Let’s go to the Book of Daniel, where we find parallels concerning the apocalyptic beast: Daniel relates in chapter 2 that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king responsible for the Jewish exile, had a dream of a statue. Its head was composed of gold, its chest and arms of silver, its stomach and hips of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet were a mix of iron and clay. The four metals represent four kingdoms. The first is that of the Babylonians, of whom Nebuchadnezzar was the king at this time. The other kingdoms are not revealed, but they shall succeed one after another as victors over each other. Thus it is easy to determine them: the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians, who were in turn defeated by the Greeks, who were finally beaten by the Romans. Hence the golden head represents the Babylonians, the silver chest and arms the Persians, the bronze stomach and hips the Greeks, and finally the iron legs and feet the Romans.
Some scholars claim that the statue refers to the Babylonians, Medes, Persians and Greeks. However, the legs represent a dual nature of the iron kingdom, which can only be vaguely recognized in the Greeks, contrary to the distinct Western and Eastern parts of the Roman empire. In addition, Rome was founded by the twins Rumulous and Remus, which underlines this dualism of the empire even though in the realm of mythology.
The legs and feet must clearly be distinguished: only the legs are entirely constituted of iron, whereas the feet are composed of an iron and clay mix representing “a kingdom that will be divided”. This is why some scholars interpret the ten toes of the feet as the approximately ten main Roman regions under the Tetrarchy divided into a Western part (Britannia, Gallia, Hispania, Italia, Africa) and Eastern part (Asia, Pannonia, Maoesia, Thracia, Asiana, Oriens).
Before its fall, the Roman empire was “strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things.” The clay on the other hand signifies fragility. This is why the feet are weakened by the clay and their breaking by a stone reduces the whole statue to dust, at the point where the Kingdom of God begins. This is why the clay is part of God’s future Kingdom, since it already weakens the feet and therefore the stability of the statue broken later by God. One is therefore tempted to argue that the clay represents the Church, which was increasingly part of the empire and contributed to its fall. The Kingdom of God would then be the Christianization of Europe after the fall of Rome in the fifth century.
This interpretation is certainly true as a prefiguration of the real meaning, which however is different in some important points: Daniel writes that the iron and clay mix represents a marriage, which can only correspond to the epoch of Christianity as state religion, which precisely began after the decline of the empire. Formerly, this was not a marriage at all since the Church was persecuted by the Roman state. So the clay indeed represents the Church but in the context of the Christianization of Europe after the fifth century. In addition, the Roman empire was not divided before its fall, even though the split into the Western and Eastern part occurred in the third century. But this split is precisely represented by the two legs.
This is why the legs entirely constituted of iron represent the Roman empire before its fall; and the feet and its ten toes represent the states that formed on the territory of the Western empire after its decline in the fifth century. They are geographically and culturally held together through an entity later called Europe and were indeed approximately ten in number representing the European states towards AD 476.
Let us now compare Daniel’s statue with the apocalyptic beast: the legs of iron represent the beast who “was”. Then there was the marriage between the Church and the European states expressed by the mix of iron and clay, which equates to the beast that “is not” since the persecutions against the Christians ceased. This goes together with: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was, and who is coming.” Christ also was and will return, but in contrast to the beast that “is not”, the Lord still “is” after having been, which indicates the victory of the Gospel after the collapse of Rome. However, this disappearance of the beast is not the final perdition yet, which will be realized only after its reascent, according to Revelation 17:8. The beast has consequently to return in order to definitively go to perdition. This reascent corresponds to the divorce between the Church and the State, which will result in new persecutions against the Church by the State during the end times. So the beast will have returned, but will “go to perdition” during the end times accompanied by the return of Christ, to whom corresponds he “who is coming.
The Bible also speaks of FOUR phases of the Roman Empire. The first phase of the third cycle of the spiritual era corresponds to the reception of the Gospel by the pagans after the phase of sin represented by the persecutions by the Jews and by Nero in AD 64, and the phase of judgment incorporated by the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This phase of peace overlaps with the following phase of sin represented by the amplifying persecutions from Domitian in AD 90 to Decius from 249AD-251AD, who for the first time systematically proceeded with new legislation at the expense of the Christians, Deocletian (284-305) and Galerius (305-311). The phase of judgment arrived with the fall of Rome caused by the invasions of the Visigoths in 410 and Vandals in 455, which provoked the decomposition of the whole Western empire and the dethronement of the last Emperor, by Odoacer in 476.
As testified by St. Augustine, there were also other disasters during this time, with the result that the Christians tended to confuse them with the end of the world. St. Augustine said this in one of his writings:
“People say sometimes ‘the days of judgment are arriving, there are so many evils, so many tribulations multiply. See, all what the prophets predicted is almost accomplished, the day of judgment is imminent.’ Those who speak this language, and who speak it with faith, think that they will soon meet the Spouse. But despite war after war, tribulation after tribulation, earthquake after earthquake, famine after famine, invasion after invasion, the Spouse has not yet come. It is therefore by waiting on his arrival that lull all those who say: ‘He is coming and the day of judgment finds us here.’ By speaking thus, one sleeps. So let us keep from sleeping and persevere in charity before sleeping. That the sleep finds us awaiting the Spouse.
The phase of revival consists of the cessation of hostilities by the Roman State against the Christians, which corresponds to the temporary marriage between this State and the terrestrial representative of the future celestial Kingdom, that is to say with the Church. Thus the State was tamed, which corresponds to the time of the disappeared beast. The Christian religion was in fact tolerated by Galerius in 311 and by Constantine The Great through the Edict of Milan in 313. It was even made obligatory for all Roman citizens in 380. This was consequently still before the fall of Rome, which must consequently be considered a precursory sign due to the overlapping of the phases, the main revival occurring with the spreading of the Gospel in all Europe after the fall of the empire. Thus, the word of the Lord: “The Gospel must first be preached to all nations”, began its realization on a large scale of time and space.
Yes, the last part of this statue, was indeed the mix of iron and clay. As mentioned, it represents the European Empire which has been in power since 476AD and will remain in power until the end of the age. Some might argue this and say, “Well, the Americans are in power now.” However, let us keep in mind that the Americans, Canadians, and Austrailians ALL originally came to their countries from Europe. The European Empire still exists strong today and will remain so until Jesus comes to set up His own Kingdom which will last forever and ever.
Nonetheless, many Christians believe the kingdom of God is going to come to earth through mixing the clay of Christianity with the iron of Western civilization once again. It would be easy to mistake the feet and the toes of partly iron and partly clay for a fifth kingdom. But no matter how much clay one adds to the world, it will not become God’s kingdom. It can only be an extension of the fourth kingdom, the legs of iron. The book of Daniel makes it clear that the ten kings will arise out of the fourth kingdom (Daniel 7:7,23,24). The two elements of iron and clay, which can never mix, are social democracy and ecumenism, because one is political and one is religious. Despite the appearance of world peace and unity, it will be a facade that deceives all but the elect. It will look appealing. It will look like the answer to the problems of world hunger, overpopulation, environmental disaster, etc. But it will be a lie.
The amazing thing is how the ten kings will come into power. The book of Revelation also prophesies concerning the ten kings. The prophet saw a vision of…
…the great prostitute … a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She had a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries … I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints … (Revelation 17:1,3,4,6)
The explanation of this vision by an angel revealed that…
…the ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast…The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:12-13,18)
Clearly the ten kings come into power under the sway of this “prostitute”. Doesn’t this portray an accurate picture of Christianity’s role in human history? Hasn’t she continually adulterated the words of her supposed Master in order to have the very power and wealth that He preached against? (Luke 14:33; 6:24; 12:29-34) Hasn’t she united herself with the rulers of the earth since the days of Constantine in order to secure worldly influence for herself? Hasn’t she consistently used her influence to spill the blood of those whose faith differed from her doctrine? And haven’t the rulers of the earth always made use of her influence to motivate the masses of people to obey decrees, go to war, vote, etc.?
Yes, Christian leaders, from the popes of the Middle Ages to the Billy Grahams of today, have maintained an unholy alliance with political leaders, each exploiting the other for their own ends. Consider the recent book His Holiness in which Carl Bernstein documents and concludes that Pope John Paul II is the most influential political figure of the twentieth century, being instrumental in the reconstruction of Europe, including such events as the toppling of the Berlin Wall. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the ten kings would rise to power through the influence of Christianity, and vice versa. But when?
The political and economic unification in Europe is the beginning of the formation of that confederation of ten kings (the feet and toes). Eventually ten nations will be formed. Witness the dramatic rejoining of East and West Germany into a single nation over the last decade. No one expected it could happen, and political prophets did not foresee it.
Having begun in the fourth century, by 1054 AD the schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches foretold the fall of the fourth world empire. Similarly, the unification of Christian denominations through the Ecumenical movement will signal the coming together of the ten kings (ten toes) into a unity that will revive the fourth kingdom to the stature of a world empire. The European Union is a reality and its common currency has a due date. In the meantime, the aim of the Ecumenical movement is to achieve a worldwide Christian unity that will unite the nations of this earth and thus bring about peace on earth. So we can see that the purpose of Ecumenism is to be the Christian catalyst that will unite the ten kings of Europe.
“What?” you might yell. “Christians? There is no way Christians are the major influence in reviving the Roman Empire.” I wouldn’t be so sure. In fact, I suspect that many Christian powers that exist today are indeed the final instruments in the prophecies that they themselves have foreseen to happen.