QUESTION: Is the United States found in prophecy? Isn’t America too large and powerful to not be mentioned in the Bible?
ANSWER: If you are asking whether the Bible specifically refers to the United States by name, the answer is no. Not directly. However, there are some points to be considered.
Of course, America did not exist until more than sixteen centuries after the Bible was completed. But it would be no problem for God to refer to it, since He knows all things, and can speak of things that are far in the future (Isa. 46:10). However, the Bible is not a geography book. There are about 200 countries in the world now, and very few of them are named in the Scriptures.
The Beginning of the Nations
After the worldwide flood of Noah’s day, the human family began again with Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In a remarkable passage, Genesis chapter 10 explains how all the nations of the world began with the descendants of those three men: Japheth (vs. 1-5); Ham (vs. 6-20); and Shem (vs. 21-31). “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood” (Gen. 10:32). In his fascinating book After the Flood (New Wine Press, 1995, revised and expanded in 2014), author William R. Cooper traces the history of modern nations from the Genesis record, confirming the accuracy of God’s Word.
The beginning of the world’s nations is certainly of interest to us, but the main story God has to tell is of His chosen people, Israel. From late in Genesis chapter 11, all the way through to the early chapters of Acts, the central focus of the Bible is Israel. Other nations enter the picture mainly because they affect Israel, for good or ill. It stands to reason that this would involve specifically the nations of the Mediterranean world and a bit beyond.
The Nations of Today
You suggest the USA is too large and powerful to not be mentioned. But both Canada and Russia are larger in area. And both India and China are about four times larger by population, and none of them is named. God does not deal with nations according to their size or status. Israel was, and is, very tiny (cf. Deut. 7:6-8).
Granted that America had tremendous power and influence during the twentieth century, that seems to be waning somewhat now–just as the British Empire was the greatest global power in the centuries before, then gave way to America, particularly at the time of the Second World War. It could be that at the time the events of the book of Revelation unfold the centre of global power will have moved elsewhere.
Even so, the nations of the world, including America, and my own country of Canada, enter the biblical account in a general way. Here is how.
The nations of the world, apart from Israel, are “the Gentiles,” a term used in Scripture one hundred and forty-three times. The New Testament often substitutes the word “Greeks” to contrast with Jews (e.g. Col. 3:11). My point is that what is said of the Gentiles, or Greeks, would certainly include the nations of today, even the United States.
Though, in the early chapters of Acts, the gospel was extended to the Jews only (Acts 11:19; cf. Rom. 1:16), it was eventually to be offered to all the world. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” Jesus commanded (Mk. 16:15; cf. Acts 1:8). Again, the people of the United States would be included as part of the unsaved world needing the gospel.
A General Term
There is a term the prophet Isaiah uses that seems designed by God to include, not only the nations surrounding Israel, but those far off, and perhaps unknown to them at the time. It is translated “coastlands” by many Bible versions. The KJV often has isles or islands, but that does not seem to be an adequate translation. Better would be distant shores.
As Isaiah uses the word, it seems at times to include all the nations of earth. “The coastlands [distant shores] saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came” (Isa. 41:5). “He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands [distant shores] shall wait for His law” (Isa. 42:4; cf. 42:10; 49:1; 66:18-19). This would include North America.
A dominating power of the last days would seem to be a revived Roman Empire. The feet of iron mixed with clay in the image of Daniel chapter 2 (vs. 41-44) represent a federation of European nations, relatively weaker than the unified Roman Empire of the past, but still powerful. It’s possible that nations such as the United States, and Canada, founded largely by Europeans, will join with the European Union, and be included in prophecy that way.
The “nations” of earth are mentioned eighteen times in Revelation--sometimes the phrase “all nations” is used--which would include the USA (cf. Rev. 7:9; 12:5; 14:8; 15:4). Chapters 17 and 18 of the book describe the violent destruction of “Babylon,” both as to its religious and political aspects. Some Bible teachers suggest that actual Babylon of old will be rebuilt, and that is what’s in view. Others see Babylon used in a symbolic way, to represent godless world power. If the description is meant in the latter sense, it could include nations such as the United States.
Many have tried to speculate far beyond what I’ve given here. But that’s all it is–speculation. Sadly, it often brings discredit to the Bible, because the untaught assume that the Bible actually “proves” that certain current events involving the United States were predicted. The date of Christ’s return, the identity of the final Antichrist, the place of America in prophecy, all have been grist for the dreamer’s mill. Prophetic teachers need to be careful not to be dogmatic where God is not!