Europe has obviously played a central role in world history, so it is not surprising that it also has an important place in Bible Prophecy. The most basic prophecy that gives an outline for many other prophecies is Daniel 2. In this prophecy the king of Babylon saw a huge metal statue, with the head of gold, chest of silver, belly of brass, thighs of iron and feet of iron mixed with clay.
The various metals represented the major world empires that have oppressed God’s people from the time of the prophet. The golden head symbolized the Babylonian Empire which took Israel captive and destroyed the temple and Jerusalem. The silver chest represented the Medo-Persian Empire, the brass belly represented the Hellenistic Empire and the Iron thighs the Roman Empire. The next (and longest lasting) phase is a new development: There is not a change to another metal; the iron continues right down to the toes, but it is mixed with clay.
From history we learn that the Western Roman Empire ended with the last Caesar in 476 AD. Germanic tribes swept down from Northern Europe and took over Rome, Italy and the European and North African territory of the Empire. Some of these tribes were defeated by the armies of the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire and others became allies of the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually these tribes became some of the main nations of Europe and were a power base to extend the Catholic Religion. Roman Catholicism became the “clay” that held all of Europe together.
Not that Europe was ever united. The nations were always highly nationalistic with political and territorial ambitions that kept them warring with one another. Shifting alliances and conquests constantly changed the borders and mini-empires formed and dissolved, but the one constant was the unity of religious belief and the authority of the Church. This was predicted in the prophecy: “As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (Daniel 2:43).
Daniel’s next vision covered the same basic outline of history, but instead of a multi-metal statue he saw a series of wild animals. A lion symbolized Babylon, a bear Medo-Persia, a four-headed leopard symbolized the divided Hellenistic Empire after Alexander the Great, and a fierce monster symbolized Rome.
There were ten horns on the monster that symbolized the division of the Roman Empire into the tribes of Europe. But the vision focuses on “another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8). This little horn was “different from the first horns”, as the clay was different from the other metals, in that it was a religious power that was in the midst of the others, and to a great extent it controlled them.
This little horn, the medieval papacy, is symbolized in the Book of Revelation by the beast with seven heads and ten horns that comes up from the sea. In both of these visions the main focus is on the persecution of the saints by the papacy. In history this comprised the persecution of heretics and church enemies through the Inquisition, Crusades, holy wars and political maneuvers. In these the Church and state worked as a team; for example, in the inquisition the Church identified, tried and condemned heretics and the state punished them. In the Crusades the Church declared war and the state armies fought the wars. Thus the countries of Europe, represented by the ten horns of the Roman beast, were the enforcers of the Church’s agenda.
In Revelation 13 we see that the beast would exercises authority and persecute the saints for 1260 years, but then one of the heads of the beast would receive a deadly wound. In history the papacy suffered a number of blows to its ability to wield political and military power, but the most serious “wounds” occurred during the French and Italian revolutions when the Pope was arrested (1798), the Papal Territories were confiscated (1870) and the Pope became the “prisoner of the Vatican”. Essentially what the deadly wound meant was that the papacy could no longer manipulate the governments and armies of Europe to accomplish its aims.
But Revelation 13:3 reveals that “the deadly wound was healed”. During the 20th century the papacy regained its political power, establishing diplomatic relationship with the most powerful countries of the world and eventually working together with the United States to topple European communism (see 13: The Deadly Wound Healed in The Book).
In Revelation 17 the beast is back, in the context of the last days, and now there is a clear distinction between the political (the 7 headed scarlet beast) and the religious (the harlot that rides the beast). And the 10 horns are back. In Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 these 10 horns represented the countries of Europe that enforced the Church’s agenda, and this is likely the case here as well. “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” (Revelation 17:12).
In accordance with the prophecy of the iron and the clay of Daniel 2, the countries of Europe have never been able to “adhere to one another”, but apparently they will put aside their nationalistic differences “for one hour” along with “the Beast” (the antichrist). And their purpose? “These will make war with the lamb”, which means that they will, in the name of Christ, persecute the true followers of Christ.
Since these prophecies are for the future, we cannot be too dogmatic about what will actually happen; we need to be very familiar with the prophecies so that we will recognize them unfolding. At this point it appears that the great Babylon alliance will include the Roman Catholic religious structure (the harlot), the Roman Catholic political structure (the seven-headed scarlet beast), the United States government (the beast from the earth), the United States religious structure (the Image to the Beast), the final European alliance (the Ten Horns), the miracle-working Protestant deceiver (the false prophet) and the Antichrist who miraculously appears (the Beast from the bottomless pit).
This alliance will begin to come together during the war that is described in the seven trumpets. It will exercise its authority by imposing the Mark and Number of the Beast, and will organize against the followers of Christ during the Battle of Armageddon. But the members of the Babylon alliance will all be destroyed at the Second Coming of Christ.