THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH
WITH ALL THE YOUNG LIONS THEREOF
The following is an effort to outline in detail exactly who is the Ship of Tarshish. To Christadelphians reading this, it will be noted that some of what follows will vary in conclusion from the exposition of bro. John Thomas in his works. While experience has led us to expect some to say that we have greatly changed his exposition, it is our heartfelt feelings that that would be a gross exaggeration. We have changed Tarshish from Britain to the United States, and we have clearly detailed why, using the identical reasoning as bro. Thomas. But none of the changes greatly effect the overall scheme. In the main, we believe that our conclusions very closely parallel the work of bro. Thomas, to whom we are completely and wholly indebted for any understanding of God's prophetic word which we have obtained.
The question then may be legitimately asked, if our exposition does not markedly differ from that offered by bro. Thomas 120 years ago, why is it necessary? Our answer is this. Bro. Thomas's exposition was generally based upon the return of Christ in his lifetime, his expected date for Christ's return being 1868-1870. For this reason, bro. Thomas understated America's involvement, and the involvement of the democratic forces (Frog Powers) in the world in general. The identical clues bro. Thomas used to conclude that Britain was the ship of Tarshish, if used today, would indicate that the return of Christ is a long way off. For Britain to return to the position which the Scriptures say the Ship of Tarshish must occupy, would take generations.
Now then, since some of the details of his interpretation no longer exactly fit his exposition, some of his less ingenuous critics have highlighted these points to discredit his work. Our goal here, is to take the conclusions which no longer appear to fit, and using the same clues and techniques he used, to put them into their proper perspective, ie. showing that they do not in any way significantly change his overall exposition; and further show how we believe bro. Thomas would interpret prophesy had he been alive to experience the last 130 years.
In his various expositions, bro. Thomas listed different clues which would help to identify who the Ship of Tarshish is. These clues may be enumerated thus:
1. First, it's military and economic strength. The Ship of Tarshish is to be "the maritime power of the world" (Elpis Israel pp 438).
: "These testimonies indicate a different relationship between the regenerators of Egypt [Christ and the Saints], and the maritime power of the world [Britain], from that with the continental powers [Russia and her European allies]. These are fiercely hostile; while maritime Tyre, Tarshish, Sheba and Seba, are subservient to the angelic mission for the protection and regeneration of Israel.
Eur. 2:183 R
2. The Tarshish power was to send its "fleet messengers by sea". (Isa 18:2) They were to be a mighty "Merchant" power. It was the "Mart of Nations".
In conclusion of this section it may be added, that the acceptance of the proclamation by the British "Isles afar off"--"the Mart of Nations" -- places all the wealth of the British Empire at the disposal of the Lamb and his 144,000. These are the subject of the forty-fifth Psalm, where they are treated of prophetically as a divine and mighty king rejoicing with his bride and her companions. In the first chapter of Hebrews, Paul identifies this King with Christ Jesus, who has not yet been manifested in the circumstances set forth in the psalm. When the time arrives for the scene exhibited in Rev. 19:11, he will, in the words of David, "Gird his sword upon his thigh with his glory and majesty. And in his majesty he will ride prosperously because of truth and meekness, and righteousness; and his right hand will teach him terrible things. His arrows will be sharp in the heart of the kings enemies (the goat nations), whereby the people fall under him. When the union predicted between Christ and his Brethren hath ensued, and the throne established on Mount Zion, it is declared in the twelfth verse of the psalm, that "the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift." This shows that in the day when Christ shall make "the blessed of the Father" princes in all the earth (ver. 16), there will be a Merchant-Power among "the powers that be" to which the prophetic title of "The daughter of Tyre" will be applicable. This can be no other than Britain, the mart of modern nations, which inherits the wealth and commerce of her ancient mother; who, after being forgotten seventy years, revived, and say as a harlot; and like her British Daughter, "committed fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth,". The merchandise and revenue of the revived Tyrian Mother passed from her to Alexandria, Venice, Lisbon, and at length to Britannia; who hold on to them as her own peculiar and especial inheritance. She hopes to monopolize them as long as the sun and moon endure. Though this is objected to by other nations, and among these the United States, they have not the ability, and never will have, to divert them to their own ports and coffers. The decree of heaven is against them; for 'the abundance of the sea shall be turned unto Zion, and the wealth of the nations shall come to her; "for the nation and the kingdom that will not serve the city of Yahweh, the Zion of the king of Israel shall perish, and be utterly wasted. Thus the commerce and the riches of the world instead of migrating westward, are to return to the Holy Land, where Tyre of old used to rejoice with Israel, when Solomon an Hiram were in league.
Eur. 3:408-409 B
3. In so doing, they were to provide "efficient protection" for the land of Israel. This strength was to provide a guarantee for Israel's safety, so that it would become a land of "unwalled villages". Eze. 38:11. Bro. Thomas wrote:
Elpis Israel: "The pre-adventual colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. They will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth, but more immediately of getting rich in silver and gold by commerce with India, and in cattle and goods by their industry at home under the efficient protection of the British power. And this their expectation will not be deceived; for, before Gogue invades their country, it is described by the prophet, as "a land of unwalled villages, whose inhabitants are at rest, and dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates; and possessed of silver and gold, cattle and goods, dwelling in the midst of the land".
4. It's allegiances. The Tarshish power was to be the protectorate of Israel. Not for any love of God, or Israel would the happen, but it would be in the best interest of the Tarshish power to do so. Bro Thomas wrote:
Elpis Israel "The decree has long since gone forth which calls upon the Lion of Tarshish to protect the Jews. Upwards of a thousand years before the British were a nation, the prophet addresses them as the power which at "evening-tide" should interest themselves in behalf of Israel."
5. The Tarshish power was to be allied with Sheba and Dedan. They were also to be in the land of Moab, Edom, and Ammon. There were to be lions in respect to the Tarshish power. Bro. Thomas defines a young lion this way:
"But the association of "the young lions of Tarshish" with the "merchants of Tarshish", makes this still more obvious; for it represents the peculiar constitution of the Anglo-Indian government. As everyone knows, this government is neither purely a merchant sovereignty, nor a purely imperial one like that of Canada, but a combination of the two. The Honourable Company has no power in Canada, but, with its imperial partner, the firm is omnipotent in India. Now the imperial member is represented in the prophet by "young lions"; that is, the lion is chosen to represent the imperial British power, as the Ram and the Goat, the self-chosen emblems of the nations, were adopted to symbolize that of the Persians and Macedonians. Young rams and young goats were civil and military officials under the ram and goat sovereignties; as also "young lions" are the same under the old Lion of England. This, the lion-power, is represented in the government of India by "the Board of Control", and the imperial forces which serve with the Company’s troops in the Indian Army. The merchants of Tarshish govern India under the control of the lion-power—a constitution of things well represented in the Company’s arms, which are a shield whose quarterings are filled with young lions rampant, with the motto, "Auspicio Senatšs Angli¾;". From these facts, it may be concluded, that the united imperial power of Britain and merchant-power of India, is the power of the latter days, destined of God to contend with the Autocrat, when, having laid all Europe prostrate, his ambition prompts him to grasp the sceptre of the east."
6.Also, concerning the allegiances of the Tarshish power bro Thomas wrote:
"As I said elsewhere, the Lion-power will not interest itself in behalf of the subjects of God's kingdom from pure generosity, piety towards God, or love of Israel; but upon the principals which actuate all the governments of the world--upon those, namely the lust of dominion, self-preservation, and self aggrandizement."
7. Lastly, it is peculiar because its physical location is outside of the holy land.
Elpis Israel "This finished colonization Isaiah styles, 'a present unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled'; for, speaking of 'the time of the end', he says, 'In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled … to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the Mount Zion', But, then, the question returns upon us, by whom is the present to be made? The prophet answers this question in the first verse, saying, 'Ho! to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Khush: that sendeth ambassadors by sea, and on vessels of papyrus upon the waters, Go ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from this and onward: a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers (invading armies have spoiled.' Now, the geography of this passage points to the Lion-power of Tarshish as 'the land shadowing with wings'. Taking Judea, where the prediction was delivered, as the place of departure, the word 'beyond' points to the east; that is, running a line from Judea across the Euphrates and Tigris, 'the rivers of Khushistan', it passes into Hindostan, where 'the Merchants of Tarshish, and its young lions', rule the land."
This being the Scriptural clues used by bro. Thomas to define the Ship of Tarshish in 1860s, what would be the conclusion today using identically the same clues? First, who is the greatest Maritime Power in the world? In the 19th Century, it was clearly Britain. In the 21st Century, it is even more clearly, the United States.