Britain and the United States Inherit Joseph's Birthright

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“And the LORD has declared…that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations…as he promised” (Deuteronomy 26:18-19 Deuteronomy 26:18-19 18 And the LORD has avouched you this day to be his peculiar people, as he has promised you, and that you should keep all his commandments; 19 And to make you high above all nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that you may be an holy people to the LORD your God, as he has spoken.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

After about five centuries of existence on the Eurasian steppes following the destruction of the northern kingdom, Israel’s nomadic descendants, now called Scythians, began another forced migration.

This time their enemies—from Asia and the Near East—and a dramatic change of climate on the Eurasian steppes began moving them westward, just as the biblical prophets had said would happen (1 Kings 14:15 1 Kings 14:15For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.
American King James Version×
; Isaiah 49:12 Isaiah 49:12Behold, these shall come from far: and, see, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
American King James Version×
; Hosea 12:1 Hosea 12:1Ephraim feeds on wind, and follows after the east wind: he daily increases lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
American King James Version×
). This major westward migration began about 200 B.C. and continued into the fifth century A.D.

At the peak of their possessions, the British and American peoples controlled vast swaths of the world’s most fertile farmlands and mineral-producing areas as well as strategic passages and ports controlling crucial military and trade routes.

Yet during this time, in the first century, when Christianity was in its infancy, the Jewish historian Josephus confirmed that many deported Israelites were still living beyond the Euphrates River. Josephus wrote that, in his day, “the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now [the first century], and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” ( Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, Chapter V, Section 2).

The apostle James also plainly confirms that the missing tribes hadn’t been reunited with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in Palestine. He addresses his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1 James 1:1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
American King James Version×
).

Though God had promised that all of the lost 10 tribes of Israel would continue to exist, He also promised to sift them among the nations (Amos 9:9 Amos 9:9For, see, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall on the earth.
American King James Version×
). This He did until He brought them to the land that was north and west of ancient Israel, where He had promised to resettle them.

It was as though a powerful, unseen hand inexorably herded them—with all their tribes and clans—across the Eurasian plains, the Scythian steppes, to Northwest Europe, where the Celts, another group of related tribes, were already settling.

Although not as well understood as the great European migrations beginning in the 16th century—when emigrants established colonies in North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa—the earlier migration was similar in many respects.

Although many clans from many tribes converged on Europe at the same time, most of those that finally settled in Northwest Europe were related and shared a culture. Many historians have acknowledged that the Anglo-Saxon peoples provided the racial stock that founded several modern Western nations, including Great Britain and the United States. This information can be found in many history books.

What isn’t widely understood is the Celtic-Scythian link to the ancient Israelites. In the previous chapter we briefly discussed this connection. Now we turn our attention to God beginning to fulfill His promises to the descendants of Israel’s presumably lost tribes after they had migrated to northwestern Europe and the British Isles and from there to America and the other British colonies around the world.

Promises of greatness for Joseph’s descendants

Before his death the patriarch Jacob, through God’s inspiration, prophesied what would happen to the descendants of his 12 sons in the “last days” (Genesis 49:1 Genesis 49:1And Jacob called to his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
American King James Version×
). Our focus in this chapter is on Jacob’s prophecy concerning Joseph.

Joseph’s modern descendants are the easiest to identify of all the lost tribes of Israel because the specific blessings they were to receive stand out so distinctly from those of the other tribes. God promised to Joseph’s descendants—through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh —all the benefits of the birthright promises of national greatness and overflowing prosperity.

Notice Jacob’s prophecy about Joseph in the last days: “Joseph is like a grapevine that produces much fruit, a healthy vine watered by a spring, whose branches grow over the wall. Archers attack him violently and shoot at him angrily, but he aims his bow well. His arms are made strong. He gets his power from the Mighty God of Jacob and his strength from the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.

“Your father’s God helps you. God Almighty blesses you. He blesses you with rain from above, with water from springs below, with many babies born to your wives, and many young ones born to your animals. The blessings of your father are greater than the blessings of the oldest mountains, greater than the good things of the long-lasting hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, on the forehead of the one who was separated from his brothers” (Genesis 49:22-26 Genesis 49:22-26 22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24 But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
American King James Version×
, New Century Version).

Joseph’s descendants, he said, were to be especially blessed—like a fruitful vine with a never-ending supply of water, insuring their constant growth. Their populations would multiply rapidly. They would expand to lands beyond their original borders, grow militarily strong and reap the choicest physical blessings of the earth. They would produce and prosper. These were the birthright blessings (1 Chronicles 5:1-2 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 1 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but for as much as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. 2 For Judah prevailed above his brothers, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:)
American King James Version×
) God promised to Joseph’s descendants. Because of these divine blessings, Joseph’s descendants were to stand out among Israel’s other tribes (Genesis 49:22-26 Genesis 49:22-26 22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24 But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
American King James Version×
).

Before his death Moses repeated the special blessings that would flow to Joseph’s descendants. “And of Joseph he said: ‘ Blessed of the LORD is his land, with the precious things of heaven, with the dew, and the deep lying beneath, with the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, with the best things of the ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, with the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’

“His glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns [military might] like the horns of the wild ox; together with them he shall push the peoples to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh’ ” (Deuteronomy 33:13-17 Deuteronomy 33:13-17 13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, 16 And for the precious things of the earth and fullness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelled in the bush: let the blessing come on the head of Joseph, and on the top of the head of him that was separated from his brothers. 17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
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). God had promised to take a direct hand in delivering magnificent physical blessings to Joseph’s descendants.

When we understand that the modern descendants of Joseph are the people of the United States and Britain, we see that over the past three centuries God has been true to His promises. He has granted the physical birthright blessings of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to their modern descendants—the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people of Britain and the United States. The Anglo-Saxon and Celtic descendants have been the primary founders and shapers of British and American culture.

God also has made available to them opportunities to shine as spiritual beacons within a confused and darkened world. Regrettably, as with the ancient Israelites, only a few among them have been willing to accept their responsibility and God’s calling.

God assigned a role to Joseph’s descendants

Even though God gave Abraham’s descendants national prominence and prosperity as He had promised, He did not do so at the expense of other peoples and nations. Rather, God’s far-reaching purpose has always been to lead all people into a permanent relationship with Him (Acts 17:30 Acts 17:30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
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; 1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
). Only then can they receive the power to change their human nature and receive the ultimate blessing of eternal life (Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
American King James Version×
).

God designated Abraham’s descendants—by a promise, long before they existed as a people—to be His instruments in accomplishing important aspects of His purpose. He has used them in ways even they have not always discerned.

At the heart of God’s relationship with the ancient Israelites was His covenant with them and their descendants. That agreement defined the rules and responsibilities of the relationship between God and the Israelites. It set forth the obligations God imposed on Himself and His expectations of the nation He had created to be His holy people and a model nation to the world (Leviticus 20:26 Leviticus 20:26And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 4:5-8 Deuteronomy 4:5-8 5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7 For what nation is there so great, who has God so near to them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call on him for? 8 And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 7:6 Deuteronomy 7:6For you are an holy people to the LORD your God: the LORD your God has chosen you to be a special people to himself, above all people that are on the face of the earth.
American King James Version×
).

God gave the promised birthright blessings to Joseph’s modern descendants in Britain and America. At the same time He has made available to Israel’s descendants—and indeed the whole world—the knowledge of what He expects of them spiritually. He has accurately preserved this knowledge in the Bible, and today that knowledge is available to anyone willing to read it—whether ethnically Israelite or gentile.

God makes His Word available

The British and American people have been the instruments used to spread God’s Word to most of the known world. Although we often take the Bible for granted, and many U.S. and British homes now have several copies, it wasn’t always this way.

For many centuries virtually the only copies available outside of the original languages were in Latin, with the Roman Catholic Church tightly controlling the common people’s access to the Scriptures. “Yet it was in England, so long deprived of the living Word, where the battle was fought and won for the right of the common man to have his Bible in his own language” (Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, 1986, p. 76).

After several attempts to produce English-language versions in the 1500s, in 1611 the king of England officially approved the publication of what has become known as the King James Version of the Bible. Its translators, by order of King James, produced it from its original languages by a large team of Hebrew and Greek scholars. It quickly gained the reputation of being the most accurate translation of the Bible ever attempted up to that time.

For almost 400 years it has remained the best-known Bible translation of the English-speaking world. It has been the model for Bible translations for practically all other languages. No single book has affected the history of the English-speaking people like the King James Bible.

The Bible has since been translated into thousands of languages, virtually every tongue, with the British-descended people printing and distributing hundreds of millions of copies all over the globe.

The policies and resources of America and Britain have both encouraged and enabled the true gospel of the Kingdom of God to be proclaimed around the world in recent years. They have provided the climate of religious freedom, the financial resources and most of the laborers that were needed to disseminate biblical knowledge to all nations.

The Bible’s role in society and law

Biblical principles even became the basis for much of English common law. English common law in turn heavily influenced American constitutional and regional law. In this manner the Bible has had a greater influence on the United States and the British Commonwealth nations than on any other people in recent centuries.

The Bible formed the foundation of these nations’ professed ethical values and morality. Laws the nations established on biblical principles became the basis of a huge part of their legal judgments. The United States in particular became the most biblically oriented nation in the world (with the possible exception of the modern state of Israel, founded in 1948).

Through the widespread availability of the Bible, God gave the English-speaking peoples essential information they needed to know what God expected of them. In addition, many were exposed to their true identity as descendants of Joseph through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.

However, God has never forced the British and American peoples to accept their biblically ordained role. Like ancient Israel, He has given them a choice (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 Deuteronomy 30:15-19 15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the LORD your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it. 17 But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce to you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days on the land, where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×
). Only a small proportion of them have sincerely responded.

Why did all of this happen? What purpose is God working out for the last days? How has He been accomplishing the essential elements of His plan?

Let’s review some of the significant international contributions Britain and America have made to the modern world. Then let’s compare those to the promises God made to the descendants of Joseph.

If we find that the British and American people have received the biblically predicted benefits and blessings, we then have further evidence to substantiate that they are indeed the modern descendants of Joseph.

Have Britons and Americans perceived the hand of God?

The expression “God is an Englishman” mirrored the views of many people both in and outside the British Isles in the 19th century. What precipitated this startling point of view?

Britain’s status in the world is only a shadow of what it was a century ago. You might have had difficulty convincing many people who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries that God was not somehow miraculously prospering the politicians, statesmen, diplomats, explorers, generals, admirals, soldiers, architects, engineers, scientists, inventors, bankers, businessmen, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs of the British Isles.

To many observers, both in and out of Britain, it appeared that success came to the British people whether they even pursued it—whether they made wise or foolish choices. It was as though certain blessings were overtaking them.

It was the perceived inevitability of success that inspired John Robert Seeley, Cambridge professor of modern history (1834-1895) and author of The Expansion of England (1884), to make the famous quip that England acquired her globe-spanning empire “in a fit of absence of mind.”

The 1800s were certainly Britain’s century. To their own astonishment the people of the relatively tiny British Isles found themselves ruling over a mighty empire. As the 19th century drew to a close, the British Empire was “the largest empire in the history of the world, comprising nearly a quarter of the land mass of the earth, and a quarter of its population” (James Morris, Pax Britannica: The Climax of an Empire, 1968, p. 21).

Yet the empire would continue to expand. “It continued to grow until 1933, when its area was 13.9 million square miles and its population 493 million …The Roman Empire in its prime comprised perhaps 120 million people in an area of 2 1 ⁄ 2 million square miles …” (ibid., pp. 27, 42).

The British Empire, then, spanned 5 1 ⁄ 2 times the territory of the Roman Empire, with more than four times the subjects. British rule extended over not just ordinary regions but some of the choicest and most fertile territories on earth.

It is hardly surprising that educated people of the day perceived the hand of God in the process. To them it seemed too obvious to ignore.

For example, Lord Rosebery, a British foreign secretary (1886, 1892-1894) and prime minister (1894-1895), spoke in November 1900 to the students of Glasgow University about the British Empire:

“How marvelous it all is! Built not by saints and angels, but by the work of men’s hands …and yet not wholly human, for the most heedless and the most cynical must see the finger of the Divine.

“Growing as trees grow, while others slept; fed by the faults of others as well as the character of our fathers; reaching with a ripple of a restless tide over tracts, and islands and continents, until our little Britain woke up to find herself the foster-mother of nations and the source of united empires. Do we not hail in this less the energy and fortune of a race than the supreme direction of the Almighty?”

In those more biblically literate times, people like Lord Rosebery perceived the remarkable circumstances of the British people. God seemed to be blessing them much as He had promised to bless the ancient people of Israel. Therefore, to them it hardly seemed outrageous to regard the British people as chosen of God. Was their perception merely an expression of human vanity? Or were they truly observing the hand of God blessing their people and nation?

The builders of the British Empire aspired to weld together a peaceful, productive domain ruling over a quarter of the world’s population. A great achievement of British administrators was the establishment and extension of law and order in Britain’s colonial and imperial territories around the globe. This alone brought untold blessings to the people of these territories.

This Pax Britannica bequeathed peaceful conditions to many regions formerly plagued by war and long-term ethnic hostilities. The British presence also stimulated territorial economic development and introduced many areas to Western technological advances. British missionaries became the bearers of biblical literature and knowledge to people from one end of the globe to the other. Both physical and spiritual blessings were freely distributed around the globe.

The British century

Great Britain had not always been great. Indeed, most of the rise of both Britain and the United States came after 1800. Only a couple of centuries before becoming the world’s premier power, England’s status was similar to that of all the other nations in Europe.

The Hapsburg Holy Roman emperor, Charles V, characterized the relative place of England among European nations on the eve of the 16th century. He is said to have remarked, “I speak Latin to God, Italian to musicians, Spanish to ladies, French at court, German to servants, and English to my horses.”

How did such a reversal of fortune and prestige for all things English occur over the next 200 years?

The industrial and economic growth of the Anglo-American world began to crescendo in the middle to late 18th century. Economic historians argue about the point at which the industrialization process reached critical mass. But, generally speaking, the earliest dates they suggest are the 1750s and the latest around 1800.

Britain also experienced a population explosion beginning during that same period. Historian Colin Cross notes that “one of the unexplained mysteries of social history is the explosion in the size of the population of Great Britain between 1750 and 1850. For generations the British population had been static, or rising only very slightly. Then in the space of a century it almost trebled—from 7.7 million in 1750 to 20.7 million in 1850 …Britain was a dynamic country and one of the marks of its dynamism was the population explosion” ( Fall of the British Empire, 1969, p. 155).

This window of time seems to be directly related to Joseph’s exiled descendants receiving the promised birthright blessings. Although historians have wondered why the industrial revolution didn’t begin at some earlier point in history, this divine blessing may help explain why the gigantic increases in industrial capacity expanded so dramatically when they did.

The Bible reveals that God is in control of events and works them out according to His plan and timetable (Isaiah 46:9-10 Isaiah 46:9-10 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
American King James Version×
). He long ago made known, through the patriarch Jacob, that Joseph’s descendants would receive the birthright promises in “the last days” (Genesis 49:1 Genesis 49:1And Jacob called to his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
American King James Version×
, Genesis 49:22-26 Genesis 49:22-26 22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24 But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
American King James Version×
).

Other biblically prophesied troubles distinguish our modern age as the last days leading into the events prophesied in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation. They confirm that the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham concerning the last days has been taking place. (For greater understanding of end-time prophecy, request your free copy of the booklet Are We Living in the Time of the End? )

The year 1776 was a landmark date. By that year the steam engine was in practical use, and within another decade—just a few years before the French Revolution of 1789 significantly slowed industrial development in France—it became a commercial success.

That same year American colonists declared their independence. This separation of the United States from Britain accomplished the prophecy that Manasseh and Ephraim would be separate peoples—one a great nation and the other “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:16-19 Genesis 48:16-19 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the middle of the earth. 17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
American King James Version×
).

Another major event occurred about the same time. A Scottish University of Glasgow professor of moral philosophy, Adam Smith, published Wealth of Nations, which became the intellectual and philosophical support for England’s developing what has since become known as the capitalist economy. The capitalist system soon began to propel the Western world in general, and the British economy in particular, to unprecedented heights.

Though British diplomats and statesmen may have lacked a grand design for the construction of their empire, it became the largest and most beneficent empire in the history of mankind. It’s little wonder that historians describe the 1800s as the British century.

American nationhood blossoms

The wars between France and England that culminated with the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 had an indirect influence on America’s rise to greatness. Napoleon’s need for ready cash to pay for the costs of impending war with England led him to sell France’s vast American territories to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.

The acquisition of the Louisiana territory in 1803 gave the American republic instant world-power status. The young country bought 828,000 square miles of the most fertile farmland in the world—the American Midwest—for less than 3 cents per acre! Overnight the size of the United States doubled, immeasurably strengthening the nation materially and strategically.

After that 1803 transaction the country expanded across the continent in less than a generation, adding huge swaths of territory with vast natural resources. In 1867 the United States added almost 600,000 more square miles when it purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million—about 2 cents per acre.

Although no one realized it at the time, these great untapped blessings would allow America’s citizens to lead the world in per-capita wealth in the next century. Though detractors openly ridiculed the purchase of Alaska at the time, income from its resources—timber, minerals, oil and the like—today amounts to tens of billions of dollars each year.

A commonwealth of nations

The other fulfillment of Jacob’s prediction—that Ephraim would become “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19 Genesis 48:19And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
American King James Version×
)—also slowly but quickly picked up steam. It began as a result of Britain’s victory over France in 1815. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Navy ruled the oceans.

The British economy, stimulated by this conflict, emerged with unparalleled economic supremacy. The French bid for world hegemony—more or less continual since the days of Louis XIV (1643-1715) and the opening rounds of the Second Hundred Years War—had decisively failed.

Britain found herself free and in possession of the necessary political, economic and military power to build an empire that soon extended around the world. As modern Manasseh (the United States) began to build a nation that would soon extend from sea to shining sea, Ephraim (Britain) fell heir to lands around the world.

The British built an empire on which the sun never set. Its imperial structure was almost infinite in its diversity, comprised as it was of people from virtually every ethnic group and governed by means as centralized as the raj (British rule) in India or the British agent-general’s office in Egypt or as independent as the dominion status granted to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

From a physical point of view, much of the Anglo-American dominance during the past two centuries came from the blessing of favorable geography and climate and the seemingly endless supply of natural resources accumulated during this time.

British territories were concentrated in the most productive regions of the temperate zone. An abundant and dependable food supply enabled them to support steady population growth from the 18th through much of the 20th centuries. Certainly the modern descendants of Joseph have been a “fruitful bough” (Genesis 49:22-25 Genesis 49:22-25 22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24 But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
American King James Version×
; see also Leviticus 26:9 Leviticus 26:9For I will have respect to you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 6:3 Deuteronomy 6:3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with you, and that you may increase mightily, as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you, in the land that flows with milk and honey.
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; Deuteronomy 7:13-14 Deuteronomy 7:13-14 13 And he will love you, and bless you, and multiply you: he will also bless the fruit of your womb, and the fruit of your land, your corn, and your wine, and your oil, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 28:4-5 Deuteronomy 28:4-5 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your store.
American King James Version×
).

The British and American peoples inherited a treasure trove of natural resources. What the British lacked within their own isles, they drew from an empire encircling the globe. Americans found everything necessary for national economic greatness—vast expanses of fertile soil; seemingly endless forests; gold, silver and other precious metals waiting to be mined; and massive iron ore, coal, petroleum and other mineral deposits—within the confines of the continental United States and even more in Alaska.

Both peoples possessed “the best things of the ancient mountains”—the “precious things of the everlasting hills” and “the precious things of the earth and its fullness” within the territories they exclusively controlled (Deuteronomy 8:9 Deuteronomy 8:9A land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig brass.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 28:1-13 Deuteronomy 28:1-13 1 And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your store. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7 The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. 8 The LORD shall command the blessing on you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand to; and he shall bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 9 The LORD shall establish you an holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in his ways. 10 And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The LORD shall open to you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain to your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow. 13 And the LORD shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if that you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them:
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 33:13-17 Deuteronomy 33:13-17 13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, 16 And for the precious things of the earth and fullness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelled in the bush: let the blessing come on the head of Joseph, and on the top of the head of him that was separated from his brothers. 17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
American King James Version×
).

The world’s military and commercial gateways

God’s promise to Abraham included another provision: “Your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17 Genesis 22:17That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
American King James Version×
). In this context gate means a strategic passageway controlling commerce or military access for a region. Examples of strategic gates are the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez and Panama canals.

It is a fact of history that Great Britain and the United States gained control of the majority of the world’s most important land and sea gates (see map on page 39). These have been critical to their economic and military dominance in the 19th and 20th centuries. Let’s consider how Joseph’s descendants acquired the three crucial sea gates mentioned above.

The first example took place as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The Spanish king, Charles II (1661-1700), had no children. The absence of an heir led to a controversy over succession to the Spanish throne. For a time it appeared the matter could be peaceably resolved. However, when Charles designated Philippe d’Anjou, the grandson of French King Louis XIV, as his successor, he destabilized the European balance of power.

Charles’ decision confirmed the worst fears of fellow European statesmen concerning French intentions. At Versailles the Spanish ambassador, kneeling before the new king—now Philip V of Spain—was heard to murmur, “ Il n’y pas de Pyrenees” —there are no more Pyrenees. He implied that the king’s ascension amounted to the union of France and Spain. But England’s growing dominance prevented this from coming to pass.

In 1701 England, at war with France, was determined to restore a favorable balance of power in Europe. England succeeded, and the French bid to dominate the Continent failed. In fact, England emerged from the conflict with the largest European navy and her status as a major power confirmed.

As a result of the war England acquired Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Hudson Bay territory, Minorca and, most important, Gibraltar, an indispensable international sea gate. Her possession of Gibraltar meant that she controlled the entry and exit to the Mediterranean Sea. These acquisitions were part of the terms of settlement of the Peace of Utrecht, April 11, 1713.

More than a century and a half later the British gained direct control of another critical sea gate at the other end of the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal. The British remained at Suez for nearly three quarters of a century. This 100-mile man-made passage between the Mediterranean and Red seas has long been one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, eliminating the long and arduous trip around the southern tip of Africa. In accordance with the biblical prophecy, God gave this sea gate to the British people—the modern descendants of Ephraim, son of Joseph.

A third critical sea gate acquired by Joseph’s descendants was the Panama Canal. Like Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana territory or Benjamin Disraeli’s acquisition of Suez Canal stock (see “Benjamin Disraeli: Maestro of Empire,” page 79), American president Theodore Roosevelt took steps to secure Panama with bold decisiveness but questionable legality. About his presumption Roosevelt remarked, “I took the Isthmus, started the Canal, and then left Congress—not to debate the Canal, but to debate me” (Roger Butterfield, The American Past, 1966, p. 323).

A blessing to other nations

The rise to greatness of Britain and the United States was nothing short of astonishing. Says historian James Morris: “During the …years of Queen Victoria’s reign [1837-1901] the Empire had grown by more than ten times, from a scatter of disregarded possessions to a quarter of the land mass of the earth …It had changed the face of the continents with its cities, its railways, its churches,…and it had changed the manner of life of entire peoples, stamping its own values upon civilizations from the Cree to the Burmese, besides creating several fully-fledged new nations of its own. There had never been such an Empire since history began …” ( Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress, 1973, p. 539, emphasis added).

Morris adds: “It was not merely the right of the British to rule a quarter of the world, so the imperialists thought, it was actually their duty …They would so distribute across the earth their own methods, principles and liberal traditions that the future of mankind would be reshaped. Justice would be established, miseries relieved, ignorant savages enlightened, all by the agency of British power and money” ( Pax Britannica, p. 26, emphasis added). God was using the English-speaking people to introduce a new set of standards and individual freedoms to the rest of mankind.

The British proved to be able administrators who dramatically improved the infrastructure and standard of living in the countries they governed. Although all aspects of their administration were not always carried out as justly and equitably as they should have been, God’s prophesied intent was accomplished. The sons of Joseph led the world into an era of unprecedented knowledge, prosperity and technological advancement. For the first time the Bible, plus biblically oriented reference works and publications, began to be distributed globally.

The United States, after pursuing an isolationist policy for many years, was eventually forced by events beyond her control to also take a larger role in world affairs—becoming the international model for freedom and individual rights. Attacked by Japan in 1941, an ill-prepared United States suddenly found itself at war with the Axis powers. It quickly geared up its industrial might, already harnessed to some extent in the early years of the war to aid Britain.

The United States emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation in the world. But, rather than using its strength to dominate and oppress the weaker nations of a shattered world, America set out to rebuild its defeated enemies—exhibiting a compassion that is indeed rare in the annals of international affairs.

From 1945 through 1952 the United States channeled $24 billion ($150 billion in today’s dollars) to the cause of rescuing and rebuilding Europe, including Germany. In Japan the United States governed the country for several years, rebuilding it and setting it back on its feet. In recent years both of these former enemy nations have emerged as global economic powers.

Since then both the United States and Britain have funneled many more billions in foreign aid to other countries. These are some of the ways Britain and the United States have been a blessing to the nations of the world. Along with those blessings, however, have been some misguided efforts and injustices. Such is the legacy of greatly blessed nations that have neglected to obey the God who blessed them.

Will Anglo-American dominance continue?

The 19th and 20th centuries saw the Anglo-American peoples dominate world affairs. Will this pattern continue into the 21st century?

British world dominance has long since passed. The two great wars of the 20th century took a terrible toll on Britain and her people. The conflicts robbed her of two generations of young men and drained her economically. By the end of World War II the British found themselves with neither the resources nor the will to preserve their empire.

After Britain gave India its independence in 1947 the British Empire began to dissolve with dizzying speed. Britain’s supremacy quickly gave place to American dominance in the second half of the 20th century.

Although American military, economic, industrial and technical power still reigns supreme, the spiraling moral decay of the United States does not bode well for the future. The biblically based values on which the founding fathers and American people built the United States of America have given way to denial of God and the same kind of self-serving materialistic orientation that led to the collapse of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Without a change in direction and emphasis, will the outcome for America be any different?

Far too many Americans and Britons have refused to acknowledge God and His blessings. In their intellectual and spiritual arrogance many have chosen to deny the existence of a Creator and accept the false religion of evolution and its secular-humanist theology.

They prefer to believe that the awesome blessings of national wealth and power are happenstance or the result of their own efforts. Like ancient Israel they have fallen into a trap of their own making, choosing to ignore God’s words of warning:

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:10-14 Deuteronomy 8:10-14 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which he has given you. 11 Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day: 12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein; 13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
American King James Version×
, NIV).

In the next chapter we will see what is in store for the United States and Britain. Like it or not, what befalls them will affect all of humanity.