The question of whether America is mentioned in end-times Bible prophecy has been the subject of much debate through the years. Some say yes, and others say no. Many theories on the issue have been speculative and far-fetched. Others have taken a more reasoned approach. I will consider two major viewpoints in the debate: (1) America is only indirectly mentioned in Bible prophecy, and (2) America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy at all. We will cover the first view in this article.
Only Indirectly Mentioned in Bible Prophecy
Some prophecy enthusiasts believe Bible prophecy includes no direct references to the United States, but it may mention America indirectly. Following are some possible indirect references.
One of the Nations
Many suggest that a number of general prophetic references to “the nations” in the tribulation period are likely to include the United States.
Events in Israel will become a cause of stumbling for the nations of the earth (Zechariah 12:2-3).
God will “shake all nations” (Haggai 2:6-7).
God will be glorified among the nations (Isaiah 66:18-20).
Of course, even though such passages may include the United States, they do not tell us anything specific about the role of the United States in the end times.
Cooperation with Europe
Some suggest that even though the United States may not be specifically mentioned in biblical prophecy, it is possible that a weakened United States—no longer a superpower—may become an ally with the United States of Europe (the revived Roman Empire) early in the tribulation period. After all, most citizens of the United States have their roots in Europe and would likely be more open to allying with Europe than with any other geopolitical entity.
Moreover, when Armageddon breaks out at the end of the tribulation period, troops from around the world will stand against Israel, and troops from the United States may be included. After all, Zechariah 12:3 tells us, “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.” The phrase “all the nations of the earth” would seem to include the United States.
Zechariah 14:2 likewise states, “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Again, “all the nations” would seem to include the United States.
In keeping with this, Revelation 16:14 reveals that “the kings of the whole world” will be gathered together “for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” The “kings of the whole world” would apparently include the commander in chief of the US military.
Babylon in Revelation 17–18
Other prophecy students have seen parallels between Babylon the great in the book of Revelation and the United States (or, more narrowly, New York City). Both Babylon and the United States are dominant, both are militarily strong, both are immoral, both are excessively rich, and both think they are invulnerable. It is therefore reasoned that they must be one and the same.
This scenario is not very popular today. Most people recognize that such a view involves more eisegesis (reading a meaning into the text of Scripture) than exegesis (drawing the meaning out of the text of Scripture). Nevertheless, the theory continues to surface time and again.
The Land Divided by Rivers
Some prophecy students claim that the United States may be the fulfillment of Isaiah 18:1-7, which refers to a nation “whose land the rivers divide” (verse 2). This must be the United States, it is reasoned, since this country is divided by the Mississippi River. Verse 7 reveals that this nation is “a nation mighty and conquering,” perhaps referring to the military might and expansionism of the United States.
This viewpoint has one major problem. Verse 1 clearly reveals that the nation under discussion is ancient Cush, which is modern Sudan.
The Land of Tarshish
Still other prophecy interpreters believe the United States may be included in the land of Tarshish referenced in Ezekiel 38:13. This passage informs us that when a great northern military coalition—Russia aligned with a number of Muslim nations—invades Israel, a small group of nations around the world will offer a lame protest: “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all its leaders will say to you, ‘Have you come to seize spoil? Have you assembled your hosts to carry off plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to seize great spoil?’ ” It may be that the United States will be among the nations that lodge a protest against the massive Ezekiel invasion into Israel, but the protest will be feeble and lack military support.
My personal assessment is that this view is too speculative and has little scriptural support. Besides, no one is sure about the proper geographical identity of Tarshish.
Not Mentioned in Bible Prophecy at All
There is another possibility. America may not be mentioned in end-times Bible prophecy at all. I will explore this view in Part 2 of this blog series, “Is America in Bible prophecy?”
For a more detailed analysis of this and other end-times Bible prophecy debates, check out The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy by Ron Rhodes.
Ron Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, is heard regularly on nationwide radio and is the author of The End Times in Chronological Order, Unmasking the Antichrist, 40 Days Through Revelation, and The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy. He holds ThM and ThD degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches there and at several other seminaries.