March 2, 2015
The Feet of Iron and Clay
The revival of the Roman Empire is often called the second most important end-time prophecy, which is just behind the rebirth of Israel. Because this organization will give rise to the dreaded Antichrist, most Christians assume this alliance will be very powerful. The Bible actually says this coming world power will be very weak.
The vision that was given to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2 showed all the great Gentile empires that would come to rise on the earth. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold; Media-Persia was the breast and arms of silver; Greece was the belly of brass; and Rome was the legs of iron. The final government will be the feet of iron mixed with clay.
The interesting thing about the series of governments is that they progressively lose value as you go down the list. As the head of gold, Nebuchadnezzar had absolute power over his subjects. At the bottom was the Roman Empire, which was represented by iron. You had a ruler who was largely beholden to the Roman senate for his power base.
The Bible tells us there will be a final world power made of ten leaders. Because it is described as iron mixed with clay, this government will have a connection to the Roman Empire, and it will have an extremely weak power base.
The European Union has been a perfect match for the prophecy concerning the revived Roman Empire. It started with the Treaty of Rome, and it encompasses the core nations that made up the Roman Empire. As far as the frailty of a government, you could not have a better example of an iron and clay union. The EU has long had a confusing array of bureaucratic departments, and it has suffered a host of political setbacks. The EU's ability to survive one crisis after another has done the most to convince me that it truly is the organization spoken of in prophecy.
In 2005, the integration process suffered a huge train wreck. Unhappy with some of the provisions of the proposed European constitution, French and Dutch voters rejected the treaty. The EU moved forward by holding a "period of reflection" and then simply doing away with the whole ratification process.
The financial crisis of 2008 has proven to be the EU's greatest test. The debacle made it clear that the entire economic structure of the EU is based on faulty logic. The lack of central monetary policy in Europe has resulted in deficit spending that is largely based on an honor system. While Germany maintains tight budgets, other nations like Italy, Spain, and Greece have spent money like drunken sailors. There is no incentive for austerity when you can rely on fellow EU members for a handout.
With Greece set for its third bail-out, it is no wonder that some people are forecasting the EU's doom. Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, has predicted that Greece will end up leaving the eurozone and that the euro will not long survive its departure. He made a similar call four years ago.
I don't blame any financial watchers for placing long odds on the EU's survival. Nearly every major bank in the EU is insolvent. While the U.S recapitalized its financial institutions with taxpayers' money, Europe decided to just cover-up its bad loans. Because of the lack of leadership in the EU, its members remain locked in an economic death spiral that has fueled a growing tide of political unrest. Again, Bible prophecy is the only workable explanation for why Europe's ship of state refuses to sink.
The EU may be moving forward like a mindless zombie, but that is no reflection on the Antichrist himself. Scripture tells us that the only purpose of the final ten nation confederation is to hand over power to the "beast" (Revelation 17:12-13). Once the Antichrist takes the reins, he will become the most skilled and cunning politician the world has ever seen; because his "power" and "great authority" will come directly from Satan (Revelation 13:1-8).
There is no indication from Scripture that we will be able to know who the Antichrist is before the Rapture. To reach the point where we could easily identify him would violate the doctrine of an imminent Rapture. With Europe in desperate need of an economic savior, I think the time for the departure of the church is drawing very near.
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
It's Deja Vu All Over Again
My favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra, who provides the world such profundities as "If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't go to yours," issued the most famous of all in 1961, after watching Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit back-to-back home runs. "It's Deja Vu all over again!"
I'm getting a sense similar to that Yogi must have felt upon watching his teammates hit all those homers that year. Only, the feeling isn't so exhilarating as I'm sure was Yogi's experience. As a matter of fact, the sense is ominous--one of history repeating as the stage for the fulfilling of prophecy is being set by the grand deceiver of humankind.
My view of that earlier era, of course, is through the prism of the study of history. I wasn't quite on the scene as yet when it took place. I'm referring to the time when Adolf Hitler was on the rise and made a pact with his nemesis to his east, Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator. The German and Soviet tyrants signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in August, 1939. Hitler roped in his bitter enemy in convincing him to sign in order that the Fuhrer not have to worry about being opposed by the Soviets in his assault on Poland. Stalin wanted to make sure his Soviet Empire was free from war in order to build his military into the powerful war-making machine it would one day become.
The deja vu comes into the picture for our purposes in this commentary in thinking upon recent developments taking place between the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is a most fascinating deja vu, to be sure. And, again, it is one that is ominous.
There is being much made in recent days of the similarities between Alexis Tsipras and the Bible's description of the person who will be Antichrist. I agree with most of the comparisons. They are striking in some instances. However, there have been many striking comparisons to world leaders throughout the centuries to what the Word of God says about that Son of Perdition.
Adolf Hitler was, as most everyone who knows anything about the Biblical description of Antichrist understands, a dictator who seemed to fill the bill as the first beast of Revelation in many ways. The German Fuhrer came and went, however, and the world yet wags on toward its fate, the last seven years of which will be ruled to great extent by the actual Antichrist.
To my way of thinking, Satan has at every pivotal moment in history had a personage prepared who might be the prophesied Man of Sin.
We've all read of them. Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, Napoleon Bonepart, and both Axis leaders, Benito Mussolini and Hitler. In between such powerful "candidates" have been people like Saddam Hussein and others. Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, and even Ronald Reagan have had their names dragged through that apocalyptic mud as well.
In the case of Greek Prime Minister Tsipras--to me, at least--the fact that he has emerged so dramatically, in time of building economic crisis that could be earth-shaking to European environs, is highly significant. Likewise, he makes his appearance in Greece, the nation that in fact spawned the Roman Empire. Important, too, in my estimation, is the fact that Greece was the tenth nation to join the EU--in 1981.
All of this economic turmoil is going on, with Tsipras and Greece at its center, while even more turbulence engulfs Israel, the nucleus of all Bible prophecy, so far as the wrap-up of human history is concerned. To the point, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the world --and Bible prophecy--spotlight this week, speaking before the United States Congress about war and peace and the survival of his nation. Survival which, incidentally, is God guaranteed!
Add to this the sudden coziness that Russia's Putin says is "a warming relationship" with Tsipras, and you have something akin to deja vu all over again."
Tsipras is opposing his own geopolitical association, the EU, to embrace Europe's long-standing and stated enemy, Russia. He is, ostensibly, making a pact with Putin in declaring that the EU should make no sanctions against Russia, because he agrees, in effect, with Putin's ludicrous charge that there are neo-Nazis who are making great mischief in Ukraine. Thus, Putin has every right to meddle in Ukraine, however he thinks best.
His new pal, Vlad Putin, recently invited the new Greek prime minister to Moscow, where he gave him full moral support for Tsipras' demand that pre-1990 Germany owes Greece Nazi war reparations of more than 162 billion euros ($183 billion). This is apparently the scheme around which he plans to begin digging Greece out of the dismal fiscal hole it has dug for itself with its welfare state. Tsipras and Putin agree that the EU is treating Greece cruelly by demanding austerity be imposed if bail-outs are to continue.
It all conjures, for the student of history and prophecy, the likes of Hitler and Stalin joining in their strange collusion, while cordite odors of some great, future conflict singe one's spiritual nostrils.
I'm not declaring herein that we are witnessing Antichrist and Gog embracing on the end-times stage of prophetic fulfillment. I'm just saying that I'm sensing deja vu while our daily headlines continue to spell out how near we must be to Christ's call to His church.