Are We Wrong About Europe?

For decades, we have predicted that a united Europe would take the world by storm. Recent divisions among EU leaders over the draft constitution have experts wondering about Europe’s future as a union.

When Europe lay in ashes at the end of World War ii, Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that the fractious continent would one day unite into a formidable union that would rise to the status of world superpower. He predicted that broken, burned‑out Europe would fulfill a key prophecy about a coming beast power—a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire that would plunge Earth into its third world war.

During the 1950s, when the European Coal and Steel Community was formed—and later that decade when France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were signing the Treaty of Rome—to become the foundation of the European Community, the Plain Truth magazine, which Mr. Armstrong published, was featuring articles with titles like “The Beast Is Rising Up,” “Birth of a Beast,” “Prophecy Marches On.”

When a treaty was signed in the 1960s merging the European Economic Community, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community—when a single Council of Ministers and European Commission were established for the unified communities—Plain Truth articles appeared declaring “European Unity Forges On” and “Giant World Power Rising Out of Common Market.”

Then, during the ’70s and ’80s, still long before the Iron Curtain had fallen and Germany had reunited, these prophecies were still being trumpeted in the Plain Truth: “A United Europe—Nearer Than You Think,” “Ahead—Religious Unity of Europe,” “Europe’s Common Market—Rising World Colossus,” “Western Europe: World Empire in the Making.”

In the early 1990s, after a drastic management and focus shift at the PlainTruth, the Trumpet picked up the mantle of Herbert Armstrong and continued the warning of Bible prophecies that referred to the coming European superpower. This occurred immediately after the Berlin Wall fell.

Today the world has indifferently accepted the notion of a united European continent, a single European currency, and a developing European defense force. It has accepted the idea that this Union’s laws trump those of member nations—that sovereign nations are giving up their individuality for the collective goal of continental cohesion—that a union of states now exists whose political, economic and military might rivals that of the once‑invincible U.S.

We have come to the time that we have prophesied about for years!

Or have we?

The European Union has come far, but never in its history have its bonds been tested as they have these final months of 2003.

In October, the EUlaunched an intergovernmental conference (igc) to finalize the text of the EU’s very own constitution—drafted over an agonizing 16 months by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and his 108‑member convention. What’s come of the igc has been nothing but more bickering and dissension for this “Union.”

On top of the political hurdles are Europe’s economic difficulties. As British political economist Rodney Atkinson told the Trumpet, “All the ingredients of an economic collapse in the European Union are in place. As in the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cause will be the economic failure of an impossible empire, the fiscal cost of supporting it and the ultimate refusal of the main paying state to meet its obligations” (emphasis mine throughout).

So we ask: Are we wrong about Europe? Is European unitydoomed to collapse?Is Europe trying for an “impossible empire”? Can this diverse continent really come together to form a stable union, much less a world‑dominating empire, as we say it will?

Chaos and Division

Because the bureaucratically lumbering EU faces a daunting task in May 2004 when 10 new member states join the federation, the now‑15‑nation coalition feels compelled to simplify its existing treaties and to overhaul its institutions. Enter the draft constitution, upon which the Union wants all 25 nations to agree—at least before May 2004, but hopefully before the end of this year. The EU expects the constitution to take full effect in 2006.

The debate over the draft constitution is a prime example of Europe’s division—and the success of the eight meetings of the igc from October through December will remain a barometer for the level of solidarity among these 25 nations.

Though aimed to simplify and unify, the draft is actually making things only more complex and discordant, and logically so. Getting 25 sovereign nations with starkly differing national interests, histories, philosophies, religions and economies to agree on a single document that speaks for each one of them is just as difficult—and decidedly more complex—as getting those 25 leaders to agree on which toppings they want on their pizza. Certainly they all still haven’t agreed on one currency. They obviously didn’t concur on one foreign policy when war was looming for Iraq.

Framers and advocates of the constitution went into the igc with the idea that, for efficiency’s sake, nothing should be changed. Some believe that to challenge one part of the draft would essentially mean having to redo the whole thing. Italy wants the ratification to be expedited, partly for glory:With the constitution agreed upon under Italy’s six‑month term of EU presidency (which ends December 31), it would turn into the Second Treaty of Rome. Others want this to happen on Italy’s watch mainly because the next presidential term will go to the Irish—and apparently European leaders have little faith in them leading the conglomerate to a solution. According to Italy’s foreign minister, “If there is no deal by December, ‘the Irish presidency will inherit a crisis, and I doubt that kind of situation can be resolved’” (Agence FrancePresse, Oct. 27).

But the forecast doesn’t look sunny for the December 31 deadline. As London’s Financial Times reported, “[T]he European Commission … warned that the road to a final agreement looked more perilous than ever. … In all, there are more than 100 areas in the policy‑related part of the constitution alone for which countries have submitted amendments” (Oct. 30).

Many of the issues come down to concerns among smaller countries that they are being bullied by Germany and France, along with other large states of the Union. Smaller states are afraid they will be swallowed up by a behemoth Union and lose their voice within the conglomerate. Some Eastern European states fear that, having gained their freedom from one federal (Soviet) empire, they are about to lose it to another.

For instance, the new constitution calls for a president of the European Council who will be elected “by qualified majority, for a term of two‑and‑a‑half years, renewable once.” This is intended to end the six‑month musical chairs that EUleaders have to deal with now. In addition to there being disputes over the extent of the president’s authority, smaller countries balk at the idea because they would miss out on their go at the top position. They also are concerned that this position will rival and weaken another arm of the Union, the European Commission, which has traditionally styled itself as the friend of smaller member nations.

Another major sticking point not just specific to smaller nations: The draft states that, of what will be a 25‑member Commission (with one commissioner from each nation), only 15 of them would have voting rights—the voting 15 would rotate through the member states (every five years). Framers of the draft constitution felt 25 voting members would make the Commission too large. But many fuss that the Commission should have a one‑nation‑one‑vote policy.

Other skepticisms arise over the creation of a European foreign minister position—“He shall conduct the Union’s common foreign and security policy”—showing the EU’s greater emphasis on a unified foreign policy. The UK doesn’t like the term “foreign minister,” because it implies a single government—but that is exactly what the EU is going for.

Britain also opposes the proposed common defense policy, which states that “Member states shall actively and unreservedly support the Union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity ….” Governments like Britain, however, insist on retaining a national veto over foreign policy and defense, and say this clause steps on nato’s toes.

Then, of course, there is the issue of religion. Throughout the arduous 16‑month drafting of the constitution, Giscard d’Estaing and friends cautiously and meticulously agonized over the issue. Instead of referring to a specific religion, they settled on a reference to “the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe,” stating that the Union “respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the member states.”

In an effort to please everybody, it seems the language didn”t please anybody. Several staunch Catholic nations want direct references to Christianity in the constitution (as does the Vatican). Other, secular democracies want no reference to religion at all. Some fear that a reference to Christianity, however historically accurate for Europe, will polarize it against the Muslim and Jewish world—at a time when it needs political leverage in its efforts to influence the Middle East.

The issues don’t stop here. Even if European leaders were to patch up their differences over the constitution draft, they still would have to get their publics to accept it. “If Europe’s voters distrust their own leaders, asking them to support a project run by a more distant elite in Brussels is doubly problematic …” (Financial Times, London, Sept. 17).

So there is still the problem of getting Europeans to throw out their own constitutions for the new Union document. This is yet another obstacle in the way of a unified Continent.

What the Bible Predicts

Let us ask again: Are we wrong about Europe? To answer this question conclusively, we need a basic understanding of what the Bible does prophesy for Europe, to know how it gels with current events. Only if we go to the “sure word of prophecy” (ii Pet. 1:19) can we truly understand events that are happening in Europe right now.

First, we need to understand that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle, and its prophecy is written in a great deal of code and symbolism. The Bible, therefore, does not use the terms “Europe” or “European Union” to describe the final resurrection of this beast that is soon to unleash its deadly power on the world. God will often use the historic name of this empire—Babylon, or Chaldea (Hab. 1:6), the first of the world‑ruling Gentile kingdoms that progressed into the Holy Roman Empire of Western Europe. The historic progression from that Babylonian system, as pictured by a great image in Daniel 2, eventually led to the Roman Empire, referred to as this symbolic statue’s “legs of iron,” while the final resurrection of the Roman Empire is typed by “feet part of iron and part of clay”(v. 33).

A prophecy about a beast in Revelation 13 is also devoted to the final resurrection of this empire—showing how it works in collusion with a religious beast—hence the term “Holy Roman Empire.” This political‑religious union is also depicted in Revelation 17 as a woman (symbolic of a church) riding a beast (symbolic of a Gentile‑dominated alliance).

One more important key to understanding prophecies pertaining to European powers is that “Assyria” is end‑time Germany (request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for proof of this). Bible prophecy shows that it will be Assyria, or Germany, that leads this Eurobeast.

Now we can begin piecing this prophetic puzzle together to see how this relates to Europe’s current dilemmas. Revelation 17:12‑13 states, “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”

Verse 12, with many other scriptures, indicates that the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire will include a coalition of 10 nations—or, perhaps, 10 groups of nations. But notice that they all have “one mind.”

That’s right. Despite the current wranglings over the draft constitution, Europe will become strongly unified—not barring a major crisis that might occur first. Revelation 17 shows that Europe’s alliance with a church—which throughout history has been the Vatican—will bring it the unity it so desperately seeks. This will answer the question of how both the governments and the populace of these nations will be unified.

This verse shows that, in the dispute over whether Christianity should be in the constitution or not, “Christianity” will win out. One way or another, Vatican City—“that great city” (v. 18)—will have its way!

Another factor that will cause the union to have “one mind” will be strong political leadership. The leadership currently is steered by the core states—France and Germany. As was stated earlier, smaller countries are griping about the larger nations’ “bullying tactics.” The Bible, however, says that the man who eventually leads a united Europe, whether a constitutionally appointed president or otherwise, will gain office “peaceably” and “by flatteries” (Dan. 11:21). Though we may now see exposed the true bullying tendencies of the large European states, it will not be through bullying that this politician will obtain his post as EU leader. It may be this very constitutional crisis that brings about this man’s rise to power—perhaps with him offering solutions to Europe’s afflictions.

This leader will be a highly skilled diplomat. The Bible shows that other countries, namely Britain and Israel, will go to him for help in foreign policy (see Hos. 5:13; 7:11). Daniel says that “by peace” he will “destroy many” (Dan. 8:25). Habakkuk prophesies that after he achieves this political office, “Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god” (Hab. 1:11). At this point, Bible prophecy refers to him as “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences” (Dan. 8:23).

What better person, along with the leader of Catholicism (soon to be replaced, upon Pope John Paul

iis imminent death, by an undoubtedly ultra‑conservative cardinal), to help bail Europe out of its current woes?

Europe’s Certain Future

Thanks to Bible prophecy, we can make confident assertions about Europe’s destiny. We do not, however, offer one rigid interpretation of the specific details of how these prophecies will come to pass. Based on the present political and economic crises within the European Union, we propose that the prophetic fulfillment of Europe’s destiny may not occur as it currently appears—with the euro as the singular currency, or even with the European Union as the official title of the conglomerate. It could even be the collapse of the monetary unit and the political structure as it stands today that furthers the fulfillment of these radical prophecies.

We currently see discussions between France and Germany, making plans for an alliance should the Europe of 25 fail. Another idea being floated—a two‑tiered Europe, with France and Germany included on one tier and some of the poorer nations of the Union on another—has been considered by Eurocrats since the early 1980s.

Even if the European Union fails in its current form—politically, economically, or otherwise—this we know: that a federal union of 10 nations or groups of nations, led by both a charismatic political and a religious leader, will rise to global dominance in the near future. And that union is forming right now. We can stake our lives on this!

The constitutional crisis will be resolved! Whether it culminates in the ratification of the current document and the preserving of the EU or comes about in an entirely different way, the future of Europe is certain: We know there will be a president whose term lasts more than six months; we know the Union will embrace its Christian—i.e., Catholic—roots; we know that larger states, particularly Germany, will carry the lion’s share of the weight within the EU; we know that a bloc of European nations will either rally behind or be forced to support one common foreign and defense policy. These things are sure!

Though Europe may appear, at a glance, to be an “impossible empire,” the division plaguing it today only further precipitates Bible prophecy! For out of these crises will appear strong leadership to thrust Europe to its geopolitical zenith.

Division Prophesied to Remain

There is another prophecy that will also help us make sense of the division in Europe—a certain amount of which will remain. The Bible acknowledges (and long ago predicted) that this end‑time power bloc would have a degree of division: Daniel 2 mentions the feet and toes of the great prophetic image being partly iron and partly potter’s clay—another prophecy we see fulfilled in embryo as Europe squabbles over these seemingly insoluble issues.

Verses 41‑42 state, “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 [brittle].” No matter how strong the union, no matter how much with “one mind” it functions, the kingdom will have elements of division in it.

Revelation 17:12 shows also how Europe’s leaders “receive power as kings one hour with the beast”—meaning, the unity will be brief. The final union, however bound under one political leader and one religion, will not remain unified for long. After all the havoc a united Europe wreaks on the world, prophecy states that it will be easily broken by an even mightier alliance from the East (Dan. 11:44) and eventually the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, pictured by the great Stone from heaven in Daniel 2:34‑35, 44.

Are we wrong about Europe? Do the current bickerings of European leaders serve to negate Bible prophecy? Absolutely not. We will soon see that, in fact, they will further the progression of God’s infallible predictions.

The divisions plaguing the European Union today are only bringing us closer to a time when terrifying leadership will take hold of this mighty continent—leadership that will send this world into abysmal suffering such as never has been. But they also bring us that much closer to the time when Jesus Christ will utterly shatter this dreadful beast, removing the world from its iron grip and establishing a perfect government, and a perfect constitution, based on God’s law of love and outgoing concern for fellowman!