By Wilfred J. Hahn
Eternal Value Review
Of late, some offshoots of the British Israelite persuasion (also called Armstrongites), have been proudly proclaiming that they “told you so” in respect of recent gyrations in Europe. If so, what have they been saying?
They see recent financial and economic tremors in Europe as the final staging to the emergence of the Holy Roman Empire in which Germany plays a ruling role.
The economic rise of Germany in recent years along with the advent of financial melt-downs in some of the periphery European countries, is proof-positive to them that their prophecies are correct. Particularly, the Philadelphian Church of God (PCOG), which publishes the Trumpet, feels much emboldened in its perspectives.
To be sure, European financial instabilities today very likely will play a role in the emergence of the next world order. However, there is no way of anticipating the various convolutions that may unfold in the interim and over what timeframe. One must also not forget, that we live in a globalized world today where international financial markets and economies are tightly intertwined. Given these complexities and unknowns, we believe that facts and prophetic scriptures cited to support the views of the Armstrongites are distorted.
We do recognize that there are widely varying views amongst the (often bitterly feuding) groups that find lineage from the original distinguishing positions of the British Israelite movement of the 19th century. While some do take a scholarly approach (like the late Dr. Eugene Scott) others promote wild-eyed speculations without literal Biblical substantiation, holding the most bizarre of views. As a group, just what makes their interpretations so different?
The foundational difference that is common to all of these groups is that they consider many of the prophecies addressed separately to the House of Judah and the House of Israel (the ancient northern kingdom) as applying to the last days. The House of Judah (comprised of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah) are the Jews of today, whereas the lost 10 ten tribes of the House of Israel are “discovered” to exist incognito in the form of mostly northern European peoples.
Yes, you will have read that correctly. The lost 10 tribes of Israel (those that were deported and dispersed abroad by the Assyrians in the 7th century B.C.) are thought to be found in the form of modern-day countries in Europe and America. For example, they view Britain as modern-day Ephraim and America as the tribe of Manasseh. It is a long story for which we have not space to elaborate further. The fact is that the 10 northern tribes were never lost. All 12 tribes of Israel are today represented by the Jews (this latter term finding its root originally in the word Judah). The New Testament (of course, documenting a time over 700 years later than the 7th century B.C.) mentions the names of the 10 northern tribes (Also, see Luke 2:36 which names the House of Israel tribe of Asher as being the ancestor of Anna the prophetess). Therefore, the Israel of today is already a blend of the House of Judah and the House of Israel. The prophecy found in Ezekiel 37:19-22) - the two houses of Israel and Judah being made into one stick - has already been fulfilled.
Today, there is not a small number of groups that propound similar views, causing somewhat of a groundswell amongst Christians; drawing them into accepting their fantastical interpretations. While the teachings of the Armstrongites are not yet mainstream, they are nevertheless quite prevalent.
One of the more prolific of these groups is the already mentioned PCOG. As such, we address here some of their statements in regards to Europe, Germany, the Holy Roman Empire and end-time prophecy.
To begin, the Philadelphians have an unfounded fixation with Germany. Just as the House of Israel supposedly migrated to America and became the European nations of Britain, France and others, apparently so also did the Assyrians. The Armstrongites claim that they migrated to the environs of modern-day Germany. This apparently happened after the fall of Assyria to the Babylonians. As Assyrians were a war-loving, cruel people, the PCOG is sure that Germany will be the country that will rule brutally over a new Europe, this taking the form of a group of 10 kings.
Recent events in Europe, of course, only add fuel to the PCOG’s conviction (and boasting, we may add). Indeed, Germany which has the largest economy of all the 17 eurozone countries, is in a position of large influence. To the PCOG, this all is a prelude to a Fourth Reich (a revived Holy Roman Empire), a state of organization where Germany will rule over Europe. An evil strong man (Antichrist) will come from this empire as he is said to be an Assyrian (Isaiah 10:5, Micah 5:5).
These views are not altogether in agreement with Bible prophecy. We observe faulty and confused interpretations at several levels. (To be sure, these differences in views alone do not affect one’s salvation.)
To begin, Bible prophecy expressly reveals that the rule of the 10 kings (a power coalition of 10 nations) emerges before the Antichrist is revealed. In other words, 10 kings come first, then the 11th who is then revealed as the Antichrist enters the scene. Shown as a king (the Old Testament’s parallel to today’s rulers) he must therefore represent a country. Therefore, if Germany is today to be one of the 10 kings that are to arise as a revived Roman Empire, then their leader cannot then emerge to be the Antichrist. He must be the leader of yet another country and not of the 10. How so?
Daniel expressly says “here before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among” the first 10 horns (Daniel 7:9). (A horn often symbolizes power and kings in the Bible). Clearly, it is an 11th and different king (likely representing a smaller nation) who arises while the previous 10 are still in existence. Germany already exists … and is not small! We can cite more verses that demolishes the Philadelphian fixation with Germany.
Overall, the Philadelphian framework with respect to both the historical and last day sequence of rulers as laid out in the Bible is also flawed. For example they take an incorrect interpretation of the seven heads shown in Revelation 17. As we have outlined in the past, the 7 heads (who are also 7 kings) represent the historical lineage of the major Gentile powers that have ruled and suppressed the Hebrews. On the other hand, the group of 10 which are also mentioned in Revelation 17 (and four other times in Scripture) exist at the same time.
Revelation 17:10 says that the 7 heads “are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come.” Just who are these kingdoms? Quoting the November/December issue of the Trumpet, the PCOG assigns the identity of the “five fallen” as follows: Justinian (A.D. 554); Charlemagne (A.D. 800); Otto the Great (A.D. 962); Charles V; and Napoleon who crowned himself emperor in 1804. Such interpretations are highly imaginative and subjective … not to mention scripturally unsound. How so?
John the Revelator wrote down the visions given to him late in the first century. Just how could the five kingdoms that had already fallen all yet come to power in later centuries as the PCOG claims? Moreover, just how is it possible to name Hitler as the sixth head (which the PCOG does), a person who John the Revelator told us existed at the very present time that he was writing his prophecies? And, just how is it that the Philadelphians have determined that the 1930s to 1940s period qualifies as the time that “is”? If so, there must have been a second coming of John this past century which we missed.
We make yet a few more points that will tie together the fallacies that underlie PCOG dogma with respect to Germany, the Holy Roman Empire and the Bible’s entire view on historical and end-time geopolitics.
The Bible very clearly reveals that the sixth, and seventh heads as well as the 8th king (6th through 8th kings/kingdoms mentioned in Revelation 17) are all of Roman derivation. The previous 5 kingdoms pictured in Revelation 17 (the five that are fallen) are not Roman.
According to our deductions (and many prophecy experts), the prior five “kings that are fallen” (Revelation 17:12) are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian and Greece. As mentioned, the sixth head, said to be in power at the time that these prophecies were given to John, is Roman. There can be no doubt this Roman identity. Scripture then proves that the coming 7th head (one with 10 horns, which signifies a ruling power which in this case is the collective of 10 contemporaneous kings) and 8th king who emerges later as the Antichrist, are also of Roman heritage. Here we must go to Daniel 7:24 which substantiates this view.
The book of Revelation, after all, fits hand in glove with the prophecies in the Book of Daniel.
“The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones.”The kingdom that Daniel is referring to here is the fourth kingdom that he sees in his visions - namely the terrible beast - that follows the previous ram that represented Greece. Therefore, indeed, the 10-king global power coalition will come out of Roman “people” heritage. If this is so, we present this conclusion: The 10 kings cannot include Germany if it really is the modern-day Assyria as the PCOG claims. The 10 kings must be of Roman peoples, not Assyrian.
Crucially, consider this important point: Revelation 17:12 says that the 10 kings had “not yet received a kingdom” at the time of John the Revelator. This verse then disqualifies Assyria as being one of the 10 nations (and, for that matter, also modern-day Iran and Egypt.) Why? They had already received a kingdom in past history. They are therefore disqualified as members of the final 10 kings.
We conclude as follows: Indeed we believe that events today in Europe will ultimately play a factor in the emergence of the last-day, 10-king power coalition. That this will take the form of a Holy Roman Empire, one that is in complicity with the Roman Catholic Church, we are not convinced. Revelation 17 shows the “prostitute” on the back of the beast that represents all 7 historic nations. The Roman Catholic Church hasn’t been around that long. We will expound on this aspect further in a future EVR.
The Bible does not allow us to make any specific predictions as to what specific countries will be involved or the timing and exact sequence of events. That said, careful study of Bible prophecy does allow us to uncover incorrect interpretations, speculations and false prophecies. As such, one should always examine the Scriptures for oneself to test all views, whether from the Philadelphia Church of God Trumpet or EVR or any other publication.
What happened to the lost tribes of Israel? - GotQuestions.org
Five Fallen Kings - SpiritandTruth.org (Tony Garland)
Does Daniel Debunk the Assyrian Antichrist? - Prophecy Depot (Bill Salus)
Globalism: Preparation for the Antichrist - Pre-Trib.org (Thomas Ice)
The Prophecy of The Ten-Nation Confederacy - Bible.org (John F. Walvoord)