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The United States in Bible Prophecy

Part 1

 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 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. Therefore, 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.” In addition, propellers (and helicopter rotors and turbine blades) themselves are airfoils, and therefore are “whirring wings” by definition. Is the picture now becoming clearer?

This nation “shadowing with wings” 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 two thousand 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. In particular, the Mississippi River and its tributaries have opened up the interior of our country to high-volume shipping, without which it would be sort of desolate, like Siberia. 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!

We’ll cover more about the United States in Part 2 of this series, especially a description of what I believe to be the rapture actually happening in our country. You read that correctly. So stand by for Part 2!

I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book, END TIME DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from Please read it! Also if you would, please like my Facebook page at:

Yours in Christ,

Steve Ashburn


[This article was published on September 4, 2020]


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