James Harmon
“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

The USA in prophecy

Prophecy in Scripture falls into two categories, fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled. For the sake of clarification I say “yet to be fulfilled,” rather than “unfulfilled,” as all prophecy in Scripture has to be fulfilled at some point. Not one prophecy in the 66 Books of the Bible can go unfulfilled, or all of Scripture falls into disarray. “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2nd Peter 1:20-21). As “All Scripture is God breathed” (2nd Timothy 3:16) then all prophecy in Scripture must be fulfilled.

Fulfilled prophecies are readily identified by some historical event that clearly fulfills the details of a particular prophecy. Seventeen OT prophets recorded their prophecies in individual books of the Old Testament. All 17 OT prophets prophesied for the most part, to what was then a divided kingdom. Around 930 BC, shorty after the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel became a divided kingdom, with Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Fulfilled prophecies included the Assyria captivity of the northern kingdom in 722 BC, the Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom in 586 BC, the Persian conquest of the Babylonian empire in 539 BC and Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia in 333 BC, just to name a few fulfilled OT prophecies.

Many of the OT prophets also prophesied about other events such as the coming Messiah (Isaiah 7:14), the gentiles being incorporated into the Plan of God (Isaiah 49:6), the dispersion of the Jews to the nations of the world after 70AD (Hosea 9:17) and then their return to the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-5) which occurred in 1947 AD. Some even prophesied about events that are yet, to this day, to be fulfilled such as the Tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27) and the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ (Joel 3:17-21). Old Testament prophets who prophesied about the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom included Joel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah.

The “yet to be fulfilled” prophecies that are of interest here are the ones that refer to two entities, code named “Babylon,” in Revelation chapters 17 and 18 of the NT. The entity in Revelation 18 was prophesied about in the OT, primarily in Jeremiah 50 and 51. It cannot refer to a future revival of the 8th century BC Babylonian Empire as that empire was destroyed, and has never been revived, by the Persian conquest of it in 539 BC. All that remains today of that enormous ancient empire is the country of Iraq and the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq. In addition, and at the time that the prophecies of Revelation 17 and 18 were given to John in 95 AD, neither of the two entities described in 17 and 18 were in existence.

The “mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17 is both a religious and a commercial entity. “Babylon the great” in Revelation 18 is an economic and commercial entity. Today, in 2024, and with all indications that the Rapture is on the near horizon, the identity of the Babylon in Revelation 18 seems quite obvious, while the Babylon in Revelation 17 is not, at this time, so obvious to me. One of the great dangers in interpreting Scripture is taking some preconceived idea and then forcing Scripture to support it. It’s called eisegesis, that is, reading something into Scripture that is not warranted by Scripture. I originally started this paper believing that I knew who this entity was in Revelation 17. I had been taught, years go, who this entity most likely was. But while doing the research for this paper there were some things that just didn’t seem to fit. I’ve concluded, for the time being, that I cannot be dogmatic about the identity of “mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17.

As to the identity of the Babylon of Revelation 18 please note the following comparisons between Jeremiah’s prophecies of a future Babylon with those in Revelation 18.

Compare: “For this is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance on her, as she has done to others, so do to her” (Jeremiah 50:15) – “Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds.” (Revelation 18:6).

Compare: “Flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment” (Jeremiah 51:6) – “‘Come out of her my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’” (Revelation 18:4).

Compare: “O you who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your end” (Jeremiah 51:13) – “‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste’” (Revelation 18:16-17).

Compare: “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth: the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad” (Jeremiah 51:7) – “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality” (Revelation 18:3).

Compare: “Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail over her; bring balm for her pain” (Jeremiah 51:8) – “And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great … the merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance, because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning” (Revelation 18:2,15) ( ii ).

Compare: Isaiah chapter 47 and Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 with Revelation 18. More comparisons can be cited.

To properly identify the Babylon of Revelation 18 certain prophecies have to have been fulfilled and certain yet to be fulfilled prophecies have to be near the time of their fulfillment. The next major prophetic event, yet to be fulfilled in human history, is the Rapture of the church. All believers in Jesus Christ, alive at the time of the Rapture, will be removed from the planet (cf 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1st Corinthians 15:52-52). Obviously the Rapture has not yet occurred but there is a prophetic event, from both the OT and the NT, that has been fulfilled and its occurrence single handedly puts the Rapture on the near horizon. Jesus taught His disciples, and us, about that event and how we could recognize, when that event occurred, that the next event, the Rapture, was near.

In the parable of the fig tree Jesus taught what the signs leading up to the Rapture of the church would be. In Mathew 24:32-35, Jesus taught that when we see the return of the Jews to the land of Israel – they are the “fig tree” in the parable – that He “is near, right at the door.” He even gave us a general time frame for the Rapture; “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The noun ‘genea’ in verse 34, translated ‘generation’, does not specify a period of time for a generation, today we would say 30 years, but rather it refers to “the sum total of those living at a given time and defined in terms of specific characteristics, i.e. contemporaries” ( iii ). The generation that Jesus references in verse 34 must refer to those Jews who recaptured Jerusalem in 1967. Biblical Israel could not be considered a nation, in God’s eyes, until it regained possession of its ancient capital Jerusalem. When this occurred in 1967 the fig tree started “putting forth leaves” and Jesus said that when this happens, “you know that summer is near” (24:32).

With regards to Him being “near, right at the door” (24:33), Jesus said: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” (Mathew 24:36-37). Jesus clearly taught that we cannot know the “day or the hour” of the Rapture but, in His reference to the fig tree and “the days of Noah”, He clearly told us that we can recognize the general time frame in human history during which the Rapture will occur. In a nutshell the “fig tree” would be back in the land and evil, “just like the days of Noah”, would be everywhere. In the days of Noah the people ignored Noah’s warnings of the coming flood. Mankind was destroyed because “.. the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually … Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence … Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘the end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth’” (Genesis 6:5,11,13).

Revelation chapter 18 deals with the destruction of an economic and commercial entity called “Babylon the great”. Her destruction is swift and unlike any thing ever seen in human history. Note; “In one day her plagues will come” (vs 8), “in one hour (her) judgment has come” (vs 10), “in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste” (vs 17) and she will be “laid waste in one hour” (vs 19). John describes her, and her destruction; “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality … For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong” (vs 3, 8). The only country currently on the planet that meets the description of the entity in Revelation 18 is the USA.

Her destruction must occur shortly after the Rapture and possibly up to the mid-point of the Tribulation, and for the following reasons. The USA will be decimated in every way at the Rapture. The vacancies in the government and the military alone will be cause for great alarm to nations such as Russia and China. The nuclear codes in the wrong hands here in the US, or the uncertainty of whose hands they might wind up in, would certainly trigger a rapid response from, most likely, Russia or China, countries that will be mostly intact at the Rapture. Logically their number one concern would be “who is in control of the USA’s nuclear arsenal?” The USA currently has 5,044 nuclear warheads. Russia leads with 5,500 nuclear warheads. “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ 2024 Nuclear Notebook estimates that China now has about 500 nuclear warheads, and more are being produced to equip future delivery systems. Of the nine nuclear-armed powers, China is thought to have one of the fastest-growing nuclear arsenals at present” ( ii ). “And the kings of the earth … will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come’. And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more ” (vss 9-11). Her destruction in “one hour”, and the mourning for her destruction, which will occur “at a distance”, certainly describes nuclear annihilation and radioactive contamination.

Further reason for my belief that the destruction of the USA will occur early on in the Tribulation is based on the command in Revelation 18:4 to “Come out of her my people”. The phrase “my people” in Scripture most generally refers to the Jewish people. At the beginning of the Tribulation there will be no believers on earth. But given that there are 6.3 million Jews currently residing in the US, many of whom will still be here after the Rapture because of their unbelief, the phrase “my people” likely refers to them, and they will have a place to go, home to Israel. This command could certainly include new believers who have come to saving faith through the ministry of the 144,000 and the angels of Revelation 14:1-8. Where these Gentile believers would go I do not know but American Jews would certainly have a place to flee to.

Currently the USA is the greatest global economic power in history. But it’s gross federal debt is 34 trillion dollars, half of which is owed to Japan, China, the United Kingdom and Belgium respectively. In spite of her debt she is the market place for the goods of the world. Her destruction will be devastating to the world’s economies and that is a gross understatement. The global economic devastation will be incalculable. “The merchants of these things who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance (radiation), and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’” (vss 15-19).

The spiritual decline of the USA started in earnest in the 1960s beginning with taking prayer out of the public schools in 1962. The domino effect of turning our backs on our Judeo-Christian foundation began. We are currently a nation in rebellion against God. The author of the book, “The United States in Prophecy” (iv), wrote in 1969 that “Politically speaking, we are living in a time of unprecedented change, upheaval, revolution, anarchy, and general instability”. This was written 55 years ago. How much more is this true today? The decline in this nation, in every facet of our society, is accelerating at an alarming rate. The good news is that we believers will not be here for the destruction of “Babylon the great” in Revelation 18. The Tribulation will be a time unlike anything ever in human history. Jesus said; “‘For then there will be a great tribulation, such as not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.’” (Mathew 24:21).

Our citizenship here on earth, regardless of what country we live in, is only a temporary stop along the way to our real home. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble estate into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2nd Corinthians 6:1-7). Maranatha!

( i ) numerous on line sources
( ii ) Nuclear Notebook
( iii ) Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament; Bauer, Danker
( iv ) The United States In Prophecy by Edward Tracy; published 1969
( v ) Wikepedia

About the Author
James Harmon was born and raised on the Island of Trinidad, in the West Indies, to American missionaries. From 1975 to 1995he worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, offshore Cameroon W. Africa, the Ivory Coast of W. Africa, Siberia Russia and Sweden (we drilled an exploratory well for the Swedish government). From 1995 until he retired in 2021 he sold construction equipment in Oklahoma and Texas. James has a Masters of Theology degree from Maranatha Seminary. His studies were in Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Isagogics and Systematic Theology. His exposure to various nationalities and cultures has given him a well rounded perspective on life. His Christian faith puts much of that perspective to good use.