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America a Beast?

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Log onto Google or Yahoo! and type in the word  “America.” You’ll get millions of hits, with reactions ranging from the classic slogan “America: love it or leave it” to the opposite-those who want to destroy the United States.

Many around the world are angry with what’s happening in Iraq and other countries. Then again, many support U.S. foreign policy. Either way, few can deny that the U.S. is the one remaining superpower in the world. No other country can stand up to her.

The people who founded the United States established it on an idea of majority rule while protecting the rights of the minorities. That simple concept—freedom—has driven the actions of the United States for more than two centuries. And it’s this concept that has made the U.S. the envy and the leader of the world.

But did you know that the United States of America is also the only modern nation mentioned in Bible prophecy? It’s true. And while the description written there starts off positive, it doesn’t remain that way for long. Let’s take a look.

Daniel 7 talks about a series of beasts rising out of the ocean, that represent the dominant political powers in various times on earth. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome are represented in sequence, just as they appear in world history.

The chapter spends more time discussing the fourth beast, Rome, and it’s obvious that the kingdom has a significant part to play in history. Verse eight talks about “a little horn” appearing with proud words. This same beast appears again in Revelation 13, where it says that “the whole world was astonished and followed the beast . . . they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?’” (verses 3, 4).

The beast was allowed to reign and live, all the time opening its mouth in blasphemy against God and heaven. It also waged war against God’s people, killing and defeating them. It reigned supreme during its appointed time on earth, but then received a “fatal wound” (verses 3-7).

But it is followed by another beast (verse 11). This one comes out of the earth (which symbolizes new land) rather than the sea (which symbolizes masses of people) as the other beasts had:

“He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed” (verses 11-15).

It’s obvious that the first beast came out of the Roman Empire. And since it continued to hold power for years after the empire fell, it’s pretty well accepted that both the small, proud horn and the beast that waged war against God’s people represented the Roman Catholic Church.

Its power to influence world politics ended in 1798 when Napoleon had one of his generals arrest and unseat the pope. Verse 12 tells us that the Papacy’s “fatal wound,” however, was healed. And then, with the support of the second beast, it’ll regain its power over the people of the world.

But how can we tell who this second beast represents? Many believe that it represents the United States. Let’s look at the evidence:

1. It rises out of a new land instead of established people. What other major power today can make this claim?

2. It has horns like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. Some believe the two horns represent the separation of church and state, a foundation of our freedom. And although the nation had humble beginnings, it’s grown to be the most powerful nation on earth, truly representative of speaking “like a dragon.”

3. It works miracles on earth, even calling fire down from heaven. Well, I haven’t seen the U.S. call fire down from heaven yet. But there are many miracles in science, medicine, and economics that have caused many in the world to wonder after the United States.

And if this is so, then the United States mentioned in prophecy is responsible for more than just the reestablishment of the power of the Papacy. Reading on we find:

“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name” (verses 16, 17).

You’ve probably heard of the “mark of the beast,” but here it is in hi-def. According to prophecy, the United States will force everyone to pay homage to the beast (with established uniform worship through the Papacy) by marking them as one of its followers. Exit freedom of religion. Enter the last days.

How can this happen? you might ask. Aren’t we protected by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights? Don’t we have guaranteed freedom of religion? Isn’t there an established separation in our country between church and state?

Well, the first thing you need to know is that this hasn’t happened yet, and probably won’t happen tomorrow. But it will happen someday, and likely someday soon. The Constitution of the United States with its Bill of Rights is only as good as the Supreme Court that interprets it. That’s their job. And because much of it was written more than two centuries ago, there is often a lot of interpretation as to how to apply those freedoms today.

Most everyone agrees that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other freedoms are an integral part of being a citizen of the United States. There isn’t as much agreement as to how one should interpret those freedoms. And as September 11, 2001, the Patriot Act, and the events that followed 9/11 show us, many people are more concerned with safety and security than they are with freedom.

Freedom—especially protection of the freedom of minorities—is a dynamic concept that needs to be defended daily, and not just in other countries, but here at home as well.

As Bono from U2 says: “I’m a big fan of America. America is not just a country, it’s an idea. But it’s an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It brings with it equality, but even though equality’s the highest calling, it’s the hardest to reach.”

It’s when America forgets what it takes to defend freedom of the individual that we will lose it. And according to the Bible, we need to be aware that that day is coming.

Dr. Glen Robinson is associate professor of communication at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, where his goal is to develop new Christian writers. His latest book, Not My Son, Lord, was published by Pacific Press in 2005

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