Recent financial events in Europe have many worried. Is it possible that the European Union (EU) could soon disintegrate? And if so, would such developments hold any implications for the Revived Roman Empire interpretation of endtime Bible prophecy? The answer will probably surprise you. Let’s first review the financial and political spin that is being reported in the popular media. Things surely look terrible.
This quote from an article entitled, “Goodbye to Europe as a high-ranking power” carried in the Financial Times, is indicative of prevailing worries:
“The combination of structural economic flaws, political parochialism and military limits will accelerate this transatlantic drift. A weaker Europe will possess a smaller voice and role. NATO will no longer be the default partner for American foreign policy. Instead, the US will forge coalitions of the willing to deal with specific challenges. These clusters will sometimes include European countries, but rarely, if ever, will the US look to either NATO or the EU as a whole. Even before it began, Europe’s moment as a major world power in the 21st century looks to be over.”
Over the past month or so, the so-called flaws of the European Union and its Eurozone have come into popular focus, although well identified by many political historians long, long ago. While there are now 27 member countries in the EU, only 16 share (soon Estonia is to join as the 17th member) the common currency of the euro, this group of countries correspondingly called the Eurozone.
What happened was that a number of the Eurozone members shamelessly milked the benefits of currency union, not caring to conduct a disciplined management of their own financial accounts. To varying degrees, countries such as Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece, all enjoyed the benefit of lower interest rates when they joined this currency bloc, anchored by the stable economic juggernaut of Germany.
To recall, the reason that investors had demanded higher interest rates on the borrowings of these nations in the first place was precisely because these nations ran higher deficits and debts, not to mention inflationary monetary policies. (See Figure #3 on page 9.) As it happened, these countries continued their spendthrift ways after joining the currency union. They wasted the windfall of membership and have now found themselves in an intractable refinancing situation as the fall-out of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hits home. That brings us to today.
Recent events are therefore of no surprise. What is always unpredictable in crisis situations, is the specific catalyst that prompts a reappraisal of risk … the sudden awakening to reality. As unfolded in Europe recently, a panic run on the bonds of these weaker nations in the Eurozone began in Greece. This country was mired with high debt levels, an enormous government budget deficit (equivalent to near 14% of economic output at one point) and an intransigent populace that considered it an outrage that their country’s profligacy might come to an end.
Before long, a bond market rout spread to the other financially weak nations ofSpain, Portugal and others already mentioned. (The UK is another country in rickety financial shape and continues to deteriorate, though not a member of the Eurozone.) As a consequence, the euro dropped sharply and interest rates shot up in these countries — more than doubling in a matter of days in some cases — as investors sought to escape these tumbling bond markets. Fears escalated to the point that policymakers saw no other alternative but to intervene.
Initially, the stronger EU-member countries were reluctant to bail out their spend-happy brethren in the monetary union. And, rightly so. Yet, as the crisis of confidence escalated and the euro continued to weaken, the International Monetary Fund IMF) the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) quickly cobbled together a bail-out equivalent to nearly $1 trillion (€750 billion).
The European monetary union today is undoubtedly on shaky ground. Unless some significant changes are made, it is likely to fracture further. Frankly, it is unlikely that such changes will be easily forthcoming for several reasons. Firstly, the hard-working citizens of nations such as Germany and France do not want to pay for the squandered borrowing of the deficit nations (now derisively called the PIIGS — an acronym for Portugal, Ireland, Italy,Greece and Spain). These voters are not likely to approve these bail-out costs. Secondly, the PIIGS nations are now all required to cut government spending and to raise taxes as a condition of the bail-outs. This will prove to be deeply unpopular and contribute to lengthened economic recessions. More protests and riots can be expected in the years ahead.
The question arises: Can Europe hold together and for how long? Will intervention bring back calm to the Eurozone? The recent bailouts will have bought some time. However, it will not be long before new stresses again reappear.
In fact, the tremors witnessed in Europe are symptomatic of a problem that extends to other nations as well, not just European ones. For example, the fiscal situation in the United States is certifiably disastrous and over-indebtedness is also a problem in Canada (although not widely perceived as such).
Actually, the states of California and Illinois are in worse shape than Greece by far … and are even bigger in terms of economic size. It is only a matter of time that international attention will again fall upon America’s troubles. Then, the US dollar will take another drubbing … possibly until a worse crisis erupts somewhere else in the world. The only difference in the case ofAmerica is that it has the freedom to allow its currency to depreciate. Eurozone members do not have this option (neither does California andIllinois) and must therefore take the hard medicine of spending cuts.
While gold bullion markets rose to new highs in US-dollar terms during the Greek crisis, what seems to be overlooked is that the resolution to these crises is rather deflationary … at least for the time being. All of the countries suffering with high debts are being forced to cut spending and increase taxes. As such, a new rush to austerity seems underway around the world … certainly so in the Western countries. Countries such as the UK,Canada and the U.S. know that they are now near the end of unlimited government borrowing, lest they also wish to become vulnerable to funding crises and currency attacks. You can be sure that these reactions ultimately stand to produce the same depressive effects that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
So much for an update of the news one might hear from the media. But what all does it mean from a prophetic point of view? Just how do these recent events fit in with the “March of History”?
To begin, we can certainly say that today’s events in Europe will certainly not overturn the veracity of Bible prophecy. All prophecy will eventually be fulfilled literally, no matter the short-term gyrations of history.
At the surface, events playing in Europe today may make it seem that the European Union is about to fall apart, and that therefore, the famous Revived Roman Empire theory of prophetic interpretation may be proven incorrect.
We can conclude no such thing. While we have never gone so far as to conclude that the final world power coalition of 10 kings (10 nations) must come from Europe, we neither see that recent events alone would negate this prophetic interpretation. The jury is still out.
As we have explained in other articles and presentations, there are other plausible theories or variations on the Revived Roman Empire theme that could yet play out. We can certainly assert what is directly ascertainable from Scripture. Bible prophecy expressly indicates that a union of 10 kings will take form in the last days just before the Antichrist is revealed. Daniel tells us that, “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings” (Daniel 7:24). In other words, they collectively represent the last world-ruling power before the 8th ruler-king (the Antichrist) emerges. These 10 kings are shown on the seventh head (actually, in our view, they collectively represent the 7th head) of the beast depicted in Revelation 12, 13 and 17, as well as by the ten toes mentioned in Daniel 2 and the 10 horns in Daniel 7.
In our extensive studies of this topic (Please see the MS PowerPoint presentation that is posted on the home page of our website for additional details) we conclude that 10 sovereign nations are indicated by the Bible’s terminology of “10 kings.” As mentioned, a view held by many pre-millennial prophecy students is that these “10 kings” will come from Europe or at the very least, from within the boundaries of the ancient Roman Empire. It also remains possible that “Roman type” nations that are not found on the European continent (i.e. America, Canada, Brazil … etc.) could number in this final coalition. We have presented a list of countries that could prove to be eligible candidates for these 10 kings (using scriptural criteria as well as the prevailing conditions of today) in previous issues of EVR.
There are several points we wish to make. Firstly, please realize that an official European Union or currency zone is not a prerequisite for the final 10 nations to come together. Their union can be based on some entirely different set of values or rules. It is true that the conception of the European Union that exists today is very much in the old Roman model, which is one that is centrally controlled through systems and government. However, as Scripture appears to indicates, the final 10-nation coalition is more about joint “power and authority.” In other words, a small set of nations have a shared purpose and interest as opposed to a multi-lateral structure with a large number of member countries that seeks to rule the world through broad consensus. It is a significant difference.
The Bible tells us that a group of 10 ally together out of common self-interest. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the Beast (Revelation 17:13). The large multinational nation groups of today simply have too many conflicts of interest to be any effective consequence in today’s geopolitical environment. Developments in Asia today also, we believe, play a decisive role in these last-day machinations of 10 kings.
(Please see the new 3-part series entitled Far East Asia Nations Today: Subject of Bible Prophecy?, scheduled to be first published in Midnight Call Magazine June through August 2010. Our conclusions are quite different from the popular view!)
It is indeed possible that the entire final 10 nation coalition may all come fromEurope (though it remains much too early to be dogmatic on this point). However, this group will likely have very little to do with today’s organization as represented by the EU.
Please reflect on the fact that the Bible says that a small group of only 10 nations will have sufficient pooled power to allow the Antichrist to control the entire world. All current 27 members of Europe are not needed. As such, either the EU will break up (as could be possible) or a new group of 10 forms outside of it. Yes, this is a concept that is directly in opposition to today’s idea of globalism … the notion that a “common parliament of man” will rule the world. We recognize, of course, that today’s global agencies and non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations or Group of 20 are comprised of a greater number of members than just 10. That means that none of these assemblies qualify as the final 10-nation ruling power according to the Bible.
Here one final point: Power and agendas are not always clearly evident to the broad audience. They tend to work secretly and unobserved. Moreover, crisis can be (and are) deliberately used to accelerate change. As such, anything is possible. Next, the Europe Union may break up and devolve into a more “Roman Catholic” version of the Roman Empire (centering on the more major nation-states with “Christian values” and heritage) or become yet more undemocratic and centrally-controlled in response to economic crisis. Frankly, we cannot yet be sure.
Of one thing we are certain: A break-up of the current Eurozone (perhaps even the European Union, though not necessary) actually would be an alignment with Bible prophecy. Scripture specifically only numbers 10 nations … not 20, 27 or 192 of the G-20, European Union or United Nations, respectively. As such, either the large groups must break down or another coming together of 10 nations outside or in concert with these other organizations must occur.
As we have argued in the past, the world today is moving to a post-globalism period. Multilateralism (this referring to the joint interactions of nation groups) is coming to an end. Instead minilateralism (the idea that a small group of powerful or influential nations seize the agenda) is at the door.