America in Bible Prophecy
By Britt Gillette
Is America in Bible prophecy?
This is one of the most common questions from contemporary students of bible prophecy, particularly those who live in the United States.
Bible prophecy reveals much about the end times, yet the United States seems conspicuously absent from the geopolitical picture foretold by the prophets.
Given the seeming nearness of Christ’s return, this is difficult for most people to understand.
After all, the United States is currently the most powerful and influential nation on earth. How then can it play no role in end time events?
Where Is America In Bible Prophecy?
The fact is neither America nor the United States are mentioned by name in bible prophecy.
When searching for America in bible prophecy, it’s important to understand that the Bible is a Middle Eastern book with an Israel-centric geographical perspective. Directions, for instance, are often given in relation to Jerusalem.
Furthermore, the fact that America as a nation was unknown to the prophets has no bearing on its absence in bible prophecy.
After all, the nation of Russia was also unknown to the prophets, yet Ezekiel 38-39 clearly identifies Russia (Gog) as a major end time player: “Son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am your enemy, O Gog, ruler of the nations of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drive you toward the mountains of Israel, bringing you from the distant north.” Ezekiel 39:1-2 (NLT)
In addition, the Asian nations (also relatively unknown in John’s day) are clearly identified as major end time players in Revelation 16: “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance.” Revelation 16:12 (NLT)
Given the mention of most every other major nation in the contemporary world, why does the Bible remain silent regarding the United States?
According to some, the Bible may have something to say about America’s role in bible prophecy after all. So let’s look at what they have to say…
Is This America?
When searching for America in bible prophecy, several biblical passages are held up more often than others by proponents who see the United States in the Bible.
Below are some of the more regularly mentioned:
1) The Merchants of Tarshish and All Her Villages
One of the most commonly cited verses regarding America in bible prophecy can be found in the Book Ezekiel:
“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?'” Ezekiel 38:13 (KJV)
The verse references the Gog / Magog war against Israel, which is questioned beforehand by diplomats from many lands, including “the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages.”
According to proponents of this view, Tarshish is a reference to Great Britain and “all her villages” is a reference to the former British colonies of Canada, Australia, and the United States (among others).
This is certainly a creative interpretation of scripture and quite a stretch, especially in light of the fact that no consensus exists in regard to the identity of Tarshish.
Some biblical scholars claims that Tarshish is really a reference to Spain, while others say its India, Asia Minor, or coastal areas in the Mediterranean Sea.
Either way, no one can objectively point to this verse as the “smoking gun” which proves America is in bible prophecy.
Another commonly cited reference regarding America in bible prophecy is Babylon. Here’s one passage often cited:
“One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. ‘Come with me,’ he said, ‘and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.'” Revelation 17:1-2 (NLT)
The United States certainly rules over many waters, and our export of morally degenerate aspects of our media and culture have certainly not served the world well.
Nevertheless, taken in its proper context, Revelation 17 describes Mystery Babylon which is a biblical symbol for false religion, not the United States.
Babylon was the birthplace of false religion, and “the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality” by embracing false religion.
In Revelation 18, we encounter additional parallels:
“After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor. He gave a mighty shout: ‘Babylon is fallen – that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal. For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of her passionate immorality. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her. Because of her desires for extravagant luxury, the merchants of the world have grown rich.'” Revelation 18:1-3 (NLT)
Proponents of the Babylon is the United States theory point to the numerous parallels between the City described above and the United States of America.
But again, bible prophecy needs to be understood in its context, and not interpreted so as to agree with a predetermined viewpoint.
Revelation Chapter 18 does not describe the United States of America, but rather the Empire of the Antichrist and the actual realworld City of Babylon.
This is confirmed in the Book of Zechariah, when it’s revealed exactly where the epicenter of the end times false religion will geographically be located:
“Then the heavy lead cover was lifted off the basket, and there was a woman sitting inside it. The angel said, ‘The woman’s name is Wickedness,’ and he pushed her back into the basket and closed the heavy lid again. Then I looked up and saw two women flying toward us, gliding on the wind. They had wings like a stork, and they picked up the basket and flew into the sky. ‘Where are they taking the basket?’ I asked the angel. He replied, ‘To the land of Babylonia, where they will build a temple for the basket. And when the temple is ready, they will set the basket there on its pedestal.'” Zechariah 5:7-11 (NLT)
Some interpretations say “the plains of Shinar” or “the land of Shinar” instead of Babylonia. Nevertheless, Babylon is located on the plains of Shinar in modern day Iraq.
A close examination of the Babylon in Revelation confirms that Babylon is not a reference to America in bible prophecy.
3) A Great Eagle
Another commonly cited America in bible prophecy passage is also from the Book of Revelation:
“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.” Revelation 12:13-14 (NLT)
Proponents who see the United States as the great eagle in Revelation 12 point to America’s prominent national symbol as evidence of its identity as the eagle.
But yet again, this passage needs to be interpreted in a biblical context.
The eagle is a clear reference to God, not the United States, as evidenced by the following verses:
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Exodus 19:4 (NLT)
“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they followed no foreign gods.” Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (NLT)
Yet again, in order to see America in bible prophecy, you’re required to engage in some creative and imaginative interpretations.
4) A Tall and Smooth People
The final America in bible prophecy verses we’ll look at are from Isaiah:
“Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.” Isaiah 18:2 (NLT)
“At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction.” Isaiah 18:7 (NLT)
Some people claim these verses are a reference to the United States because America is “feared far and wide” and it’s divided by rivers (or even two oceans).
Yet, by simply reading verses one and two from Isaiah 18, we find that the nation referenced is not the United States: “Listen, Ethiopia – land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile, that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river.” Isaiah 18:1-2 (NLT)
Cush, or Ethiopia, is the land of “tall, smooth-skinned people” referenced in Isaiah 18.
In short, the Bible makes no direct reference to the United States or America when it comes to the end times.
America’s Prophetic Role
In spite of the Bible’s silence in regard to the United States, America does have a profound role of prophetic significance in world affairs. While it may not be mentioned directly in end times bible prophecy, the United States has played a pivotal role in setting the stage for God’s worldwide end time drama.
Below is a list of three significant American contributions in setting the stage for the near-term fulfillment of end times bible prophecy:
1) American Support of Israel
The unrivaled prosperity and success of the United States is no coincidence.
Long ago, God made a promise to Abraham and his descendants: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.” Genesis 12:3 (NLT)
God promised to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse them.
Since its Revolutionary foundation, the United States has been a safe haven for Jews relative to the other nations of the world. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, the United States has treated the Jewish people with kindness and acceptance, granting them full rights of citizenship.
In 1948, the United States fully supported the newly established nation of Israel, becoming its staunchest ally in the decades that followed.
American support during the Cold War as well as American military aid and assistance helped Israel thwart the existential threats posed by the Soviet Union and Israel’s hostile Arab neighbors.
In short, God used the United States as a mid-wife in the rebirth of Israel.
2) America and Global Evangelism
Since its inception, America has been a global leader in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The earliest settlers brought the Good News to the natives of North America, and in the centuries since, America has led the world in the international export of Christian evangelism.
The fruits of this global evangelism include countless missions, untold church plantings, the distribution of millions of bibles in hundreds of languages, and radio, satellite, and Internet ministries reaching all over the earth.
America’s role in preaching the gospel throughout the world can NOT be overstated, and according to Jesus Himself, the Good News must reach a global audience before He returns:
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (NLT)
3) America’s Role in Increasing Travel and Knowledge
According to the Book of Daniel, the end times will witness a marked increase in travel and knowledge:
“But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4 (NLT)
The fact that the world has already witnessed this dramatic increase in travel and knowledge is apparent even to the most casual observer.
For thousands of years, the horse remained the fastest mode of human transportation while the world’s most celebrated libraries contained at best thousands of scrolls.
Today, jets can travel faster than the speed of sound and handheld devices can store hundreds of times as much information as the Library at Alexandria, which is widely considered the greatest depository of knowledge in the ancient world.
America’s role in bringing about this explosion in travel and knowledge is unrivaled and indisputable.
The United States was the first nation to fully unleash the power of the free market, resulting in a burst of entrepreneurial creativity and innovation which enabled an exponential increase in technological development which spread throughout the world.
As a result, it’s hard to deny America’s signficance in setting the stage for Christ’s return.
America in the End Times
But America’s prophetically significant role in leading up to the end times doesn’t necessarily translate into a significant or even notable role during the seven year Tribulation.
In fact, the Bible doesn’t even mention the United States or America.
The Bible’s silence in regard to America seems to necessitate a notable decrease in its power and influence.
And given the lateness of the hour, it’s likely that America’s fall from power will be sudden and dramatic.
What could cause such a powerful and influential nation to suddenly fall from its perch?
Here are a few possible reasons for America’s absence in end times bible prophecy (Note that these are merely speculations and not predictions):
1) The Rapture
While only God can know a person’s heart, there’s a good probability that the United States will lose more citizens as a result of the rapture than any other nation in the world.
With more self-proclaimed born again Christians than everywhere else on earth, the rapture has the potential to destroy the United States in a moment’s notice.
Imagine millions of hard working Americans – homeowners, tax payers, leaders – simply disappearing.
Aside from the Hollywood images of crashing planes and cars, think of the implications. Businesses crushed as owners and employees disappear… Millions of consumers gone overnight… Millions of additional vacant homes added to an already bloated housing inventory…
From an economic standpoint, the rapture threatens to destroy the American economy, and America’s military might is built on the back of unprecedented military spending enabled by a robust economy.
2) Financial Collapse
Take an honest look under the hood of America’s debt-based economy, and you’ll realize it doesn’t necessarily take a major event like the rapture to spark a financial collapse.
By ignoring the biblical principles of financial stewardship, many Americans have set themselves and their nation on course toward bankruptcy.
Unless something dramatically changes, America’s national debt will exceed its total annual output within the next few years.
Meanwhile, several states are on the brink of bankruptcy, with most every other state and local government soon to follow.
But it’s not just America’s government which lives beyond its means. Our government is merely an extension of the behavior exhibited by its individual citizens.
Today’s average American today is burdened by a debt to disposable income ratio of 133%. That means the average American has already spent every dime of his or her disposable income, plus an additional 33%!
Is it really difficult to envision this debt-saddled house of cards suddenly collapsing?
If and when it does, America’s global power and influence will quickly disappear as well.
3) Defeat at the Hands of the Antichrist
The Book of Revelation reveals that the Antichrist and his kingdom will become so powerful that no one will be able to resist militarily: “They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they worshiped the beast. ‘Is there anyone as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?'” Revelation 13:4 (NLT)
Perhaps the absence of America in bible prophecy is due to the Antichrist conquering or annexing the United States into his revived Roman Empire.
4) Fading into Obscurity
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily require a major event such as the rapture, a financial meltdown, or loss of sovereignty for the United States to fall from its position as the world’s most powerful nation.
In addition to our massive debt, America is in a state of prolonged moral decay. We’ve pushed God out of our schools, public buildings, and public discourse… Broken families are now the norm… Our entertainment grows more and more degenerate with each passing year… And a record number of citizens are dependent on government, not a result of disability, but as a result of sloth and laziness.
We can’t rule out the possibility that the United States will simply fade into obscurity, surpassed by its rivals due to a combination of financial turmoil, moral decay, and societal breakdown.
The rapture would simply serve as the final nail in the coffin of America’s international dominance.
5) A Host of Other Reasons
The above scenarios offer just a few speculations regarding America’s absence in bible prophecy.
But in all likelihood, there’s a host of other reasons for the Bible’s silence that we have yet to understand or imagine.
Nevertheless, the sudden loss of America’s current role as the world’s lone superpower is not difficult to fathom, and it likely explains the Bible’s strange silence in regard to the world’s most powerful nation when it comes to end time matters.
As students of bible prophecy diligently search the scriptures, the question continually pops up…
Why isn’t America in bible prophecy?
In all likelihood, some of us will not know the answer in this life, but in hindsight, it will most likely be plain and obvious to the people of the Tribulation.
The need to see America in bible prophecy stems from a common mistake in the study of bible prophecy – trying to fit bible prophecy into the current headlines, rather than reading current headlines in the context of bible prophecy.
We can see the many signs of the end times, knowing the hour is late and His coming is near.
And with America still holding a position of strength and power in the world, it’s difficult to reconcile our belief that the end is near with the Bible’s silence regarding America’s role.
Nevertheless, we can be confident that bible prophecy will come to pass with 100% accuracy, and the United States will not be a significant player in end time events.