More than three decades ago our family of five moved from the United States to Britain. During most of the time since, I have researched and written many articles about the emergence of a group of European states gradually inching toward becoming one powerful political, economic and military union. Now called the European Union (EU), it was formerly named the European Economic Community (EEC).
Why is the issue of European integration important? Bible prophecy indicates that the EU will catch up with the United States as a world powerhouse—and eventually move ahead of America. While clearly already an economic superpower, at the moment the European Union remains a relative dwarf militarily.
But it will not remain so indefinitely. And considering that two world wars started on the European continent and killed many millions, the world should rightly fear when military power begins to inevitably flow from Europe's growing economic muscle.
Europeans' loss of national sovereignty
Americans are largely unaware of where trends are taking Europe. Much of this is due to the U.S. media, which devotes little coverage to international areas and developments and tends to focus more on trivialities. As a result, Americans fail to understand the significance of how greatly the world is changing.
As a longtime member of the Foreign Press Association in London, I have attended many EU conferences throughout Western Europe as a correspondent. Step by step, year by year, I have watched as national sovereignty has been stripped away from individual European nations to satisfy the ambitions and aspirations of the ever-expanding European Union. Much damage has already been done, and Europe's course appears irreversible.
In the Jan. 13, 2010, issue of the online publication American Thinker, John Griffing sums up the ill effects of these changes: "Europe—the Europe of free and independent nations—is no more. Sovereignty is all but dead there, and a collective behemoth, tellingly referred to as the 'European Soviet' by Mikhail Gorbachev, now straddles the continent, ushering in a new tyranny for the 21st century.
"With the unanimous (and highly undemocratic) ratification of the infamous Lisbon Treaty on November 3, 2009, the European Union has achieved a transfer of authority that even the most aggressive military conquests could not. Even the German Anschluss [the union of Greater Germany and Austria during World War II] can't compare to this unified surrender of freedom by stargazing Europeans" ("The Breaking of Nations," emphasis added throughout).
During late 1991 I attended an EEC conference in Maastricht, Holland, which produced the Treaty on European Union (signed in 1992). At the time, noted historian Paul Johnson summed up the ongoing British loss of national sovereignty with his nostalgic title "Farewell to the England I Loved." His opening words were: "For me the squalid haggling of Maastricht marked the end of England..." His concluding paragraph included the words, "England is dying and we are stuck in a robotic mega state," referring to European unification (The Sunday Telegraph, Dec. 15, 1991).
That was nearly 20 years ago. In the two decades since, more and more national sovereign rights have been swallowed up.
Late 1989—the crucial turning point
Between 1982 and November 1989, several visits to communist Eastern Europe gave me cause for apprehension at border crossings. One Czech train conductor sought to confiscate all my travel expense receipts (without success). On another occasion it required six Polish border guards, one right after the other, to match my face with my passport photo.
It's difficult to believe that just over 20 years ago the borders between Western and Eastern Europe were virtual frontiers of fear separating the free world from one gripped by communist totalitarianism.
But the iron curtain collapsed with a thud. Our London editorial office had dispatched me to Berlin in early November 1989 to cover the fall of the Berlin Wall, which had formerly prevented East Germans from escaping into free West Berlin. It was exciting to see the East Berliners passing through the infamous Checkpoint Charlie unhindered by armed East German border guards.
At that time West Berlin, brimming with financial and material prosperity, contrasted sharply with the stark, gray, rundown buildings of East Berlin. Yet returning for the anniversary celebrations 20 years later, I noticed little difference between the eastern and western sectors of the now united capital of Germany. The entire city seemed energized, modernized and ready for its role in the future.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was indeed a historic watershed event. At the time, Paul Johnson wrote with seemingly prophetic insight, "The breakup of the Eastern bloc opens the way for the world dominance of a greater Europe" (The Spectator, Nov. 11, 1989).
Johnson knew the German nation: "Germany was always too big and powerful, the Germans too industrious and numerous to play a limited role in Central Europe" (ibid).
German reunification: The far-reaching consequences
The Jan. 11, 2010, issue of Time magazine described German Chancellor Angela Merkel as "a trailblazer and the unchallenged leader of Europe's largest economy." The cover of the European edition of this issue featured her portrait with the telling caption: "Frau Europa: Angela Merkel has more power than any leader on the continent. What will she do with it?"
It took less than a year from the collapse of the Berlin Wall for East and West Germany to achieve formal reunification on Oct. 11, 1990. That paved the way for steps to unify all of Europe.
Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, wrote in the International Herald Tribune late last year: "Over the last 20 years, Germans have accomplished important things. They have helped integrate the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into the European Union and into the trans-Atlantic security of NATO. They have helped build an historic European Union in peace" (Nov. 7-8, 2009).
With America's recent financial meltdown, the European Union is now the world's greatest economic power, with a GDP almost as large as the United States and China combined. As The Wall Street Journal recently noted, "Contrary to the view of the [European] continent as sclerotic, no other region has changed more radically in the last 20 years" (Gareth Harding, "Europe Reborn," Nov. 3, 2009).
In the last 20 years, the EU has grown from 12 countries to 27. The euro has replaced many national currencies in Europe. Many members of the European Union have benefited economically. But at what enormous cost to their liberties?
Another view of Europe
Many observers applaud the European Union as the solution to the continent's age-old problems of conflict, economic inequality and war. They view this transnational body as the most positive geopolitical development ever to occur in Europe.
Yet in the words of John Griffing's American Thinker article, "Europe is now lost to history." He stated that the Lisbon Treaty of late 2009, which restructures the European Union as a federal superstate (essentially a "United States of Europe"), "is one of the most destructive documents in European history," explaining that "the unelected European Commission can revise, edit or even remake the laws passed by the people's duly elected representatives."
Important parts of Britain's Magna Carta have been overturned. National and personal liberties are in serious jeopardy. Centuries of Anglo-Saxon law have been subverted by the Napoleonic Code's approach of "guilty until proven innocent."
Griffing addresses how it all happened: "How did independent nations with separate identities and divergent cultures allow themselves to be bullied into submission by a gaggle of European bureaucrats in Brussels? The answer is that the attack on European nationhood was implemented brick by brick, piece by piece, bite by bite."
His words are strongly reminiscent of Winston Churchill, who stated that Adolf Hitler conquered the European continent step by step. Indeed a book was published collecting some of his previously printed writings under that very title, Step by Step.
And just as Hitler had a grand design for Europe, the Bible reveals that a grand design is at work behind current efforts to unify Europe and transform it into the world's next great superpower.
The divine insight sorely needed
Though rarely given serious consideration, what God sees within Europe is what really counts. His political and geographic vision is far, far sharper than our own. He understands and sees trends and happenings as no human being or nation does. And our Creator has revealed His thoughts in the Bible, of which a fourth to a third is devoted to prophecy.
Hundreds of years before Christ, the Hebrew prophet Daniel foretold future occurrences in the Middle East and the world at large, including in Central Europe. His prophecies were later complemented and fleshed out in the book of Revelation, revealed to the apostle John near the end of the first century.
Both prophets show that a European-centered superpower will rise to dominate the world in the end time, just before Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. As revealed to John, this superpower will be a union of 10 rulers of nations or groups of nations (Revelation 17:12-14). By all appearances, this final superpower may not be that long in coming. The foundation is being built before our eyes.
At the very end time, all nations on earth will be severely chastened by tragic events yet to occur. Terrifying events, including earthshaking natural disasters and clashes of nations and civilizations that will claim literally billions of lives, will take place before human beings finally realize that God is the ultimate Ruler over the kingdoms of men.
A number of times the prophet Ezekiel quoted God as saying, "They shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 7:27; 25:17; 29:21). This life-bringing understanding will finally reach its zenith during Christ's reign following His return to the earth: "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever'" (Revelation 11:15, New International Version).
Jesus Christ Himself will at that time establish His reign on earth, assisted by those who have faithfully served and followed Him in this life (Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6).
This is what Bible prophecy reveals in the near future for you, me and the entire world. The foundation is being laid even now. Are you paying attention? Will you be ready? GN