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Identifying the United States and Britain is a major key to understanding Bible prophecies. God foretold not only the rise of Britain and the United States, but also what will happen if, like their biblical ancestors, they reject the true Source of their blessings.
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 landmass of the earth and a quarter of its population. As a famous saying went, “the sun never set” on the British Empire!
The story begins with God’s amazing promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God's Initial promises to Abram, at age 75, can be found in Genesis 12:1-4: “...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Through Jesus Christ, the preeminent descendant of Abram, all people would be blessed spiritually and, through many of Abram’s other descendants, people around the world would experience the physical blessings of peace and prosperity.
When Abram was 99, God made a significant covenant with him and his descendants, changing his name to Abraham, meaning “father of multitudes (of many nations)” (Genesis 17:5). The next year, Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 and Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17:17; 21:1-5). Many years later when Abraham proved his faithfulness by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, God further expanded His promises to him (Genesis 22:16-18).
God’s promises were passed along to Abraham’s descendants — his son Isaac (Genesis 26:4), then to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:3-4,13-14), and then to Jacob's son Joseph and his sons (Genesis 48:15-16; 19-20). God also changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning “prevailer (or prince) with God” (Genesis 32:28), so his descendants became known as Israelites. Later passages show Jacob and his 12 sons were the forefathers of all Israelites—“the twelve tribes of Israel” (Genesis 49:28).
When Jacob (Israel) and his family entered Egypt, they numbered only about 70 (Exodus 1:5). There they “became a nation, great, mighty, and populous” (Deuteronomy 26:5; Genesis 46:3). God then miraculously delivered them from Egypt, when they became oppressed as slaves. “A mixed multitude [of various other ethnicities] went up with them also” (Exodus 12:38), showing God welcomed foreigners into Israel as long as they agreed to live by His laws.
God “chose” the Israelites, not because they were righteous (Deuteronomy 9:6), but because of God’s promises to Abraham concerning his descendants. They were to be a model nation to teach the rest of the world to live by God’s laws so they would also receive His blessings (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 4:6-8).
When God appeared to Jacob (Israel) He made the following promise: “... Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body’” (Genesis 35:11). In the last couple of centuries, a single nation and “company” or group of nations with a common heritage have been very powerful. These nations are the United States of America and the British Commonwealth.
The birthright blessing from Jacob was given to Joseph when the firstborn son, Reuben, was disqualified (1 Chronicles 5:1-2, Genesis 49:3-4, 22-26). Then, shortly before Jacob (Israel) died, he pronounced special birthright blessings on Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. He prophesied Manasseh’s descendants would become a “great” nation and that Ephraim’s descendants would “become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19). In essence, Jacob was adopting his grandsons as his own sons (Genesis 48:5). He said, “Let my name [Israel] be named upon them” (Genesis 48:16).
There are many end-time Bible prophecies about “Israel,” which 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 greatest material and geopolitical blessings were to go to the descendants of Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:13-17). The blessings on Ephraim were fulfilled in the rise of the British Empire and Commonwealth (a “company” or “multitude” of nations). The blessings on Manasseh were fulfilled in the rise of the United States of America.
After Solomon’s death, Israel split into two kingdoms (1 Kings 11:29-31,12:20-21).. (See the article in this issue: Jeroboam- King Of The Northern Ten Tribes for more information.) The northern 10 tribes seceded and kept the name Israel, becoming the kingdom, or house, of Israel. The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, along with part of Levi, became known as the kingdom, or house, of Judah. When the Bible speaks of Judah in the end-time, it is referring to the present-day nation of Israel and other dispersed Jews.
God allowed the Assyrians to conquer the northern ten tribes around 724-722 B.C. (2 Kings 18:11-12) when they continued to rebel against God’s way of life. Most of the population was deported to far-off places where they eventually adopted the languages and cultures of their new environments and, since the 10 tribes had 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. Because they had lost their original identity, many historians have thought they were completely assimilated into other peoples or died out, but God was fulfilling His promise of sifting the Israelites through other nations but keeping them intact (Amos 9:9). In contrast, when those of the house of Judah were taken captive to Babylon more than a century later, they retained their language and beliefs, including Sabbath-keeping. Thus, a large part of the Jewish people never lost their identity.
Jesus said He was sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) and 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). So, obviously, Jesus and James expected to reach descendants of the 12 tribes.
Biblically speaking, one of the greatest proofs the 10 tribes did not cease to exist is found in Ezekiel 37:15-28, where it mentions that when the Kingdom of God is set up on 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. As God promised in the book of Amos, He will not forget the northern 10 tribes of Israel, and neither would He allow them to be absorbed by other nations to the point of ceasing to be an identifiable people (again, see Amos 9:9).
Thus the Bible’s many end-time prophecies of “Israel” are often referring to the United States, Britain and other related people. End-time prophecies of “Judah” refer to the modern state of Israel and other dispersed Jews. Sadly, many prophecies warn of God’s judgment and punishment to come on both Israel and Judah for their disobedience, but there are also many other prophecies about how Israel and Judah will later be restored at the return of Jesus Christ, who will eventually bring peace and the knowledge of His way of life to the whole world.
Beyond Today Magazine (Jan-Feb 2018)