Mixing Iron and Clay
News of the present giant leap in European Union expansion should wake Americans out of their post-Cold War sleep more than fears of Osama Bin Laden, or terrorism!
Last month, the European Commission approved the absorption of Eastern Europe into the European Union. Ten countries, including several that were once dominated by the former Soviet Union, are now set to join the EU in May 2004. The unprecedented move will suddenly increase the number of EU nations from 15 to 25, and the Union will gain 75 million more people.
We are witnessing the emergence of the world’s next superpower!
Yet, this coming world-ruling power will be a mixture of iron and miry clay (Dan. 2:33)—an incongruous mix that can only be held together for a short time, and only by ruthless autocratic rulership. This is already becoming visible in the clumsy coming together of Western and Eastern Europe.
Why is this present expansion of Europe—whose final transformation is destined to take the world by total surprise—such an important sign? Because prophecy in the book of Daniel, chapter two, and elsewhere, clearly reveals that this geo-political beast must develop two legs—eastern and western—to its empire, before it can kick into action.
Knowledge of such important prophecies was taught by Herbert W. Armstrong from well before World War ii until his death in 1986. His words survive him as a living testament to biblical prophecies since fulfilled, and others on the verge of becoming reality.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The prophecy of Daniel 2, concerning the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a stupendous image, foretold the rise of other world empires to follow Babylon of 604 b.c. Following was to come the Persian Empire, to be succeeded by the Greco-Macedonian Empire, and it in turn by the Roman Empire of 31 b.c. to a.d. 476. It was restored by Justinian in a.d. 554, first with a Roman leadership, then a French in 800, then the German dynasty of Otto the Great called the Holy Roman Empire. It was followed by the Habsburg Austrian dynasty, and by a brief ‘restoration’ under Mussolini, when it ‘was, and is not, and yet is’ (Rev. 17:8), this in turn is to be followed (and is now forming) by a united Europe … covering both East and West Europe, as pictured by the feet and toes of Daniel 2:44” (Member and co-worker letter, June 22, 1983; emphasis mine throughout).
During his 55-year ministry, Mr. Armstrong wrote extensively about the final resurrection of that empire. “But suddenly, unexpectedly, as biblical prophecy reveals, the whole world will be startled and shocked into wonder, to learn that a new third super world power has suddenly burst forth onto the world scene—a resurrection of the medieval Holy Roman Empire by a union of 10 nations in Europe—very possibly five in Western Europe, and five broken loose from the Communist orbit in Eastern Europe!” (Member and co-worker letter, Dec. 27, 1981). Amazingly, he made these Bible-based predictions long before the fall of the Berlin Wall!
Just a year prior to his death, Mr. Armstrong was still writing about this all-important prophecy. In a letter dated February 25, 1985, he powerfully warned, “For more than 40 years now the Plain Truth has been proclaiming an outstanding series of Bible prophecies of something due soon to occur in Europe that will change the whole world and shake up the lives of every one of us. Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 2 pictures 10 nations in Europe in our time right now, as the 10 toes on the two feet of the great symbolic image. Five of these toes picture five nations in Western Europe and five in Eastern Europe.”
Mr. Armstrong went on to hint that rather than rule over specific nations as such, the 10 leaders prophesied to form this end-time union may be ruling over 10 power blocs—divided between an east side and a west side, along the lines of what happened in the fourth century when the Roman Empire was split between Rome and Constantinople.
What Mr. Armstrong was looking for years ago we can now see openly taking place!
In 1985 Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We are now looking for the tenth and last resurrection of the Roman Empire—the seventh head of this Beast of the 17th chapter of Revelation (Rev. 17:12), which is also pictured by the 10 toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of Daniel 2:40-44. Since these toes were on the two feet that represented Eastern and Western Europe, there is a strong likelihood that this final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire will include Iron Curtain nations of Eastern Europe as well as nations in Western Europe. They will form a … gigantic world power probably as great or even greater than the USSR or United States of America” (Are We In the Last Days?).
Can the veracity of such astounding claims be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by biblical prophecy—in view of current events in Europe? Let’s look at the facts.
The western leg of the EU has been in place for some years. The eastern leg, a possibility on the books since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is currently being set up. Eastern European nations are being taken on board. The nations in question for the next phase of integration into Europe in 2004 are Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, plus the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus. This, as we will shortly see again in greater detail, is prophecy in the making!
As previous Trumpet articles have indicated, Europe’s new Mediterranean partners will provide important, strategic stepping stones for the Union’s ambitions southward into the Middle East and resource-rich Africa.
The nations that were east of the Berlin Wall and under Russian control during the Cold War will provide a buffer between the EU’s most dominant nation, Germany, and its eastern front with Russia.
So, the move not only builds an eastern leg to Europe’s empire, but gives a strategic and dangerous boost to a nation that, having sparked two world wars in the last century, already controls a fast-rising mega-power. “[T]he Nice Treaty … changes the power structure, shifting influence from small states like Ireland to large ones, like Germany” (San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 4).
Noteworthy is the fact that although this mega-power is in the process of taking on its final shape, Britain continues to show signs of indecision in its relation to the EU. This was true over the adoption of the euro and is very much so over the EU’s expansion. In fact, many British were caught napping. Whereas in many member states knowledge of EU enlargement is between 90 and 96 percent, according to a study conducted for the European Commission in October only 51 percent of people in the UK have even heard of the idea! This goes to show how peripheral Britain can be in EU decision-making on matters that really count.
Motives Behind Expansion
With its economy having already overtaken that of the U.S. as the world’s largest, the enlarged EU, with an expanded population of over 450 million, will soon greatly overshadow the U.S. in trade and commerce.
The Seattle Times, October 17, reported, “A single trading bloc would stretch from Portugal to Estonia. The addition of 75 million people to the 400 million who already live in the Union would increase the EU’s wealth by only 5 percent, because the newly eligible countries have relatively small economies. Nonetheless, the EU bloc is already larger than the United States. Its expansion could increase the political weight of Europe as a counterbalance to the overwhelming dominance of the United States in world affairs.”
Leading political analyst Charles A. Kupchan states the facts plainly: “[T]he EU is making a run at the United States” (Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 2002).
It has, after all, been no secret that a principle thrust behind Europe’s direction is to replace the U.S. as the dominant player on the world stage. “Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called for a ‘more integrated and enlarged Europe’ to offset U.S. hegemony. According to Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, one of the chief goals of the union is to create ‘a superpower on the European continent that stands equal to the United States.’ Göran Persson, the prime minister of Sweden, a country that long ago renounced power politics, recently remarked that the EU is ‘one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to U.S. world domination’” (ibid.).
Europe is making its challenge in a subtle fashion, but with amazing speed. The form in which it will become a serious and threatening rival to the U.S. is fast taking shape. In an indication of its direction, the EU is busily developing its own armed forces, to work independently of the U.S. The plan is to oust the U.S. from any say or power of intervention in all strategic matters directly affecting Europe as soon as possible.
With the ratification of the Nice Treaty, following Ireland’s yes vote, and with the support of two thirds of the Union’s population, Europe’s development is ahead of schedule. Now the EU’s immediate priority is to strengthen its governmental apparatus.
The United States of Europe
EU member states are busily debating the details of a Europe-wide constitution following the release of its latest draft on October 28. The European Convention, a forum of 105 national and European parliamentarians, plans to have a final draft ready for consideration by EU heads of government at a summit in June next year.
The framework document, published by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president who is chairing the commission, “raises the prospect of a massive overhaul of the EU” to accommodate the Eastern European countries due to join in 2004 (Independent, London, Oct. 29). Clear evidence, according to Euroskeptics, that a superstate is on the way is the formal proposal for the Union to be renamed the United States of Europe. Other names under consideration are European Community and United Europe.
Up to now there has been a certain vagueness about the internal structures and rigors of EU governmental institutions and the way they should play out their roles. This has been convenient, because it has allowed the union to be flexible and develop quickly, unfettered and unencumbered by limiting statutes and formalities. But now, with rapid expansion on the immediate horizon, the EU leadership considers more checks and balances, along with a formal constitution, necessary for adequate control.
What then does the EU intend to achieve with this new constitution, which is part and parcel of the expansion of Europe?
Part of the goal is to “simplify Europe’s Byzantine structures” (ibid.). This is necessary in order to successfully assimilate Eastern Europe without decision-making processes grinding to a halt.
In addition, Europe wants to develop a more clearly delineated global identity, which, it is hoped, will go a long way to giving the EU a single voice on diplomatic issues. The text of the new draft outlines aims to give the EU the legal power to sign treaties and sit on international bodies.
One proposal being considered is dual citizenship, which would give all EU nationals both national and European citizenship—freedom to live and vote in any part of the Union. Most euro politicians are undeterred by murmurs about the technical difficulties, which heel-dragging British technocrats say make such a project untenable.
For the weak-hearted, a long-awaited exit clause would create the option of voluntary withdrawal from the Union for individual member countries. It stands to be seen whether Britain—prophesied not to form a part of the final Eurobeast, still outside the eurozone and always complaining about central EU issues—might welcome this mechanism as a dignified way of bowing out.
A powerful new office of president of the EU, who would report to national leaders, is also being proposed. This idea is not popular among the smaller states, which fear a loss of influence to the larger EU countries.
Iron and Clay
The sudden expansion of Europe stands to be one of the most startling political feats ever. Yet, questions about the feasibility of the expansion abound. This eastward expansion gives rise to seemingly unsurmountable problems.
The integration of such a disparate mishmash of vastly different countries and cultures—many of which, from the Middle Ages up to modern times, were at war with each other—presents a daunting challenge in itself. Comparing, for example, Spain to Denmark, Ireland to Bulgaria, Poland to Italy, Lithuania to France, Cyprus to Germany, Portugal to Sweden, is comparing apples to oranges.
Further, the economies of most of the Eastern nations being incorporated are much weaker than the majority of established EU nations, giving rise to inevitable financial nightmares as the integration process proceeds. Fundamental issues to address include how enlargement will be financed and what payments the new members will receive. A major stumbling block concerns the Common Agricultural Policy—the biggest item in the EU’s budget—and how it will be affected by enlargement.
How then are the Eastern nations to be truly integrated, at breakneck speed, into an economic union? How will so many different nations in Europe, with such different cultures, be held together in tight union long enough to fulfill end-time prophecy?
The new composition of the Union —a mélange of seemingly incompatible countries—is in fact the fulfillment of prophecy, although precisely which countries will comprise the final Eurobeast may yet shift somewhat.
As described by Mr. Armstrong, the great image of a man in Daniel 2 symbolizes the four world-ruling kingdoms that have dominated the world from Nebuchadnezzar to this time, the fourth of which—the legs of iron, and feet of part iron and part clay—is the Roman 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. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (Dan. 2:40-43).
Miry clay and iron don’t make a good compound, just as the new composition of the EU will have difficulty being unified. Scriptures like Revelation 13:11-13 and 17:1-5 show that the mother of all worldly Christian religions, the Roman Catholic Church, will function as glue in this union (see p. 6).
Yet, the cohesiveness of mutual economic benefit within an economic union, bound by a common currency, arm in arm with the diplomacy, manipulation and initiatives of religion under the umbrella of the Roman Catholic Church, won’t be enough.
The composition of iron and clay, being fulfilled by the admittance of Eastern countries, will force the strengthening of the leadership structure of the EU. A formidable, powerful leader is going to have to step into the driver’s seat, to give the massive disjointed combine the direction it needs to hold together during the three and a half years referred to in your Bible as the Great Tribulation. The proposed creation of a powerful new presidential position to represent the whole of the Union augers this occurrence. The present power vacuum at the top of the EU, and the lack of legislated control to limit such an office, if unaddressed, would allow this world dictator unprecedented power when he has worked his way into that position.
The Bible tells us that the man destined to lead Europe will be extremely clever and astute, and will obtain control through flatteries (Dan. 11:21). The man controlling the European bloc will be given great authority. After suffering a sudden mind change (Hab. 1:11), he will achieve an iron grip on his power and become a tyrant, wreaking havoc and destruction (Matt. 24:21).
Note, however, that the Eurobeast—the 10 toes—comes just before the return of Jesus Christ, who destroys all worldly kingdoms and sets up His perfect government on Earth: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2: 44).
Prophecy is unfolding quickly, and that is what the expansion of the EU is all about. Though few know it yet, it is a great sign that Jesus Christ is about to return!
Most if not all the protagonists in the present EU expansion, whether in business, secular government, or the Catholic Church, do not fully realize where history is leading. But you can know. Heed the warnings you read in the Trumpet, and act on them!