Revelation 17 presents us with the final  phase of the European Beast. The nations of  Europe finally give their power and strength  to a centralised system of power and control. The  Roman Catholic harlot rides the beast. She is the  one who takes control. After centuries of struggle  to regain her power in Europe, it is ironic that she  finally achieves this goal after Armageddon. Christ  and the Saints are victorious in Jerusalem and  prepare to establish the Kingdom in the aftermath of  Israel’s defeat and subsequent salvation. The tragic  irony of this is that the Catholic Church believes  this to be her finest hour. Just like Belshazzar’s  drunken party in the face of imminent destruction,  so too will European nations have confidence to  make war with the Lamb (Rev 17:14; Psalm 2).  Revelation 19:11–21 provides an explanation of  this final confrontation.

When we go back to Revelation 16 however,  we see that the Roman Church begins her recovery  before Armageddon. So too does the Holy Roman  Empire, a United Europe. The verses in Revelation  16 are dramatic in their succinctness and simplicity.  We are told that the dragon and the beast reappear  before Armageddon. So too does the Papal false  prophet, who worked “miracles” through the  Dark Ages (Rev 19:20). The dragon is the Eastern  Roman Empire with its Orthodox Church. The last  reference to this is in Revelation 13:4. We have  seen the revival of this system in Russia since 1988  and it will finally be revealed in all its arrogance  and brutality when Russia moves south through  Turkey just prior to occupying the Holy Land  (Daniel 11:40–45). It is therefore highly likely that  the Saints will have been taken to judgment before  this occurs.

The Beast of the Earth returns

The beast of Revelation 16:13 is the “Beast of the  Earth” of Revelation 13:11–18. This was the Holy  Roman Empire which brutally suppressed believers  for over 1000 years. It had two horns, representing  a religious leader (pope) and a political leader (emperor). The fact that this Beast reappears  after its kingdom became full of darkness after the  French Revolution is remarkable. It is a miracle.

On 1st December 2009 Europe once again had  two horns. It also became a legal entity, an empire.  For the first time in over 200 years, Europe now  has both a political and religious leader. Then on  3rd December Russia signed a deal with the Vatican,  establishing full diplomatic ties. Within the space  of three days we have the appearance of the very  three powers that bring the world to Armageddon:

“EU Lisbon treaty comes into force: The  EU’s Lisbon Treaty  has come into force,  marking what Sweden’s  P r i m e M i n i s t e r  describes as a ‘new  era’ for the 27-nation  bloc. Fredrik Reinfeldt,  who is steering the EU  presidency, says the  treaty makes the EU  ‘more open and more  democratic’. Critics say  the treaty will cede too many national powers  to Brussels. One of the treaty’s key areas is the  removal of national vetoes in a number of areas.”  (BBC, 1.12.09)

“russia and the vatican establish full diplomatic ties: Russia and the Vatican have  agreed to establish full diplomatic relations, the  Kremlin has announced. The Announcement  comes after President Medvedev met Pope  Benedict XVI while on a visit to Italy. The move  follows improvements in relations between the  Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican.”  (BBC, 3.12.09)

As we would expect, this latest phase in  European Unity has not gone down well in Britain.  As the Tarshish of Ezekiel 38, we expect Britain  to eventually stand aside from latter day Catholic  Europe:

“papers unhappy over lisbon treaty: The  ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has gone down  very badly with most newspapers. The Daily  Express is deeply unhappy, describing it as ‘the  end’ of Britain. The country, it feels, has ‘been  sold down the river’. The Sun believes Britain  has been ‘betrayed’. The Times suggests we are  seeing what it calls ‘the dawn of a new Europe’.  The Daily Mail is interested where the treaty  leaves David Cameron’s ‘cast iron’ pledge  to offer the British people a referendum. The  Mail thinks Mr Cameron is now ‘under intense  pressure’ to hold a national vote on Europe if his  party wins power.” (BBC World News 4.11.09)

“standing alone still an option for britain:  Britain has not even had a first referendum, as  a result of an elaborate European conspiracy.  Whether it is in Britain’s interest to remain  in the EU has become a matter of legitimate  debate. We have to ask whether we are partners  in a failed marriage.” (The Australian 6.10.09)

The Lisbon treaty is not just another signed  piece of paper. It has far reaching implications,  changing the whole power structure of Europe.  Europe has become an Empire – the Holy Roman  Empire:

“more than 50 eu embassies open ac ross  the world: More than 50 EU embassies have  opened across the world since the Lisbon  Treaty came into force 3 weeks ago. The move  has led to fears that British consular facilities  could be shut down as Brussels establishes  itself as a world power. Critics say the 54  new embassies will shift power away from  the British foreign office towards a new EU  diplomatic service. The decision to give 54 of  the European Commission’s 136 delegations  full ambassadorial status was taken without any  public announcement…” (UK Daily Telegraph,  22.01.10)

“pope: europe must not forget ‘christian  roots’: Pope Benedict XVI urged the EU not  to forget its ‘Christian roots’ as he received the  EU’s new envoy to the Vatican on Monday.  European values are the product of a long  history in which Christianity played a vital role,  he said. ‘When the Church reminds Europe of  its Christian roots, it is recalling the fact that the  founding fathers of the European Union were  inspired by Christianity,’ he said. The pope said  the Church wanted to help in the construction  of the EU.” (EU Business, 19.10.09)

Russia’s religious and military intrigue

Meanwhile Russia continues to move forward  economically and militarily. She is forging vital  alliances with nations who will accompany her in  her future domination of the Middle East:

“moscow hopes to sign arms contracts with libya: Russia is looking to sign a series  of contracts for the delivery of fighter jets and  air-defence systems to Libya, a defence industry  official said.” (RIA Novosti, 22.01.10)

“russia to start iran nuclear plant in 2010:  Russia will this year start up the reactor at Iran’s  long-delayed Bushehr nuclear power plant, the  head of Russia’s state nuclear corporation said.”  (Reuters, 21.01.10) Russia is preparing for war. Mr Putin has openly  spoken about war with those countries who stand in  Russia’s way. Russia’s tentacles continue to extend  to many parts of the globe. Putin also continues to  re-establish the power and authority of the Russian  Orthodox Church in Russia:

“russia forsees war over arctic oil: Russia  has raised the prospect of War in the Arctic  as nations struggle for control of the world’s  dwindling energy reserves. The country’s  new national security strategy (has) identified  the intensifying battle for ownership of vast  untapped oil and gas fields around its borders  as a source of potential military conflict within  a decade. Mr Putin accused the West last year  of coveting Russian energy reserves, saying:  ‘Many conflicts, foreign policy actions and  diplomatic moves smell of oil and gas….’ (The  Australian, 15.05.09)

“Putin gives boost to law on church  property return: The Russian Orthodox  Church looks set to become a major owner of  property in Russia after a long-delayed law  on returning religious property seized by the  Bolsheviks got a push from Prime Minister  Vladimir Putin. Real estate analysts have said  that given the value of land in Moscow and other  cities, the law could put the Church in the league  of the gas and railroad monopolies, Gazprom  and Russian Railways” (RIA Novosti, 14.01.10).

“russia, turkey reinforce key strategic  partnership: Following the meeting between  Russian PM Vladimir Putin and Turkish PM  Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow on 13 January,  Moscow and Ankara have come closer to  building a ‘key’ strategic partnership by  agreeing to deepen cooperation. Putin said  that Russia has won Turkish support for all  its major oil, gas and nuclear projects. He  (said) that Ankara had pledged to fully clear  Russia’s South Stream before November 2010,  when building is due to begin. Putin also said  the governments of Italy, Turkey and Russia  should consider signing a deal to support the  proposed Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline, an oil link  between Turkey’s Black Sea coast and the Mediterranean. He said cooperation between the  two states should involve asset swaps between  major firms and added Russian firms were  ready to take part in privatization of Turkey’s  state assets. Both Putin and Erdogan pledged  to increase the use of national currencies in  bilateral trade, currently at $15.3 billion, which  the leaders want to boost to $100 billion within  the next five years.” (New Europe, 17.01.10)

This is an amazing development. Russia’s move  south is described in Daniel 11:36–45. These verses  are an explanation of Daniel 8:23–25, which says  the latter-day Roman Empire will be re-established  by craft. It is “by peace he shall destroy many”.  Russia is carefully manoeuvring events through  clever diplomacy. There are many in the world  who are worried:

“Russia will now have two major energy  partners, Germany in the north (North Stream)  and Turkey in the south (South Stream). No  wonder Europe becomes jittery every time  Turkish president or prime minister goes to  Russia, or their Russian counterparts visit  Turkey. Europe assumes that Turkey is leaning  increasingly toward Russia and fears that this  may revive Russia’s imperial ambitions.”  (RIA Novosti, 13.01.10 – emphasis added).

The gathering storm

As all these events are playing out, we also see the  convergence of events in Israel and the Middle East.  Moderate Arab nations are being drawn closer to  Israel due to their common enemy Iran. These are  the Sheba and Dedan countries which will question  Russia’s move south (Ezek 38:13). Israel has  apparent security, and also confidence, but is also  wary of the threat from an Iran backed by Russia.

This threat has now reached a critical point:

“israel and iran: the gathering storm: Israel  finds itself in a paradoxical state: more secure  for now, but acutely anxious about the future;  closer than ever to some Arab regimes because  of a perceived common threat from Iran and  its radical allies, yet more demonised by its  Western friends. Israelis see a global campaign  of ‘delegitimisation’ akin to efforts to isolate  white-ruled South Africa. Europe is regarded  as increasingly hostile. There are doubts even  about Israel’s great ally, America, after a spat  over Jewish settlements in the West Bank.” (The  Economist, 7.01.10)

“space launch will enter shehab-4 ballistic missile into operational service: Iran is set to  test a two-stage Safir-type missile in space….  Iranian military and political sources believe the  West will be struck dumb by the new Iranian  missile going operational and its amazing  range… Most of all, they hope Israel will  count the cost before striking at their nuclear  installations. Iran is winding up its preparations  for a possible American or Israeli attack on  its nuclear projects. The program’s overall  objective is to turn out hundreds of missiles  in quantities for overwhelming US and Israel  missile shields.” (Debka, 6.11.09)

“israel’s tricky target: Israeli PM Netanyahu  warned at the UN recently that ‘the most  urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent  the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear  weapons’. Iran has all the technology and  production and manufacturing capabilities  needed for fission weapons. Any strike that flies  over Arab territory or attacks a fellow Islamic  state would stir the ire of Arab states, Russia,  China and several European countries. This  may not stop Israel. Hardly a week goes by without another warning from Israeli officials  that a military strike is possible and that Israel  cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran… Some  experts believe Israel could use penetrators,  which may include a nuclear-armed variant, to  destroy the underground chambers at Natanz  (which are) defended by modern short-range  Russian missiles. Israel might also have to deal  with a Russia that would be far more willing to  sell Iran advanced fighters and surface-to-air  missiles if Israel attacked the Russian-built  reactor at Bushehr.” (The Australian, 16.10.09)

“iran’s nucl ear endgame is near: We are  now moving into the endgame of Iran’s  decade-long drive to acquire the hardware  and technology to build a nuclear bomb. What  happens next could determine whether Iran  becomes a nuclear-armed state, whether the  region is plunged into another war, or whether  Iran and the Arab world embark on a nuclear  arms race. President Ahmadinejad has once  again calculated that attack is the best form of  defence. The Iranian strategy is clear: defy the  West, woo Moscow and Beijing, and build up  support in the developing world. The crisis is likely to feed into the increasing tensions in the  region between Sunni and Shia Muslims, who  are already at odds in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq  and the Gulf states. Further hostilities could  break out with Iran, the main Shia power in the  region, as it supports its brethren against the  Arab states.” (The Australian, 1.12.09)

At the time of writing it was also reported that  the US “is accelerating the deployment of new  defences against possible Iranian missile attacks  in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the  Iranian coast and anti-missile systems in at least  four Arab countries.” (Sydney Morning Herald,  1.02.10)

Endgame in the Kingdom of Men

The battle of Armageddon will be focused on Israel  and particularly the city of Jerusalem. In Zechariah  12–14, Jerusalem is mentioned over 20 times. When  we look at events in the Middle East today, we  observe the storm clouds gathering over the Holy  City. Consider the following headlines:

“israel won’t surrender christian sites to vatican” (Israel Today, 10.12.09)

“vatican, israel joust over jerusalem site”  (Los Angeles Times, 23.12.09)

“catholic bishops criticise israel on palestinians” (Israel National News, 14.01.10)

“russian church and state gaining ground in holy land” (Economist, 17.12.09)

The Economist article said that “a Russian flag  in the centre of Jerusalem, in such close proximity  to the Holy Sepulchre, is priceless.” The Russian  Church is the most significant landowner in  Jerusalem (apart from the Israeli government) and it  will want to protect its holy sites. Ezekiel 36:2 says  that the invader at Armageddon will consider the  Holy Sites (“the ancient high places”) an important  part of the spoil. European leaders also cannot help  continually pressuring Israel over these issues:

“europe’s israel obsession: (Europe’s new  Foreign Minister) used her maiden speech in  the European Parliament to fuel the Continent’s  No 1 international-affairs obsession: trashing the  Jewish state.” (Wall Street Journal, 22.12.09)

“europe: jerusal em should be joint ca pital :  EU foreign ministers urged Israel and the  Palestinians on Tuesday to make Jerusalem their  shared capital, prompting a swift, angry reaction  from Israel.” (Associated Press, 8.12.09)

As if that wasn’t enough, think of what other  benefits there are for the power which occupies  Israel and the Middle East:

“significa nt quantities of oil discovered  in israel: An everlasting hope of finding  significant amounts of oil in Israel may have  been realised with the announcement that  ‘significant quantities’ of oil were found in a  well in the area of Rosh HaAyin, a city located  east of Tel Aviv. Earlier this year, a huge gas  field was discovered off the Mediterranean  Coast. The gas is expected to be on line in three  years and is anticipated to help Israel become  self-sufficient in gas.” (Israel National News,  24.12.09)

What more do we need to see?

The labour pains are continually getting stronger  and closer together. And from every aspect of Bible  prophecy too! Do we feel weak and overburdened  with the pressures of this life? Are we just staring  at the ground – right when Christ is about to step  into the world? “And when these things begin to  come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads;  for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).