by Dr. Steve Elwart
The “ten-horned beast” is a prophetic image that occurs in Daniel (Dan. 7:7–8, 20, 24) and Revelation (Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3–16). There are some prophecy writers that believe that the ten-horned beast is a symbol for a European organization, such as the European Union. Recent events, however, would tend to disprove the idea of the European Union will be the ten-horned beast written about in the Bible.
The intent of the European Union (EU) was to bond European nations so closely together in such a prosperous enterprise that no nation would have any reason to break the peace or fear another. After Europe struggled for centuries to establish their individual national sovereignty and self-determination, they were not about to sacrifice that sovereignty again. They wanted a system where the sovereignty of all the countries was to be retained, but constrained in such a way that no one could take it away.
The EU was founded for “peace and prosperity.” The thinking was that wars would not break out between countries involved in trade. If either the peace or prosperity disappeared, or disappeared in
some nations, what would happen to the organization?
Current events had shown what would happen and the answer is not pretty.
From its founding until 2008, the EU flourished. Then in six weeks it all unraveled. The self-confident certainties of Europe began to come apart. Peace and prosperity both were broken and Europe suffered a crisis.
The first event that shook the EU was the Russian invasion of Georgia in August of 2012. The invasion did two things. First, is shattered the illusion that war between nations in Europe was impossible. Second, it also ended the period of Russia’s irrelevance. From the fall of the Soviet Union until the invasion, Russia was written off as a potential threat. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, new nations were spawned and old nations were freed. When the Soviet Union fractured, the newly formed ex-Eastern Europe wanted to join NATO and the EU because they believed that this would guarantee their security, prosperity.
Russia thought it had reached an agreement with the West that the newly liberated nations would not be incorporated into either organization. Russia wanted to assure a buffer zone from what it considered Western Expansionism. The Georgian action put the West on notice that Russia was a country not to be trifled with. It also let the other countries of the Eastern bloc that the same could happen to them if they got too close to the West. Russia’s recent actions in Crimea and Ukraine are just a continuation of this policy.
The European Union does not have a defensive component; it assumes that NATO would fill that role. The thinking was that Germany would bear the brunt of a Russian attack and France would fight a holding action at the back door until the United States could gear up and enter the fray. Russia’s limited actions in Eastern Europe were not in the game plan and NATO’s response was … nothing. There were protests and sanctions that are hurting the Russian economy, but the Russians or their proxies are still in place.
That destroyed the notion of peace for the EU.
Now the notion of prosperity has now been shattered as well with the multiple debt crises that have arisen. The PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, & Spain) have been a source of trouble for the EU. Greece is the most immediate problem for the EU now.
European Union members want Greece to do more to revamp its debt-burdened economy before they release another round of loans in the 240-billion-euro ($259 billion) bailout program. At stake is Greece’s ability to avoid a default and stay in the 19-nation euro area.
The showdown will figure heavily at a meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Latvia on April 24. In the shadow of the brinkmanship, Greek government bonds last week suffered their worst week since Alexis Tsipras was elected as prime minister in January on a platform promising to undo the tough bailout terms.
Greece’s so-called red lines are a refusal to cut wages and pensions, introduce new taxes or sell state assets, Alternate Health and Social Security Minister Dimitris Stratoulis said in an interview with Athens-based Skai TV.
“The Syriza-led government will carry out the reforms the Greek people need, not ones requested by our creditors,” Stratoulis also told Skai TV. The country won’t be pressured “by euro-exit (Greece being forced from the EU) threats.”
While Germany is the focus for pushing austerity on the Greeks, Finland is actually the unlikely stage in Greece’s Eurozone drama. Leaked documents reveal that Finland is already making contingency plans for a Greek exit from the EU. This northern country has turned out to be the most uncompromising of the EU’s creditor nations.
Having suffered through three consecutive years of recession, Finland sees its economic output still 5 percent below its pre-crisis levels. Finland has suffered an economic downturn of almost Greek proportions. The boon from oil prices and the launch of Eurozone quantitative easing will still only see the economy expand at a paltry 0.8 percent this year, the worst performance of any EU country with the exception of Italy and Cyprus. Stagnating growth also saw Finland stripped of its much coveted Triple-A sovereign debt rating from Standard & Poor’s last year.
While Finland is struggling with its economy almost as much as Greece is, the Finns do not see the Greeks as being serious about getting their spending under control.
While most of the world’s attention is looking toward the Iran negotiations, Athens will be keeping half an eye on developments in Helsinki, where with 99% of the votes counted, conservative National Coalition Party had 18.2% of the vote compared to the opposition Centre Party’s 21.2%. The outcome of the elections and the government that Finland forms may very well determine Greece’s economic fate.
The anti-NATO Centre party has won the most votes in the election; it still needs to form a coalition. The populist, anti-EU True Finns are predicted to come in second place and it good contention for forming a coalition cabinet with the Center party.
Between the two countries, it seems as if either the defensive or the economic nation of Europe will change.
To see what the future of the European Europe will be, look to Finland.