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Destroyers, deliverers, and the coming election

Destroyers, deliverers, and the coming election

(The following is excerpted from Wallace B. Henley’s new book, Two Men From Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Trump, and the Lord of History)

The battle raging in the heart of America brings to mind the vision of destroyers that the Apostle John saw in the Revelation:

They have as king over them the angel of the abyss;
his name over them in Hebrew is Abaddon,
and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 9:11

Wallace Henley, former Senior Associate Pastor of 2nd Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. | Photo by Scott Belin

Which side does this describe in the present struggle?

Is Donald Trump the “angel of the abyss,” or the antichrist, the destroyer of the fragile order that sustains a high quality of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?

Or is Trump a God-given deliverer protecting America from the ravaging mobs who seem to relish the destruction of statues and monuments that hold the memory of the nation’s history before us for good or bad?

Are the protestors now streaming over the barricades of city-centers the heroic crusaders who will overthrow what they see as an exploitive civilization that they believe has built itself upon the pain and blood of others? Will they be the deliverers of a new future based on socialist values and principles?

Whatever the case, a close study of history shows that as there are motifs in a great musical composition, so there is a motif running across the opus of time: the recurring Destroyer-Deliverer manifestations.

Throughout history, just when the destroyer is about to “overthrow the cities” and “make the world a wilderness” (Isaiah 14:16-17) by crushing civilization, God brings a deliverer on the scene. Thus,

  • For every Cain there is a Seth
  • For every Lamech there is a Noah
  • For every Nimrod there is an Abraham
  • For every Pharaoh there is a Moses
  • For every Nebuchadnezzar there is a Daniel
  • For every Goliath there is a David
  • For every Antiochus there is a John the Baptist
  • For every Nero there is a Constantine
  • For every slave holder there is a Lincoln
  • For every Hitler there is a Churchill
  • For every Stalin there is a Solzhenitsyn

... and so on across history until the Consummation of all epochs of finite time.

Above all in the biblical vision, standing against Apollyon is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Redeemer, and Lord of history, who brings the New Jerusalem and its sparkling civilization (Revelation 21:10-21), of which dark Babylon is the antithesis.

The Destroyer-Deliverer theme repeats in our day. Whenever any new leader arises anxious people wonder whether he or she is a destroyer or a deliverer.

Joe Biden thinks he knows about Donald Trump: “Joe Biden Is Worried Donald Trump Might Destroy Western Civilization... But it’s Nothing Personal,” heralded a Vanity Fair headline in 2017. Writer Abigail Tracy reported on a Biden speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Biden told the group he was concerned Trump would “accelerate Russia’s plot to ‘collapse the liberal international order.’”[1]

However, a reader of a Wisconsin newspaper saw it otherwise: “Western civilization will perhaps be saved by Donald Trump.”[2]

Trump himself crashes in with one of those statements that demolishes or confuses, or inspires and challenges, depending on one’s perspective.

In an address in Poland that Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan described as “a grown-up speech that said serious things,”[3] Donald Trump showed awareness of the importance of sustaining civilization:

“Each generation must rise up and play their part in [their culture's] defense.  Every foot of ground and every last inch of civilization is worth defending with your life... I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever, be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”

Trump described his view of the ideals of that civilization:

“We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.

“We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.

“We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.

“And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.”

Trump’s opponents accuse him of trashing everything from Christianity to the Constitution. Yet the mobs besetting cities are demolishing the structures and enterprises that symbolize the hopes of people living in a culture that has in the past encouraged and applauded their ambition and hard work.

In fifty years of observing and participating in American politics I have several times heard the claim that the “next election” is the “most important” in our history. The failure of past hyperbole makes us cynics. However, the presidential election that now careens toward us truly is the most crucial since the founding of the nation. Upon it hinges the destiny not only of a country, but of an entire civilization.

Voters this fall will themselves decide who are the destroyers and who are the deliverers.

God help us to vote the big picture and not just our narrow existential interests.


[1] Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/01/joe-biden-donald-trump-davos, July 12, 2019.

[2] Retrieved from https://www.gazettextra.com/opinion/letters/your-views-trump-trying-to-save-civilization-as-the-left/article_2bb2004f-098c-5782-8415-eb4138a51616.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

[3] Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2017.

Wallace Henley is a former pastor, White House and congressional aide, and author of more than 25 books. His newest is Two Men From Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Trump, and the Lord of History, published by Thomas Nelson.

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