Last night I inaugurated my new radio talk show in Los Angeles. When we opened the phones for questions, the first three callers asked the same question: “Where is America in Bible prophecy?”
This is a difficult question, mostly because it has such a difficult answer. I love my country, and I’d love to find references to it in the last days. But it isn’t there. And that seems to be quite a mystery, given that we are at the moment the most powerful nation on earth, by every conceivable measure.
There are some who try and find America in Scripture. I’ll outline a few of these views for you.
America, the wide and smooth?
Some point to Isaiah 18, which speaks of a people “tall and smooth” who are “feared far and wide.” The passage says these people are “a powerful nation whose land the rivers divide” that will one day bring gifts to the Messiah when He reigns from Mount Zion.
Those who hold this view, point to the fact the United States is divided by the Mississippi, to America’s power and say we are the people “feared far and wide” of whom Isaiah was speaking. But this view only works if you ignore the first verse of Chapter 18. It clearly identifies the powerful nation divided by a river as Cush, or Ethiopia. At the time of Isaiah, Ethiopia was part of the Egyptian empire and the river referred to is without doubt the Nile.
Another view says that America is identified by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 38:13. Ezekiel speaks of the “merchants of Tarshish and all the young lions thereof” who launch a diplomatic protest at the time of the Gog-Magog invasion of Israel. Some point to the fact that Tarshish was the westernmost trading and seafaring nation of the ancient world. From there, Tarshish becomes Britain. After all, Britain is the westernmost point on the Continent. And the symbol of Britain is a lion. Consequently, “all the young lions thereof” become the former British colonies, like Australia, Canada and, of course, the United States. Therefore, ipso facto, the merchants of Tarshish and all the young lions thereof must be referring to America.
But this doesn’t work, either. First and foremost, nobody can pinpoint with any degree of accuracy the location of Tarshish. The only thing we are sure of is that it isn’t Britain. The most recent archeological evidence puts ancient Tarshish in Spain, which, while close, doesn’t quite win the cigar.
The eagle has landed
Another popular candidate for a biblical America is found in Revelation 12:13-17. In this exercise in applied imagination, we can find America, and she is busily engaged in an heroic effort to save Israel. If you accept the interpretation that includes America, that is.
This passage states that during the Tribulation, God will provide a means of escape for the Jewish remnant in Israel. It says they will be carried into the wilderness on the “wings of a great eagle.” Misinterpreting this verse makes it possible to have the United States supplying a military airlift of Israelis to safety — on the “wings of an eagle.” You can make this work only by ignoring the fact that Scripture interprets Scripture.
And the Scripture already identifies who has the wings of an eagle.
In Deuteronomy 32:11, God identifies the bearer of Israel on eagles’ wings. “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad on her wings, taketh them, and beareth them on her wings, So the Lord alone did lead him [Israel] and there was no strange god with him.” It is a nice picture, and in keeping with our own self-image, to see America as Israel’s savior during the Tribulation. But it is clearly incorrect.
Probably the most widely accepted explanation of America in Bible prophecy uses Revelation Chapter 18 to show that the United States is really “Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots.” The reason this symbol is the most widely accepted symbol of the United States is because the shoe seems to fit. Consider the evidence offered in support of this view, because it is compelling. Revelation 18:2 opens with the angelic declaration that “Babylon the Great is fallen.” Verse 3 describes Babylon the great thusly: “all the nations of the earth have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornications with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” This doesn’t seem to be much of a reach, on first glance.
America has sunk to moral depths scarcely imaginable a generation ago. We kill babies in the womb when they are socially inconvenient. The nuclear family is all but extinct. Morals are situational, if they are relevant at all. We choose as entertainment stories about adultery, fornication, violence and virtually every form of evil. We are the world’s leading exporters of filth and pornography, not to mention being the world’s largest arms dealer and exporter of destruction and mayhem. Politically, we have just emerged from eight years of the most shameful and immoral leadership the United States has ever been subjected to.
Not America’s vision
The description goes on, referencing the fact she “sits as a queen and no widow.” One could argue the U.S. sits as a queen (it’s probably more politically correct than a king, anyway) and no widow, as America has seen no war on her shores in living memory. Since the Apostle John also refers to the fact that “ships and sailors and as many as trade by sea” will see the city burning, this view makes New York City Babylon the Great. The original Babylon still stands, in Iraq, but nowhere near the sea. And, just outside New York City is the city of Babylon, N.Y.! So, there you have it! And it all seems to make sense, really. Provided you are looking at prophecy as if it were given from the perspective of Washington. But it isn’t.
In Bible prophecy everything orients from Israel. John’s vision of the apocalypse is from the perspective of Israel, during the time of Jacob’s trouble, not America’s. But the most conclusive reason is given in Revelation 17:18. John says Mystery Babylon is really a woman — that great harlot who will reign over the cities from earth. But John wrote that the great city was clearly Rome, and that is the city that will reign over the earth in the last days.
I can imagine the heaps of criticism this column will engender.
America faces threats from mad bombers, mad dictators, a unified Russian-Chinese military adversary and a host of other threats. Who wants to be the one to say that, biblically speaking, there is no reason to think one of them isn’t going to happen? But America is not a major player in the last days — she hasn’t even a bit part. I personally believe that one explanation could be that our country and its leadership will be so decimated following the Rapture that we will simply cease to be a major influence overnight.
I prefer that over the alternative.