The Changing Face of the European Union

Changing_Face_of_the_European_Union

POSTED 01 JULY, 2003

One of the most complex and confusing debates in regard to end-time Bible prophecy is the rise of the antimessiah/antichrist and his one-world government. How will this take place and what government entities and/or multi-national organizations will be involved? Is the rise of the beast and his regime something that is due to occur soon? Or will its rise be more protracted and gradual? These are questions that many are asking right now as the Twenty-First Century presses onward and globalization is on the increase.

Many prophecy teachers believe that the antimessiah will arise out of the old Roman Empire. They are following today’s European integration project very carefully and looking at various individuals who are proverbial “antichrist candidates.” They see that the European Union is evolving into a supra-national entity that will probably one day surpass the United States as a world power. We see that the European Union is already one the world’s largest financial markets,[1] especially with its coming expansion into Eastern Europe, and we are seeing the euro currency already taking some precedence over the U.S. dollar. Are these coincidences and just occurrences? Or are they indicators that we need to be paying attention?

As Americans, many of us exist in too much of an “American bubble.” Too many of us do not follow international affairs and are ignorant of what is going on in the world around us. This is especially true of American Christians, and to a lesser extent Messianics. Sadly, this ignorance of international affairs, especially as it pertains to the European Union, carries over into prophecy teachings so that people have a very inaccurate view of the European Union and how European integration is really progressing today—as opposed to what prophecy teachers, some of whom are highly sensationalistic, tell us.

In this article, we attempt to realistically examine today’s European integration project and what it means to us prophetically. We will discuss how the European Union has been an evolving entity since the end of World War II and how it is unknown how it will look in the future. We hope to give you a Biblically and politically sound perspective on Europe’s role to play in the Last Days and what we need to look for.

The Prophetic Significance of the European Union

There is a Biblical basis for believing that the European Union has a major role to play in end-time prophecy and that the old Roman Empire will be revived. It is primarily focused around the visions of the Prophet Daniel relating to the statue vision that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had while the captured Jews were in Babylonian exile, detailed in Daniel 2, and later the vision of the four beasts given in Daniel 7. We will review these visions so we can have a proper background to understanding present-day beliefs among many Believers in regard to the E.U. and prophecy.

“You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king” (Daniel 2:31-36).

These Scripture verses are the vision that King Nebuchadnezzar receives from God, repeated to him by the Prophet Daniel. They detail the fact that Nebuchadnezzar saw “a single great statue.” It is composed of a head of gold, a breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of copper, and legs of iron. Its feet are made up “partly of iron and partly of clay.” The vision tells us that this statue or image, and all its components, will crumble or be crushed; the Aramaic verb deqaq means “be shattered, fall to pieces” (BDB).[2] The Prophet Daniel then goes and explains to Nebuchadnezzar what the vision specifically means:

“You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery” (Daniel 2:37-43).

Many of you who have studied prophecy are aware of the varied interpretations of these verses. The interpretation accepted by most pre-millennialists is that they represent the historic empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. This view is adhered to by both Christian and Jewish theologians. The first, Babylon, is the head of gold. The second, Persia, is the breast and arms of silver. The third, Greece, is the iron under Alexander the Great. And the fourth, Rome, is strong as iron but mixed with clay, indicating diversity. Concerning the issue of the European Union in Bible prophecy, the fourth empire is the one that we need to pay attention to.

The fourth kingdom, Rome, is described as being “partly of potter’s earthenware and partly of iron” (ATS). The Aramaic word for clay in this passage, chasaf, is specifically defined as “clay, potsherd” (BDB).[3] This indicates that the empire, while being strong as iron, parzel, will be fractionalized, almost as sharp pieces of pottery. This is true when we look at history and the vast expanse of the old Roman Empire. It was centered around Rome and Italy, with strong core regions of where Roman colonization occurred in Iberia (Spain), Gaul (France), and Britannia (Britain). It is important to note that the third kingdom, Greece, is described as being of iron, and Rome is of iron mixed with clay. Greece was part of the Roman Empire and the Greek language was widely used throughout it. The empire also extended throughout North Africa and Egypt, Asia Minor (Turkey), and included the Land of Israel. While the Roman culture dominated, there were many other races and cultures in the empire.

Of course, history shows that the Roman Empire later split in two between the Western Roman Empire headed up in Rome with the Roman Catholic Church at its center, and the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, headed up in Constantinople. Much of the Eastern Roman Empire was later conquered by Islamic expansion, and Constantinople had its name changed to Istanbul, the later capital of the Ottoman Empire. The ArtScroll Tanach comments that “The land of the Roman Empire came to be dominated by…Christianity and Islam. Both—one strong and iron, the other as weak as pottery—comprise the latter day ‘fourth kingdom’ (Abarbanel).”[4] Concurrent with this, J. Dwight Pentecost comments, “Though the Roman Empire was divided into two legs and culminated in a mixture of iron and clay, it was one empire. This empire was characterized by its strength, as iron is stronger than bronze, silver, and gold. The Roman Empire was stronger than any of the previous empires. It crushed all the empires that had preceded it.”[5]

While there are varying opinions of the iron and the clay, I do believe that they represent the strength and diversity of the fourth and final kingdom. Iron and clay represented the Ancient Roman Empire, and today would widely represent the European Union. While there have been arguments among teachers regarding whether the divided kingdom speaks of a division between Christianity and Islam controlling former territory of the old Roman Empire, or perhaps this is speaking of the E.U.’s division between the strong Western European countries and the weaker Eastern European countries, the need to watch the European integration project as it relates to prophecy should be quite apparent. Most often prophecy teachers describe it as a “revived Roman Empire,” which is perhaps what the European Union is becoming. It is the fourth kingdom that is described as being defeated by the Lord:

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy” (Daniel 2:44-45).

These kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, all still exist in various forms today.[6] They will all be defeated at the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah and He will establish a Kingdom that will never be destroyed and will indeed stand forever. Regardless of what the men of the world try to do, they can never build an empire that will stand forever and that can defeat the Lord.

The second vision that prophecy teachers relate to the rise of an end-time revived Roman Empire is Daniel’s four beasts vision of Daniel 7.

“And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns” (Daniel 7:3-7).

Consistent with the vision of the statue, many expositors believe that the vision of the four beasts likewise represents the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. One of the ancient symbols of Babylon was a lion with eagle’s wings. Persia is compared to a great bear, as it devoured territory all the way to Greece, and had three capitals at Susa, Persopolis, and Babylon. Greece is compared to a leopard that spread out speedily under Alexander the Great, and then was divided among four of his generals upon his death. The fourth kingdom, Rome, is devouring territory, but yet at the same time crumbling from within. It is believed among most pre-millennialists that this kingdom is being revived today in the form of today’s European Union, only to later crumble at a future point in time during the Great Tribulation—as this revival will only be temporary.

More clues concerning the fourth empire are given further on in Daniel 7. These are the roadmarks that many theologians connect to today’s European Union, or its political predecessor prior to 1993, the European Economic Community:

“Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them” (Daniel 7:19-21).

Aside from describing the terrifying nature of this final world empire, this Scripture speaks of “ten horns that were on its head.” In the early days of the European Economic Community in the 1970s, prophecy teachers were looking for the E.C. to reach ten member states, and then proclaim it as the final world empire. The original members of the then-European Coal and Steel Community, initiated in 1952, included France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.[7] The United Kingdom, Ireland, and Demark joined in 1973. This brought European Community membership to nine states. But membership exceeded ten in 1986 with the addition of Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined in 1995 bringing the now-European Union to fifteen member states.

There is debate among some prophecy teachers that the European Union is prophetically unimportant because as of 1995 it had fifteen members,[8] with the expansion to Eastern Europe extending it to twenty-five member states in 2004, and an expected twenty-seven in 2007, while and the prophecy in Daniel 7:20 speaks of “ten horns.” But do the ten horns represent countries? We are told that as one horn “came up…three of them fell.” The Aramaic verb seleq, appearing in the Peal stem specifically means “come up” (BDB).[9] The text does not indicate the horns to be countries or states, but rather kings or leaders within this final empire. This is entirely feasible, because as we will later discuss, the E.U. is still an evolving political entity, and there is no one-hundred percent way of knowing how it will look in the future. These ten horns may represent cabinet ministers or a European Union executive council. In actuality, the horn that arises is the antimessiah/antichrist, indeed indicating the horns to be political leaders:

“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22).

This Scripture parallels Revelation 13:7 which tells us that the antimessiah will make war with the Tribulation saints:

“It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”

The prophecy in Daniel continues, stating,

“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings’” (Daniel 7:23-24).

Contrary to those who would seek to discredit the European Union from having any relevance to the ten horns, are ten leaders or ten kings, from which the antimessiah will arise, and three will be humbled or subdued. The Aramaic verb shephel, appearing in the Hafel stem, specifically means “bring low, humble” (BDB).[10] What this probably indicates is that as the antimessiah rises to power, these leaders stand against his authority and they must be removed, being made an example of why he “should not be opposed.”

The Beginnings of European Integration

Now that we have discussed the Biblical basis for believing that the European Union has an important part to play in the Last Days, it is likewise important that you understand the basics of European integration, as many errant teachings exist today because prophecy teachers have indicated that they have little no knowledge of the politics involved. These prophecy teachers, being ignorant of the European integration project and its evolution since the end of World War II, have taken advantage of many other people’s ignorance of the European Union. Surprisingly, this ignorance of the E.U. not only includes Americans, but likewise Europeans. An article entitled “Charlemagne: The great debate,” that appeared in the 14 June, 2003 issue of The Economist, states:

“Many Europeans know so little about the EU that the [constitutional] convention’s debates would mean nothing to them. A poll taken for Britain’s Foreign Office in 2001 discovered that a quarter of Britons did not know that their country was actually a member of the European Union, and 7% thought that the United States was in it. In Germany, a founder member of the Union whose serious papers devote acres of space to EU affairs, another recent poll found that 31% of the public had never heard of the European Commission, the EU’s most important institution.”[11]

Considering this, do not believe everything you hear from prophecy teachers—especially American prophecy teachers—about the European Union. If this many Europeans do not understand the E.U., you can stand rest assured that American prophecy teachers do not have a full grasp on it either.

What is today called the European Union is the modern manifestation of work that started after World War II, spearheaded by a French official named Jean Monnet. Monnet, having served both in the French private sector and bureaucracy, was a-political and, thus, did not necessarily cater to the aims of the French Fourth and Fifth Republic governments following the end of the war. His aim was the ultimate creation of a federal Europe, something that had been considered at the end of World War I, but was deterred due to the rise of fascism. World War II proved that some kind of European “community” was needed. As Desmond Dinan says in Ever Closer Union, “Monnet came to the conclusion early in World War II that economic integration was the only means by which conflict in Europe could be avoided.”[12] Monnet’s belief was that economic integration in Europe would lead to further political integration, and ultimately, a European federation.

Paralleling Monnet’s belief in a federal Europe was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who believed in what was called the “unionist” position. Churchill’s idea of European unity was not the creation of a federal Europe, but rather the creation of a European parliament that “would be merely a consultative assembly bound to defer to a committee of government ministers. For the federalists, by contrast, [this parliament] would be a constituent assembly charged with drafting a constitution for the United States of Europe.”[13] These two positions, the federalists and the unionists, and their distinct visions of a “united Europe,” have existed from the beginning of European integration.

Knowing the Biblical prophecies, it is apparent that Monnet’s vision of European integration will win out in the long run. Monnet believed that “Close cooperation between countries in specific economic sectors…held the key to overcoming national sovereignty and ultimately achieving European federation.”[14] At the end of World War II, two major political hurdles to overcome were French animosity to Germany because of the war, and the rise of the United States and Soviet Union as superpowers and the ensuing Cold War. The need for greater European integration arose as Europe needed to rebuild itself quickly. Furthermore, the newly created Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany, under Chancellor Konrad Adanauer wanted to reassert itself as a global player, and “Adanauer realized that shared sovereignty pointed the way to Germany’s international rehabilitation.”[15] What later became known as Franco-German rapprochement (pronounced rap-pro-sh-ma), or reconciliation, became the bedrock of European integration. It is not surprising that today France and Germany dominate the E.U.

The European Coal and Steel Community began operating in 1952, composing France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries. The political purpose of the E.C.S.C. was for member countries to submit to a supra-national authority in the regulation of coal and steel, considered at the time to the prime elements for producing war-making material. This was at the same time when Britain and the United States, pressured by the Cold War, urged West Germany to rearm, which was not received well by the French. The E.C.S.C. was a suitable compromise for them.

While this first integration in Europe was purely economic, political integration could have occurred at a much speedier pace. Because of the threat that Western Europe faced by the Soviet Union, Jean Monnet favored the creation of the European Defense Community or E.D.C., in 1951, where member countries would contribute military units to a common European defense force. The creation of the E.D.C. could have led to the necessity of a European defense minister, which many political scientists believe would have led to the creation of a European parliament, president, and ultimately a federalized Europe. The French government, however, opposed this plan. “Gaullist hostility to sharing sovereignty over a sacrosanct national defense policy, coupled with implacable Communist opposition to German rearmament, resulted in August 1954 in defeat of the EDC treaty in the French parliament.”[16] This helped lead to the establishment of a U.S. and British backed organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or N.A.T.O., which exists to the present day.

Because of the success of the European Coal and Steel Community, negotiations began in 1955 for a supra-national role to be extended to the relegation of atomic energy and of all economic activities. This began the process of creating the European Economic Community or E.E.C., which at its heart was the C.A.P. or Common Agricultural Policy. The C.A.P. was designed to improve declining Western European Agriculture, with a substantial part of its subsidies going to France. As the new European Economic Community and its institutions developed in the early 1960s, France was undergoing a governmental crisis, with a revolt in Algeria and the collapse of the Fourth Republic. Charles de Gaulle was brought in to solve the problem, and regarding European integration “is best known…for keeping Britain out and for curtailing the powers of the European Parliament.”[17] De Gaulle used the resources of the E.E.C. to help modernize France, literally saving it from the brink of collapse. Thanks to him, only today is the European parliament taking on a greater role other than a consultative body.

The most significant contribution of the E.E.C. was the formation of the European Commission, whose scope would extend far beyond the regulation of coal and steel. “[T]here were portfolios for external relations, economic and financial affairs, the internal market, competition, social affairs, agriculture, transport, and overseas countries and territories.”[18] The initial focus of the E.E.C. with its Commission was to create a customs union that would help streamline the transfer of goods across Europe and eliminate many of the tariffs and barriers that impeded trade. This, as should be expected, caused many internal disagreements among the six member states, especially during the 1960s as the United Kingdom continually applied for membership, but was rejected continually by President de Gaulle of France.

This is only a very brief overview of the beginnings of the European integration project. European integration is by no means something that has occurred “overnight,” but something that has occurred slowly by necessity of the member states, not necessarily out of an idealistic drive to see Europe unified (although there are pan-European ideologues). Each of the member countries of today’s European Union joined because of the self-serving benefits it would receive, not that it wanted to see a federalized Europe, as many prophecy teachers might tell you. At times, Europe has stagnated in its integration, as it did largely during the 1960s and 1970s.

The European Union in Recent History

Many political scientists view the 1980s as the time when the European Union really began to take shape. This is largely accredited to the appointment of Jacques Delors as president of the European Commission. Dinan comments, “Without Delors, the single market program and the acceleration of European integration might not have happened exactly as they did, but that is not to say that they would not have happened at all.”[19] Delors’ appointment in 1985 dovetailed with the ascension of Spain, Portugal, and Greece in 1986, which was considered to be the first major test as poorer countries would be joining the E.C. The success of the European integration project is seen in helping poorer countries raise their economic capacity. As this occurred, the hold that communism had in Eastern Europe also began to weaken. When Germany reunified in 1990, Chancellor Helmut Kohl believed that German reunification would take place within the context of European unification.

The Treaty on European Union was negotiated in 1992 in the Dutch city of Maastricht. The two major goals of the Maastricht Treaty were to establish the E.M.U. or European Monetary Union and greater political union. Of the member states that signed the treaty, only the British government at the time vehemently opposed the idea of a single currency, thus receiving an opt-out clause.[20] Germany was the most committed to the project, still reeling from its post-World War II belief that it can best achieve its aims through Europe. The Maastricht Treaty is largely responsible for leading us where we are today with the single currency.

Since 2003, the European Union has been engaging in a constitutional convention, as most of the E.U.’s development is contained in a series of treaties. There is no one document laying out the functions of the E.U., thus creating a substantial amount of confusion in Europe as to what role the E.U. plays in regard to supra-national and national politics. Before you come to the conclusion that this European Union constitution will be on the same level as the United States constitution, understand that the purpose of the convention is to eliminate literally hundreds of thousands of pages of treaty documents and streamline the E.U.’s functions into a clear-cut document.

Of course, the most significant effect of European integration in recent days has been the creation of the single currency, the euro (€), and the establishment of the European Central Bank or E.C.B. A key symbol of the sovereignty of a state is its ability to produce a national currency. With twelve of the E.U.’s members now using the euro, and with the E.C.B. dictating European financial policy, further political integration for Europe is something that is only a matter of time. In recent days, the euro has indeed proven itself to be a strong currency, and the E.C.B., modeled after the German Bundesbank, which itself was modeled after the U.S. Federal Reserve, will prove itself to be a force to be reckoned with in the days ahead. Already, the European Union sends a single representative to the World Trade Organization. We only need wait to see how the E.U. progresses as a financial powerhouse equal to or greater than the United States.

Another significant advancement in European integration will be the ascension of ten new member states to the E.U. in mid-2004: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus.[21] Bulgaria and Romania are planning to enter in 2007. While membership will be good for these countries, as it will hopefully bring new economic opportunities and investment, bettering the lives of many people who formerly lived under communism, it will likewise bring new dynamics into the European Union and it begs many questions. How far will the E.U. expand? How will this effect the functions of the E.U. and the present constitutional convention? Where do the borders of “Europe” stop?

Clearly, the European integration project deserves our attention.

Misconceptions of Prophecy Teachers Regarding European Integration

There have been, as stated previously, many misconceptions of European integration, especially regarding what prophecy teachers have said about the European Union. This largely results from not understanding that European integration is something that has been occurring for over 40 years. Given this longevity, the final world power from which the antimessiah/antichrist will possibly arise can be allowed some more time to develop; the E.U. is not going to become a major power on its own, as opposed to just a supra-national entity as it is today, over a series of a few years. It is going to have to be given time to evolve and assert itself, allowing the situation to present itself whereby the antimessiah can come to power. But even so, this does not stop some from drawing false conclusions.

Consider the words of Alan Franklin, author of the book EU: Final World Empire. While Franklin’s premise of the European Union having prophetic significance is accurate, his conclusions on the European Commission, the regulatory agency on European commerce and competitiveness, are not. He says, “Euroland declared that carrots were fruit, on the grounds that they could be used to make preserves.”[22] Franklin then goes on and says “Euroland accuses British journalists of making up silly stories about the superstate.”[23]

Franklin, as both an author of a prophecy book and a British newspaperman, is drawing false conclusions regarding the marketing of a Portuguese jam that is made from carrots. Many E.U. member states do not believe that this jam should be marketed as such because it is made from carrots, and carrots are not considered fruit by them. But in Portugal carrots are considered fruit, thus the jam must be considered jam and can be marketed as jam throughout the entire E.U. because it can be done so in Portugal. This follows the precedent of the 1979 Cassis de Dijon case, where Germany prohibited the importation of a French liquor because it did not meet alcohol requirements according to German law. But because it met French alcohol requirements, Germany as a member of the then-E.C. was required to let Cassis de Dijon be sold in Germany and be marketed as liquor. As Dinan poignantly states, “the Commission developed the principle of mutual recognition that would avoid the otherwise impossible process of harmonizing in detail the member states’ diverse legal norms.”[24] In other words, if a product meets the standard for sale in a member country, then it is acceptable for sale throughout the entire European Union.

Some of you may consider this to be a relatively minor example, but it really is not. Franklin’s comments demonstrate the lack of understanding that many prophecy teachers have for the European Union. This may be on account of Franklin being British and admittedly europhobic, but even so that is no excuse.

Of course, what is even more significant is drawing false conclusions on present-day events—especially regarding the new European Union constitution, the writing of which has been headed up by former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. On 15 June, 2003, it was announced that a preliminary E.U. constitution was ready for approval. Some of its most significant functions are the establishment of a European foreign minister, a limiting on the number of E.U. commissioners as part of the European Commission, and the limit of 736 seats to the E.U. parliament. Proposals are underway on what to do for a permanent E.U. president, as opposed to the current rotating six-month presidency among member states. While the finalization of these areas will no doubt be debated as the final constitution is approved, and we should expect changes, the most significant development is “The treaty [has] established that the Union has a single legal personality and makes explicit the court rulings that EU law has primacy over national law.”[25] This indicates that the E.U. is asserting itself as a single entity. But let us not draw any hasty views.

Before we draw any false conclusions on an E.U. foreign minister and what the proposed president can do, be aware that there are many critics of the proposals on the federalist side—those who want to see greater integration—and from those who want things to stay the way they are.

The article “Tidying up or tyranny?” from the 31 May, 2003 issue of The Economist had this to say about the European foreign minister:

“The creation of a European foreign minister sounds dramatic but it is essentially a merger of two existing jobs, without giving the new post-holder any new powers to impose a single policy on EU countries. Crucially, countries keep their national vetoes over key foreign-policy decisions. The decision to grant the EU ‘legal personality’ does mean it can now negotiate and sign treaties and could theoretically take a seat in the UN. There is no mechanism for compelling France and Britain to give up their permanent seats on the Security Council in the EU’s favor.”[26]

What this seems to indicate is that while one day the European Union will act as a single power with a single foreign policy, that day is not today. But now that there will be a European Union foreign minister, it has been set in motion.

Regarding the E.U. presidency, the same article states:

“Most controversially of all, [Giscard d’Estaing] wants to abandon the system under which each EU country holds the Union’s presidency for six months at a time, in favour of a president in office for up to five years, elected by heads of government.”[27]

If this reform goes through, and it probably will, the presidency of the E.U. will be transformed with a permanent person chairing the E.U. and probably with member states rotating on various responsibilities or commission positions. But this does not signal an immediate federal Europe. Notice that the president will be “elected by heads of government.” Unlike the U.S. president, this E.U. president will not be popularly elected by the people of member states; he will not hold the same power or prestige of the American president. This means that the E.U. president cannot hold sway over Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, or Gerhard Schröder. But again, as European integration moves forward, this is likely to change in the future.

What these things signal is that while the European Union is a developing political entity, it still has some way to go. Do not believe everything you hear about the E.U. from prophecy teachers, because it may be exaggerated. While I most certainly believe that the European Union has a significant role to play in end-time prophecy, I must also be realistic and know that the “final world empire” has to develop in asserting itself—and that takes time.

What can European integration export to the world?

Let us also consider what the European integration project can export to the world—a template for other regions to follow. Helmut Kohl believed that German reunification would take place in the context of European unification. So will European unification take place in the context of world unification? As Americans, some of us might consider the European Union to be something we do not fully understand. But what if N.A.F.T.A., the North American Free Trade Area, were extended into a single currency zone between Canada, the United States, and Mexico? What if this zone were extended to Central America and the Caribbean? Or all the way to South America? This is something that could happen in the future—especially if Europe becomes economically superior to the United States.

European Integration and Israel

One concern that needs to be followed, especially because Ancient Israel was a part of the old Roman Empire, and if we are seeing it revived, is the fact that the modern State of Israel is beginning to have closer relations with the E.U. An article entitled “Israel tops EU’s ‘wider Europe’ initiative,” which appeared in the 18 June, 2003 issue of the Financial Times, says that “Israel has been singled out as a leading candidate for a closer partnership with the enlarged European Union but progress would depend on the fate of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict.”[28] If Israel moves closer toward the E.U., at least economically, it would open the door to seeing greater European involvement in the Mideast Peace Process—could most certainly lead to the eventual rise of the antimessiah. This same article says “Israel should have no difficulty fulfilling the political and economic requirements to join the European Economic Area (EEA), a status that would put it on par with such countries as Iceland and Norway.”[29] Iceland and Norway are presently not E.U. members, but could easily join. This is unlike Turkey, which is slated for membership sometime in the 2020s, because Turkey does not fit the political and economic requirements. The fact that Israel could seemingly easily join the E.U. is disconcerting to know.

But what is the most important thing that we as Believers must understand regarding the European Union? If the E.U. is the prophesied final world empire, then we are plainly told in Scripture, “But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:26-27).

As Believers who have the Holy One of Israel resident inside us, we should not fear the European Union by any means. Its existence and growing world influence has been prophesied in the Bible. We have to understand that the ultimate purpose of the Tribulation period is not the rise of the antimessiah or the establishment of the European Union as the final world empire, both of which will be defeated by Yeshua the Messiah at His Second Coming. The ultimate purpose of the Seventieth Week of Israel is the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and the return of the Messiah (cf. Acts 1:6).

As it concerns the E.U. and its involvement, realize that it has been developing for over 50 years, and the European Union you see today is not necessarily what you will see tomorrow. Keep in mind that it is evolving and that it indeed has a “changing face” and role in world affairs.


NOTES

[1] It is notable that while many E.U. member states presently continue to represent themselves in multi-national organizations such as the United Nations or N.A.T.O., in relation to the E.U.’s position as a financial power that it has only one representative at the World Trade Organization. Together, the European Union and the United States make up approximately 80% of the world’s trade.

[2] Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1089.

[3] Ibid., 1093.

[4] Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz, eds., ArtScroll Tanach (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 1996), 1779.

[5] J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1335.

[6] Many prophecy teachers, including this writer, believe that the city Babylon will be rebuilt in Iraq; Persia exists as modern-day Iran; Greece, the kingdom of iron, is part of the European Union, made of iron and clay.

[7] Take note that the last three countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, are often referred to as the Benelux countries.

[8] Those who discredit the European Union because it has over ten members, believed to be the “ten horns,” usually place significant importance on to United Nations and that they are ten world bio-regions. I in no way believe that the United Nations is unimportant to Bible prophecy. Both the E.U. and U.N. have significant roles to play in globalization and the rise of the antimessiah/antichrist.

[9] BDB, 1104.

[10] Ibid., 1117.

[11] “Charlemagne: The great debate.” The Economist. 14 June, 2003: 50.

[12] Desmond Dinan, An Introduction to European Integration, second edition (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1999), 11.

[13] Ibid., 13.

[14] Ibid., 14.

[15] Ibid., 21.

[16] Ibid., 27.

[17] Ibid., 37.

[18] Ibid., 45.

[19] Ibid., 103.

[20] Of course, we do note that today adoption of the single currency is a very volatile issue in British politics.

[21] Note that while these countries became members of the European Union in 2004, they have not yet entered the euro zone, having not yet reached its economic entry requirements.

[22] Alan Franklin, EU: Final World Empire (Oklahoma City: Hearthstone Publishing, 2002), 114.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Dinan, 95.

[25] Honor Mahoney (2003). Historic EU constitution approved, 15 June, 2003. EU Observer. Retrieved 15 June, 2003, from <http://www.euobserver.com>.

[26] “Tidying up or tyranny?” The Economist. 31 May, 2003: 52.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Harvey Morris. “Israel tops EU’s ‘wider Europe’ initiative.” Financial Times 18 June, 2003: 4.

[29] Ibid.

About J.K. McKee 815 Articles
J.K. McKee (B.A., University of Oklahoma; M.A., Asbury Theological Seminary) is the editor of Messianic Apologetics (www.messianicapologetics.net), a division of Outreach Israel Ministries (www.outreachisrael.net). He is a 2009 recipient of the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. He is author of numerous books and commentaries, dealing with a wide range of topics that are important for today’s Messianic Believers.

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