as we saw on television in downtown Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and other cities, due to the George Floyd incident.
Consider our country without shipments of just-in-time food and supplies being delivered into cities, towns, and neighborhood stores. Where clean water is no longer abundant and the power grid is not functioning dependably.
Under some or all of these conditions, do you and your family have sufficient supplies to feed and protect yourselves from those who are in the same position? Reflect again on the faces of those you passed by in an otherwise full grocery store, looking for toilet paper and flour. Lifeway Research did a recent poll of Pastors of which 89% believe we are living in the End Times. Further, YouGov did a recent poll of over a thousand US adults; only 43% believed they could survive more than a week in the event of an apocalypse.
A Lawless America
If one or more of the four essential elements for survival (food, water, electricity, and security) are removed from our current society, mankind is going to experience unprecedented panic.
I have spent a great deal of time studying the potential impact of an America in panic. After generations of this country moving from an agrarian society to its current state, having a sophisticated just-in-time infrastructure, a return to living off the land with few governmental protections or services, will be catastrophic.
If the events leading up to lawlessness are progressive (collapse of the stock market, a pandemic, moral decay, climate change, genetic engineering), a few forward thinkers will try to prepare for the inevitable lawlessness that is to come. Some will hoard food. Others will find hiding places in the country, hoping to live off the land. However, like the “frog in the pot”, most of the population will remain in denial long after their fate is sealed.
If cyberterrorists or an EMP knocks out the US power grid, or if a nuclear war with China, Russia, India, Pakistan, or North Korea is triggered, if a GMD from the sun catches everyone by surprise, or we experience a major series of devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods, few will be prepared for the consequences of lawlessness.
Scripture references the beginning of the labor pains of End Times as:
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Scripture continues to offer a picture of the Tribulation that follows:
- Matthew 24:15-18, 21-22 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak…For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
It should be noted that Scripture also provides the solution:
- Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Timetable for Survival
Each of the scenarios above offer few differences in their best approach to survival. The endpoint of each is likely the same, the only difference is the timetable in getting there. Whether the progression toward lawlessness is slow (Progressive), or fast (Immediate), or based solely on God’s disclosure in Scripture, the vast majority of those impacted by one or more of the event(s) listed above will perish within a few weeks of total anarchy. By the one-year mark only small a number of militia-type groups, a remnant of military personnel who have not gone AWOL, a few outlier fortified towns, and even fewer hardy individuals will remain. For an explanation of this very dim view of our future, let me return to the grocery store/Wal-Mart reference above.
To me, the most likely scenario would be an EMP or a direct nuclear attack from a malevolent source. A large nuclear device, detonated 250-300 miles above Kansas, would likely impact all of the continental U.S. There would be no sound, no significant light, no fallout, and no ongoing danger to human life. Some military equipment has been hardened against such an attack, much has not. All civilian electronic devices would likely be irreparably destroyed. This would include civilian power stations (10k of varying sizes), most cars and trucks, airplanes, radios, computers, personal generators, some solar panels, phones, electronic clocks, etc.
Further, any control devices for dams, nuclear reactors, water pumping stations, etc. will stop. Repair parts, particularly for the power grid itself, currently have an order lead time of 1-2 years (from China). This is especially true for the larger transformers. Financial markets will likely be in total collapse and, if the damage is geographically limited to the US (EMP), other nations will be dealing with their own shortages. If the event was a nuclear attack and retaliation, all nations will be impacted directly.
Continuing under the EMP scenario where human life will not be immediately impacted, most people will not have any ability to communicate. They will be unaware of the magnitude and longevity of the problem. Within a few days, particularly within the inner cities of America, looting will begin and police will quickly be overwhelmed. Hospitals and other support services will initially try to provide help. However, over the course of a week, most caregivers will try to return home, to protect their families. That is, based on available transportation (non-motorized in many cases).
Within two weeks, the inner cities will be controlled by warring factions attempting to acquire as much food, water, guns, ammunition, and able-bodied recruits as possible. Within three weeks, these groups will begin to expand out into the suburbs, which by now are also out of food and supplies. Those who barricade their families in their homes will be systematically rooted out for their supplies. The more defense they put up against the vigilante gangs, the more attention they will draw as preppers with extended food storage.
There will be a few who see the signs of what may be coming and have prepared a hidden stash on remote property, or have established a relationship with others on an outlying farm. They will likely survive the longest, but only if they can safely get to their camps and have sufficient manpower and resources to withstand attacks. Those who believe they can run to the mountains with a gun and hide will ultimately discover game (rabbit, deer, etc.) in the area will be poached clean in a matter of a few months. Most farmers will perish as the gangs continue to spread out in search of supplies.
Survive or Perish
If America becomes lawless, should Biblical Christians try to survive or allow themselves to perish prematurely as they relinquish all their food and supplies to others? My answer is to accept the reality of the situation that presents itself. If you believe there is a reasonable chance that lawlessness will last less than a month, perhaps being prepared to protect your family and survive is the right approach. Those who come through a period of lawlessness as born-again believers will be able to provide eternal comfort to an otherwise ravaged population. Further, protecting our families from harm should be one of our highest priorities (1 Timothy 3:5).
If you have a reasonable belief that lawlessness will continue longer than a month, and you live in the city or surrounding communities, you will not be able to successfully protect your loved ones from harm. Nor will you be able to hide from those who are slowly starving and systematically searching for food. Barricades, guns, and grit will not protect you from a mob organized by well-trained and well-armed leaders with military field experience. Only sufficient numbers of like-minded survivors banding together in a defensible position will provide any safety. The problem with that approach is the moral rationalization that will force you and your group to take from others to feed yourselves (Proverbs 3:31, Mat 5:38-39, Psalm 11:5, Mat 26:52).
Simply put, if the choice becomes a question of when and how you and your loved ones will perish, rather than if, consider using what supplies you have to strategically help others. By doing so, while sharing the Gospel, you will be offering eternity to otherwise lost and dying people. That may appear on the surface to be a supreme sacrifice as your group becomes increasingly hungry and in desperate need themselves. However, fear is overcome by faith (Phil 4:6-7) and love overcomes all evil (Romans 12:21). The Lord will honor your commitment to Him as He welcomes you into His Kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).