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Is America Following the Cycle?

By Mark Harris

Throughout history great nations and civilizations have risen and fallen. In 1943, Henning W. Prentis, Jr., president of the Armstrong Cork Company, at a mid-year Convocation of the General Alumni Society of the University of Pennsylvania made this statement,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”
(The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Vol. XLV, Numb. III, April 1943, pp. 272-73)

With few exceptions, the average age of the world's greatest nations has been 200 years. Nations progress through an observable sequence:

⦁ Nations in bondage come to a spiritual faith;
⦁ From spiritual faith to great courage;
⦁ From courage to liberty;
⦁ From liberty to abundance;
⦁ From abundance to complacency;
⦁ From complacency to apathy;
⦁ From apathy to dependence;
⦁ From dependence back into bondage, dictatorship or monarchy.

The observable cycle is most often attributed to Sir Alex Fraser Tytler, a Scottish jurist and historian in this pictograph.

the Tytler Cycle

In the book of Judges, we have the recorded history of the Israelites, who followed this observable cycle seven times in just a 350-year time span. The pain they experienced each time they entered bondage was devastating. They experienced the loss of wealth, the loss of many lives and the loss of hope as a nation.

I find it interesting when discussing the future of the United States that many Christians tell me that our demise as a nation is prophesied in the Bible. Their national apathy seems to be justified spiritually in their minds when they explain that we are all headed for a one-world government and the United States does not seem to play a role in biblical prophesies. They go on to say they are praying for the quick return of Jesus as their way out of the pain from a collapsing nation and there is nothing more they can do about it.

There is just one problem with that way of thinking. If I am reading my Bible correctly, it clearly states no one knows when Jesus will return. Paul thought Jesus would return in his lifetime. The point is this; since we don’t know when Jesus will return, we should be working hard to preserve the good things about the nation in which we live and build on that foundation to provide a better future for our children – just in case Jesus doesn’t return in our generation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, where the Apostle Paul is commending Christians to stand fast in the great apostasy he says, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” Do you see that? Regardless of what is happening around us, we are to be established in every good word and work.

The great thing about America is that we don’t have to follow the cycle of other nations. In our form of government “We the People” determine our destiny. If we choose to follow Jesus and live by His ways as a nation, we can expect to experience more of God’s blessings as a people. If we choose to ignore God’s ways, we should not expect a different outcome than the examples in history of other nations who rejected God. I believe our greatest work may be to take responsibility for the future of our nation, get involved, and as Christians, be a voice calling the nation back to living as God directs in the Bible.

We are, after all, called by God to be salt and light in our generation. If salt loses its flavor, it becomes good for nothing. Rather than salty, it becomes benign. Rather than leading our generation to reach its full potential, we become apathetic. Like the rest of the world we are then destined to follow them straight into bondage.

4Tucson is calling Christians across the city to unite, to ask God for lasting positive solutions to the problems that face our city. If Christians get involved, the whole city will benefit. We will pass on a good legacy that our children can build upon. We need to be about our Father’s work. As we work, we can also pray that He comes quickly. But if He tarries, we will at least have the satisfaction that we passed on a better world to the next generation.

4Tucson is made up of Christians who committed to building a better future together. In this season of history, we cannot afford to be apathetic.

If you are not a member I encourage you to join 4Tucson. If you are uncertain about what God is calling you to do, attend our Purpose Workshop. Let us help you figure out how God is working in your life. Meet other Christians from across the city by joining one of our active Domains. You may want to engage by helping us solve a systemic city problem. Currently we have Poverty Reduction Taskforce, Economic Opportunity and Development Taskforce and the Housing Taskforce. We are actively looking for Christian team members in each of these Focus Areas.

Doing nothing is not acceptable as is explained in Matthew 25:24-30. I believe you were created by God to be actively engaged in our society for such a time as this.


There are two types of city areas; explore the Large Sphere of Influence or the City Focus Area where God is calling you.

Our Mission is to unite and mobilize Christians, empowering them to put biblical principles into action as we engage our city's most systemic issues.

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