Here in the UK the terms of Brexit dominates the headlines on a daily basis. Still bitter from the marginal vote to leave the EU some who voted to 'remain' appear to be seeking to put as many roadblocks in the way as possible. Petitions are being signed, demonstrations attended and books are being written as Pro-EU activists desperately seek to stop the juggernaut which is Brexit. In this week's Bible in the News we consider the likelihood of Brexit being scuppered in the light of Bible prophecy.
Currently, the British government and the EU are in negotiations to untangle Britain from the EU. Much work has to be done to detach the UK from laws and obligations that have been entered into as part of the close relationship between the two parties.
This is how the BBC reported the situation this week:
“As it stands, the UK will leave the EU in March 2019 whether it agrees a deal on the terms of withdrawal or not. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she believes the two sides will reach a deal but the UK must prepare for all eventualities. The so-called divorce bill, the amount the UK will pay to settle its liabilities when it leaves the EU, remains a major sticking point in negotiations.
Hopes that negotiations would move on to Britain's future relationship with the EU this month were dashed after EU chiefs said more work was needed first on the divorce talks. Mr De Rynck [an adviser to EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier] said "sufficient progress is not far away" but the UK must set out how it believes the divorce bill should be calculated to end the deadlock over money.
"In terms of the guidelines for the future relationship as well as the possible transition, all of that can come very quickly," he said.”
Also this week the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was again in the headlines telling the EU to “get on with Brexit”. Also on the BBC this week the BBC ran a headline “Brexit: Theresa May says 'important progress' made at EU summit.” So the politicians are forging ahead with the Brexit paperwork but many are also at work attempting to put a stop to it.
Democracy and the EU
Former deputy Prime minister
Nick Clegg's new book
The notion that the people have spoken in the EU referendum - and that therefore, under the rules of democracy, Brexit should continue with all the authority of democracy - is one which is constantly under challenge in some parts of British politics. The main sticking point is the question of what Brexit looks like and what deal Britain might do in regards to the terms of Brexit. A few “remainers” want to sink the Brexit ship and stay moored to the EU.
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is one such “Remainer”. He has written a book entitled “How To Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again)” published on the 12th of October. The leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, published an article in the Guardian this week entitled “We must stop this tragic farce – Brexit can be reversed”. The Liberal Democrats are pushing for another final vote by the British public to agree, or not, the terms of the Brexit negotiations in an attempt to reverse the leave outcome from the last one.
There is a track record in relation to the EU of democratic decisions being overturned by sheer persistence.
For example, in 1992 Denmark voted against adopting the EU’s 'Maastricht Treaty'. With a few tweaks though the treaty was amended and another vote was held in 1993 and was carried. In 2001, in a referendum to approve the EU ‘Treaty of Nice’ the Irish voted 53% against. A few tweaks to the wording of the treaty took place and the vote was again put to the Irish people in 2002 along with a major educational campaign around the vote. Ireland then voted 62.9% in favour. Again in 2008 Ireland voted against adopting the 'Lisbon Treaty'. A few tweaks and another education campaign and in 2009 the EU got the vote it was after and the Irish voted in favour.
This tactic of making a few tweaks and then having another vote until the answer comes out in favour of the EU then, in human terms, is a very real possibility to Brexit.
As a side point, it might be worth observing that any vote in a sovereign nation which has gone in favour of the EU has ever been rerun!
Earlier this month, one MP, Sir Edward Leigh, had written the following in a local paper in Gainsborough to ease the worries of his constituency and make things clear on Brexit:
“I cannot emphasise enough that there is no going back on Brexit. We will be leaving the European Union completely and there is no question about that. I have been one of the heartiest advocates of properly getting out of the EU and holding the Government to account while this process is ongoing. A number of constituents have written to me under the misapprehension that transitional agreements somehow mean we won’t be leaving the European Union or that somehow they will be used to sneakily create a situation whereby we leave in name only. I can reassure voters that this is not the case… I must emphasise to constituents that there is zero chance of our staying in the European Union. Transitional agreements will exist to help us to leave the EU – not to frustrate our leaving. No-one has been clearer on this matter than the Prime Minister – leave means leave."
There is then this division in UK politics at the moment. On the one hand, the people have spoken to leave and politecians are working to fulfil that desire. On the other, some politicians do not want this to happen and are seeking to reverse the vote causing, in turn, other politicians to defend democracy and the will of the people.
"Will Brexit be reversed?" is a question on the minds of those engaged in politics. By looking at the implications of Bible prophecy we can confidently say that this is very unlikely and that Brexit will happen.
The majority of those currently in power seems to be reluctantly accepting the vote of the people - even if they voted to remain. The basis on which the system works is democracy - and the people voted out. To remain in power the politicians, therefore, are, on the whole, following this route set out by the people they are supposed to represent.
Unlike Ireland with it’s Catholic Heritage and leanings to Europe, Britain's heritage is Protestant. In the backbone of the country is a spirit of independence from the continent and a reliance of Britain as a separate entity. This spirit stems back to the days of Henry the 8th and the Reformation when England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church to forge its own way in the world.
These ancient political and religious undertones, are not obviously in the public's consciousness - but certainly they seem to be there in an almost unconscious way - and, no doubt will contribute to Brexit continuing to the conclusion which will see the British power outside of the EU.
It is interesting to read an article published by the Guardian on the 27th of October entitled “How the Reformation sowed the seeds of Brexit”. In it, the author, Martin Kettle, states:
"the deeper legacy of the English Reformation was the tradition of English exceptionalism, which dressed itself afresh in Britishness after the acts of union. In this tradition, England (or Britain) was different, separate, better, blessed and free from the rules that constrained others. It defined itself against Rome and ultramontane ideas of every kind. And that legacy has certainly not disappeared. Indeed, just when so many of the habits and manifestations of English Protestantism have continued to slip gently towards an ecumenical multicultural oblivion, Henry VIII’s legacy has summoned itself for one final and contrarian outburst of the exceptionalist tradition. It has dumped us with Brexit.”
In this God’s hand can be seen. He has been at work, unbeknown to the people involved down through time to use the British power for His requirements. Britain and it’s protestant spirit was heavily involved in spreading God’s word in English across the globe through the British Empire. This, in turn, led to Britain aiding the establishment of the nation of Israel, supported by Protestants who had grown up with Bible in hand and an understanding and sympathy of God’s people, the Jews. It also led to the true gospel being rediscovered in the 1800’s and defined in the book “Elpis Israel” in 1848 by John Thomas who began the radical Christadelphian movement. None of these things would have happened without the Protestant spirit of Britain.
But there is more in relation to God’s purpose with Britain.
Britain the Tarshish of the Bible
Christadelphian booklet on the
'Destiny of Britain Foretold in the Bible'
Written before the EU referendum.
Purchase from Amazon.
The connection with Britain and the Biblical nation of Tarshish has been well documented in recent years (for information on this see this Bible Talk, given just after the Brexit vote and a booklet on the subject can be purchased on Amazon.
As a short summery consider the following which connects Britain with Tarshish:
- 1. Its people are descended from Japheth who emigrated across western Europe & is an island or coastal power. Gen 10:4-5
- 2. It was well known as a maritime power. 2 Chron 9:21 Psalm 48:7 Isaiah 2:16, 23:1, 60:9, Ezekiel 27:25
- 3. In ancient times, especially around 900-600BC it traded in global markets and particularly traded in the East. 2 Chron 9:20-21
- 4. It is located to the far west of Israel. Jonah 1:3
- 5. At the time of Ezekiel (600BC) it was a source of silver, iron, tin and lead & traded with the ancient Phoenicians of Tyre.Ezekiel 27:12
- 6. After the Phoenician city of Tyre was destroyed (around 300BC) Tarshish was to replace Tyre as the worlds trading power. Isaiah 23:6
- 7. It is a colonial power, having political offspring. Ezekiel 38:13
We would suggest that the only power to fit these characteristics is the British power. No other power fits these ‘Tarshish clues’.
It is reasonable therefore to identify Britain as the Biblical nation called “Tarshish”. This being the case the prophecies of the “Latter days” are interesting to note.
The nations of the EU in Ezekiel 38
In Ezekiel 38 we read of the state of the nations just before Jesus Christ returns to the earth. This gives us clues as to how we might expect the nations will be behaving. As we’ve already mentioned, Tarshish is there in verse 13 and is trading in the area of the Gulf with those Southern Arab states called by their ancient family names of “Sheba and Dedan”. Set apart from these trading powers, is described between verses 1-6, another block of nations who unite to invade Israel. Within this set of nations are grouped peoples who make up the EU, namely Magog and Gomer.
The Jewish historian Josephus, writing around 93AD, records that “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1:6:1, c. 94 AD). The Greek historian Herodotus gives a detailed outline of the land of Scythia (Herodotus, Histories, Book 4:46-47, c. 400 BC). He lists eight rivers which went through it, all of which are in Eastern Europe stretching from the river “Ister” (the modern-day river ‘Danube’ which originates in Germany) to the river “Tanais” (the modern-day river ‘Don’ in Russia).
From these historical accounts, we learn that the “Magog” of Ezekiel 38 is the territory of most of Eastern Europe inclusive of modern day Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine and even parts of Western Russia.
Another name we come across in relation to the northern alliance in the prophecy of
Ezekiel 38, is “Gomer” in verse 6. It is Josephus who again states: “Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, but were then called Gomerites.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1:6:1, c. 94 AD). Interestingly “Gallia” remains a name of France in modern Greek.
The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus tells us that another name for “Galatia” was “Gaul” (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, Book 5:24, c. 50 BC). The area of Gaul was eventually conquered by the Romans and then, in turn fell to the “Franks” in AD486.
The area of Gaul then became known as “France”. From this we can understand
the “Gomer” in Ezekiel 38 to be describing Western Europe and in particular France.
Brexit and Bible prophecy
According to the Bible then, we would expect these territories of the EU to unite at the time just before the return of Christ. We would not expect the British “Tarshish” power to be amongst them but instead forging its own global relationships based on trade in the Gulf.
For the Bible student then it is significant that since the Brexit vote EU leaders have called for even further integration of Europe. This is what we’d expect. The EU powers getting to the point where they have an army and can collectively invade Israel with other allies as described in the prophecies.
Back in June this year, Reuters ran an article entitled “Germany and France to lead post-Brexit EU in further integration”. The report stated: “More EU integration is a “foregone conclusion”, and France and Germany will take the lead on post-Brexit reforms starting this year, the European Union’s second-in-command said, adding that he hoped the east-west split in the bloc would heal.”
In August 2017 the Express newspaper, famed for its Euroskeptisim, ran an article entitled “Revealed: Plans for EU army, navy and air force deployable without national MPs' approval”. The article stated: “EURO MPs have drawn up terrifying plans for a complete EU army, navy and air force which could be deployed by Brussels without consulting member state parliaments. In a dossier compiled by the liberal ALDE grouping, which is headed by Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, MEPs call for “EU integrated military forces” to intervene on behalf of the bloc across the globe. They say Brussels needs “autonomous” military capabilities which would have their own budget, be under the direct command of eurocrats and wear the EU ensign into battle. The document, which has no official weight and is likely to be rejected by member states, will nonetheless unnerve some politicians who fear the bloc is creeping towards ever greater militarisation.”
Last month, The French president, Emmanuel Macron, set out his vision for Europe. The Guardian news story was entitled “Macron lays out vision for 'profound' changes in post-Brexit EU”. It went on to say: “French president proposes deeper political integration… The speech was received warmly by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. “A very European speech from my friend Emmanuel Macron,” he tweeted. “What we need now is a roadmap to advance the union at 27. We have to openly discuss all ideas and decide before May 2019,” Juncker said, referring to a summit he wants Romania to host on 30 March 2019, the day after Britain leaves the EU. In early December, the commission will publish proposals for a eurozone finance minister and other reforms. EU leaders will discuss the ideas at a summit later that month.”
Christ is coming
So we watch and wait as we see the great powers of the day falling into place as God has determined they would and revealed according to His holy word. With the prophecies set out and the destiny of the nations foretold we have a good idea as to the direction they will move in and it would certainly appear “Brexit means Brexit”. From this understanding of Bible prophecy we conclude that ultimately the eurosceptics will not have their way and Britain’s destiny lies outside of the EU.
Indeed, despite what man thinks the “most high God rules in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.” Daniel 5:21 and “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1.
Soon the Lord Jesus Christ will return to raise the dead, conduct the judgement, gather his saints to himself, and then manifest the glory of God on the earth. He will save his people, the Jews and establish and restore again the Kingdom to Israel and sit on the throne of his father David. He will fulfil his promise to his disciples that they will “sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:30) and in that day the prophecy of Isaiah 2 will be fulfilled:
“that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:2-4
Let us be encouraged then by the signs of the times. Watch with us here in the Bible in the News as God’s purpose unfolds until our Lord returns. This has been Matt Davies. Join us again next week God willing. .