Europe is calling for closer integration to solve its financial woes, which may force the United Kingdom to decide if it is in or out of the European Union.
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The eurozone crisis seems to have morphed into the likes of a Shakespearean tragedy. The dramatic tension in debt-saddled Greece and Italy and stirring speeches from Germany and France all appear to be set against a bleak backdrop—the collapse of the continent’s common currency. In this scenario, the United Kingdom could be cast as a sort of Hamlet wandering darkened corridors: “To be or not to be in the EU, that is the question…”
Britain’s hesitant approach to the European Union is as familiar as the oft-repeated opening lines of Hamlet’s famed soliloquy. Since entering the European Economic Community in 1973, they have held a similar stance. Despite this, politicians and journalists are regularly swept up in the drama of EU politics, and seem to forget the UK’s track record as a reluctant member state.
Take, for example, the outcome of the December 2011 emergency summit aimed at solving the eurozone crisis. Leading up to the gathering, Greece stood on the verge of bankruptcy, Standard & Poor’s was poised to downgrade the credit rating of prominent European Union nations—and the future of the euro itself was at stake.
At the meeting, Germany and France pushed for a change to the Lisbon Treaty, meaning further economic assimilation for all 27 member nations—even those outside the eurozone. French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that “never has the risk of disintegration been greater.”
European Union leaders emerged after an all-night “make or break” summit with an agreement hailed as a bold new direction for the power bloc. The summit attendees released a document, which stated, “Today we agreed to move towards a stronger economic union.”
Everyone was on board—except the United Kingdom. While the leaders of 26 European nations backed the pact, Britain stood as a minority of one.
The UK, which prides itself on the global clout of its financial sector, refused further European interference. In a press conference, the nation’s prime minister, David Cameron, stated, “What is on offer isn’t in Britain’s interests so I didn’t agree to it.”
Enter the news media. Journalists happily churned out headlines such as, “Europe’s Great Divorce,” “Britain’s Stand on Euro Leaves It Isolated,” and “Was This the Moment the UK Stumbled out of Europe?”
The EUobserver reported, “The break represents a major symbolic shift for the European Union which has never before cemented a disagreement so publicly and so thoroughly…”
While Britain’s move did not result in immediate EU expulsion, it was a foreboding moment that forced the world to ask: is the stage being set to exclude the UK from Europe?
As the dust cleared after Mr. Cameron’s “no,” news headlines shifted their focus back to the immediacy of the eurozone crisis, and less on Britain: “EU debt summit fails to satisfy ratings agencies,” “Fifth European solution failing to ease stress,” and “Euro dips after EU summit; more pain to come.”
The Associated Press reported that Moody’s debt-rating agency “noted that the pact does not address Europe’s immediate problem: the crushing debt loads of some nations and their rising borrowing costs.”
In short, the continent still did not have a clear solution to the deepening crisis.
With this news came a week’s worth of conciliatory remarks toward Britain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “Great Britain is a reliable partner for Europe not just in questions of foreign and security policy; Great Britain is also this partner in many other questions—in competitiveness, in the internal market, for trade, for climate protection.”
In an interview with French magazine Le Monde, translated by Agence France-Presse, Nicolas Sarkozy remarked, “We need Great Britain,” and, “We’d be greatly impoverished if we allowed its departure which, luckily, is not on the agenda.”
Why would Europe extend an olive branch to Britain after it had just hampered its plans for its rescue package?
The union needs the UK.
Bloomberg reported, “Britain’s EU partners realize that its financial sector has enormous economic weight. The U.K. hosts the world’s biggest markets for foreign exchange and financial derivatives, and is home to the biggest asset management business in Europe.”
Similarly, Britain needs Europe. The continent is the UK’s number one export destination, and exiting the union could mean hefty tariffs. Also, the political isolation of leaving the EU would utterly erode the nation’s sway over the continent.
For now, it seems Europe and the UK will continue their often frustrating relationship. It is necessary for the two sides to cooperate to ensure economic stability.
Regardless, the writing still appears to be on the wall for Britain.
After the emergency summit, Bloomberg stated, “The question is how much longer [Europe] can continue to be [on two tracks]. Closer fiscal and economic integration may eventually make it impossible for the U.K. to stand slightly apart. Once and for all, it might have to choose: in or out. If it ever comes to that, Britain has an enormously difficult choice to make.”
Until now, the UK has been afforded a starring role on the EU stage (alongside Germany and France). Yet the euro crisis is increasingly forcing member states to give up sovereign rights in favor of a streamlined European government—a trend Britons historically oppose. Clearly, the diplomatic theatrics between the EU and Britain cannot continue forever.
For characters in a play, how their own story ultimately ends is a mystery to them. These fictional figures unwittingly continue along the outline of the plot, with the ultimate conclusion already written. Audience members, however, can often see where a particular tale is headed because they are on the outside looking in. Foreshadowing events provide clues on the ending.
Something similar can be said about the United Kingdom and Europe. Constant political stagecraft masks what the future holds. Yet if someone steps back from the action to see the “foreshadowing events” in British history, it becomes clear where the country is headed.
The UK was a veritable pop-up nation—seeming to appear almost from nowhere. The country had limited natural resources and military power up until 1800. The following century marked its meteoric rise to unparalleled prominence. Between the 1750s and 1850s, the nation’s population jumped from 7.7 million to 20.7 million.
Soon, England was the cultural, financial and political capital of the world, and London was simply referred to as “the City.”
The nation’s naval superiority ensured its place as global superpower. Britons controlled or had access to virtually every vital sea gate the world over: the Suez and Panama canals, the straits of Gibraltar and Hormuz, Singapore, Cape Horn, Malta, Cape of Good Hope, and Hong Kong.
For about two centuries, Great Britain ruled the world. At its zenith, it governed almost one quarter of the world population and controlled 11 million square miles of territory. The nation even had its own slogan: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
Since World War II, however, Britain has been in a state of perpetual decline. The British Colonial office closed in 1966—effectively ending the empire. Almost every vital colony and sea gate has been lost, with the last being Hong Kong in 1997.
Today, the nation is a hollow shell of what it once was. Gone are the days when Queen Victoria could look at a globe and feel she was undoubtedly “Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India.” Gone are the days of British sailors charting new territories. Gone are the days of the widespread influence of the English language, culture and religion, with missionaries toting King James Bibles.
While unknown to them, the very book that missionaries carried to the far-flung corners of the earth—and monarchs “defended”—holds the key to how the British Empire could reach such great heights.
Notice this passage in the Old Testament book of Amos: “For, lo, I [God] will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth” (9:9).
Ancient Israel had 12 tribes. Contrary to popular belief, the modern-day nation called Israel is mostly comprised of the tribe of Judah. The other Israelite tribes gradually lost their identity.
In Amos 9, God promised protection for these tribes as they “sifted,” or moved, through the nations. While that was happening, these peoples took on the customs and traditions of the nations around them—and forgot their heritage.
Yet the Bible details exactly what these nations would look like in modern times.
A special blessing was put upon the tribe of Joseph, and passed to his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. God promised that both would “grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Gen. 48:16). The older brother, Manasseh, was to “become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (vs. 19).
Be honest. Who fits this description? Certainly not the tiny nation of ancient Israel or the modern state of Israel on the Mediterranean! Only one pair of brother nations has ever become a singular great nation and a multitude of nations—the United States and Britain, with its former colonies.
To many, the idea that Britain’s rise to power was foretold in the pages of the Old Testament seems patently absurd. Yet the Bible offers many more details that make the description of this people unmistakable.
Abraham, one of the forefathers of the Israelite peoples, and the great-great grandfather of Ephraim and Manasseh, was given a promise from God for his obedience: “That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate [sea gates] of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:17-18).
Recall, the British Empire possessed virtually every crucial naval sea gate.
The same promise was passed to Abraham’s son Isaac and later to Jacob: “Therefore God give you of the dew of heaven, and the [fertile places] of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine” (Gen. 27:28).
At its peak, Britain controlled vital trade routes and had colonies with rich farmland.
Grasp this point. The British peoples descend from the nation of Israel. While most assume Israel is synonymous with those of Jewish descent, these people actually come from Judah alone, just one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Abraham’s “birthright blessings” were eventually passed on to Joseph’s sons, who became the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48).
God has fulfilled His promise to bless these two nations. Britain (Ephraim) and America (Manasseh) have risen to be the two greatest nations of all time.
Yet God did not say these countries would continue to enjoy unsurpassed national material blessings forever. Indeed, their power is dwindling fast: Britain’s empire is shattered, and America no longer remains unchallenged on the world stage.
Knowing the identity of the modern-day Israelitish nations unlocks vast sections of Scripture. In particular, being able to equate British people with Ephraim makes clear what is coming for this people.
Consider the story of the UK’s meteoric rise from God’s standpoint. The Almighty God poured out unconditional blessings upon this commonwealth nation. They had it all: military might, political power, and wealth. Although greatly diminished, modern Britain still enjoys the remnants of these blessings: they have the second-greatest military, their financial center remains vital to international business, and their standard of living is among the highest in the world.
Despite this, modern Britons treat these God-given advantages as if they deserve them, and the nation’s moral character has utterly collapsed.
Everywhere Britons went during the British Empire, they brought a sense of decorum and love of well-kept gardens. Today, they seem unwilling to even maintain their own environment. Guardian reported there were 820,000 incidences of dumping trash along the side of the road in 2011, including armchairs, stoves and kitchen garbage. This trend cost England’s local governments approximately $97 million for the year.
In addition, British workers have become world-renowned as slothful and unproductive. An Indian businessman who has steel-working and manufacturing plants in Britain announced plans to move parts of his operation overseas. Why? The man told The Times of London, “It’s a work-ethic issue. In my experience…nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody.” He also noticed that after 3:30 p.m. on Fridays his offices were nearly empty—as almost everyone had left early for the weekend.
And for the average Briton, Friday through Sunday means heavy drinking. In a survey of 2,000 adults, YorkTest health research group found that the average UK adult spends 1,452 days of his life with a hangover. That totals four years of life wasted dealing with the immediate effects of overdrinking!
Think of how this looks to the rest of the continent. The Independent reported, “Britain is the drunk man of Europe. Alcohol consumption in France, Germany and Italy is down by between 37 and 52 per cent since 1980. But in the UK it is up nine per cent, with binge drinkers sinking more booze than ever, putting unprecedented pressure on the NHS [National Health Service], police and social services.”
The next generation of Britons will only grow worse. The most popular prime-time television programs marketed toward teenagers are nothing more than a steady stream of obscenities and a vile parade of shameless nudity, sexual encounters, and wanton drug use.
One does not have to wonder why in all of Europe the United Kingdom has the highest teenage pregnancy rate and largest proportion of children living in single-parent families, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Due to Britain (Ephraim) squandering God’s blessings in front of the world, almost every other time the nation is prophetically mentioned in the Bible, it is in a negative context.
For example, Isaiah 28:1 states, “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower…”
Read this another way. Woe to the drunkards of the United Kingdom—whose glorious empire has faded like a flower!
In addition, Hosea 7 contains a harsh indictment from God: “Ephraim”—modern UK—“has mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned [half-baked]. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knows it not: yes, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knows not” (vs. 8-9).
Britain no longer boasts that “the sun never sets” on its commonwealth holdings, with almost all of these already handed over to “strangers.” Indeed, the sun has set for the nation itself, but the nation remains oblivious and “knows it not.”
Hosea 7 continues: “And the pride of [modern] Israel testifies to his face: and they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this. Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria” (vs. 10-11).
Due to obstinate pride, as the UK continues in moral and economic decline, it will not seek God. In fact, most would scoff at such a suggestion. Rather, it will seek help from other nations.
God warns in the next verse that if Britain seeks after help from foreign powers, “I will chastise them…” (Hos. 7:12).
Instead of realizing its error, when soon-coming calamity arrives for the UK and America, they will trust in allies. Yet no help will be found.
Make no mistake, Britain will soon lose its remaining economic clout. When that happens, the EU will no longer tolerate its presence on the European stage. Also, the continent will soon unite to preserve the lives of luxury its inhabitants desire.
Simultaneously, God’s chastisement will fall upon the United Kingdom and its brother nations. They all will be forced to realize the divine Source of their national prominence.
Yet these passages are only a tiny portion of what is written in the Bible about the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel. The book America and Britain in Prophecy, by David C. Pack, explains in plain language what God’s Word reveals about the future of these two nations.