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"If you can break out of Dublin, you can break out of anywhere." — Bono

U2 Bible References: The Joshua Tree


The Joshua Tree (1987)

U2’s fifth album landed them global status as super stars, resulting in multiple award-winning singles, including “With or Without You,” “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

Each song may show up in one, two or three of the following categories:

Direct Quotes (lyrics that are clearly taken from specific verses in the Bible)

Indirect References (lyrics that are likely referencing the Bible but without quoting specific verses)

Possible Influences (lyrics that hint at biblical themes and influences, but have no overt connection).

 


 

"Where The Streets Have No Name"

 

U2 lyric

We're beaten and blown by the wind

 

Possible influence

James 1:6 The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

Where the streets have no name

 

Indirect reference

Revelation 21:21 The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. (NIV)

Revelation 22:1-2 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. (NIV)

 

 


 

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"

 

U2 lyric

I have spoken with the tongue of angels

 

Indirect reference

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

I believe in the kingdom come

 

Direct quote

Matthew 6:9-10 This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.” (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

You broke the bonds / And you loosed the chains

 

Possible influences

Isaiah 9:4 For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them (TLB)

Psalm 107:14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. (NIV)

Isaiah 58:6 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

Carried the cross of my shame

 

Indirect reference

John 19:17-18 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (NIV)

 

 


 

"With Or Without You"

 

U2 lyric

See the thorn twist in your side

 

Indirect reference

2 Corinthians 12:7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Bullet The Blue Sky"

 

U2 lyric

Jacob wrestled the angel/And the angel was overcome

 

Indirect reference

Genesis 32:24-30, especially v. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

In the locust wind / Comes a rattle and hum

 

Possible influence

Exodus 10:13-14 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Running To Stand Still"

 

U2 lyric

Sweet the sin / Bitter the taste in my mouth

 

Possible influence

Revelation 10:10 So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. (NRSV)

 

 


 

"In God's Country"

 

U2 lyric

Hope, faith, her vanity / The greatest gift is gold

 

Indirect reference

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV) Note the ironic twist between the lyric and the verse.

 

 

U2 lyric

I stand with the sons of Cain

 

Indirect reference

Genesis 4 is the story of Cain killing his brother Abel. One of Cain’s descendants was Jubal, commonly thought of as the father of music.

Genesis 4:21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Trip Through Your Wires"

 

U2 lyric

I was cold, you clothed me, honey / I was down, you lifted me, honey /I was thirsty and you wet my lips / I was naked in the clothes you made

 

Indirect reference

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (NIV)

 

 


 

"One Tree Hill"

 

U2 lyric

You know his blood still cries from the ground

 

Indirect reference

Genesis 4:10 [After Cain murdered Abel] The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

I'll see you again when the stars fall from the sky / And the moon has turned red over One Tree Hill

 

Indirect reference

Revelation 6:12-13 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth…. (NASB)

 

 

U2 lyric

We run like a river to the sea

 

Possible influence

Ecclesiastes 1:7 All the rivers flow into the sea,

Yet the sea is not full.

To the place where the rivers flow,

There they flow again. (NASB)

 

 


 

"Exit"

 

U2 lyric

So hands that build / Can also pull down

 

Possible influence

Jeremiah 1:10 “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 31:28 “Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. (NIV)