America in the Prophecy of Isaiah, by Avraham Gileadi
Few people may suspect that the great superpower America appears in the prophecies of the Bible, especially in end-time prophecy. Yet there it is in plain sight, and just as prominent as America is in the world today. Where? In the prophecy of Isaiah under the codename of the great superpower of Isaiah’s day: Egypt. The two are a perfect match. We know they are the same because Isaiah’s prophecies have a dual fulfillment, one in his day and one in the end-time. Foretelling “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), Isaiah depicts both nations in a single prophecy. The Jews have traditionally taught such dual fulfillment. Only recently, however, has evidence come to light that supports the Jewish tradition.
A seven-part synchronous literary structure of the Book of Isaiah transposes events from Israel’s past into an allegory of the end-time. In other words, Isaiah foretells the end from the beginning by portraying only those events in the beginning that typify an end-time scenario. As with all nations that Isaiah describes, their end-time identity becomes clear from the way he characterizes them. As the world today is a different place than it was anciently, those characterizations are often unrelated to their past names or locations as far as an end-time scenario is concerned. What is key is the role these nations play in relation to God’s covenant people, many of whom today live dispersed among the nations of the world.
Isaiah’s Egypt, however is a superpower imploding. Its heads of state consider themselves as wise as Egypt’s founding fathers: “The ministers of Zoan are utter fools; the wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give absurd counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh [the president], ‘We are as wise as the first rulers?’ Where are your wise men indeed? Let them please tell you, if they can discern it, what Jehovah of Hosts has in mind for Egypt! The ministers of Zoan have been foolish, the officials of Noph deluded; the heads of state have led Egypt astray. Jehovah has permeated them with a spirit of confusion; they have misled Egypt in all that it does, causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit” (Isaiah 19:11–15).
In Isaiah’s day, a black, non-native Egyptian pharaoh rules Egypt. Egypt’s spiritual degradation, political ineptitude, and economic collapse lead to civil war: “I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians; they will fight brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state” (Isaiah 19:2). When another world power, Assyria, becomes a threat, the Egyptians “become as women, fearful and afraid at the brandishing hand Jehovah of Hosts wields over them” (Isaiah 19:16). In the end, Assyria invades Egypt and ravishes it. Although Egypt is the greatest military power in the world, that is no guarantee of God’s protection when the nation has turned to evil.
All is not lost, however, as a community of covenanters in Egypt turns back to Israel’s God, who sends them a savior and delivers them. While Egypt as a whole suffers covenant curses for its godlessness, a righteous people within the nation become Egypt’s salvation: “Jehovah will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day. They will worship by sacrifice and offerings, and make vows to Jehovah and fulfill them. Jehovah will smite Egypt, and by smiting heal [it]: they will turn back to Jehovah, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them” (Isaiah 19:21–22). To be healed of iniquity and to know the God of Israel is to be his covenant people indeed!
America’s place as head of the nations has always been a blessing pertaining to God’s covenant with his people Israel. If God’s people would keep the terms of his covenant, they would be the head of the nations, but if they broke his covenant they would be the tail (Deuteronomy 28:1, 13, 44). When America’s founding fathers established “one nation under God,” they resumed in modern times where ancient Israel left off. Although Israel broke God’s covenant and was exiled from its land, that didn’t mean God’s covenant was annulled. It simply waited for his people dispersed among the nations to again keep its terms and to be blessed of God. America’s extraordinary success and prosperity testify of that.
Additional blessings pertaining to God’s covenant include fruitfulness of the land, economic prosperity, peace in the land, numerous offspring, abundant domestic animals, full storehouses, admiration among the nations, resources to lend to other nations, and power over enemies (Deuteronomy 28:2–12). Curses or misfortunes pertaining to God’s covenant include the land’s poor yield, economic distress, a lack of peace in the land, dwindling offspring, meager domestic animals, empty storehouses, contempt among the nations, the need to borrow from other nations, subjection to aliens, plagues, pestilence, drought, disease, foreign invasion, captivity, dispossession, and starvation (Deuteronomy 28:15–68).
With Israel’s ancient exile among the nations, a new reality presented itself. While some Israelites such as the Jews retained their ethnic integrity, others, such as the birthright tribe of Ephraim, “assimilated among the nations” (Hosea 7:8; cf. Genesis 48:19). After being exiled from their land, Israel’s northern tribes migrated north from Mesopotamia. Taking counsel together, they traveled a year and a half’s journey beyond the River Euphrates (2 Esdras 13:40– 46). That would have taken them into eastern and western Europe, dispersing Israel’s lineages in those lands. Later, European migrations brought many to America, where the founding fathers sought to renew God’s covenant with Israel.
Over many generations, people in America lived by the Ten Commandments, the terms of God’s covenant. Only in recent times have we turned away from God. In fact, the same kind of wickedness that brought disaster on ancient Israel prevails in modern America. Today we observe every kind of social disorder and moral perversion, and when we live that way we will also see its consequence. What happened to God’s people in the past will happen to us: God will bring the curses of the covenant on the nation that rejects him. Just as we have enjoyed the blessings, so we will suffer the curses. The prophecy of Isaiah warns us as individuals even when it is too late to prevent trouble as a nation.
End-time America thus forms a composite of both ancient Israel and ancient Egypt in Isaiah’s prophecy. Today’s Jews don’t fit the description of the people of Israel caught in a spiritual downturn. Nor have the Jews been the “head of the nations” in modern times. And the State of Israel in the Middle East hasn’t been the focus of hostility from a militaristic superpower from the North. Only America fits these descriptions. Likewise, when Egypt’s inhabitants choose evil, turning to idols and becoming spiritually estranged, Egypt’s economy crashes and civil war sweeps the land. When Egypt’s politicians take matters into their own hands and mislead the nation, God empowers Assyria against them.
About Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.
Avraham Gileadi is a Hebrew scholar and literary analyst. After learning the “manner of the Jews” in rabbinical school in Israel, he obtained a Ph.D. in Ancient Studies from BYU and devoted his life to studying the Book of Isaiah. Avraham is the author of several books on Isaiah. His websites are: http://isaiahinstitute.com and http://josephandjudah.com.