Firstly, these prophecies have been fulfilled in centuries past already, and are still being fulfilled. It is a fallacy to interpret them as finding their fulfilment solely in the modern-day institution known as the European Union.
Secondly, the prophecies of Daniel do speak of the attempts made, through the centuries, to unite the nations of Europe politically; but they also speak of the fact that all such attempts are doomed to fail. They do not predict a true and lasting merging of the European nations. This is reading more into them than is actually there. The EU is simply the most recent attempt to unite the nations of Europe. It may yet collapse, but even if it continues to exist, the EU will not be a true uniting of the peoples of Europe (it will only be a top-down, enforced “unity”, if it happens, not a true merging of the diverse peoples of Europe); and it will not be the fulfilment of some prophecy which speaks of a true union occurring. For prophecy says the very opposite – that this will never happen!
Understanding Prophecy Requires Much Labour
To properly grasp the Historicist exposition of Bible prophecy, it is necessary to work through the many prophecies systematically and in detail. Far too many Christians have a tendency to “dive into” Bible prophecy at any point (usually at some favourite point, such as Revelation 13, always very popular) and expect to grasp the meaning of the prophecies at that point, without any reference to the context in which they were given, to the prophecies which went before them or the ones which come after them, and without wanting to expend the necessary labour required to carefully study these great matters, so as to properly understand them. This is a tendency to be deplored. Unfortunately, in a pamphlet such as this, such a detailed exposition is not possible. Much will have to be omitted. For this reason, the reader is referred to my sermon series on these prophecies for further details, as well as to books written by men who faithfully upheld the biblical Historicist position.
The “Ten Kings” Came into Existence Centuries Ago
In Daniel, chapter two, in the dream which King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, and which Daniel interpreted, he saw a great image; and the feet of the image were of iron and clay (v.34). Daniel interpreted this as follows, in verses 41-43:
“And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”
The image was that of a man. Its iron legs represented the great might and firmness of the Roman Empire. But the feet (with their ten toes) were a mixture of iron and clay. They represented another phase of the Roman Empire, when it would be divided, and therefore partly strong and partly weak. In the fourth century AD, the empire was divided into two parts, the western and the eastern, symbolised by the two legs. But then in the fifth century AD, the western empire was divided into ten barbarian kingdoms – conforming to the ten toes of the image in the dream! These were the Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Visigoths, Vandals, etc. And these ten kingdoms of Daniel 2 are the same as the ten horns of the fourth beast of Dan.7:7,24, and the same as the ten horns of the beast in the book of Revelation (Rev.13:1; 17:3,12,16).
Then, during the centuries that followed, these barbarian kingdoms gradually developed into the European nations as we know them today. Through the centuries there were not always ten exactly. Sometimes there were more, sometimes less, as a result of wars, shifts in power, the fall of some kingdoms and the rise of others, etc. But regardless of what their number was in the centuries that came afterwards, in prophecy they are referred to as being ten, from the fact that this was their original number, and from the fact that, very remarkably, they have usually been nearer to ten than to any other number at any given time! Thus ten was the average number throughout the years. And as E.B. Elliott pointed out in the nineteenth century, in his monumental work, Horae Apocalypticae: “At certain long subsequent epochs of note, notwithstanding many intervening revolutions and changes in Western Europe, the number ten will be found to have been observed on from time to time, as that of the Western Roman or Papal kingdoms. So Gibbon, with reference to the 12th century; Daubuz to the time of the Reformation; Whiston to the commencement of the 18th century; and finally Cuninghame to the regal governments at the last great political settlement of Europe, AD 1815.”