Two Final Revivals-One Past and One Yet to Come
After Napoleon’s collapse in 1814, Germany and Italy remained divided and impotent for the next half-century. Each was divided into a number of small states and principalities and was rent with internal squabbles. By 1871, Bismarck had succeeded in uniting all of non-Hapsburg Germany under the Prussian king while Garibaldi succeeded in uniting all of Italy under the northern Italian king of Sardinia-Piedmont.
Fifty years after the inauguration of Garibaldi’s union, a strong man, who had visions of once again restoring the grandeur and glory of ancient Rome, came to power in this united Italy. His name was Benito Mussolini and he led his Fascists to power in 1922. The Fascists derived their name from the fasces of Imperial Rome. The fasces was an ax wrapped in a bundle of rods signifying unity and authority. It was carried by Roman consuls as a symbol of their office.
Since 1870, when King Victor Emmanuel’s Italian army had defeated the armies of the pope and captured Rome, there had been a tense standoff between the popes and the new rulers of Italy. Finally in 1929 Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the papacy, which established papal sovereignty over Vatican City and made Mussolini’s government the first Italian government in modern history to be recognized officially by the pope.
The Concordat signed between the papacy and Italy’s Fascist government was a prelude to one signed four years later between the papacy and the German Nazi government. The role of the Vatican in establishing both Mussolini and Hitler in power is detailed in Hitler’s Pope, the Secret History of Pius XII (John Cornwell, Viking, 1999).
Anxious to restore “glory,” Mussolini looked for places to conquer. Ethiopia, whose armies had routed the Italians out of East Africa in 1896, seemed a likely prospect. Mussolini’s armies successfully invaded Ethiopia and Somaliland. In 1936 he grandiosely proclaimed, from the balcony of the Palace Venezia, “after 15
centuries, the reappearance of the Empire on the fated hills of Rome.” Mussolini then proceeded to enter into an alliance with Adolph Hitler, ruler of Germany since 1933, that resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis of World War II. This sixth attempt at uniting Europe by reviving the concept of imperial Rome went down in flames and ignominy in 1945.
Many said in the aftermath of World War II that Europe’s day was gone. Cities, countryside and national economies were devastated throughout the continent, especially in Germany. Many thought Russian communism was the wave of the future in Europe. After all, Stalin quickly planted the Russian boot on as much of Europe as he could immediately after the war. The idea of a German-led Europe playing a dominant role in world affairs was something that most observers said could never again happen.
Yet in 1957, within 12 years of the end of World War II, the Treaty of Rome instituted a fledgling Common Market consisting of France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux states. This was the direct predecessor of today’s powerful European Union.
Prophecies for Our Day and Beyond
Is this European Union setting the stage for the future-a seventh and final attempt at resurrecting the grandeur and might of imperial Rome? When Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are compared, we see that the “ten horns” (kingdoms) sprang out of the Roman Empire, the seventh head of the Beast. The first three of these “horns,” the Vandals, Herulii and Ostrogoths, were “plucked up” at papal behest. This fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 7:7-8, 23-25, leaving the final seven “horns.” Six attempts to restore the empire of ancient Rome occurred with papal sanction. They have come and gone, and are now part of the historical record.
The story of the seven revivals (six in the past and one yet future) is also told symbolically in Revelation 17. Here we find pictured another Beast with seven heads and ten horns. This creature is different from that of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13-it is ridden by a woman, symbolizing a religious organization labeled “Mystery, Babylon the Great.” In other words, it is a perpetuation of the old Babylonian mystery religion now grown great and powerful.
The seven-headed creature of Revelation 17 is clearly the Holy Roman Empire, because “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits” (Revelation 17:9). In verse 10, the seven “mountains” are identified as seven kings or kingdoms. The creatures portrayed in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 were not ridden by the woman. The Beast of Revelation 17 is. Like its predecessor, it has ten horns on its final head. In Revelation 17, the ten horns represent ten future rulers who will collectively give their power and authority to “the Beast”-an end-time revival of the old Holy Roman Empire. The time setting is yet ahead of us because these ten will fight against Christ at His return (Revelation 17:12-14, 17).
This brings us back to the first vision that Daniel interpreted-the image in Daniel 2 of the two legs of iron ending in feet of iron and clay. The ten toes, five on each foot, were pictured as being smashed by Christ at His return prior to setting up the Kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 2:34-35, 42-44). The ten toes of Daniel 2 and the ten horns of Revelation 17 are synonymous, symbolizing ten rulers who will collectively support and give their allegiance to the seventh and final resurrection of the Roman Empire.
The legs of the Daniel 2 image represent the Roman Empire divided into the Eastern Empire and the Western Empire by the emperor Diocletian in 286ad. Bible prophecy focuses on the continuation of the western empire-the Beast ridden by the “woman.” Yet Daniel 2 shows that the eastern leg has a part to play in the final revival. The eastern Roman Empire continued with emperors ruling in Constantinople until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks overran the city and killed the last emperor, Constantine XI.
But that was not the end of the eastern leg. In 1472, 19 years after the fall of Constantinople, the pope performed a marriage ceremony between Ivan the Great, Duke of Muscovy, and Zoe, niece and heir to the last eastern emperor. “The marriage was of importance in establishing the claim of Russian rulers to be the successors of the Greek emperors and the protectors of Orthodox Christianity… Ivan took the title Tsar, [or Czar] i.e., Caesar” (Langer, p. 342). Thus, down through history, the Roman Empire continued as two legs. Two individuals claimed to be the successors of Caesar. In the Latin, Germanic, Roman Catholic realm of the West the form of the title was Kaiser. In the Greek, Slavic, Orthodox realm of the East it was Tsar.
The One who says He declares “the end from the beginning” reveals that eventually ten kings (or rulers) who are the successors of both the eastern and western “legs” will unite. They will form the last resurrection of the Roman Empire-the final embodiment of Babylon.
There is some bad news ahead. These final ten rulers will give their support to a coming union of church and state in Europe, which will aspire to world dominance. As Johannes Haller, a popular German historian who died in 1947, put it: “In the memory of the German people the old [Holy Roman] Empire lives on as a time of greatness and splendor that must one day come to life again” (“The Greatest Epoch of the German People,” 1944).
After an interlude of apparent peace and prosperity, this system will plunge the whole world into a hellish nightmare. Unless God were to intervene by sending Jesus Christ back to this earth, utter destruction would result and no flesh would be left alive (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30).
Yet beyond the bad news there is good news-really the best news possible. In the days of this final union of European rulers, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
By John H. Ogwyn
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