Bible Prophecy in Chronology series (post #6)
Before we shift this series into a full blown event-by-event study of the tribulation period and beyond, we need to devote an entire post to that man scripture calls “the Antichrist.” I have already mentioned him in previous posts and will have more to say about him in coming ones, but this man is such a pivotal figure in Bible prophecy that he merits an entire post himself. What we are going to find is that even though the Bible doesn’t name him by name, it certainly gives the world a ton of information to use to identify him once his time has come.
Let’s start with seven of the titles the Bible gives him:
- the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 1 John 4:3)
- the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
- the beast (Revelation 13:1-4)
- the little horn (Daniel 7:7-8)
- the prince who is to come (Daniel 9:26)
Now, let’s list five of his impressive abilities:
- His Ability In Politics (Daniel 7:1-8): These verses describe four successive empires in terms of beastly symbolism. The first beast, a lion with eagle’s wings, depicts Babylon. The second beast, a bear raised up on one side with three ribs in its mouth, depicts Medo-Persia. The third beast, a leopard with four wings, depicts Greece. The fourth beast, a ten-horned, iron-teethed creature, depicts Rome. In the end times, the final version of the Roman empire will be centered around ten kings (Daniel 7:7-8, Daniel 7:23-24, Revelation 13:1, Revelation 17:12). The Antichrist is symbolically described as an eleventh horn (a “little horn”) or “another” king who will arise from this Roman empire and somehow “pluck out by the roots” (uproot, overthrow) or “subdue” three of the ten kings (Daniel 7:7-8, Daniel 7:24). Following this impressive political feat, he will take control of the entire empire as the other seven kings will “give their power and authority to him” (Revelation 17:12-13).
- His Ability In Oratory (Revelation 13:5): The Antichrist will have a mouth “speaking great things” (Revelation 13:5) and “pompous words” (Daniel 7:8,11). Much of his rousing oratory will involve speaking blasphemy against God (Daniel 7:25, Daniel 11:36, Revelation 13:5-6).
- His Ability In Religion (Revelation 13:11-15): Just as ancient Babylon’s legendary king Nebuchadnezzar understood the value of having a one-world, man-created religion that involved a gigantic image (Daniel 3:1-7), the Antichrist will as well. He will work with a false prophet who is demonically empowered to perform great miracles, including calling fire down from heaven, and the two will have an image of the Antichrist built. A law will then be enacted that forces everyone to worship the Antichrist by worshiping the image of him. Anyone who refuses to do so will be executed. The false prophet will even somehow cause the image to speak (Revelation 13:11-15).
- His Ability In Commerce (Revelation 13:16-18): The false prophet will also institute an economic program wherein everyone will be required to receive a mark either on their right hand or forehead. Without this mark, no one will be able to buy or sell. The mark will be some kind of name or a number that represents the Antichrist.
- His Ability In Warfare (Daniel 11:36-45): The Bible indicates that the Antichrist will be peaceful during the early part of his reign. Even though he initially goes forth “conquering and to conquer,” he is symbolized as a rider who has a bow but no arrows (Revelation 6:2). This means that his early rise to power will be accomplished by means other than military. Even when he signs his seven-year treaty with Israel, it will be a peace treaty, not a treaty signed at the edge of a sword (Daniel 9:27). But as the years of the tribulation period roll on he will begin flexing more and more of his might as a military leader. Daniel 11:36-45 describes some of the Antichrist’s military maneuvers. In addition to these maneuvers, the Antichrist and his army also end up at the battle of Armageddon at the close of the tribulation period (Revelation 19:11-21).
Here now are some other random items of information about the Antichrist:
- His title “Antichrist” can be understood two ways. On the one hand, it can mean that he is against everything about Jesus. Under this definition, the Antichrist’s main purpose is not so much promoting himself as it is criticizing Jesus. On the other hand, it can mean that he presents himself as another option to Jesus. Under this definition, his main purpose is presenting himself to the world as another Messianic option besides Jesus. The fact is, both definitions fit the Antichrist and the things he does.
- His deeds will be “according to the working of Satan” and will be marked by “power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Revelation 13:2 says, “The dragon (Satan) gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” This element of the supernatural and miraculous will make the Antichrist so much more than just the latest hotshot political figure on the world scene. If you question how millions of people could line up to the take the Antichrist’s “mark of the beast” and fall down and worship his image, you aren’t factoring in the signs and lying wonders that will swirl around the man.
- He will somehow survive an assassination attempt which will elevate him to “God status” around the world. Revelation 13:1 symbolically depicts the Antichrist as a beast that has seven heads, ten horns, and wears ten crowns. But then Revelation 13:3 talks about one of the heads being mortally wounded. Many students of prophecy interpret this symbolism as an assassination attempt on the Antichrist’s life. The fatal wound, however, will somehow be healed, and all the world will marvel and follow the Antichrist (Revelation 13:3-4). This will be the Antichrist’s grandest and most impressive feat, mimicking the resurrection of Christ. (I’ll have more to say about this “resurrection” in a later post.)
- There is a possibility that he will be a homosexual. Daniel 11:37 says, “He shall regard neither the God of his father nor the desire of women…” Various answers have been suggested to explain the Antichrist’s disregard for the desire of women. It’s possible that it simply means that he will be so consumed with achieving world domination that he won’t have time for a woman. It’s also possible that his celibacy will be merely another aspect of him imitating Christ’s ministry as Jesus showed no sexual desire for women either. But, yes, it’s at least possible that he will be a homosexual. It should be understood, though, that there is by no means a consensus of opinion on that interpretation and I’m not presenting it as absolute fact.
- Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh is displaying the same basic spirit the Antichrist will take to its furthest degree. The apostle John is the only Biblical writer who actually uses the term “Antichrist.” Interestingly, however, John never uses the term in The Revelation. Instead he uses it in 1 John 2:18 as he says, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour.” John then goes on to explain that these lower case ‘a’ antichrists were people who once attended churches but eventually fell away from the church (1 John 2:19) and began to deny that Jesus was actually God in human flesh (1 John 2:22-23). He returns to this same subject in 1 John 4:3 as he says, “and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist…”
Now, for the last section of this post I want to address what is probably the single most debated question about the Antichrist. That question is: Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile? By way of covering both possible answers to this question, I’ll give you five pieces of evidence that can be used to promote each answer. I myself am of the opinion that the Antichrist will be a Gentile, but if you reach the conclusion that he will be a Jew you’ll have plenty of company.
The Evidences That the Antichrist Will Be a Jew
- Daniel 11:37 says the Antichrist will not regard “the God of his fathers.” While this term “the God of his fathers” could theoretically refer to any god and the race of any father, it is classically considered a Jewish phrase especially in regards to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- Jesus was a male Jew. If the Antichrist is to be a counterfeit Jesus, it makes sense that he would be a male Jew as well.
- Many believe that the Jewish people will come to look upon the Antichrist as their long awaited Messiah. Certainly if it turns out that he plays the primary political role in helping them get a new temple built, this belief could be correct. But would the Jews accept a Gentile, no matter how much he helps them, as their Messiah? That is highly doubtful.
- In John 5:43, Jesus says to a group of unbelieving Jews, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” Some take these words to be a prophecy that one day the Jewish people will accept a Jewish false Messiah, the Antichrist.
- In Genesis 49:17, as a part of the elderly Jacob pronouncing prophecies upon his sons, he says concerning his son Dan, “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backward.” There are some who couple this prophecy up with the fact that in Revelation 7:1-8 the tribe of Dan is omitted from Israel’s list of tribes and conclude that the Antichrist will come from the Jewish tribe of Dan.
The Evidences That the Antichrist Will Be a Gentile
- Daniel’s prophecies make it clear that the Antichrist will rise to power from an end-times version of the Roman empire. The fact that it is a Roman empire suggests that he will be a Gentile. Furthermore, Daniel 9:26-27 explicitly states that he will come from the people who destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. Again, that would be the Romans. As for the word about him not regarding “the God of his fathers,” that could be a reference to the Catholicism that has long dominated Rome.
- In Revelation 13:1, John says, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea…”As I mentioned earlier, this “beast” is the Antichrist depicted in symbolic imagery. Furthermore, based upon Revelation 17:15, a common interpretation of the symbolism of this “sea” is that it refers to the Gentile nations of the world. So, if the Antichrist rises up from such a sea, he must be a Gentile. Even if this interpretation of this “sea” as being symbolic and representing the Gentile nations of the world is incorrect, another plausible interpretation is that John was literally standing on the shore of Patmos when he experienced this part of his revelation. This would mean that he was referring to the Aegean Sea which surrounded Patmos. The Aegean Sea, of course, is in actuality a part of the Mediterranean Sea, and when we think of the Mediterranean we think of Rome, which brings us back to the Antichrist’s connection to Gentile Rome.
- In the symbolism of Revelation 13:2, the Antichrist is a beast that has the mouth of a lion, the feet of a bear, and is like a leopard. This symbolism echos the prophet Daniel’s depictions of the three Gentile empires that preceded the mighty Roman empire (Daniel 7:1-8). Daniel symbolically depicted Babylon as a lion, Medo-Persia as a bear, and Greece as a leopard. The meaning of Revelation 13:2 then is that the Antichrist will come from the lineage of these empires. Even more than that, he will possess many of the same leadership characteristics as the great rulers of these empires, men such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus the Great, and Alexander the Great. And since these empires were all Gentile and their leaders were Gentiles, it makes sense that the Antichrist will be a Gentile.
- We know from Daniel 9:27 that the Antichrist will make a seven-year covenant (treaty) with the Jews and break it three-a-half-years into it. It seems strange that a Jew would have to go to the trouble of creating a formal treaty with his own people. Getting back to the possibility that the Jews will accept the Antichrist as their Messiah, it also seems strange that a Messiah would have to sign such a treaty with his followers. Furthermore, once the Antichrist breaks that treaty, he will begin an incredibly intense persecution of the Jews. Would a fellow Jew do that?
- Matthew chapters 24 and 25 make up Christ’s most extensive teaching on the tribulation period, and in Matthew 24:15 He talks about a time when “the abomination of desolation” will be seen “standing in the holy place.” The “holy place” is the Jewish temple of the tribulation period, and the phrase “the abomination of desolation” comes from the book of Daniel. In Daniel 11:31, Daniel prophesies about “the abomination of desolation” in the context of a prophecy centering around a “northern king.” Prophecy experts are unanimous in identifying this “northern king” as Antiochus Epiphanes, who once led 20,000 soldiers against Jerusalem, temporarily abolished Jewish worship at the temple (Daniel 8:9-11), and desecrated the temple’s altar by sacrificing swine upon it. This despicably blasphemous act was what Daniel called “the abomination of desolation.” What all this means in regards to Christ’s use of the term is that there will come a time in the tribulation period when the Antichrist will perform his own despicably blasphemous act in the Jewish temple of the tribulation period. This act will be akin to the Antiochus Epiphanes abomination. (And I’ll specify what that act is in a later post). The point, then, is that Antiochus Epiphanes was what we call a “type” (a “foreshadowing”) of the Antichrist. For one thing, he and the Antichrist are the only two Bible characters who share the term “the abomination of desolation.” For another, they also share the title “little horn” – the Antichrist being described by it in Daniel 7:7-8,24 and Antiochus Epiphanes being described it in Daniel 8:9-14. And since Antiochus Epiphanes was a Gentile, specifically a Greek Gentile from the Syria/Asia Minor kingdom ruled over by Alexander the Great’s General Seleucas, many believe the typology requires that the Antichrist be a Gentile.