Rome Ancient and Future Master of the World

The tourist posters display a fascinating Rome—a city of seven hills covered with the architectural glories of the past and present. Rome is a city of contrasts. Old buildings and ancient ruins jostle side by side with a thriving, modern city. Twenty-seven centuries have come and gone since its legendary founding at the hands of Romulus and Remus. During this long expanse of time, this remarkable city has played an unparalleled role in the history of western civilization, as a seat of ongoing intrigue and power!

Nestled within the city of Rome is the world's smallest sovereign territory—Vatican City. Maintaining its own diplomatic relations with all the major powers, this minuscule city-state, ruled by the Roman pontiff, is a full participant in international affairs. The Vatican aspires to be far more than a mere participant, however. It seeks to once again achieve the guiding role it played for so many centuries.

Though Rome's ancient empire received a fatal wound with the death of the last emperor in 476ad, that was not the end of the story! The first three kingdoms springing out of the old Roman Empire, the Vandals, Herulii, and Ostrogoths, were uprooted. The might of the eastern emperor, Justinian, accomplished this "plucking up" at the behest of Rome's pope. Justinian's "imperial restoration" in 554 "healed" the "deadly wound" and launched the first of six historical attempts to revive and carry on the empire of ancient Rome. And according to the Bible, there is a seventh and final revival yet to come. Your life will be affected profoundly by events yet to take place in what its residents call the "eternal" city!

The Deadly Wound Is Healed

With the conclusion of the Gothic Wars in 553AD, Italy was left in poverty and disorder. Rome had been captured, besieged, looted and starved. Finally the armies of the eastern Roman emperor Justinian stood victorious. Justinian's armies had succeeded in reconquering Italy and remnants of the western empire, but how was he to govern it? The answer lay in an alliance of church and state that has shaped the history of western Europe ever since. Though secular authority in the West had collapsed, "the survival of ecclesiastical organization [under the bishop of Rome] appeared even to the emperors as the salvation of the state. In 554 Justinian promulgated a decree requiring that 'fit and proper persons, able to administer the local government, be chosen as governors of the provinces by the bishops and chief persons of each province'" (Durant, pp. 519-520).

This event is known in history as the Imperial Restoration. The emperors in Byzantium continued as nominal rulers of a revived Imperium Romanum in the West from 554 until 800. By the terms of Justinian's decree, however, the bishops of Rome (now called popes) held the reins of power and were thus the real riders sitting astride the imperial Beast in the West.

It is important to note at this point a significant difference between the Beast described in Revelation 13 and the one described in Revelation 17. The Beast of Revelation 13 corresponds to what Daniel saw in Daniel 7. John described a creature that began in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon and continued on to his day. Out of the seventh head, the Roman Empire, would arise ten kingdoms. Daniel 7 explained that the first three of those ten horns would be "plucked out." However, the Beast of Revelation 17 is different. It is a creature ridden by the woman, unlike the earlier description. The Beast in Revelation 17 is the one "that was and is not" (v. 11)—the Roman Empire after the deadly wound is healed. This is what history has ironically and misleadingly labeled the "Holy" Roman Empire, dominated by the Church of Rome, which has continued from 554AD through various revivals to modern times.

Revelation 17:11 explains that this Beast "is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition" (KJV). It is a continuation of the seven-headed creature described in Revelation 13, but it is in some ways like an eighth head on that creature since it begins after the last head of the Beast of Revelation 13 receives a "deadly wound." The seven heads of the Revelation 17 Beast are seven kingdoms (v. 10). They are the seven resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire, corresponding to the last seven of the "ten horns" of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. The ten horns of Revelation 17 are also ten kings or kingdoms (v. 12). They give power to the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming (v. 14), thus corresponding to the ten toes on the image described in Daniel 2.

Now, look more closely at the history of the "seven heads" mentioned in Revelation 17. In the years after the imperial restoration, the eastern emperors generally focused their attention closer to home. The protection and security that the eastern emperors provided for the West became negligible. Private negotiations between Charles, King of the Franks, and Leo, Bishop of Rome, were held to resolve this problem. The results of the negotiations were made manifest in 800AD.

"On Christmas Day, as Charlemagne [King of the Franks], in the chlamys and sandals of a patricius romanus, knelt before St. Peter's altar in prayer, [Pope] Leo suddenly produced a jeweled crown, and set it upon the King's head. The congregation, perhaps instructed beforehand to act according to ancient ritual as the senatus popu-lusque Romanus confirming a coronation, thrice cried out: 'Hail to Charles the Augustus, crowned by God the great and peace-bringing Emperor of the Romans!' The royal head was anointed with holy oil, the Pope saluted Charlemagne as Emperor and Augustus." (Durant, pp. 468-469). After several years of dispute, the eastern emperor at Byzantium recognized Charlemagne as co-emperor. The Imperium in the West passed to yet a second head since the days of the "deadly wound" in 476 and its subsequent "healing" in 554. Both times were at papal behest and with papal blessing.

As historian Will Durant puts it: "Out of this intimate co-operation of Church and state came one of the most brilliant ideas in the history of statesmanship: the transformation of Charlemagne's realm into a Holy Roman Empire that should have behind it all the prestige, sanctity, and stability of both Imperial and papal Rome" (Durant, p. 468).

During the century and a half that followed Charlemagne's coronation, his empire slowly disintegrated under weak successors. By 936 the German Saxons had become the most powerful group in central Europe. In 955 Otto, Duke of the Saxons and King of the Germans, defeated the Magyars who were attempting to invade western Europe from the East. Several years later he entered Italy at the request of Pope John XII to restore him to power and in the aftermath received the imperial crown at Pavia in 962. "Thus once again the ghost of the Roman empire was summoned to sanction the successful state building of a semi-barbarian king" (Handbook of Western Civilization, William McNiel, p. 317). Otto's coronation marked the inauguration of a third head in the continuity of the western empire since Justinian's imperial restoration.

How did Otto's contemporaries and their successors view the significance of his revival of the empire? As historian Robert Hertzstein wrote, "the Empire was understood not as a mere term, but as a universal Christian regent for God on Earth, to exist until the coming of the Anti-Christ. Like Charlemagne, Otto received his throne through the Papal claim that the Roman Church had been the only Imperial elector since the early fourth century... The Holy Roman Empire was thus to a large extent German in its ethnic and political base, Christian in its moral justification, and Roman in its claim to legitimacy and universality" (The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, ed. Hertzstein, p. viii).

In an essay titled "The Empire as a Regency for God on Earth," noted Austrian historian Friedrich Heer wrote: "The task of the Empire was to be God's protagonist on earth, to fulfill His aims here, to protect Christianity and the Church, and to preserve the righteousness of God and the divine order of the universe on earth. The earthly Empire was the transitory reflection of the eternal City of God. In the imperial symbols this claim was displayed to the whole world: with the imperial apple, filled with earth from the four corners of the world, the Emperor holds the whole world in his hand. [the emperor] called the imperial crown corona urbis et orbis [the crown of Rome and of the globe]; he viewed himself as the caput mundi and as the dominator obris et urbis [head of the world and ruler of the globe and of Rome]" (Hertzstein, pp. 64-65).

Otto's revived empire continued for almost 300 years. Finally, with the death of Conrad IV in 1254, the empire became so rent by rival factions that a 19-year interregnum (time without an emperor) resulted. In its aftermath, Rudolph I was elected emperor in 1273—the first of the Hapsburg family to be elevated to the imperial throne. The apex of this fourth revival of the old Roman imperium was the crowning of Rudolph's descendant, Charles V, in Bologna by Pope Clement VII in 1530. Charles ruled over a vast empire. From his mother (Joan, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain) he had inherited Spain and all Spanish possessions in the New World. From his father he inherited the vast Hapsburg domains in Germany, Italy and central Europe.

After Charles V, Hapsburg power waned. By the 18th century, "Holy Roman Emperor" was an increasingly empty title. In the final decade of the 18th century, all of Europe was shaken by the French Revolution and its aftermath. A man both highly gifted and supremely ambitious came to power in France. His name was Napoleon, and he aspired to far more than the presidency of a French Republic or even becoming a new king of France. His ambition could only be satisfied by the reestablishment of the Roman Empire—with himself as emperor. As historian Will Durant notes, "he dreamt of rivaling Charlemagne and uniting western Europe" (The Story of Civilization, Will Durant, vol. 11, p. 243).

Napoleon considered himself a successor to Caesar and Charlemagne. Staging a plebiscite which he won by a vote of 3,572,329 to 2,569, Napoleon had the French Senate proclaim him emperor on May 18, 1804. Immediately he began negotiations with Pope Pius VII to come to Paris and consecrate him as emperor. The negotiations were successful and the coronation occurred on December 2.

The Hapsburgs of Austria felt keenly the successive diplomatic and military pushes of Napoleon, especially his assumption of the imperial title. Two years later, at Napoleon's instigation, 16 princes and their states withdrew from the Holy Roman Empire, formed the Confederation of the Rhine and asked Napoleon to take them under his protection as a part of his empire. The following month, on August 6, 1806, Francis II renounced his now-empty title as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon's European empire now stretched from the Atlantic to the Elbe. Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, western Germany and eventually all of Italy formed his renewed empire. Napoleon thus became the fifth head of the revived western Imperium since the days of Justinian.

Napoleon's empire was not destined to be long-lived, however. A British-led coalition brought about his defeat and abdication in 1814. This ended a period of 1,260 years since the imperial restoration under Justinian in 554. Thus the prophecy in Revelation 13:3-5 of the Beast receiving a deadly wound, the wound being healed, and then the Beast "given authority to continue for forty-two months" was fulfilled (42 "months" of 30 days equal 1,260 "days"). Napoleon's abdication marked the end of an epoch. According to prophecy there were yet to be two more attempted revivals of the glory and grandeur of ancient Rome.

Two Final Revivals— One Past and One Yet to Come

After Napoleon's collapse in 1814, Germany and Italy remained divided and impotent for the next half-century. Each was divided into a number of small states and principalities and was rent with internal squabbles. By 1871, Bismarck had succeeded in uniting all of non-Hapsburg Germany under the Prussian king while Garibaldi succeeded in uniting all of Italy under the northern Italian king of Sardinia-Piedmont.

Fifty years after the inauguration of Garibaldi's union, a strong man, who had visions of once again restoring the grandeur and glory of ancient Rome, came to power in this united Italy. His name was Benito Mussolini and he led his Fascists to power in 1922. The Fascists derived their name from the fasces of Imperial Rome. The fasces was an ax wrapped in a bundle of rods signifying unity and authority. It was carried by Roman consuls as a symbol of their office.

Since 1870, when King Victor Emmanuel's Italian army had defeated the armies of the pope and captured Rome, there had been a tense standoff between the popes and the new rulers of Italy. Finally in 1929 Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the papacy, which established papal sovereignty over Vatican City and

Prophetic "Babylon": The Successive Reigns of Gentile Kingdoms

Image (Daniel 2)

4 Beasts (Daniel 7); Ram and Goat (Daniel 8)

Beasts from Sea and Earth (Revelation 13)

Harlot Riding Scarlet Beast (Revelation 17)

Symbolic Meaning

Historical Fulfillment

Head of Gold

(w. 32, 38)

Lion (7:4)

7-Headed Beast from Sea with Lion Mouth,

1 st Head of Babylon

Neo-Baby Ionian (or Chaldean) Empire, 625—539bc

Chest and Arms of Silver (w. 32, 39)

Bear (7:5); 2-Horned Ram (8:3-4, 20)

Bear Feet

2nd Head of Babylon

Me do-Persian Empire 558-3 30bc

Belly and Thighs of Bronze

(w. 32, 39)

4-Headed Leopard (7:6); Male Goat with Large Horn and 4 Notable Horns (8:5-8, 21-22)

and Leopard Body

(v. 2)

3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Heads of Babylon

Hellenistic Empire of Alexander the Great and Its 4 Divisions 333-31 bc

2 Legs of Iron (w. 33, 40-43)

Beast with Iron Teeth and 10 Horns (7:7, 23-24)

7th Head of this Beast Has 10 Horns (v. 1)

7-Headed Scarlet Beast (v. 3)

(ridden at some point by Harlot described below)

7th Head of Babylon

Roman Empire 31 bc —476ad

(Constantine declares "Christianity" official religion in 324ad)

Deadly Wound (v. 3)

Apparent End of Beast

Fail of Rome (476ad )

1st Horn (uprooted)

1 st Horn

3 Successive Horns (barbarian followers of Arianism destroyed on papal authority—this period called the transition age in Philip Myers Ancient History, p. 571)

Kingdom of the Vandals 4 29-5 3 3AD

2nd Horn (uprooted)

2nd Horn

Heruli (under Odoacer) 476—493ad

3rd Horn (uprooted)

3rd Horn

Kingdom of the Ostrogoths 493—554ad

Little Horn among the 10 (7:8, 20-22, 24-27)

2-Horned Lamb-Like Beast from Earth and Image (w. 11-18)

Royally Clad Harlot named Mystery, Babylon the Great (w. 1-6)

False Christian Religion Ruling the Beast

Roman Catholic Church under the Pope (in the "image" of the Roman civil government)

4th Horn

1 st of Last 7 Horns; Deadly Wound healed

_

1 st Head of Scarlet Beast ridden by Harlot

Revivals of the Beast: The 7 last horns of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are the same as the

Imperial Restoration of the West under Justinian (554ad)

5th Horn

2nd of Last 7 Horns

is

2nd Head ridden by Harlot

Carolingian Empire (Charlemagne crowned in 800ad )

6th Horn

3rd of Last 7 Horns

îlè C ,_ 1

3rd Head ridden by Harlot

7 heads of the Scarlet Beast of Revelation 17

Holy Roman Empire

(Otto the Great crowned in 962ad )

7th Horn

4th of Last 7 Horns

4th Head ridden by Harlot

(5 of which are "fallen" when Napoleon is defeated in 1814—v. 10)

Hapsburg Dynasty (Charles V crowned in 1530ad )

8th Horn

5th of Last 7 Horns

5th Head ridden by Harlot

Napoleon's Empire 1804-1814ad

In 1814, 1,260 years after the Deadly Wound was healed in 554ad, the "Holy Roman Empire" ended with Napoleon's crushing defeat According to Willis Wesfs Modem History, "so closed a government that dated from Augustus Caesar" (p. 377).

9th Horn

6th of Last 7 Horns

6th Head ridden by Harlot

"One IS" (Revelation 17:10)— understood by God's Church in end time (Daniel 12:9-10)

Italy and Germany ending in the Hitler-Mussolini Axis 1870—1945ad

10 Toes on 2 Feet of Iron Mixed with Ceramic Clay (w. 33, 42)

10th and Final Horn

7th of Last 7 Horns

7th Head ridden by Harlot (with 10 Horns); 8th System if Beast itself is 1 st (v. 11)

Other Revival That Has "NOT YET COME" (Revelation 17:10)

Last Revival of the Roman Empire (10 national rulers under a single leader)

made Mussolini's government the first Italian government in modern history to be recognized officially by the pope.

The Concordat signed between the papacy and Italy's Fascist government was a prelude to one signed four years later between the papacy and the German Nazi government. The role of the Vatican in establishing both Mussolini and Hitler in power is detailed in Hitler's Pope, the Secret History of Pius XII (John Cornwell, Viking, 1999).

Anxious to restore "glory," Mussolini looked for places to conquer. Ethiopia, whose armies had routed the Italians out of East Africa in 1896, seemed a likely prospect. Mussolini's armies successfully invaded Ethiopia and Somaliland. In 1936 he grandiosely proclaimed, from the balcony of the Palace Venezia, "after 15 centuries, the reappearance of the Empire on the fated hills of Rome." Mussolini then proceeded to enter into an alliance with Adolph Hitler, ruler of Germany since 1933, that resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis of World War II. This sixth attempt at uniting Europe by reviving the concept of imperial Rome went down in flames and ignominy in 1945.

Many said in the aftermath of World War II that Europe's day was gone. Cities, countryside and national economies were devastated throughout the continent, especially in Germany. Many thought Russian communism was the wave of the future in Europe. After all, Stalin quickly planted the Russian boot on as much of Europe as he could immediately after the war. The idea of a German-led Europe playing a dominant role in world affairs was something that most observers said could never again happen.

Yet in 1957, within 12 years of the end of World War II, the Treaty of Rome instituted a fledgling Common Market consisting of France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux states. This was the direct predecessor of today's powerful European Union.

Prophecies for Our Day and Beyond

Is this European Union setting the stage for the future—a seventh and final attempt at resurrecting the grandeur and might of imperial Rome? When Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are compared, we see that the "ten horns" (kingdoms) sprang out of the Roman Empire, the seventh head of the Beast. The first three of these "horns," the Vandals, Herulii and Ostrogoths, were "plucked up" at papal behest. This fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 7:7-8, 23-25, leaving the final seven "horns." Six attempts to restore the empire of ancient Rome occurred with papal sanction. They have come and gone, and are now part of the historical record.

The story of the seven revivals (six in the past and one yet future) is also told symbolically in Revelation 17. Here we find pictured another Beast with seven heads and ten horns. This creature is different from that of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13—it is ridden by a woman, symbolizing a religious organization labeled "Mystery, Babylon the Great." In other words, it is a perpetuation of the old Babylonian mystery religion now grown great and powerful.

The seven-headed creature of Revelation 17 is clearly the Holy Roman Empire, because "The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits" (Revelation 17:9). In verse 10, the seven "mountains" are identified as seven kings or kingdoms. The creatures portrayed in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 were not ridden by the woman. The Beast of Revelation 17 is. Like its predecessor, it has ten horns on its final head. In Revelation 17, the ten horns represent ten future rulers who will collectively give their power and authority to "the Beast"—an end-time revival of the old Holy Roman Empire. The time setting is yet ahead of us because these ten will fight against Christ at His return (Revelation 17:12-14, 17).

This brings us back to the first vision that Daniel interpreted— the image in Daniel 2 of the two legs of iron ending in feet of iron and clay. The ten toes, five on each foot, were pictured as being smashed by Christ at His return prior to setting up the Kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 2:34-35, 42-44). The ten toes of Daniel 2 and the ten horns of Revelation 17 are synonymous, symbolizing ten rulers who will collectively support and give their allegiance to the seventh and final resurrection of the Roman Empire.

The legs of the Daniel 2 image represent the Roman Empire divided into the Eastern Empire and the Western Empire by the emperor Diocletian in 286AD. Bible prophecy focuses on the continuation of the western empire—the Beast ridden by the

"woman." Yet Daniel 2 shows that the eastern leg has a part to play in the final revival. The eastern Roman Empire continued with emperors ruling in Constantinople until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks overran the city and killed the last emperor, Constantine XI.

But that was not the end of the eastern leg. In 1472, 19 years after the fall of Constantinople, the pope performed a marriage ceremony between Ivan the Great, Duke of Muscovy, and Zoe, niece and heir to the last eastern emperor. "The marriage was of importance in establishing the claim of Russian rulers to be the successors of the Greek emperors and the protectors of Orthodox Christianity... Ivan took the title Tsar, [or Czar] i.e., Caesar" (Langer, p. 342). Thus, down through history, the Roman Empire continued as two legs. Two individuals claimed to be the successors of Caesar. In the Latin, Germanic, Roman Catholic realm of the West the form of the title was Kaiser. In the Greek, Slavic, Orthodox realm of the East it was Tsar.

The One who says He declares "the end from the beginning" reveals that eventually ten kings (or rulers) who are the successors of both the eastern and western "legs" will unite. They will form the last resurrection of the Roman Empire—the final embodiment of Babylon.

There is some bad news ahead. These final ten rulers will give their support to a coming union of church and state in Europe, which will aspire to world dominance. As Johannes Haller, a popular German historian who died in 1947, put it: "In the memory of the German people the old [Holy Roman] Empire lives on as a time of greatness and splendor that must one day come to life again" ("The Greatest Epoch of the German People," 1944).

After an interlude of apparent peace and prosperity, this system will plunge the whole world into a hellish nightmare. Unless God were to intervene by sending Jesus Christ back to this earth, utter destruction would result and no flesh would be left alive (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30).

Yet beyond the bad news there is good news—really the best news possible. In the days of this final union of European rulers, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44).

Chapter 4

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