Is America In Prophecy?
By: Curtis Irvin
Article submitted by Pastor Curtis Irvin. Pastor Irvin currently pastors in the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Redford, Michigan and other churches in the Detroit area. Recently he is involved assisting the creation of an outreach ministry to the Arab population and working with Arab believers to establish a church within the heart of the Arab community in Dearborn. He can be seen at the Basic Bible Prophecy Chatroom on MSN-- AKA Bible Junkie. This article reprinted with his permission.
The year is 2002 A.D., and the world condition does not look very promising. The United States of America is involved in its war on terrorism, and America is now on vigilant alert against any attacks from our enemies; namely, Muslim extremist. The once safe security American's once enjoyed is fastly becoming a thing of memory since the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building on September 11, 2001.
Overseas, in Israel, there are daily suicide bombing attacks upon civilians, which is directed at them by Palestinian Muslim terrorist. The impetus of this war upon the Jew's is over the right for Israel to exist in the land of Israel, and over who's claim to that land is legitimate. The focal point of this debate has narrowed down to Jerusalem, and even more specifically, on the Temple Mount there.
Around the world the nations are in turmoil. Where just a generation ago America and its allies were locked in a cold war with the Soviet menace of spreading Communism around the globe, the newest menace to world peace is found in the religious fervor and expansion of Islam. From Indonesia, where Islamic groups are seeking to exterminate Christian's and other groups; to India, where Muslim's and Hindu's wage war on the streets; to the conflicts of the Mid-East, and even in Africa, the Sword of Allah is taking peace and sending forth rivers of blood.
However, the threat to world peace is not just the aggressive expansion of Islam. The threat to world peace can still be found in those Communist nations such as, The People's Republic of China and North Korea. That threat is still very real, not to mention that Russia cannot still be called a friend to America.
All throughout the world, there are wars going on. Conflicts of religion, and the age old conflict between the races of mankind. Even if one was not a believer in the prophecies of the Bible, one would certainly agree that there is something up in the world; Like a bubbling pot ready to over-flow.
Jesus Himself, said of the last days before He was to return: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes" (Matt. 24:7). Nations, represent ethnic groups, and so we certainly have seen several conflicts between racial groups. Kingdom's are countries, and we do see many war's between the countries of this world. After two world wars I would hardly think this would be a surprise to the casual observer, but Jesus said there would be a unique time in which these events would take place. Jesus was not generalizing here about the entire future of the earth from that time onward. His revelation was specific about the condition of the world before His return to set up His Kingdom. I believe we are living in that time.
Now, this is not a book. I am a Johnny-come-lately, as far as this topic is concerned. Many men have written books on the topic of Bible prophecy. So it is not my endeavor here, in this article, to convince you of the evidences that this is the time in which Jesus spoke about, rather, I am speaking to those who do understand this, and the topic is: Is America In Prophecy?
Well, here again, many men have recently written books on this topic; either being for or against the topic and how it relates to America. I would like to bring some facts to light, and allow you to weigh the evidence on this topic. I do not wish to write a book size lesson on this, and will try to be brief as possible.
Is America Truly Spoken Of In The Bible?
After having studied the Bible for thirty years, and specifically Bible prophecy since 1973, I have never seen anything in the Bible that conclusively states anything about America. What I mean by conclusively, is that there is no solid concrete text of Scripture that can verifiably give us confidence in believing such a thing. Even in allegorical or symbolism, there can be no true verification to base a sound foundation in claiming anything conclusive in regards to America. Any mention of a nation like America is strangely silent. God has given no revelation to the prophets or apostles about anything that concerns our nation of America.
I know there are those who want to make America out to be the "Economic Babylon" of Revelation chapter 18. I've seen their arguments in an attempt to prove their point. Frankly, their arguments are weak, and their attempt to force America as being talked about here is forced and unnatural. If we were to investigate this chapter without making forced interpretations where they are not, then we would discover that this chapter is speaking about a future world empire; the empire of the "Beast" of Revelation chapter 13, who is commonly called the Anti-Christ. His empire, from which he will arise is detailed in Daniel chapter 7, among other places, and that empire will be an extension of the old Roman empire, which was located namely in Europe.
I'll ask those who see Revelation 18 as being America, why? Why do you think this is America? Mostly every time their answer is based upon what they perceive of America. They see elements of America described here, and so conclude that it must be talking about America. Listen, to appear like and to be is two different things. The British Empire, at its height and glory could definitely have appeared to be like what is described in Revelation chapter 18, and so could have any other great empire at one time or another. To say, that something appears to be like makes it so, is not good Bible interpretation. We can mountains on which the woman sits" (Rev. 17:9).
was At the time the Apostle John received these visions from God, he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos. Who was his jailer? It Rome. Rome was always associated as the "City on Seven and many have, made some serious errors in interpreting Scripture by that method of thought. However, we truly do receive Scripture Hills." Revelation 17:9, was a coded message to the believers in John's day. They certainly would understand these seven mountains on which the Harlot (City/Empire) sat upon, was in fact an allusion to Rome itself. Later, John makes it clear that the "Harlot" of Revelation chapter 17, is in fact Rome: "And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of explains who this nation is in Revelation 18: "Here is the mind of wisdom which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven that the earth" (Rev. 17:18). I would suggest again reading Daniel chapter 7 along with Revelation chapter's 17 and 18, to gain a clear understanding here.
Bottom-line, America is in no way alluded to in either Revelation chapter 17 or 18. There is no Scriptural basis to lay this claim on. Just because there may be some similarities found here, this does not make it fact. Scripture does not support this.
The Case of the Eagle
"And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Rev. 12:14).
Well, here is another verse that some Bible expositors have tried to use to make an allusion to America. They see this as a great airlift taking place. Reading chapter 12 of Revelation, we have Satan being kicked out of heaven once and for all half-way through the Tribulation (Rev. 12:7-12). And Satan is royally ticked-off. He knows his time is short and so he is seeking revenge and he focuses that revenge on Israel. This is the "woman" described here (Rev. 12:1-6).
However, Satan is not going to get his way here. The Lord is going to rescue the Jew's here and we find that in the above verse (Rev. 12:14). He takes them to a place of refuge, which may well be the ancient city of Petra, which is over in modern day Jordan, and was once called the land of Moab. However, Petra was not built by the Moabites, but by a people who possessed their land after the Babylonian's had conquered Moab. This people was known as the Nabatean's.
Anyhow, looking at Revelation 12:14 we see a picture of Jew's fleeing to safety from the wrath of Satan, which will be brought about through his henchman, the anti-christ. Some who have read this verse has associated America as being the "Eagle" here, and that America will airlift these Jew's from danger into Petra, inside Jordan.
There are some problems with this view, though it appears logical. Every time we see an Eagle in Scripture, can this be applied to being a symbol of a nation and specifically, that for America? No, of course not.
The eagle was one of the unclean animals in Scripture (See: Lev. 11:13; Deutr. 14:12). So here an eagle is considered an "unclean" animal, as much as a pig is an unclean animal. So can I therefore conclude that because America is associated with the American Bald Eagle as its national emblem, that this symbolically would say America is unclean? No, and we couldn't even begin to imply that because this has nothing to do with nations or even America. Yet, someone might read that into this if they tried hard enough. All the Scripture is saying is that an eagle is considered to be one of the unclean animals the Jew's were not to eat. That's it.
Scripture has used the eagle in symbolism for swiftness and speed (See: Deutr. 32:11; Job 9:26; Hab. 1:8). In reference to swiftness and speed, the eagle was used to describe, for instance, the swift attack upon Judah and Israel by the Babylonian's and Assyrian's in different parts of Scripture. So we do have a basis for symbolically applying the eagle to speed and swiftness in relation to attacks. That is Scriptural.
2) Another problem with viewing America as the hero who might airlift the Jew's from the wrath of Satan, is that up to this point (which is the mid-point of the Tribulation), we have no reference of America at all or being involved in the affairs of the world. Why now all of a sudden is America becoming involved and not before?
3) Symbolically, America is associated with the eagle, but in time past the eagle was associated with other nations also. One of those nations was old Rome itself. The eagle was used on the standards of the armies of Rome for instance. So taking this fact into account, and realizing that the empire of the Beast (anti-Christ) is going to be a extension of the old Roman Empire, can I therefore conclude that Rome will airlift the Jew's to Petra from itself!?
Obviously, there can be a lot of real problems in trying to make forced associations into Scripture, so as to agree with our view. We have to work with what we have and not fabricate something new. What do we have concerning the eagle in Scripture? And how does it apply here in Revelation chapter 12? Well, we have another Scriptural view of the eagle, and it is associated with angels? (See: Ezek. 1:4-28; 10:1-22; Rev. 4:7).
If you read these passages above, you will note that the association with eagle's here are with that of Cherub's or Cherubim. These are holy angels. Michael the Archangel is a Cherub. Lucifer was made in the order of Cherub likewise. Cherub's were used to guard the way back into the Garden of Eden and prevent Adam and Eve from eating from the "Tree of Life." So Cherubim are angels who are designated as guardians. Think about this for a moment and how this may relate to Revelation chapter 12:14.
Who protects the Jew's once they are in Petra from Satan? Why it is God Himself, who will guard and secure them here. It certainly won't be any human element protecting them. I do not find it hard to believe that God can keep these people secure from harm without anyone's assistance. I certainly don't find it hard to believe that God will use Cherubim to protect them either. After all, that is the business they are in. That is what they were created for- to protect and to guard. Actually, I think we do have the identity of the "Great Eagle" here in Revelation chapter 12:14, who will whisk-away the Jew's to Petra from harm. Scripturally, I can say with greater confidence that this "Great Eagle" is an angel, employed by God Himself to rescue these people. It is supernatural, not natural. It is miraculous deliverance. And, after all, God is in the business of miracles and the supernatural isn't He? Why would this be so hard to fathom? Because, we little human beings have a hard time accepting the supernatural. We are always seeking to find a logical, natural explanation to things.
Anyhow, Revelation chapter 12:14 cannot be forced to mean or even allude to America. There is just no Scriptural basis for it.
Argument For Tarshish
Those who argue the case for America being alluded to in Scripture, have pointed at Tarshish. This is their strongest case for their argument. So let us examine this-
Who was Tarshish? In (Gen. 10:4), we find listed among the descendants of Japheth (eldest son of Noah), a grandson of his, named Tarshish, who was son of Javan. We also, have a listing of other sons and grandsons. They are notable because they went on to be the father of the nations of the earth. Not all of the nations, but notably those nations which would be the Caucasian nations (primarily of Europe). We are told of these sons of Japheth and their descendants: "From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations" (Gen. 10:5).
So Tarshish, and his family went off to one specific coastland to settle and become a people. That coastland being Spain, and specifically the south of Spain. This region came to be associated with the family of Tarshish, who were the first to settle there. So the name stuck and remained, even when other people's came and settled in that region, that place was always associated with it's first inhabitants.
Historical Tarshish: In the book of Jonah, we have this prophet, who was ordered by God to go to Nineveh (the capital of the Assyrian Empire), going the other way. Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people there, so Jonah did the following: "But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord" (Jonah 1:3).
So here we find in the day of Jonah, there was still a place known as Tarshish. In the day's of King Solomon, some 240 years prior to this, we have record of Tarshish as a commercial-maritime partner with Israel (1 Kings 10:22; 22:48; 2 Chr. 9:21). So, we have a Scriptural account of a place called Tarshish, which was active in trade with Israel for some time.
We also, have other Scriptural accounts of Tarshish in relation to Israel in the following (2 Chr.20:36-37; Psa. 72:10; and again Jonah 1:3).
There is also historical accounts of Tarshish. As we have seen, Tarshish was settled early on long before there was even a Israel. However, this region which was probably in the south of Spain or in Tunisia today, was associated with a people in the time of Solomon, known as the Phoenician's.
The Phoenician's came from what is modern Lebanon today. They were noted as great sailor's, merchant's and explorer's. They founded several colonies throughout the Mediterranean Sea, in such places as North Africa (Carthage); Sicily, Malta, South Italy, South Spain and even Corsica. In Solomon's Psalm, he said: "Let the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring presents.." (Psa. 72:10). This is a clear description of the extent of the Phoenician influence throughout the Mediterranean region at the time of David and Solomon, and gives us a clear indication that Tarshish is synonymous with Phoenicia, and in particular Carthage, which became the greatest colony of the Phoenician's. In fact, Carthage was a great power long after the Phoenician's lost their power to the Persian Empire, and Carthage was a rival of the early Roman's. They had in fact fought several wars with Rome, and at one time threatened Rome to the point that Rome could possibly have never existed or gone on to become a great empire.
How does Tarshish play into Carthage? Well, south Spain was a part of the Carthaginian Empire. Tarshish was a major port located at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea, and was a stop off point for merchants going on to the Atlantic Ocean. As I have said, the Phoenician's were great explorers and merchants, and archaeological evidence has shown that the Phoenician's even traded as far away as England, with the early tribes of British Isles. This was at the time the Briton's were building Stone Henge and other monolithic structures.
Ok, now we have the Biblical and historical basis for Tarshish. I believe we have an idea now who these people were and what they were known for. Primarily, they were known for commerce and trade. So let's bear that in mind here.
Anglo-Israelism: Well, what is Anglo-Israelism? That is the teaching that the Celt's and tribes of England are the descendants of the Ten Northern Tribe's of Israel, who were taken captive by Assyria. This is a aberrant teaching that cannot be validated with Scripture. There is a supposed lost chapter from the book of Acts that has the Apostle Paul going on a missionary journey to England and states that the Druid's there, along with the other Celt's, knew they were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel and accepted the Gospel. The reason that chapter was never included in the book of Acts is because it was never there in the first place and the event never happened. Yet, those who want to support this claim that Anglo-Saxon's were actually Jew's, will turn to this.
The other argument to support the claim for Anglo-Israelism, is that concerning Tarshish. This same argument is also used by those who try to force America into prophetic Scripture. Both arguments are linked together in this view, and I will demonstrate to you how this is so.
The following verses are used by both the Pro-Anglo Israel crowd, as well as those who seek to support that America is alluded to in Scripture:
"The oracle concerning Tyre. Wail O ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is destroyed, without house or harbor; it is reported to them from the land of Cyprus. Be silent, you coastland, you merchants of Sidon; your messengers crossed the sea" (Isa. 23:1-2).
"Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons afar, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you" (Isa. 60:9).
"And I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, tubal, and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations" (Isa. 66:19).
"Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou gathered thy company to take prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil?" (Ezek. 38:13).
Ezekiel 38:13- Does This Prove The Point?
This verse is the latch-key, used to define all the other verses given above. Tarshish and her young Lions, is the point of proof for those who support Anglo-Israelism and prophetic Americanism. These two are actually inseparable in concept. Those who see this as being America, and yet disagree with the Anglo-Israelism concept cannot see that the two go hand -in-hand. If the view is that 'Tarshish and her young lions' symbolizes England and the nations that descended from England, like America, then that view supports the Anglo-Israel theory. If you accept this interpretation as being symbolic for America and England, then you are actually in agreement with the Anglo-Israel camp.
Those who believe that this alludes to America, also like to interpret the word "Coastlands" and "Distant Coastlands," as being an allusion to America. They put the two together: Tarshish and her young lions + Coastlands = America. These symbolic views co-exist together to form a basis of belief that America is referred to after all in Scripture. Then this leads to several other wild and sometimes very aberrant teachings from Scripture. So here is the very focal point. If we rightly interpret Ezekiel 38:13, then we can rightly understand the other verses.
Understanding Ezekiel 38:13
"Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou gathered thy company to take prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil?" (Ezek. 38:13).
Who is Sheba and Dedan? Both of these two nations are associated with Arab tribes, normally located in northern Arabia.
Who is Tarshish? I went over this fairly in-depth earlier. Tarshish is associated with trade and commerce, but also with the Phoenician's and Carthaginian's. Their colonies were scattered throughout the Mediterranean Sea, namely; Malta, Corsica, a portion of Sicily and also the Island of Cyprus. Here we should really focus.
"Coastlands," which is associated with this text never refers to America, England, Canada or Australia. The word "Coastlands" in nearly all cases in Scripture refers to islands or to the shores around the ancient world of the Mediterranean Sea; such as Spain.
Tarshish, as best as I can see in Scripture is a clear reference to a Phoenician colony, and closely associated with Carthage much later. Scripture teaches us that the name of the place, derives from the first people to have settled that region after the Great Flood, but afterwards other people's took over the region but maintained the identity of the original inhabitants through the use of the name only.
Who is all the young lions? First, in the Hebrew we would discover that this actually means "villages." Someone, will argue, "Well, I have faith in the scholars who first interpreted this the way it is and don't want to understand anything more then that." There is nothing wrong with that line of reasoning, but then again the same people that say that don't want to take these Scripture's in their most literal context either. If they did, it would be very clear that there is no argument here at all; that Tarshish and young lions have nothing to do with England or America in the first place.
When we see the word "young" in Scripture, this refers to youth, unwise or immature depending on the context it is given. "Young Lions" refers to immature offspring, not a nation or nations. Possibly colonies, but here it is not in that context. Given in a more literal rendering from the Hebrew to English this verse would read: "Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all its villages, will say to you, 'Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?"
Over All: Prophetically, can we make Tarshish, the Young Lions and Distant Coastlands out to be America and the western powers of the last days before the coming of our Lord? Sure we can, but it doesn't mean we would be correct in our interpretation.
Now, you might ask: Well, who are the these then? Well, Tarshish represents commerce and trade. Tarshish is associated with trade from the west of Israel also. Now, you will say, "Ah ha! That proves my point then!" No, it does not prove that this speaks of America. I will not be dogmatic about that though, because America is to the west and is a commercial giant. Yet, Scripture and in particular, God, does not make that a clear definition. So the definition of who Tarshish is, is not precise, yet it is precise enough to tell us who it is not.
If we were to study about Gog, Magog, Rosh, Tubal or the other major players in the end times, we can and do get some fairly precise meanings. There is little argument that Russia, the Arab nations, China and the east are talked about by God as being major players in the end times. There really is not much argument that Europe, under the anti-christ will be a major player; Scripture talks a great deal about this empire. Yet, there is no precise, clear revelation from God about America.
America's Destiny in the End Times
I would like to point out this verse from Daniel, in which Daniel talks about the final world empire to come before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ-
"Thus he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it" (Dan. 7:23).
What is America's ultimate destiny? To be devoured, tread down and crushed under the coming world empire of the Anti-Christ. A most sobering thought for me.
When we look at Scripture concerning the end times, we find that the European Kingdom of the anti-christ is the leading power in the world. This could only happen today if America ceased to be a world power or an independent nation. Anyway, something must happen to change America's role in the events of the future.
Why has God chosen not to reveal to this generation the fate of such a land as America? I can only guess, but it is evident that God saw fit not to talk about America at all in any way, shape or form. Somehow, we are not important in the scheme of things concerning those last day. Why? I don't know why. Nobody does. We can only guess at this.
I love America. It truly saddens me to think of a world without America and its brave people. There has never before been a people like us in the history of mankind. For the longest time we use to say, "I may not like what you say, but I will die defending your right to say it." Well, that is becoming a thing of the past. The politically correct crowd has seen to that. Yet, America is still a wonderful place and so are American's. When someone is in need, we are usually the first to dig down into our pockets to help someone out. When there is a natural disaster here in our land or across the globe, American's are usually the first one there to help. When there is famine or disease going on some where, again we are usually the first one to arrive with food and medicine. When there is a threat of peace or war or some despot who is killing thousands, we American's are usually there, sacrificing the lives of our men and women for the cause of freedom and to protect the weak. Wherever, there has been something good done in this world since the founding of America, we have left our foot print there and it is known. Yes, we have done some evil things, but our influence for the good of man has been felt and will be remembered long after America ceases to be.
How our nation will come to its ultimate end or what events will bring it about, I cannot see. Yet, by God Himself not even mentioning such a nation as ours leaves me with not much hope for this land I love. One way or another, we will diminish as a nation of power and greatness, and that can be the only conclusion by our great God's silence on the matter.
The great hope for us all, is that Jesus is coming back. He is bringing the peace that man has been seeking for so long. His Kingdom will be ruled by fair justice and He will judge matters not by human wisdom, but by His wisdom. Perhaps, there will be a place in His Kingdom called America, but it will be a part of His Kingdom and then it truly will be the land of the free