The Church and America
Let me preface this by saying that I understand how many people have, through the years, taught that the United States of America is located in the prophecy of the Bible and that these well-meaning teachers have brought about a sense of patriotism and loyalty to this country that is commendable. However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if anyone were to actually read their Bible and understand the verses these teachers and preachers refer to, they would understand that they are being fed a load of nationalism that borders on, and often leads to, idolatry.
One of the most astounding things to me is how preachers and teachers of the Bible, who are supposed to be learned in the Scripture and able to teach others the truth that they have learned through careful study of the Word of God, are so quick to continue teaching bad theology. Most people who teach America in the Bible teach it from Daniel chapter seven and the vision of the four beasts. They take the vision of the first beast and say that it is America coming out of Great Britain because of the symbols of those countries. Well, let’s take a look at this vision and see what is actually happening here and see if we can verify that this is indeed a vision of America coming out of Great Britain.
Daniel 7:4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. (ESV)
So, the argument that I always hear that this is a vision of America in the Bible, is that the national symbol for Great Britain is a lion and the national symbol for the United States of America is an eagle and because Daniel sees a beast that is a lion with eagles’ wings and the wings are removed from the lion that is America coming out of the British Empire in 1776 and becoming its own nation. This is cutting edge theology (insert sarcasm here).
In all seriousness, the problem with this line of thinking is this, these people completely ignore the fact that the vision is explained further in the text in Daniel 7:15-28 and in those verses the first beast is not even mentioned. The interpretation of the vision focuses on the fourth beast and how the Son of Man conquers it and rules forever.
Also, a quick unpacking of verse four will completely obliterate any idea that this verse is talking about any country being represented by the eagles’ wings. Let’s do this one phrase at a time so it will be clear.
“The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings.”
Okay, this one is pretty straight forward, easy to understand. Daniel is seeing a vision of four beasts coming out of the sea and the first one he sees looks like a lion with eagles’ wings.
“Then as I looked its wings were plucked off,”
Daniel is watching in his vision and this lion with eagles’ wings comes out of the sea and as he is watching the wings are removed from the body of the lion. Again, this is pretty straight forward. Not much too mysterious about that, somewhat painful to the beast perhaps, but not wild and crazy.
“And it was lifted up from the ground”
Wait, what does it refer to here? This might be where people get confused. You see if you work this out correctly, it refers to the lion, not the wings. If Daniel were referring to the eagles’ wings he would say “they”, but he says “it” which refers to the lion. What happens to the wings? We don’t know from Scripture, but I am going to make a speculation and say that they were discarded since we do not see them again. Since this is where people get the idea that this vision is about America coming out of Great Britain and becoming important itself, this is where this whole theological ideology falls apart.
I am going to go a little further with this thought of the United States being a major player in the Bible. IF this country is in the Bible, I don’t think any of us would like where it would be found. It doesn’t take much to look around and see where our society is today. Sin runs rampant and unchecked in the streets while righteousness is mocked and pushed aside. Those things which were once considered distasteful and abhorrent are now praised and often exalted.
So, the question that we are trying to answer here is, Where does the United States of America fit in the Bible?
I will leave the passage here for you to look up, but considering current circumstances, I would say that we are right in the middle of Romans 1:18-32.
How do we get out of these verses?
As a nation, I’m not sure that we can. It would take a nation-wide revival and I honestly think that too many people are too far gone in their sin to accept revival. However, as the church, we can continue to reach out to as many people as will hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can continue to fulfill the Great Commission, and we can continue to show the love of Christ to the hurting around us every day so that by our efforts some may be saved and spread the Word of God to others.