Is the United States of America in Biblical prophecy? Israel is clearly mentioned. The land mass formerly known as the Soviet Union is mentioned. Europe is mentioned. The kings of the south are mentioned. The kings of the east are mentioned. Yet there is no clear mention of America.
How does the greatest nation of our time fit into end-time events? Does it factor in at all? The answer could be “Yes,” “No” or “Maybe.”
Years ago, a man told me that America was in prophecy. “How do you spell Jerusalem? There it is – USA – right in the middle!” Obviously, his take on that was on the humorous side.
There is no clear Biblical reference to America, and we should not be specific in linking the United States to verses where it is not named or even clearly inferred. However, there may be some texts of the Bible that are so close that an inference could be made.
There are at least six views held regarding America’s role in prophetic events.
Frank Logsdon, a well-known Bible teacher and pastor, wrote a book Is the USA in Prophecy? in which he states that America is Babylon. The book has been updated as U.S. in Prophecy co-authored by Dr. Noah Hutchings. It draws all sorts of parallels between Babylon and the United States. Jeremiah 50 & 51 and Revelation 17 & 18 as well as other texts are offered as the basis for the conclusion that America and Babylon are the same. Mr. Logdson believes that Babylon in the Bible clearly foreshadows America, and therefore it is assumed that America will someday fulfill all that is spoken of regarding Babylon.
This is the view that I consider to be the least credible. The Bible is literal except where the text says that something is figurative. If you take something that is literal and make it spiritual, sooner or later there is a problem with inconsistency.
The passages in Jeremiah and Revelation refer to a literal Babylon. Jeremiah speaks of Babylon as being in Chaldea, which is a literal geographical area. When John wrote Revelation, Babylon was a literal city, and the people of that day would have known what he was referring to. To say that these passages figuratively apply to the United States when they clearly speak about Babylon is problematic. Of the 284 times Babylon is mentioned in Bible, 283 of those times have to be literal. The only time that it is figurative is in Revelation 17:5 where it is called Mystery Babylon.
Following the death of King Solomon, Israel divided into two kingdoms. The southern kingdom, called Judah, included the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. The northern kingdom, called Israel, was comprised of the other ten tribes. Both kingdoms were eventually taken away into captivity, but the tribes of Israel did not return. They wandered from the Middle East and were lost to history and are known as the Ten Lost Tribes.
Over the years, a theory called British-Israelism developed. It has been taught in various circles and was once a main doctrine of the Worldwide Church of God, begun by Herbert W. Armstrong. Proponents of this view hold that the British people are descendants of those lost tribes of Israel. This would also carry over to America by virtue of the early settlers, and end time prophecies of Israel therefore apply to America.
This view is unbiblical and unsubstantiated, and I believe it should not be given serious consideration. Even the Worldwide Church of God no longer teaches it.
In Daniel 7, we find Daniel’s vision of a beast with 10 horns. Verse 8 describes a “little horn” that comes up in the ten horns and overtakes other horns. There are some who believe that the little horn represents America and that the U.S. will overtake other countries of the old Roman empire.
I have studied this passage quite a bit over the years, I couldn’t make sense of the view that the little horn is America. Most Bible scholars believe that the ten horns represent nations and that the little horn is Antichrist, and that is my view as well.
How could the United States—the greatest nation militarily, economically and governmentally—in the end of time not seem to be mentioned prophetically? Some say it is because it will be either destroyed or so greatly incapacitated as to be inconsequential.
This view is based on Revelation 8:8, which says, “And something like a great mountain was thrown into the sea.” In the Old Testament, great mountains are often figurative of great kingdoms. Daniel 2:35 and Jeremiah 51:25 are two other passages where nations are indicated as mountains.
Some believe that the great mountain mentioned in Revelation 8:8 is America, and the verse indicates that it will be destroyed. More detail will be given later on how this might take place.
A most interesting text is found in Ezekiel 38. After Israel has been restored, they will dwell safely and their guard will be down. This situation is prophetic since Israel obviously doesn’t presently dwell in safety with all of the threats from surrounding countries.
A horrendous northern alliance force will come charging down on the mountains of Israel, probably from the Golan Heights. This is not Armageddon but a battle earlier in the Tribulation. The northern force is joined by other forces described as “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all their young lions…” (Ezek. 38:13).
Sheba and Dedan are modern-day Saudi Arabia, but what nations does the rest of the verse refer to? In their book The Truth About America in the Last Days, Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy make the following case that it refers to America as an extension of western Europe.
The Hebrew word for “lions” can also be translated “villages,” and it is translated that way in Nehemiah 6:2. If that translation were used in Ezekiel 38:13, then “young lions” would refer to colonies. The “merchants of Tarshish,” or Tartesus, refers to land as far away as Spain. The ships of Tarshish were the largest seagoing vessels of the day, and the merchants there developed into Spain, the Netherlands and Britain. They were explorers associated with trans-Atlantic migrations of Celts who came to America. The colonies that belonged to those countries would be America, and the argument is made that anything that is said prophetically about western European would, therefore, include the U.S.
If that is the case, then America could still be in the end times picture as an extension of Europe. Perhaps the stage is already being set for that. Anyone in the manufacturing business who expects to sell anything in the European Common Market must have the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) mark, which is a European system of manufactur-ing excellence. U.S. Supreme Court justices have looked to European law in interpreting our own Constitution. America’s economy is shaky and our debt is rising. Some European countries are in desperate financial straights. There may come a day when America and Europe are weakened to the point that they will have to come together in order to survive.
Isaiah 18 speaks of a great nation that is weighed and punished by God, but what nation is this? A case could be made that it is the United States.
This unnamed nation is described as being “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.” Its ambassadors have to cross a watery divide to get to other nations (verses 1 and 2). The U.S. is mostly surrounded by water.
The nation is described in verse 2 as “tall and smooth.” (The old King James Version had it as “scattered and peeled.” This is the only time those words are used in the Old Testament, and the translators didn’t have a point of reference. The Hebrew word translated as “scattered” means “strung out” or “extended,” and a correct translation would be “tall.”)
Historically, Americans have been tall people on average. “Peeled” means “stripped” or “close shaven.” Beards used to indicate fierceness in battle. One Bible expositor has made the point that when American soldiers went into battle in World Wars I and II, they were given crew cuts and had no beards.
It also says that the nation is “greatly feared from their beginning.” “Fear” here would mean “respect.” The United States is the strongest nation militarily. Prior to September 11, 2001, there had been no foreign attack on the continental U.S. since 1814.
Before the Gulf War, a man who was a chaplain in the army described to me U.S. military technology that could put a missile through the front door of a building and out the back of it. I thought he was dreaming, but that’s what we saw in the major combat phase of the war in Iraq. It’s no wonder that many nations fear American military power.
The passage says the nation is “:measured out and trampled down,” which is another way of saying it is nationally surveyed and explored. And it is divided by rivers. America is divided and regionalized by a number of great rivers—the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Hudson and many others. Radio station call letters indicate a east-west major division. Radio stations east of the Mississippi begin with a W; stations west of the Mississippi begin with a K.
This nation—unnamed, but distinctive in all these aspects—is a nation that is being weighed by God, and he ponders its fate. Isaiah 18:4 says, “For so the Lord said to me, ‘I will take My rest, and I will look from My dwelling place like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of the harvest.’” When heated earth is viewed from a distance, you can see the heat rise in waves. This is the description of what God does—He backs off and He carefully observes that nation.
Isaiah 18:5-7 describes this nation’s fate. It will either be cut down and left to vultures (vs. 5 & 6) or it can come in the millennial kingdom and cast its praise before the throne there in Jerusalem (vs. 7).
Implications for America
Is this nation America? I don’t know. If it is, then America is being weighed and has a choice that will determine its future. I would suggest that God Almighty is looking down at what we as a nation are doing in several areas. It’s as though He folds His arms and waits and asks, “Well, what are you going to do about it? Where do you stand?”
I believe that America is being weighed in three areas:
Ethnically – How America treats the Jews and Israel
The United States has had a long-standing friendship with Israel. It took the U.S. government only 11 minutes to recognize the new nation of Israel in May 1948. America is now debating its policies toward Israel and whether it is worth it to unequivocally support Israel.
In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham of his descendants, which would be the nation of Israel, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.” I am not saying that Israel does everything right. I am saying that the Jewish people are an ethnic entity that God is interested in because He has preserved them to the end of time for some certain prophetic fulfillment. How America treats the nation of Israel determines our own blessing.
Ethically – How America preserves its spiritual life
This is an area in which we may be failing. Legislation and regulations involving hate crimes, the fervor of political correctness, pluralism and “tolerance” are being crafted so that the Christian with all his hard-line doctrines is the one that often stands in the way of “progress.” Will it be a hate crime to declare that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”? There has been growing and accepted criticism and even ridicule of athletes and other high profile figures who speak out about their faith. Our public schools have drifted from Biblical truth into evolutionary chaos.
Evangelistically – How America spreads the Gospel
Are churches maintaining their interest in reaching the world with the Gospel? Are we as individuals sharing Christ with those around us? While U.S. missionaries make up 30% of the world’s missionaries, that number is declining slightly each year with increased participation from Africa, Latin America and Korea. (houstonperspectives.com).
There has also been a decline in the promotion of missions in churches through missionary conferences. A statistic was published a few years ago that only 3% of churches across the country ever hold any kind of missionary conference. There is a trend among those that do hold conferences to shorten them from a week or weekend into a single Sunday.
Giving to missions is also down according to Empty Tomb, a ministry devoted to increasing awareness of missions funding needs. Designated giving to special missions offerings has increased at only half the pace of increases in undesignated giving to church causes.
Consequences of Failure
If America is indeed being weighed, what happens if we fail God’s test? Perhaps, as some believe, we have already passed the point of no return and are now reaping the effects and fruit of not going God’s way.
However, Isaiah 18 indicates a more severe result—destruction. There are many different methods of destruction, and I list some here as possibilities, either singly or in combination, for how a nation might be brought to a point of incapacitation or devastation:
- Nuclear attack-
- Biological (germ warfare)
- Electronic (cyber terrorism)
- Natural disaster (earthquake, flood, hurricane, tsunami)
- Medical (epidemic, disease, stress)
- Economic collapse (devaluation of currency, national debt, depression)
- Mental (fear, panic)
- Agricultural (crop failure)
God in His mercy has restrained these from happening nationwide in America. A striking example is 9/11. Though there was tragic loss on that day, the brave men and women of Flight 93 kept a terrorist-controlled airliner from crashing into Washington, D.C., and destruction of our executive and congressional branches of government was prevented.
However, if we do fail God’s test, He might remove His restraining hand because there would be no reason to preserve America. As a nation and as individuals, we could be subject to God’s wrath.
There are five Biblical types of God’s wrath. Some are felt individually, and others could apply to a group of people or to a nation.
- Eternal wrath is the judgment of God for those who do not repent and who reject salvation in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:5). It results in eternal punishment and separation from God.
- Apocalyptic wrath is the destruction that will take place in the end times (Revelation 6:16, 17).
- Cataclysmic wrath is a specific disaster, such as the Flood (Genesis 6:17), to destroy and remove sin.
- Consequential wrath is the specific result of actions that go against God’s Word (Rom. 1:27; Galatians 6:7–9). Actions have consequences both immediate and eventual. Living an immoral or depraved lifestyle results in sickness and possibly premature death.
- Abandonment wrath is the withdrawal of God’s blessing as a result of the willful restraint of truth. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” The word “suppress” here is the same as “hold down,” meaning to hold it with the idea of not letting it free to do its purpose.
When men suppress the truth, God gives them up to an immoral lifestyle (Romans 1:24). The phrase “gave them up” is usually translated “delivered” (Matthew 27:26 – Pilate “delivered him to be crucified”). Romans 1:24-32 describes the terrible results including adultery (vs. 24) and homosexuality (vs. 25).
God delivers the unrighteous to a debased mind “to do those things not fitting” (vs. 28). The Greek word translated as “debased” means “not standing the test, rejected.” A debased mind is a mind of which God cannot approve and which must be rejected by Him. It is the effect of refusing “to retain God in their knowledge.”
There follows a list of all sorts of sinful behaviors—everything from sexual immorality and murder to lying, pride and greed (vs. 29-31). Note that these are practiced after God delivers the unrighteous. That would mean that the worst might be yet to come!
Tragically, God’s withdrawal of blessing is not based solely on people’s behavior. It is based on the approval of the majority! Romans 1:32 indicates that those who take part in sin are “deserving of death,” but so are those who approve of it. The Greek word translated “approve” also means “to consent.” One does not have to take part in sinful behavior but merely approve of it to feel its consequences. Society says that, in the interest of freedom and tolerance, people can do whatever they want to. Saying nothing is tacit approval. Tragically, this is the perfect way to receive God’s judgment.
Factors for Deliverance
America is now deciding its future in families, churches, organizations and as individuals. But the good news is that all is not necessarily lost.
The most influential and strategic people in this country are God’s people. In that regard, there are several factors that can make a difference in the future of the United States:
Presence – Our nation hasn’t completely fallen apart because the Church is still here. The Flood didn’t come until Noah and his family were safe in the ark. Sodom wasn’t destroyed until Lot had gotten out. In AD 70, Jerusalem wasn’t destroyed until the Christians fled across the river to Perea.
I believe that America is somehow held together by the presence of God’s people. Believers are salt and light, and God has a plan and a program to use us to reach people for Christ and complete His church.
Prayer – Joel 2:12-17 announces a call to God’s people to repentance and prayer. The result would be refreshed land and a pouring out of God’s spirit.
Prayer is not only a spiritual duty, it is also a civic duty. God’s Word commands that we pray “for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1 & 2). “All men” is the electorate, and “all that are in authority” includes any elected or appointed official.
Performance – 2 Chronicles 34 tells the account of King Josiah. Unlike his father, he did what was right in the Lord’s eyes. He cleaned up the country and broke down the altars to the foreign gods. In the course of cleaning out and repairing the Temple, the Book of the Law was found. Josiah knew they hadn’t kept God’s Word as they should have and that great judgment would result.
But God said to Josiah, “Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before Me, I will give you another generation. Judgment won’t come in your time. It will come later.” (2 Chron. 34:27 & 28 – my paraphrase) Josiah made a covenant to follow the Lord and keep His commandments, and he restored proper worship throughout Judah. Great national revival resulted, and God gave them a respite.
Preaching – Jonah 3:1-10 describes the greatest revival in world history. After trying to run from God’s assignment, Jonah preached to the great but sinful city of Ninevah. As a result, the entire city repented, and God’s judgment was averted. Perhaps it is not too late for America’s preachers to speak out against sin and urge people to come to repentance and salvation and bring about revival.
Is America in prophecy? I don’t know. I do know that revival either prevents disaster or prepares for it. Revival is a return to Christian normalcy—getting back to what we were when we were what we should be. We are in a most critical time here at the end of the Church Age, and God is counting on each one of us to make the difference!
Scripture verses are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
This commentary is from a message David Virkler gave numerous times as part of a series on prophecy. An audio version of the message can be heard at our website along with other messages in the series given in April 2011.