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In Bible Prophecy
The United States
"The Land Shadowing
“The Land Shadowing with Wings”
Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is
beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:
Woe — Ho (Young’s translation).
To the land — By many, supposed to refer to the
United States of America.
Shadowing with wings — Sheltered by divine
providence as an asylum for the liberty lovers and truth
lovers of the world.
Which is beyond — A fitting description of the
location of the United States.
Rivers of Ethiopia — Beyond the waters of the
ends of the earth.
That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in
vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye
swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a
people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation
meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have
- Sendeth ambassadors — God’s messages of
Vessels of bulrushes — Papyrus, paper.
Ye swift messengers — God’s message going forth
in literature, books, tracts, etc.
To a nation scattered — “A Holy Nation, a Royal
Priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:9)
And peeled — Polished.
A people terrible — In their experiences
A nation meted out — Whose course and experiences
in life the Lord has measured out for them, for their
own highest welfare.
And trodden down — As a part of their necessary
The rivers — Either of death or as in Psa. 46:4.
Have spoiled — Divided. The river of death
separates this Holy Nation from its inheritance on the
other side of Jordan.
Isa 18:3 All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers
on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on
the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
Isa 18:4 For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my
rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a
clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the
heat of harvest.
Isa 18:5 For before the harvest, when the bud is
perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower,
he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and
take away and cut down the branches.
Isa 18:6 They shall be left together unto the fowls of
the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the
fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the
earth shall winter upon them.
Isa 18:7 In that time shall the present be brought unto
the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and
from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a
nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the
rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the
LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
- In that time — The time when the message of
the swift messengers goes forth.
Shall the present — The Holy Nation, brought as a
present to Jehovah.
The mount Zion — The heavenly Kingdom.
“Go, Ye Swift Messengers!”
The latter part of Isaiah Chapter
18 —verses 3 to 7— seems to apply to our day only, thus
justifying a similar application of verses 1 and 2. In other
words, it is evidently proper for us to expect a fulfilment of
this prophecy at the present time.
The first word of the chapter,
“Woe,” should more properly be translated “Ho!” Thus Prof.
Young’s translation reads, “Ho! to the land shadowed with
wings.” This is by many supposed to refer to the United
States of America, and the wings are supposed by some to
represent the eagle wings so conspicuous on its coins, seals,
bank-notes, etc., in its emblem of liberty.
To us, however, the wings would
more particularly symbolize divine providence caring for this
land. God frequently uses the eagle and its wings as symbolical
of divine care and protection. True, the promise “He shall
cover thee with his feathers and under his wings shalt thou
trust” (Psa. 91:4), is not made to the United States nor
to any earthly nation, but to the Church, the “holy nation”:
nevertheless, in a sense the affairs of earthly nations are
supervised in the interest of the “peculiar people” whom God is
now gathering out of all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues
to be the Bride of Christ.
Glance briefly at the facts. This
favored land was unknown to civilization, kept hidden, as it
were, until the due time—until it was needed as a home, an
outlet for the rapidly overcrowding masses of Europe. More than
this, it opened at a time when the Reformation movement was
agitating “Christendom” so called, when the study of the Bible
was awakening conscience and character and Christian common
sense. The awakened class was not generally the rich or the
titled or the very comfortable, neither was it the very degraded
and ignorant and helplessly poor, but the middle class of
European society. These did the thinking and the protesting, and
in turn endured the suffering under the persecution engendered.
And these were the ones who needed an asylum and who found one
in this land shadowed, cared for, by the “wings” of divine
What has been true of the
“Pilgrim fathers” and their reasons for settlement here has been
true also of others. Of course all have not fled from religious
persecution. On the contrary, the majority have sought a new
home for the betterment of their temporal interests. But were
not even these seeking escape from social and financial
oppressions more or less burdensome? Although many feared the
influx of so many of the middle and lower classes, yet natural
laws and legislation have hindered the coming of the most
degraded. Under divine providence the assimilating process has
kept pace with the immigration, so that the vast improvement in
the manners and appearance is phenomenal. This suggests to us
what may be expected on a still broader and deeper scale under
the blessed “times of restitution of all things which God
hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the
world began.”— Acts 3:19-21.
Look, too, at the history of this
nation. We are far from claiming that it is perfect: we can see
much room for improvement in every direction, and are willing to
admit that Americans can still learn some things from other
parts of the world. Nevertheless, no other nation on earth has
such a history. We, as Christians, are opposed to war on general
principles, and yet we must acknowledge that some causes of war
are more just than others. True, selfishness has its firm hold
upon all the people, and no doubt certain ignoble aims have
actuated some of the people in connection with these wars.
The prosperity of this land is so
phenomenal as to be the constant surprise of the world. The poor
from all nations have become the wealthiest nation on earth.
Whatever may yet become true, under the changing conditions by
which the trusts are obtaining so great a control, this land
hitherto has certainly been well illustrated by the statue of
“Liberty Enlightening the World” in the harbor of New York
City—the gift of that clear-sighted Frenchman, Bartholdi.
The great truth thus symbolized
is appreciated by but few, however. Few see that the influence
of liberty in the United States has been a potent factor in
breaking the shackles of serfdom throughout the world. The
practical illustration of people governing themselves so
successfully, so prosperously, excited the admiration and the
envy of their relatives and friends in every part of Europe, and
led to the concession of greater liberties everywhere.
Great Britain long gave partial
suffrage to her people, but only recently, under that influence
of Liberty enlightening the world, she gave universal suffrage.
The same was the lesson and its results in Germany, Belgium,
Italy, Austria and elsewhere in Europe. Even Russia liberated
her serfs and will yet be forced by the increasing light to give
her people the ballot. On the whole, then, no other land could
so well lay claim to being shadowed or protected by the wings of
divine providence as can these United States—including Canada,
really the same people in character, in interest, in freedom, in
prosperity, and in divine favor.
“BEYOND THE RIVERS OF
This is the second statement of
the prophecy. In ancient times little was known of the world’s
size, etc., and Ethiopia was called “the ends of the earth.” As
for instance, the Queen of Sheba came from Ethiopia, “from the
ends of the earth,” to hear the wisdom of Solomon.
Interpreting the text from this
standpoint it would mean: “beyond the waters of the ends
of the earth”—a very fitting manner in which to describe
America, as yet unknown and not intended to be pointed out
particularly at that time. We have, then, the prophecy thus:
“Ho! to the land shadowed by wings [divine providences],
which is beyond the waters of the ends of the earth.”
And the next declaration is,—“That sendeth ambassadors by
the sea, even upon the waters,
In Vessels of Bulrushes.”
No one ever heard of a vessel of
“bulrushes,” or rather (literally) of
“papyrus” or paper as the Revised Version renders
the word. Are we to expect the fulfilment of this prophecy in
the future—that the steamships of the future will be built of
paper? We think not. The tendency is rather toward greater
strength, so that wooden vessels are rapidly giving place to
those built of steel.
Rather we should interpret the
language as symbolical—as representing books and
tracts going out in every direction bearing messages as
God’s ambassadors to all who have an ear to hear their message.
By these paper-messages, these divine embassies, all inhabitants
of the earth who can see and hear are called upon to note the
Lord’s ensign about to be set up in his Kingdom, and the trumpet
of Jubilee now sounding and to grow more and more distinct as
the Jubilee morning ushers in. See verse 3.
“Go, Ye Swift Messengers.”
This language is much more
reasonable when applied to God’s message going forth in
literature than to worldly ambassadors in paper boats, surely.
It is astonishing to those who have any knowledge of the facts
how the truth literature is going out as “swift
messengers” to all parts of the earth and in many
languages. These originate in the land shadowed by the wings of
divine providence. Indeed, it is certain that from no other land
could they so well be sent. Had it not been for “Liberty
enlightening the world” other nations would not permit the
publication of so glorious a “gospel of good tidings of
great joy which shall be unto all people.”
“To a Nation Scattered and
To what nation does the message
go? We answer, it goes to the “Holy Nation,” the Royal
Priesthood. (I Pet. 2:9.) Many people of various nations may
handle and read these messages, but they are only for the one;
and it is doubtful if others will be able to fully understand
their message in the present time. Besides, the description fits
no other nation. It is “a nation scattered and polished [R.V.
“smooth”] —to a people terrible [in their experiences] hitherto;
a nation meted out [whose course and experiences in life the
Lord has measured out for them for their highest welfare] and
trodden down [as a part of their necessary experience] whose
land the rivers divide [R.V.].” The reference to the
rivers may be taken either as suggesting that the river of
death separates this “Holy Nation” from its
inheritance on the other side of Jordan; or as in Psalm 46:4.
The swift messengers [or
“light messengers” — Young] have a message of
special comfort and consolation, of interest to every member of
this “holy nation” of terrible experiences
hitherto; a message that the time of Zion’s travail is nearly
ended—that soon the birth of the “New Creation” in the “first
resurrection” will be complete and that forthwith all the
nations of earth will see the Lord’s standard and hear the
trumpet of Jubilee. This “holy nation” shall
“at that time” be brought as a “present unto the Lord
[Jehovah] of hosts”—to Mount Zion, the Heavenly
Let us show the Lord more and
more our zeal, our love for himself and his wonderful message by
our cooperation in the sending forth of his swift paper
messengers. “Go, ye swift messengers!” Every year
adds to the number who by word and deed say, “Go!” and also adds
to the number of these messengers sent forth. God speed them to
the accomplishment of his glorious service—present and
future—and God bless also the dear volunteers engaged
with us as His ambassadors in this ministry!