“IT must always seem a very singular fact that an island of moderate size, situated off the north-west coast of Europe, should have become, in the last three hundred years, the centre of an absolutely unique world-wide Empire; that its race and language should dominate the greater part of North America and the whole of Australia; that its citizens should control the affairs of a great part of Africa and should for a century or so have ruled the whole of the densely populated sub-continent of India, not to mention dozens and scores of lesser provinces, outposts and islands scattered broadcast over the surface of the earth. One would think that there must have been quite exceptional wisdom in the policy of the Government of that island, and quite exceptional virtues in its inhabitants; one would think perhaps, also, that the British people, in their imperial ventures, and in their competition with the imperial ventures of other folk, must have enjoyed a quite exceptional measure of luck.”1
With these words two contemporary historians seek to remind their readers of the phenomenon which is Britain. How indeed shall we explain the miracle of Britain and the British people? Shall we attribute it to exceptional wisdom, virtue, luck? Or has there been some overruling Providence behind the foundation of the greatest Empire that the world has ever known? How shall we interpret the facts of history?
The story we have to tell is one of the strangest, most fascinating and inspiring stories ever told. It is a true story, and, most remarkable of all, its details were recorded far back in human history. Fantastic though it may sound, the foundation and ultimate development of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and the United States of America, was foretold in minute detail thousands of years ago. Britain’s island home, her far-flung Empire covering one-third of the earth’s surface area and embracing one-quarter of the world’s population, her fabulous resources of wealth, her great pioneering spirit and missionary enterprise, all these and many other fascinating details, are clearly foretold in what someone has described as the Book that nobody knows, the Holy Bible.
To understand the part that Britain plays in prophecy, indeed to understand the revelation of the Bible at all, one must go back to the earliest chapters of the book of Genesis. About the year 2068BC God chose a man named Abram, calling him to leave his family and to go forth into a strange land which God said he would receive for an inheritance.2 God promised Abram, “I will make of thee a GREAT NATION, and I will bless thee, and make thy name GREAT; and thou shalt be a blessing ... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”3 Here we find God purposes to prepare a mighty race of people that should be a blessing to all the nations of the world.
The Lord later revealed that this Abrahamic race was to become a multitude of nations, exceedingly great in population, and ruled over by a dynasty of kings. “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD [Hebrew äåäé = Yahweh] appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly ... and thou shalt be a father of MANY NATIONS [Hebrew goyim íéåwÃ = gentiles, nations] ... and I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make NATIONS of thee, and KINGS shall come out of thee.”4 God also said, “Abraham shall surely become a GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.”5
In Genesis 21 and 22 the Bible tells us how God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled through his son Isaac: “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”6 Moreover, because of this man’s obedience, his willingness even to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice, these promises were to be unconditional. His descendants would be great beyond number, they would possess the gate of their enemies, they would be a blessing to the whole world:
“And the Angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed AS THE STARS OF THE HEAVEN, and AS THE SAND WHICH IS UPON THE SEA SHORE; and thy seed shall POSSESS THE GATE OF HIS ENEMIES; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.”7
The promise to Isaac
To Isaac himself the Lord repeated His promises. “And the LORD appeared unto [Isaac], and said ... I will make thy seed to multiply AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed My voice.”8 A similar promise was made to Rebekah, who became the wife of Isaac. Her family prophesied, “Be thou the mother of THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS, and let thy seed POSSESS THE GATE OF THOSE WHICH HATE THEM.”9
To Isaac and Rebekah were born twin sons, Jacob and Esau. They were brought up to learn of God’s dealings with their father and grandfather. They learned of God’s promises to them, but Esau, the elder of the two, despised his high estate, and Jacob by subtlety and deceit contrived to obtain the birthright promises. Isaac prophesied over him: “God give thee of the DEW OF HEAVEN, and the FATNESS OF THE EARTH, and plenty of corn and wine: LET PEOPLE SERVE THEE, and NATIONS BOW DOWN TO THEE: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.”10 “And Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him ... God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a MULTITUDE OF PEOPLE.”11
The Bible goes on to tell us more of this wonderful plan of God whereby all the nations of the earth would be blessed through the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Jacob God promised, “Thy seed shall be as the DUST OF THE EARTH, and thou shalt spread abroad to the WEST, and to the EAST, and to the NORTH, and to the SOUTH: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”12
Here we see that the promised multitude of people, ultimately numbering thousands of millions, would spread in all directions throughout the world, there to be a blessing to all mankind. Now the Lord elaborates His plan still further, explaining to Jacob that his descendants would be organised into a great nation and a company or commonwealth of nations. “And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but ISRAEL shall be thy name: and He called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a NATION and a COMPANY OF NATIONS shall be of thee, and KINGS shall come out of thy loins.”13
This name Israel means literally ruling with God. It was born out of a great spiritual experience in which Jacob in deep distress and humiliation, and realizing his utter impotence, was promised a fresh beginning in the power of God. It is a name prophetic of the destiny God’s chosen nation would fulfil, for they too would suffer defeat and humiliation before entering upon a new era of blessing and power with God. Israel would be God’s chosen people in every sense of the word, chosen not for their own merit nor for their righteousness, but that in the fulness of time they might be a people after God’s own heart, a model nation, ruling with God, and teaching His ways to all mankind.
To Jacob were born twelve sons. They were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulon (born to Leah), Joseph and Benjamin (born to Rachel), Dan and Naphtali (born to Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid), Gad and Asher (born to Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid). Through which of these sons would the promises made to their ancestors be fulfilled? Would it be through all of them collectively, or would it be through only one of them?
Reuben, the first-born, was disinherited, for the Bible says that he “went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine.”14 Reuben “was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, HIS BIRTHRIGHT WAS GIVEN UNTO THE SONS OF JOSEPH the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the Chief Ruler [Messiah]; but the BIRTHRIGHT WAS JOSEPH’S.”15 Here we see that Judah and Joseph were singled out from their brethren to be the recipients of special blessings. From the tribe of Judah would come the Royal House of David, and through David’s line, the Messiah, while Joseph would be the recipient of the birthright blessings.
Genesis 47 tells the wonderful story of how the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to be fulfilled through the line of Joseph and his sons. “And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph ... and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim ... And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and LET MY NAME [ISRAEL] BE NAMED ON THEM ... and let them GROW [Hebrew äâDaggerÅDagger = swarm like fishes] INTO A MULTITUDE IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH.”16
Let us have a clear picture of the strange thing which Jacob did in blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. The Bible says that he deliberately crossed his hands so that his right hand which would convey the greater blessing was laid not upon the elder son as was the custom, but upon the younger. This act had such far-reaching significance that it is included amongst the mighty deeds of faith recorded in the epistle to the Hebrews.17 But how did Joseph react to this strange behaviour?
“And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 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 [FULNESS] OF NATIONS.”18
So the promises made to the patriarchs were to be peculiarly fulfilled not through the twelve tribes (although they would in measure partake of the blessings) but through Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim would become a fulness of nations, the COMPANY [COMMONWEALTH] OF NATIONS promised to Jacob, while Manasseh would also become a great nation in his own right. But when exactly would these promises be fulfilled? Exactly when would the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh “swarm like fishes,” to the West and to the East, to the North and to the South? When would they be a people blessed with the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, thousands of millions in number, possessing the gate (or strategic stronghold) of their enemies, the nations bowing down to them? When would all this be fulfilled?
The answer is given in the 49th chapter of the book of Genesis. Shortly before he died, the elderly Jacob called his family together. “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days ... Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel:) even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with BLESSINGS OF HEAVEN ABOVE, BLESSINGS OF THE DEEP THAT LIETH UNDER, BLESSINGS OF THE BREASTS, AND OF THE WOMB: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto 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 brethren.”19
When are the last days in which this prophecy is to be fulfilled? The Bible leaves us in no doubt. It is this Christian dispensation in which we now live. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”20 Peter,21 Paul22 and John,23 James24 and Jude25 also, all speak of the last days as being those of the present Christian dispensation. Many scriptures establish this truth. If the Bible is to be believed—if it is truly the inspired Word of God—then somewhere in the world in these last days there must exist a great NATION AND A COMPANY OF NATIONS which can be shown to have inherited all the birthright promises that were made to Joseph. Shall it be thought very strange if we suggest that Britain is that nation?
In order to keep this book within a reasonable compass, the contents have been exceedingly condensed. The reader is strongly recommended to re-read the book, to look up all the Scripture references and examine them in their context, and to write for the other books mentioned in these pages. A Concordance, enabling the reader to link together related words and passages from the Bible, will also be of greatest assistance and should be consulted frequently. Every reader of this book is urged to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Correspondence is invited.