What “Downton Abbey” Says About Today

Posted by Paul Suckling on February 24, 2012

Downton Abbey on the PBS.org website.

The post-Edwardian saga known as Downton Abbey has enthralled thousands in England and now in the United States as it airs on PBS. What can we learn today from what the series portrays about life 100 years ago?

Those who are following the epic Downton Abbey are aware that many things are in transition in the story line now that World War I has been declared over. The whole of Europe was affected by this terrible war that some wishfully called the “war to end all wars.” (Sadly, wars have only proliferated since.)

As the war drew to a close, events, patterns of behavior and attitudes began to steadily shift. Once the war ended, a spirit of independence rose. The young felt freer and sought a chance to spread their wings and go it alone, with fewer traditional restrictions held over them.

The old way of the lord of the manor was being challenged. The aristocracy and its structured hierarchy and the establishment and its traditions were about to be eroded.

A comparison?

Clearly, many things in today’s world are unsettled and changing.

  • The Arab Spring with its hopes of democratic reforms, sadly, is now looking like winter and turning into a nightmare in many areas.
  • Iran continues to issue threats against Israel and America (who they’ve called “the Little Satan” and “the Great Satan”).
  • Afghanistan and other trouble spots are still draining America of resources.
  • Everyone is deeply concerned about where the world and national economies are heading.

This world is a very unhappy and dangerous place in so many ways, and much is in transition.

Transitions in history

In a fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan traces some of the huge changes that have taken place in recent history and asks the following question: “Would the end of the present American-dominated order have less dire consequences?” (“Why the World Needs America,” Feb. 11, 2012).

As the article unfolds and discusses the opinion of economists, compares GDPs (gross domestic products) of several emerging economies and considers what other economists and intellectuals say, it is clear that many feel America has peaked and is on its way down. Perhaps it is following a path similar to the one taken by the British Empire in its decline. So far, it has been a slow, steady decline; but many wonder, who or what will replace it? Will the U.S. go from No. 1 to No. 2 or 3 or 4?

In the light of Bible prophecy

The Church of God has long believed that two of the tribes of ancient Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh, are today the modern nations of Britain (and its Commonwealth) and the United States. Biblical prophecy shows us that these peoples would come into tremendous blessings and prosperity “in the last days” (Genesis 49:1, 22-26).

However, they would not obey their God, and because of their national sins, God will again punish them. Much of this story is in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. Many other prophetic books speak about the fall of Israel in the end time. Ephraim and Manasseh had Israel’s name named on them (Genesis 48:16), and the tribe of Judah is also spoken of often in biblical prophecy. (Of the tribes that made up the nation of Israel, these three are the prominent ones in end-time prophecy.)

Prophecy describes God correcting His people for their terrible sins. Over this past half century, we have seen the decline of the British Empire from a position of world domination to a virtual third-rate power.

Is this beginning to happen to the United States?

After the lessons are learned

Like a loving father, after God has brought this world to its knees and its ungodly and sinful ways to an end, He will then restore this world to a state of peace and happiness.

This will not be via another world power controlled by humans. With the demise of America and the fall of Britain, there will be a time of terrible strife. The armies of the earth will even gather to fight the returning Jesus Christ! Only the intervention of our God will halt total destruction of all life (Matthew 24:21-22).

This tremendous change will be brought with the return to this earth of Jesus the Christ. A brand-new order will be established—not along the lines of a Downton Abbey or an empire or a federal republic or a dictatorship, but with a government designed by God that will bring to humans all that they have fought and killed for over the many centuries. Long after the “war to end all wars,” at last mankind will know real and lasting peace.

Let me close with a quotation from a book written by a man who dedicated his life to preaching the good news of that coming Kingdom of God. Many years ago, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote these inspiring words in his book Tomorrow, What It Will Be Like:

“Crime, sickness, disease, pain and suffering, gone. Poverty, ignorance banished. Smiles on people’s faces—a world filled with happy radiating humans, guided and helped by former mortals made immortal (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)—and all the humans realizing that they, too, may inherit everlasting life in supreme happiness and thrilling joy. What a fabulous picture!”

The Mystery of the Kingdom bookletFor more about that wonderful world to come, read our booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.

Paul Suckling, a native of England, is now a pastor in New England for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

For more about the blessings on Abraham’s descendants and why they are being taken away, see:

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