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The Antichrist and What We Know:
"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18). The Bible describes an enigmatic character who will rise to power in the last seven years of human history just prior to the return of Jesus to this earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom. This character has been called by many names, all taken from Scripture, but he is popularly known as the Antichrist. John teaches us that many antichrists or false teachers will come on the scene during the time between Jesus' first and second comings, but there will be one final world ruler empowered by Satan who will set out to replace and oppose the true Christ. He will be the ultimate personification of what it means to be against Christ. It will be Satan's attempt to mimic the Holy Trinity with the Antichrist being his expression of the Son. In this case, however, it will be an unholy trinity and a deceptively evil son.
The Bible does not reveal the identity of the Antichrist and it appears to discourage Christians from trying to figure out his identity. He will be revealed only after the church has been removed from the world. His revealing will signal the start of the final seven year period known by several names--the Tribulation Period, the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob's Trouble, and Daniel's Seventieth Week, to name a few. His identity not withstanding, the Bible does reveal several characteristics of this final world ruler. The list below is not exhaustive but will give you an idea of what the Bible teaches about this final world ruler.
Regardless of his worldly success, the Bible teaches he, his armies, and those who worship him will be defeated at Jesus' Second Coming. "And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, an with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh" (Revelation 19:19-21).
The Antichrist and His Rise to Power:
The Bible describes the Antichrist's rise to power. To understand his rise to power it is necessary to consider the context of the Bible's predictions. The best place to start is the prophecies of the Old Testament Book of Daniel. This book was written to encourage the exiled Jews by revealing God's program for them from the time of their Babylonian exile all the way to the end of Gentile power and rule in the world and the establishment of God's kingdom ruled by Messiah in both its millennial and eternal phases. Throughout the entire book the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men is easily discerned. Furthermore, history has authenticated the accuracy of Daniel's prophecy in great detail. Given the accuracy of Daniel's prophecy we can conclude that the historic Roman Empire was not its final form. There is more to come!
Six world empires have existed in the history of Israel and a seventh empire is on the near horizon. Daniel's prophecy is only concerned with the last five simply because by the time the prophecy is given, the first two--Egypt and Assyria--had largely passed from the scene. The last five include Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Millennial Kingdom and Daniel has something to say about each one but it is Rome with which we are most concerned. Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece have all fallen to history. Although Roman dominion collapsed in A.D. 476, it has continued in a divided status. Daniel 2:40-43 and 7:7 predict a revival of the Roman Empire in the last days. The final form is predicted to be both strong and fatally flawed.
It has been suggested by some that the prophecy of Daniel 2 is from man's perspective while the prophecy of Daniel 7 is from God's perspective. Daniel writes, "Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces" (Daniel 2:40). Later he writes, "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns" (Daniel 7:7). The prophecy of Daniel 2:40 describes Rome initially whereas the prophecy of Daniel 7:7 describes Rome in its end-time revived or final form. Daniel 2:41-43 provide further insight into the final form of the empire. "In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery" (Daniel 2:41-43).
The number ten is prominent in both Daniel's and John's prophecy--ten toes (Dan. 2), ten horns (Dan. 7), and ten horns and ten diadems or crowns (Rev. 13). Revelation 13 provides additional insight into the location of the empire in question although it does not provide much detail on how it will come into being and how it will transform into the worldwide global government the Bible says will devour and crush and trample down the whole world (Dan. 7). John writes, "Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems and on his heads were blasphemous names" (Revelation 13:1). Much can be said about the sea in this verse but suffice it to say it likely represents the area of the Mediterranean Sea--Rome, or what is today known as Western Europe and perhaps Northern Africa. Additionally, it should be noted these nations as an empire, touch Israel. Consider this in light of Daniel 9:26, "... and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." Many prophecy teachers, myself included, believe the Antichrist will arise from somewhere within the European Union (EU) or a morphed form of it. Furthermore, this morphed form will ultimately devour the whole world under the leadership of the antichrist. It remains to be seen how this will unfold. Will the EU eventually become ten nations? Will ten kings arise from within the current 27 countries of the EU? Will the EU give rise to ten world regions from which the ten kings will arise and ultimately give their power to the Antichrist (Rev. 17:13)? Finally, how much of the world stage has to be set before the Tribulation begins? Time will tell and the closer we get to these things being fulfilled the sharper our focus will become. At some point in the near future, however, the church will be removed to heaven by way of the Rapture.
Regardless of the final form the Roman Empire takes the Bible is clear he will arise from among the then kings although he, himself, will not be one of the ten kings. In his rise to power the Antichrist will subdue three of the ten kings. "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it" (Daniel 7:8). The Bible seems to indicate the Antichrist will arise from obscurity. In other words, it's really a waste of time today to try and figure out his identity. He likely hasn't even come onto the political scene at this point in history but when he does he will likely begin a slow rise to prominence before finally blasting onto the world scene and assuming total control. "As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings" (Daniel 7:24). His assumption of total control will likely occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation Period. The first half of the Tribulation Period will likely witness his rise to total world dominance.
To summarize, the Antichrist's rise to power out of obscurity and from among the ten kings. It is wise, therefore, to forego any needless speculation on the possible identity of the Antichrist. I believe what we are witnessing right now is a world moving and aligning with the prophetic scenario revealed in the Bible. Rome is slowly coming back into world prominence through the EU. Ultimately, we should expect ten kings (leaders) to arise either from within the EU itself or from ten world regions led by the EU. Time will tell exactly how all these things will work out. It is also important to remember the church will be removed prior to the Antichrist coming on the scene (2 Thess. 2:7). Although he'll present himself as a man of peace the Bible is clear he will ultimately prove to be the exact opposite. He will make war with the saints (Rev. 13:7), he will demand worship (Rev. 13:8), and he will have complete and total economic control over all nations and peoples (Rev. 13:16-17). But the question still remains, how might he rise to power?
The Antichrist and His Rise to Power ~ A Possible Scenario:
We know from Scripture the Antichrist will only come on the scene at some point after the ten kings have risen to power. There is much debate as to who the ten kings might be--political leaders, oligarchs, big tech, alien (demonic) hybrids, to name a few. The purpose of our present speculation assumes the ten kings, whoever they might be, have risen to power. Despite our speculation, the Bible is clear--these ten kings have one purpose and one purpose only. "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast" (Revelation 17:12-13). The question in my own mind is how do things get to the point the ten kings are willing to give their authority to the Antichrist? As I consider that question I am also reminded three of the ten or less than enthusiastic about giving up their authority but give it up they will--"While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it" (Daniel 7:8).
One scenario for how things get to the point the ten kings arise to power and are willing to give their authority to the eleventh king is worldwide instability brought about by a combination of economic chaos and military conflict possibly including one or more nuclear exchanges. The former is coming into clearer focus with current events related to economic instability, the attack on the US dollar, and talk of Central Bank Digital Currencies. The latter is certainly not out of the realm of possibility considering the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine and Russia's Vladimir Putin threatening nuclear action. If the aforementioned wasn't enough, we also have China saber-rattling about Taiwan and aligning themselves with Russia in the present Russia-Ukrainian conflict. A combination of these events, especially the latter with a nuclear exchange, could certainly set up a scenario for the ten kings to rise to power. Ultimately, I believe, the ten kings will not fully give their authority to the Antichrist until near the midpoint of the Tribulation Period. This assumption makes perfect sense to me given the prophecy in Daniel 7:8, "... three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it." This scenario appears unlikely near the beginning of the Tribulation Period when the Antichrist is on a peace mission.
The aforementioned scenario, particular military conflict leading to a nuclear exchange or at least the possibility of one, would likely require an envoy who's mission would likely be that of negotiation on behalf of world leaders (in this case, the ten kings) to try and bring peace and stability to the world. Assuming this envoy is successful, it just might be he is then dispatched to do what no man has, to date, been able to do--solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem. To add more amazement to this scenario, suppose this individual, in his role as envoy is able to not only bring both sides to the table in an agreement for peace and prosperity but is also able to negotiate an end to the status quo on the Temple Mount complex thus opening the door for many Jews to realize their dream of a third temple on the site of the previous two. "And he will make a firm covenant with the man for one week" (Daniel 9:27). "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard on of the four living creatures saying with a voice of thunder, 'Come.' I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (Revelation 6:1-2). The long awaited period known as Daniel's 70th Week will have begun.
Over the course of the next three and one half years, this peace envoy will continue to rise to power. The Bible predicts a short lived peace followed by wars, famines, death, and a host of other ills. But in all this Israel seemingly continues to enjoy peace but by the midpoint of the Tribulation Period he will have solidified his power and become the worst dictator the world has ever known. He will turn on the Jews and seek to destroy them. His time, however, will be brief. "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:34-35).
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