Much of the Bible’s most famous prophetic text centers around a system of successive world-ruling Gentile kingdoms that precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These successive “beasts,” as they are called, are discussed throughout the Bible, but especially in four prophetic chapters: Daniel 2 and 7, and Revelation 13 and 17. Studied in that order, each chapter adds a few more details to the one preceding it. Together, they build a complete and yet simple foundation for all Bible prophecy.
In Daniel 2, you will find the Bible’s best one-chapter overview of prophecy. God reveals through Daniel a vision of a great image representing these four successive kingdoms. History proves these to be the Chaldean Empire, followed by the Persian, then Greco-Macedonian, and finally the Roman Empire. These four were to continue in succession right up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In Daniel 7, the prophet describes four beasts, again representing four Gentile kingdoms, but with special emphasis on the fourth—the Roman Empire. This beast has 10 horns, which the prophet says “are ten kings that shall arise” out of, or after, the Roman Empire (verse 24). Daniel also describes a “little horn” that grew among the 10 horns and uprooted the first three (verse 8). The meaning of this prophecy is made plain in the book of Revelation.
Unlike Daniel 7, Revelation 13 only discusses one beast—which represents the fourth and final kingdom, the Roman Empire. Because John lived during the rule of the Roman Empire, when he wrote the book of Revelation he had little to say about the three previous kingdoms. They were already fulfilled prophecy!
In chapter 13, John describes a beast with seven heads and ten horns, one head of which received a “deadly wound.” Historians agree that the Roman Empire existed from 31 b.c. to a.d. 476, at which point the kingdom was crushed. It died. But its deadly wound was healed just as John prophesied (verse 3). There were to be 10 resurrections to come out of that Roman Empire (just as Daniel said), the first three of which were plucked up by the roots by the “little horn”—suggesting that they were not altogether Roman, but nevertheless ruled within the ancient Roman territory after the empire collapsed. And that’s what happened. Three barbaric tribes did rule in the region before Justinian restored the Roman Empire in a.d. 554 and effectively healed the deadly wound.
Revelation 17 fills in the remaining details. In that chapter, once again John describes a beast with seven heads, but none of these heads is wounded. This time a woman, which throughout the Bible symbolizes a church, is riding the beast. She is called a whore in verse 1, and therefore symbolizes a great false church that rides, or heavily influences, this political beast.
Comparing the historical account with these prophecies makes the meaning undeniably clear. When Justinian recognized the supremacy of the pope in 554, the Roman Empire was revived. And because of its close association with the Vatican, this empire eventually assumed the name Holy Roman Empire. Counting Justinian’s empire, there have been six major, historically documented resurrections of the so-called Holy Roman Empire—all of which have been heavily influenced, and in some cases dominated, by the Roman Catholic Church.
The seventh and final prophesied empire is now rising out of the heart of Europe, as we, and Herbert W. Armstrong before us, have prophesied for decades—basing that forecast on the sure word of Bible prophecy (2 Peter 1:19).
Watershed Event in the Latter Days
Last Sunday marked the 70-year anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, when Adolf Hitler incited riots that triggered Germany’s campaign to destroy European Jewry. On Nov. 9, 1938, Nazis murdered 91 German Jews, sent 26,000 more to concentration camps, razed over 200 synagogues and destroyed approximately 7,500 Jewish businesses. Kristallnacht was the first Nazi pogrom against the Jews and got its name because of the quantity of broken glass left on the streets as a result of the massacre.
Earlier this week, columnist James Carroll made an interesting comment about the significance of that anniversary: “If Nov. 9, 1938, can be taken as the beginning of Hitler’s war, the end of it can be taken as coming on that date in 1989, when the Berlin Wall was breached. The Cold War, beginning in a Soviet-American argument over Berlin, can be understood as the long denouement of World War ii” (emphasis mine throughout).
Nov. 9, 1989, can certainly be pinpointed as the end of an era, but of much greater significance—from a prophetic standpoint—is the new era that date ushered in! As Trumpet columnist Ron Fraser has explained,
During the Cold War, history seemed stuck in a time warp as the U.S. and Soviet Russia glared at each other over a concrete barrier slicing through the German city of Berlin.
History revived on that fateful night, Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. … In a sense, a history which had been held back, delayed for 40 years in the icy freeze of cold war, was suddenly freed to pursue its ongoing course. We had entered a time of “no more delay” in the course of world events (Revelation 10:6; Zephaniah 1:14). The history of mankind was about to reach its crashing, globe-shattering climax!
The fall of the Berlin Wall was to herald the dramatic acceleration of a European phenomenon which had been somewhat stultified during the Cold War—the revival of European imperialism. Simply put, the resurrection of that old imperial power which has dominated history since 31 b.c., the Roman Empire.
For more than five decades under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, the Plain Truth magazine had powerfully and consistently proclaimed the future revival of that old European empire, to be headed by a newly-unified Germany. For example, Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1975, “Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe.” Similar statements had been made over the years on Mr. Armstrong’s television program, The World Tomorrow.
Mr. Armstrong barely missed living long enough to see the Berlin Wall fall in 1989. Yet many of the millions who studied his prophetic writings were well aware of the momentous significance of Nov. 9, 1989, as we all watched that wall come tumbling down.
One member of the news media even contacted the church Mr. Armstrong founded, after witnessing the watershed event. “Following the spectacular news about the opening of the Berlin Wall,” a Worldwide Church of God publication noted on Nov. 21, 1989,
we unexpectedly received a call from a news station in Seattle. The news director was well aware of the World Tomorrow program and the fact that for more than 40 years the church had been predicting the reunification of Europe in some form. He asked for on-air comments about whether the church believed the opening of the wall was the commencement of end-time prophetic events.
Sadly, church representatives left that enthusiastic station manager terribly disappointed. During that time, as we thoroughly document in Raising the Ruins, Worldwide Church of God leaders were in the midst of a fast and furious demolition project—tearing down Mr. Armstrong’s lifelong work and burying all of his Bible-based teachings—including the Earth-shattering truth about the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!
“The news director was disappointed that we would not proclaim this to be the absolute beginning of end-time events,” the wcg publication continued, “but it was interesting that he did say that what the church has predicted from the Bible was remarkably close to what appears to be happening.”
What a sad and pitiful demise of a once wondrous and mighty work of lovingly warning this world of the prophesied events to occur now—and just ahead of us—lightning-bolt events that will personally impact every human being on Earth!
One can only imagine what Mr. Armstrong would have told that exuberant newsman from Seattle, had he lived long enough to take his call. This is absolutely the beginning of end-time events!—his deep voice would have bellowed into the phone. He would have gladly accepted the man’s offer to inform the station’s viewers of what God had long ago prophesied.
Then, during an on-air broadcast, Mr. Armstrong’s remarks would have undoubtedly corresponded to the Prophet Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about that great image described in Daniel 2: “[T]here is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (verse 28). “But as for me,” the prophet continued in verse 30,
this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king.
God reveals it—in the pages of his Holy Bible—for our sakes, that we might know what will happen in the latter days.
One important reason why so many millions of people were drawn to Herbert W. Armstrong’s ministry was because he constantly admonished people to prove God’s Word true—for themselves. “Don’t believe me,” he so often said. “Blow the dust off your own Bible and prove it for yourself.”
For those feeding on the revealed truth of God’s infallible Word, Nov. 9, 1989, was much more than an “interesting” development—certainly more than the end of the Nazi era. The day the Berlin Wall fell is the day history revived, as Mr. Fraser noted—and when prophetic events, as outlined in the inspired Word of Almighty God, accelerated as never before! ▪