Is the United States Mentioned in the Apocalypse?
As the Apocalypse was written around 100 A.D. and the new world was unknown to the people of the ancient Middle East, one would assume it either isn’t mentioned in The Apocalypse or it is mentioned in symbolic terms. As the United States has risen in power to become the most powerful nation on earth and in the history of the earth, it seems unlikely that it will have no role in bringing The Mysterious Plan of God to its completion. Steven Paul saw in the events of Chapter 12 a clear reference to a mighty nation, The Eagle, The Great One. Read below for his reasoning.
Consider now verses 13-18:
13 And when the dragon saw [aorist] that he was cast out [aorist] unto the earth, he pursued [aorist] the woman who brought forth [aorist] the virile one. 14 and to the woman were given [aorist] the two wings of the eagle the great one, so that she might fly unto the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished therein for a time and times [dual noun] and a half time away from the face [mask] of the serpent. 15 and the serpent cast out [aorist] from his mouth after the woman water as a river, so that he might make her swept-away-by-flood. 16 and the earth came to the rescue for the woman and the earth opened [aorist] its mouth and swallowed [aorist] the river which the dragon cast out from its mouth. 17 and the dragon was enraged at the woman and went away [aorist] to do battle against the rest of her offspring the ones heeding the commandments of the God and holding the testimony of Jesus. 18 and he took his stand upon the sand of the sea.
To understand what John depicted symbolically in the above excerpt, a few terms must be explained first. However, let it be stated beforehand that the exact meaning of verse 16, even after explanation, will still be a matter that only Time will tell in full.
The term “eagle,” like “head” and “horn,” may be used as the symbol for either a ruler or the nations(s) he rules. For example, Moses wrote,
“The Lord will raise up against you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, that swoops down like an eagle,…” [Dt. 28:49]
And, God described Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and Hopha, pharaoh of Egypt, respectively, thus,
“The Great Eagle, great of wing... came to Lebanon... But there was another eagle, great of wing, rich in plumage...” [Ez. 17:3 & 7]
Since a secular ruler derives his power from the nation(s) he rules, the greatness of the ruler connotes the greatness of the nation(s). John modified “eagle” with the definite article, even though he had not previously mentioned the term; and this tells the reader that this “eagle” will be easy to identify. The English equivalent would be “the eagle.” But, John added the nominalized adjective “the great one.” Thus, the whole expression signifies THE MIGHTIEST NATION ON EARTH. The reader has already met this emphatic form for designating the superlative, as in the title, “Babylon the Great” [Chapter 17], or “the tribulation the great one” [Chapter 7].
A Greek noun has a form called the “dual.” Duals are used almost exclusively for things that naturally come in pairs or by twos, such as, eyes, hands, etc. It therefore, at first, seemed odd that John did not use just a dual and write “the wings of the eagle.” His wording is saliently, because numerically, specific: “the TWO wings of the eagle.”
The noun “πτέρυξ” [pteryx, wing] has several usages:
(1) the wing [of a bird];
(2) a winged creature, a bird;
(3) a thing like a wing, such as the flags or skirt of a coat of Greek armor; and
(4) anything that covers or protects like a wing.
In Greek, as in English, some nouns may be used in “synecdoche,” a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for the part, the special for the general or the general for the special, as in “ten hands” for “ten sailors.”
Bearing in mind, however, that the “eagle” symbolizes a nation, it should be clear to anyone that the two wings are not two parts of the “eagle,” in itself, regarded as either territory or populace. Rather, the two wings are of the “eagle,” in the sense that they are its possessions, just as someone may have two pets, two cars, etc.; and they are from the “eagle,” in the sense that it is their origin, i.e., the “eagle” is the nation whence they came.
The reader has already met the genitive case, used for indicating both possession and origin, in the opening phrase of the prophecy, namely, “Ὰποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ” [Apokalypsis Iësou Khristou]: for the revelation is of Christ, in that it is his prophecy that he will fulfill; and the revelation is from him, in that he is literally the origin or creator of it.
Understand one very important point here: the woman must flee from where she is to where she will be safe; therefore, God will not give her two parts of the “eagle's” territory or populace, but two objects, two things, which belong to the “eagle” and which the woman can use to escape to safety.
Like many other terms in the Apocalypse, the meaning of the word “wilderness” is found in the writings of the prophets.
“And I will bring you into the wilderness of people, and there I will plead with you face to face...” [Ez. 20:35]
This means that God led the nation of Israel into the seventy-year captivity among the pagan Babylonians, in order to cleanse the Jews of their inclination to idolatry, and to teach them the consequence of departing from the Ten Commandments.
“And the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily...” [Is. 35:1]
The prophet described the Gentiles as a “wilderness” because they did not yet have that spiritual life, which grows by faith in the true God.
Saint John the Baptist said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’...” [Jn. 1:23, from Is. 40:3]
In this citation, the Jews, not the Gentiles, are the “wilderness” for two reasons:
(1) The religious leaders, even the seventy members of the Sanhedrin [who were appointed by the Romans], had become corrupt and taught many precepts merely human, to the result that the people, in general, did not worship God in spirit, as Jesus said of them,
“...This adulterous and sinful generation...” [Mk. 8:38]
(2) The Jews did not have the “fullness of the truth by faith” in Jesus Christ, as Jesus himself defined someone who has this “fullness of the truth by faith,”
“I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John [the Baptist]: but the least in the kingdom of the God is greater than he.” [Lk. 7:28]
It has already been shown that the term, “the kingdom of the God,” signifies the same as “the kingdom of the heaven,” i.e., the Church, the visible organization established by Christ, not any other organization begun by a mere human being at a later time.
Hence, the term “wilderness” in 12:14 designates a region, which is not, and never has been, predominantly ROMAN CATHOLIC. If said “wilderness” had recently apostatized, then, John would have, at least, intimated harlotry or adultery.
Four items of interest may now be determined:
(1) the location of “the wilderness” [12:14];
(2) the general location of the “woman,” when she will begin her flight;
(3) the location or identity of the Great Eagle; and
(4) the two objects or things by which the woman will make her escape.
First, juxtapose verses 6 & 14:
6 And the woman fled [aorist] unto the wilderness, where she has therein a place prepared by the God, so that they may nourish her [for] days a thousand two hundred sixty.
14 and to the woman were given [aorist] the two wings of the eagle the great one, so that she might fly unto the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished therein [for] a time and times and a half time away from the face [mask] of the serpent.
It has already been shown that there will be only one period of 1260 days or 42 months, the “short time” or “little while” mentioned in 12:12 and 17:10; therefore, since 12:14's basic details and their order of mention are the same as 12:6's, it follows that both verses describe one and the same event. The aorist verb “fled,” in verse 6, and the aorist verb “were given,” in verse 14, tell that this event will happen only once.
In verse 6, John looped forward [to verse 14], perhaps, because he wanted to complete the account of the “virile son's” activities, i.e., that the God and he “may nourish her,” and thus could John concentrate the narrative to the war in “the heaven.”
The participial phrase, “prepared by the God” [verse 6], and the verb, “were given” [verse 14], indicate acts of Divine Providence. Hence, Divine Providence is the common denominator to the woman's place in the wilderness and to the two wings of the Great Eagle; thus, verse 14 initiates the idea that the Great Eagle, the mightiest nation on earth, is a part of that wilderness, the only region on earth where the woman will be safe for the 1260 days. Indeed, John introduced not only the Great Eagle with the definite article, but also the “wilderness,” and this intimates that the “wilderness” can be easily identified too.
The woman will spend the 1260 days “away from the face of the serpent” [verse 14]. Note that John did not write simply, “away from the serpent.” The noun “πρόσωπος” [prosöpos] means “face”; it also means “mask,” the kind of mask that a Greek actor held up in front of his face to show what persona he was playing in the drama. John deliberately inserted the term to hint that the “Dragon,” through most of the Chapter, symbolizes Satan in his political aspect or “mask”.
Here, recall what was said earlier about the term “sign” in verses 1 and 3; also, bear in mind that, as the Dragon was in the presence of the woman [verse 4, like Latin preposition coram], so the woman was face to face with the Dragon. Yet, the phrase, “the face of the serpent,” serves to remind the reader less about the visibility of the serpent's mask than about its description. The description is the more important because it involves not merely WHO the mask is, but also WHERE it is. The “face of the serpent” is the face of the DRAGON, and the salient features in the description of the Dragon are the SEVEN HEADS AND TEN HORNS [verse 3].
The phrase, “the face of the serpent,” alludes forward to the description of the Beast, “while he was having SEVEN HEADS AND TEN HORNS” in Chapter 17, not of the Beast, “while he/it was having TEN HORNS AND SEVEN HEADS” in Chapter 13; and, whereas the events of Chapter 12 will happen in the politico-economic context of Chapter 17, Babylon the Great will also be part of Satan's mask at the time the Woman Clothed with the Sun begins her escape. Thus, the chief components of Satan's “face” or “mask” are Babylon and the Beast, and Satan is the mastermind behind them.
The Beast rules the “many waters/seven mountains,” which are “the nations” of Asia and Africa; Babylon rules “the earth,” which is Europe. The Beast is waging bloody persecution in his domain; Babylon is not yet doing so. Hence, the cardinals [the “woman,” in verse 1] did not convene for the papal election in the Beast's domain, but in Babylon's—probably, in Vatican City in Rome, the traditional place. Thus, the surviving faithful cardinals [the “woman,” after the first sentence in verse 5] must flee from a place in Europe to another place where she will be safe, “away from the face of the serpent.”
For obvious reasons, she will not flee to Asia or Africa or Antarctica. She will not flee to any place in that territory that extends from Mexico down to the southern tip of South America, for two reasons:
(1) Said territory is, predominantly, Roman Catholic, and, therefore, cannot be called “wilderness.”
(2) At least, two-thirds of the world's Roman Catholics reside in said territory, and the Beast cannot become a beast in the full sense of the term unless he persecutes the Catholics therein.
Thus, the woman will flee either to Australia or to that region of North America comprising Canada and the United States. Neither in present nor in prospect can Australia accommodate the description, “the mightiest nation on earth”; like South America, it will politically succumb to the Beast's economic coercion. Since the two wings given to the woman came from the Great Eagle, to the Great Eagle they will go: “the eagle the great one” is the United States of [North] America, which is not and never has been predominantly Roman Catholic.
The cardinals must travel fast and far, and the best possibility for succeeding in their escape is to go by air, not by land or by sea. The meaning of the term, “the two wings,” is the synecdochical combination of usages #2 & #3 of pteryx, to wit, “the two winged objects” or “the two things with wings.” In other words, the woman will, literally, “FLY unto the wilderness” by means of two aircraft. Since the two wings are possessions of the Great Eagle itself, they will probably be military transports.
Please note well this point: a beast, in the full sense of the prophetical term, is a king who uses his kingdom to afflict all or ALMOST all the members of God's VISIBLE ORGANIZATION; therefore, the Beast can fulfill that definition ONLY IF he afflicts the Roman Catholics in the nations of Europe AND in the Hispanic nations of the Western Hemisphere, for they are five sixths of the total.
As long as said Hispanic nations remain, predominantly, Roman Catholic, and as long as Australia does not become the mightiest nation on earth, my statements about the “wilderness” and the Great Eagle in 12:14 will stand.