America and the Bible
by Bertrand L. Comparet
Clifton A. Emahiser’s Teaching Ministries
Plus Critical Notes
All Christians know the prophets foretold the future and gave many prophecies which are being fulfilled in our time. However, it may be news to many that the Bible even speaks of our own United States of America. Not under that name of course, but the Bible describes a certain land in such terms as definitely identify it as the United States. However, part of this has been concealed from all but the deepest students of the Bible, by the unfortunate mistranslation of certain words in the commonly used King James Bible.
The prophet Isaiah, one of most deeply inspired prophets in the Bible, foretells the future of a number of different nations. With one exception, these kingdoms which were then important nations, were competing with one another for mastery over western Asia on the Mediterranean shores. Isaiah chapter 13 names Babylon and foretells its coming destruction, even naming the Medes as the chief nation by whom Babylon would be overthrown, although Isaiah wrote this 176 years before the fall of Babylon. He also foretells that, after its destruction, the Arabs would never camp overnight at the site of the ruined city, which is true even today. In Isaiah chapter 14, Isaiah concludes his prophecies against Babylon and names another people doomed to be broken as a punishment for their evil ways, the Assyrians.
In Isaiah chapters 15 & 16 Isaiah prophesies the destruction of another nation, that of Moab. Isaiah chapter 17, foretells the fall of Damascus. Let’s skip over the eighteenth chapter for the moment, but we will come back to it. In the nineteenth and twentieth chapters, he foretells the destruction of another mighty nation, the great empire of Egypt. In the twenty-third chapter, he foretells the doom of the powerful commercial seaport of Tyre.
All of these nations were pagan enemies of Yahweh’s people and Yahweh’s patience with their wickedness was near its end. So, these prophecies are all prophecies of destruction. Isaiah lists these nations all by name, for then they had names and were the important nations of their day. But, in the midst of this in the short eighteenth chapter, Isaiah speaks of another nation which he does not name, but only describes it. Unfortunately the translators have sadly garbled this short chapter until its meaning is lost. Correctly translated from the Hebrew, its references to this unnamed nation, found in verses one, two, three and seven, reads as follows.
“Ho! to the land of buzzing wings, which lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; That sends its ambassadors by sea, in water drinking vessels upon the waters. Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth shaven, to a people terrible from their beginning onward; a nation measured out by lines under foot, whose lands the rivers divide. At that time shall a present be brought to Yahweh: A people tall and smooth shaven, a nation measured out by lines under foot, whose land the rivers quarter, to the place of the name of Yahweh, Mount Zion.”
Let’s examine this very unusual description and see which nation it will fit. It is not named and as we shall see, this is for the very good reason because at the time when Isaiah wrote, it had no name for it did not exist yet.
The first strange thing we note is that it is the land of the buzzing wings. Nearly all of you who listen to me can at this moment, hear the drone of airplanes in the sky. No other nation in the world has its skies so filled with buzzing wings day and night, as our own United States.
Next, where is it located? Isaiah says it is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. The rivers of Ethiopia are the tributaries which unite into the great Nile river and flow northward into the Mediterranean Sea, due west of Jerusalem. Look straight west from Jerusalem, where the prophet wrote these words and your line of vision will cut across the mouth of the Nile river, across the north African shore, through Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, none of which can possibly answer any part of the description of this nation. So, we keep going on due west, across the Atlantic Ocean and we arrive at the shores of the United States on the coastline of Georgia and South Carolina.
Isaiah says this nation sends its ambassadors by sea, in water drinking vessels upon the waters. The American ambassadors can go only to Mexico and Canada by land. More than almost any other nation, we must send our ambassadors by sea. Until just the last few years, the ambassadors had to go by sea, but now we have become able to send them on the buzzing wings. By sea they have gone, for most of our history, in water drinking vessels, steam ships which must drink great quantities of water for their boilers.
It is a nation tall and smooth shaven. You must have noticed how few foreigners are of our height. In both world wars, the United States army was the tallest army on record. Among them were few moustaches and practically no beards. Today, except for the beatniks, where can you find a beard among us? It is a people terrible from their beginning onward and so we have been. We were born by defeating the greatest power in Europe, the British empire, not only once but twice. We whipped the North African pirate kings to whom even proud Britain was paying tribute. We ended Spain’s long dream of world wide empire and we won two world wars which must have gone the other way if we had stayed out.
“A nation measured out by lines under foot”, said Isaiah. The United States Metes and Bounds Act, enacted by Congress about a century and a half ago, established the world’s first system of surveying the whole nation into sections and townships, laid out by the compass. Even today, most nations do not have this system. Truly, a nation measured out by lines on the ground, under foot.
It is a nation whose land the rivers divide, or quarter. The Mississippi River cuts our land in half, from north to south, the Ohio river and its tributaries divide the eastern half in two. The Columbia, the North Platte and related streams, cut the western half in two. Where else do you find the like?
Isaiah says, “All you inhabitants of the world and you dwellers on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, look in fear; and attend when the bugle is blown.” We are a nation terrible from our beginning onward. When our battle flags fly and the bugles call our armies to war, the whole world has learned that it had better pay very respectful attention.
There is no other nation in the world which will fit this entire description, but our nation does. There is still one more point, verse seven says: “At that time shall a present be brought to Yahweh: a nation tall and smooth shaven, a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation measured out by lines under foot, whose land the rivers quarter, to the place of the name of Yahweh, Mount Zion.”
This is no pagan nation, like those of Asia and Africa. It is no atheist nation, like those of the communist empire. It is a Christian nation, bringing its people, its strength, its hopes and ideals as a present to our God, Yahweh. It has been proven to you that we are even today living in Bible times. But it is also true that you are living in a Bible land, one that is favorably mentioned in the Bible. The Bible is written to and about us, the Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian and Germanic people. THE BIBLE IS OUR BOOK AND WE ARE ITS PEOPLE.
Critical note by Clifton A. Emahiser: For this theme, from a small 15 page pamphlet entitled The United States In Prophecy published by Destiny Publishers, I will allow R.W. Means to be the critic of Bertrand L. Comparet starting at page 7. Between Comparet and Means, it will help the reader to better understand the 18th chapter of Isaiah:
“Let us now turn to the message the Prophet Isaiah addressed to an unnamed land, but a land ‘wingshadowed’ (Isa. 18:1, Ferrar Fenton Trans.). Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., compiler of the six-volume Clarke’s Commentary, states in his comment on this chapter of Isaiah:
“‘This is one of the most obscure prophecies in the whole Book of Isaiah. The subject of it, the end and design of it, the people to whom it is addressed, the history to which it belongs, the person who sends the messengers, and the nation to whom the messengers are sent, are all obscure and doubtful.’
“The first verse opens with ‘Ho’ – not ‘Woe’ as it is translated in the King James Version. Adam Clarke points out that it is properly a particle of calling: ‘Ho, land! Attend! Give ear!’
“The entire prophecy being an enigma, the commentators are at a loss to identify the people to whom it is addressed. Consequently, they are in no position to properly evaluate its remarkable message. In DESTINY for January 1943, and again in DESTINY for January 1946, exegeses of this entire chapter were published. Following are quotations from these former publications which are now out of print.
“Whenever God has a place in His providence for a man or a nation, we would expect that man or nation to have a place in His prophecy. When we remember the origin of our country, its religious settlement, its free religion and superior education, its providential guidance, its mission among the people of the earth to spread liberty among the nations, its freeing of an oppressed race, we need not be surprised that these things are all intimated by the Holy Spirit in prophecy.
“Right in the midst of these whose future is definitely prophesied, among a group of known nations, a country is described that had no name and facts relating to its future are prophesied. It is in keeping with each of this group of nations in the other sections, but these nations are all named. Here is a section about a people not named. A blank space is left for the title. Whereas it is said of Egypt, ‘The burden of Egypt,’ and of Tyre, ‘The burden of Tyre,’ there follows a description of a land that had no name because it had not yet been discovered and so was unknown to the prophets.
“Let us give attention to the specific points of description and see if Isaiah does not clearly designate America and the government of the United States.
“‘Ho to the land shadowed with wings,’ or literally ‘with outstretched wings.’ What are we to understand by that expression? I have consulted many commentators; they follow one another in applying this prophecy to Egypt. They do so because, as they say, Egypt is the land that lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. To corroborate their view that the allusion is to Egypt, they cite as proof the fact that it is ‘a land shadowing with wings.’ This is how they interpret the wings: they say they are the two strips of land and mountain terrain on either side of the Nile, which practically form Egypt, which represent wings. I can see no such likeness any more than I can see an actual man or woman in the moon.
“It is claimed by one or two commentators that the expression may refer to the winged die which was the symbol of authority in the land of Egypt. You can see it carved upon the monuments and temples at the present time; it symbolized power in days gone by. Hence the Douay Version, the Roman Catholic Bible, interprets wings as the winged disc, but Egypt is not such a land as is spoken of here. Egypt has been (comparatively speaking) an insignificant country through these latter ages. It does not send its ambassadors by the sea or over the great waters. Its list of ambassadors is very limited. It may be represented in the United States and in England and in some other countries, but it certainly has no ambassadors all over the world, as one would be led to infer from the statement made here. The nation described must be a very important country to send ambassadors all over the world by the sea. Therefore, Egypt cannot fill the bill – too insignificant.
“Dr. George D. Watson, of California, once wrote, ‘It is a singular fact that this phrase, ‘Ho to the land of outstretched wings,’ expressing shelter for the oppressed, cannot be applied to any other country on the face of the earth. Since the world began there has never been a country that, from its beginning, offered a welcome and hospitality to all other peoples for the purpose of giving them religious and civil liberties except America.’
“In the prophet’s vision he saw a nation arise in the west, a wonderful power having a mission of service, but it had no name, so he had to describe it as the land of outstretched wings. It was by Divine providence that the eagle was selected as the emblem of the United States as a nation, and there is a deep truth hidden under this symbol that America should be, in the providence of God, a land that should serve as a refuge for all the [Israelite] peoples of the earth. Its emblem is the eagle with its outstretched wings, like a mother bird gathering her brood under her wings. It was to have a government for the protection of all other [Israel] peoples, a land of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, a land that would welcome to its shores downtrodden and suffering [Israel] people scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.
“When the leading French statesman made his address of welcome to President Wilson in the city of Paris, he spoke of Mr. Wilson as being the representative of ‘that nation that stretched its wings abroad for the protection of Europe.’ Clemenceau unwittingly used the very words of Isaiah twenty-six hundred years before, probably knowing nothing of Isaiah’s prophecy, but so accurate was the fulfillment of prophecy that, in describing the conditions, he had to use the very words of Isaiah’s inspired prediction.’
“Look at your [silver] quarters or [silver] half dollars or silver dollars and see the spread wings of the eagle thereon. Everywhere you go in the United States you will see this symbol. The Hebrew is clear as light, ‘the land of outstretched wings,’ or ‘shadowing with wings’ as in the Revised Version. While other countries have had the eagle in their national emblem, no other country emphasizes the outstretched wings of this majestic bird depicted in a natural manner either in flight or ready to take flight.
“Mexico has an eagle with closed wings; the nation of Germany has an eagle with closed wings and a double head; Austria has an eagle, but there again it has closed wings. The United States heraldry has an eagle with spreading wings; it is actually a ‘land shadowing with wings.’
“‘Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.’ ‘Beyond’ in Hebrew means west. When we look at a map, the top is north, the bottom south, the right is east and the left west. Not so with the Jews [sic Hebrews] or other orientals. They faced the sunrise. They looked eastward. ‘Before’ meant east, ‘behind’ or ‘beyond’ meant west; his right hand points south and his left to the north. ‘Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia’ meant over his shoulder – westward. Let Isaiah stand in Jerusalem, face the sunrise and describe the land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia or the land of Cush. Throw a line from Jerusalem beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and it will run over northern Africa due west and you will see no country till you strike America, the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, which are due west from Jerusalem! This prophecy was not spoken of Egypt or of any part of Africa, but to a nation that was west of Africa; so that it could not be spoken of as Asia or Europe. The words can apply to no other land on the earth but the United States of America.
“‘That sendeth ambassadors by the sea in water drinking vessels upon the great waters.’ The word ‘ambassadors’ means men who travel on official business for the government, not those who travel for pleasure or personal business, but those sent by the government. Our ambassadors go by water to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, even to Mexico, Central America and South America. They go by the sea. Now comes one of the poorest pieces of translating:
“‘Even in vessels of bulrushes [cattails]’ or, as the Revised Version has it, ‘papyrus.’ These are poor guesses. The translators of the King James Version in 1611 came to a Hebrew compound word: ‘water drinking vessels.’ They had no idea what it meant, so they looked around for something that grew out of the water and guessed ‘bulrushes, cattails, flags, papyrus.’ But these are plants, not vessels. Dr. Cummings, a competent Hebrew scholar, says, ‘A water drinking vessel is a steamboat.’ The prophet could not say steamship. There was no such thing in his day and no such word.
“The phrase, ‘water drinking vessel upon the great waters,’ is a word-picture of the ocean liner on the seven seas, pumping up water, distilling it, turning it into steam to propel the ‘water drinking vessel,’ with crew, passengers and cargo, to all lands. The fact of the case is that the Prophet Isaiah was looking down the ages and seeing the time when America would be exercising power among the nations by sending forth its ambassadors, its soldiers and its sailors in waterdrinking vessels (ocean liners) on all the waters of the world!
“‘To a nation tall and smooth’; literally ‘tall and clean-shaven.’ One version renders it ‘tall and peeled,’ as a great land furbished like a sword ready for battle. The margin uses the word ‘peeled’ instead of ‘cleanshaven.’ It is evident that the prophet had a vision of men tall like trees with the bark peeled off; but the best translation available is ‘tall and clean-shaven.’
“In World War I America raised and equipped an army of three million soldiers at home and abroad, and those soldiers averaged more feet and inches in height than any other similar army ever marshalled on earth. The American soldiers averaged five feet, eleven inches in height. This is the tallest army the world ever saw. Then a striking fact is that, of these three millions, not a man wore a beard. Although many wore a mustache, there was not a full beard in the list. This item would not apply to any other army that ever marched.
“‘To a people terrible from their beginning onward.’ Did you ever hear of an infant getting up and thrashing its mother in the process of being born? Wouldn’t you call that ‘terrible from its beginning’? That is what the United States did, whipped the mightiest nation of the known world in the process of being born. This historic statement cannot apply to any other nation on the globe. Other nations have gradually acquired great power and become terrible from many standpoints, but no other nation was terrible from its beginning onward.
“‘A nation that meteth out and treadeth down.’ The literal translation would be the land measured out under the treading – that is, a land measured out by lines under the feet. Here is another startling prophecy based on information that could only be known by the infinite mind of God. About the time that Florida and Louisiana were taken into the Union, and Ohio taken in as a state, the government passed a law that, all public lands should be surveyed by the north star, a base line run east and west, and all this land cut up into mile square sections. Our map is like a checkerboard. These sections are subdivided into quarter sections of half a mile square, which is the amount of land allotted to our soldiers and sailors for homesteads. No nation was ever so meted out in blocks before.
“This is a significant thing. All the countries of the earth, as in the division of the land under Joshua, surveyed and marked their land by local boundaries. If you buy a lot or acre in England today, your description will begin with a rock or tree, or corner of a barn or fence and the portions of land will be defined by these local marks.
“For the first time in the human race the American government found a new way of meting out land by a general survey by measurements according to ranges with the north star. All the land in America from the western edge of Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean and from Canada to Mexico has been surveyed by lines of measurement staked off in sections and quarter sections. The state of Florida, which came into the Union about 1845, after the law of general surveys had been passed, is thus surveyed into sections.
“There are millions of Americans who do not know this fact. They have an idea how the government surveys and divides all its land in sections with lines pointed due north and south, east and west, but He who knew about the very habits of our nation showed this to the Prophet Isaiah twenty-six hundred years ago.
“How did we get this land? We measured it off in sections and ‘tread down’ the Indians and took it. Isaiah saw a land ‘that meteth out by line and treadeth down.’ The story of our treading down a race is a sordid one but an accurate one. Isaiah is not moralizing; he is defining and describing. We are a people that meteth out by line and treadeth down.
“‘Whose land the rivers have spoiled.’ This is according to the old version and the poorest translation of all is here. The margin says ‘despise.’ The Revised Version comes nearer, ‘Whose land the rivers divide.’ But the Hebrew word is the term used in the ritual of sacrifice where an animal is hung up and divided into four quarters. The knife cuts right down from head to foot and then across, dividing it into four parts, This word should be rendered literally, ‘quartered.’
“Is there any land on the earth in Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia that is quartered by rivers? There is not an ancient map or a modern one of the world that will show such a thing except a map of the United States. The Mississippi River takes its rise near the Canadian border and cuts right down to the Gulf of Mexico, dividing our land into halves. On the western coast is the Columbia River. Follow it upward to its junction with the Snake River; follow that upward into close proximity with the source of the Missouri River which starts in Montana and meanders eastward into the Mississippi, dividing the West into halves. Follow the Ohio River eastward to Pittsburgh and its junction with the Monongahela River that runs by McKeesport; then follow eastward the Youghiogheny River where, at Glencoe, Pennsylvania, it becomes the Casselman River. Go on upstream till Wills Creek branches off and takes its source where the Potomac River begins, then runs to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and you have the Eastern half of the nation divided in two. So the whole ‘land that is quartered by rivers.’
“You cannot find any other land on earth divided in this way, into four sections – North-east, North-west, South-east, South-west – by rivers. This prophecy can be applied to no country other than the United States.
“‘All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, when an ensign is lifted up on the mountains, see ye; and when the trumpet is blown, hear ye.’ Here is a prophecy more startling than any yet. In this way the prophet foresaw our armies as decisive factors in war, as World War I and World War II have revealed.
“‘In that time shall a present be brought unto Jehovah [sic Yahweh] of hosts from a people tall and clean shaven, from a people terrible from their beginning and onward, a nation that meteth out by line and treadeth down, whose land the rivers have quartered, to the place of the name of the Jehovah of hosts, the Mount Zion.’ If you were asked to make a reference to the best known symbol of the United States, you could not do better than quote the opening words of Isaiah, ‘Ho, to the land of outstretched wings.’ And if you were asked to name the chief characteristic of the United States, you could not do better than quote the last verse, ‘At that time shall a present be brought from a people.’
“The word ‘present’ or ‘gift’ is in the original a generic term and includes all gifts and presents. Look at the facts. The United States of America has made gifts to many nations and has freely given presents of goods or food or money. There is no parallel to the generosity of the American people in the history of the world. The Almighty God foreknew this and showed it to His prophet.
“On our part we stand amazed when we read all these prophetic statements in Isaiah’s eighteenth chapter which have seen so exact and literal a fulfillment. The United States of America is indeed written into prophecy.”