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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

the light of Bible prophecy

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Why is Rome significant in terms of Bible prophecy?

 

In the book of Daniel there are two chapters which deal with an overview of

history from the time of the Babylonian Empire until the second coming of

Jesus the Messiah. Chapter 2 gives the revelation of the meaning of

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as it was given to Daniel. Chapter 7 gives the

revelation given directly to Daniel. Both of these chapters cover the same

ground but from different perspectives.

 

In Daniel 2 we are told of the magnificent image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in

his dream. Verses 32-35 describe the image and verses 36-45 give the

interpretation. In the unfolding of the interpretation we can see that the

head of gold was Babylon, the chest and arms of silver was Medo-Persia, the

belly and thighs of bronze was Greece and the legs of iron was Rome. The

Roman Empire was divided into the western empire with its capital of Rome

and the eastern empire with its capital of Constantinople (modern Istanbul)

corresponding to the two legs. The implication of the vision is that the

spiritual power behind Babylon would be transferred to the political powers

that succeed the Babylonian Empire. The final stage of the development of

this would be the feet with the 10 toes partly of iron and clay. During this

final stage the stone cut without hands would smite the image on its feet

and destroy it and then the stone would fill the whole earth. The stone

represents the second coming of the Lord Jesus when He will destroy the

Babylon power which has oppressed the earth through the different empires

that followed Babylon. The feet of iron and clay represent the kingdom which

will be in power at the time of the second coming. Iron and clay do not mix

together so it represents an unstable coalition of forces. Since the feet of

iron and clay are the extension or continuation of the legs of iron this

implies some continuation of the Roman Empire until the end of the age. Note

that the metals in the image become more and more debased as the image develops.

 

In Daniel 7 we are told of four beasts which come out of the sea (the Great

Sea = the Mediterranean Sea). The sea stirred up by the wind can also

represent humanity in rebellion against God (Isaiah 57.20). The vision is

given in verses 3-14 and explained in verses 15-27. It is clear that the two

chapters are parallel and give revelation on the same subject but from a

different perspective. Daniel 2 has the vision from mans perspective and so

sees the succeeding empires in terms of a magnificent image or statue.

Daniel 7 sees the vision from Gods perspective and so sees the empires as

wild beasts. The historical overview is the same. The first beast, the lion,

represents Babylon, the second, the bear, represents Medo-Persia, the third,

the leopard, represents Greece and the fourth beast, dreadful, terrible and

exceedingly strong', represents Rome. The fourth beast has ten horns and out

of these horns comes a little horn who speaks pompous words. In the days

of this little horn the Son of Man comes with the clouds of heaven and

establishes an eternal kingdom which shall not be destroyed (Daniel

7.13-14). As this verse is quoted directly by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse

(Matthew 24.30) and in his trial before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26.64) there

is no question that the correct interpretation of it applies to His second

coming. Therefore there will be some connection between the extension of the

Roman Empire and the body which will be in power at the time of the second coming.

 

In Daniel 9.26 we are told of the crucifixion (Messiah shall be cut off but

not for himself), an event which will be followed by the destruction of the

city and the sanctuary. This is a prophecy of the coming destruction of

Jerusalem and the fall of the Temple also prophesied by Jesus in Luke

19.41-44. This is to be done by the people of the prince who is to come.

There is no question who was responsible for the destruction of the Temple

the Roman army on orders of the Caesar in Rome. The fact that not all the

soldiers were Romans and that the army was made up of conscripts from the

surrounding region is of no consequence whatsoever. The orders and the chain

of command went back to Rome, the place to which the Temple treasures were

taken. Therefore there is a connection between the prince to come and

Rome. The prince to come and the little horn of Daniel 7 are names for the

coming Antichrist who will make a covenant with Israel in the last days

(Daniel 9.27) which will turn out to be a covenant with death (Isaiah

28.14-22) and will lead to Armageddon and the return of the Messiah

(Zechariah 12-14, Revelation 16-19).

 

In Revelation 13.1 we are told that the beast or antichrist will have the

same characteristics as the fourth beast of Daniel 7 his spiritual roots in

the previous empires of Babylon, Persia and Greece (13.2). He will have a

global authority for a period of 42 months (3 ½ years), the latter part of

the 70th week of Daniel 9.27.

 

In Revelation 17.8 we are told concerning this beast that he was and is not

and yet is. This apparent riddle can be explained. From the point of view

of John and those who would receive the book of Revelation the beast is in

the form of the ancient Roman Empire. It was in the form of the empires

that preceded it and had the same characteristics of pagan idolatry,

oppression of Gods people and the deification of its leader / Caesar. It

is not in the form of the coming revival of the Roman Empire at the end of days.

 

In Revelation 17.9 we read of the seven mountains. There are seven hills in

Rome which is significant but not actually vital to the interpretation as

there are other cities with seven hills. The seven heads are described as

the seven mountains on which the woman sits. The woman is Mystery Babylon

the Great, mother of harlots and abominations on the earth. In other words

it is the spiritual power which originated in ancient Babylon at the time of

the tower of Babel through Nimrod (Genesis 10-11) and which has infected the

empires that followed it which have oppressed Gods people (NB in Hebrew the

word for Babel at the time of the tower of Babel and the later empire of

Babylon is the same  Babel).

 

Concerning this power we are told in Revelation 17.10 that there seven

kings. Five have fallen, one is and the other has not yet come. And when he

comes he must continue a short time. Another apparent riddle. What does it

mean? From Daniel's point of view there were going to be four empires which

would oppress God people, the last of which, the Roman, would continue in

some form until the end of days and have as its final form the ten toes of

the image and the ten horns of the beast. From Johns point of view he was

living in the days of the Roman Empire so that is the beast that is. The

five that have fallen are: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece  all

empires which oppressed the people of Israel and which were possessed by the

spirit of ancient Babylon. From Daniel's point of view Egypt and Assyria

were already history and so are not included in the four beasts of Daniel 2 and 7.

 

The one that is yet to be is the revived Roman Empire which will exist for a

short time. Attempts to make this fit in with the Islamic empire do not work

for a number of reasons, one of which is that Islam has been around for a

long time. The beast comes out of the seventh stage of the development of

these empires (the revived Roman one) and is the eighth in that he

develops this into a global power in the last part of the Great Tribulation.

 

In the days of this final empire there will also be ten horns who are ten

kings who will give their power to the beast (Revelation 17.12). Attempts to

locate the ten kings in history are futile because we are told that they

have received no kingdom as yet (i.e. they do not yet exist as an entity

and will only do so for a short time before the second coming of Christ).

 

Putting all this together we see that the evidence points towards the Roman

Empire as the likely seat of power of the coming antichrist. Historically

although Rome fell in the fifth century it has continued in some form

through the papacy which brought power in Europe back to Rome during the

period up to the Reformation with the pope exercising political power over

kings and princes of Europe, raising taxes and taking one of the titles of

the Roman Caesar, Pontifex Maximus. There have been numerous attempts to

revive the Roman Empire in a unified Europe under Charlemagne, the

Hapsburgs, Napoleon and Mussolini / Hitler. Historically Europe has been a

dominant power colonising other nations. The worlds main power today, the

USA, came out of Europe, although in my opinion it is likely that the

dominant power will go back to Europe in the final stage of the tribulation.

 

Today we see the attempt to revive Europe with the European Union.

Interestingly the EU has spoken of being a revived Roman Empire in an

exhibition recently held in Brussels, it has used the symbol of the woman

riding the beast (Revelation 17.1-5) in postage stamps and in a statue

outside the Council of Europe building in Brussels. It has modelled the new

European parliament building in Strasbourg on the Tower of Babel. The EU

constitution is calling for a unified entity with its own president,

currency, foreign policy and army. The EU exists in much of the territory of

the Roman Empire.

 

If Turkey joins it will extend its power into the Muslim eastern area of the

Roman Empire. Already through the Barcelona Agreement the EU is

extending a trade agreement into the Muslim north African countries which

were a part of the Roman Empire. The EU is actively involved in seeking to

resolve the conflict around Israel and the status of Jerusalem. It is

becoming increasingly involved in the issue concerning Lebanon and Syria.

 

The EU is also a model for other regions of the world (East Asia, North

and South America, Gulf Arab states, sub Sahara Africa) seeking to work

together to integrate and develop their economies. It is likely that out of

this development will arise the 10 kings who will give their power to the beast.

Biblical prophecy and Rome

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