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Bible verses about Roman Empire
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 2:32-35

When Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold, it shows us a biblical principle that a king in prophecy represents the entire kingdom. In verses 39-40, "after you" indicates four successive world-ruling empires from the time of the Chaldean empire of Nebuchadnezzar until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. We see in overview an outline of world history from a Gentile perspective, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and coming all the way down through the various kingdoms until the image is struck on the foot by the Stone, representing the Kingdom of God, or Christ.

This prophecy brings us right into our present time—the time of the end—the time when can expect that the Stone, sometime in the not-too-distant future, will strike this image on the feet. We can look for that last empire, represented by the feet and toes, to exist today, or either be coming together, or will shortly be coming together. History has shown that these four empires, beginning with the head of gold, to be the Chaldean (the head of gold), the Medo-Persian (the chest and arms of silver), the Greco-Macedonian (the belly and thighs of brass), and the Roman (the legs and feet of iron) empires. The Roman Empire existed from 31 BC to AD 476. Secular history shows that the Vandals defeated Rome, but Rome was revived and re-established as "the Holy Roman Empire" under Emperor Justinian in AD 554.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)


 

Daniel 2:33

The body parts as well as the quality of the metals offer help in understanding the identity and characteristics of each empire. Like previous empires, this one is divided into two parts, represented by the two legs and two feet (verse 33). Later, it is further divided into ten toes, indicating a separation of powers into ten parts.

The iron legs suggest strength far superior to the previous empires—just as iron is far stronger than bronze—although it also shows diminished quality of its culture. With the addition of clay, a material that will not bond to iron, its power further declines to the point that is only "partly strong and partly fragile [brittle, margin]" (verse 42). The clay also takes its toll on the qualitative aspects. Verse 43 indicates the empire's internal unity will be very unstable in its final form, though it will retain its toughness to some degree.

The phrase "mingle with the seed of men" (verse 43) has spurred much debate. In one sense, it serves to explain why the iron and clay will not bond: The cultural and political components of this empire are too diverse to unify for long. Otherwise, the phrase suggests a mongrelized people who no longer uphold the values and goals of the original nation that founded the empire. However one understands it, cohesion within the final stages of this kingdom will be fragile.

Generally, biblical commentators agree that the legs, feet, and toes represent the Roman Empire. Iron indeed describes the toughness and brutality by which Rome subjugated the nations, reaching its greatest domination under Trajan (AD 98-117). The Romans had little sympathy for the populace of the nations they conquered, sending millions of men, women, and children into slavery. As one commentator, John F. Walvoord, put it, "The glory of Rome was built on the misery of its conquered peoples."

When Rome finally defeated Carthage in 146 BC, Scipio Africanus Minor, the Roman general, razed the city, enslaved or dispersed its citizens, and forbade anyone to live there again. Similar actions were taken against other cities. The Romans made crucifixion of the enemies of the state a standard practice. When Galilee revolted in AD 6, the legions hammered the region's untrained army and crucified two thousand men along the roads to Sepphoris, which they leveled.

Even Cicero (106-43 BC), a Roman statesman and author, wrote:

It is difficult to convey to you, gentlemen, the bitter hatred felt for us among foreign nations because of the unbridled and outrageous behavior of the men whom we have sent to govern them during these past years. What temple in those lands do you think has had its sanctity respected by our magistrates? What state has been free from their aggression? What home has been adequately closed and protected against them? They actually look around for wealthy and flourishing cities in order to find an occasion of waging war against them and thus gratify their lust for plunder.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Daniel 2:36-45

Daniel 2:36-43 describes four major kingdoms, empires, or governmental systems that have ruled over the greater part of the civilized world:

1. The Chaldean-Babylonian Empire (625 to 538 BC)

2. The Medo-Persian Empire (538 to 330 BC)

3. The Greco-Macedonian Empire (333 to 31 BC)

4. The Roman Empire (Established 31 BC. The imagery suggests that it will exist in some form until the end of the age.)

Clearly, these physical empires existed on earth. Verses 44-45 then say that God's Kingdom will encompass all of these previous kingdoms—on earth! Daniel 7:17-18 says much the same.

Staff
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?


 

Daniel 7:7-8

This prophecy expands and fills in details of the image in Daniel 2. The "huge iron teeth" and the beast's actions link it inextricably to the legs and feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Whereas the legs, feet, and toes suggest a continuous progression and dominance on the world scene, Daniel 7 shows that Rome would rise and fall in successive kingdoms and empires, represented by the horns, until the last days.

Of course, the little horn introduces a new entity to this empire. Suffice it to say that it represents the false church guiding and controlling this brutal beast (cf. Revelation 13:11-18). The Bible shows this false church, among other things, speaking against God, persecuting the saints, being given power "for a time and times and half a time" and being destroyed forever by the power of God.

"The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom," writes Daniel (7:24), or as Herbert W. Armstrong said, they are ten successive resurrections of the Roman Empire. The little horn, the false church, supplants the first three of these, the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, Germanic invaders who successfully overthrew Rome and established their own short-lived empires between AD 429 and 554.

The final seven horns (called "seven mountains," in reference to kingdoms, and "seven heads," in reference to kings, in Revelation 17:9-10) are controlled by the false Roman church. In AD 554 Emperor Justinian, ruling the eastern half of the empire from Constantinople, restored the Empire in the west and recognized the supremacy of the Pope. Justinian fulfills the fourth horn and the first of the seven heads of the beast upon which "the Mother of Harlots" rides (verses 3-5). Later, Charlemagne, king of the Franks (800); Otto the Great (962); Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty (1520) and Napoleon (1805) were all crowned emperors of Rome by the Pope, and fulfill the fifth through eighth horns and second through fifth heads. Garibaldi and Mussolini, dictators of Italy between 1870 and 1945, received papal approval to re-establish the Roman Empire, and were later joined by Adolf Hitler in this pursuit. They combine to represent the ninth horn and sixth head.

The last horn, the last head and the ten toes are yet future, the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, the terrifying and brutal Beast power soon to arise upon the earth. Some of the details of this final revival are found in Revelation 17.

1) It will be brief (Revelation 17:10, 12), not much longer than the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:2; 12:14).

2) This last revival is made up of another ten horns, or ten kings, who give their power to a dictator known as the Beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

3) The ten kings and the Beast use the Woman as long as she is necessary to their plans, then they destroy her in their brutal hate (Revelation 17:16).

4) One of their main purposes is to "make war with the Lamb [Christ]," but they will be destroyed in His wrath at His Second Coming (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-21).

As the colossal image of Daniel 2 had two legs and two feet, the Roman Empire had two divisions, whether they were Rome and her provinces in its earlier period or a Western Empire with its capital in Rome and an Eastern Empire governed from Constantinople. The final resurrection, we assume, will have its ten toes split between the latter division, west and east. We do not know, however, if these are ten presently recognizable nations, or if they are ten major ethnic groups that cross national boundaries yet will have some autonomy.

Nevertheless, it is most likely that the ten nations will inhabit the areas formerly ruled by the Roman Empire and its subsequent revivals. It is a vast region. At its height Rome ruled from England and Spain in the west to northern Mesopotamia in the east to North Africa in the south. However, because of Daniel's prophecies regarding the King of the North, the "last gasp" of Rome will probably be centered in Europe, the bastion of Roman culture, law, and heritage.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Four): Iron and Clay


 

Revelation 13:1-10

For many years, we have maintained that a great power, which the Bible calls "the Beast," will rise out of Europe as the last reincarnation of the Roman Empire (Revelation 13:1-10; 17:1-13). As described in Daniel 2:40-43, it has ten "toes," composed of iron and clay and divided on two "feet" - Eastern and Western Europe, we have interpreted - as the Roman Empire was similarly divided. This Beast power would dominate the world politically and militarily (Daniel 11:36-39), bringing on the "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1).

Present-day Europe, however, appears particularly unqualified for such a role, which opens up a few possibilities:

1. The Beast is not European. Our long-held understanding is hard to toss aside because the biblical clues seem to fit the Europe-based Roman and Holy Roman Empires so squarely. If Europe or the EU is not the Beast power, then it must surely have a European component.

2. Christ's return is farther off than we think. Europe is so weak - militarily, in particular - that it could take years for its war machine to grow to world domination. In particular, Europe is in no shape to defeat the U.S., a present necessity for world hegemony.

3. Something other than Europe will destroy the U.S., and the Beast will fill the power vacuum. A few nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction - possibly terrorist-related - might cut America down to size (Ezekiel 7:1-9). Europe could then appropriate NATO assets abroad and become a superpower overnight.

4. The U.S., originally colonized and founded by Europeans, will become a part of the Beast power, supplying its military might. Many have wondered if any Israelite country would join with the Beast, especially since the prophecies seem to suggest it is a Gentile empire, like Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. However, the nations of Israel today believe they are Gentiles and function as Gentiles in many respects, meaning it is not beyond the realm of possibility biblically (see Romans 9-11).

Other possibilities surely exist, and in this time of uncertainty, there is no way to determine whether any of these are real. Such is the character of prophecy. We are assured, however, that, "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Growing Divide


 

Revelation 17:9-11

These verses set the beginning of the time element of this prophecy. The Woman sits on seven mountains. A mountain symbolizes a larger nation, as Isaiah 2:2 shows: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills [smaller nations]; and all nations shall flow to it." The number seven, combined with the symbol "mountains"—signifying "kings" or "kingdoms" as verses 9 and 10 show—indicates a perfect or complete sequence of seven kings.

We understand that the seven mountains are the last seven revivals of the Roman Empire. The Woman is shown riding the Beast during the days of the sixth revival in the sequence of seven (verse 10). Did she begin her ride during the sixth revival or has she been riding the entire time? Nothing in the prophecy directly suggests she was riding them any time before the prophecy itself indicates.

The prophecy is only showing the end-time Beast has seven forebears, the seven revivals of the Roman Empire. Verse 11 states, "The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eight, and is of the seven." This indicates the end-time Beast stands on its own but has its roots in the previous seven. The Woman will clearly ride the eighth Beast that is of the seven for a time.

Herbert Armstrong appears to have been correct in teaching that the sixth revival and king began with Garibaldi in Italy and continued through the rise and fall of Mussolini and Hitler. That revival ended with the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe in 1945. We are living in the very weak and brief period of the seventh revival of the Beast.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Three): Who Is the Woman?


 

Find more Bible verses about Roman empire:
Roman empire {Nave's}
 




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