Every generation certain currents of fear sweep the western world about the possibility that we are now in the time of the end when a great world ruler, whom some call the Antichrist, will come to power. Of course we are nearer that time now than ever before, and it could well be upon us in our generation. The Greek word antichristos appears only in the writings of the Apostle John, in fact only in his epistles. He speaks of the "many antichrists" who are to be the forerunners of the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7, 1 John 4:3). The word antichrist can mean "instead of Christ,"---that is a counterfeit messiah----or it can mean "one opposed to Christ, but assuming His role." Probably a combination of the two meanings in correct to the kind of man the Bible talks about as rising to power just prior to the final return of Christ to our beleaguered planet.
In the Bible, the theme of the seed of the serpent opposing the seed of the woman begins in Genesis (3:14-15) and continues throughout the text. It is a complex and enigmatic subject. God declared to Adam and his wife, and to the serpent, that certain consequences will follow as a result of their eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowing of good and evil. The divine pronouncements included this strange word:
The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
An archetypal conflict between good and evil which reveals this age-old conflict between these two "seeds" threads its way through the entire Bible. For example, in Psalm 37 the terms "the righteous" and "the wicked" appear repeatedly. If the word "wicked" is replaced with "wicked one" and "righteous" is replaced with "righteous one" in Psalm 37 the age-old struggle between two men, Christ and antichrist, will be made more clear.
God's words of judgment (and hope) in the garden immediately led Eve to suppose that her first-born son, Abel, would be the promised Redeemer, but this hope was dashed when righteous Abel was murdered by his wicked brother Cain. The birth of Seth renewed the Messianic hope. Though Seth was not himself the promised seed of the woman who would bruise the head of the serpent, he was the legitimate heir as were his sons who came after him:
Seth Enosh Kenan Mahalalel Jared Enoch Methuselah Lamech NoahAfter the flood, God selected Noah's son Shem as the branch of the human family through whom Messiah would come. Though believers through whom great families of the earth would spring, Japheth and Ham were not chosen for this unique privilege that would later cause the Apostle Paul to write:
"They are Israelites, and to them belong , the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 9:4, 5)
With detailed care the Scripture (Gen. 11:10-28) records that the line of promise would pass to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Shem Arpachshad Shelah Eber Peleg Reu Serug Nahor Terah Nahor Haran Abram...When Jesus the Messiah was born, Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38) record the lineage of this son of Abraham, son of David, from the tribe of Judah. He is, we are assured the long-expected One. (Ref 1, 2).
False Messiahs as well as False Prophets were the subject of special warnings given to his disciples in the famous Olivet Discourse of Jesus during the last week of his life as he sat opposite the soon-to-be-destroyed Second Temple with his disciples:
Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ (Messiah)," and they will lead many astray...And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray...For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:4-24)
"The term 'antichrist' does not indicate someone who is openly against Christ, like an atheist or a pagan. Rather it is one who appears instead of Christ, and in this sense opposes true Christianity. It is a counterfeit Christ. Of course it includes the originators and propagators of all the false cults which have arisen throughout the course of the age, beginning in the first century. We have witnessed the rise of many in the last few decades, especially those with the label 'Made in America,' like Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science, Moonieism, Scientology and others. These are outwardly Christian in language and activity but their basic message is antichristian, rejecting the true Christ...
"But by no means are these the most deceptive of the antichristian voices. Perhaps our Lord is thinking of even subtler expressions. We will miss the full meaning of his words if we look only for those who actually say, 'I am the Messiah," or 'We have the true Christian message.' Are they not more dangerous who claim to do what only Jesus Christ can do? "I am the Way,' says lonely Man who died forsaken upon the cross. 'We are way,' say all the many voices that attract today: politics, patriotism, social work, literary crusades. These are often really fine works, but when they claim to meet the basic problem of human life, they become antichristian. Their claim is false, and many are deceived throughout the course of the age...
"In close connection with this Jesus adds, 'And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold.' Here the peril is cynicism. It is a cold and brutal indifference which arises out of the teaching of 'false prophets.' Do not read this as though they are religious men, necessarily. The false Christ's the Lord had mentioned earlier were unquestionably religious, but here he uses the term 'prophet.' It refers to any who speak authoritatively---philosophers, professors, scientists, statesmen---those leaders of thought who shape and mold the thinking of the common man. What they will teach is the sanctity of self-interest, the insistence on having 'my rights' no matter what happens to the other fellow. The true prophet insists on the rights of God, but the false prophet upholds only the rights of man. Jesus predicts that a tragic and inevitable sequence will follow. First, many will be led astray by the false teaching of the leaders of thought: 'because [of this] wickedness [will be] multiplied' (the Greek word here is anomia, lawlessness); and the result of lawlessness is, 'most men's love will grow cold" (Ray C. Stedman, What's The World Coming To, Discovery Publications, 3505 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306, 1970.
Many diabolical and cruel world political leaders can be traced during the past 2000 years beginning with several of the Caesars (such as Nero) and including most recently men like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein. Evil men do not necessarily appear to be evil in their time, but can seem to be saviors and benefactors widely and enthusiastically hailed by the populace, as Hitler was in his early days of power. While such men have indeed come under the full control of Satan, so also have their constituents, else they would not succeed in doing such damage in the affairs of men. The cooperation of the masses is required to give them unquestioning, blind allegiance.
Rather than referring to the final antichrist by that name, both Jesus and Paul spoke of a man of sin or a lawless one who would dominate much of the world at the close of our present age. Chapter One of 2 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ to earth again in power and splendor, all aspects of his return being clumped together in terse, concise language. Paul next urges the Christians in Thessalonica (Greece), in the first century, not to be unduly alarmed by current events in the Roman Empire, or by rumors to the effect that the Day of the Lord had begun:
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasia) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God (in Jerusalem), proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?
Bible scholars are divided somewhat regarding the interpretation of this passage. Some think the word apostasia should be taken literally. The clearest indication that the time is at hand will be the falling away from the church of many, or even most, professing Christians. The times in which we now live at the very end of the 20th Century are certainly full of apostasy in the church. Surely we are living in the age of the lukewarm church of Laodicea described in Revelation Chapter 3.
We do know from Scripture that professing Christendom as a whole will become fully apostate after the removal of the true church, the Bride of Christ, at the rapture. After that the "Christian" church on earth will be synonymous with the harlot church of Revelation 17.
The second widely held interpretation associated with the above passage is that it is the departure or rapture of the true church that allows the antichrist to be revealed. This is because the restraining power of the Holy Spirit in the present age is exercised primarily through the church. The removal of the church at the beginning of the end-time period is known as the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial view of eschatology, and is the position held by the authors. It is reasonable to suppose that the Lord will return for his church at a time of intense pressure on believers causing many to abandon their faith and at a time when the church's witness has been rendered mostly ineffectual. Paul's discussion continues,
And you know what is restraining him (the man of sin) now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is taken out of the midst. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing (epiphaneia) and his coming (parousia). The coming of the lawless one by the activity (energeian) of Satan will be with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with every deceit of unrighteousness in those who are to perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. On account of this God will send upon them a working of error (or delusion, for example a continuous barrage of propaganda), to make them believe what is false (literally, "THE lie"); so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
According to careful interpretation of this passage, the Holy Spirit---present in the world through the Body of Christ, through the minority of true Christians acting as salt and light---is the restraining force in every generation preventing the appearance of the antichrist. The removal of the true church leaves only an apostate church on earth. After the calling out of the bride of Christ, there is no longer any force restraining the "man of sin" so he is free to appear---accompanied by a widespread and universal propaganda to the effect that the world is about the enter a great golden age of peace and prosperity.
When "the full number of the gentiles has come in" to the church (Romans 11:25), Israel will once again become the center of the stage for God's view of history, as she was before the times of the gentiles began in the Babylonian Captivity period (~600 BC). The transition back to Israel being once again at center stage of world history has already begun in our time, but the shift will be very dramatic after the completion and removal of the true church.
First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, describes the first of two aspects of the second coming of Christ:
But we would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those (Christians) who are asleep (have died), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming (parousia) of the Lord shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command (to wake the dead), with the archangel's call (to deliver and revive the nation Israel), and with the sound of the trumpet of God (to call the living saints). And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Like the great passage concerning the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15, this text says that God will grant all Christians, living and dead, their resurrection bodies at the same time. These new redeemed, glorious, sinless bodies will be like that of Jesus, most likely be bodies capable of space and time travel.
When a believer dies he leaves earth's one-dimensional time frame and enters eternity. (Ref 3). All other believers, regardless of when they die, meet in eternity at the same point, namely the event known as the first resurrection. In the experience of every Christian death is identical to this coming of Christ for his church. This is made clear by the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 5.
The return of Christ has two aspects: his silent, unseen return for his church and his coming in glory with his church seven years later. Both aspects of his second advent are combined as one event in 2 Thessalonians 1, and in 2 Peter 3. This difference in the two aspects of Christ's return is reflected in the Greek text of the NT by the use of different words. Parousia is from the word para meaning with or alongside of, and ousia, being, hence being with, coming and remaining with someone. (See Matthew 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Thess. 4:15, 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16,3:4; 1 Cor. 15:23). Epiphaneia from epi and phaino means a shining forth. (This word is used in 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Matt. 24:27, 2 Thess. 2:8; Titus 2:13). Both words are combined in 2 Thess. 2:8. Jesus will destroy the man of sin by his appearing and his coming.
In the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, Jesus outlined for his disciples the major events that would precede the second aspect of his second coming, namely his visible unveiling (apokalupsis) to the world as true Messiah and rightful King of Israel. After speaking to them about the future destruction of the Second Temple then standing across from the Mount of Olives where they were seated, the disciples asked,
Tell us when will this be, and what will be the sign of your appearing (parousia = presence, that is a period of time when he was back on earth, encompassing seven years) and of the close of the age?
Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, `I am the messiah,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings. Then they will deliver you (disciples) up to tribulation, and put you to death, and you (Jews) will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached (once again this time by the 144,000) throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, `Lo, here is the Messiah!' or `There he is!' do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So if they say to you, `Lo he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west so will be the coming (epiphaneia) of the Son of man. Wherever the body is there the vultures will be gathered together.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man (the Shekinah, or cloud of glory) in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. (Luke's gospel adds here mention of the days of Lot). Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two men will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. (Luke adds mention of two men in the same bed, one taken and one not, indicating that this event occurs world-wide when some are awake and working and others asleep at night). Watch therefore for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, (Israel my brethren), that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you (Israel) do not expect...
Bible scholars refer to the end-time period as "the tribulation period." From the book of Daniel that we know this period encompasses just seven years of history on earth. The mid-point of this period is when the man of sin enters the Holy Place in the new Third Temple in Jerusalem, setting in motion a terrible time of world upheaval known in the Old Testament as the time of Jacob's trouble (see Jeremiah 30). The last half of the 70th week of Daniel is also called in the New Testament "the great tribulation."
Where will the church be during this time period? The Body of Christ, inseparable from the Head of the Body (Jesus) will evidently be on the earth, behind the scenes, directing the course of final events until His open public appearing in glory. That is, during the entire seven year period Jesus will on earth, with his church, but invisible---resurrection bodies allow for this kind of "appearing and disappearing"---moving out of the spiritual realm into the physical as Jesus did many times during his 40 day stay in Israel after his resurrection, but before his ascension.
One example of this secret presence of the church on earth is given in Revelation 14:1 where the Apostle John sees "the Lamb standing (present tense) on Mount Zion with the 144,000..." This incident occurs during the tribulation period. (The 144,000 are Jewish followers of Jesus during the tribulation period who are charged with communicating the gospel to the world after the departure of the church during the tribulation period). What is fascinating about this passage in Revelation is that the 144,000 gathered together hear a "new song" from heaven, "like the sound of many waters." Those who sing are "in heaven," or "in the heavenly places" which is the same thing as saying that this choir consists of those who have already received their resurrection bodies (i.e., the church). Their great hymn of redemption, heard only by the 144,000 encourages these Jewish evangelists of the tribulation period who labor under terrible persecutions to win multitudes to Yeshua at the very close of the age. (Ref 4).
Evidently the majority of the people on earth are unaware of the secret presence of Jesus on earth except for the commotions resulting, "where the body is there the vultures are gathered together." At the close of the last half of the seven year period of terrible world suffering, nuclear holocaust, plague, famine and natural disasters that Jesus unveils himself visibly from the summit of the Mount of Olives as described in Zechariah 14. The same event is described also by John in Revelation 19:11ff. This is the time of the Lord's coming with his saints.
The problem of the antichrist is more complex than the simple appearance at the close of our age of a world-dictator, because during the end-time period spoken of in the Bible there are not one but two major world rulers who seem to fit the description of the man of sin. Various commentators call one or the other of these individuals the antichrist. No doubt both men on stage will be brilliant, eloquent, charismatic and powerful. But, the Bible describes them both as "wild beasts," which gives us, evidently, God's view of these men. John writes in Revelation 13,
I saw a beast rising out of the sea (the sea symbolizes the gentile nations in Scripture), with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon (Satan) gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast saving, `Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?' And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months (3.5 years); it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven (the true church). Also it was allowed to make war on the (tribulation) saints (on earth) and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Then I (John) saw another beast which rose out of the land (the land symbolizes Israel); it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in league with the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them to make an image (eikon) for the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both slave and free, to be marked on the right hand or on the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell (economic controls) unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
The second beast fits well the man predicted by Jesus in John 5:43 who is also the false shepherd of Israel spoken of by the prophet Zechariah (11:15-17). Jesus said of this man,
"I have come in my Father's name and you (Israel) would not receive me. Another will come in his own name, him you will receive."
This leader is also described as like a lamb, that is a counterfeit to the real Lamb of God. He is to be a religious leader---while the first beast is a military/political leader. This becomes more evident from studying the rest of the Book of Revelation where the first beast is a likened to a Roman Caesar leading the western nations centered in Europe. The last and final form of the revived Roman Empire and its rulers is that foreseen in Daniel 2 and 7. In summary, the end-time period is marked by the presence of a great and powerful military leader in the West and an outstanding religious leader in Israel who works in league with him.
In the Old Testament (and during the end time when the church is not the central focus of God's activity in the world), God's way of looking at the world is with Jerusalem as the center of the earth. Israel dominates the world-stage and the goyim or gentile nations are on the periphery. Directions in the OT are referenced to Jerusalem, the great sea is the Mediterranean, the salt sea is the Dead Sea and so on. The last week of years in Daniel's prophecy of Israel's 70-week history is the seven-year tribulation period just described, the prophet says,
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one (Messiah) shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come (i.e. the Romans), shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the second temple). Its end shall come with a flood (both in AD 70 and in the end-time), and to the end (when Christ returns) there shall be war; desolations are decreed. And he (the prince that shall come) shall make a strong covenant with many for one week (seven years); and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering (in the Third Temple) to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:26, 27).
From this passage it can be seen that the future great world ruler of the West, the first beast, will succeed in making an international treaty with Israel for seven years guaranteeing some sort of Middle East peace settlement with the Arab nations and the western nations. This will occur presumably after or associated with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of temple sacrifices. Temple services will be interrupted only when the man of sin (the second beast, i.e., the false prophet) steps into the Holy Place and declares to the world that he is God. Israel's participation in a mid-east peace treaty with the antichrist is called her covenant of death (or sheol) in Isaiah 28:15.
The fact that the number of the beast is 666 always arouses much speculation in every generation. Six is the number of man in scripture and three the number of God. Therefore 666 symbolizes man proclaiming himself to be God in contrast to the Son of God who became a man by means of the incarnation. According to scriptures there is no way of anyone identifying the antichrist ahead of time. He can not be revealed until the departure of the church, when the Restrainer allows him to come forth.
Daniel lived and wrote in the Sixth Century BC while the prophet was in Babylon with his people during the 70 years' captivity following the destruction of the first temple and the city by Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel (Chapter Two) he interprets a dream of Nebuchadnezzar in which the king saw a great image with head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay mixed together. In the dream a great stone cut out without hands smashed the image, the stone then became a great mountain that filled the earth. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold ruling over the first great gentile world empire, Babylon. Next, he said, would come Medo-Persia followed by Greece, then Rome. The legs represent the two divisions of the old Roman empire represented up to 1917 in our century by the Kaisers of Germany and the Czars of Russia. The feet represent the last period of western civilization. Iron is symbolic of military and industrial might and clay symbolizes the weak form of government by the people (as opposed to a strong central monarchy).
The "smiting stone" in Daniel is God's Messiah. He will set up enduring his kingdom breaking down all other kingdoms in the process, in the days of the last ten kings (the ten toes). So caught up in his own sense of power and self-importance was Nebuchadnezzar when Daniel told him the meaning of his dream that he ordered a great statue of himself erected (all of gold) and he ordered all in his nation (including the Jews) to worship the image. This event is very much suggestive of the image of the beast described in Revelation 13 which will be set up in the Third Temple in Jerusalem in the end-time by Antichrist.
Daniel had other visions of world empires that would follow his time, for example the visions recorded in Chapter 7 are on a parallel track to those seen by John and recorded in Revelation. From the description of the fourth terrible beast of Daniel Chapter 7, (symbolizing the Roman empire), we find that a future great Roman leader will arise,
And he (the first beast) shall speak great words against the Most High, and think to change the times (calendars) and the laws; and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, and times and the dividing of time (3.5 years, the last half of the tribulation period).
A very important once-fulfilled prophecy of Daniel is given in Chapter 8. It concerns a struggle between a ram and a he-goat, symbolic of the overtaking of the Persians by the Greeks. The he-goat had four horns, representing the division of the Greek empire between four generals upon the death of Alexander the Great:
The he-goat grew very great and when he was strong, the great horn (Alexander) was broken, and replacing it came four notable horns towards the four winds of heaven. And out of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Israel). And it grew great (ascending) even to the host of heaven (the angelic host); and it cast down some of the host of heaven (the angels) and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. He magnified himself even up to the prince of the host; and the continual burnt offering was taken from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt offering by reason of transgression, and truth was cast down to the ground, and the horn acted and prospered. Then I (Daniel) heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said of the one that spoke, `For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?' And he said to him, `For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state.
Historically the details of this prophecy were fulfilled (the first time) when a cruel Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes (his name means the illustrious one), a Selucid, profaned the temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. by offering a sow upon the altar and murdering many of the Jews in an attempt to wipe out their religion. Antiochus Epiphanes is called a type of antichrist because Daniel was given an explanation of his visions by the angel Gabriel who told him that a king of fierce countenance, like Antiochus Epiphanes would arise at the end of the days. Gabriel said,
Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the end of the appointed time of the end. As for the ram which you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his rule, but not with his power. And at the latter end of their rule, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people of the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes (Jesus); but by no human hand, he shall be broken. The vision of the evenings and the mornings which has been told is true; but seal up the vision, for it pertains to many days hence. (Daniel 8:20-26).
Some Bible scholars take this man to be the Roman beast, others the last king of the north and still others, the beast out of the land (the false prophet). Since both beasts in Revelation 13 are fully possessed and controlled by Satan it is perhaps not too important which one is labeled the antichrist---though usually commentators regard the last Roman ruler rather than the false prophet (the counterfeit messiah of Israel) as the antichrist. The latter individual is subservient to the former.
The last major passage in Daniel relevant to the antichrist is found in the closing verses of Daniel 11. All the prophecies up to verse 35 of Chapter 11 have been accurately fulfilled in history but not the verses beginning with 36. Thus Bible scholars like to call the entire age of the church the great parenthesis since this is one of several instances recorded in the Bible where the continuous thread of the history of Israel's redemption can be seen to have been interrupted by a long delay. This interval is also the time between Daniel's 69th and 70th week when the prophetic clock with regard to Israel has been stopped.
Chapter 36 of Daniel, in historical context, deals with long wars between the Selucids (kings of the North) and the Ptolemies of Egypt (the kings of the South). These kings succeeded Alexander the Great after his death in Babylon at age 33. Long drawn out wars and conflicts (330-63 BC) were fought to and fro across the holy land by men who were unconcerned about God's ultimate purposes for Israel. Finally the Roman Empire came into being and began to exercise sway over the holy land in time for the first advent of Messiah. There is yet to come one last great king of the north who appears to be a Syrian ruler in league with Russia, and one last king of the south, an Egyptian military ruler. The end-time events associated with the beginning of the last war in the Middle East seem to be described beginning with verse Daniel 11:36:
And the king (of Israel, the second beast?) shall do according to his will: he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished, for what is determined shall be done. He shall give no heed to the God of his fathers (Elohim), or to the one beloved by women (Messiah?); he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honor the god of fortresses (the military power of the west), instead of these; a god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest forces by the help of a foreign god (the first beast); those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land (of Israel) for a price (i.e. to obtain peace with the Arabs).
At the time of the end the king of the south (Egypt) shall attack him (the king of Israel), but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he (the king of the north) shall come into the countries and shall overflow and pass through. He (the king of the north) shall come into the glorious land (Israel). And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites (Jordan). He (the king of the north) shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train. But tidings from the east and from the north shall alarm him, and he shall go forth with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many. And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea (Mediterranean) and the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem); yet he shall come to his end with none to help him.
That the Syrians/Russians will invade Israel and be destroyed by direct intervention of God, is described in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39. Whether this occurs before, at the beginning of the tribulation, or in the last half of the tribulation is disputed by many Bible scholars---with reputable and competent men represented in each of these three camps. Some believe this invasion will occur in the first half of the tribulation period. Ezekiel says God will rain fire on both Moscow and the coastlands (a term for the Japhetic western world nations, or the continents) at that time---nuclear exchange seems to be the probable scenario. There is also a great earthquake described in Ezekiel 38 which shakes the land of Israel with terrible devastation in connection with the Northern invasion.
The events described in the closing verses of Daniel 11 evidently bring an intervention by the western European nations who invade Israel at the time the Russians sweep through into Egypt. An invasion from the east is also described in scripture. These events are the tidings that concern the last king of the north so that he entrenches himself between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean where he meets his final end. The so-called battle of Armageddon is really a series of campaigns in the final war culminating in one last great battle on the plain of Esdraelon inland from the port of Haifa (Revelation 16, 19 Joel 2, Isaiah 24. etc., Iraq is also involved---see Chuck Missler's Briefing Package The Mystery of Babylon.). The Last World-War campaign progressively draws in more and more of the world's armed forces. This is the reason the third group of Bible scholars holds that the God/Magog war is but one phase of the final world war.
During the last attempt by world leaders to bring this war to a close before the total destruction of the human race, Jesus Christ will return in open power with the armies of heaven behind him. Many scholars believe the approaching second coming of Christ will cause cosmic disturbances. The armies of the world on earth invading Israel at that time will believe this to be an alien invasion from outer space. They will cease fighting one another and all unite to fight against the Lord. This is consistent with the Biblical view that unregenerate men actually hate God more than they do one another. In the view of a secular world, God is man's ultimate enemy.
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse (Jesus) and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he had deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21).
There are a number of types of Antichrist in Scripture. For example A. W. Pink discusses Nimrod as a type of Antichrist in his book Antichrist (Kregel Publications 1988). Nimrod founded Babylon and Ninevah in what is today the nation of Iraq. Nimrod was responsible for introducing the powerful system of religious error which later diffused throughout the world and still greatly affects our modern cultures. The Assyrians of this fertile crescent area are noted throughout history for their violent hatred of Israel. Saddam Hussein who likens himself to a new Nebuchadnezzar is also attempting to rebuild ancient Babylon in our time. In Scripture Babylon is both a literal city, but also an entire global religious and economic world view (weltaungshaung) based on the Babylonian Mystery religion of Nimrod.
The various antichrists down through history is that they are fully instruments of God. God will allow evil to find a full and consummate expression in the final antichrist and his followers as the age closes. The reason for this is the stubborn refusal of men to respond to the truth about God as He really is. When men refuse the truth, God gives them over the lie that they can be their own gods and masters of their own fate. Scripture clearly teaches that man can not set dates for the commencement of these events nor the time of return of Jesus. However the structuring of the stage-settings in the Middle East the last century surely indicates that these events may well unfold in the next few years. Whether soon or many long years away Christians should remember the high calling of Jesus and the rich inheritance offered to them by His gracious love and full provision for their lives now and forever.
1. A helpful wall chart of the family tree connecting the two Adams is available from the Good Things Company, PO Drawer N, Norman, OK 73070.
2. The uniqueness of the branches of the human race springing from Noah is discussed in detail by Arthur Custance in his book, Noah's Three Sons. Dr. Custance analyzes in great detail the lineage of Jesus through the entire Old Testament in his book The Seed of the Woman, showing the gaps in the genealogical record can all be filled in from the Bible and that the line of promise leading to Jesus has been carefully preserved for us on both the side of Mary and Joseph.
3. Ray C. Stedman, Authentic Christianity, Chapter on Time and Eternity, Discovery Publishing, Palo Alto.
4. See Ray C. Stedman, God's Final Word: Understanding Revelation,Discovery House, Grand Rapids, 1991, pp 260-262.
5. The "wicked one" is described by some fifty titles or descriptive terms in the Bible. Most of what we know about his origin, role, career, and destiny, is found in the Old Testament. At times the "first beast" best fits the reference, at other times it is the "second beast." Scholars often refer to a final Satanic trinity: The first beast corresponds to the Father, the second to the Son and Satan himself corresponds to the third member of this Satanic trio. Satan has sought to possess, control or even incarnate himself in man, and throughout history he has partially succeeded many times. Finally, God will allow him his day and the final man of sin, fully possessed by Satan will enjoy his brief reign as the visible human ruler over the earth.
Adversary---Ps. 74:8-10; Isa. 59:19, Lam 4:11, 12, Amos 3:11
Assyrian---Isa. 10:5, 12
Bloody and Deceitful Man---Ps. 5:6
Branch of the Terrible Ones ---Isa. 25:5
Chief Prince---Ezek. 38:2
Commercial Genius---Dan. 8:25, Rev. 13:17, Ps. 52:7, Dan. 11:38,43; Ezek 28:4, 5
Crooked Servant---Job 26:13
Cruel One---Jer 30:14
Destroyer of the Gentiles---Jer 4:7
Evil Man---Ps. 140:1
Governmental Genius---Rev. 13:1,2; 17:17
Head over many countries---Ps. 110:6
Head of the Northern Army ---Joel 2:20
Idol Shepherd ---Zech. 11:16,17
Intellectual Genius---Dan. 7:20, 8:23, Ezek. 28:3
King of Princes--- Hos. 8:10
King of Babylon---Isa. 14
Little Horn---Dan. 7:8-11,21-26;8:9-12, 23-25
Man of the Earth---Ps. 10:18
Mighty Man---Ps. 52:1
Oratorical Genius---Dan 7:20, Rev. 13:2
Prince that shall come---Dan. 9:26
Prince of Tyre---Ezek. 28:2-10
Profane Wicked Prince of Israel---Ezek. 21:25-27
Proud Man---Hab. 2:5
Religious Genius---2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:3, Ps. 10, 52, 55; Isa. 10-14; Zech 5; Rev. 17-18.
Rod of God's Anger---Isa. 10:5
Seed of the Serpent---Gen 3:15
Son of the Morning---Isa. 14:12
Son of Satan---Gen. 3:15, Isa. 27:1, Ezek. 28:12-19, Rev. 13
Spoiler, Destroyer---Isa. 16:4,5
Vile Person---Dan. 11:21
Violent Man---Psa. 140:1,10,11
Wicked, Wicked One---Psa. 9:17; 10:2,4; Is 11:4- Jer. 30: 14, 23
Willful King---Dan. 11:96
Angel of the Bottomless Pit---Rev. 11:9
Antichrist, Pseudo Christ---1 John 2:22
False prophet---Rev 13
Father of lies---John 8:44; 2 Thess 2:11
Lawless One---2 Thess. 2:8
Man of Sin---2 Thess. 2:3
One who comes in his own name John 5:43
Son of Perdition---2 Thess. 2:3
Unclean Spirit---Matt. 10:43
Revised June 2, 1995.