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The United States in Bible Prophecy

 by Steve Ashburn


In Isaiah 18, we read about a mysterious nation of “whirring wings” that lies to the west of Israel: 

Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled! All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye. For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them. In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion. (Isaiah 18:1–7)

The timeline for this prophecy is “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower” which can be understood in terms of tribulation judgments:

And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Revelation 14:18–20)

The judgment of God is seen here as trampling grapes in a great winepress; in Isaiah 18 the grapes are still “ripening in the flower.” Grapes are symbolic of sin, and trampling grapes is symbolic of God’s judgment on sin. Therefore Isaiah 18 is set in a time when sin is not yet “ripe”; this would be before the tribulation but in the end-times period. Since war is not mentioned, the timeline most probably is after the nuclear war in the Middle East but before the rapture. This would be in a period of complacency, as verse 4 indicates: “For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest.”

 The phrase “in that time”—which includes the millennium—further defines the chapter setting as end times; this phrase is similar to the usage of “in that day” in Isaiah 19 and Zechariah 12–14, which includes the end times and millennium. This phrase is used four other times in the Bible (Jeremiah 50:4, 20; Joel 3:1; Amos 5:13); in all but one case (Amos) it refers to Israel in the end times. In Jeremiah and Joel, “in that time” is combined with “in those days” to indicate a two-part period for the regathering of Israel as a nation and then for their testing: the first part (“in those days”) represents a drawn-out migration of the Jews back to their homeland starting in the late nineteenth century; and the second (“in that time”) refers to their testing in the end times proper. Thus “in those days, and in that time” can be construed as meaning a slow regathering of Israel until the end times, followed by a forty-year period of testing, which culminates with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation. Afterward Israel—as a pardoned people—will continue “in that time” into the millennium.

 The subject of this prophecy is “the land shadowing with wings.” The Hebrew word translated “shadowing” (tsiltsal) occurs only this one time in the Bible, and also can be translated “whirring”; therefore our text verse can be translated, “the land of whirring wings.” This land lies “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” implying that it was unknown in Isaiah’s time, but lay far to the west of Israel. (Since this nation sends “ambassadors,” Isaiah would have named it had it been known in his day.)

 Look at the map of the United States at the top of this page. Which geographic features appear prominent to you? One feature that stands out is the Great Lakes! Look closely at the Great Lakes. Do they resemble any kind of animal? (These features can be seen more clearly on the following satellite photograph.)

In fact, the westernmost three lakes (Superior, Michigan, and Huron) resemble a wasp. This wasp appears to be flying, and dominating the two minor lakes (Erie and Ontario) which appear to be lying in a supine position.

 What does the acronym “W.A.S.P.” stand for? Of course as most people know, it stands for white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant. Doesn’t this describe what our nation was from its very beginning: white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant with a couple of minorities—blacks and Hispanics? Is it possible that God knew what our nation’s ethnic makeup would be before our nation was even founded, and designed the Great Lakes to resemble a wasp, knowing that animal would represent our ethnic majority in our native language of English, and that our country also would have a couple significant groups of minorities, and designed the two minor Great Lakes to symbolize them?

 What kind of motion do a wasp’s wings make when it’s flying? It well could be described as a whirring motion. Isaiah 18:1 can thus be translated: “Woe to the land of whirring wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.”

 What major industries is the United States known for worldwide? One such industry for which we are highly respected is aircraft manufacturing. What kind of motion do jet turbine engines (and propellers) make when they’re running? It well could be described as a whirring motion. What kind of wings could a twin-engine aircraft in flight be said to have? It well could be described (e.g., by an Old Testament prophet) as having “whirring wings.”  Is the picture now becoming clearer? Wings are also a symbol of protection in the Bible, and the United States indeed has protected many nations under the “shadow of its wings.” This nation sends “ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes”; Isaiah here was describing very strong ships. In modern terms, this would be equivalent to sending ambassadors by sea in steel ships. This nation is “scattered” (across a large land area) and “peeled” (clean-shaven); they are a people “terrible from their beginning hitherto” (highly respected from their beginning to the time of this prophecy); they are “a nation meted out” (surveyed) “and trodden down” (settled); and “whose land the rivers have spoiled” (rivers are a source of irrigation and transportation of goods to market).

 The United States indeed has a large foreign-service corps, and before the age of air transportation they traveled by ship. In addition, the US Navy has fought in two world wars and many other conflicts in its history—most of which have been for good and just causes—and have been our ambassadors in the cause of freedom and in opposing evil tyranny. Today we are militarily the strongest nation on earth, and have used our influence to support the rule of law, fairness, and equality. We also have sent more missionaries to other countries and planted more churches than any other nation, and in that respect have been ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of all these things, we have been highly respected from our beginnings as a nation to the present time.

 In 1824 Congress passed the General Survey Act, which mandated that all public land be surveyed by the North Star and divided into sections, and then subdivided into quarter sections. We were the first country to survey our land by the North Star in this manner. Thus all our land from the western edge of Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean, and from Canada to Mexico, was surveyed by line and divided into sections and quarter sections; much of this land then was farmed according to these sections. As a pilot, I used to fly over the Midwest and continually be amazed how the land below was divided into one-square-mile sections oriented north-south and east-west, with each section generally subdivided into quarter sections, and each piece neatly farmed in corn or soybean fields. That made it easy to navigate—not to mention that it provided lots of emergency landing fields in case the engine ever quit! Isaiah said this nation would be “meted out” (lit. “measured out by line”) into sections and “trodden down” (settled into farms, towns and highways) more than 2,000 years before Columbus discovered America!

 Today our nation is “scattered” from coast to coast, and generally speaking is clean-shaven (“peeled”)—this applies to women as well as men. (Yes, it’s true that women outside the US generally don’t shave certain areas of their bodies like American women do!) Our nation also is divided by rivers large and small which have a multitude of uses: They serve as transportation corridors for people and goods; they provide water for irrigation and drinking; they provide food; they provide drainage; they provide hydroelectric power; and they are an important source of recreation. We are indeed the nation “whose land the rivers have spoiled.”

 The word translated “spoiled” can also be translated “divided,” and the United States indeed is divided by rivers as much as any other nation; in fact, the Mississippi, Missouri, Rio Grande, and Saint Lawrence rivers form several state and international boundaries, and it’s hard to drive very far on an interstate highway without crossing a bridge over a river!

 Isaiah 18:3 describes a strange event: All the inhabitants of the earth will “see” when the Lord lifts up “an ensign” (signal or banner) “on the mountains” (the nations), and they will “hear” when he blows a trumpet. This event takes place in the lull in between the nuclear war which begins the end times and the next major war, which would be the Ezekiel 38–39 invasion of Israel which ends this period of complacency.

 Verse 3 further describes the Lord as resting (“I will take my rest”) during this time of complacency and “will consider in my dwelling place” (lit., “look on my settled place”) like “a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” This last geographical description should be familiar to anyone who has lived in the Midwest. I went to graduate school in Urbana, Illinois, and the countryside for miles around consisted of corn and soybean fields. During the summer, the haze would get so thick that visibility would be less than three miles (for you pilots, the airport “went IFR”), even when the sky was clear. Much of the Upper Mississippi Valley is exactly like that: hot summers that cause haze to rise on the corn and soybean fields and which stay that way until harvest in the fall.

 Therefore verse 3 describes the Lord looking upon the US (“my settled place”) during this time of complacency. But then something happens: A “signal” is raised in every nation and everyone on earth hears a trumpet. Now what could that possibly be? First Thessalonians 4 gives us the answer: 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17) 

First Corinthians 15 also describes this event:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51–52) 

Indeed “the trumpet shall sound” when Christ returns for his church, and the events of Isaiah 18:3 seem to describe the rapture! This seems to be the trumpet that the entire earth hears, and the sudden disappearance of millions of saints from every nation seems to be the “signal” that is raised in every nation—that the rapture, at long last, has happened. 

Why is this bad for the United States? According to a recent Barna poll, forty percent of Americans describe themselves as “born again” Christians; another forty percent identify themselves as nominal Christians.[1] These numbers have not changed much over the years. Only God knows exactly how many Americans truly have been saved by grace through faith in his Son Jesus Christ, but if the poll numbers are anywhere near accurate, a loss of about half our population will deal a devastating blow to the United States.

 Think of it: Half of all employees don’t show up for work; half of all mortgages go unpaid; half of all the country’s farmers, electricians, plumbers, police officers, soldiers, and pilots are no longer there.

 In contrast, in twenty-two of Europe’s thirty-six countries, less than one percent are born-again Christians. In China and India, the number of Christians is at about two percent. When the rapture occurs, it will hardly impact most countries in the world—but it will be devastating to the United States.

 Another factor is that when the end times actually begin, large numbers of Americans will see the unmistakable signs around them and will recognize this period for what it is—that Bible prophecies written long ago have come to pass just as predicted--and realize that Jesus in fact is returning in just a few years. That will cause many people to question the reality of their faith, and open many of them to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. This may lead to a national revival like never seen before in our history—and those forty percent of nominal Christians may not be just nominal anymore, but in reality become born again by the Holy Spirit upon his convicting them of their sins. Therefore, few may be left after the rapture to defend the country—or even keep the country running. The US may fall simply because of overwhelming odds, not due to any lack of bravery.

 Think about that: If the vast majority of our country really is taken in the rapture, there won’t be enough people left to keep basic infrastructure running. That means (let’s assume that all eighty percent in fact are taken) there won’t be enough employees left to run electrical power plants, public water supply systems, natural gas pipelines, sewage treatment plants, garbage pickup, transportation of food and goods to market, bus, train, air or trucking transportation, or any kind of local or national defense or law enforcement, and the country would essentially shut down. The US would become “easy pickings” for several million Russian, Chinese, and other invaders.  

It seems unlikely that so many people would be taken—after all, Jesus himself said, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14)—however, this is what Isaiah 18 implies. Apparently God in his mercy will extend the church age perhaps a couple of decades into the end-times period, in one last attempt to call people to repentance by grace, before the awful judgments of the tribulation begin. Isaiah suggests that many—including many Americans—will take advantage of this.

Isaiah 18:5 describes what will happen to the US after that: “he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.” This means that the fruitfulness and productivity of the US will be destroyed. This is consistent with basic infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing essentially shutting down due to lack of people to run them. 

In addition, verse 6 implies that other nations will invade, conquer, and make a spoil of the US: “They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.”

 After the rapture, what’s left of the United States will be left to “the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth” (other nations) and that these nations shall “summer upon them, and . . . winter upon them,” meaning they will take our natural resources, agriculture, industries, and riches for themselves. This verse doesn’t imply much in the way of violent military conflict, but rather of other nations moving in to occupy the ghost town formerly known as the United States.

 This situation apparently will continue until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to establish his 1,000-year kingdom on the earth at the end of the tribulation, more than ten years later. At that time, the United States will be restored as a nation and they shall—like other nations—regularly bring sacrifice and offering to present to the Lord in Jerusalem, as verse 7 indicates: “In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.”

 The conquest of the United States also is seen in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts: “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:3–4). The timeline for this vision is the period just before and during the end times, and it describes the four major world powers which will dominate the Mediterranean area around Israel. In this vision, the US and Great Britain are pictured as a lion with eagle’s wings. Daniel “beheld till the wings thereof were plucked” (i.e., the US was conquered after the rapture) and the lion was “made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it” (Great Britain is left by herself, with most of the military power of the US-British alliance stripped away).

 Since the US and Great Britain are no longer the dominant military force in the Mediterranean, that leaves room for the next beast of Daniel to arise: the bear. Daniel 7:5 reads: “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” And that bear is: Russia.

 Apparently Russia and her allies will dominate the Middle East after the rapture and the conquest of the United States. This sets the stage for the Russian invasion of Israel as described in Ezekiel 38–39. I explain more about this, and provide further details of these Russian invasions in my book, END TIMES DAWNING: Get Ready!

 Are you ready? Read my book to learn more about the details of these end-times events, which are scheduled to occur in the near future!


[1] The Barna Group, “Barna Survey Reveals Significant Growth in Born Again Population,” March 27, 2006, (last accessed 9/11/13).


[This article was published on March 9, 2018]


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