My wife and I have often passed through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport traveling to or from Ghana. Sometimes, we have broken up the return journey to Michigan with a short stop in England to visit family. There is a direct flight from Amsterdam to my hometown airport in the United Kingdom. When we have taken that option, we go through "Passport Control" in England. We are simply "In Transit" through the Netherlands.
So I was trying to understand why this time we had to go through immigration in Amsterdam when we were not actually visiting the Netherlands. We were, instead, heading to Cologne, Germany, for a three-day visit to the United Church of God office there. We were planning on touring Aachen and Trier for the purpose of further researching the history of Europe and the church.
I assumed that the "Passport Control" requirement had something to do with the Schengen Treaty, which was signed in 1985 by five member countries of what was then the 10-member European Community. I was not sure how many countries are now members, so I asked the official checking our passports.
"Twenty-six," was his answer.
"Twenty-six?" I asked with some incredulity. As there are 27 countries in the European Union, that meant only one was not a signatory. That one would be the United Kingdom, which I knew for a fact was not in the agreement. But I was also fairly sure that Ireland wasn't a member either.
His response to that was that only Iceland and the United Kingdom were not in the "Union." Clearly, the passport official himself was not clear on the difference between the European Union and the Schengen Treaty! The United Kingdom is in the Union but not in the Schengen Treaty; Iceland is not yet a member of the EU but is a Schengen signatory. There are actually 25 members of Schengen, not all of whom are members of the EU.
Confusion about the EU
It was not surprising that an official at the airport did not understand. Few Europeans understand a great deal about the European Union, which has been slowly evolving since the Treaty of Rome was signed by the original six members in 1957. Those signatories pledged themselves to form "an ever closer union," which is exactly what has been happening since.
When you ask average citizens of the European Union what they think of the organization, often they will say it's too bureaucratic or too expensive. But most will agree that it has been successful in bringing the nations of Europe together, giving most of the continent over 60 years of unparalleled peace.
Whereas most people still identify themselves as British, French or German, they are also aware that they are now part of something much bigger, a group of nations that has achieved unprecedented prosperity. Indeed, following the financial upheavals of the last year, Europe today is the richest region of the world. Both BusinessWeek and The Wall Street Journal highlighted this new reality in September.
In fact, the United States now leads Europe in only one category—its military power. In every other respect, the EU is more powerful.
As Washington Post bureau chief T.R. Reid put it in his 2004 book The United States of Europe: "The new United States of Europe—to use Winston Churchill's phrase—has more people, more wealth, and more trade than the United States of America. The New Europe cannot match American military strength (and doesn't want to, for that matter). But it has more votes in every international organization than the United States, and it gives away far more money in development aid. The result is global economic and political clout that makes the European Union exactly what its leaders want it to be: a second superpower that can stand on equal footing with the United States" (p. 1).
Is it time for Europe to wake up?
Five years later, a cover on the British magazine The Economist showed a sleeping Europa (the female symbol of Europe), about to be awakened by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, with words that accurately sum up Europe's condition: "Eight wasted years. Two useless treaties. Three No votes. Ignored by China and America. But still the world's biggest economy. Will somebody please...Wake Europe Up!" (Oct. 10, 2009).
Tony Blair has been seen as a leading candidate to be the EU's first executive president, a position to be created now that all 27 member countries have signed the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty provides for a new, streamlined Europe, with its own president and foreign minister. It will also create a diplomatic service for the Union, giving it much greater clout around the world.
"The European project has spent too many of its first 50 years looking inwards: building the single market, sorting out institutions, arguing about money, endlessly negotiating treaties. In the next 50 years it should look outwards more. At present Europe is a weak actor on a stage dominated by America and China; India and Brazil are in the wings. Can this change?" ("Wake Up Europe!" The Economist, Oct. 10, 2009).
Perhaps a more important question is, Does the world want to see Europe rise again?
The final resurrection of the Roman Empire
Earlier articles in this series have shown the various revivals of the Roman Empire through the centuries and the church-state connection that has factored in all of them.
"Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains [seven powerful empires] on which the woman [the false religious system centered in Rome] sits. There are also seven kings [seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire]. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time" (Revelation 17:9-10 Revelation 17:9-10  And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.
 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space.
American King James Version×).
Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, Napoleon and Hitler are the key leaders of the first six revivals of the Roman Empire. "And the other has not yet come." Verses 12-14 help us understand that the final revival is immediately before the second coming of the Messiah: "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings."
The EU is not the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, but it will likely lead to it.
The European Union currently has 27 members. More are likely to join. The growth of the EU is one of its greatest success stories. It's an idea whose time has come. Its biggest problem is managing its potential growth as more nations try to join.
But the Bible clearly shows that the final prophesied Beast power is a union of "ten kings" (or leaders). This could mean that 10 of the present member nations will form a full military and political union, led by a supreme leader referred to in the Scriptures as "the beast."
It could also mean that Europe's political boundaries will be redrawn, creating 10 regions that will then choose their own leaders who, in turn, will choose the supreme leader over them all. A proposal along these lines was suggested a few years ago as an attempt to dampen ethnic and linguistic loyalties that have stalled the European project.
Another possibility is a repeat of the 1930s when democracies failed to solve the Great Depression and people turned to dictatorships.
There is a sense of urgency in this pivotal chapter of the book of Revelation, suggesting that the final European revival will come about as a matter of urgent necessity.
Daniel 11:40 Daniel 11:40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
American King James Version×prophesies a coming clash of civilizations between a revived "king of the North" and "king of the South," the latter likely an Islamic power, a successor to the ancient Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt. The "king of the North" was based north of Jerusalem in the third and second centuries B.C., and was finally taken over by Rome. Its future revival would be fulfilled by a revived Roman Empire whose tentacles reach into the Middle East.
Decline of the United States
It could also be that the urgent need for a fully united Europe comes about as a consequence of something bad befalling the United States, such as an economic collapse or a major terrorist attack.
It is clear that economic power, and thus political clout, is passing from the United States to Europe, China and other parts of the world. At the time of writing, one euro is worth about $1.50 and there is increasing speculation on the dollar's future as the world's reserve currency.
Robert Fisk wrote in The Independent of a plan by the Russians, Chinese and Mideast oil-producing countries to replace the dollar as the unit for pricing oil. The world is increasingly realizing that the United States is less than serious about living within its means, thereby slowly eroding the value of its currency.
"In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning—along with China, Russia, Japan and France—to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council" ("The Demise of the Dollar," Oct. 6, 2009).
Mr. Fisk added: "The decline of American economic power linked to the current global recession was implicitly acknowledged by the World Bank president Robert Zoellick. 'One of the legacies of this crisis may be a recognition of changed economic power relations,' he said in Istanbul ahead of meetings...of the IMF and World Bank" (ibid.).
History meets prophecy
On our visit to Germany, we toured both Aachen, Charlemagne's ancient capital, and Trier, the oldest German settlement and former capital of the Northern Roman Empire. The first Catholic emperor of Rome, Constantine, lived there for a time, during which part of the cathedral was built. After Rome withdrew from the area in 400, a "Dark Age" descended upon it, which lasted until Charlemagne four centuries later. Meanwhile, the church kept the idea of Europe alive.
Europe was the major continent of the world for centuries during the colonial era until the end of World War II. Once again, it is set to revive, perhaps as a direct result of the current international financial crisis, which is leading to major changes across the globe.
Historically, economic power has always led to political and military power. As Europe is now the richest region of the world and the world's greatest trading power, it will not be long until this is translated into greater political and military power.
A final revival of the Roman Empire is all set to take place in the not too distant future. WNP