The Leper of Europe

Britain’s plagues are more than a mere run of bad luck—and they’re driving the island nation ever further from the Continent.
From the May 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

Some have characterized it as merely “a run of bad luck.” Britain is crumpling under a string of nasty events that are testing its patience, its attitude and its will. Polly Toynbee of London’s Guardian newspaper characterized Britain as “A country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

Alone, none of these problems necessarily would have raised many eyebrows: terrible weather, subway strikes and train disasters, the ignominious closures of its much-touted Millennium Dome and Millennium Bridge, highly publicized cases of murderous doctors. But then came foot-and-mouth disease: In February a raging case of the plague slammed Britain’s livestock industry. With its countryside dotted with macabre pyres of burning carcasses and mass animal graves, widespread quarantining slowing tourism to a crawl and no end in sight, the government faces a bill approaching $4.3 billion for tackling the epidemic. To top it off, in April a major outbreak of tuberculosis hit a school in the Midlands of England, which medical officials fear will erupt throughout the community.

Is it just bad luck?

In the long view, these setbacks lately seem endemic to the unhappy mother country. Formerly the greatest empire the world has ever known—even at its apex, the vast, glorious and powerful Roman Empire never equaled the British Empire at the peak of its power—Britain has made a staggering decline this past century. After two world wars that decimated the strength of its manpower, a slow and steady process of devolving its empire and commonwealth, an earnest, decades-long but never-quite-successful campaign to hitch itself to a uniting Europe, and a complete revolution in morality, culture and religion, it has found itself sidelined, languishing in minor-power status, the victim of a seemingly endless stream of such “luck.”

Can the British really afford not to take responsibility for their fate? Was it luck that gifted to them their prosperous, globe-girdling empire? Was it luck—merely a hapless reversal of fortune—that ripped it from them?

For answers, we must look far beyond the immediate perspective offered by recent events.

Nearly 3,000 years ago, God prophesied exactly what would happen to the British Empire. He foretold, with precision, its rise and its decline. He anticipated the very curses that Britain is experiencing today, including its foot-and-mouth epidemic. And—the world would do well to note—He laid out well in advance the precise set of circumstances that would precipitate Britain’s eventual demise!

The fact is, the present problems are far from being a run of bad luck. If the people of Britain find themselves overwhelmed by the way things have been going, they should consider God’s vision of what is to become of their country—and realize that what is assailing them now is actually a tremendous blessing. What the British are experiencing is the concerned, chastening hand of a loving Father trying to deliver them—or, at least, a very few of them who will heed—from the far worse events that will soon descend on their country. God is trying to send Britain a message.

Cursed in the Field

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine [cattle], and the flocks of thy sheep” (Deut. 28:15-18).

God said He would pronounce these curses against the nation of Israel, should they disobey Him. That ancient, biblical nation did turn its back on God, and suffered as the prophecy warned they would. But the people of Israel did not die out. Through the centuries, they survived defeat, dispossession, captivity and slavery—and their descendants still live today.

Incredible as it may sound, what we are witnessing in Britain is a fulfillment of these very same curses—upon one very prominent descendant nation of ancient Israel!

We have proof of the biblical identity of Britain in our booklet by Herbert W. Armstrong, The United States in Britain in Prophecy. Though U.S. courts presently have stripped us of all Mr. Armstrong’s other material, this is an uncopyrighted version of this astounding truth. It gives a good introduction to this most important of keys to understanding Bible prophecy. This book shows the source of the unparalleled abundance enjoyed by modern Britain, as well as explaining what is presently happening and what will occur in the near future.

A century ago, with the British Empire approaching its peak, the British agricultural industry was the envy of the world. Its natural farming practices, based on small farms using rotational multi-cropping , led the British farmer into a close conformity with the natural laws of the land he farmed. These practices spread throughout the British Empire with similar positive results.

In those days, herbivores were treated as herbivores, feeding naturally off the sweet grasses that grew in the home meadows and fields of the mother country and swept across the British dominions around the world. The empire and commonwealth enjoyed a robust herd of prime breeding stock.

Then something happened.

The industrial revolution spawned a farming revolution in Britain. The farmer lost the contact he had with the land while plodding behind a horse-drawn plow. He got up onto the seat of a new-fangled machine called a tractor, which belched fumes from the fossil fuel that ignited its internal-combustion engine. Looking for ways to force more from his land, he replaced natural, organic methods of replenishing the nutrients of his soil with synthetic fertilizers and chemical compounds. Soils died as a result. Crops became diseased and weakened in natural food content. Monoculture—single crops consuming vast acreage, lacking the requisite crop rotation to retain soil balance and nutrients—became the norm.

Then the farmer turned his hand to changing the age-old grazing practices of his herds of cattle and sheep. Driven by greed from profits, he ignored the obvious—that God had intended these beasts to live off the herbage of the land (Gen. 1:30). The horrible outcome was the cannibalizing of Britain’s cattle: feeding them offal, ground meat offcuts, ground cattle bone meal, cattle and chicken waste.

It should come as no shock that such imbecilic, unnatural practices had devastating kickbacks. In 1985 the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (bse) was detected, a fatal brain disease which progressively destroys the nervous system (hence its more common name, mad cow disease). As it spread, government advisers, bureaucrats, politicians and farmers argued over its seriousness and its possible effects. By 1992, mad cow had become epidemic. After subsiding, it exploded again in 1996—and by this time scientists had linked bse to its deadly human counterpart, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The 1996 mad cow epidemic effected dramatic changes in Britain’s livestock industry, as British beef exports were largely banned and farmers experienced an average 40 percent drop in income. Many consolidated their operations, creating larger holding pens and slaughterhouses with greater concentration of animals—a situation, according to Britain’s ministry of agriculture, ripe for spreading disease quickly.

That’s just what has happened. As if mad cow disease wasn’t bad enough.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak was confirmed on February 20 of this year. A March 26 U.S.News & World Report article reported speculation that it was the result of an Iraqi bioterrorist attack. Whatever the cause, it spread ferociously. All animal, meat and dairy exports were instantly banned. Hunting was halted. Still, over the following days and weeks, new cases began emerging with forbidding speed—far quicker, as a result of modern food production and distribution methods, than any prior plague of its kind. All movement of livestock was suspended; nature reserves and livestock parks closed; horse racing, sporting events and other tourist activities stopped. It wasn’t long before supermarkets began reporting meat shortages. Then the government started its slaughter campaign.

Over 2 million animals, both infected and healthy, have been condemned for culling to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth. Britain has called upon its army to assist in the ghastly mission of disposing of the carcasses—transporting live animals in leak-proof containers, slaughtering them and dumping them by the tens of thousands into deep, gargantuan mass graves. “It is an apocalyptic task. This is a mass problem,” said Brigadier Alex Birtwistle, who commands the army deployed in an area hit particularly hard by the virus. Already more animals have been slaughtered than in a devastating 1967 outbreak of foot-and-mouth. The government estimates that more than 4,400 British herds will be infected by June.

True to the words of the prophecy in Deuteronomy, Britain is being cursed in the field. That prognosis continues, “Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them” (Deut. 28:31).

Aggravating Europe

Within just over a month from the outbreak of foot-and-mouth, the disease had spread all over Britain, including Scotland and Wales, to Ireland, and—much to the dismay of Europeans—even across the English Channel to France and Holland. Now Europe faces a 94 percent ban on its beef exports, and it is angrily putting the blame squarely on Britain.

As has been the case repeatedly since the Second World War, Britain—the former empire, the fearsome superpower—is being looked upon by continental Europe as a liability. The same thing happened in 1996. Fierce agitation with Britain welled up on the Continent, particularly in Germany, when European Union beef exports were banned because of the British mad cow scare. Europe’s agricultural industry has been hit hard, twice now.

Europeans are heaping scorn on Britain, calling it “Plague Island” and “Septic Isle.” As Jonathan Freedland lamented in the Guardian on April 4, “For them, foot-and-mouth is not an isolated, freakish episode but part of a continuum—with bse the defining event…. Foreign observers are linking foot-and-mouth not only with our agricultural plight, but with the very way we function as a society. Italy’s L’Espresso cited our stubborn rates of poverty, the Hatfield rail disaster and the Real ira’s ongoing campaign of bombing, as well as the animal epidemics, as proof that Britain was a nation under a ‘curse.’” Talk is intensifying over whether Europe would be better off without Britain altogether.

These are merely steps in an inexorable march toward the fulfillment of Britain’s prophesied end—plainly explained by Herbert Armstrong in The United States and Britain in Prophecy over 50 years ago!

While building its empire, Britain was proudly independent of Europe. But in the midst of its precipitous decline, its relationship with Europe has been marked by cautious, often awkward efforts at joining forces. This uneasy association is an accurate measuring stick of just how far Britain has fallen.

Britain emerged from World War ii, having fought European foes, clearly with the upper hand. But the war had taken a heavy toll on its manpower and wealth. Its economy was left in a shambles. Only through austerity measures such as rationing and borrowing heavily from other countries was Britain able to stay afloat in the years after the war. It was repeatedly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

As the United Kingdom’s economy floundered, the European Common Market began to take shape. Britain, at first too proud to join, soon realized that it was actually too weak to stop it and too small to compete with it. In short-sighted desperation, it tried to hook up with its former enemy. However, its appeal to join the Common Market was bluntly turned down by Germany and France. It applied for membership in the European Community in 1961. France vetoed it. In 1967 Britain again applied for full EU membership and was again dismissed.

The Britain-Europe relationship has been difficult and problematic throughout the intervening years. Now the United Kingdom is a part of the European Union, though its choice to stay out of Europe’s new common currency has generated no shortage of friction with the big players in Europe—primarily Germany. The partnership has hurt both sides! “Ephraim [Britain], he hath mixed himself among the people…. Strangers [i.e. foreigners] have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not” (Hos. 7:8-9). Despite a groundswell of popular conviction that they should separate from Europe, Britain’s present government is as pro-Europe as they come.

What significance does Britain’s role in Europe have in regards to its present domestic problems? The answer is that if this country does not wake up and accept its correction in the form of this chain of frustrating but manageable trials, its dealings with Europe will end in a tribulation far more difficult to ignore.

Britain’s Warnings

God never intended Britain to join with Europe. In fact, their ill-fated efforts to do so have revealed fatal weakness and lack of trust in the Source of their national greatness—and at the same time portended the downfall of their country.

But beleaguered Britain has received, and ignored, several strong warnings!

The Trumpet’s parent publication, a monthly prophetic newsmagazine called the Plain Truth, began warning in the interim years between the two world wars that Britain would lose its empire. Through its several decades under the editorial eye of Mr. Armstrong, the Plain Truth reported in detail the curses that were increasingly plaguing Britain, all the while forewarning that they were merely the prelude to far worse curses.

A number of notable Plain Truth articles throughout the 1960s in particular detailed Britain’s woes at the time, which were considerable: economic problems, low food production, struggles with defining its commonwealth, racial tension, a burgeoning and unsustainable welfare system, notorious laziness and preoccupation with immoral entertainment. Even then, Britain began to be looked upon as inferior to Europe. Widely referred to as “the sick man of Europe” and “an international charity case,” it was certainly never considered integral to the economically uniting Continent. The Plain Truth even laid out, on more than one occasion, detailed steps that would turn Britain around and set them back on a course lined with blessings.

Consider, as an example, these paragraphs from a December 1964 Plain Truth article: “Relations between Britain and Europe will continue to deteriorate until ‘The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far…which shall not leave thee corn, wine or oil…he shall besiege thee in all thy gates…’ (Deut. 28:49-52).

“These prophecies reveal a soon-coming ‘siege’—a trading blockade—of modern-day Israel!

“Of all the nations that compose modern-day Israel, none is more vulnerable to such a trade embargo than the United Kingdom. Under present conditions, the British Isles are entirely unable to feed their population without massive food imports. Even during the strenuous agricultural efforts of World War ii, Britain was able to produce barely half her food requirements! Since then, population has increased, farming land diminished.

Yet the British public remains apathetic!… The new generation insists only on less work and more benefits. The welfare state, supported by each government in turn, encourages just such an attitude…. But as the cry grows louder for wage increases, unemployment pay, sick benefits, pensions, allowances, national assistance, grants and payments—the entire economystaggers, unable to stay afloat!”

Now, having stumbled through those tough times with no appreciable change in its behavior, Britain faces an intensification of its problems. Diseased with its cattle contagions and unrelenting “bad luck,” it is no longer merely “the sick man of Europe”—Britain has becomethe leper of Europe”!

God makes and unmakes nations. “He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again…. Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (Job 12:23; Isa. 40:15). He made Britain what it once was, and He is unmaking it today.

But God has not yet given up hope on reaching the British people. Strange as it may sound, the very fact that the nation is suffering is evidence of His perseverance and mercy. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons” (Heb. 12:6-7).

Shortly after Herbert Armstrong’s death in 1986, the warnings issued by the Plain Truth were taken up by Gerald Flurry and published in the Trumpet to be delivered to a new, largely more corrupt generation. His booklet explaining God’s condemnation of Britain in the biblical book of Hosea is a must-read—and we will send you a free copy upon request.

Perhaps the leaders of Britain responsible for its 300 million citizens would think this message silly or quaint. But even so, at least the 1.6 million readers of this issue of the Trumpet will have this warning set before them. Perhaps some of you will heed.

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away” (Hos. 4:1-3).

God told Britain what would happen. He has explained His reasons for bringing these curses upon them. Still, Britain toils on, trying to solve its problems with its own muscle and ingenuity. And instead of looking to God, Britain is relying on its “allies” like Europe—or, as the Bible refers to them, its “lovers.” “They are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers” (Hos. 8:9). (For the astounding proof that Assyria refers to Germany, request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)

In 1966, the Plain Truth made this important statement: “The big question: ‘What will it take to wake up the people of Britain?’ Will it take a terrible economic depression, or will it take national military defeat at the hands of a German-dominated United States of Europe?” (“Britain—‘Sick Man of Europe,’” Plain Truth, Oct. 1966; emphasis mine).

There the article referred to the prophesied ultimate fall of Britain!

As the Trumpet has often explained, and as the Bible makes clear to those who have the key to understand it, God prophesies that Britain will not learn its lesson except through total defeat and subjugation as slaves to a United Europe!

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord…. Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria [Britain is fulfilling this prophecy even as you read this article!]. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard…. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations” (Hos. 5:3-4; 7:11-12; 9:16-17).

Yes—what will it take to wake up the people of Britain? Will you wait until being besieged by a frightful foreign army, rounded up and thrust into captivity? Or will you accept God’s correction and heed God’s warning now?