Monday, November 24, 2008

Origins of the Antichrist: Beginnings

In Origins of the Antichrist: Polled we looked at visitor responses to the poll question: "Where will the Antichrist arise from?" In seeking his origins we looked at the Antichrist's character and career. Today we get into the heart of the question.

Will he be a Greek?

And so, where will this sinister person come from? Some have speculated that he will come out of Syria since one of his prophetic types in history — Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC) — was a Syrian tyrant. But Antiochus was actually of Greek heritage. Could he therefore be a Greek? It is not likely.

Will he be a Jew?

Many assume he will be because Jesus said, "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him" (John 5:43). Based on this statement, people ask, "How could the Jews possibly receive a Gentile as their Messiah?"

But the Bible does not teach that the Jews will receive the Antichrist as their Messiah. It teaches they will accept him as a great political leader and diplomat and that they will put their trust in him as the guarantor of peace in the Middle East.

But the moment he reveals himself as the Antichrist by desecrating the Jew's rebuilt Temple and blaspheming God, the Jewish people will revolt. They will reject him as Messiah, and he will respond in fury by attempting to annihilate them.

The Antichrist does not have to be a Jew. And, in fact, the Bible makes it clear that he will be a Gentile. In Revelation 13:1 he is portrayed as a "beast coming up out of the sea." The sea is used consistently throughout the prophetic scriptures as a symbol of the Gentile nations (Daniel 7:3; Luke 21:25; and Revelation 17:1).

By contrast, the Antichrist's right hand man, the False Prophet, who will serve as his religious leader, will be a Jew. This is revealed in Revelation 13:11 where it says that John saw "another beast coming up out of the earth [literally, the land]." Just as the sea is used symbolically in prophecy to refer to the Gentile nations, the land (or earth) is used to refer to Israel. This does not mean the False Prophet will be an Orthodox Jew. It only means that he will be of Jewish heritage. Religiously, he will be an apostate Jew who will head up the One World Religion of the Antichrist.

Will he be a Muslim?

If Russia and Iran are wiped out in the Ezekiel 38-39 attack in which God miraculously delivers Israel, and Israel’s surrounding nations seem to be non-players in most of the Tribulation, probably because their Psalm 83 Jewish subjugation, then how could Islam dominate the Middle East and thereby have the Antichrist be of Muslim origins? It would seem such defeats would dishearten any Muslim. Also, if the Antichrist is supposedly not into women and could be a homosexual (Dan. 11:37), the Muslims would immediately want him put to death. Also, the Antichrist glorifies himself. Even the Muslim messiah called the Mahdi couldn’t do that, for a Muslim worship is for Allah alone. And, to reunify all former Roman Empire lands, Antichrist will have to go eastward to grab the Middle East riches that Israel will already be claiming, requiring a peace treaty to achieve.

These and other verses would conclude that Islam is just another false religious system that will be wiped out before the Antichrist installs his religious system.

Will he be from the United States?

Because of the Daniel 9:26 reference to the Antichrist coming from the people who "will destroy the city and the sanctuary," the only way the Unites States would qualify would be if the Antichrist was Italian-American. Not only is this highly improbable, but the total lack of reference to the United States being a power in the end times in the Bible and the powerhouse that the EU will have right after the Rapture, it appears the United States would not have the clout in the eyes of the world to raise a world leader.

Will he be from the European Union?

It is much more likely that he will rise out of the heartland of the old Roman Empire and that he will be of Italian descent. This conclusion is based upon a statement in Daniel 9:26. In that passage the Antichrist is referred to as "the prince who is to come," and he is identified as being from the people who "will destroy the city and the sanctuary."

We know from history that both Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Therefore, according to Daniel, the Antichrist must be of Roman heritage.

Will he begin again, rising from the dead?

There is one other issue concerning the origin of the Antichrist that we need to consider. Many argue that he will be a person resurrected from the dead — most likely Nero or Judas Iscariot. This assumption is based on a statement in Revelation 13:1-3 where John describes the Antichrist as a beast with seven heads. He then makes the observation that one of his heads appeared "as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed." He comments that "the whole earth was amazed" by this and therefore "followed after the beast" (Revelation 13:3).

The problem with this interpretation is that "the fatal wound" referred to in the passage has nothing to do with the person of the Antichrist. The seven heads represent seven Gentile empires — namely, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the final empire of the Antichrist. The head with the fatal wound that has been healed is the Roman Empire. We know this from the book of Daniel where it is prophesied that the Roman Empire will be the last of the Gentile empires until the end times when the empire of the Antichrist will emerge from a reunited Europe — that is, from a revival of the old Roman Empire (Daniel 2:31-45 and 7:1-8, 24-28).

The prophecies of Daniel have proved to be absolutely accurate. The Roman Empire was the last of the Gentile empires. It disintegrated into the nation-state system that has prevailed to this day. There have been numerous military attempts to resurrect the Roman Empire, most notably by Napoleon and Hitler. Today, the core of the Empire is coalescing before our eyes through diplomatic means, producing a united Europe that will serve as the base for the rise of the Antichrist.

Another passage that is used to justify the idea of the Antichrist being a resurrected person is Zechariah 11:17 — "Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered, and his right eye will be blind."

It is argued that this passage indicates that the Antichrist will be a person who has suffered a fatal wound. Now, there is no doubt this passage refers to the Antichrist, but some believe it is talking about his fate rather than his origin. Using symbolic language, the prophet could be saying that divine judgment (the sword) will fall upon the Antichrist's power (his arm) and his intelligence (his eye), and that he will suffer complete defeat (the withering of his arm and the blinding of his eye).

The idea that the Antichrist will be a resurrected person raises a serious theological problem concerning the power of Satan. The Scriptures make it clear that the Antichrist will be Satan's man, empowered by him and possessed by him. But there is no indication in Scripture that Satan has the power to give life to anyone. Satan is not omnipotent. Jesus is the one who has "the keys to death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18).

Is he alive today?

One of the most commonly asked questions is whether or not the Antichrist is alive today. I believe he is, and I believe so for two reasons. First, I believe the Scriptures teach that the generation that sees the re-establishment of Israel (May 14, 1948) will live to see all the end time prophecies fulfilled (Matthew 24: 32-34). Second, I believe the signs of the times clearly indicate that we are standing on the threshold of the Tribulation, the most important of those signs being the regathering of the Jews to their land (Isaiah 11:10-12) and their re-occupation of the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).

If the Antichrist is alive today, does he know who he is? I think not. I don't think he has the foggiest idea of the role that Satan has in mind for him. He will not become the Antichrist until Satan possesses him and empowers him to deceive Europe and the Jews. His full revelation will not occur until he enters the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem in the middle of the Tribulation and declares himself to be god.

The next post can give the believer in Christ hope, for the Antichrist's fate is already sealed.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In his commentary on Revelation, Dr. Henry Morris had an interesting understanding of Daniel 11:37 (KJV), "He will show no regard for the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god, for he shall magnify himself above all." Dr. Morris said that the traditional Jewish understanding of "the desire of women" refers to the Messiah. Women throughout history from Genesis 3:15 wanted/desired to be the one who would bear the Messiah. The point of the verse is that the antichrist will reject every other god real and imagined, because he believes himself to be the only god. It has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

Anonymous said...

I think in Daniel it says he's an Assyrian, of course who's Assyria nationally now?