In a referendum awaited with great expectation, the people of the UK voted yesterday in favor of leaving the European Union. With a massive participation of voters (more than 72% went to the polls), 51.9% chose to leave, against 48.1% who preferred to stay - resulting in a difference of 1,269,501 votes in favor of the exit.
A few hours after the results’ official announcement, shock waves are already hitting all over the world, especially in Europe.
In a short speech this morning in which he said that “people voted to leave and their will must be respected”, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation from office, to take place next October. The opening of the London Stock Exchange registered the biggest fall of the pound against the dollar to levels not recorded since 1985. Many European leaders have expressed their great dismay - Jean Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, said that “splinters will not be welcomed back with open arms”. The Prime Minister of Belgium suggested a “conclave to set priorities and build a new future for Europe”. At the same time, many European Union skeptical politicians in France, the Netherlands, Finland and Italy said that their countries should follow similar procedure of consulting the people.
For Seventh-day Adventists, all this immediately refers to Daniel 2, where prophecy points to a divided Europe in the post-Roman Empire period (feet of iron and clay, Dan. 2:33), which would persist until Jesus returns.
This reasoning faced some challenges when, after World War II, unification efforts have been made in Europe, including the European Union as we know it today. So, naturally, this UK referendum result revives and strengthens again our prophetic understanding.
However, let me throw the question: and if the UK people had chosen to stay? Would that strengthen the European Union and compromise our prophetic understanding? No, not at all! And the reason is simple: while iron and clay do not unite, it is also true that they are together, side by side.
Note that in Revelation 16:13, 14 three unclean spirits go to the kings of the earth to gather them for the great day of God Almighty. Surely the kings (or kingdoms, nations) in Europe are included in this gathering. Verse 16 says that they will be gathered to Armageddon, the last battle in an attempt to destroy God’s people.
This means that although there are differences between them that can cause separation, still they will somehow gather side by side in a single goal.
Therefore, iron and clay do not unite - the nations of Europe will not unite; but iron and clay are together, side by side on the feet of the statue - so the nations of Europe will be united in many organizations and purposes.
The feet of the statue is crumbled or destroyed only when struck by a stone thrown by no human hand (Dan. 2: 34, 35). This indicates that the nations of Europe will remain side by side but not connected, not fully together until Jesus returns.
One thing we cannot forget: it’s not only what history will show us that underpins our faith in the Bible and prophecy; it is the very prophecy that allows us to see in advance what will surely happen, although sometimes apparently it seems more difficult.
The Bible is right and will always be. The rest is history.