How can we know that Christ’s return is near? (Part 5)
One of the most striking and convincing events proving that Christ’s return is indeed very near is the last European revival of the ancient Roman Empire, which is happening today, in front of our very eyes.
The book of Daniel describes four world-ruling empires, identified as Babylon (compare Daniel 2:38; 7:17), Medo-Persia (compare Daniel 2:39; 7:17; 8:20), Greece (compare Daniel 2:39; 7:17; 8:21) and Rome (compare Daniel 2:40-43; 7:17).
John’s description of a beast in Revelation 13:1 parallels with the four beasts that Daniel saw in Daniel 7—the first beast in Daniel’s vision was like a lion, the second like a bear and the third like a leopard. Here John sees only one beast, but it has combined elements of all the beasts that Daniel saw—a lion, a bear, and a leopard. In addition, John’s beast had seven heads. Taken together, Daniel’s beasts had seven heads too—that of a lion, of a bear, four heads of the leopard (Daniel 7:6), and the head of the fourth beast. John’s beast had ten horns, and the fourth beast Daniel saw in Daniel 7:7 had ten horns as well.
John’s beast represents the Roman Empire. He saw it as one composite beast, as it had swallowed up the previous three kingdoms. The Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek empires had already come and gone, but their territory and characteristics had been absorbed by Rome.
The Roman Empire was to be divided into Eastern and Western Rome, and the Western part would fall, but it was to be revived ten times and would endure until the time of Jesus Christ’s return.
When the Roman Empire fell, the world believed it would never rise again (symbolized by the deadly wound of John’s beast, compare Revelation 13:3). But it was to be revived ten times, symbolized by the ten horns of John’s beast.
According to Daniel 7:24, ten kings were to arise from or out of the ancient Roman Empire. The beast or the Roman Empire would have ten successive resurrections or revivals. Revelation 17:8 confirms this—the beast described there, which is similar to the beast of Revelation 13, is described as one that “was, and is not, and will ascend…,” showing the successive nature of the revivals.
After the destruction of Rome, three so-called “barbarian” powers, who were all followers of unorthodox Arianism, revived the Roman Empire, constituting its first three resurrections. This happened under King Gaiseric of the Vandals, under King Odoacer of the Heruli, and under King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths. These are the first three horns of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 (compare Daniel 7:7-8, 24) and of the beast in Revelation 13.
The fourth resurrection occurred under Justinian in A.D. 554. Known in history as the Imperial Restoration, this is the biblical “healing of the deadly wound” (compare Revelation 13:3) the Roman Empire had received from the barbarian powers.
The fifth resurrection occurred under Charlemagne (Charles the Great) in A.D. 800; the sixth under Otto the Great in A.D. 962; the seventh under Charles V of Hapsburg in 1530; the eighth under Napoleon Bonaparte (ruling from 1804 until 1814); and the ninth under Mussolini and Hitler. Mussolini declared publically that he had revived the ancient Roman Empire, saying: “Raise on high your emblems, your arms and your hearts to salute, after fifteen centuries, the reappearance of the Empire on the fateful hills of Rome.” What is happening right now in Europe is leading to the tenth and final resurrection of that same Roman Empire.
This tenth resurrection will be a collaborating entity, commonly referred to as “core Europe,” consisting of ten European nations or groups of nations which will only exist for a very short time. They might have different ideas, but they will be a strong unified military power, and they will be united in their rebellion against God.
In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream a great image, with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and with feet partly of iron and partly of clay. He also saw in that dream that a stone (symbolizing the returning Jesus Christ) struck the image on its feet or its ten toes. These ten toes are identical with the ten horns or ten kings in Revelation 17:3, 7, 12-14. They will rule together at the very end before the return of Christ and will attempt to fight Him, but Christ will of course defeat them.
Out of the current EU (consisting of 28 member states or “countries,” with the UK soon leaving the bloc) and out of the current Eurozone member states (consisting of 19 “countries,” which have adopted the euro), ten nations or groups of nations will emerge. They will receive authority for one prophetic hour (Revelation 17:12) together with the end-time “beast”—a charismatic political and military leader. In the Bible, the “beast” can refer to the political and military power bloc and/or to the end-time leader of that bloc.
When that political leader manifests himself, THEN the ten kings receive power at the same time, which they will then turn over to the beast. The mighty and powerful Babylonian system—“Babylon the Great”—will continue to exist, and so will the euro—the common European currency which glues the Eurozone states together. The concept is biblically untenable that the euro will fail and that the European core nations will return to individual national currencies.
The Bible speaks of ten horns or kings in the book of Revelation and ten toes in the book of Daniel. These kings, kingdoms or toes (powers) do not have to correspond to humanly devised geographical borders, designed by political ambitions. That is why we refer to ten nations or groups of nations.
Note that currently, the EU member states consist of the following 28 EU “countries”:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Currently, the 19 Eurozone member states are designated as follows:
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
God is not viewing some of those “countries” as single and independent entities. Some of the “countries” might be grouped together and are to be viewed as “one” in biblical terminology. For instance, Germany and Austria would be one entity or one group, even though man lists them as two nations. Little islands like Malta or Cyprus (if they were among the final ten “kings” or “kingdoms”) would not constitute individual countries or nations in God’s eyes; in all likelihood, Malta would be considered as part of either Italy or France, and Cyprus might be viewed as part of Greece. (This is not to say that the current Eurozone configuration constitutes the prophesied ten nations or groups of nations.)
In addition to Great Britain’s Brexit, other Israelite nations in Europe might leave the Eurozone and even the EU. Some Nordic countries (descendants of the ancient House of Israel) might form a trading bloc in competition to the Eurozone.
In addition to the political and military revival of the ancient Roman Empire, note should be taken of the fact that the last seven of those ten revivals will also see and include a revival of a religious power, which will work together with the political power.
In Revelation 17, John is given a vision of a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns. It is ridden by a fallen woman—a harlot. Revelation 17:5 identifies the woman as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.” This woman is depicted in verse 6 as “drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” In verse 18, the woman is also identified as “that great city that reigns over the kings of the earth,” the city that is built and sits on seven mountains or hills (verse 9)—Rome.
The heads of the beast in Revelation 17 depict the seven last resurrections of the ancient Roman Empire. The fallen woman sits on these last seven resurrections of the beast. The first three revivals of the ancient Roman Empire occurred under leaders with a different religion, that of Arianism, which was labeled a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church.
As we will recall, the first of the seven last resurrections of the Roman Empire occurred under Justinian in A.D. 554. He was mainly responsible for wiping out the barbarian tribes, but he did so at the behest of a succession of Roman popes. At that time, lands of the old West Roman Empire were taken back. Justinian also restored the rule of “orthodox” Roman Catholicism to the West. The second of the seven last resurrections occurred under Christian Emperor
Charlemagne or Charles the Great, who was crowned in A.D. 800 by Pope Leo III, and who is commonly referred to as the “European Unifier.”
The third of the seven last resurrections occurred under Otto the Great, under whose name the “Roman Empire of the German Nation” was coined. He was crowned in 962 by Pope John XII. The fourth of the seven last resurrections occurred under Charles V Habsburg, who was crowned in 1530 by Pope Clement VII. By this time, the name “Holy Roman Empire” was in popular usage because of the close contact between the state and the so-called Holy Roman Church. The fifth of the last seven resurrections occurred under Napoleon Bonaparte, who was also crowned by a pope.
The sixth of the last seven resurrections occurred under Hitler and Mussolini, both Catholics. Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the papacy in 1929, establishing papal sovereignty over Vatican City. This event affirmed Roman Catholicism as the only religion of Italy and, in turn, the papacy officially recognized Mussolini as the rightful Italian governor. Also, the Vatican signed a concordat with Hitler in 1933, protecting the rights of the church under the Nazi regime. This gave Hitler’s government an outward semblance of legitimacy.
The seventh and last resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire is already beginning. As with the previous six resurrections, the woman—the papal city of Rome—will “ride” or work with and to an extent direct the activities of the seventh resurrection as well.
We read in Revelation 17:11 that the beast “that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” The phrase, “is not” refers to the short-lived ninth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire under Mussolini and Hitler. Even though “it was” (verse 8: “… is not, and yet is”), it really was not, by comparison, such an all-encompassing and consequential revival as the previous ones, and as the tenth and last revival will be.
Verse 11 tells us that the beast himself is the “eighth, and is of the seven.” This could be a reference to the individual beast—the end-time military leader who will rule and be a part of the seventh revival of the Holy Roman Empire.
The influencing power of the Roman Catholic Church was prophesied in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7—with the fourth beast having ten horns. The ten horns picture the ten resurrections of the ancient Roman Empire. Daniel 7:7 deals with the first three of these resurrections. Then, in verse 8, Daniel says, “I was considering the [ten] horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots.”
An angel explained in verse 24 that the little (religious) horn, which would be different from the other (political) horns, would “subdue three kings.” This little horn, the religious power synonymous with the woman in Revelation 17, riding the scarlet beast, would also change times and law, or rather, change the law regarding holy times.
We saw earlier that the beast (the political and military leader of the European power bloc) will persecute the saints. In Revelation 17, we are told that the woman riding the beast power will participate in the persecution of the saints. It will be a combined joint effort between church and state, which it has been so many times before.
We read in Revelation 13:16–17 that the second (religious) beast will cause people to accept “a mark” of the first (political) beast “on their right hand” or “on their foreheads.” Without it, they cannot buy or sell (compare Revelation 14:9). The mark of the beast means general participation in the worship system of the revived Roman Empire. In particular, it is clearly associated with the violation of God’s weekly and annual Sabbath commandments [the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset and during the times of seven annual Holy Days, which likewise begin at sunset]. In the Bible, the “right hand” is associated with work (Psalm 137:5). The “forehead” is the seat of thoughts (Ezekiel 3:8; 9:4; Revelation 7:3). God has commanded to keep certain times holy and, during these holy times, one is not to concentrate on and engage in commercial activities.
The little horn (in Daniel 7:25, referring to a religious power) persecuted God’s people who did not accept its change from God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days to man-made holidays, such as Sunday, Christmas and Easter. Under the Code of Justinian, who constituted the first resurrection of the “Holy” Roman Empire, orthodox Christianity became the only lawful religion. It acknowledged the ecclesiastical leadership of the Roman Church, and ordered all Christian groups to submit to her authority. Those who were not orthodox Catholics were forbidden from buying and selling—i.e. conducting business. Indeed, those branded “heretics” faced a death sentence. In general, Christians were many times branded by orthodox Christianity as those who were “Judaizing,” and they were put to death for such practice.
The little horn changed the holy times ordained by God and replaced them with times designated by man to be holy. Today, most Christians follow human traditions, rather than godly injunctions. The little horn, the woman riding the beast, will cause people to accept the mark of the beast under pain of death.
As in the past, the woman, under its coming leader, the “false prophet,” will influence the political power of the revived Roman Empire to command people, via “legislation,” to work during God’s holy times, while prohibiting work at times proclaimed by her to be “holy.” As true Christians cannot and will not abide by the political power’s legislative demands, the woman, by her influence and her teaching, will “cause” the death of true Christians (compare Revelation 13:15).
When we see that the final revival of the ancient Holy Roman Empire is manifesting in Europe— a mighty power bloc of ten nations or groups of nations under the leadership of a political and military leader (the beast) in collaboration with a religious leader (the false prophet)—then we will know that Christ’s return is imminent.
(To be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link