What is The Scriptural Ground for Expecting Britain to Part Company with Europe?
Signing The Maastricht Treaty on behalf of the British Government made Britain a member of the European Union
By Paul Billington
In our booklet, Guardians of Israel & Arabia published about five years ago, a heading on page 24 declared: "Britains Exit from Europe is Inevitable!" That statementconsidered bold and presumptuous by somewas made in faith. It was confidence in what the Scriptures reveal that led us to the conclusion expressed, and we have seen no reason to change our minds about this matter in the time that has since passed.
For most of the past five years we have watched a British government constantly plagued with the issue of European membership. The governing Conservatives are sorely divided over the matter and hardly a month goes by without yet another eruption over some aspect of Europe. Now, with a general election approaching, the rows over Europe are growing to a fever pitchand there are powerful demands being made for a national referendum over Britains continued membership.
Britain Versus the E.U. "Beast"
Earlier this year one of Britains tabloid newspapers sent a stir through the country in calling for a referendum on continued membership. On Englands St. Georges Day, and under the headline of BEWARE OF E.U. DRAGON, the paper said:
"St. Georges deed (slaying the dragon) is mythical, of course. But there is a very real dragon which threatens every single one of us throughout the United Kingdom. That beast is the European Union, an unelected body answerable to no one which aims to devour our national identity. Britains future role in Europe is the biggest issue this country has faced in the past 300 years."
Checking back through our history books, 300 years takes us back to the time of Britains great constitutional crisis which involved the throne in a contest for power between Protestants and Roman Catholics. It was that crisis which gave rise to the present constitution as laid down in the Act of Settlement and Bill of Rightslaws which to this day prevent a British movement or heir to the throne from marrying a Catholic. Those Acts secured
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Religious Expression
Freedom to be governed by an elected parliament
Freedom to be tried by an independent judiciary and jury.
Today many people in Britain are feeling that these freedoms are being threatened by the E.U. whose laws (which are based on those of the Romans under Justinian) override those made by the British parliament. There is therefore now a powerful movement within parliament and the country that is opposed to continued membership.
The politics of these things is not our concern; what does interest us is the increasing possibility of Britains withdrawal from Europewhich incidentally, answers to the "beast" of Scripture (concerning which John Ramsden has written in this issue of The Bible Magazine). It is the Scriptural grounds for Britains withdrawal that concerns us herewhat is the basis for saying that Britain will come out? The case is largely based upon two prophecies: Ezekiel 38:13 and Daniel 11:40.
As we have shown in this magazine on previous occasions, the great power of the north that is described in Ezekiel chapter 38 is to include both Russia and Europe. The "Gog" of this chapter is an exalted leader who is "of the land of Magog" and Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" (see Revised Version). This is a Russo-German character presiding over a vast "company" of nations whose combined territories will stretch from the Atlantic in the west to Russias east coast. This is the confederacy that will soon become manifest in the earth, and which will come down with fury upon the Holy Land.
Ezekiel shows us that a different group of nations is opposed to the evil designs of the northern aggressor. These are the nations of Ezekiel 38:13. As we have shown in Guardians of Israel & Arabia (written at the outbreak of the Gulf War), Sheba answers to the southern area of Arabia, and Dedan to the Gulf States. Tarshish and her "young lions" is an amazing reference to Britain and that family of nations who have developed from the colonial past.
It is the identity of this "Tarshish" which is crucial here of course. If this Tarshish really is Britain, then she cannot be a member of the expanded Europe which comes against the Holy Land under Gog. She must take her leave of the European community before this prophecy is fulfilled.
Evidence Concerning Tarshish
In Guardians we gave nine points of evidence as follows:
The origin of the name "Tarshish" is found in Genesis 10:4,5, where we learn that Tarshish was a son of Javan and inhabited "the isles of the Gentiles".
Jonah, in attempting to flee to Tarshish from Israel boarded a ship at the port of Joppa (on the Mediterranean coast)Jonah 1:3. This would indicate that Tarshish lay in the west.
Tarshish was a long distance awayit was "afar off"Isaiah 23:6,7.
Tarshish traded with Tyre, the ancient capital of the PhoeniciansEzekiel 27:12
Tarshish provided the Phoenicians (Tyre) with "silver, iron, tin and lead" (Ezekiel 27:12). Tarshish then, was a distant land that lay in the west where such metals were found.
The ancient historian Herodotus who wrote about 450 B.C. (within 100 years of Ezekiels time) and whose writings have survived, wrote: "nor do I know anything of the existence of islands called the Tin Islands, whence we get our tin...I have never found anyone who could give me first-hand information of the existence of a sea beyond Europe in the north and west. Yet it cannot be disputed that tin and amber do come to us from what one might call the ends of the earth."
The Phoenicians of Tyre were the great mariners of the ancient world and "a mart of nations" (Isa. 23:3; Ezek. 27:3,4). The McGraw Hill World History says:
"They used the pole Star for their observations, and are said to have circumnavigated Africa, and to have reached as far north as Cornwall in search of lead and tin."
Ezekiel says (chapter 27:12, Revised Version) that Tarshish "traded for thy wares". That is, for the "wares" or merchandise offered by the Phoenicians of Tyre. The Phoenicians were particularly famous for their dyed cloth known as Tyrian purple (c/p Ezek. 27:7; Jer. 10:9). The dye was obtained from the shellfish Murex trunculus and it is common to find heaps of these shells near Phoenician cities. Barbara W. Tuchman in Bible and Sword (1984) says "pre-Bronze Age shell dumps of the particular kind yielding the purple dye were found on the Cornwall and Devon coasts" (P. 7). This fact must be decisive in the case, for the Phoenicians guarded this "industrial secret" concerning purple dye, as jealously as they guarded the location and source of their tin.
Further evidence that the Phoenicians visited Britain, is cited by Tuchman in "the mighty and incredible stone monuments at Stonehenge and Avebury...(which) have an unmistakable affinity with the Canaanite use of sacred stones in the worship of various local Baals."
It is difficult to escape from all this evidence. The identity of Ezekiels Tarshish with the British Isles is very reasonable. As can be seen from the map borrowed from The Penguin Atlas of World History (Vol. 1), modern historians agree with this general conclusion.
The Coming Trading Alliance
The converging interests of the U.S.A., Britain and other "western" nations in the Middle East has been demonstrated many times over the yearsand was brought into sharp focus at the time of the Gulf Crisis five years ago. It was also demonstrated at that time that Europe had a very different outlook to that of the Allies.
Further, there have been several voices in Britain urging a wider world-view of commercial prospectsespecially in south-east Asia, for example, Indeed, it is not difficult to foresee that a trading area could come into being that would comprehend within its zones very many countries. It is not impossible that nations of the southfrom Egypt and South Africa, Arabia, India, Australia, South-East Asia and across the Pacific to Americacould combine their commercial efforts in establishing a very strong economic area. This would be far more attractive to Britain that a restrictive and socialist greater Europe. The Arabian Sheba and Dedan would find a ready market for its valuable oil in such an area as we suggest.
The King of the South
Whether or not the above picture will exactly answer to the reality when it arrives, is not the point. What we must recognize is the fact that Ezekiels prophecy requires that something of this kind will come into existence. There must be such a group of nations as will answer to the description that is given.
This is supported by the prophecy of Danielchapter 11:40. This prophecy presents us with the picture of two opposing powers "at the time of the end". One is described as "the king of the south" and the other as "the king of the north". The relative position of these two opposing forces repeats the general picture as we have found it in Ezekiel.
But who is this un-named "king of the south"? The phrase was originally applied to Ptolemys slice of the divided Greek Empire, which was Egypt. Daniel chapter 11 traces the history of that power from the time when the Greek empire was "divided towards the four winds of heaven" (verses 2-4) until the rise of the Roman power. Verses 36 to 39 describes the development of the Greco-Roman power and brings us through "Christian" times. We are then introduced to the king of the south "at the time of the end" (verse 40). Now the first question to ask is whether or not we have got entered this time of the endif we have then we should be able to identify the southern power who is to "push" at the king.
The Time of the End
Daniel chapter 11 is amplifying the matters presented in Daniel chapter 8. This can be easily seen from the fact that both chapters cover the same material, except that Daniel 11 provides much more detail.
In Daniel 8:13 the question is asked "how long" Israels down-treading is to continue for. This is a key issuethe period of Israels down-treading and scattering (see also Daniel 12:7). "How long shall be the vision...?" From Daniels viewpoint in the 3rd year of the reign of Belshazzar (see chapter 8:1), the vision commenced with the two-horned ram power of Medo-Persia, that is in B.C. 540 and you arrive at the year 1760 A.D. That is just 29 years before the French Revolution which occurred in 1789. This event brought the beginning of Jewish emancipation; the beginning of the end of Israels treading down. As such, we can see a reasonable conclusion that it introduced "the time of the end".
Further study shows that the events which characterize Daniels time of the end are the same as those which occur during the seventh trumpet of the Apocalypse, which finishes or completes the revealed purpose of God as declared through the prophets (Rev. 10:7). That purpose is Israels restoration (Acts 1:6). Revelation 11:15-19 shows us how the kingdoms of this world become Christs under the seventh trumpet. The events leading to this are, anger of the nations, the wrath of God (i.e. the vials of Rev. 15:1) and the resurrection. These are the same events as we find during Daniels time of the end which commences with the French Revolutionas does the seventh trumpet of the Revelation (which follows immediately after the great political earthquake of that RevelationRev. 11:13-15).
This being the case we can look for a "king of the south" appearing on the scene at this time.
Britain in Egypt
Britain first went into Egypt to counter the moves of Napoleon Bonaparte who, in fulfillment of the first vial (Rev. 16:2) had conquered Europe. It was Britain's mission to control the sea (verse 3) and thus contain Europe. This control of the sea limited Napoleon's exploits in the early 1800s and allowed Britain to later survive two world wars. This situation is described by Daniel as the king of the south "contending" with the "king" (see Revised Version), and it was this background which made it possible for the development of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
After the time of Napoleon, Europe was in turmoil for decades. The old Holy Roman Empire was demolished, and it was a while before Germany again rose to prominence. By the turn of the century the "king" began to appear, and by 1914 became visible in an alliance between Germany, Austria and Turkeythe Ottoman Empireknown at the time as "The Central Powers". Britain and her Allies, from their position of strength at sea and in Egypt "pushed" or contended against "him". The result of this was the removal of the "Ottoman Empire" (the Turks) from the Middle East, fulfilling part of the sixth vial. Under the terms of the Balfour Declaration it also commenced the Jewish Return, so laying the basis for the coming of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom.
This situation continued on into the Second World War, where again Britain and her Allies were pitched against the "king" (this time in the shape of the Rome-Berlin Axis). From their position in Egypt the Allies "contended" against the Nazis, and at the Battle of El Alamein prevented Romel from breaking through to the Jewish homeland in palestine. The State of Israel was declared in 1948 and Britain then came out of Egypt in 1956, having clearly established her identity as "the king of the south" during the time of the end.
A Temporary Withdrawal?
The Middle East as we know it today is largely of Britains making (finishing touches only being supplied by the U.N. afterwards). Just as Britain had promised the Jews a "national home" in the Balfour Declaration, so she also promised Arabs their freedom and independence as a reward for helping the Allies during World War One. Consequently, Transjordan (now Jordan) was created a monarchy in 1921. Egypt was made a monarchy in 1922 and (after some internal strife) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came into being in 1932.
Following independence, Britains links remained strong with the Arab worldand this of course caught her in the middle of Jewish-Arab controversy and strife. Her withdrawal from the Middle East came, largely as a result of that strife, and by 1967 Britain had completed her withdrawal from both Egypt and East of Suez. It was at this time that Britain seriously began to pursue the idea of entry into the European Common Market.
Just as her European membership will prove to be a temporary matterso also will her withdrawal from the Middle East prove to have been provisional. When the powers of Russia and Europe combine their forces as "the king of the north" and come like a whirlwind into the countriesthe Allies will be found with Sheba and Dedan trying to protect their considerable interests.
Foreseen in 1806
This understanding of the Scriptural grounds for believing that Britain must separate from the northern confederacy was held by Bible students many years ago. It was the understanding of John Thomas in the mid-1800s (Eureka Vol. 3, chapter 13, section 8). Also, in 1806 George Stanley Faber wrote the following in his Dissertation on the prophecies:
"As certain as it is that the confederacy of Armageddon will in part at last be directed against Judah and Jerusalem; so certain is it, that the Jews will begin to be restored by the great maritime power of the age. Hence it will necessarily follow, that, as the one is hostile and the other friendly to Judah, the great maritime power cannot be leagued in friendly alliance with the confederacy... therefore the great maritime power cannot be subject to any of the heads of this confederacy..."
On these grounds then we repeat what we wrote five years ago: "Britains Exit from Europe is Inevitable!" Yet we know not the time or the political circumstances that will bring it about.
For further reading: Guardians of Israel & Arabia and The Cry of the Prophets by the same author.
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