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America in prophecy?

Due to the fact that the United States of America is such a new country, there is no historical precedent for including it in classical prophecies about the "end times". The Biblical Armageddon, after all, is set in the Middle East - with it's packed historical tradition of 'wars' and 'rumors of wars'. Other cultures were concerned with their own futures, not the future of a country no one knew would some day exist.

Some Native Americans did have end time traditions of their own, some of which even gave predicted dates. The year 2012, for example, is right around the corner. According to some people, programs, and researchers - that is the year the Hopi - as well as the further south Mayans believe the world will end.

Coming from very different viewpoints, followers of Nostradamus claim that he foresaw events that would some day happen in the "new land" - most often interpreted to be America. People point to wordings, and often explain he couldn't explain what he was seeing, so he couldn't predict that exact location in his prophecies.

When it comes to classical biblical prophecies, however, America simply does not exist...

... or did it? Herbert W. Armstrong claimed that he bible does in fact predict the role America will play at the end o the world history. He taught that in Genesis 49, Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel, prophesied the future awaiting each of his twelve sons, who would become the twelve patriarchs of Israel. Armstrong believed that some of the descendants of these patriarchs eventually traveled west, becoming the ancestors of the nations of modern Europe:

The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his. (Gen, 49:10)

Why does England still follow an outdated monarchy in this modern world? According to Armstrong, it's because the queen of England sits on the throne of David. Her descendants will continue to do so until Jesus Christ returns.

The story becomes even more complicated. Joseph, the eleventh son of Israel, who, following a long and tangled path, led his brothers to safety in Egypt, was described as "fruitful vine" (Gen. 49:22). Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh was the older and should have received the blessing appropriate for the firstborn. So when Joseph brought the boys to his father, Israel, he placed Manasseh in Israel's right, to receive the "right hand" patriarchal blessing, as was his due. But Israel, before delivering the blessing, crossed his hands placing his right hand on the head of Ephraim. When Joseph objected, Israel prophesied that the younger son would, in effect, become the "first" nation.

Armstrong, stringing together many Old Testament texts traced Ephraim and Manasseh to England. He believed Manasseh's descendants became the founding fathers of the United States. Leaving England (the recipient of the "firstborn" blessing,) they went "over the wall," in Israel's words, to America. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled. England (Ephraim) became the "firstborn" nation. Manasseh (The United States) became the younger "son." Joseph indeed became a "fruitful vine," fulfilling Israel's prophecy:

With bitterness archers attacked him;
 they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady,
 his strong arm stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
 because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
because of your father's God, who helps you
 because of the Almighty, who blesses you
 with blessing of the heavens above,
blessings of the deep below,
blessings of the breast and womb...
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
 on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (Gen. 49:23-26)

To Armstrong, England and America, sprung from the loins of Joseph, beloved son of Israel and savior of the Jewish people, will continue to be world powers until the end of time.

Most modern nations, to say the least, do not share this biblically mandated view of history. To many influential editors of foreign newspapers, including those in England, America has gone off the deep end when it comes to following the Bible. George Monbiot, in an article for the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper, writes:  

"To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas".

He goes on to say that (former) President George W. Bush, whose home in Texas, followed the lead of those who believe that the United States has a biblical mandate to side with Israel in the fight  for Israel's "biblical lands."

     The headline of Monbiot article spells it out:
   Their beliefs are Bonkers, but They Are at the Heart of Power
   Us Christian Fundamentalists Are Driving Bush's Middle East Policy

As Monbiot describes it, "The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their efforts. The antichrist is apparently walking among us, in the guise of Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Yasser Arafat or, more plausibly, Silvio Berlusconi. The Wal-Mart Corporation is also a candidate.... because it wants to radio tag it's stock, thereby exposing humankind to the Mark of the Beast."

Even if America is not specifically mentioned in prophetic tradition, it obviously plays an important role in world events. To those who believe that world history is approaching Armageddon, it follows that America will loom large as the drama unfolds. Hal Lindsey believes that America will be important, but not the leader, in those cataclysmic events. In the Late Great Planet Earth he writes :

The United States may be aligned with the Western forces headed by the ten nation Revived Roman Empire of Europe. It is clear that the U.S. cannot be the leader of the West in the future. It is quite possible that Ezekiel was referring to the U.S. in part when he said : "I will send fire upon those who dwell securely in the coastlands..."

The word translated "coastlands" or "isle" in the Hebrew is ai.It was used by the ancients in the sense of "continents" today. It designated that Gentile civilizations across the seas which were usually settled most densely along the coastlands. The idea here is that the gentile nations of distant continents would all experience the impact of sudden torrents of fire raining down upon them. This can include prophetically the populated continents and islands of the Western Hemisphere as well as the Far East. It pictures cataclysmic events which will affect the whole inhabited earth.

Is this just another example of trying to fit current events into ago old prophecies? Can the old argument apply that prophets must be excused for their lack of specifics because they were viewing  a future that that could not really be expected to understand?

Apparently many people believe just that. In October 1998, police in Jerusalem reported that they were having difficulty with American Christian "religious zealots" who wanted to be in the Holy Land when the new millennium came to pass. Born again Christians were moving into houses and apartments and filling motel rooms near the Mount of Olives so they would have a front row seat for the Second Coming.

There is, however, another conservative religious view that suggests a different reason for America's failure to be mentioned specifically in the Bible. Could it be that America is conspicuous by it's absence because it is destined to fall into insignificance before Armageddon occurs? And since Armageddon seems to be just around the corner (as always), is America's downfall imminent?  

This seems to be the position Edgar Cayce took. He predicted various dire events that would begin in the 1950's and culminate by the year 2000. An earthquake would destroy large positions of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Floods would inundate the southern coast of California and the area between Salt Lake City and Nebraska. Land would appear off the East Coast and new lands would rise in the Caribbean.

Obviously these things didn't happen, and the new millennium came in rather quietly,. But Cayce's followers remind us that calendars are, after all, human inventions. God man have a different date that doesn't correspond to the one we have arbitrarily selected. A few years here or there is not a big difference.

Only time will tell.

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Man Made Disasters

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