The Antichrist (Part 9a)
The Antichrist in Scripture
Before starting the study of chapter 13 and the Antichrist, it is important to put the chapter into context. The Antichrist makes an appearance at the very end of the Bible, but what does the Bible have to say that would explain the world rebellion against God that will lead to the rise of the Antichrist? There are two key Old Testament chapters that give us the answer, they describe the fall of Lucifer — Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. Isaiah describes the fall of the mighty archangel writing:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Then Ezekiel 28:13-14 records that Lucifer was a beautiful angel, the covering cherub in heaven who, it seems, was the head musician leading the angels in the worship of God. His beauty, intelligence, power and authority led to his downfall, as pride entered his heart and he uttered the infamous five “I will” statements of Isaiah 14. Before Lucifer’s announcement of intent, there was only one “will” in heaven – God’s. With his rebellious act, Lucifer introduced a second “will” into God’s created order. Lucifer desired to make himself like “the Most High,” which in Hebrew is El Elyon, and means “God Most High”. In other words, Lucifer wanted to be above God, to replace God’s will with his will! Lucifer, a created being, was no match for the Almighty Creator, and was cast out of heaven. The light-bearing covering cherub became Satan the adversary, the fallen angel who still desires to impose his will.
Adam and Eve, by disobeying the commandments of God, and falling for Satan’s deception, partook in the “forbidden fruit,” and by doing so imposed their will, over God’s will. Satan successfully corrupted mankind, separating them from the will of God and introducing them to his will – a will in rebellion to God. From that moment on three wills existed in the universe, the will of God and the will of Satan, with the will of man being drawn either to righteousness or rebellion. The Antichrist is the culmination of millennia of mankind being swayed by the will of Satan.
The Mystery of Iniquity
The “mystery of iniquity [KJV]” that Paul writes about in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, is the great spiritual battle that has been taking place, as Satan perseveres in his attempts at overthrowing God’s true Church, so as to set up his own counterfeit apostate church. The aim of the counterfeit church will be to direct man away from God on a path to eternal damnation. Jesus is the “mystery of Godliness”, which is when God became man. The fulfilment of the mystery of iniquity occurs when Satan embodies a man – the Antichrist – and is worshipped by mankind. Judas is described as “the son of perdition” (John 17:12 [KJV]). He is a son of the author of perdition, Satan. Judas is the “mystery of iniquity” among the disciples of Jesus. Jesus likewise refers to him as a devil (definite article in John 6:71). The Antichrist is also the “son of perdition” and the “mystery of iniquity”. He will have a disguise of righteousness, but will obey the father of lies, Satan.
Paul speaks of the “mystery of iniquity” at work during his time of ministry. Satan will continually use sinful people for his own ends, but the Antichrist will be the one who is able to display the full force of Satan’s power. He will be the “seed of the serpent” at enmity with Jesus, “the seed of the woman” Genesis 3:15. Paul explains that the force hindering Satan – which is the Holy Spirit’s power manifest through the Church – will be taken out of the way when the rapture occurs (2 Thessalonians 2:7). When the rapture takes place the Church will be in heaven, so the power of prayer of the Church is removed. The Holy Spirit will no longer hinder Satan because the Church is no longer praying against Satan’s schemes. The Antichrist, midway through the Tribulation, will shrug off Catholicism and his title as the Pope to declare himself to be god (Revelation 17:16).
Unfortunately, the existence in Scripture of a future Antichrist is a very contentious issue in eschatology (the study of the Last Days), so to add to the evidence given in the introduction it is important to answer two questions:
1. Does the Bible refer to an individual called the ‘Antichrist’?
Before starting a study on Revelation 13 and the “beast rising out of the sea,” time must be taken to give evidence that confirms that the Antichrists existence in Scripture. Does the Bible record the existence of a man, popularly called the Antichrist, who will rise to world dominating power in rebellion against God?
There are those who deny that there will be a sinister individual called the Antichrist, who will ascend to be the world governing power in the future. The letters of John are used by these disclaimers as evidence of their belief, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18) and “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is a deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7). They believe there will rather be “many false Christs” and that there was evidence of their existence in the first century at the time of John’s writing of his two letters. The term antichrist, they reason, is a general term used to suggest a spirit of unbelief that is directed against the teachings of Jesus. According to them, there is no identification in Scripture of a single individual who would be considered “the Antichrist.”
A close study of John’s letter is required to clarify the issue: John reminds his readers that they had heard that “the antichrist is coming” (1 John 2:18), but then goes on to warn that there will be many antichrists in the future and that even at the time of his writing the letter there existed those that had the spirit of the antichrist. John is the Biblical author who coined the name “Antichrist” in his letters, which were thought to be written between 90-95AD. With John then being one of the last contributors to the Scriptures, it is only logical that no other author of Scripture would have used a term John coined. That does not mean they did not write and warn us about the Antichrist. A close look at Scripture shows that a number of Biblical authors write in detail about the Antichrist, only they each give him a name fitting to their own description of him. Examples would be: –
- Daniel has several names for the Antichrist in his detailed prophecies of the End Times. In two of Daniel’s visions, he is called the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8 and 8:9); he is called a contemptible person in 11:21; and a wilful king in chapter 11:36. Then in 9:26, Daniel refers to him as the prince that shall come (KJV).
- Zechariah calls the Antichrist the idol shepherd (Zech. 11:16-17), which is in strong contrast to Jesus, the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep.
- In the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he calls the Antichrist the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3 [KJV]), and that wicked one (2 Thess. 2:8 [KJV]). All these adjectives that Paul uses to describe the Antichrist point to his rebellion against God. Note, the Antichrist is called the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3), as was Judas (John 17:12), the implication being both men are possessed by Satan.
- In a vision that the apostle John is given by God, John sees the Antichrist as the Beast (Rev. 13:1). This is in stark contrast to his earlier reference to Jesus as a Lamb (Rev. 5:6). Jesus is The Lamb of God who died for the sins of others in an act of agape love and selflessness. The Antichrist is the Beast who will destroy others through acts of hatred and selfishness. A look at the context of the Scripture confirms that the beast of Revelation is the Antichrist. John identifies the Dragon as Satan in Rev. 12:7, then in Rev. 13:2, he writes that the Dragon gives “his power and his throne and great authority to the beast.” John clearly identifies the beast as Satan’s messiah, through whom he will work in the End Times.
Early Christian writers such as Irenaeus and Jerome both saw that Daniel 9:24-27 was referring to a tyrant who comes to power in the last seven years of history. Many of the great Protestant theologians such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox and John and Charles Wesley recognised that the Antichrist was recorded under various synonyms in Scripture. Just as God and Jesus are referred to by many names in Scripture, so, too, does the Bible give Satan and the Antichrist various titles.
Examples of the many synonyms Satan has been given in Scripture are: Dragon (Rev. 12:9), Lucifer (Isa. 14:12 [KJV]), Belial (2 Cor. 6:15 [KJV]), Deceiver (Rev. 12:9 [KJV]), Father of lies (John 8:44), and the evil one (John 17:15).
It cannot, then, be seen to be strange that Satan’s messiah has been given many synonyms in Scripture. To discount that there will be a man of incredible evil called the Antichrist, simply because John is the only author of Scripture who uses the phrase the Antichrist, is not sound exegesis (interpretation of a text). When we read the Bible, we must not be put off by the adjectives used to describe the Antichrist. We must recognise the context of the Scripture and that the author of the Scripture is warning of the characteristics of a man, the like whom has never been seen before.
Cognisance must be made of three distinctions in Scripture regarding the term antichrist. There have been many false Christs through history, men rising up in positions of power in rebellion against God. There is also the rebellious spirit that Paul refers to as “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7 [KJV]), that has always been in the world. Finally, there is the man the Antichrist.
The term antichrist literally means in place of Christ. The Antichrist is more than, as some would suggest, “anti” or against Christ; the Antichrist also seeks to displace Jesus. The Antichrist is Satan’s counterfeit messiah, whom Satan will empower in an attempt to bring all mankind into rebellion against God.
The very first prophecy in the Bible that relates to the existence of the Antichrist occurs in the Garden of Eden, when God says to the serpent (Satan) “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15 [KJV]). This Scripture prophecies the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah, and the conflict He will have with Satan’s seed, the Antichrist. The word enmity comes from the Greek root word enemy, and it aptly describes the continual conflict there has been between God and Satan which will culminate in the final battle between the seed of the woman, Jesus, and the seed of Satan, the Antichrist (Rev. 19:11-21). The Antichrist will be the enemy of Jesus, and he will come to power opposing all that is of God.
Finally, the most powerful Scripture for those who doubt the existence of a future Antichrist must be the warning Jesus gives, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him” (John 5:43). Jesus is prophesying of His rejection by the Jews and warning that a man will rise up and make a claim to the title of Messiah, and he will be accepted by the Jews. This man will be the Antichrist.
Does the Bible refer to an individual called the Antichrist? The answer to that question is an unequivocal yes! Scripture, as we have observed, makes many references to him. There have been many men of sin, but there will be only one “man of sin”, there have been many lawless men, but only one “man of lawlessness”, and there have been many antichrist figures in history, but there will only be one “Antichrist.”
2. Are we able to identify the Antichrist?
With the Antichrist being such an important figure in eschatology and so much written about him, is it not possible to piece the clues together to get a good, clear picture of the Antichrist, a picture that will enable us to identify him before his rise to power?
The idea of identifying the Antichrist has stirred up much debate and controversy over the centuries, with many characters being labelled as the Antichrist, from ancient Roman Emperors such as Nero and Caligula to authoritarian rulers such as Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler, to the modern examples of Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates and Barak Obama. The problem with these examples is that the evidence used to label them with the title Antichrist is flimsy and does not meet all the criteria set out in Scripture.
God gives us clear guidelines in prophecy for a reason. The discerning Christian will recognise him in his rise to power and be able to sound a warning. A warning that will give sufficient knowledge to people after the rapture to recognise the truth of Scripture and accept Jesus as their Lord, thus becoming Tribulation saints. Christian groups will also be able to fervently direct prayer, knowing that the time of the end is near.
This is not something that Satan wants, so he will continually muddy the waters with false predictions that ignore sound Scriptural exegesis, to ensure that people will pay no attention to the true identification of the Antichrist because of the many past failures.
God so loves mankind that he gave us Jesus, His only Son, for our salvation. Satan is going to use a counterfeit messiah to turn mankind against their Creator, and so lose out on their salvation. The Antichrist is the tool that the age-old enemy of God will use to bring world rebellion against God. The man will be the embodiment of Satan, leading mankind in opposition and rebellion against God. It is the responsibility of the Church to interpret the Scriptures that enable us to identify Satan’s counterfeit and sound a warning to the world.
“…Then the lawless one (the Antichrist) will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan (seed of the serpent) with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 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 2:8-11).
The Jewish concept of Messiah
The coming of the Mashiach (messiah) to be anointed King and at the end of days, which signals the commencement of an Olam Ha-Ba (messianic age), characterised by a time of world peace, has been a fundamental and much longed for part of Judaism. The belief in Judaism is that each age has men who could possibly be called upon to be the Mashiach, but only he who is successful at meeting the requirements will be the true Mashiach.
The first and most important criteria for the Antichrist to be accepted by the Jews is that he must be Jewish! Most of the people labelled in the past as being the Antichrist have been Gentiles. This cannot be. The Jews will not recognise a man as their Messiah unless he is Jewish. To be more specific he must be from the tribe of Judah, a direct descendant of King David. These criteria are clear and evident in the Scriptures, for example, God promises Abraham that through him “all peoples on earth will be blessed,” this is the promise fulfilled in the Messiah. Scripture defines the Messiah’s origins further when Jacob prophecies over his sons and says to Judah that “the sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet”. The clear implication of this prophecy is that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Finally, the house of David is indicated as the line from which the Messiah must come, both Jeremiah 30:9 and Hosea 3:5 prophesy that the Jews will serve “David their King”. As David had long since passed on when these scriptures were written, they could only be referring to the future Messiah, who must be from the line of David. Satan, to give credibility to his false messiah, will use a man who matches the requirements of the prophetic Scriptures that point to the Messiah being a Jew from the line of David.
Moses Maimonides, who was the greatest Jewish commentator and scholar of the Middle Ages (AD 1200), said “He (the Messiah) will build the Temple, gather the dispersed of Israel. Then, in His days, all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices and observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, according to all their particulars mentioned by the Torah.” (Halacha 11:11). According to Maimonides, if a man succeeds in building the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Messiah (Halacha 11:14). Further expectations outlined by Maimonides are that the Messiah will be a scholar of great wisdom who will usher in a time of peace and prosperity for the Jews. The Jews of the first century wanted a Messiah to bring about a time of peace, relieving them of the brutality of the Roman occupation of Israel; so too are the Jews now expecting their Messiah to bring peace to their land after the years of continual conflict since their formation as a nation in 1948.
We know from Daniel 9:27 that when the Antichrist confirms a covenant with Israel for one week, he will fulfil the criteria of Maimonides for the Messiah. The covenant will be a peace treaty between the Arabs and the Jews, which will allow the Jews to build the Third Temple. This will result in many secular Jews returning to their faith, offering sacrifices and worshipping Yahweh at the Temple.
The restoration of the Temple and the resumption of sacrifices is a rejection of the New Covenant and a return to the Old Covenant. Satan, through the Antichrist, will have successfully turned many Jews away from their true Messiah. For these Jews the erection of the Third Temple will be positive proof that the Antichrist is their Messiah and that Jesus was a false Messiah. Their joy will know no bounds. That is, until three and a half years later when the Antichrist places a statue of himself in the Temple and requires all to worship it. Then their joy will turn to mourning.
Moses Maimonides constructed a list of requirements that must be met by a man claiming to be the messiah before the Jews will recognise him as such:
|No.||The Jewish concept of Messiah Moses Maimonides – Rambam|
|1||He must be Jewish and from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8–10).|
|2||He must be from the line of David (Isa. 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5 and 30:9; and Hosea 3:5).|
|3||Like David, the Messiah will be a great warrior but will ultimately usher in a time of peace. Messiah means “the anointed one,” and links to the practice of anointing kings, therefore the Messiah must become a king like David.|
|4||Also, in the image of David, the Messiah will be a great charismatic political leader.|
|5||He will bring about a time of universal peace between mankind which includes an end to wickedness and sin (Zeph. 3:13; Isaiah 11:3-9).|
|6||He will rebuild the Temple and implement temple services (Jer. 33:18.)|
|7||He will be a scholar of great wisdom and will restore the religious courts of justice (Jer. 33:15).|
|8||Due to the Messiah bringing political and spiritual redemption to Israel, Jews from all over the world will return to Israel.|
|9||Israel will become the centre of world government with the Messiah establishing his throne in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1).|
Two further criteria that Satan could possibly use to enhance the standing of this false messiah are:
|10||He will have a name significant to messianic scripture|
|11||He will restore the Ark to the Temple in Jerusalem|
The Appearance of the Antichrist (13:1)
Revelation 13 sees the Satanic trinity revealed in its fullness, with the appearance of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Satan seeks to control people through human means, and Revelation 13 reveals his greatest deception – the Antichrist. As, was mentioned in the introduction, Satan counterfeits that which is of God and the term antichrist literally means in place of Christ. The Antichrist is more than, as some would suggest, “anti” or against Christ, the Antichrist also seeks to replace Jesus. The Antichrist is Satan’s counterfeit messiah, who Satan will empower in an attempt to bring all mankind into rebellion against God.
John begins chapter 13 by introducing the Antichrist:
“1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its head”
The beast of Revelation 13 is a combination of the beasts of Daniel 7, which represent the ancient world empires that dominated Israel from the time of Daniel (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome). Unlike Nebuchadnezzar who visualizes the empires as precious metals, God sees these empires as wild ravenous beasts. The beast of Revelation 13 is the continuation of these powers, in that the Antichrist will have authority over the land of Israel. The Greek word thērion means savage beast, dangerous animal, and gives clarity to the driven nature of the Antichrist, where the end will justify the means. The beast arises out of the sea, which is symbolic for Gentile nations in Scripture:
“But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20).
“Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (Isaiah 60:5).
So, the Antichrist will rise to power through a hierarchy of people.
This strange malevolent beast John sees rise up out of the nations of the world has “ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems,” which are important symbols indicating the authority of the beast:
- Seven heads – The number seven in Scripture symbolises perfection and completeness, so with the Antichrist as a counterfeit of that which is of God, we see man’s rebellion against God reach its climax in the Antichrist. Just as Jesus is God in the flesh, the Antichrist will be possessed by Satan, making him the “son of perdition,” Satan in human form. There is therefore the link between the beast and seven crowned heads of the dragon in Revelation 12, which imply the universal rule that will be brought about by the authority of the Antichrist – a power and authority that is supplied by Satan.
- Ten horns – The beast has ten horns, which represents the world governments in support of the Antichrist’s opposition to God, the horns themselves symbolise power.
- Ten crowns – The dragon of Revelation 12 had seven crowns which is symbolic of the universal rule brought about by the complete authority Satan has over the kingdoms of the world. That authority passes on to the Antichrist (son of perdition), and the ten crowns symbolise the rule of the Antichrist over the nations that oppose God. There is also the ominous implication of a dominant power, that will enforce its rule on the people of the earth.
John then goes on to explain that the beast had blasphemous names on its heads, which has great significance, as this again indicates the support of the governments of the world for the Antichrist in opposition to God. The interpretation of the symbolism depicted on the beast, mirrors the message of Nimrod at the Tower of Babel, that while in the process of unifying mankind he also blasphemes God, and that the globalised unification of man is in direct rebellion to God. The Antichrist is a counterfeit messiah, and is in total opposition to God in all he says and does, “He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the Earth. Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD (Genesis 10:8-10)”. He is a type of the Antichrist, a shadow of a reality that is yet to come, so a study comparing Nimrod and the Antichrist is very revealing:
|The name Nimrod means rebel.||The Antichrist is also a rebel; Paul refers to him as the “lawless one” in 2 Thess. 2:8.|
|Nimrod is repeatedly described as being mighty (Gen. 10:8-9; 1 Chron. 1:10). He was an imposing figure; his rebellion against God was a major accomplishment by Satan.||The Antichrist will have a mighty influence on the world. He will be an imposing figure; his rebellion against God will be a major accomplishment by Satan.|
|Nimrod unifies man into a one-world government, under his authority (Gen. 10:10; 11:4-6).||The Antichrist unifies man into a one-world government, under his authority, Daniel refers to him as a King (Dan. 11:36).|
|Nimrod was black, the son of Cush, who was the father of the Ethiopians (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chron. 1:10).||The Antichrist could be black, with a link to David through the Falapha, “black Jews” of Ethiopia. Falapha Jews are believed to be descendants of Menelik the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.|
|Nimrod was a hunter of men, seeking to dominate and control them (Gen. 10:9)||The Antichrist will be a hunter of men, seeking to dominate and control them (Rev. 13:4&7).|
|Nimrod was an arrogant man, inheriting the sin of his “father,” Satan – Pride (Gen. 10:9; 1 Chron. 1:10).||The Antichrist will be an extremely arrogant man who will inherit the sin of his “father,” Satan – Pride (Dan. 7:20).|
|Nimrod was a contemptible person who, being filled with a hatred of God, sought to deceive mankind.||The Antichrist will be a contemptible person (Dan. 11:21) who, being filled with a hatred of God, will seek to deceive mankind and persecute believers (Rev. 13:5-8).|
|Nimrod was greatly used and empowered by Satan in his rebellion against God; he was a son of perdition.||The Antichrist is called the son of perdition by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3 and will be greatly used and empowered by Satan.|
|Nimrod organised a revolt against Yahweh (Gen. 11:1-9).||The Antichrist will organise a revolt against God (Dan. 11:37-39).|
|Nimrod lived in the city of Babylon (Gen. 10:10)||The Antichrist will live in “Mystery Babylon” – Rome (Rev. 17:3-9; Isa. 14:4).|
|Nimrod lived in Mesopotamia, the area of modern Syria/Iraq – “the land of Nimrod,” which becomes the centre of rebellion against God.||The Antichrist will live in the area of Syria/Iraq (Dan. 8:8-9) – the land of Nimrod – before eventually moving to Rome (Rev. 17:3-9), which is the centre of rebellion against God in the modern age.|
|The mystery of iniquity started with Nimrod – man’s complete rebellion against God militarily, politically, financially and spiritually.||The mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:7) will reach its peak during the Tribulation, with the Antichrist leading a complete rebellion against God.|
|Nimrod brought a false peace to mankind (Gen. 11:1-9)||The Antichrist will “confirm a covenant with many for one week (Daniel 9:27),” which will introduce a time of false peace.|
|Nimrod started a one-world religion (Genesis 10:10; 11:4-6).||The Antichrist will require the world to worship the “Whore of Babylon” (Dan. 11:38; Rev.17:3-8).|
|Nimrod was therefore a self-proclaimed king, high priest, and messianic figure.||The Antichrist will be a king, a high priest, and a messianic figure (Dan. 11:36; Rev. 17:3-8).|
|Nimrod was a mighty warrior and great military leader, (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chron. 1:10).||The Antichrist will be a great military leader (Dan. 11:39-44; Rev. 13:4-5; 19:19).|
|Nimrod’s religion becomes dominated by the worship of the queen of heaven, Semiramis.||The Antichrist’s religion will be dominated by the worship of the queen of heaven, Mary (Dan. 11:38; Rev. 17:3-8).|
|Nimrod’s religion holds the ideology that man can become god, and Nimrod was considered a god.||The Antichrist will call himself god, and erect a statue of himself in the Temple. (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13:14-15; 2 Thess. 2:4).|
|Nimrod was referred to as “the god that came from the sea” – arriving in Mesopotamia sailing up the Persian Gulf by boat. Reference: Philistine Dagon – half man, half fish.||The Antichrist is referred to as “a beast coming out of the sea” in Rev. 13:1.|
|God came down to earth to judge the people of Babylon (Gen. 11:7).||Jesus will descend from heaven to earth to judge the people of the world (Rev. 19:11-21).|
|Nimrod met an early end.||The Antichrist is doomed to destruction (2 Thes. 2:3; Rev. 19:20).|
The Beast (13:2)
“2 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 gave his power and his throne and great authority”.
The beast of Revelation 13 is an amalgamation of the beasts of Daniel’s dream (Dan. 7), the order being reversed as John looks back in time. The beast is Satan’s tool, to implement his plan to have mankind worship him. It symbolizes his powers and authority. To understand the symbolism of the amalgamation of animals that make up the beast it is necessary to go to the writings of the prophet Daniel. Daniel describes the first three beasts as a lion, bear and a leopard, which represent the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek empires, in that order. The fourth beast, a dreadful beast that resembled no created animal represents Rome. All four Empires included Israel in their domain, and they held authority over the Holy Land, with Rome being the last of the four Empires to do so. Both Daniel 2 and 7 imply the continuation of Rome as the dominant force over the Israel in the Last Days:
- Daniel 2 has the legs of iron (Rome) becoming feet of iron and clay, which are destroyed by the rock, representing the return of Jesus.
- Daniel 7 has the fourth beast (Rome) with the “little horn” (the Antichrist) grow up upon its head, implying the Antichrist will rise to power through that empire.
The Table below compares Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue of a man (Chapter 2), with Daniel’s dream of the four beasts (Chapter 7), and shows the amalgamation of Daniel’s four beasts into John beast from the sea.
The table shows that the beast of Revelation 13 has seven heads, as that is the total number of heads of the four beasts of Daniel combined into one beast. The symbolism reveals that:
- The beast of Revelation represents both king (Antichrist) and kingdom (it is both/and, rather than either/or).
- The beast (kingdom) will embody all the characteristics of the four world empires that made those empires successful.Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece (Turkey, Syria & Egypt) & Rome.
The beast is therefore the personification of Satan, and rules with great power and authority.
The Resurrected Beast (13:3-4)
“3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marvelled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’”
In interpreting verse 3 it is important to remember that the beast represents both the man, the Antichrist, and kingdoms over which he has authority. This is confirmed in the switch between the description of the amalgamation of beasts in the introduction, as representing kingdoms, to verse 4 where the dragon gives authority to the beast, and he is worshipped – indicating the Antichrist. The seven heads each represent the empires of Daniel 7 (Greece having four sub empires), the head that receives the mortal wound is Rome. Rome as an empire was crushed – put to the sword – by barbarian tribes, but Rome will be revived under the rule of the Antichrist. Rome is very important in the rise of the Antichrist to power, it is the seat of his authority and the home of the Whore, the false religion that the Antichrist will use to rise to prominence, and world recognition. Some theologians believe that verse 3 is about the man, the Antichrist, and that he will be assassinated, then Satan will resurrect him in a counterfeit of the resurrection of Jesus. However, this is not plausible as Satan has limited powers, he cannot create, so the Antichrist cannot die and be resurrected by Satan. Also, Paul writes “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8 [KJV]), by which he means that when a person dies their spirit goes before the Lord, Satan has no power over departed spirits.
John record in verse 4 that the world will worship the beast, because of the authority he is given by Satan. Paul predicts this when he writes:
“9 The coming of the lawless one (the Antichrist) is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Paul clearly warns that the miracle signs that the Antichrist will perform, and the power he will hold will be given to him by Satan. Through the Antichrist Satan will attain what he has always desired, the worship of mankind (Matt. 4:8-10), worship that should be directed to God.
The Beast Blasphemes God (13:5-6)
“5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven”.
A common rebuke for a person who uses foul language is “do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” The mind creates the thoughts, but it is the mouth that is the mechanism that forms the words. Satan is both the driving force behind the thoughts of the Antichrist, and shaping the words that come out of his mouth. This gives the Antichrist a great oratory ability, in many ways Hitler was a historical type of the Antichrist, especially in his ability to mesmerise crowds with emotional speeches. A great speaker not only has a speech with quality content, but is also able to give a powerful delivery. The Antichrist’s speeches will play an important role in his establishing power in the first half of the Tribulation (forty-two months or 3½ Years). Mankind will turn a deaf ear to the grace of God, but they will open their hearts to the Antichrist. Jesus warned of this when he said: “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:43). The deceptions and lies spoken by the Antichrist will move mankind further away from God, resulting in their giving themselves over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1). The Antichrist will oppose everything that is of God, which involves: (1) His name, (2) His Tabernacle, and (3) those that dwell in heaven.
It is understandable that the Antichrist would blaspheme God and all that takes place in heaven, but why does the Antichrist blaspheme those that are in heaven, what purpose would the Antichrist have is degrading angels? The answer is seen in that it is not angels that the Antichrist’s foul rhetoric will be aimed at, it is the raptured Church. The Antichrist will explain away the millions of Christians that have suddenly gone missing, having been caught up to be with Jesus for the marriage supper of the Lamb. The New Age movement have already set the groundwork for explaining the disappearance of the Bride of Christ in the rapture, stating that their New Age messiah, the Lord Maitreya, will rid the world of negative energies when he appears. All those who believe in the Lord Jesus as their saviour, will fit into the New Age definition of “negative energy”.
Authority over the Saints (13:7-8)
“7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”.
In Daniel 7 the angel is interpreting Daniel’s dream for him, in his explanation of the great, terrifying fourth beast (Rome), the angel describes that the Antichrist, the little horn, rises from the head of the fourth beast. The angel then confirms the oratory ability of the Antichrist saying that he had “a mouth that spoke great things,” which we know will be both empowered by Satan and blasphemous. Then the angel explains that this evil man will be given authority to persecute the saints of God, saying:
“21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21–22)”.
In verse 7 of chapter 13 John is confirming this harsh reality, God will allow the Antichrist to persecute the saints, as the persecution ensures that there is no sitting on the fence – you are either with the Antichrist or against him. Verse 8 makes the clear distinction that all who are not saved through the blood of the Lamb will worship the Antichrist, those who are saved will then be identified for persecution. The method for identifying believers is explained in the last half of Revelation 13.
A Solemn Warning (13:9-10)
“9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints”.
The conclusion to the introduction of the Antichrist is very solemn, and starts with a warning to understand an important truth. The time is short, the Church is in heaven and during the Tribulation mankind will have an important decision to make, most will follow the dictates of the Antichrist, but a few will obey God’s call to repent and turn to Him.
There is in this a warning for these End Time believers, that they are to hold onto their faith and persevere during this time of tribulation. They are not to take matters into their own hands, in other words do not seek revenge, and return evil for evil. Faith is the sure belief that God is in control and the judgement of the rebellious is predestined, in time the rebellious will be held accountable. No believer should ever see their death as an end, it is a start of a wonderful new beginning. No saint should ever cry out to their executioner that they are murderers, rather they should recognize them as doormen, opening a way to a wonderful new eternal life. These saints are to remember the promise Jesus gave to the persecuted church of Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”.
The Identity of the Antichrist
Those of you who have followed my blog and completed the studies on Joel, Daniel, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, and have covered the book of Revelation up to chapter 13, will recognise that Rome is repeatedly indicated as the Kingdom of the Antichrist, and the Catholic Church is repeatedly exposed as an apostate Christian Church. More evidence confirming these two conclusions will follow in future blogs, and in the upcoming Chapter 17 of Revelation.
The pretence of Christianity in the Catholic Church is a thin veneer. One only needs to scratch the surface to expose the rotting core. One way of doing this is to make a study of the history of the Popes, who are believed by the Catholics to be infallible and the “the Vicar of Christ,” the very mouthpiece of God on earth. The History of the Roman Catholic Church is filled with corrupt and immoral men who determined the path of the Catholic Church for hundreds of years. There is no finer example of the tares (weeds), from the parable in Matthew 13:24-30, than these men who claimed to be the very representatives of Jesus on the earth, yet their degraded immorality is well documented.
The modern Church has a short memory, and has been lulled into a sense of complacency by the Roman Catholic Church. Believers who forget the warnings of leaders down through Church history do so at their peril. Below are quotes from some of the great Protestant theologians regarding their belief that the Pope is the Antichrist:
- Martin Luther: “We are of the conviction that the Papacy is the seat of the real antichrist (quoted in LeRoy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol.2, p. 256).”
- John Calvin: “I deny him to be the vicar of Christ …. He is antichrist — I deny him to be head of the church (John Calvin Tracts, Vol. 1, pp. 219,220).”
- John Knox: “That tyranny which the Pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church, the very antichrist and son of perdition of whom Paul speaks (The Zurich Letter, p.199).”
- John Wesley: “Roman Papacy he [the Pope] is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin (John Wesley, Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms, p.110).”
- The most appropriate quote for the modern Church to pay attention to was given by Cotton Mather who said: “The oracles of God foretold the rising of an antichrist and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that antichrist are so marvellously answered that if any who read scripture do not see it, there will be marvellous blindness in them (The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 3, pg. 13)”.
For the modern Church to ignore the warnings of these great men regarding the Catholic Church is dangerous and foolish, revealing a blindness equal to Neville Chamberlain in 1938. Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister of the day, wanted to believe that Hitler was a man of peace, so it was very easy – despite ample evidence to the contrary – for Hitler to convince Chamberlain that there would be peace in Europe.
The well-respected book “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” labels the Pope as the Antichrist of Revelation 13 and 17: “Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the ‘Dark Ages.’ The kings of the earth, gave their power to the “Beast,” and submitted to be trodden on by the miserable vermin that often filled the papal chair…”
Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century preacher gave multiple sermons warning against the apostasy of the Roman Church and Popery, believing them to be the Whore of Revelation and the beast.
Alexander Hislop’s masterful work The Two Babylons, exposes the connection between Mystery Babylon religion and the Roman Church. Through detailed historical and archaeological evidence, Hislop proves that The Whore of Revelation is the Roman Catholic Church. Hislop says of the Roman Church: “there is hardly a form of ‘pious fraud’ or saintly imposture practiced at this day on the banks of the Tiber, that cannot be proved to have had its counterpart on the banks of the Euphrates, or in the systems that came from it.” emphatic language! Stating that the Roman Church is the Whore.
More recently, Dave Hunt in his book A Woman Rides the Beast, devotes his whole book to Revelation 17, exposing the Whore as the Roman Church. Ralph Woodrow in his book Babylon Mystery Religion, does an equally convincing work in convicting Catholicism, and revealing her to be the Great Prostitute. John Walvoord gives further confirmation in his book The Destruction of Ecclesiastical Babylon. A quote from Walvoord in his book is: “I do not hesitate therefore… To maintain that interpretation which regards papal and not pagan Rome as pointed out by the harlot of this vision.” Emphatic language! All three well known and trusted Christian authors, give ample evidence that the prophecies in Revelation 17 point a finger directly at the Roman Catholic Church – there is no ambiguity, they are firm in their conviction. They do not state that the evidence is their opinion, they are certain it is the truth.