In Part I of this three-part series, we closed with the question: Viewed over the last several centuries, is the success of America alone attributable to its people and leaders? Could it be correct to believe that the rise of America over the last 150 to 200 years was not significant in the prophetic timeline of the world?
We answered “no.” God definitely had in mind a role for America. Just why should this country have risen to superpower status in a time such as this? Just what other nation in recent history has been endowed with such wealth, resources and geographical features? Just what other nation in the world could have managed to regulate and influence the world’s affairs at such a crucial time as this past century?
That said, we did not see America itself specifically pictured or mentioned in the Bible. Nor is America a nation that is in a covenant relationship with God. This status is unique to Israel. America may certainly be numbered among the nations of the last days that the Bible collectively addresses in prophecy. If so, it would be counted among “the nations” and is one of the “islands of the seas” that are mentioned in prophecy (assuming it continues to exist). And, even here we cannot be entirely sure of this in every mention of the Biblical phrase “the nations,” as we do not know the future exactly.
Nevertheless, the exclusions we have mentioned do not mean that God has not used America in bringing about His purposes in the world, nor that God did not have America in His eye (although not as the “apple of His eye” as in Zechariah 2:8) from the beginning of time.
Epochal Questions: Why America’s Role?
Clearly, when God created the Earth and its physical features, He knew the advantages that the American continent would afford any nation who possessed it at a critical juncture in mankind’s earthly timeline.
In addition to having many natural endowments (See Part I for this incredible list), America has also had good fortune (destiny). Consider the serendipitous opportunities: The Louisiana Purchase from the French (1803). It purchased Alaska from Russia (1867). It expanded to include New Mexico (1853, then becoming a state in 1912) and the annexation of Texas (1845). To be sure, we have only scratched the surface of an amazing history.
Also, it was providential that events and distractions in Europe over recent centuries, largely allowed America to develop to what it is today with relatively little outside intervention. It also enjoys the longest international border in the world between any two nations with Canada; this also being mile-for-mile the most peaceful border in the world over the last 200 years.
Looking at these individual occurrences and beneficial conditions over North America’s history, the rise of the country of the United States to a superpower may have seemed happenstance at times. But was it?
Just why was it that a continent that lay unexplored by the Old World for generations, would give birth to this Roman-type country that would rise to the pinnacle of world dominance? Geopolitically, it would even rise above the entire old and ancient worlds.
There are so many other questions begging for answers. Why was America not mobilized to world dominance in earlier centuries—say 500 AD or 1000 AD… or any other time? And, why did earlier American natives not form a great nation on their own? Why was it mainly peoples of Roman Offshoots that built the nation of America? Is there any significance to the fact that America came to its strength only as of the late 1800s? Its growing international trade at that time virtually bankrupted formerly great nations such as France, for instance, and other nations.
We have one additional fact to consider before we can propose an answer. It is an essential puzzle piece, and with it we can reasonably deduce our answer (though the Bible does not expressly state this as fact). We must orient our answer to the prophetic timeline of the Jew. And here we discover a crucial historical fact.
Zionism only arose as of the late 19th century (1870 or so). It is at that time that Jews began to plan and lobby for a Jewish homeland. Interestingly, Jews began to be converted to Christianity in significant numbers as of that time. The Bible’s last-day prophecies also miraculously kicked into gear as of that time. The first stages of the aliya (homecoming) had begun.
But could the Bible not have stated these developments and America’s role (also that of Britain and other countries) specifically as part of Bible prophecy? The answer is that the Bible did not need to do so for the benefit of us living in the Church Age. For us (before the Rapture takes place), Israel itself serves as the prophetic time clock.
The Bible Circumnavigates Jerusalem
Why did God call Jerusalem His habitation (Ezra 7:15; 1 Chronicles 23:25)? Just why was Israel situated where it is? Why was the Middle East the cradle of mankind? As we showed in Part I of this series, these are matters that God has shaped with His hand. Just as certain physical and geographical blessings were imparted to America so that it could also be used of God, the same applies to the physical features of Israel. And here, we discover an interesting fact.
A formative study of some decades ago established that the physical location of Jerusalem relative to the position and extremities of the world’s land masses is significant. The site of Jerusalem is the most central to all of the world’s land masses. Ancient maps took this perspective.
We draw here from a presentation by Charles A. Clough1 and quote a commentary detailing an example of just such a map:
A thirteenth-century crusader map places Jerusalem at the center of the earth. Heinrich Bunting’s world map in his Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae,Helmstadt, 1581, of which the Library has a copy, depicts the earth as a three-leaf clover, each leaf being a continent: Europe, Asia, and Africa. The three are drawn together by a ring encircling a single city; that city is Jerusalem City.2
Given the location of Jerusalem and the geographical home of the Hebrews, we could say that the Bible serves as a surveillance camera. It is fixed high over Jerusalem. During Old Testament times, this camera focused upon the live action in this general Middle Eastern area of the world, sometimes swinging its angle as far east as Susa in Elam, north to Assyria and Babylon, and southwest to Egypt. From its perch, it followed Jonah west on his way to Tarshish. How far west we do not know, for Jonah didn’t make it very far before being swallowed by the big fish.
The world’s major powers such as the Assyrians and the Romans of those earlier times, are only caught on this Old Testament camera as they trample across Israel and Judah. Later, in the New Testament, the arc of the camera widens somewhat, roving as far as Rome and more northern parts of Asia Minor.
In our time today, believe it or not, this camera would still not have captured long glimpses of America on its footage. At best, America would only make fleeting cameo appearances on this video, as it initiates short military actions in this Middle Eastern region.
Today, the video camera of Bible prophecy remains upon its pedestal above Israel, limiting its arc of view to the general surrounding area. It has not moved from its spot. This is a perspective that is often forgotten by Bible readers, given that the majority of the world’s population and commercial activity lies outside the line of this camera’s view.
We may believe that world developments outside of this region are preeminent in shaping God’s plan for mankind. In actuality, it is the exact reverse. Actions in the Middle East and the homeland of the Israelites are the most important markers and developments.
Centering our deductions with this perspective validates the significance of America’s role in the world. God moved the hands of the time clock. Israel had begun to return to its homeland, just as Bible prophecy foretold. As God arranged for the Roman Empire to change the time of its census in order to correspond to His prophesied plan for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem so He arranges the actions of nations today, both great and small … including the United States of America.
America: In the Company of Prophetic Nations
The rise of America on the world scene was not accidental. God has had His purposes for America. No doubt, America still has a role to play. But in what way—for good or bad? The Old Testament accounts of God’s disciplining of the Israelites reveal the answers to such questions. These are not necessarily straightforward because the Bible shows that God has different purposes for nations.
Many Gentile nations have been used by God as His instrument to either discipline or bless His chosen people. For instance, in Isaiah 44:28 God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’” Cyrus was used as a restorative instrument in the hands of God.
To that end God gave Cyrus and his following kingdom much power. “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut” (Isaiah 45:1).
However, God also called other heathen nations to punish, discipline and test Israel (see Judges 2:22-23). Surprisingly, God even calls such nations His “servant.” For example, the Lord names Nebuchadnezzar his servant. We read: “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them” (Jeremiah 43:10; see also 27:6). Habakkuk acknowledges: “You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish” (Habakkuk 1:12).
The same case applies to the brutal nation of Assyria. This nation is called “[…] the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!” (Isaiah 10:5). Egypt is also prophesied to be an oppressor of the Hebrews (Genesis 15:14).
Clearly, God uses nations to both bless and punish Israel. Yet, though God has sanctioned the actions of those nations that are used to punish Israel, they themselves are punished.
In the case of Babylon, the Lord said this: “‘But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will make it desolate forever’” (Jeremiah 25:12; see also 50:18).
Assyria, another oppressor of the Hebrews, is similarly dispatched. For, “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, ‘I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes’” (Isaiah 10:12).
Having concluded that America was definitely in God’s eye when He created the Universe, we can ask this question: Did the Lord purpose to use America as a benevolent or punishing force against the Jews and Israel?
Could America have a similar role to Cyrus? Or, despite its great mandate, will it end up no different than all the rest of the Gentile nations?
1 “The Prophetic Promise of the Land Covenant of Deuteronomy.” 22nd Annual Pre-Trib Study Group. Dallas, Texas.
2 Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/Center.html