The role of the watchman in Israel of old was clear. He was to watch for danger. Chosen for his keen eye, he had to remain alert, awake and watchful by day and night. And when he saw the signs of impending attack his task was to clearly and urgently give warning by blowing the trumpet. What if he should fail in this vital task? The lives of his people, entrusted to his vigilance, his stamina and his sense of responsibility, could be lost; the nation overrun.

In Ezekiel 33:7 the prophet is given a solemn charge by his God: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me”. Our Lord expects us all to be watchmen, remaining alert if need be through the long watches of the night until he comes. The Apostle Paul adds his reminder: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night… Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1Thess 5:2–6). So as we take our post on the watchtower and look out at the world of the latter days, what do we see?

The New Europe—Instant Superpower

Watchmen may have noticed the above statement on the front cover of National Geographic magazine for January 2002. The feature article was prompted by the roll-out of the euro coins and banknotes for general usage through all the countries of the European Union, with the exceptions of Sweden, Denmark, and the UK. Here’s how the article described modern Europe: “The relentlessly modern office towers of Brussels’ Quartier Leopold house many of the institutions of the European Union, the ambitious effort to create a continent so integrated, so connected, that war will be impossible. Since it began as a coal-and-steel trading arrangement just after World War 11, this new concept of Europe has grown dramatically from a Common Market to a Community to the present Union of 15 countries, with 13 more applicant nations eager to join in. The European Union has its own parliament, bill of rights, court system, currency, flag, anthem and 60 000 member army (or Rapid Reaction Force, to be precise). It has a 30 000 person bureaucracy and an 80 000 page legal code governing everything from human rights violations and corporate taxation to jam labels and lawn mower safety.

“The EU has expanded so far and so fast that academics have been left groping for a term to describe this new political creature. ‘When you get to flags and courts and currency, you’re talking about the attributes of a nation-state’, says Mark Mazower, a historian of modern Europe at the University of London.”

The writer of the National Geographic article spoke to Romano Prodi the current President of the European Commission. He then went on to say: “For at least six decades—that is the entire life of most Americans living today—the United States has been the richest place on the planet. But the statistics Signor Prodi spun off for me suggest that a genuinely united Europe would challenge American dominance. Today’s 15-member EU has a total population of around 380 million—about 35 percent more than the US (If all of the 13 current applicants for membership were to join up, the EU population would reach about 550 million.) The combined GDP of the 15 members is 7.8 trillion dollars, drawing ever closer to America’s 9.9 trillion. The EU’s annual exports total 857 billion dollars, and its imports come to 938 billion. With those trade volumes the new euro could challenge the US dollar’s status as the world’s preferred reserve currency”.

Christadelphian watchmen have observed these developments with wonder, seeing the emergence of these kings of the earth who “have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast… For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree” (Rev 17:12–17).

“The Land of Magog… Gomer and all his Bands”

The European Union or “Euroland” as many are coming to call it, is being driven by France and Germany. The former British Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, declared: “The whole idea of a United Europe was and remains a Franco-German initiative”. A CNN report on the “Changing Face of Europe” agreed: “It seems clear however, that France and Germany, who 50 years ago were locked in the bloodiest conflict in European history, now form a union within a union at the heart of Europe”.

“Increasingly it seems that they are not simply the key members of the EU”, says (former President of the EU Commission) Gaston Thorn, “they are coming to dominate it, with other member states just having to say yes to whatever they want.”

Europe is sailing into increasingly uncertain waters. One thing all experts agree on, however, is that it is France and Germany who are at its helm.

In chapter five of the third section of Elpis Israel, under the heading “Magogue and Gomer”, Dr Thomas identifies Magog with the region of northern and central Europe, dominated by Germany, and after reviewing the evidence in relation to Gomer, states bluntly: “Gomer then points immediately to France”. And today, fellow watchmen, we see from the vantage point of our Scriptural watchtower, these very nations emerge to lead and dominate a united Europe. Time surely to “blow an alarm with the trumpets” that we might “be remembered before Yahweh our God” (Num 10:9).

A New (Old) Imperial Palace for Germany?

Another snippet from the ubiquitous CNN: “Prussian palace reborn in Berlin?” Such is the headline for an intriguing article datelined Berlin. “The building where East Germany decided to re­unify with the west may be flattened and replaced with a reconstruction of the Prussian palace demolished by the Communists. The indication so far is that the [Schlossplatz] Commission will support recreating the old 15th century palace.”

The palace, built in 1443, became the seat of Prussia’s monarchs in the 18th century. It was destroyed in 1950 by the GDR’s first Communist leader, Walter Ulbricht, who called it “a decadent symbol of Prussia’s militaristic past”.

One opponent of this plan declared: “We don’t have a king, we’re a republic…”. But for how long?

Berlin and Russia

While on the subject of empire building in Berlin, Interfax International reports: “The Russian gas giant Gazprom and (its European partner) Wintershall have decided to set up a European control centre in Berlin that will co-ordinate the implementation of gas supply and transhipment contracts by all the operators of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, a Gazprom executive said.

“The centre will co-ordinate gas supplies to Europe, including Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.”

The massive mutual dependence between Russia and Europe on gas and oil supplies has been noted in previous Watchman articles. More straws in the wind!

“No European Army”

“No European army, no European cap badges, no European flags, a British contribution to European co-operation firmly under British control and deployed at the behest of a British minister.” So said the United Kingdom defence secretary Geoff Hoon concerning the arrangements for the European Rapid Reaction Force. Are these the words of a Britain committed to a role in Europe? See what his words betray. “No European… no European… no European” but rather “British… British… British” is his refrain.

The reality is that European countries have agreed to make available 100 000 troops, 100 ships and 400 combat aircraft to the new force. A small start to be sure, but from the small start of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 the edifice of Euroland has emerged. A land driven by France and Germany, with a lukewarm United Kingdom in their train, currently a member, but by its very words of so-called commitment, as demonstrated by its defence secretary, revealing its lack of commitment.

There is another role for Britain, declared by God’s prophets long ago, that watchmen do well to remember.

The “Seven Deadly Sins”

An article from The Spectator, reprinted in The Weekend Australian, reminds watchmen to direct their gaze not only to the developing political scene, but to the society in which we live as well. The article begins: “Once upon a time, there were seven deadly sins. They were called deadly because they led to spiritual death and therefore to damnation. The seven sins were (and are): lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride. Now all of them, with the exception of pride, have become medical conditions. Pride has become a virtue.

“It should be noted that the therapeutic imperative alters the concept not only of sin but also of virtue. In the Middle Ages, practising the seven contrary virtues—humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, diligence—was believed to protect one against temptation towards the seven deadly sins. Today people who practise some of these virtues are just as liable to be offered counselling as those who are tempted by sin… Humble people lack self-esteem, and chastity is just another sexual dysfunction. Virtue is not so much its own reward, as a condition requiring therapeutic intervention.”

Yes, our society truly has reached the condition Paul described in 2 Timothy 3 when men call evil good, and good evil.

Let watchmen continue to man the watchtower of their homes, their families, their ecclesias. Let them not sleep as do others; but let them watch and be sober. Behold Israel and Jerusalem, a burdensome stone for all people. Observe Europe and Russia. See that long foretold confederation coming together. Know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. Watch ye therefore, and pray always.