Before proceeding any further in Revelation chapter thirteen, we need to pause and apply these prophecies toward what is currently happening in our generation. Logically, if we really are in the midst of the final generation before the return of Christ, then we should be able to see the final world order taking shape today. As it turns out, in our lifetime there has been major developments on the world political scene which have come close to assembling this final world empire. However, the story of its rise to power is not a simple one. The beginning of this saga actually has its origin centuries ago in the final days of the old Roman Empire.
Development of the Western World
After the eastern half of Rome was conquered in the year 1453 A.D., most people probably think that the empire simply ceased to exist. However, as we have clearly shown through Daniel’s prophecies, from God’s perspective even though the unity of the kingdom was broken, the spirit of the empire still continued throughout the centuries. There seemed to be an almost supernatural desire among the European nations to keep the glory of Rome alive even after its dominion had been cut off. Perhaps the most frequent attempt at bringing the empire back to its days of unity was in the repeated establishment of political entities going by the name of the “Holy Roman Empire”. First inaugurated by Charlemagne (768-814 A.D.), this religious and political empire initially succeeded in subduing the Lombards and Saxons, fought victorious campaigns in Hungary and Spain, and literally united much of the western European territories.
Thus, long after the fall of imperial Rome in 476 A.D., the spirit of the empire still survived in the western part through its descendant nations. In fact, at the time of the first Holy Roman Empire, the Pope even gave Charlemagne the old imperial title designating him as the “emperor” of Europe. For a brief period after the lineage of Charlemagne had died out, the use of the imperial title perished along with the unity of the empire. However, beginning in about the tenth century, continual dynasties of Germanic kings took for themselves the title. For centuries these kingdoms not only kept the desire for an empire alive, but actually used the old “Holy Roman Empire” name and the imperial title of “emperor” just like the original empire.
Daniel was right. The Roman Empire really never did cease to exist in spirit. Generation after generation tried their best to keep the “beast” unified and powerful even when it was broken and divided into smaller nations. Even Dante wrote of his dream for a reunited Europe (Paparella, E.L., 2012, Dante’s Vision of a United Europe in Europa: an Idea and a Journey, p. 35, Xlibris Corp.).
After the many centuries of history which followed Charlemagne’s first kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire finally culminated in two infamous German powers. In the year 1871, an administration calling itself the German Empire was formed with roots stretching back throughout the long history of Roman rule. As was true of its predecessors, its ambition was nothing less than total European dominance. To prove its association with the spirit of the Roman Empire, it began to call itself the “Second Reich”. This name indicated better than anything the true relationship of the empire to the original fourth beast of Rome. Even though it was an extraordinary force in European politics throughout its brief existence, this final form of the “Holy Roman Empire” met with a fiery end in the battles of World War I. The “War to End all Wars” was ironically fought to prevent the forceful consolidation of the Roman Empire…[more]