A Positive Vision of Empire
Another world power has failed in Afghanistan. They call that country “the graveyard of empires.” Several empires have failed there and entered decline. Now the American superpower has dramatically failed. All human empires eventually die.
The end of America’s world dominance follows that of the British Empire before it. Even though these related nations did a lot of good for the world, Britons and Americans today are ashamed of their history as great powers.
What they do not realize is that these two nations actually point to an empire that is going to last forever and bring peace to this whole world!
What happened in Afghanistan has caused a lot of people to despair. But it points to an inspiring hope that this world acutely needs.
Historian Martin Gilbert wrote the seven-volume official biography of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This great man accomplished the staggering feat of saving the Western world from Nazi tyranny! You would think that revealing Churchill’s motivation would take up an entire volume. The first book that Churchill himself wrote was about the theme that motivated him so powerfully. Yet Gilbert wrote little about Churchill’s highest purpose. He apparently did not understand or was wary of providing the big picture—the motivation of Winston Churchill.
The lodestar that guided Churchill’s actions was his desire to sustain the British Empire.
Lord Moran, Churchill’s doctor for the last 25 years of his life, said, “If Winston has believed in anything at all in the course of his long life, it has been in the British Empire and all that it stands for.”
So strong was this motivation that when Britain prevailed and ended World War ii, and the world could see Churchill’s role in saving it, he felt like a failure. The reason was that although Britain had survived and won the war, he knew the British Empire was collapsing.
Why was the empire so important to this man? It wasn’t just about winning wealth, status, power or pageantry for his nation. Kirk Emmert summarized Churchill’s view this way: “The glory of the British Empire was its service to a cause that transcended Britain, that transcended history, that transcended time itself, that acts to lift human life away from barbarism and savagery towards civilization and human excellence” (Winston S. Churchill on Empire).
That truly is a motivating and inspiring vision! Look around and you know this world is filled with “barbarism and savagery.” Afghanistan under Taliban rule is a perfect example. There is a reason why people were so desperate to escape when the Taliban closed in around Kabul. An empire that lifts human life away from such degradation and “towards civilization and human excellence” is truly good. This world needs that kind of an empire!
Think of the terrible cultural practices human nations have devised. Think of the heinous things that dictators do to their own people, let alone their enemies. Think of nations who terrorize the world with suicide bombs and who are working to get nuclear missiles. Don’t you want to be part of an empire that stops those evils with overwhelming power and force? Don’t you want to help as many who are suffering as possible? You can do that with an empire.
Churchill realized the value of an empire and how much it can accomplish if everybody is behind it. It was a high and noble purpose in his mind. The British Empire was working with peoples who had languished in poverty and under barbaric practices. For millions of people, the empire provided prosperity, freedom and direction that civilized their lives. Churchill was willing to give up anything, even his own life, for that cause.
In Emmert’s words, Churchill believed in “the fostering of civilization as the highest purpose of empire.” Beyond that, he said that “empire civilizes both the ruled and their rulers.” Yes, empire thinking ennobles those who believe in it, like it did Churchill. James Anthony Fraude wrote in Oceana, “A man … who is part of an institution, who has devoted himself to a cause—or is a citizen of an imperial power—expands to the scope and fullness of the larger organism …. His thoughts are wider, his interests less selfish, his ambitions ampler and nobler.”
Nineteenth-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli stated in a famous dictum: “I have endeavored to develop and strengthen our empire, believing that combination of achievement and responsibility elevates the character and condition of a people.” Developing and strengthening an empire the right way builds character in people! An empire transcends the individual, the self—it transcends politics and petty divisions. That motivation makes leaders stronger, and it makes followers into leaders. And if your empire is a force for good in the world, it is amazing what you can achieve!
A Vision Lost
Look at America and Britain today, though, and it is clear that this noble sense of cause is absent. Fewer and fewer are willing to dedicate or lose their life for what our nations stand for. As a whole, our peoples cannot even agree on what our purpose should be.
The very concept of empire has been viciously attacked. That thinking infected the British Empire for decades and led to its dissolution and fall. After World ii, people began using the word “commonwealth” to describe Britain rather than “empire.” Only nations that want to build an empire like that word. (Germany, for one, loves it.) That change revealed a total turnaround and retreat from everything that made the British Empire so successful! And today, even Britain’s commonwealth is accused of being a racist and oppressive institution—a ridiculous, ignorant, baseless charge.
Did you know that God was the one who gave Britain its empire and who made America such a dominant power? This should be a source of great pride to our nations—not shame!
Regarding the birthright nations that descended from the great patriarch Abraham, God promised He would make one (Britain, modern-day Ephraim) an empire and the other (America, modern Manasseh) the greatest single nation ever to exist (Genesis 35:11). He promised to give them strategic sea gates that would protect them and allow them to overcome their enemies (Genesis 22:17). When God wants to make a nation into an empire, He really can make it great!
Britain and America did an enormous amount of good in the world, compared to other empires in history. Yet even their power and beneficence is only a small foretaste of what God is going to accomplish with His Empire, the Kingdom of God!
A Different Kind of Empire
God revealed to the Prophet Daniel a vision of a different kind of empire. He prophesied of four world-ruling empires that would rise and fall throughout history.
Daniel explained this to the king of the first of those empires, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (Daniel 2:31-33).
This prophecy provides a stunning overview of world history! Daniel explained that the statue’s head of gold represented the rule of the Babylonian Empire (verses 37-38). This empire would be overcome and succeeded by the Medo-Persian Empire, which would subsequently be supplanted by the Greek Empire, which would then be overtaken by the mighty Roman Empire.
Daniel described that empire: “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise” (verse 40). What a fitting description of Rome at its imperial peak! These Gentile empires truly can be brutal. Though they had some stunning achievements, at their worst they bring terrible suffering and oppression! Their legacy is very different from that of the empires of Abraham’s descendants.
Notice how the quality of metal in the statue degenerates as it progresses, symbolizing how these four successive empires degenerate in their dignity and culture over time. Mankind is not getting better and better.
Look at history, and look at what is happening in this world and how evil people can be to one another. In Daniel 7, a companion prophecy, these four successive empires are symbolized by beasts—ferocious beasts that love to kill!
Note briefly, too, the details recorded about that last empire—with two legs (symbolizing Rome’s division into two parts, with capitals in Rome and Constantinople), feet of iron and clay, and finishing with 10 toes (Daniel 2:41-43). Put together with other prophecies, we recognize that this describes the modern-day resurrection of that old Roman Empire, coming together in Europe today. It is disunified like iron mixed with clay, and it will ultimately include 10 kings (e.g. Revelation 17:12).
The great majority of this extraordinary prophecy has already been fulfilled, step by step! So we can be confident that the remaining details are certain to come to pass.
Notice, then, what happens next. Daniel 2:34-35 show a great stone smashing the entire statue, breaking it to pieces and reducing it to powder that is carried off by the wind! Then the stone grew to become a great mountain that filled the whole Earth. Verse 44 explains the symbolism: “And in the days of these kings [the 10 European kings in the end time] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
We are living in the final days before this magnificent Empire of God is established! God is about to break all these other empires to pieces. We can thank God for that! Watch world events, and you quickly realize you wouldn’t want anything other than this outcome!
The history of empires and nations teaches us that men cannot rule over men. Only God can rule justly. He is about to establish His Empire in place of the governments of this world. And He is right now preparing an organized government of leaders who will rule as He guides and directs.
When that Empire is established, it will bring beauty to this world and to the universe that is truly breathtaking!
Preparation and Training
The Bible is full of wonderful details about the rule of this coming Empire. It truly will lift human life away from barbarism and savagery—and toward a transcendent civilization like this Earth has never seen!
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote a booklet called The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like. Its Bible-based descriptions of that Empire are truly inspiring! We will gladly send you a free copy upon request.
That coming government will be implemented by Jesus Christ, overseeing resurrected and glorified servants of God like the Prophet Daniel.
Yes, by giving him responsibilities and even throwing him into close contact with mighty kings, God was actually preparing Daniel for rulership in this coming Empire. After hearing Daniel’s prophecy, “the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. … Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:46, 48). Daniel truly was trained and prepared for kingship!
Daniel’s friends, too—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—were exalted (verse 49). They went on to bear powerful witness for God, standing up to one of the most potent and terrible leaders in world history without flinching (Daniel 3). You can be sure that they too thus qualified for high office in God’s Kingdom.
These men received high offices even within physical kingdoms during this age of man. God knows that with men who respond to Him like that, men who believe in God’s noble cause enough to sacrifice anything for it—even to die for it—He can do great things! He can use their help in building an empire that will truly change the world!
Through the ages, this same scenario has played out in the lives of dozens, hundreds and many thousands of saints whom God has called out of this world: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Hannah, Samuel, David, and so many others. God prepared these people for imperial rule! The Apostle Paul and all his assistants—Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Luke, Mark, Philemon—were all specifically prepared to govern the Gentiles! And they will do so with authority and love that will truly be a blessing to those they govern.
In his World Tomorrow booklet, Mr. Armstrong wrote about all the saints through the ages who are about to be resurrected to hold high office in God’s coming Empire: “Every one of these men was freed from the shackles of pagan teaching, tradition, erroneous knowledge, false sense of values, and pagan customs. Every one was trained in God’s way, based on God’s law, and the principles of that law. They were trained in the ways of righteousness. They became skilled in applying the principles of God’s commandments, laws, statutes and judgments.”
Throughout this age of man—with all its barbarism and savagery—God has been building the leadership of the World Tomorrow. There are people qualifying right now for a job in that Empire of God!
God’s Kingdom is this world’s only hope! And God’s Church today is in the final phases of preparation for its establishment on Earth. The Church is, in fact, that Empire in embryo! God “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” already (Revelation 1:6).
Anyone who has that “empire vision” will live their life with great purpose! Anyone with that lodestar—to build God’s Empire and all that it stands for—will be highly motivated to do the work of God, whatever it requires.
In a.d. 70, when the Jews were about to be destroyed, they believed that these prophecies of Daniel were going to be fulfilled in their time. So they fought fiercely because they believed the Messiah was coming!
If you have that hope in your mind—you know Jesus Christ is about to come and you want to help Him bring justice, civilization, prosperity, freedom and hope to all people—then you are going to be one fierce spiritual warrior. That will really make you stand up for God!
That is a vision that changes you! It smashes your selfishness, expands your thinking, and makes your ambitions ampler and nobler! It elevates your character and condition. It turns lowly people into great people, and transforms them from followers into leaders!
Get this vision into your mind. See what God is about to achieve, and it will motivate you in any difficulty or trial you may face. This transcends everything on this Earth!
An empire is coming that will never be destroyed! It will bring God’s loving government to every human being on Earth and beyond. God is offering you the unparalleled opportunity to be a part of that. Respond to Him, obey Him, stand for Him—and allow Him to start your imperial training today!