Question: "Does the Bible say the United Nations will have a role in the end times?"
Answer: Many believe the formation of the United Nations was a key development relating to biblical prophecy of the end times. The United Nations is not mentioned by name in the Bible, and neither is its predecessor, the League of Nations; of course, that does not mean it is not symbolically suggested in prophecy. The possibility of a one-world government has come and gone constantly over the past 2,000 years since John wrote the book of Revelation. As the United Nations has gained more power, it has provided fodder for various conspiracy theories. At the same time, the rise of the UN is a valid field of study for students of prophecy and for anyone anticipating the New World Order.
A one-world or global government is predicted in Daniel and Revelation. It will come after the rise of a confederation of ten nations or regions (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 7:16–24; Daniel 2:41–42). One member of the confederation will displace three of the other members, subdue the others, and rule over all, led by the satanically empowered Antichrist. It is this confederation of ten nations that is most often connected with the United Nations. If this connection is correct, it may be that the UN or a similar group is mentioned, indirectly, in the Bible, but there is no way to be completely sure before the Antichrist makes his appearance.
Another prophecy that some people connect with the United Nations is found in Revelation 17—18. There, “Babylon the great” or the “Whore of Babylon” is condemned. The first mention of Babel is in Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. The building of the tower was mankind’s first attempt at “world government” in defiance of God. Babylon the Great in the end times is a similar conglomeration of nations attempting to unite against God. This could be the United Nations or the European Union or some other, yet-to-be-identified bloc of countries associated with the Antichrist. The fact that this evil world system is called a “mystery” (Revelation 17:5) indicates that we do not know all the details yet.
It should be noted that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were quick to denounce the formation of the League of Nations. In 1919 the second president of the Watchtower Society condemned both the League and any person who supported it. They did the same when the United Nations was created, passing a resolution condemning it in 1963. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the UN is the “image of the beast” of Revelation 13:1–18 and the “abomination of desolation” mentioned in Matthew 24:15, although there is no clear hermeneutical evidence for either interpretation.
There are many international events which could be interpreted as the fulfillment of various apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible. However, we should be careful not to jump to conclusions. Throughout history there have been major international threats, possibilities of global totalitarian governments, and proud, out-of-control leaders. It may appear that our current situation is more likely to fulfill prophecy than past situations, and we can more clearly “see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). But until we see Christ, we must trust God and continue our efforts to spread the good news of His Kingdom with the resources we have been given.