The Revived Roman Empire
To understand the end-times revival of the Roman Empire, we must first understand the term the times of the Gentiles. Jesus said, “And they [the Jewish people] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk. 21:24).
From this passage and others we can draw certain conclusions. The beginning of the Gentile domination over the Jews came in 587 to 586 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Solomonic Temple. Zerubbabel built a small Temple upon the Jewish return from Babylonian captivity, and Herod later made it into a magnificent structure, but the Jewish land still continued under Gentile domination and remained so for centuries.
Even though the Jews have returned to the land in modern times and are in control of their own state and Jerusalem, the times of the Gentiles continue. Gentile forces desire to take Jerusalem, or at least make it an international city. This Gentile domination will continue until the celestial bodies cease their shining and people’s hearts fail because of fear. It will continue through the Tribulation period until Christ returns to the earth in power and great glory (Lk. 21:25–28).
Daniel 2 and 7 and Revelation 13 clearly predict that four Gentile world powers would dart across the pages of history and clash with and control the Jewish people. The first three were conquered, but the fourth, Rome, was not. Its fall was due to debauchery and corruption from within.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an image, recorded in Daniel 2, was prophetic, for it concerned both “the latter days” and “what should come to pass hereafter” (vv. 28–29). The first three of the four kingdoms portrayed in the dream of this powerful king are each presented only briefly. Far more details are given about the fourth kingdom, Rome.
The image seen in the dream was made of four metals. The last part of the image, the feet, was made of clay mingled with iron (v. 33). A stone cut without hands came crashing into the image at its weakest point (the iron and clay feet) and destroyed it. The stone then filled the whole earth (v. 35).
Beginning at verse 41, some very important details concerning this fourth kingdom are presented. This kingdom was to be divided, first into two feet and then into ten toes. The mixture of iron and clay indicates that the kingdom would be partly strong and partly broken, because iron and clay do not mix well.
We can make the following observations from this passage of Scripture:
- The feet and toes came out of the old Roman Empire. Nowhere in Scripture is it recorded that this empire was conquered by a fifth kingdom.
- There will be a confederation of ten kingdoms that will, in the future, come out of that old empire.
- This ten-member confederation of nations will rise from the wreckage of the old Roman Empire and will be in power when God establishes His kingdom that will never be destroyed.
- The “stone”—Christ—will destroy these Gentile kingdoms.
Chapter 7 of Daniel is a parallel passage to chapter 2, the difference being that chapter 2 is presented through the perspective of a heathen king, whereas chapter 7 is viewed through the eyes of a believer, Daniel. In his dream, four empires are portrayed as four fierce beasts ready to devour everything in their path. Again, the first three empires are briefly described, while important details are given concerning the fourth beast, Rome.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns” (v. 7).
The first part of this verse describes the awesome power of the Roman Empire. The fact that it had ten horns is a very significant detail, as will be shown later.
To comprehend what the prophet was teaching, we must let the Bible interpret itself.
First, the four beasts of Daniel 7 are four kings or kingdoms that would come upon the earth (v. 17). Second, the fourth beast would be the fourth kingdom, which would be different from all the other empires, and ten kings or kingdoms would arise out of it. Third, just as the fourth empire of the image of chapter 2 has ten toes, the beast that represents the fourth kingdom in chapter 7 has ten horns, symbolic of power.
Since the ten horns appear on a beast that is still alive, they must represent another phase in the panorama of that fourth empire. From that phase of the fourth kingdom will arise another horn or king (v. 23) who will ascend to power and put down three of the kings as he rises to worldwide status.
His rule will be different from those of the other kings. He will speak blasphemy against God, despise the people of God, change the proven laws of the land, and be a worldwide dictator for three and one-half years, after which God will take away His kingdom and give it to Christ to rule forever.
In Revelation chapter 13 the beloved Apostle John painted a picture of a person who will arise from the sea of humanity. He is depicted with certain characteristics of the animals describing the Gentile world powers in Daniel 7. He is said to be empowered by Satan and has seven heads and ten horns, symbolic of power and rule.
In verse 3 one head was “as though it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the beast.”
Dr. C.I. Scofield, in his notes on this chapter, claims that “Fragments of the ancient Roman Empire have never ceased to exist as separate kingdoms. It was the imperial form of government which ceased; the one head ‘wounded to death.’ What is written prophetically in v. 3 is the restoration of the imperial form as such, though over a federated empire of ten kingdoms.” The emperor of this federation will become the Antichrist.
Interestingly, the Roman Empire was the agency through which Christ was attacked in His first advent. In its final form, it will be the reestablished Roman Empire through which Satan will work at the time of Christ’s second advent.
This fourth and final passage is parallel to the other three. It too speaks of seven heads and ten horns (vv. 3, 7). The horns are declared to be ten kings (v. 12), and “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth” (v. 9). The only city in the world that fits this picture is Rome.
For hundreds of years people have attempted to reestablish and rebuild the Roman Empire, but they have all failed. While they have tried to unify it, Europe has remained divided into many countries, albeit with great changes politically, geographically, and nationally.
Today especially, very interesting changes are taking place among the European nations. Thirteen nations have joined together to form a “partnership.” They have established the European Common Market, the European Economic Community, and the European Parliament. Although each nation retains its identity, they have united for trade, ease of travel, and, hopefully, a common currency to be called the Eurodollar. International travelers from these countries now use a common passport. It is easy to move from one nation to another without encountering problems at each individual border.
While speaking in Ottawa, Canada, a few years ago, I was given a copy of the lead article from a magazine published for workers in the Canadian Defense Department. It claimed that the coalition of European nations planned to build such a great world market that the American and Canadian economies would be destroyed. Commercial jetliners produced as various versions of the airbus are already competing extensively with Boeing, MacDonald-Douglas, and other firms in the United States aircraft industry.
In March 1981, while I was in Greece, the Prime Minister of that country delivered a speech marking Greece’s entrance as the tenth nation to join this consortium of powers. In the speech the Prime Minister claimed that while Greece was only a small nation, by joining this international organization of states it would eventually be involved in the “final solution” of the Middle East problem. He went on to say that the United States no longer had the ability to, in any way, resolve the persistent problems of that troubled area. The European nations would be able to handle it.
Where, when, and how did this group of European nations begin? The answer is simple: It began in March 1957; the first meeting was held in Rome at the invitation of the Vatican. Are we, then, seeing the development of that which the Apostle John wrote so many years ago?
The nations have leagued together. Israel is looking for a peaceful solution to its problems. Some Israelis are willing to give back large portions of land in a desperate attempt to bring a viable peace to their troubled people. It appears doubtful, however, that any permanence will come out of the proposals already made.
The situation could become far more serious in the days to come. Then an international figure may come upon the world scene promising that longed-for peace. According to the Scriptures, the one who will “confirm the covenant” (Dan. 9:27) will come out of the European consortium of nations. He will unite these European nations and become the leader of that final empire. He will be the Antichrist.
Because the Scriptures teach that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the Rapture of the church, we could be closer to that point than we now imagine. We had better be prepared by knowing the Lord and walking with Him.