Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] Why does Europe matter to the world, to you, and to Bible prophecy?
Europe lies at the heart of the world. It is the center to a great culture. Europe has produced some of the world’s greatest music, finest literature and exquisite art. 500 years ago it was from Europe that navigators ventured forth to explore distant lands and first circumnavigate the globe. Europe gave birth to the age of exploration that changed the world.
Tragically, Europe is also home to devastating wars that have killed millions. The two world wars of the 20th century originated in Europe.
Since 1945, Europe has worked to build peace through a growing union of states called the EU. Yet recent years have seen terrorism shake Europe to its foundation, threatening to change its future.
Join us on this edition of Beyond Today here in Europe as we examine: “Why Europe Matters.”
The Berlin Hauptbahnhof or railway station is a symbol of modern transportation. From here, you can travel throughout the continent.
Other than a vacation trip where you might visit places like London, Paris or Rome, why should you be interested in Europe? How do the events and history coming out of this region impact your life? Why should you seek to understand and care? Why should what happens in Europe matter to you?
Let’s go back a little more than 100 years ago. Imagine you are here in Berlin. You can listen to the stirring music of Beethoven, Mozart. You can read great literature by any one of dozens of European authors. Every day brings news of an amazing technological breakthrough. You can buy clothing from Asia, food from Africa and if you have the money—you travel virtually anywhere in the world you desire. You are living in a wealthy, prosperous global world. You are a European. There is no reason to think the world order would not continue indefinitely. Your future seems bright and hopeful. The world is at peace.
But overnight this world is shattered.
War breaks out and the world is aflame. Within 35 years, at the conclusion of two world wars, 100 million people would be dead from war, starvation, genocide and pure human evil unleashed. And this city, Berlin would be reduced to people starving and cold and without hope.
And you wonder how and why did this happen. What does it all mean? What was it all for? If you had been alive then, and lived through that experience, you would want to know the answers to those questions. You would need to turn to a source that gave you real answers based on truth. No more human philosophy, failed religion or utopian political ideas, for they have all failed. Where then, would you turn?
So, why should you be interested in Europe? And why does Europe matter?
My father came from a farm in Missouri to the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 to help liberate Europe. By God’s grace he survived, returned home and I was born.
I have a great deal of interest in Europe’s history, and in future years you will as well. What happens in Europe matters to the world.
For more than 10 years Beyond Today has focused on Europe and the Middle East from the perspective of Bible prophecy. Though rarely given serious consideration, what God sees within Europe is what really counts. His political and geographic vision is far sharper than our own. He understands and sees trends and happenings as no human being or nation does. And our Creator has revealed His thoughts through the Bible.
Beyond Today does not rely on human insight to discern the lessons of history or understand the world today. We rely on the Bible as God’s Word of instruction for mankind. Here at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum we have pieces of Bible history that help us visualize one of the most dramatic scenes from prophecy. Here is proof the Bible’s words are true.
Hundreds of years before Christ, the prophet Daniel foretold future occurrences in Europe and the Middle East.
Daniel’s prophecy describes an image dreamed by a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar. The dream is an image of a man with a head of gold, a chest of silver and belly and thigh of bronze and legs and feet of iron and iron mixed with clay. It is a fantastic image. Daniel’s interpretation of this dream describes four great kingdoms beginning with the one in which he then lived, Babylon. It’s a vision of world history from that day to the modern world, our time, and into the immediate future. It is the template to understand what really matters in today’s world.
Daniel tells King Nebuchadnezzar that his reign in Babylon is the head of gold. Babylon, the fabled city, the kingdom of the ancient world. Babylon, the name from the Bible that represents everything that stands against the righteous rule of God.
What was Babylon? It was a great city built on the Tigris River in ancient Mesopotamia. The Bible shows its origin as the city of Babel where men came together to build a tower unto the heavens. They said, “Come, they said, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
God concluded, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:4-6).
God came down and confused their language. Men were scattered over the face of the earth. For a time, the building of the grand city ceased. But the story did not end. Their ambitions to build a society competing with God were only temporarily set back.
What began at Babel was Satan’s human system to counter the plan and purpose of God. What began at Babel was Satan’s age-long effort to build a common humanity apart from the knowledge of God. It is the effort to create a kingdom of a different god on this earth.
Here in the Pergamon Museum are remains of the ancient city of Babylon. What you see are actual panels taken from the throne room of Nebuchadnezzar, the same Nebuchadnezzar Daniel served. Imagine, as Daniel interpreted the dream of the king he stood next to these very panels. What they must have heard!
Before these panels, Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of gold. “You, O king are a king of kings, For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength and glory; …where ever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and he has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold” (Daniel 2:37-38).
He tells him that other kingdoms will come after him. The most telling part of the image is the ten toes made of a mixture of iron and clay. The toes represent an unstable mixture of people and nations. The features of the image move us from the time of Babylon to the time when a stone cut without hands strikes the image on its feet, destroying it and then fills the entire earth.
What Daniel sees is world history from his time to the critical moment when the Kingdom of God comes to earth at Christ’s coming. Daniel lives at the time of the head of gold—Babylon. When Christ returns, Babylon will still be a factor in world events, and Europe will be a factor in that story. There is no other region from history that can fit what Bible prophecy describes.
The ten toes of this image correspond with another group of ten rulers, a superpower union, featured in the great ending prophecy of the book of Revelation.
Here’s what it says: “And the ten horns which you saw 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 to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:12-14).
These ten kings appear in the context of a great end time system called: “Mystery, Babylon the Great…” Babylon here is shown as an elaborate adorned woman holding a gold cup full of abominations and the filthiness…” It is said of this woman that “she is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” She is described as “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).
This description fits a great religious system. It has long been identified with the church centered in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church.
The woman is carried by a great scarlet beast that has seven heads and ten horns. This beast represents the political systems first identified in the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream beginning with Babylon. What began there flowed to Persia, Greece and then Rome. What began in Rome then migrated to successive kingdoms in Europe. John’s revelation is of this great political and religious system at the time of the end of the age—our day today. And its meaning is important to you!
These fantastic scriptures of Revelation, a “beast” with a woman riding its back, have been applied to the developing European Union. This woman, called Babylon the Great, is shown riding this enormous beast figure over a succession of epochs. The biblical symbolism here is of a church-state union—the woman representing a religious entity and the Beast a major geopolitical power. What we see described here is a power yet to arise in its final form on the world stage. A power that exerts far-ranging political and religious influence over people in all nations and ethnic groups.
So, why do we look at Europe and make this connection to Babylon? The answer is found by understanding something about Babylon. This is the ancient Ishtar Gate, one of the main gates into the ancient city. It was excavated in the 19th century and brought here to Berlin.
This gate was on the north side of the city and was one of the major entries into Babylon. An inscription found near the gate says it was built by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon and dedicated to the goddess Ishtar. We can see the images of dragons and bulls on the facade. You would approach the gate along a broad boulevard called the Processional Way, which is reconstructed in part here in the Pergamon Museum. You can see the lions placed on the walls along the way. This street and this gate was the scene each year of a great festival. Here were the parades and the crowds gathered to see the splendor and the glory of Babylon.
This entire scene was meant to strike awe into all who entered the city. Nebuchadnezzar wanted all to fear him and the power of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar’s power was in the ancient city of Babylon. As we look at today’s future Babylon, here in Europe at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, we come to understand something a little bit different to add to the story.
Europe today is not what Europe will be tomorrow. The world’s largest grouping of nations, today is going through a crisis of identity. Great Britain is exiting the EU. It’s the first nation to do so. And there are continuing financial crisis with poorer nations spending way beyond their means and having to be bailed out by the wealthier states, like Germany.
Russia on the east pushes at the fringes with propaganda coupled with attacks on Ukraine. And a weakened rather than a strong Europe is in Russia’s best interests.
Millions of immigrants from the failed states of Africa and the Middle East have strained the region’s social fabric. But the biggest threat to stability in Europe is the terror threat from radical Muslims inspired by ISIS and other terrorist ideas. France, England and Germany, and Brussels have been attacked. And more attacks can be expected until the day Europe wakes up, and realizes its survival hangs in the balance, and retaliates.
Europe as a union of nations and a power at the center of world affairs will not disappear. It may transform itself, but it will not go away. Europe has been at peace for more than 70 years and the present economic union is given credit for achieving this feat. But history and Bible prophecy show that this to not be the norm. It is an unfortunate truth.
Let’s go back more than 500 years ago to the great age of European exploration. Ships from Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain, France and others ventured out of this continent to all the lands of the globe. The world was transformed by that event. Where different nations and people with many languages and conflicting religions existed, they now came into contact with an idea called Europe. Europe was united in religion and a desire to gain knowledge and above all, to gain wealth.
As Europe spread itself around the world it created a common humanity. It created ties between people and nations based on commerce, culture and religion. This was what happened at the biblical Babel, when men said, “let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Babel was about one world, a common humanity.
But this came with a high cost in human lives. During this 500-year period, as Europe colonized the world there began a continual stream of money and goods flowing back to Europe. The wealth of the world was extracted from the nations and enriched Europe. As you tour the capitals of Europe you see the palaces, the grand buildings and all the symbols that were once empires that controlled other people from far flung nations.
Here is what Nebuchadnezzar boasted about what he had built. “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).
Babylon at its height during the time of the prophet Daniel was an awesome city of beauty, power and wealth. To look at the partial reconstruction that we saw at the Ishtar Gate was to see what Daniel saw. Ancient Babylon is gone. But a modern Babylon will rise in the years ahead.
Revelation tells us that the coming Babylon is a unique religious political system that is a “dwelling place of demons…[and] every foul spirit and unclean and hated bird” (Revelation 18:2). Babylon is physical extension of Satan’s demonic kingdom. It is Satan’s kingdom on earth showing every aspect of his defiant way of life.
We are told that every nation on earth has become intoxicated by her wealth, glamor and her politics and her culture. Her lifestyle is described as that of an immoral woman who indiscriminately trades sexual favors for power, wealth and relationships. It is a system that has grown overly rich and luxurious, sucking the wealth from other nations (Revelation 18:3).
Babylon the Great to come, is a complete culture and system built on religion, politics and economics that funnels the world’s wealth into the hands of a few. And when it fails, those who profited the most will mourn and wail as they see their vast wealth disappear.
Reading Revelation 18 with a modern perspective opens our understanding. It is describing our modern global world. What is described as Babylon is a highly sophisticated network of governments that allow trade between nations on the seas, in the air and on land. Babylon is a vast financial network of banks and financial houses that control the flow of money and effectively determines who can buy and sell in the global marketplace.
The Babylon of the future is also a spiritual and religious system that deceives the nations by sorceries. Religion and Babylon are intricately intertwined creating a deceptive veneer of good works, appearing as a benevolent great power. But God shows it has been responsible for the violent death of the true worshippers of Jesus—the saints. It says, “In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and all who were slain on the earth” (Revelation 18:24).
Now think about this.
You are a student of the Bible. You think you know all about Babylon and false religion. But beware. This Babylon will be cleverly deceptive and even religious God-fearing people can be taken in by the final appearance. Don’t be too sure that you know all there is to know. Babylon is a system we must understand if we are to escape the judgment God will bring upon it.
The highest cost of Europe’s idea was in human lives. As empires grew, as people were exploited, as wars of conquest were fought, it is estimated that more than 100 million people died from war, famine, starvation and other causes. Think about that number: 100 million people died for the idea of Europe. So that Europe could grow large, grow wealthy and say to the world, “Look at Europe! Look at our culture, our values, our ideas! Be like us. Be one people. Follow us!” Europe, the idea, is Babylon of old and Babylon of the future.
That is why we should read the words of God directed at the Babylon to come with this understanding. God’s judgment on Babylon lists her vast economic wealth in one very telling trading list in Revelation 18. The global behemoth to come trades in gold and silver, precious commodities, the finest of food and wine. This list reads like the world’s stock exchanges and trading floors. But the final line item on Babylon’s bill of goods is the most tragic. It says it trades in “the bodies and souls of men” (Revelation 18:12-13).
Here in Scripture, God gives the judgment on Babylon the Great—a final global economic power—it trades in “the bodies and [the] souls of men.” If we are to look to history to discern where we might find the seat of this coming power, we need look no further than the story of Europe. Europe sought to create a common humanity, a closely tied union of men and ideas through religion, economics, and power. European history will tell us what we need to know to understand these scriptures in Revelation.
Europe matters because it is here that the root begun in ancient Babylon settled. In Europe, the life blood of false religion conceived at Babylon, came to exist in the modern world. In Europe, the drive for control over all parts of civilization, first manifest in Babel came to refinement. Europe matters because it will be the place from which a final flowering of Babylon will burst upon the world with the promise of order and peace for all nations. Europe will be the mother to attract the gathering of peoples to her bosom, offering security and prosperity at a moment when it appears all may be lost.
Europe: Watch for some further crisis to appear and create the right conditions for a group of core nations to cede political and operational control to a power that can right the ship. It will come, and when it does, it will reshape Europe and possibly the world scene.
Everywhere you go in Europe, you see signs of the religious past and the religious present. This is the famous Castle Church in Wittenburg. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation have made it a landmark. I realize that much is made about the post-religious nature of Europe today. It is true that secularism has a dominating influence on European culture, but religion in Europe is not dead—far from it.
Historically, the only world region that fits the description of the power foretold in Revelation 17 is Europe. No other region in history has provided the narrative for a combination of political, economic and religious power that impacts so much of the world. No other region today can come close to providing the elements of this prophecy. None.
A few years ago, I stood in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna’s city center. It was an early Friday evening as people were leaving work and hurrying into the weekend. I watched the vast cathedral fill up with people coming and going for confession and quick prayers. Young and old streamed by me within the church and I thought, “This place is alive with activity!” I am reminded of the inscription on the cross in front of the Habsburg Palace that says, “Christus Hoffnung Europas.” Translated it means, “Christ the hope of Europe.”
At some point a crisis will arise whereby religion will be offered as the only solution for the stability of the world order. This is what we see in Revelation 17, a crisis so large that a core group of leaders will cede authority to a central power. This power will emerge vastly different than any other that we see today—yet, be firmly rooted in ancient and medieval tradition. Imbued with the power of popular religion, it will offer what seems the only viable hope of human survival and prosperity.
Why should you care what happens in Europe? Why does Europe matter? Because Europe will be at the center of future world events. We have seen Berlin, the capitol of a dominant German nation. We have seen a part of the glory of ancient Babylon. And we have seen where Europeans are working to create a state power unlike any the world has seen. And wherever you go in Europe the religious roots of the past are evident—just like the church behind me.
We are seeing the world shifting and the beginnings of new alignment in power and influence. A new “Babylon” will emerge. Now is the time to understand the words of this prophecy and heed the warning of God found in Revelation: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Let us all heed these words and pray fervently, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today , I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
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