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Shadows Over Europe

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Islam is on the rise in a continent once dominated by Roman Catholicism, but the Vatican is keen on maintaining what influence it can. You need to understand how ominous political and social developments in Europe will affect you in the years ahead.

Bible prophecy reveals that startling events in Europe are about to alter the course of world history!

Current events and Bible prophecy are converging in a remarkable manner in Europe. Shadows of the past are shaping the present and molding the future of this key part of the globe. These ominous shadows—like ghosts from the Middle Ages—represent well-defined historical forces that have influenced the direction of European history down through the centuries. These ghosts of history are rising again, to cast ominous shadows over the future of Europe and the world. Regrettably, our modern society—a consumer-oriented fantasyland—is so obsessed with immediate pressures and temporary pleasures that we are ignoring lessons history could teach us.

Major trends are emerging in Europe that have disturbing links to the past and definite links to Bible prophecy. Yet few seem to realize that Europe's past offers important insights about the present and future. Most modern scholars, writers and news commentators do not understand that the Bible explains the real significance of the dynamic transformations now occurring in Europe—and where these events will ultimately lead. The nations of Europe are moving toward a surprising and turbulent future that will dramatically alter the course of world history. You need to understand how the shadows rising over Europe will affect your life in the years just ahead!

The Southern Threat

One of the biggest shadows looming over Europe is the threat of terrorism by Muslim extremists. This threat casts an ominous shadow not only over Europe, but over much of the globe. Yet terrorist activity is only the most dramatic aspect of a growing threat to Europe from the south. In recent decades, Europeans have watched with increasing alarm the resurgence of Islamic culture—in their midst and along their southern borders. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world (World Religions, Keene, p. 144). Birth rates in Islamic countries are two or three times higher than for Europeans (who have a zero rate of growth). Muslims now comprise one-fifth of the world's population. High birth rates and lack of economic opportunities in many Islamic countries have propelled millions of immigrants toward Europe—where they now comprise nearly 10 percent of the population of some European countries.

This Islamic resurgence and waves of immigrants are both felt and feared in Europe—where many Westerners feel that "they are being invaded not by armies and tanks but by migrants who speak other languages, worship other gods, belong to other cultures, and, they fear, will take their jobs, occupy their land, live off the welfare system, and threaten their way of life" (Global Migration Crisis, Weiner, p. 2). In Europe, these fears have fueled hostility toward Muslims and have generated support for right wing, nationalistic, anti-immigration political parties. One French scholar lamented: "History, proximity and poverty ensure that France and Europe are destined to be overwhelmed by people from the failed societies of the south" (Strangers at the Gates, Miller, p. 80).

While liberal Western leaders speak of toleration, negotiation and co-existence in a multicultural society, the realities of history point in the opposite direction. For nearly 1,400 years the relationship between Islam and "Christendom" has been stormy and bloody with conquests and re-conquests, massacres and reprisals. In the 600s, Muslim warriors swept out of the Middle East, across North Africa and into Europe, bent on conquest, to spread their religion at sword-point. Around 1100ad, European popes launched the crusades—armed attempts to re-conquer the Holy Land. Thousands of knights "took the cross" and headed toward Jerusalem to fight battles "for God." However, Muslim armies re-conquered these areas and went on to capture Constantinople, much of the Balkans and besiege Vienna. For nearly 1,000 years, Europe felt a constant threat from the Islamic world to the south and east. Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington has observed, "Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt, and it has done that at least twice" (The Clash of Civilizations, p. 210).

What many in the West do not seem to realize is that Islam and Western democracy are simply not compatible (see "Islam and democracy: the impossible union," The London Times, May 23, 2004). In a democracy, common people make laws; Islamic societies derive their laws from their religion's holy book, the Koran. Leading Muslims have proclaimed that "the root cause of contemporary ills [is] the spread of democracy" and "only one ambition is worthy of Islam… to save the world from the curse of democracy" (ibid.). One sobering lesson of the last century is "the general failure of liberal democracy to take hold in Muslim countries" (Huntington, p. 114).

This incompatibility extends into the religious sphere. Islam and Christianity both claim to be the "true" faith. They are both missionary religions that seek to convert unbelievers—which includes all other religions. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God; Muslims say that God did not have a son and that it is blasphemy to say so. Many Muslims view Western, secular, materialistic, hedonistic societies as having "forgotten God" and as corrupting the world with licentious values spread by films, fashion and the media. This is why, as one Muslim militant stated, "We're not trying to negotiate with you. We're trying to destroy you" (The London Daily Telegraph, March 14, 2004). In country after country, the resurgence of Islam has led to a rejection and loathing of Western institutions and values that are viewed as cheap, degrading, inferior and as a threat to Islamic culture!

Perceptive observers recognize that the resurgence of Islam and the rise of Islamic terrorism are merely the latest chapter in the centuries-long struggle between Islam and "Christendom" for world supremacy (see A Brief History of the Crusades, Hindley). British historian Paul Johnson has written that "we are clearly entering a new phase of an old war" (ibid.). A prominent Muslim said a decade ago that the West's "next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world" (Time, June 15, 1994, p. 24). Others have noted that "Europe would be on the front line" in this emerging struggle between the West and Islam, and that a confrontation with Islam could "serve to strengthen the European identity… at a crucial time for the process of European union"—a fact that could be exploited by European leaders (Huntington, p. 212). In light of these developments, and with the demise of the Russian threat, NATO planning for Europe's defense "is increasingly directed toward potential threats from the south" (ibid., p. 215).

But what is the real significance of the resurgence of Islam and the growing threat to Europe from the south—and where will it lead? While scholars in the field of international relations shrink from predicting the future, the Bible reveals the significance of the events we are witnessing, and predicts where they are leading. More than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Daniel (writing in language that clearly echoes modern concerns) stated, "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack [push at] him [the king of the North]; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown" (Daniel 11:40–41). Daniel's reference point is Jerusalem. He clearly predicts that just before the return of Jesus Christ, militant activities by a power to the south would provoke a military response by a power to the north. This is the trend that is developing today between Europe and the Islamic nations to Europe's south and east. Islamic terrorist activities could be the trigger that will activate other events foreshadowed by this prophecy. The years ahead will be telling.

The Rise of Rome

Another development casting a long shadow over Europe is the growing influence and increasingly visible role of the pontiff of Rome. Pope John Paul II has emerged as the leading spokesman of western "Christendom"—perhaps even the most prominent religious leader in the world. During his 25–year pontificate he has traveled the globe and gained international stature. He counsels and admonishes world leaders, receives ambassadors from other nations and has his emissaries circle the earth on diplomatic missions. Like the leader of a nation, he has even addressed the United Nations.

While John Paul II has done more than any recent pope to elevate the role of the papacy on the world stage, his real roots are in southern Europe—Rome—from where he casts an unmistakable shadow. Like previous popes, John Paul II has staunchly supported efforts to unite Europe. As chief spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church, he has composed apostolic letters to European leaders stating, for example, that: "Europe needs a religious dimension… the Catholic Church is convinced that she can make a unique contribution to the prospect of unification… the Church of today, with a renewed sense of responsibility, is conscious of the urgency of… helping Europe to build herself by revitalizing her original Christian roots" (Ecclesia in Europa, pp. 23, 80). John Paul II is aware of how his predecessors molded and shaped the history of Europe and the world, and he envisions the Roman Catholic Church as God's instrument for transforming history and shaping the future, as described in his January 2001 apostolic letter, At the Beginning of The New Millennium (see pp. 27, 32).

However, history records the sobering details of what happened when the papacy presided over a Europe united under the Roman Catholic religion. Conversion and unity were often achieved at the point of a sword. Jews were expelled from Roman Catholic countries, or herded into ghettos and made to wear distinctive clothing, centuries before the Nazis did the same (see Unholy War: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, Kertzer). Muslims were banished from Europe, and crusades were launched against infidels—even against dissenting Christians (see The Cathars, Barber). Non-conformists were burned at the stake, imprisoned or sentenced to the galleys—by the decree, and with the blessing of, medieval popes! The history of this period when Roman Catholicism prevailed over Europe makes gruesome reading (see The Inquisition, Baigent & Leigh). Europe's blood-stained past should make modern Europeans leery of uniting again under the banner of the pontiffs of Rome! Even so, these "ghosts of the past" are rising again, expressing their desire to once more cast a long shadow over Europe.

The current rise of the papacy in Europe is also prophetically significant! It is portrayed in numerous prophecies that focus on end-time events. Daniel predicted that a "little horn" would preside over several revivals of the Roman Empire; that it would speak pompous words and "make war against the saints" until Christ returns (Daniel 7:8, 21–22, 24–25). This accurately describes the history of the papacy. Popes crowned the emperors of Europe, and persecuted those who believed the Bible and who rejected church traditions borrowed from paganism. The Apostle Paul warned that a powerful religious figure will appear at the end of the age who, by working signs and wonders, will deceive millions (2 Thessalonians 2:1–12). For centuries, "popular Catholicism" has seen a series of "weeping Madonnas" and "bleeding statues" as a distinctive aspect of Catholic popular piety. Today thousands flock to Marian shrines in Europe and other parts of the world hoping to glimpse a miracle. Bible prophecy indicates that this type of spectacle will increase as the end of the age approaches—deceiving many people!

The Apostle John writes of an end-time coalition between a powerful religious figure and a devious political figure—the "beast"—who will lead a federation of ten nations just before the return of Christ (Revelation 13; 17). John states that this miracle-working religious leader will convince people to support the beast (Revelation 13:11–18). This cleric will lead a church (the woman clothed in ornamented garments) that will ride (influence) the beast power (Revelation 17:3–4). These prophetic images—which hearken back to what occurred in the Middle Ages when the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire dominated Europe—are rising again over Europe! The prophet Isaiah indicates that this religious organization—the "daughter of Babylon"—will lead an ecumenical movement to bring her errant children back together under her dominion (Isaiah 47:1, 8).

Reading these prophecies, it is difficult to avoid the obvious connection to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. Today the Roman pontiff is the leading figure in the drive to unite world Christendom. John Paul II has given more than 700 speeches promoting European unity on the basis of Europe's historical religious foundation. He has admonished the European Union for not mentioning Europe's Roman Catholic heritage in its Constitution. The Roman Catholic Church has issued a Decalogue for Europe—ten points the Church feels should guide the future of the European Union. Bible prophecy reveals that the rise of an influential religious figure with links to Rome will occur just before the return of Jesus Christ. This is the real significance of the Roman Catholic shadow that is looming again over Europe!

Reviving the Beast

Another foreboding shadow is the prospect of a politically united Europe, dominated by Germany. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has observed, "The emergence of a unified Europe is one of the most revolutionary events of our time," and he recognizes that this could threaten America (see Does America Need a Foreign Policy?, p. 41). Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has written: "The movement towards a bureaucratic European superstate… has huge implications for the whole world" (Statecraft, p. 324).

While European intellectuals have for centuries dreamed of uniting the continent, it was only in the last decade that Europe's leaders have succeeded in establishing a European Parliament, a European Union, a common currency (the euro), a European Bank and a European Court. A European Constitution is in the process of ratification, and a European police force has been approved. A European army is taking shape, and a President of Europe and a European Foreign Minister are being discussed. The shadowy "creature" under construction in Europe should become a reality within the next decade!

These developments are hailed as remarkable advances on the road to a united and peaceful Europe—as the ultimate solution to bloody squabbles that divided Europeans in the past, and as a model the world can follow. Yet many attempts to unify Europe have floundered in the past. The Roman Empire succeeded for several centuries before crumbling. Charlemagne's attempt to revive the empire and unify Europe ended at his death. Revivals of the empire under Otto the Great of Germany and Charles V and the Hapsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire were hardly times of peace or unity, as popes and emperors battled for supremacy. Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler found that their aspirations to revive the Roman Empire and unite Europe were short-lived. All these efforts to unify Europe depended upon military force, and all eventually failed. Popes in Rome supported these attempts to unify Europe; Mussolini and Hitler even signed concordats [agreements] with the Catholic Church that aided their ascent to power (see Hitler's Pope, Cornwell). However, papal blessings did not guarantee success.

Europe's modern leaders are still trying to unite Europe on a Roman model. When the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, laying the foundation of European unity, the participants stated that "we felt like Romans that day… we were consciously recreating the Roman Empire once more" (The Signature of God, Jeffrey, pp. 190–191). Today's leaders are attempting to unify the continent by economic and legal means—along with arm-twisting, intimidation and backroom deals. They have yet to tap the latent power of religion to aid their efforts, but that will happen again—as it has in the past! And the growing shadow of a politically united Europe is of profound prophetic significance. Daniel predicted that four empires would dominate the Middle East (Daniel 2, 7). He indicated that the fourth empire, Rome, would be revived many times (the ten horns—Daniel 7:7, 20, 24). The last revival, which will occur just before the return of Jesus Christ, will involve ten kings (ten toes, as in Daniel 2:42–44) who will surrender their sovereignty to a strong leader (the beast, described in Revelation 17:12) as they create a global trading block (see Revelation 18). This final revival is described as an unstable mixture of "iron and clay" that will crumble at Christ's return (Daniel 2:40–45). This is an apt description of the nations of Europe, who argue among themselves as they strive to create an edifice that will help them play a major role on the world stage. One historian said that the European Union is being constructed on "political quicksand" (The Question of Europe, Gowan & Anderson, p. 144).

While the leaders of Europe talk of peace, and nations jockey for positions of influence, Bible prophecies—and current trends—indicate that Germany will emerge as the dominant player. The European Bank is modeled after the German Bundesbank, the enlargement into Eastern Europe has been described as a "German project" and the person to head the European Army is a German. Bible prophecy indicates that a strong leader—the "king of the north"—will gain control of this political "creature" and use it for a malicious purpose. Daniel states that this evil leader will gain power by devious means (Daniel 11:15, 21, 32), will make an agreement (that he will later break) allowing the Jews to begin sacrifices (8:11; 9:27; 11:31), will persecute true believers (11:33–35), will initiate military activities (11:36–39) and finally will invade the Middle East (11:40–45). The Bible associates this king of the north with Assyria—modern Germany (see Isaiah 7:17–25; 10:5-19; Hosea 11:5); for more on this topic please request a free copy of our article, A Fourth Reich?

Bible prophecy reveals that God will use this end-time German-led power to punish His own chosen people—the modern Israelite nations of America, Britain, Canada, Israel, Australia and other nations of northwest European descent (Isaiah 10:5–19; Hosea 11:1–6). This sudden chastisement will come because these nations have turned away from God and despised His laws (see Leviticus 26). Isaiah indicates that this German-led political-economic-military power based in Europe will be subdued and chastened at the return of Christ (Isaiah 12:12–16) and that its sudden demise will shock the world (Revelation 18). Bible prophecy reveals that these dramatic events will occur during a period of three and one half years just before Christ returns (Revelation 13:5).

We are living in very significant times. Long-pondered prophecies are coming alive before our eyes. World conditions are about to change in a sudden and astonishing manner, yet many are oblivious to these startling facts! Because our modern societies are so immersed in the present, and have forgotten the lessons of history—having little or no knowledge of Bible prophecy—many will be surprised and bewildered as these incredible events come to pass in the years just ahead. Historian R. Allen Brown warned, several decades ago, that "the danger at the present time is not of a new ignorance of the Middle Ages but of the revival of an old one which one had thought dead" (The Origins of Modern Europe, Brown, p. 7). This echoes warnings in Revelation 13:3, 12, 14; 17:8. However, if you grasp the significance of these shadows over Europe, you can be prepared for these challenging times—if you are willing to study the Bible and follow God's instructions to change your life!


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