The Empire of Rome was one of the greatest Ancient Empires that eclipsed all of the previous empires in its opulence, economy, wealth, governance and military power. Rome was founded in 753 BC. In 380 AD Theodosius Ist declared Christianity to be the sole religion of the Roman Empire. Even though Rome was now officially a ‘Christian’ Empire it eventually collapsed. In 395 AD the empire split into two. While the city of Rome remained the capital of the western leg of the Empire the eastern leg of the empire established its capital in Constantinople in Turkey. The city today is Istanbul. The Eastern leg of the empire came to be known as Byzantium. In 476 AD the end of the Western Roman Empire and the fall of Ancient Rome occurred. The last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus was defeated by the German Goth Odoacer. This signalled the start of the Dark Ages in Europe.
When Rome fell
In 1453, almost 1,000 years later, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Islamic Turkish Ottoman Empire. When we look at what Ancient Rome was like before its demise the parallels between what was happening back then in society and with what we see today in the contemporary lifestyles in the western democracies cannot be ignored. What was happening in the Roman Empire in the first century AD and more specifically in the time of the Emperor Nero teaches us about what things will be like in the western democracies in the last days. While some secular analysts of history offer many reasons as to why Rome fell, the crux of the matter is that the moral and spiritual corruption that was Rome was the root of its down fall. It was this internal problem that weakened Rome and made it vulnerable to its enemies from without. The focus of this study will be in the time of Nero (37AD-68AD). What was Rome like in the time of Nero?
1. First Century Rome had a Multi-faith culture
In Rome you had a pantheon of gods that the people of Rome worshipped. Of course no ‘god’ could be above the Emperor because he was the supreme deity according to the Roman hierarchy. He was the pontiff or bridge builder between faiths in the empire. It was a multi-faith society. You could worship any god you liked but not over the emperor. Augustus Caesar was the first Roman Emperor to be officially worshiped and venerated as a god and this occurred at Pergamum in Modern day Turkey, “the city where Satan has his throne and the city where Satan lives” (Revelation 2:13) Today we see the pope of Rome calling for an ecumenical union between all faiths and working towards this end. As Satanic infiltration and spiritual deception spread like gangrene through wider Christendom and through the denominations we see Ecumenism and interfaith taking root with a global perspective in view.
The current Pope has already started to put things into place to bring about a global one world religious system where all faiths will be tolerated. The only ones who will not go along with this will be Bible believing Jews and Torah loving Jews. Of course the Pope would like to be the Pontiff or the bridge builder between faiths but he will be outsmarted by the man of sin from Turkey who will ultimately establish a revived Turkish Ottoman Caliphate. The Caliph will deal swiftly with the Papacy if he can invade Rome and invade invade Israel and persecute faithful Bible believing Christians. The apostasy Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is already paving the way for the man of sin who will ride in on the flood tide of that apostasy. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) Those denominations that go into Ecumenism and interfaith unions will bring about the apostasy on a large scale. The first century believers actually saw Ancient Rome as ‘Babylon.’ (1 Peter 5:13)
Today the Church of Rome with its ecumenical and interfaith ties is still part of Babylon the Great the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the earth. Babylon is much wider in its scope than just the Church of Rome. Believers are warned to flee Babylon or be swept away in its destruction. As Jeremiah writes; “Flee from Babylon; escape with your lives! Do not be destroyed in her punishment. For this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; He will pay her what she deserves.” (Jeremiah 51:6) As the apostle John writes; “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins or contract any of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) If you are a member of a church that is going into ecumenism and interfaith then you must escape or be swept away in the floodtide of God’s judgement!
2. First Century Rome had an Anti-Semitic Culture
When Claudius came to power in Rome he expelled all of the Jews from the city and this included the Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus. (Acts 18:2) Once Claudius had died and Nero came to power he brought all the Jews back to Rome because he thought they were good for the economy of Rome. This caused problems for the believers at Rome and an early form of replacement theology started to immerge between believing Jews and Gentiles which formed the background to Paul’s letter to the Assembly at Rome. Jews were generally despised by the Romans overall but were tolerated because of their ability to make money and have successful businesses and contribute to the economy of Rome much like we see today in our western democracies especially in Europe. Once again we see the rise of Anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head as we see the autocrats in the European Union approving of one sanction after another against Israel by the United Nations. The day will come when Jews will have to flee Europe because of anti-Semitism. Of course God will allow this because He had arranged for the Jews to have a pre-ordained meeting with their Messiah in Israel. Before this happens the nation of Israel will have to pass through the Time of Trouble for Jacob but be saved out of it at the end. (Jeremiah 30:1-10)
3. First Century Rome experienced Natural disasters
The Pompeii earthquake occurred on 5 February AD 62. It had an estimated magnitude of between 5 and 6 and a maximum intensity of IX or X on the Mercalli intensity scale. The earthquake may have been a precursor to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, which destroyed the same two towns. When Mt Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 Pompeii was buried under millions of tons of volcanic ash. About 2,000 Pompeiians were dead, but the eruption killed as many as 16,000 people overall. The clouds of smoke blotted out the sun and many saw this as what had been prophesied by the prophets and by the Lord Jesus. They were partly right but what happened was a partial fulfilment and a pattern of what will happen at the end of the age.
According to what the Lord Jesus said natural disasters would occur in frequency and intensity as His Second Coming gets closer. Natural disasters have occurred down through history but today we are seeing them on a scale unprecedented in past history and worse is yet to come. Right now in this century we are seeing an upsurge of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in various places. These are all precursors for the big one to come at the end of the age that will shake the globe to its very foundations and everything that God has not established on earth and in the heavens will be shaken and toppled. At this shaking the Lord Jesus will return to the Mt of Olives. (Haggai 2:6) (Hebrews 12:26) (Revelation 11:23, 19b) (Zechariah 14:3-5) In that day even many of the great skyscrapers in many nations on earth will topple. (Isaiah 30:25) So then just before our Lord Jesus comes back natural ecological disasters will be common place around the globe as the weather patterns change and global warming intensifies. Even the constellations in the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:7-8, 29) (Luke 21:11) (Joel 3:15)
4. First Century Rome had a culture of Violence for entertainment
In the time of Nero gladiatorial combat was in full swing and thousands from all over the city of Rome came to see this spectacle of violence and bloodshed which not only saw men pitted against men but men pitted against wild animals. When the Colosseum was built it was situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian between the years AD 81–AD 96. It got the name Colosseum because of a statue that was located alongside the amphitheatre called ‘the Colossus of Nero’. It took 60,000 Jewish slaves to build the Colosseum. There were also re-enactments of famous battles and executions held in the amphitheatre. The people of Rome were into violence and bloodshed for entertainment.
Today we see this happening through the cyber world where a young generation are watching bloodshed and violence through virtual reality technology. Today there are multitudes of young people, boys and girls who are becoming so accustomed to violence that it is becoming second nature to see it. In the time of Nero Christians were burned alive and thrown to wild animals in the arena at Rome. Today in most Islamic countries we see people being slaughtered and many Christians also suffering martyrdom.
A generation of young people in the western democracies is being groomed by satanic strategy to watch live gladiatorial games in arenas and to even witness the death of Christians in sports arenas. Rome was supposed to be enlightened and educated but tolerated this kind of thing and the days are coming when this will happen again in western democracies where paganism rules and Biblical Christianity is outlawed as it was in the days of Rome under Nero.
Europe is a prime candidate for this kind of ‘blood-letting’ especially Jews and Bible believing Christians who will not go along with the system. The generation that will witness this will have been desensitized through virtual reality and not be able to tell the difference. It happened in Rome and it can happen again in our so called ‘enlightened’ society.
5. First Century Rome had moral identity and gender confusion.
Rome was known for its sexual deviance. Transsexuality, homosexuality, lesbianism, paedophilia and sexual relations with animals were common place in pagan Rome and sodomy itself widespread. Today we have gender fluidity where young vulnerable people confused about their sexual orientation are being groomed to accept all sexual relationships regardless of gender. Men with men, boys with boys, women with women and is some cases men and women with animals, not to mention the paedophilia that is now endemic in our society and even in Christendom. Young people are being groomed to lose their unique natural heterosexual orientation to influences that go against the natural order God has created for men with women.
We are told in the Book of Genesis that everything God created He created after its own kind. Men were not created to sleep with men or women to sleep with women or humans to have sexual relations with animals. These things we are told in the Word of God are abominations (moral obscenities). (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) (Romans 1:26-28) (Jude 1:5-8) (1 Corinthians 6:9) The word Sodomy is derived from the city of Sodom. In Sodom homosexuality was widespread in every quarter of the city. (Genesis 19:4) Sexual promiscuity, adultery and cultic prostitution were common place all over the city of Rome and especially among the elite of Rome. Paedophilia was accepted as the norm in the pagan Roman Empire.
6. First Century Rome was a haven of Occult activity
We are told in the Books of Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians that the worship of idols is the worship of demons. (Deuteronomy 32:16-17) (1 Corinthians 10:20) Rome under the Caesars had a Pantheon of god’s they worshipped and venerated and Rome was a city filled with idols, a haven of every foul spirit imaginable, a haunt of demons and fallen spirit-beings crowding the atmosphere above the surface of the earth. The temples to Jupitar and other deities were havens of demonic activity where initiates contacted the unseen spiritual world. At the foot of Mt Hermon in the time of the Lord Jesus there were grottos and caves and idols where ‘gods’ (fallen spirit-beings) were worshipped. In reality they were portals into the fallen unseen spiritual realm. The transfiguration of Jesus on Mt Hermon was His declaration to the fallen spirit world of that He was sovereign over them all and that they were all subject to Him! It was the Lord Jesus and the apostles who exposed the whole unseen fallen spirit world and brought it to light.
Rome was infested with demons as were all the previous pagan empires into the pantheon of gods. Today idols come in different forms but they are still portals through which the unseen fallen spirit-beings can invade the human affairs of men and women. Whatever we consider of more valuable than God is an idol and can potentially be a door that lets a demon spirit in. It may come in the form of something material or even in a human relationship. Whatever it is that gains our attention and our affections and moves us away form a personal relationship with God and from reading His Word is an idol and potentially if not checked becomes a portal through which the unseen spirit world can gain access to one’s mind and heart.
The imagination is involved with idolatry today. With Virtual reality games and images from cyber technology the imaginations of millions if not billions of young minds are being spiritually high jacked by Satan and his cohorts which are well organized with designated areas of responsibility. This is why idolatry is at the top of the list in the 10 Commandments written personally by the finger of God Himself. While Satan works through all false religions his master stroke is to work through Cyber technology today. We are told that in the time of Noah that the imaginations of men were evil all of the time and the Lord Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah so it will be in the days just prior to His return. (Genesis 6:5) (Matthew 24:37-39) Rome was also filled with magicians, conjurers and those into the art of the occult and many of them were communicating with the wealthy and fleecing them of their money and over all of these things the Caesar of Rome presided.
7. First Century Rome was a haven of Christian persecution.
During the reign of Nero Christians were severely persecuted and both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul were martyred under Nero. Multitudes of faithful Christians were martyred for their faith during Nero’s reign. In their very deaths Christians were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to and burned to serve for the evening lights of Nero’s garden parties. Today we see faithful Christians being martyred on a scale previously unmatched in past history. What Nero did was barbaric and very cruel and obviously acts of a demon possessed and deranged man who thought himself to be divine.
Today violence is depicted in virtual reality games in cyber space and multitudes of young people are being desensitized to violent acts. The day may well come when gladiatorial sport not only occur in cyber space but occur in football stadiums and where even Christians are killed for sport and to amuse the crowds. Already in some radical Islamic countries people watch Christians being hanged and beheaded. There are dark days ahead for the faithful Body of the Messiah even in the western democracies. Yet we must also keep in mind that the Lord Jesus knows how “how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the Day of Judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)
As the Lord Jesus himself also said; “Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He continue to defer their help? 8I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”(Luke 18:7-8)
In the Greek text the word for “faith” also means “faithfulness.” If we have genuine faith then we will be seeking to be faithful to the faith we confess in our daily lives. The Lord Jesus Himself also said; “He who has endured to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) The day is coming when the Lord Jesus will avenge His elect people and His judgement will be swift and final on their enemies and on all who have harassed and persecuted His saints and Israel.
8. First Century Rome had an antichrist at the seat of its power.
Many believers in Rome were convinced that Nero was the Antichrist and they were partially right. He was one of the many antichrists that the apostle John said would come. (1 John 2:18) While the antichrists John wrote about were associated with the Church and had been members at one time, he still mentioned that there was an ultimate one to come. (1 John 2:19) This is confirmed by Paul in 2nd Thessalonians 2 where he speaks about the man of sin who sits in God’s temple and proclaims himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) In the Old Testament the prophet Daniel also writes about this antichrist to come. (Daniel 11:36)
The first roman Emperor to have himself officially deified was Augustus who arrived on the world stage just before the first coming of the Messiah and Augustus took a census of the whole population of the Roman Empire.(Luke 2:1) Augustus’s deification occurred at Pergamum, “the city where Satan lives and has his throne.” (Revelation 2:13) Just before the Second Coming of the Messiah the Antichrist will count heads throughout his vast beast empire. Technology will allow him to do this. What Augustus did teaches us about what the man of sin will do. (Revelation 13:16-17) Once he arrives on the scene for three and a half years at the end of this age there will be a time of tribulation unequalled in past history and never to be equalled again. However for the sake of his elect saints on earth including the Israeli remnant in Israel and for the very survival of the world God will cut those days short and send the Lord Jesus back to earth (Matthew 24:21-22) When He comes back He will turn everything that is upside down right side up!
When you look at contemporary society in the western democracies all of these marks are a very conspicuous feature of this present age. Today we are a multi-faith culture, and an anti-Semitic culture. Our world is being devastated by ecological disasters even as we see an increase in the eruption of volcanoes, earthquakes in various places and other natural disasters, not to mention the widespread diseases and famines in many countries. Today we see a culture of violence fuelled by virtual reality violent games in cyber space. We are a culture of moral confusion and gender identity that condones and considers sodomy as a normal and alternative lifestyle. Added to this we are seeing an increase in occult activity especially through the portal of the internet and computer virtual reality images and the movies that enslave the imagination of untold millions of young minds around the globe. Added to this we are the persecution of Christians on a scale unprecedented in the past history of the Church. Spiritual deception is epidemic within wider Christendom today.
“Electrifying the fence”
The spiritual and moral corruption within the western democracies and especially with those countries historically associated with Christianity is endemic of our age and the Lord Jesus said this would be so just before He comes back. Because of this wickedness the love of most professing Christians will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) World powers have come and gone and America is no exception. While the Lord Jesus has His own flock and knows them by name the fact remains that they will be increasingly marginalised and persecuted by a world in rebellion against God as He Himself was. (John 15:18-21) Today men and women are being faced with an ultimate choice, Will it be the Kingdom of Christ, or the kingdom of the Antichrist. None of us can be in both camps. Many are trying to ‘sit on the fence’ as it were but God is going to electrify the fence so that they will have to jump to one side or the other.
Counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders
The apostle Paul wrote; “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)
Today within wider Christendom there is an abundance of miracles, signs and wonders and how many of them are really genuine is questionable in many cases. Satan is capable up to a point of producing counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders as he did through Pharaoh’s magicians that were counterfeiting the miracles of Moses and Aaron, and there is no end of the extreme manifestations today within some churches that cannot be supported or endorsed by the Word of God. This of course is a subject in itself.
Those who do not have a love of the truth
Those who go into spiritual error are those who reject a love of the truth as revealed in the Word of God and in doing so are refusing to be saved according to the Bible’s definition of salvation. Because people choose to do their own thing, as it were, God himself will ultimately send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe what is false (or the lie of the evil one when he arrives on centre stage). Those who choose to deliberately ignore God’s Word stand condemned already in God’s Law Book. When they stand before the Great White Throne they will appear for sentencing because in this life they had been already judged by God for their wickedness. To reject the salvation offered only in the Messiah our Lord Jesus and to disobey His Word is to delight in wickedness.
Those who have the love of the truth
While Paul writes about those who refuse to have a love of the truth he goes on to write about those who have a belief in the truth and the love of the truth and clearly they are the ones who delight in righteousness. Paul writes; “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13-17)
Partakers of His glory
Those who do not delight in wickedness but in righteousness can do so because they have been saved through the separating power of the Holy Spirit that has saved them and set them apart to God as His own children. They are those who by faith and faithfulness are declared to be righteous in God’s sight. (Romans 3:21-31; 5:1) Their separation to God came about because of their belief and love of the truth, namely the Word of God. Their ultimate destiny is to partake in the glory of the Lord Jesus and be transformed by Him to be as He is. As the apostle John writes; “Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3) These are those who hold firmly the teaching of the apostles as revealed in the New Testament and seek to obey the moral laws given through the Torah and the prophets. These will seek to be pure in thought, in word and in deed and separate themselves from the lures, the passions and pursuits and the pleasures this world offers.
Righteousness, holiness and redemption
For most of us who belong to the Lord Jesus and seek love the obey the truth we will always be conscious that we fall far short of what we ought to be and if we are honest we do struggle with the world, the flesh and the devil even as we walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment. If we have the hope of the rapture and resurrection at the return of the Lord Jesus to earth then we will be seeking to separate ourselves from the lusts of the flesh, from the lust of the eyes and from the pride of life. If we want to be numbered among those who will inherit God’s Kingdom then we must forsake what we know to be wickedness and pursue that righteousness that comes through faithfulness and that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) Of course our perfect righteousness is only found in the Lord Jesus of whom Paul writes; “It is because of Him (God and His provision of salvation) that you are in the Messiah Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
The author and finisher of our faith
The closer we seek to walk with the Triune God the more we will become aware of our own lack of righteousness and seek God’s enabling power moment by moment through faith to overcome and to lay aside every weight and sin that can so easily beset us as we run with perseverance, the course God has set out for us having our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. What He starts He intends to finish! He has endured all things for our sakes that He might present us who believe in Him faultless before the very throne of God without any spot or blemish. (Hebrews 12:1-3) (Ephesians 5:27)
The last man standing
Rome eventually fell because of its moral and spiritual corruption and decay and this world will also fall in the same way. The western democracies are just like it was in the days of Nero. The day came when the sun set on the Roman Empire and the sun is going to set on the western democracies that have turned away from the God who has given them the very freedoms and democracy that they have enjoyed for centuries. God’s instrument of judgement on the west is Islam and the western governments are hard-pressed to contain the spread of Islam. However, once God has used Islam for His purposes He will get rid of Islam. Once the dust of battle has settled the only one left standing will be the Messiah and His saints and Israel. In that day the surviving nations will be subject to the Law (Torah) of God.
The Mountain of the Lord’s House
As it is written in the Book of Isaiah; “In the last days the mountain (kingdom) of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains (kingdoms); it will be raised above the hills (nations leaders), and all nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law (Torah) will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Then He will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor train anymore for war.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)
While we are seeing the sun set in the west we who know our God will see the sun rising upon us as we anticipate the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who “has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through Him…our Lord Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9)
When the sun sets on the west
Rome fell as all earthly kingdoms have fallen and will fall again but the great rock of God’s everlasting Kingdom will ultimately smash to pieces all earthly kingdoms at once when our Lord Jesus comes back and His kingdom will fill the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-3544-45) Those who love and obey the truth and delight in righteousness will co-reign with our Lord Jesus the Messiah on earth and then throughout all of eternity. (Revelation 5:10) (Daniel 12:3) When the sun sets on the west make sure it is not setting on you!