|Origins||How Europe conquered the world||Europe in slavery||Jerusalem underfoot|
A history of the
Gentiles (part 2):
How Europe became
AD 400: How Byzantium allowed the invaders in
The fourth century AD
Once Byzantium became the capital of Rome, Rome's days were numbered. In 376, Byzantium allowed the Visigoths to settle within the borders of the empire. In 379, Byzantium allowed the Ostrogoths to settle in Pannonia (north of Italy), and the Visigoths in Macedonia (northern Greece). In 382 the Visigoths were allowed even closer, and settled just to the north of Byzantium itself.
Incredible as it seems with hindsight, during this time, the fourth century, the "barbarian" tribes were paid by the empire to secure the empire's own borders. They were deliberately settled as along the frontiers. Not surprisingly, by the fifth century the Germanic tribes were well established on Roman territory.
The fifth century
In AD 401 the Visigoths, now living just a few hundred miles away, decided to attack Italy. In 410 they conquered and pillaged Rome. And so it went on, until the last western Roman emperor finally gave up in 476. Many people look on this date as the end of the Roman empire, but that is very misleading. The Roman empire had for over a hundred years been centered at Byzantium (Constantinople), and it continued to survive.
The key events in more detail - how Byzantium cause the Visigoths to attack Rome
Because of the mishandling of a disarmament process by Byzantium (now called Constantinople), the Visigoths were able to made the first decisive breakthrough across the Rhine frontier. They assassinate the eastern emperor Valens in 378. Constantinople came to an agreement, and the Visigoths moved toward Rome. Because of the triumph of an anti-German faction in Constantinople, the Visigoths decided to invade Italy. Roman troops were recalled to fight the Visigoths, leaving the Rhine almost undefended. More Germanic tribes were able to cross the Rhine and make bases closer to Rome. The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410, and the rest is history. The axis of power was gradually shifting north.
How Byzantium pushed Italy into a union with the barbarian kingdoms
Justinian's re-uniting of the empire (conquering three of the ex-Roman kingdoms, as foretold in Daniel 7) was so costly that Italy began to want a permanent separation. Furthermore, in conquering Italy, Justinian had destroyed the Gothic horde that was defending the peninsula from the other barbarian tribes. So Italy was now easy prey for the Lombards! (Wood, p.242-4)
Justinian's obsession with the northern tribes
Both Justinian and Gregory - the creators of medieval Europe - were obsessed with joining with the "barbarian" tribes. This is from work by Kerry Shirts on the Book of Abraham - see the original document for full references.
"The Emperor Justinian displayed at all times a single-minded devotion to the Huns that puzzles and dismays historians... there was nothing he would not do to please the Huns, even to the wrecking of his own foreign policy and the ruination of trade and agriculture throughout the empire...he had worn their Persian beards, Hunnish hair-do, Hunnish cloaks, Hunnish shirts, and Hunnish shoes, the girdles and brooches of the steppes having already supplanted the more civilized styles of the West... Justinian was determined to make the Western world "completely change its clothes"; and he succeeded. . . .
"This Hun-worship actually amounted to the enslaving of the empire... He insisted that all his subjects, from top to bottom, be called his slaves, and instituted the strictly Central Asiatic style of prostration and foot-kissing... In short, "instead of acting like a Roman Emperor, he was the complete barbarian in language, dress, and thought." ... The welcome barbarians poured into court from all directions, to the immense delight of the emperor, who never failed to send them away loaded with gold,... In the end, all the offices and officials of the state were supplanted by one office--the royal court, and by two persons--the emperor and empress, for the new ascendancy of the empress... was the crowning Asiatic touch.
For an eye-witness account of how Justinian invited in the northern tribes, click here.
An age of heroes and barbarians
Does it seem that this period of history is a little dry, almost boring? Don't you believe it! If you get the time, I encourage you to read a little about the great stories from this period of history. Read about the exploits of Belisarius, perhaps the greatest general since Alexander. Read about the barbarian tribes - buying whole empires, or using the skull of a defeated king as a drinking cup. These stories make the twentieth century look positively dull!
The largest and wealthiest city of the medieval period was Constantinople, formerly called Byzantium. The people who were ruled from this city, though at first called Romans, are called Byzantine by historians when referring to the period after the late sixth century (reflecting the shift from Rome to Europe).
Byzantium was such a huge and powerful place, which took itself so seriously (considering itself to be an unchangeable reflection of the heavenly order), that in modern times any vast, complex undertaking or bureaucracy is labeled "Byzantine".
AD 570: triumph
And so it went on. The very last barbarian invasion of Italy was by the Lombards. Once again Byzantium was at the center of the intrigue. The Lombards began with their attention on Byzantium itself, but were (perhaps unintentionally) diverted toward Italy. This was the last straw for Italy, already on its knees. It prompted Italy to no longer look east for help but begin looking west and north. It was the catalyst for the career of Gregory the Great. It thus marked the end of the old Roman world and the beginning of the medieval world. The crucial year was 570.
So The "little horn" prophecies were fulfilled.
The city that ruled the world, on seven hills
It may also be worth noting that Revelation described the whore as the great city that sits on seven hills. The obvious conclusion was that the whore was Rome. But when Constantine moved the capital to Byzantium, he called it "New Rome". Byzantium also has seven hills within its city walls.
AD 570-1830: The memory of Troy / Byzantium
The Gauls claimed to be descended from Troy
The Gauls were one of the most important nations in Europe in these early centuries. They claimed to be descended from Trojan fugitives who settled there centuries earlier. Theodoric (Ostrogoth king of Italy) claimed a Trojan ancestor, and the Franks claimed descent from "Francus the Trojan". The capital city, Paris, is named after the son of Priam, king of Troy. (p.33-34)
The continuing importance of Byzantium to European history
Although the emphasis was moving north, Byzantium and Troy were still the key to what happened next.
Britons claim to be descendants of Troy
The new nations still remembered Byzantium and Troy. The story of Troy was particularly popular in England in the midst of the Dark Ages (p.32-33). Alfred the Great had an account of the Trojan war written, which became highly influential. At the height of the Dark Ages, people longed for the lost "golden age", just as they dimly recalled the Arthurian legends. The British claimed that Britain was founded by Brutus, who founded Ilium (Troy). The Romantic historian Geoffrey of Monmouth said London was founded as the "New Troy". "Hence in armada year Elizabeth could be greeted at Gray's inn as 'that sweet remain of Priam's state: that hope of springing Troy"
AD 570-1830: Europe (the "horn")
The decline of Byzantium after 570 - the emphasis shifts back to Italy
The height of Byzantine power was under Justinian I, who died in 565. He (or rather, his general, the great Belisarius) conquered much of the Mediterranean. He established the Justinian Code - a set of laws that were later used throughout Europe (another way that Byzantium is significant to Europe, and a fulfillment of the prophecy about "changing times and laws", discussed elsewhere). He began a huge building program, but also bankrupted the empire. The "last straw that broke the camel's back" was when his successor, Justin II, banned unorthodox Christians, and began the political decline of the Byzantine empire in 570.
For an eye-witness account of Justinian, and why 570 was the key date, click here.
Europe and the Church
We should not be confused here between Europe and the medieval church. The medieval church, which effectively began in AD570, was an effective mouthpiece for Europe, speaking blasphemies to the world. But the European nations held the real power. Remember for example the famous Avignon period where the Popes feared to live in Italy because they were under the control of the French.
The Gentiles between 570 and 1830
Byzantium had done its job, and the power was once more with Rome, and later Germany, Spain, France, and England.
I do not need to rehearse what happened with Europe in the 1260 years when it dominated the world. Europe conquered the entire world, bringing its incomplete version of Christianity (all 6s instead of 7s) to almost every people. It truly was "the times of the Gentiles".
The origins of Modern Europe
When the renaissance happened, it was because Italian traders had been offered special trading terms with Constantinople, and brought back not just wealth, but the long forgotten Greek and Roman wisdom. Indeed, it was the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus who, in the eleventh century, invited the rest of Europe to help him against the Turks, thus starting the crusades.
Daniel chapter 8 was right. Europe, and the western world as we know it, owes its origins to the smallest of the four horns of the goat. Thrace and Asia Minor were the least important (at the time) of the four divisions of Alexander's empire, but they have had the greatest effect on the history of the world.
The Ottoman empire
Today we tend to look on Turkey - the land of Troy and Byzantium - as fairly unimportant. But not long ago, Bible commentaries often used to refer to the Turks as a major power in the last days. Some interpreters identified the Turks as one of the great plagues of Revelation.
The "Turks" from outside Byzantium (then called Constantinople) caused its fall in 1453 - a major event in world history, triggering the movement of scholars that fed the Renaissance. Up until World War One, the Turkish (Ottoman) empire was a power to be feared. The phrase "young Turk" has come into our language meaning bold, fearless, and passionate for their cause.
Byzantium (Constantinople/Istanbul) in 1830
1830 was another turning point for Byzantium, as also for Jerusalem. It should not be forgotten, when understanding prophecy, that for centuries before the Great War, it was the Ottoman empire that controlled the Holy Land. For more on Byzantium and Jerusalem in 1830, click here.
Germany and the "little horn"
The "little horn" - a quick review
Daniel had prophesied that the smallest of the four horns of Greece would give rise to a power that attacked God's people and dominated them for 1260 years. The smallest of the four divisions of the Greek empire after Alexander was the area around Byzantium. It gave rise to Europe, as noted above. Europe did indeed overcome God's people and speak blasphemies - and indeed, conquer the whole world.
Germany and the "horn"
Germany is geographically in the center of Europe. Germans often see themselves as spiritually at the center of Europe as well. History backs this up:
- When Europe became distinct from Rome, it was largely due to the invading German tribes.
- During much of the Dark Ages, the most powerful nation in Europe was Germany - the "Holy Roman Empire".
- By the nineteenth century, the German-Prussian axis was the great power in Europe, leading to the World Wars. In the World Wars, the logic behind German policy was to unite Europe, with Germany at its center. See "The Tainted Source - the undemocratic origins of the European Idea" by John Laughland (London: Little Brown and Company, 1997).
- Finally, at this end time, Germany is the driving force behind the European Union.
Germany and Rome
Notice that in each of the above cases, Germany (key to the "horn") is in alliance with Rome (key to "the beast"):
- When Rome gave way to Europe, it was because Rome had to make compromises with the Lombards.
- The "Holy Roman Empire" claimed its authority from Rome.
- In the first World War, Germany was led by a "Kaiser" (Caesar). In the Second World War Germany and Italy formed the "axis" of power around which everything else revolved.
- The European Union is base on "the treaty of Rome".
Noble and righteous Germans and Italians
This is not to say anything against Germans and Italians. There are good and bad people in all nations - and there are traces of the literal blood of Israel in all nations. It's what you do that counts, not where you come from. I am simply pointing out that the prophecies are being fulfilled in a literal and national level as well as a spiritual level.
Jews, Gentiles, and Germany
During the Dark Ages, Europe has greatly persecuted the Jews. The most famous and horrific persecutions came during the Second World War. The Europeans, proud to be Gentiles (e.g. non-Jews), terrorized and murdered the Jews. And sometimes they claimed to do it in the name of Christianity! If only they had actually read the Bible. Christians do not follow God by rejecting the blood of the Israelites, but by being adopted into their family!
At the start of the Old Testament (in Genesis 26:4), God told Abraham that "in thee all the nations of the world be blessed". At the end of the New Testament (in Revelation 7), we are told that the 144000 servants of God are sealed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. In Another Testament of Jesus Christ, we read:
Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel; for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn.
Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 29:8
After 1830: Britain and America - Conclusion
Turkey and other Gentiles in the Twentieth Century
For much of the twentieth century, Turkey - home of Troy and Byzantium - had a central role in the Cold War, as the member of NATO with strongest links to the Soviet block. However, as the tide of history has tended to sweep westward (see quotation by the chart of Daniel's prophecies), the main Gentile nations have been in Europe, and the former European colonies in America.
How Gentile is America? And a note on nationalism.
In all this, it must be remembered that, even though America and Europe have predominantly Gentile blood, there is also a little of the blood of Israel. I record the information about the Gentiles, because it is a fact that the prophecies concerning nations have been fulfilled. But it is behaviour, not blood, that matters. There is no room for racism or aggressive nationalism. A righteous (or unrighteous) minority can change everything. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:6:
"Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"
If someone accepts the gospel, they are adopted into the house of Israel, as if they had been born in the covenant. Similarly, someone might be 100% Israel, but will lose the blessings if they do not live up to their covenants. This is discussed in more detail on the page on the "British Israel" theory.
The Gentiles in the last days
In these last days, the Gentiles - what we call "western culture" - rules the world. Its technology is ensuring that the world becomes a smaller place. This is required so that, through the Gentiles, the gospel can be taken to the whole world. Japheth is triumphant.
But we have been warned that when Jesus returns, the kingdoms of this world will be replaced by the kingdom of God. The times of the Gentiles will not last much longer. Before that time, the Gentile nations, named after Magog (the son of Japheth) will openly war against Israel. We have been warned!
the bottom line
If ever a prophecy was fulfilled, it was the one about "the times of the Gentiles"!