When you study the Old Testament prophets, it is clear that they are often speaking about the last days of man on the earth. Or perhaps, more accurately, the last days before the return of Christ and God’s dramatic intervention in man’s affairs. But when you read the prophets, they only seem to talk about ancient countries in the Mideast: Israel, Moab, Ammon, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon. You would get the impression, reading along, that the rest of the world doesn’t matter. That the Middle East is the only place where anything important is happening on the world scene. In fact, it seems that the most powerful force in the modern world, the English speaking people in general and the United States in particular, are not even players at all. That is, unless we are overlooking something very important.
For a very long time, there have been those who made the case that the United States and the British Commonwealth are actually the ethnic descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph, the son of Israel. Even the British royal family have sometimes believed that they were the physical descendants of King David of Israel. It its earlier forms, this theory was no more racist than society in general, but in later years it has become identified with movements that are flagrantly racist.
The original appeal, I think, had a lot to do with a simple match between what Israel was supposed to look like in the latter days, and what modern nations matched that pattern. The match was close enough to allow a lot of credence to the theory. So what are we to make of this. When the Bible speaks of an ancient people in a latter-day context, how are we to take it?