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Series 3 - The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You: Bible Prophecy and You

Hi friends! Welcome to the ninth lesson in the "Bible Prophecy and You" series!

It's a huge subject, but this lesson will give you a basic understanding of the rise to prominence of two nations as predicted in the Bible.

Much of Bible prophecy is about the end time—the period just before the return of Jesus Christ. But for some of today's most important nations, the Bible doesn't tell us the modern names. Thus it's impossible to understand many end-time prophecies until the major players are identified.

Today, the world's single superpower is the United States of America. In the 19th century, the superpower was Great Britain, the largest empire in the history of the world. Are these nations ignored in the Bible? How could that be when the Bible gives us so many other details about the end time? Actually, as you will see, end-time prophecies refer more to these nations than any other nations!

Today, some people are unaware of how Britain once dominated the world. At the height of its power, the British Empire included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It comprised nearly a quarter of the land mass of the earth and a quarter of its population! As the famous saying goes, "the sun never set" on the British Commonwealth!

Words are inadequate to describe just how powerful the influence of Britain and America on world history has been.

Highly significant is the fact that the British and American people—blessed with religious freedom—have been the primary instruments in spreading the Bible to most of the world. They brought about the King James Version of the Bible, many other English translations and thousands of other translations. Plus they have generously supplied the financial resources and laborers to bring Bibles to all parts of the world.

So, where are the United States and Britain named in the Bible? We shall see. And for a much bigger and better explanation, we encourage you to read our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.

Lesson 9: Where Are the United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy?

The answer to this question is a major key to understanding Bible prophecies. It enables us to understand how many prophecies have already been fulfilled perfectly, and enables us to understand what to expect in the end time.

First, let's consider the story of God's amazing promises to Abraham and his descendants:

God called Abram (Abraham's original name) to leave his homeland and to live a life based on faith in God and God's promise of a glorious permanent city (Hebrews 11:8-10). (We learn in Revelation 21:2 that the city will be New Jerusalem.)

God's initial promises to Abram, at age 75, are in Genesis 12:1-4. When God said, "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," He meant two things. Through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abram, all people would be blessed spiritually. And through many of Abram's other descendents, people around the world would experience physical blessings of peace and prosperity.

As Abram showed faithfulness, God kept expanding His promises. He said Abram's descendants would be so numerous they would be like the stars in the sky. Even though Abram's wife, Sarai (Sarah's original name), was unable to conceive children, God promised Abram that his descendants "will come from your own body." Abram believed God, "and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:4-6).

Then after waiting 11 years, at Sarai's suggestion, Abram made a very bad decision to conceive a child by Sarai's servant, Hagar. So Hagar gave birth to Ishmael when Abram was 86 (Genesis 16:15-16). Then when Abram was 99, God appeared and made a highly significant covenant with him and his descendants. At that time, God changed his name to Abraham (meaning "father of many nations") and changed Sarai's name to Sarah (meaning "princess") (Genesis 17:5, 15). The next year, Sarah at last gave birth to Abraham's son Isaac when she was 90 and Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17:17; 21:1-5).

Many years later God severely tested Abraham's faith by ordering him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. When God saw that Abraham would have willingly obeyed, God further expanded His promises to Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18).

God's promises were passed along to Abraham's son, Isaac (Genesis 26:4); then to Isaac's son, Jacob (Genesis 28:3-4, 13-14); and then to Joseph and his sons (Genesis 48:15-16, 19-20). God changed Jacob's name to Israel, meaning "prince with God" (Genesis 32:28, King James Version), so his descendants are known as Israelites.

This much of the story sets the stage for the rest of this lesson.

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Families Grown Great

Often nations start out with a family that expands to become a tribe or clan, and then further grows into a nation. The "table of nations" in Genesis 10 shows us the many descendants of Noah who became the ancestors of tribes and nations. Later passages show how Jacob, whose name was changed by God to Israel, and his 12 sons became the forefathers of all Israelites—"the twelve tribes of Israel" (Genesis 49:28).

When Jacob (Israel) and his extended family migrated to Egypt, they numbered only about 70 (Exodus 1:5). Over time, "the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty" (1:7). But they did not become a "nation"—the nation of Israel—until God miraculously brought them "from the midst of another nation [Egypt]" (Deuteronomy 4:34).

"A mixed multitude [of various other races] went up with them also" (Exodus 12:38). God welcomed foreigners into Israel as long as they agreed to honor the true God and live by His laws (Exodus 12:48). Clearly God wanted His people to primarily identify themselves not so much by their ethnic connections as by their spiritual connection—being "the people of God" (Judges 20:2).

When God "chose" the Israelites, it was not favoritism and it was not because they were righteous (Deuteronomy 9:6). They were chosen before they were born, via God's promises to Abraham concerning his descendants. God chose them to become "holy" to serve as a model nation to teach the rest of the world to live by God's laws so they also would receive His blessings (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 4:6-8). But for much of their history, they instead became a very bad example spiritually, and God has had to punish them time and again.

The Bible's geographical focus is on Jerusalem and the surrounding Promised Land. That explains why nations surrounding Jerusalem are the ones that are mentioned most prominently in the Bible.

Let's now take note of some important prophecies and their fulfillments:

When God appeared to Jacob (Israel), what promise did He add to the previous promises?

Genesis 35:9-11
Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name." So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body."

God said "a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you." In the last couple of centuries, what single nation and what "company" (or empire or commonwealth) of nations have been the most powerful? The clear answer is the United States of America and the British Commonwealth. The short space in this lesson doesn't allow for many proofs of that fact. For thorough proof of this fulfillment from the Bible and from history, we encourage you to also study our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.

Did the birthright blessing go from Jacob to Joseph?

1 Chronicles 5:1-2
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph's.

Genesis 49:3-4, 22-26
"Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch...
"Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
"The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers."

After Reuben was disqualified, Jacob pronounced the birthright blessing on his son Joseph. The blessing included big promises that the descendants of Joseph would be fruitful, prosperous and powerful. Jacob announced that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah," a reference to the fact that the coming Messiah would be a descendant of Judah through His mother Mary (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:33).

Did the birthright blessing—plus the name "Israel"—then go to Joseph's two sons?

Genesis 48:15-16, 19-20
And he blessed Joseph, and said: "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth…"
But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." So he blessed them that day, saying, "By you Israel will bless, saying, 'May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!'" And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Shortly before Jacob (Israel) died, he pronounced special birthright blessings on Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. He prophesied that Manasseh's descendants would become a "great" nation and that Ephraim's descendants would "become a multitude of nations" (verse 19). In essence, Jacob was adopting his grandsons as his own sons (verse 5). He said, "Let my name [Israel] be named upon them" (verse 16).

Passing on the name Israel is highly significant. There are many end-time Bible prophecies about "Israel," and this lets us know that they can refer to the descendants of Joseph and his two sons. In fact, only a few prophecies of "Israel" refer to the descendants of all of Jacob's sons. The blessings on Ephraim were fulfilled in the rise of the British Empire (a "company" or "multitude" of nations). The blessings on Manasseh were fulfilled in the rise of the United States of America. No wonder the British and American people have felt like they are brothers—they descended from brothers!

In Moses' blessing on the descendants of Jacob (Israel), what did he prophesy about Joseph?

Deuteronomy 33:13-17
And of Joseph he said: "Blessed of the Lord is his land, with the precious things of heaven, with the dew, and the deep lying beneath, with the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, with the best things of the ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, with the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come 'on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.' His glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns like the horns of the wild ox; together with them He shall push the peoples to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh."

The greatest physical blessings were to go to the descendants of Joseph.

After Solomon's death, did Israel split into two kingdoms?

1 Kings 11:29-31
Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you…'"

1 Kings 12:20-21
Now it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only. And when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, that he might restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

Just as God's prophet Ahijah foretold, the northern 10 tribes seceded from Israel and kept the name Israel. They became the kingdom, or house, of Israel. The southern tribes, Judah, Benjamin and a part of Levi, became known as the kingdom, or house, of Judah. Those who were a part of the house of Judah became known as "Jews." It might seem surprising, but the first time "Jews" are mentioned in the King James Version, they are at war with Israel (2 Kings 16:5-6).

The Israelites who live in the modern nation of Israel are mostly Jews. When the Bible speaks of Judah in the end-time, it is referring to the present-day nation of Israel.

Why did the house of Israel become known as the lost 10 tribes of Israel?

2 Kings 18:11-12
Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.

When the northern 10 tribes continued to rebel against the dominant Assyrian empire, the Assyrians besieged their capital city Samaria (around 724-722 B.C.). After Samaria fell, the Assyrians deported most Israelites to far-off places where they adopted the languages and cultures of their new environments.

Furthermore, since these 10 tribes had previously abandoned the keeping of God's Sabbath and Holy Days, they no longer had those identifying signs (Exodus 31:13). Many of their descendants continued to migrate, mostly in a westerly direction toward what is now Europe. God was fulfilling His promise (Amos 9:9). But because the Israelites had lost their original identity, many historians have thought that they disappeared or died out.

In contrast, the house of Judah was taken captive to Babylon over a century later, but they retained their language and beliefs, including Sabbath-keeping. When they were given their freedom, some of them returned to Judea (which much later came to be known as Palestine). So they never lost their identity of being Jewish.

What are some proofs that the Israelites did not cease to exist?

Jesus said He was sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). Jesus told His disciples to go preach "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6). Many years later, the apostle James addressed his letter "to the twelve tribes…scattered abroad" (James 1:1). Obviously, Jesus and James expected to reach descendants of all 12 tribes. While most historians haven't tried to "find" the Israelites, other historians have been able to trace the migrations of the Israelites.

Biblically speaking, one of the greatest proofs that the 10 tribes of northern Israel did not cease to exist is found in Ezekiel 37:15-28. There it mentions that when the Kingdom of God is set up on the earth, God will bring the descendants of the northern 10 tribes of Israel back to the Promised Land and will unite them to the two tribes that made up "Judah"—Judah and Benjamin.

If the 10 "lost" tribes were ultimately assimilated by other nations and disappeared, their descendants could not be brought back to the Promised Land at this time. But, as God promised in the book of Amos, He would not forget the northern 10 tribes of Israel, neither would He allow for them to be absorbed by other nations (Amos 9:9). He has faithfully kept this promise!

When God spoke to Abraham, what did He mean by "in Isaac your seed shall be called"?

Genesis 21:12
But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called."

The descendants of Isaac became known, among other things, as "Saxons" (see "Linguistic Links: What's in a Name?"). Of course, the English-speaking British and American peoples are called Anglo-Saxons.

When did the descendants of the brothers Ephraim and Manasseh separate?

God inspired many descendants of Manasseh to relocate from Britain and other European countries to the colonies in America. As a result of the American Revolution, the two brothers became separate politically. Sometimes you will hear the phrase "13 tribes of Israel." That is when someone is counting the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh as two different tribes.

The Bible's many end-time prophecies of "Israel" are often referring to the United States, Britain and other related people whose native language has been English. End-time prophecies of "Judah" refer to the modern state of Israel. With this knowledge, you will be able to understand the many end-time prophecies concerning Israel and Judah. Sadly, many prophecies warn of God's judgment and punishment to come on both Israel and Judah for their disobedience to His Word and His laws. But there are also many other prophecies of how Israel and Judah will later be restored to greatness and roles of leadership.

We hope this short lesson has whetted your appetite to read much more about the astounding evidence of the origins of the British and American peoples and the prophecies of events that lie ahead! Future lessons will identify other nations. The next lesson will focus on the nations of the Middle East.


Apply Now

Read the amazing blessings pronounced by Jacob on the descendants of Joseph in Genesis 49:22-26. Then read the amazing blessings pronounced by Moses on the descendants of Joseph in Deuteronomy 33:13-17. Think about how significant and generous these promises are!

If you live in a country that has been a recipient of these blessings, give heartfelt thanks to God for His love, faithfulness and generosity in bestowing all those blessings. God's faithfulness in these physical things is a reminder of His faithfulness in spiritual things. We can all be thankful for that!

Next Lesson: Focus on the Middle East

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy

Farewell to America as a Financial World Power

America's Astounding Destiny: A Nation Losing Its Way

When Nations Fall