England is part of the United Kingdom. Scotland lies on its northern border and Wales on its western one. The Irish Sea is to its northwest and the Celtic Sea is to its southwest. The North Sea is to its East and the English Channel separates the island nation from mainland Europe. England comprises much of the island known as Great Britain, which also includes Scotland and Wales.
The nation takes its name from the Angles – i.e., one of the early Germanic tribes who settled the land in the 5th and 6th Century AD. This is not to say that there weren’t people groups here much earlier in history. We would learn about some of these cultures during our stay here.
England became a united country in the 10th Century. It led the world in the Age of Discovery, which took off in the 15th Century. This involved European powers exploring the world over. England led the world into the Scientific Era over the next several centuries. And, the Industrial Revolution began here in the 18th Century.
The impact of this relatively small nation on the world is profound. English law is the basis for common law used in much of the world. The English language is the most spoken language on earth. England has produced more of the world’s great scientists than perhaps any other nation on the globe. Perhaps the greatest impact of all though was in the number of missionaries this land has sent out spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1284, the Kingdom of England included Wales. In 1707, Scotland was brought into the fold, which effectively created the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain was united with Ireland to become the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom – as a result, the kingdom was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Did You Know?
Did you know that the flag the world associates with Great Britain is actually a composite of the flags of three different nations:
The Flag of England is known as Saint George’s Cross
The Flag of Scotland is known as Saint Andrew’s Cross
The Flag of Ireland is known as Saint Patrick’s Cross
Placed together, they form the “Union Jack”
There has been a good deal of speculation that Britain may in fact be known in Scripture as the Island of Tarshish. Ezekiel describes an end-time battle that occurs when Gog, Magog, and an associated Islamic alliance led by Persia attacks Israel. An opposing alliance seems to form that questions the attack.
Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?
Bible scholars have attempted to identify exactly who “Tarshish” is referring to:Some associate the name with ‘Tarsis’ (Southeast Turkey today)Others associate it with ‘Tartessus’ (modern day Spain)Still others associate this with Western Europe in general.
In Ezekiel’s day though, “Tarshish” appears to have been a term used as a reference to the farthest western regions of the known world. The name originates from a Phoenician word meaning ‘tin smelting’ or ‘metal-works’. Ezekiel 27:12 describes it is a place where silver, iron, tin and lead are gotten. Solomon sent his navies there to retrieve material for building the Temple and advancing his Empire (see I Kings 10:22–23).
Tarshish also prominently shows up in the Book of Jonah as the place to where he was trying to flee to by boat (Jonah 1: 3). Some 9 of the 21 references in Scripture associate Tarshish with shipping and therefore, give credence to the idea that it is an island. A number of the passages would seem to indicate it is a place far away to the West.
The most fascinating idea may be that it is a reference to England (or what would become the United Kingdom). We know that the furthest most western outposts of the Phoenicians were in Britain. Rome invaded Britain under Julius Caesar in 55 BC precisely because of its tin.
There must be something important about Tarshish and their trading capabilities, if Scripture goes through the trouble of mentioning it so many times. The fact that they are ‘merchants’ would imply that they are Capitalists – some would say this is a kind of stamp of theirs on the world. You could argue easily that Britain, Western Europe (and by extension, the U.S.) has been the base for Capitalism and has exported it throughout the world. If the assertion that Tarshish is Britain is in fact correct, then the “young lions” mentioned in Ezekiel would be those nations that came out of here.
Again, this is speculative. However, it is interesting that just about every one of the nations that have come out of Great Britain have a lion represented on their national crests or as their national symbol.