Have you ever wondered why, from the days of the pagan Roman Empire until now, there has never been a united Europe? It is not that no one has wanted it so indeed, many ambitious and talented men have tried to unite it. There was Charlemagne who tried to do so in the eighth century, Charles V in the sixteenth, and Napoleon in the nineteenth.
The answer to that question is simple. God has decreed that it will not happen. In today's lesson, you will find that through His prophet Daniel, God foretold the future kingdoms of this world. A strange image made up of different kinds of metals symbolized the progression of the ancient world empires. The feet and toes, however, were different. Daniel 2:42,43 states:
"As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay." (NKJV)
For many years the royalty of Europe attempted conscientiously to assure permanent peace by means of intermarriage. At the outbreak of the First World War almost all the ruling houses of Europe were interrelated. Yes, at the outbreak of the First World War! The words "they will not adhere one to another," even though they did "mingle with the seed of men," proved only too true.
Napoleon declared, "I wanted to found a European system, a European code of law, a European court of appeals." There would have been but one people throughout Europe. Europe would have become one nation.
Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler tried in the twentieth century. Millions still living remember Hitler's piercing voice as in seemingly endless harangues he portrayed the Nazi goal, "Germany over all! [Deutschland uber alles!]." But the seven simple words "they will not adhere to one another" were shown to be true in his case also.
C. Mervyn Maxwell was fourteen when Hitler violated Poland's Danzig Corridor. His family hovered around the radio listening to Britain's declaration of war as the short-wave came in, successively loud and soft, clear and garbled. The future was dark, but they had been brought up on Daniel 2, and were sure that sooner or later Hitler would be defeated by the Allies or by the second coming of Christ.
Hitler's Panzer divisions swept across Europe. Hitler, like Belshazzar, defied the God of Daniel. In March 1941, Hitler boldly declared, "See my people? We do not need anything from God! We do not ask anything from Him except that He may let us alone. We want to fight our own war, with our own guns, without God. We want to gain our victory without the help of God." His tank divisions swept across Europe. The Allied forces had their backs to the wall at the English Channel. At that stage of the war, it appeared that, in a few days, Hitler would conquer all of Europe. He had every military advantage. His generals carefully studied the weather patterns. They attacked at a time when the weather was pleasant, to enable the tanks to move swiftly against the Allied forces, and to keep the British from evacuating their trapped army from the shores of Dunkirk.
At this time, and after the fall of France, some students of prophecy cautioned young Mervyn's father, Arthur S. Maxwell, editor of Signs of the Times, not to continue writing editorials on Hitler's future defeat. "How do we know that the prophecy of Daniel 2 will apply in this case?" they asked. Maxwell replied by dedicating his next issue to this interpretation of Daniel 2 and inviting his readers to preserve their copies.
"This prophecy is the only one in the Bible," he wrote buoyantly, "to which the words 'certain' and 'sure' are both attached [Daniel 2:45]. If for no other reason, with these two seals upon it we can surely trust it with complete confidence. It cannot fail."
One night, while the Allies seemed hopelessly trapped, a strange fog settled in. Winston Churchill, in an emergency broadcast, appealed to the British civilians to assist in an evacuation. Power boats, family boats, yachts, barges, anything that floated was sent over under the cover of fog to rescue the trapped Allied troops. The Allied forces, rescued and regrouped, went back finally to win the war. Hitler had said, "We don't need anything from God!. . . We want to fight our own war." But seven words of Bible prophecy "they will not adhere to one another" forbade such a takeover.
Arthur S. Maxwell, the beloved 'Uncle Arthur' to many children around the world, loved to tell his children of the important part that the prophecies of Daniel played in his life. In England, when Arthur was fourteen, an evangelist's sermon on Daniel 2 attracted his widowed mother to the study of the Bible. It did not at first attract him to study the Bible. More than once young Arthur locked himself in the upstairs bathroom to escape the evangelist's house calls, then climbed to freedom down the outside English plumbing.
At the age of sixteen, however, he gave his heart to Christ. Two years later, World War I began. During the terrible conflict he watched Kaiser Wilhelm II match his might for four years against the image of Daniel 2. Arthur S. Maxwell's confidence in the impregnability of the prophecy was confirmed.
Maxwell's faith was ready when Adolf Hitler took his turn.
The toes of that great image hold special interest for us today. We can see that if the image represents a timeline, we are at the end of it. Rome no longer rules the world. There is no single ruling power today. We are living in the time of the feet and toes of iron and clay that will not adhere to one another. The next event, as you see in today's lesson, cannot be far in the future. Friends, Jesus is coming very soon. Wouldn't you like to get ready for Him?
May God bless you as you seek to understand some of the mysteries that God has told us about through Daniel the prophet.