7.6 The Roman Empire
The Roman empire had a small beginning in Italy and the surrounding region. But from the time of Julius Caesar (56-49 B.C.), the actual Roman empire began to take form. For several generations it ruled from half of England in the north to north Africa in the south, and from Spain in the west to Persia in the east.
The Roman empire lasted for about 500 years, beginning to weaken around 400 A.D:
- During its rule, transportation so greatly improved that phrase was coined, "All roads lead to Rome".
With just two languages, Latin and Greek, a person could make himself understood throughout the whole empire.
- From a military standpoint, the roads were important in that they allowed the Roman army with an iron hand to be able to quickly subdue any attempt at rebellion against the central government. The Jews experienced this when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.
- On the whole, however, such peaceful conditions prevailed that people spoke of the Roman peace, "Pax Romana."
- Roman justice became so well developed that it influenced the entire European legislative system. Without it, Jesus and his disciples would certainly have been killed far earlier than was the case. Paul, especially, who was a Roman citizen, received significant protection under Roman law during times of persecution.
- In Roman times, the people had a strong religious longing for something new. All this contributed to Christianity's rapid spread throughout the entire empire. I believe that we will see something similar again in Europe during our own time.
The remains of the Roman empire were in time divided into two entities, a political one, and religious one. In the west, Rome remained as a political center and the Roman Catholic church as a religious power. In the east, the corresponding center became Constantinople, with the Greek Orthodox church. These east and west Roman empires are symbolized by the two legs of the statue. (illustration 7.10)
The Roman cultural heritage still influences us more than we perhaps realize.
In Daniel 7, the prophecy suddenly takes a great leap in time between verses 23 and 24, from the Roman empire to our time's approaching kingdom of the beast, and the subsequent millennial kingdom. The 10th horn, which is different from the other ones, and which has a mouth speaking great things, represents the Antichrist who speaks blasphemous words against God.