The Fourth of July in Prophecy
The events celebrated on the Fourth of July were prophesied over 3,600 years ago. Let’s explore early American history in the light of Bible prophecy.
On July 4, the United States celebrates its 241st anniversary.
The Fourth of July holiday celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Though this was when the founders declared that they were fighting for independence from Britain—that independence would only be realized seven years, 1 month and 30 days later when the Treaty of Paris was signed. That treaty officially ended the American Revolution, with Great Britain recognizing the United States as free, sovereign and independent. Part of the reason the Americans were able to defeat the world’s most powerful army was because it had been recently weakened in the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War). But there were many reasons why the American victory over the British Army was miraculous and providential.
Victory did not settle America’s fate
But the United States of America as we know it was not created automatically when Britain signed the Peace of Paris or when the last British soldiers left New York in November 1783. The greatest challenge that faced America after defeating the most powerful military on earth was creating a functioning union between the former colonies (now called states) that would allow the United States to truly become one nation.
It is important to understand that the concept of the United States’ becoming one unified nation was not a given early in its history. One of the greatest controversies after the Treaty of Paris was this issue: Would America be a collection of individual, sovereign states loosely tied together by a confederation or would the individual states be unified as a nation—bound together by a powerful national government that would allow it to act as a single nation?
That issue took years to settle. If it were not for a series of miracles and compromises, the United States could have easily ended up permanently being a confederation of completely sovereign states—or even fragmenting into separate nations dominating various regions of the American landmass.
Would America be a collection of individual, sovereign states loosely tied together by a confederation or would the individual states be unified as a nation—bound together by a powerful national government that would allow it to act as a single nation?From Articles to Constitution
The first attempt at a functioning union of the states was the Articles of Confederation. The United States operated under this document for eight years. It formed a very loose confederation between the states, led by a Continental Congress that had little power. Throughout its eight years, the Articles of Confederation proved to be unworkable.
A growing number of American thinkers began to promote a form of governance called federalism. This called for a stronger national government with an executive branch and a clear delineation of powers between states and the national government. Those who supported this stronger union were called Federalists, and those who opposed this idea were Anti-Federalists.
It wasn’t until 1787 that the controversy began to be settled. Because of the inefficiencies of the Articles of Confederation (made obvious by the infamous Shays’ Rebellion), the states agreed to send delegates to Philadelphia to discuss making improvements to the Articles of Confederation.
Eventually the delegates decided that the convention would become a constitutional convention, with the goal of designing an entirely new system of governance. The challenge was whether or not an agreement could be reached on a constitution that all states (large and small, north and south) would ratify. The stakes were high. Failure at the Philadelphia convention could have resulted in a regional fracturing of America—preventing one union from coming into existence.
Again, this outcome was not only possible, but was highly likely given the political atmosphere of early American history.
A new Constitution results in “one nation”
But, in about four months, the delegates were able to produce a new Constitution for the United States of America. It would bind the states into a strengthened union led by a national government with more powers. This was achieved through savvy politics, political compromise and not addressing some of the most divisive issues of the time (such as slavery).
But with the convention a success, the next order of business was convincing the individual states to ratify the proposed Constitution. The document itself stipulated that it needed to be ratified by at least nine states before it would go into effect. The challenge was getting large states like Virginia and New York to vote for ratification because, as large and powerful states, they had the most to lose in diverting more authority to a national government. Though the Constitution could have theoretically been passed without a state like Virginia, that would have ultimately left the land divided.
But all states eventually ratified the Constitution. The whole process was not completed (for the original 13 states) until Rhode Island finally joined the new union in 1790. With all 13 original colonies/states joining the union under the new Constitution, America was set on course to develop as one unified nation—eventually spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
That would occur through many more unlikely events and miracles!
Why it had to happen
Okay, you may be asking, why is all this history important?
It was a fulfillment of a prophecy made over 3,600 years ago. As we explain in our article on the “Blessings to Abraham,” certain physical blessings of national greatness were promised to Abraham. These blessings were passed down to his son Isaac, then to Isaac’s son Jacob and finally were given to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Jacob, in a very specific prophecy, declared that Ephraim would become a “multitude of nations” and Manasseh would become a single great nation (Genesis 48:19). Genesis 49:1 reveals that these promises were to be ultimately fulfilled in “the last days”—in other words, the modern era (from our historical viewpoint).
The promise of a “multitude of nations” was fulfilled by the British people—who became an empire and later a commonwealth of nations. Today Ephraim’s promises are primarily fulfilled in the nations of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (as well as other smaller nations that are part of the Commonwealth).
Manasseh’s promise of being a single great nation was fulfilled in the United States of America.
As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, they would do well to consider that the Declaration of Independence from Britain was necessary in order to fulfill the Genesis 48:19 promise. For the prophecy to be fulfilled, America had to be independent from Britain and had to unite into a unified single nation. The entire history of the development and ratification of the U.S. Constitution was essential for that prophecy to be fulfilled. This understanding helps us to see God’s providential hand in history (Isaiah 46:10).
Americans would do well to consider their true founding father—the patriarch Abraham—and recall his life of faithful obedience to God as described in chapters 12-25 of Genesis.