The Times of the Gentiles and the European Economic Community
The Times of the Gentiles
The Bible foretells that there will be a revived form of the Roman Empire in existence as a major world power during the future Tribulation period. Daniel 7 records a prophetic dream or vision given by God to the Prophet Daniel around 553 BC. In this dream, God revealed the course of Gentile world power from Daniel’s time to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation period. Jesus Christ referred to this period of history, during which the Gentiles would dominate the world, as “the times of the Gentiles” (Lk. 21:24).
Daniel’s dream portrayed four great beasts coming out of the sea. The first beast, a winged lion, represented the kingdom of Babylon, the dominant Gentile world power when Daniel received the dream. The second beast, a large bear, came out of the sea after the lion. It represented the kingdom of Medo-Persia, which conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and thereby became the next dominant Gentile world power. The third beast out of the sea was a leopard. It represented the kingdom of Greece, which conquered Medo-Persia by 331 BC, becoming the third dominant Gentile world power. The fourth beast out of the sea was so terrifying and powerful that there was no living animal that could symbolize it. It represented the ancient Roman Empire, which conquered Greece by 146 BC and became the fourth dominant Gentile world power.
The fourth beast had ten horns on its head. Daniel 7:7 and 24 indicate that the ten horns rose out of and were part of the fourth beast—the Roman Empire. Daniel was told that the ten horns represented “ten kings that shall arise” (v. 24). In ancient times, kings and kingdoms were synonymous with each other. Thus, the ten horns represented ten rulers and their domains that would arise out of and be part of the Roman Empire. The language indicates that the Roman Empire would experience at least two stages of history, with the second stage consisting of a ten-division federation with ten equal rulers.
A study of history reveals that the ancient Roman Empire never consisted of a ten-division federation with ten equal rulers. This fact has forced many scholars to conclude several things. First, this part of Daniel’s prophetic dream has not yet been fulfilled. Second, Daniel 7 foretells that in the future a ten-division federation will be formed. Third that federation will be a revived form of the Roman Empire. Fourth, that revived Roman Empire will be the dominant Gentile world power of the future. A full study of the Daniel 7 dream, together with other related biblical passages, indicates that the revived Roman Empire will be the dominant world power of the future Tribulation period up to the Second Coming of Christ.1
The European Economic Community
How does this prophesied condition of the future Tribulation period relate to current events? Many Bible scholars are convinced that the European Economic Community, more popularly known as the Common Market, of Western Europe will eventually develop into the revived Roman Empire foretold in Daniel 7. For much of the time since the western half of the ancient Roman Empire fell to barbarians in 476 AD, key leaders of Western Europe have dreamed of reviving it. Charlemagne, Otto I, Napoleon, Bismarck, Churchill, Mussolini, Hitler, Adenauer, and others hoped to keep that dream alive. A good number of leaders advocated fulfillment of the dream through the formation of a federation of Western European nations.
On March 25,1957, statesmen from six Western European nations met on the Capitoline Hill in Rome and formed the Common Market. The stated goal was the formation of a common economic system that could become the nucleus of a future United States of Europe. In June 1985 the Common Market, now with 12 member nations, began to seriously pursue the full development of a common economic system. The Common Market developed a planned strategy, formed the organizational structure necessary to carry out that strategy, and set December 31, 1992, as the deadline for European economic unity in the truest sense.2
A television documentary on the Common Market (“Birth of a Superstate”) declared that if the proposed economic unity is achieved, Western Europe will hold the largest concentration of wealth on earth and will be the greatest economic bloc the world has ever known.” Now leaders of the Common Market are trying to move Western Europe toward far more than economic unity. Through the Maastricht Treaty, they hope to have a common currency and political unity by 1999.
In the television documentary, Jacques Delors, President of the European Community Commission, which directs the Common Market, stated, “My objective before the end of the decade is a real federation of Europe.” During the weekend of December 15, 1990, leaders of the 12 member nations met in Rome and “reached an unprecedented agreement that will bring their elusive goal of a ‘United States of Europe’ closer than ever to reality.” This agreement “aims to develop a single European nation with its own form of money as fast as possible, and sooner than anyone thought likely only days ago.” Concerning this agreement, Jacques Delors said, “We really have a rendezvous with destiny” (Toronto Star, “European leaders take ‘historic’ step to unity,” Dec. 15, 1990).
The television documentary gave the following evaluation of the present direction of Western Europe: Europe is moving to become the economic and political center of the world. It will also develop great military strength. One Europe under one flag will be the superpower that will challenge the world of the 21st century. It will fulfill “the ancient dream of one Europe, diverse yet strong.”
The documentary quoted key Western European leaders as saying, “A new empire is taking shape.” “The world will never be the same.” “This is a major turning point of history.” “This is the end of an epoch and the beginning of another.” “This is the great hope for peace in Europe” and “What is happening in Western Europe is far more significant than what has taken place in the East European bloc.”
A Dominant World Ruler from the Revived Roman Empire
The Bible foretells that a dominant world ruler will rise to power from within the revived Roman Empire and will have great influence during the future Tribulation period. In the prophetic dream of Daniel 7, after the ten horns have been present for an unspecified period of time, an eleventh horn will push itself up through the head of the fourth beast and uproot three of the ten horns (v. 8). Verse 24 indicates that this horn represents an eleventh ruler who will rise to power from within the revived Roman Empire, overthrow three of the ten earlier rulers, and thereby gain the dominant position of authority. In essence, he will become the emperor of the revived Roman Empire.
Daniel 7 and other prophetic Bible passages indicate that this ruler (now commonly called the Antichrist) will be an arrogant, blasphemous, absolute dictator during the Tribulation period. In the middle of that period, he will set himself up as God in the new Temple in Jerusalem (Dan. 11:36–37; 2 Th. 2:2–4) and will severely persecute those who refuse to worship him as God (Dan. 7:21, 25; Rev. 13:4–8; 20:4). His goal will be to bring the whole world under his rule on behalf of his master, Satan (Dan. 11:38–45; Rev. 13:1–8; 16:13–16; 19:19).
Again, how does this prophesied condition of the future Tribulation period relate to current events? Some Western European leaders who were interviewed in the television documentary expressed the fear that the present direction of the Common Market is away from democracy. One stated that the present arrangement is not democratic because the European Community Commission, the decision-making body leading Western Europe toward unity, consists of a small group of people and is responsible to no one. It makes decisions concerning the future of the Common Market nations totally on its own. Another leader expressed the following irony: While Eastern bloc nations, which were under dictatorial oppression for more than four decades, are struggling to move toward democracy, Western Europe, which has enjoyed democracy since the end of World War II, is moving away from it. Concerning this trend, a third leader said, “I am shocked and afraid.”
In the documentary, Jacques Delors further stated, “We must have in Europe one political executive which can draw out common interests and fight for them.”
In an editorial entitled “Europe 1992—An Opportunity or Real Pitfall?” the publisher and editor-in-chief of Telemarketing magazine stated that, in light of all the cultural and social differences that exist among the Western European nations, “A united Europe will need a leader—only one overall leader—to function effectively.”3 Such statements are interesting in light of the biblical prophecies to the effect that the revived Roman Empire will come under the domination of an absolute dictator after it has been formed and has functioned for a period of time.
The Daniel 7 dream and other prophetic passages reveal that this future dictator and his revived Roman Empire will be removed from the earth in judgment when Jesus Christ returns to earth in His Second Coming (Dan. 7:8–11, 19–26; Rev. 19:11–21).
Will the European Economic Community achieve its goals of economic unity by December 31, 1992, and a common currency and political unity by 1999? When will it fulfill the Daniel 7 prophecy concerning the revived Roman Empire? At this point, only the Lord knows the answers to these questions; any human attempt to answer them would involve foolish speculation.
The EEC is facing some problems that may prevent the achievement of its goals, at least by the projected deadlines. In June 1992, by a narrow majority, the people of Denmark voted against ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. Three months later, the citizens of France voted for ratification by a very slim margin. This indicates that many Europeans are not as enthusiastic about European unity as their leaders. The people are concerned about the loss of their national identities and control of their domestic policies.
In addition, there is the problem of the number of nations in the EEC. The Bible indicates that the revived Roman Empire initially will be a ten-division federation. For some time, the EEC has had 12 member nations, and other nations are seeking membership. However, it may be that the biblical number ten is not referring to nations. A bank advertisement in Forbes magazine stated that “Europe is about to be transformed into a continent of regions rather than of separate nations.”4
- For a more detailed study of the Daniel 7 prophetic dream and other related passages, see Renald E. Showers, The Most High God (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1982).
- For a more detailed article on the Common Market, see Renald E. Showers, “Europe and 1992,” Israel My Glory, February/March 1990.
- Nadji Tehrani, “Europe 1992—An Opportunity or Real Pitfall?,” Telemarketing, April 1989, 27.
- “What’s Uncommon About the Common Market?,” Forbes, October 21, 1991, 154.