Earth’s Final Human Government
The Bible uses the number seven throughout to represent completeness. There are seven days to a week. The time allowed for the Gentiles to dominate the earth was to be a period of “seven times.” There are seven plagues poured out in Revelation to complete God’s anger against the world. In Pharaoh’s dream he saw seven fat cattle and seven lean ones. These are just a few of the examples of the use of the figure seven, of which there are scores, showing it to signify completeness.
The Bible lists seven world powers as successively dominating the earth. One would think, then, that seven world powers would be all that would exist, but strangely there is to be an eighth one, as the last and final one. How can this harmonize with the normal use of the number seven, and how is there an eighth world power? It is interesting to see. It helps us to understand where we stand in the stream of time and it aids us to know the course of action to take in this particular period.
THE EIGHTH WORLD POWER
We find the Eighth World Power mentioned in the Bible book of Revelation, in the apostle John’s description of the vision that was given to him by Jesus Christ. He saw a scarlet-colored wild beast having seven heads and ten horns, and it had a woman as rider. John writes: “Here is where the intelligence that has wisdom comes in: The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.”—Rev. 17:9-11.
The intelligence that has wisdom would not be mere human intelligence but would be wisdom that is given from above. (Jas. 3:17) The scarlet-colored beast is called a mystery, a secret, something not readily understood but to be revealed at God’s time for it. God gives his people who put faith in him and who study his Word the wisdom and good sense to understand the things written in his Word and the things necessary to maintain their integrity to him as his servants. (Eph. 1:8; Matt. 16:17) The things of the Bible are not understood by one who doubts their authenticity and who tries to figure them out by human reasoning.
The “seven heads” are those on the scarlet-colored wild beast. But these heads only image the seven heads of the wild beast that ascended out of the ungodly sea of mankind. (Rev. 13:1, 2, 11-15) They are “mountains” or kingdoms, seven political heads that came one after the other. The usage of this symbol can be understood clearly from Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45, where the prophet likens the everlasting world power of the future. God’s Messianic kingdom, to a “large mountain” that “filled the whole earth.”
The Bible lists the seven world powers, figuratively, “seven kings,” as such in the sense that each is a “king of kings,” a king dominating all other kings at a specific time. For example, the prophet Daniel said to the Babylonian world ruler Nebuchadnezzar: “You, O king, the king of kings, you to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, . . . you yourself are the head of gold.” (Dan. 2:37, 38) The ruler of the Medo-Persian World Power assumed the same title in the letter that he gave to the Bible copyist Ezra to carry up to Jerusalem, saying: “Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the copyist of the law of the God of the heavens: Peace be perfected.”—Ezra 7:7-12.
THE MARCH OF WORLD POWERS
What was the First World Power? Was it Babylon? No, although Nimrod did set up Babylon and there gave a start to what became the world empire of false religion. God’s action prevented it from becoming the first political world power. (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:8, 9) The Babylonish religious empire reigned over or sat on top of the first symbolic mountain, the Egyptian World Power, the first political world power of Bible history. The second was Assyria; the third, Babylon, which, while being religious, also became at this time the dominant political world power; the fourth, Medo-Persia; the fifth, ancient Greece or Macedonia; the sixth, Rome; the seventh, Britain and America, a combination or dual world power. All these world powers were very strongly influenced by religion, which was Babylonish religion, so that as a religious empire Babylon the Great of the Bible ruled all along. She did not pass away when the ancient city of Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E. to the Fourth World Power of Medo-Persia, nor when that city finally perished during the time of the Roman World Power. Babylon the Great survives to this day as a religious empire.
When the apostle John had the vision that he recorded in the book of Revelation, he was told that five of the seven kings had already fallen. In John’s day Rome was the dominant world power. The first five, from Egypt to Greece, had existed and passed off the scene as world powers. When the angel said, “one is,” he meant the world power that had exiled John to the penal island of Patmos, namely, the sixth or Roman World Power, of which the pagan Roman emperor was then the religious Pontifex Maximus.
Now, we are particularly interested in the seventh king, also the eighth. First of all, when does the Seventh World Power come upon the scene? Not at the capture of Rome by the Teutonic king Odoacer, of Arian faith, who became king of Italy. At that time there was more to the Roman Empire than Rome and Italy. The capital of the whole Roman Empire was not Old Rome in Italy, but New Rome, Constantinople, on the Bosporus, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In that commercial center of the Roman World Power Emperor Zeno the Isaurian ruled. He finally brought about the expulsion of Odoacer from Rome in 489. That part of the Roman Empire in the East came to an end first in 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks.
In the West, by strategy of the pope, what became the “Holy Roman Empire” was established in the year 800; but Emperor Napoleon I of France put an end to it in 1806. Actually the Roman Empire went through many changes but existed as the Sixth World Power for many centuries. However, in 1763, the British Empire, with colonies then in North America, gained the position of the “foremost commercial and colonial power of the world,” as one historian remarks. It maintained this position and brought about the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. By then the United States of America had become established on the basis of former colonies of Great Britain. In many respects and ways it became an ally of Great Britain, to form a dual world power, the mightiest in human history, stronger and more world wide than any of the preceding six world powers.
So, according to history and the Bible, the dual feature of this world power arrived by the nineteenth century. John was told by the angel: “When he does arrive he must remain a short while.” (Rev. 17:10) In view of the long duration of the sixth or Roman World Power, the seventh or British-American Dual World Power can remain only “a short while,” now that the “kings of the entire inhabited earth” are being gathered to a place or situation Biblically called Har–Magedon for their destruction. Even if we measure from the above-mentioned date of 1763, 204 years ago, the time till the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” is comparatively a “short while.” (Rev. 16:14, 16) By far most of this “short while” is in the past. Its marked end is near.
SEVENTH AND EIGHTH POWERS CONTEMPORARY
All the seven Biblical powers existed one after another, that is, each one was dominant for a time and relinquished its domination to the succeeding world power. But what about the eighth? Here lies a difference that helps us understand why world powers did not conclude with the seventh one as the complete number of world powers, for the Bible indicates that the seventh and eighth world powers exercise authority contemporaneously during the latter years of the term of the Seventh World Power. But how is it possible for these two world powers to exist at the same time?
The Bible shows that the Seventh World Power is the main promoter of the eighth, which is existing today in the form of the United Nations. Revelation 13:11-15 pictures the dual world power, represented by a wild beast having two lamb horns, taking the lead in setting up the image of the earlier wild beast that came up out of the sea. This wild beast out of the sea had seven heads, representing Satan’s complete political organization on the earth, which has been dominated by seven successive world powers. The “image” of the beast is the scarlet-colored beast, which has the same number of heads and horns and other similarities. The designers of this scarlet-colored wild beast intended it to be a sort of supranational government that would operate to keep peace among the nations without making the Seventh World Power or the other strong nations give up their sovereignty or domination over their own areas. This scarlet-colored wild beast, called an “eighth king,” is said to spring from the seven. (Rev. 17:11) The United Nations of today contains as members the Seventh World Power and the national remnants of all previous world powers. So it owes its existence to those seven world powers and it springs from them. It has put its own military police force into the field of action. For these reasons it can be called an “eighth” king.
Since the Bible pictures the Seventh World Power as existing right along with the eighth up to the battle of Har–Magedon, does this mean that it will defeat the Communist world power to maintain its position of domination? No, and it shows that neither will the Communist world power defeat militarily the dual world power of Britain and America, but that both the Seventh World Power and the Communist bloc will be existing as strong rivals until the end,* with the eighth “king,” the United Nations, making a futile effort to bring these kings together for a genuine peace that will be lasting.—Dan. 11:40-45.
A “DISGUSTING THING”
The prophecy in Revelation tells us: “The wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.” (Rev. 17:11) Since God has foretold the destruction of Satan’s entire political organization on earth by his Messianic kingdom, this would of necessity include the eighth king, for he is merely a reflection or image of the wild beast that came up out of the sea, Satan’s worldwide political organization. He more or less constitutes a dummy that the other nations, like a ventriloquist, use as a sounding board for their ideas and ideologies. The eighth “king” contains all the elements of the other world powers and with them opposes God’s kingdom and attempts to replace it.
The international peace-and-security organization, therefore, is an abomination, a disgusting thing to Jehovah God, just as much so as the golden image sixty cubits high and six cubits broad that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon set up for all provinces of his empire to worship and that he tried to get God’s servants, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, to worship. (Dan. 3:1-15) Just as these faithful men refused to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar, so Jehovah’s witnesses recognize the United Nations as disgusting to God, just as an idol is, and realize that God’s anger will blaze against them if they worship it. On the other hand, the religious clergy of Christendom imitate those who rejected Jesus Christ in 33 C.E. and who accepted the abominable pagan thing instead of their king, Jesus Christ, when they cried out to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) The Seventh World Power, backed by the clergy, became the instrument for the “god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, in setting up the “image” of the wild beast, as foretold symbolically in Revelation 13:14, 15.
HUMAN RULE DISPLACED
Millions of people have suffered under the domination of the wild beast “with ten horns and seven heads” for centuries. (Rev. 13:1) Now the image of the beast is not helping the people or relieving them from the terrible things taking place in the earth, nor is it sheltering them from the worst disaster ever to come, namely, the destruction by Jehovah God at the battle of Har–Magedon. Many honesthearted people see that man-rule has brought increasing grief to the people. As God foretells in the prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 9, these are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” that are being done. Men of this kind listen with faith to the proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom, telling of the relief God brings by his kingdom, which will rule the entire earth in righteousness after the end of the last human government. Jesus Christ loves such ones as his “other sheep” and they come under his protective hand. (John 10:16; Isa. 49:10; Rev. 7:13-17) To such ones the Bible says: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3.
Soon, after the terrible holocaust that will mean the wiping out of the last human government, we will see the establishment of righteousness in the earth and, while God will have princes in the earth. men of tested faith and dependability, it will not be human government, for these men will merely carry out the decrees of the heavenly government of Christ Jesus. Then it will indeed take place that “trueness itself will sprout out of the very earth, and righteousness itself will look down from the very heavens. Also, Jehovah, for his part, will give what is good. and our own land will give its yield.”—Ps. 85:11, 12; 45:16.
See the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pages 264-307, published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.