“He makes nations great, then destroys them; he enlarges nations, then leads them away” (Job 12:23).
“Then David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said, May you be blessed, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all” (1 Chronicles 29:10-12).
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:24-28 NLT).
The point, I hope would be obvious after reading those three passages is that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and sovereign God who is in control everything. Implied in those passages as well is that He is also very personal and close to all that He has created, particularly man. Although He is a transcendent God, He is also very much a part of world history and involved in the affairs of man. The destiny, and for that matter, the very existence of nations and their inhabitants is determined by God, for He rules over all.
So, as we study biblical prophecy and find that the future of many nations is clearly presented in Scripture, can we determine whether the United States is one of those nations? In this chapter we will answer that question.
Key End Time Players Mentioned in Scripture
Jeff Kinley states that,
“Aside from, of course, Israel, I have listed a few of them here. These are some of the countries named in prophecies related to Revelation, including what most biblical scholars understand to be their modern-day correlation:
- Rosh (Russia)
- Magog (Central Asia, Islamic Southern Republics of the former Soviet Union)
- Meshech and Tubal (Turkey)
- Persia (Iran)
- Ethiopia/Cush (Sudan)
- Libya/Put (Libya)
- Gomer (Turkey)
- Beth-togarmah (Turkey)
These nations are a part of what has been called “the Gog Coalition,” an alliance of countries who come together to attack Israel at some future time (possibly near the beginning of the Tribulation period).”1
There is agreement among students of prophecy that the United States is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. We do know that this country fits into the general framework of prophecy since numerous passages teach that God will deal with all the nations in the end times, thus placing this country in those “catch-all” references.
If the United States is not specifically mentioned by name, is it possible that we are mentioned by some other name? Some say we are, here are some of the most common views:
(1) The United States is Babylon the Great. Some believe that the United States (specifically New York City) is Babylon the great in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. S. Franklin Logsdon and Jack Van Impe are among those who believe that we are Babylon the great and argue that Jeremiah 50-51 and Revelation 18 describe this country in the last days.
Although there are some interesting parallels between New York and Babylon, this view has a few problems. First, there is no reason not to believe that the Babylon mentioned in Revelation 17-18 is not the actual rebuilt city in modern-day Iraq, the Babylon that will be destroyed at the end of the Tribulation by God.
Second, six times in the book of Revelation, the city that serves as the Antichrist’s capital city in the last days is specifically called Babylon (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 12). Nothing in the text suggests that we should interpret the name Babylon in a non-literal way, as a code name for some other city. A literal interpretation here is the best interpretation.
Third, the Babylon in Revelation is not a country, it is clearly said to be a city.
“The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the Great was remembered in God’s presence; he gave her the cup filled with the wine of his fierce anger” (Revelation 16:19).
“And the woman you saw is the great city that has royal power over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).
Fourth, Babylon is mentioned more times in Scripture (around 300 times) than any other city other than Jerusalem and it always refers to a literal city. Babylon has always represented wickedness and rebellion against God.
Fifth, as New Testament scholar Robert Thomas writes,
“Babylon on the Euphrates has a location that fits this description politically, geographically, and in all the qualities of accessibility, commercial facilities, remoteness of interferences of church and state, and yet centrality in regard to the trade of the whole world.”2
Sixth, in the book of Revelation, the Euphrates River is mentioned twice by name and in both instances, something of great importance, something evil will be occurring there.
“Say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates’” (Revelation 9:14).
“The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east” (Revelation 16:12).
There is no reason the Euphrates River should not be interpreted literally. It makes sense that the Euphrates would be mentioned in Revelation if Babylon, which functions as the capital of the Antichrist where all religious and political power is centered, is the literal city of Babylon.
Seventh, let us consider the incredible vision Zechariah had pertaining the end times Babylon.
“Then the angel who was talking with me came forward and said, ‘Look up and see what’s coming.’
‘What is it?’ I asked.
He replied, ‘It is a basket for measuring grain, and it’s filled with the sins of everyone throughout the land.’
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 5:5-11 NLT).
In this vision, the prophet foresees wickedness coming back home in the future. He prophesizes that this woman whose name is “Wickedness” would be carried back in a basket “to the land of Babylonia, where they will build a temple for the basket.”
The “Mother of Prostitutes” in Revelation 17:5 is the one who fulfills the prophecy in Zechariah 5 in that great city of Babylon.
Seventh, the predictions in Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50-51 regarding the destruction of Babylon have yet to be fulfilled since Babylon has never been utterly destroyed, thus those predictions must be making reference to a future rebuilt city that will be completely destroyed at the end of the Tribulation.
Eighth, Jeremiah 50-51 is clearly describing the city located on the Euphrates River. The parallels between the city described in Jeremiah and the city described in Revelation 17-18 are many and they are too striking for them not to be one and the same.
(2) The United States is the “tall and smooth-skinned” nation mentioned in Isaiah 18. The context does not support that interpretation. The text tells us that the “land is divided by rivers” (18:2, 7). Isaiah 18-20 are one connected prophecy dealing with Cush and Egypt which at the time were united. Southern Egypt, Sudan, northern Ethiopia, and Somalia are the present-day countries that make up ancient Cush. The country referenced by the phrase “the land of buzzing insect wings” (8:1) is Egypt. That phrase most likely is a reference to the insects so common and plentiful in the Nile Valley area.
“Listen, Ethiopia [Cush]—land of fluttering sailsthat lies at the headwaters of the Nile, that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. 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 18:1-2 NLT).
These two verses are a warning from God to the Cushites, they are not to form an alliance against Assyria. God is the one who will destroy Assyria when their time to fall has come. In verse 3 He says,
“All you inhabitants of the world and you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, look! When a ram’s horn sounds, listen.”
(3) The United States is “Tarshish with all its rulers” in Ezekiel 38:13. For a proper understanding of verse 13, we need to keep in mind some of the background information provided in chapters 38-39.
These chapters predict an end times invasion of Israel attempted by Russia and several Muslim nations (Ezekiel 38:1-6).
Their goal? To once and for all annihilate Israel, which has always been the stated goal of many, if not most, Islamic nations today. Several other countries will question or even protest this military action. Among the nations listed are Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its rulers. Sheba and Dedan are in modern-day Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the Gulf States. Thomas Ice explains that,
“Merchants of Tarshish refer to the Phoenician maritime and trading community located in Spain during the general time of King Solomon, 3,000 years ago. The merchants of Tarshish, during the last 500 years, developed into the modern mercantile nations of Western Europe like Spain, Holland, and Britain. Third, the phrase “with all its villages” or the variant rendering “with all its young lions,” would be a reference to its trans-Atlantic colonies, which would include America. Thus, it is reasoned, because America is the most dominant of these Western nations, this must be a reference to America.”3
Of all the proposed interpretations, this one would be the most plausible, particularly if Tarshish were a reference to Great Britain. A single reference is not enough for me to ultimately agree with that view.
What Silence Seems to Be Saying
As we have seen, nothing is explicitly said in Scripture about the future of our country or the role this nation will play on the world scene in the last days. There is some good news though. Often, we can derive many clues from what is not said. Silence often says more than many words do. I believe we can learn a great deal about the future of this nation from what the Bible does not explicitly tell us.
Considering the Options
So, what is God not telling us? Well, let us consider the options:
(1) This nation remains as it currently is, a world superpower, even in the last days, God simply chooses not to make specific mention of us. I suppose that is possible, but the real question is, is it likely? I do not believe so for a minute! If my memory serves me well, the United States has served as a mediator in most meaningful conflicts around the world, and in some cases, has settled them, precisely because of the incredible influence it has on the world scene. This country is the most powerful and wealthiest nation in history. If it still is in the last days, do we really believe Scripture would fail to mention us by name as it does so many other nations? I do not think so! Also, the Bible is clear that in the end times, political and military power will be centered in two places: the Mediterranean and in Europe. John Walvoord agrees:
“Although conclusions concerning the role of America in prophecy in the end time are necessarily tentative, the Scriptural evidence is sufficient to conclude that America in that day will not be a major power and apparently does not figure largely in either the political, economic, or religious aspects of the world.”4
Now if Walvoord is correct, and I believe he is, what could have possibly happened to cause the United States to lose its power and influence in the world? So much so that we apparently have become a subordinate player in world affairs.
(2) Is the Bible silent about the United States because a nation or several nations have been successful in destroying us? Will some outside force cause the fall of this nation? Again, possible, but is it likely? I do not believe so. Why? Well, let us follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion. This is a big country; there are not many weapons that could destroy us without us first retaliating. Granted, there are several weapons that could inflict a lot of damage and result in many deaths, but to completely reduce this country to nothing in a relatively short period of time, unlikely. The type of weapon and attack of which I am speaking of would be a nuclear one. Such an attack would undoubtedly start a war that would most likely draw most or all the countries of the world into it and which would result in most of this planet being decimated. And simply put, such a scenario does not fit at all with the prophetic picture the Bible gives us.
(3) Are we not mentioned because we implode? In other words, does the moral and spiritual decay cause this country to collapse from the inside? Of the three options considered thus far, this is perhaps the most accepted and held position by many in the church today and it does have some merit or possible contribution, let me explain why. The moral and spiritual decay serves as a clear indication that we are fast approaching the last days—our decay is a barometer of the moral and spiritual condition of the rest of the world, since we are still a fairly conservative nation in most respects—which means the Rapture could occur at any moment (I will say more about this momentarily). This option answers some, but not all the questions and may perhaps raise some new ones.
(4) It is my opinion that none of the first three options are likely to be the one best supported by Scripture. There is only one option left. Option four is the one I personally believe is best supported by what the Bible does not explicitly tell us, and it is the option most widely accepted by many of the most respected scholars on Bible prophecy today. This one will be discussed in greater detail because it best explains the silence concerning the United States in the Scriptures. It best explains and answers the questions of how and why, it perfectly fits the prophetic picture, and it does not contradict Scripture.
So, if we do not implode from moral and spiritual decay (though I do believe this serves as a good national and international barometer) and we are not destroyed by outside forces, then what happens that causes this country to be a non-powerful, non-influential player on the world scene in the last days?
Let us consider several “clues” that may help in answering the question about what happens to the United States:
Clue #1: We Are Israel’s Number One Ally
Israel has no better friend or ally in the world than the United States. It certainly seems like God raised and appointed the United States to be Israel’s guardian and protector ever since Israel was recognized by the United Nations as a sovereign nation in 1948. And because we have been faithful in protecting Israel, God has lavished this country with unspeakable and innumerable blessings. In the Abrahamic covenant God promised that He would,
“… bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).
A principle that still holds true today.
It is safe to conclude that the United States will still be powerful and able to continue to protect Israel, at least up to the time of the Rapture, since Israel is pictured as prospering in the end times.
Clue #2: He Will One Day Rule the World
“He will make a firm covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27).
If you guessed the Antichrist, then you were correct. The Bible is clear in teaching that after the Rapture, an individual will emerge as the leader of the western federation of nations who will be powerful enough to come to Israel’s side and become her protector. This leader is the Antichrist and according to Daniel 9:27, he will make a seven-year treaty with Israel guaranteeing her protection. Now the question that begs to be asked is what has happened to the United States that it can no longer protect Israel, and Israel finds the need to sign this treaty with the new western leader?
Several passages indicate that the Antichrist and his European empire, the revived Roman empire, will become a superpower on the world scene and that as such, it will replace the United States as Israel’s protector.
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (Daniel 2:44-45).
“Thus he said: The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:23-25).
Clearly, something has happened to the United States causing a major power shift to occur, but what?
Clue #3: Where Did All Those People Go?
If you guessed the Rapture, then you were correct. Follow along with this train of thought; (1) The United States is currently the world’s greatest and only superpower, and as such, it protects Israel from her enemies. (2) Israel remains steadfast and prospers because of our aid and protection. (3) At the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period, Israel finds an urgent need to seek aid and protection elsewhere. (4) Antichrist, the leader of the revived Roman empire, comes to Israel’s side and signs a seven-year treaty with her guaranteeing her what she used to get from the United States. (5) There has been an unprecedented power shift occurring in a relatively short period of time between the United States and the Antichrist’s European empire, the United States no longer has it, Antichrist does. What happened? There is one explanation that answers the question of what happened to the United States and perfectly fits the prophetic picture. This explanation makes perfect sense; it is the key that makes everything fall right into place.
So, what occurs? The Rapture does. This is the one event that can certainly cause the United States to collapse, and it is the one event that will bring the United States to its knees. And when this occurs, a power vacuum will result; all the Antichrist must do is step right into it, causing him and his empire to become the newest world superpower.
I suppose you are asking yourself; how can the Rapture alone cause the United States to collapse? Well, let us consider some important facts and some statistics that will help answer that question:
(1) The United States. According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of Americans describe themselves as Christians, 43% identify with Protestantism.5 Of the total number of Protestants, about 16% are Evangelical.6 This percentage of Evangelicals is consistent with a study LifeWay Research conducted in 2017 in which they stated that 15% of Americans strongly agree with Evangelical beliefs (in the study 24% self-identified as Evangelicals and 29% self-identified as “born-again”).7 The United States population as of June 2020 stands at about 330 million.8
If indeed 15 to 16 % of Americans are Evangelical Christians, that would be 49.5 to 52.8 million Americans.9
If the Rapture were to happen today, that many Americans would be gone all at once, 15 to 16% of the entire population (again, a conservative estimate). We cannot even begin to fathom the impact that would have on the United States. Additionally, we are talking about the country losing 15 to 16% of citizens who are the “salt and light” of the nation (Matthew 5:13-14) from all walks of life and every sector and segment of our society.
(2) The United States vs. the rest of the world: You might be asking, wouldn’t the rest as the world be as devastated from losing so many in their parts of the world? Good question, and the answer is no, they would not. Consider the statistics provided by Operation World regarding the number of Evangelicals in the various regions of the world:10
|28.9 percent (this percentage is consistent with the 29% of self-identified “born-again” Christians from the LifeWay study, but let us stick with the lower 15 to 16% for the sake of argument)11
Are you seeing what I see? There are not only many nations but several continents or regions who will lose a minuscule number of people because of the Rapture. These countries, continents, or regions will experience a much lesser or minimal effect. For many nations, it will be nothing more than a bleep on the radar screen, but not so for the United States. The Rapture of God’s people will create a scenario like none this country has ever experienced; it will be devastating.
(3) The effects: When a country loses 15 to 16% of its population suddenly, the ripple effects are such that every area of society will negatively be affected. Can you imagine the effects on our country when this number of people in industry, government, law enforcement, military, business, agriculture, education, medicine, technology, transportation, finance, and communications, to name a few, suddenly vanish all at once? That is more than double the entire population of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonia, San Diego, Dallas, and San Jose (the ten largest cities by population in the United States) combined!12
The Great Depression will almost appear as an insignificant event compared to the political, economic, and security collapse that will occur in this country. It is impossible to even imagine the magnitude of the impact; there is nothing in history to compare it with. The nation will go from being the wealthiest and only superpower in the world to a nation struggling to survive as a country, as a society, as a people.
Truth be told,the Rapture will be the end of the United States as we know it. The nation will be left in shambles with those left behind to pick up the pieces of a crumbled country. Unfortunately, they will be unsuccessful in doing so; the United States will not successfully recover from the collapse created by the disappearance of so many of its best and brightest citizens. The fact that this country becomes a second-rate nation and plays no significant role in the last days is proof of that.
The United States will be facing a national crisis of unprecedented proportions. Just imagine, in addition to all those people gone, individuals and society will no longer be under the restraint of the Holy Spirit.
Local, county, state, and federal governments will find themselves in utter chaos, and many will likely collapse completely. There will not even be enough law enforcement personnel to manage the chaos being unleashed in very town and city.
Imagine the magnitude of the economic disruption. Revenue at every level of government will be impacted, eliminating much of the resources needed to govern, maintain peace, fund all sorts of social programs, etc. Add to that the crushing national debt (currently in the tens of trillions of dollars). Financial institutions of all sizes will likely collapse as mortgage, vehicle, student, consumer and commercial loan payments are no longer made; even loans that were secured with collateral will be worthless since there will be nothing they can do with the collateral. A significant number of businesses in all industries will go out of business either because there is no one to run them or because of the loss of a significant number of customers.
Think about the healthcare crisis. A substantial number of critical healthcare personnel, from doctors to technical personnel, will be gone because of the Rapture. The healthcare system will be completely overwhelmed by the number of people requiring medical attention resulting from accidents of all kinds due to millions of people suddenly vanishing from wherever they were and from whatever they were doing at the moment of the Rapture.
Consider the national security implications. The United States will be a severely weakened nation unable to handle its own internal security problems, much less address their vulnerability from outside threats.
1 Jeff Kinley, The End of America? Bible Prophecy and a Country in Crisis (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2017), 140-141.
2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995), 307.
3 Thomas D. Ice, “Is America In Bible Prophecy?” (2009). Article Archives. 69. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/pretrib_arch/69.
4 John F. Walvoord, The Nations in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1967), 175.
5 Source: https://pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/.
6 Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_United_States#cite_note-1.
7 Source: https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/06/many-evangelicals-dont-hold-evangelical-beliefs/.
8 Source: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/.
9 That would be a conservative estimate since there could be millions more genuine believers who are non-evangelicals and “born-again”/”evangelical” Catholics, not to mention children old enough who are true Christians but who may not have made it onto the various studies and children under the age of “accountability.”
10 Source: http://www.operationworld.org/.
11 If 29% percent were an accurate number of true believers (still not counting “born-again”/”evangelical” Catholics, children old enough who are true Christians but who may not have made it onto the various studies, and children under the age of “accountability”), that would be 95.7 million people, almost a third of the U.S. population.
12 Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D. and published by Reasons for Faith International Ministries, Inc. by permission. No part may be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright © 2006-2021 Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.