Kamis, 23 Oktober 2008
The Bible tells us that in the last days one man will rule the world. He will rule over the entire human race politically, economically, and religiously, speaking great blasphemies against God and setting himself up in the Temple as God himself. But this man will not be God. He will be the very antithesis. He will even lead a rebellion against God, but he will be destroyed by the King of kings. History has deemed him the Antichrist, but he is known by other names as well, each being fully indicative of his character: The Little Horn – Daniel 7:8 (NLT) The Fierce King, a Master of Intrigue – Daniel 8:23 (NLT) The Prince Who is to Come – Daniel 9:26 (NLT) The Worthless Shepherd – Zechariah 11:17 (NLT) The Man of Lawlessness – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT) The One Who Brings Destruction – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT) The Beast – Revelation 13:11 (NLT) Through careful study of the Scriptures, we can learn much about the origins, disposition, and career of the one human being who will be the literal embodiment of Satan himself. His Nationality The Bible provides us with some detail regarding the nationalistic origins of the Antichrist. Although much debate surrounds his national identity, the Book of Daniel clearly states that he will come from the people whose armies destroy the Temple. “A ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.” Daniel 9:26 (NLT) The City and the Temple were destroyed in A.D. 70 by Titus and the Roman legions, but Titus was not the ruler referenced in this verse. For Daniel 9:27 describes the ruler as one who will make a seven-year treaty with Israel, put an end to the sacrifices and offerings, and set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration. These are events that will be fulfilled in the life of the Antichrist. According to Daniel, the Antichrist will come from among the people who destroyed the Temple. Therefore, we can be certain the Antichrist is of Roman descent. However, being of Roman descent does not automatically mean that the Antichrist will be Italian. It simply means he must come from among those people who were part of the Roman Empire of that time. Daniel Chapter 8 provides us with further insight. In it, the angel Gabriel explains Daniel’s vision of a Ram and Goat as events relating to the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. In a claim verified by history, he states that following the death of Alexander, the empire will be divided into four parts. From one of those four parts, the Antichrist will arise: “The shaggy male goat represents the king of the Greek Empire. The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that the Greek Empire will break into four sections with four kings, none of them as great as the first. At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people.” Daniel 8:21-24 (NLT) Daniel Chapter 11 provides an in-depth examination of the history of the breakup Alexander’s empire, describing historical events relating to the King of the North and the King of the South. The latter part of the chapter describes the Antichrist, identifying him with other historical figures who have held the title “King of the North.” This, along with the passage cited above, clearly links the Antichrist to the Northern Kingdom of the divided Greek Empire. This kingdom was ruled by one of Alexander’s generals, Seleucus, who ruled the areas of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the Antichrist will also be linked to these geographic areas. Is the Antichrist Jewish? Although there is no definitive answer, two Bible verses provide us with reason to believe that he will be. The first appears in the Book of Genesis when God prophesies the coming of Israel’s Messiah and Satan’s Antichrist. “From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NLT) Later on, when Jacob is blessing his sons, he makes this prophecy about Dan: “Dan will govern his people like any other tribe in Israel. He will be a snake beside the road, a poisonous viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so the rider is thrown off.” Genesis 49:16-17 (NLT) This reference to a serpent striking a heel may indicate that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan, but many reasonable people are divided on this issue. So how do we rectify these seemingly contradictory prophecies concerning the Antichrist’s nationality? Is he Roman? Italian? Jewish? Assyrian? Greek? He doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusively one or another. He could be an Assyrian Jew born and raised in Italy, or any number of possible combinations. We don’t know for certain, but history indicates that each of these prophecies will be harmonized when the Antichrist appear. Two thousand years ago, the seemingly contradictory prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah were all harmonized in the life of Jesus Christ who was a Nazarene born in Bethlehem who came out of Egypt. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see how this was possible, but for the Jewish scholars who lived before the time of Jesus, these prophecies were the topic of much debate. That debate continues today in regard to prophecies of the Antichrist. But in reality, we won’t know the absolute truth until he appears. As such, it is wise to study these prophecies and teach them to others, so that the people of the Antichrist’s generation will be able to positively identify him based on sound Scriptural evidence. His Personality Throughout the Bible, we are granted insight into the personality and disposition of the Antichrist. We are told how he will act, what he will do, and where he will get his power. Although far from exhaustive, the Scriptures provide us with many clues. Arrogance The Antichrist will be arrogant: “This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.” Daniel 7:8 (NLT) “The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god there is, even blaspheming the God of gods.” Daniel 11:36 (NLT) The Antichrist will be so filled with self-love and arrogance that he will launch a rebellion against God Almighty. He will place himself above all others, and even set himself up in the Jewish Temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Satan’s Power The Antichrist will be empowered by Satan: “He will become very strong, but not by his own power.” Daniel 8:24 (NLT) “This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NLT) “And the dragon gave him his own power and throne and great authority.” Revelation 13:2 (NLT) The Bible clearly states that the Antichrist will derive his power from Satan. In fact, following the Devil’s banishment from heaven (Revelation 12:9), he will indwell the Antichrist, making this man of lawlessness the literal embodiment of Satan. Beholden to Power The Antichrist will be consumed with power, and power alone will he worship: “He will have no regard for the god of his ancestors, or for the god beloved of women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses – a god his ancestors never knew – and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts.” Daniel 11:37-38 (NLT) “They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they worshiped the beast. ‘Is there anyone as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’” Revelation 13:4 (NLT) The Antichrist will only acknowledge one power, a military power he possesses. His power will be so great, the people of the world will marvel in wonder and worship it, asking the rhetorical question of who among them is able to fight against his mighty kingdom. His Life In addition to various aspects of his character, the Bible provides us with numerous details concerning the life events and career of this man of lawlessness, beginning with his meteoric rise to fame from among ten kings. Rises From Among 10 Kings “It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns. As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them.” Daniel 7:7-8 (NLT) “His ten horns are ten kings who have not yet risen to power; they will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. They will all agree to give their power and authority to him.” Revelation 17:12-13 (NLT) Ten kings will give their power and national sovereignty to the revived Roman Empire. From among them, the Antichrist will appear, and he will become the preeminent ruler among them. Subdues 3 of the 10 Kings “Three of the first horns were wrenched out, roots and all, to make room for it.” Daniel 7:8 (NLT) Apparently, three of the ten kings will oppose the Antichrist and his brazen grab for power. In the struggle that ensues, he will defeat them, and his control over the new Rome will become absolute. 7 Year Treaty with Israel “He will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven” Daniel 9:27 (NLT) The Antichrist will make a treaty with the people of Israel for a period of seven years. The details and nature of this treaty are yet unknown, but many have speculated that in a bid for Middle Eastern peace, Israel will agree to rely on the Antichrist for its national defense. He Will Conquer Many Revelation Chapter 6 describes the Antichrist as a great conqueror riding on a white horse. He goes out to conquer many, and he wields a great sword. In his conquest, he will kill a sizeable portion of the world’s population. Will Rule Politically, Religiously, and Economically “He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and those who belong to this world to worship the first beast, whose death-wound had been healed.” Revelation 13:12 (NLT) The Antichrist will exercise all the authority of the first beast, which is the revived Roman Empire. He will require the world to worship and give allegiance to this empire, which will be resurrected from the dustbin of history. “And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” Revelation 13:7 (NLT) Not one person will escape the reach of the Antichrist and his governmental dominion. “He required everyone – great and small, rich and poor, slave and free – to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.” Revelation 13:16-17 (NLT) The Antichrist will have unprecedented control over the world’s financial transactions. He will have so much power that he will be able to determine on a case-by-case basis which individuals will be allowed to buy or sell anything. Unprecedented Destruction In his insatiable quest for personal glory, the Antichrist will cause an unprecedented amount of destruction. “He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does.” Daniel 8:24 (NLT) Abomination of Desolation Jesus prophesied of a time of great tribulation, such as the world had never seen, nor ever will see again. He said this time period will begin with the desecration of the Jewish Temple: “The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” Matthew 24:16 (NLT) The Antichrist will fulfill this prophesy by standing in the Jewish Temple and proclaiming himself to be God. He will set up an image in the Holy Place and demand the world worship it. “He will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler.” Daniel 9:27 (NLT) “He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT) Destroys All Religion But His Own The Book of Revelation describes the revived Roman Empire as being dominated by a prostitute. This prostitute symbolizes idolatrous religion, and although Satan loves idolatry, in the end time he will only tolerate worship of himself. As a result, it will become state policy of the revived Roman Empire to destroy all religion with the exception of worship of the dragon. “The scarlet beast and his ten horns – which represent ten kings who will reign with him – all hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire.” Revelation 17:16 (NLT) Wages War Against the Saints As part of his campaign to create universal worship of himself, the Antichrist will set out to destroy those who are faithful to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. “And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and overcome them.” Revelation 13:7 (NLT) “He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard. Without warning he will destroy them. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.” Daniel 8:24-25 (NLT) Kills Two-Thirds of the Jewish People In his rage against the Jewish people, the Antichrist will manage to kill two-thirds of the Jewish race. “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die, says the Lord. But a third will be left in the land.” Zechariah 13:8-9 (NLT) Wages War Against Jesus Christ In his arrogance, the Antichrist will lead a rebellion against Jesus Christ, and gather the world’s armies to wage battle against the Lord and his heavenly armies. “He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle.” Daniel 8:25 (NLT) “And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13-14 (NLT) His Ultimate Destruction Despite his worldly success, the reign of the Antichrist will be relatively brief – no more than seven years. Ultimately, he will be held accountable for his actions, and he will face the wrath of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Camps at Armageddon While gathering the armies of the world to Jerusalem to wage battle against the Lord, the Antichrist will set up his camp and gather his armies in a place called Armageddon, the modern day city of Megiddo, Israel. “He will halt between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents there, but while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and there will be no one to help him.” Daniel 11:45 (NLT) “And they gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place called Armageddon in Hebrew.” Revelation 16:16 (NLT) Destroyed Forever Despite his arrogant belief that he can defeat God, the ultimate fate of the Antichrist was determined long ago. He will be completely destroyed in a rout of epic proportions. “But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed.” Daniel 7:26 (NLT) Lake of Fire As a result of his defeat, the Antichrist will be cast into the lake of fire (traditionally known as “Hell”) where he will be tormented day and night for all of eternity. His kingdom will meet the same fate, and be replaced by the Lord’s Millennial Kingdom which will bring long-sought peace on earth. “Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” Revelation 19:20 (NLT) Jesus offered the world by Satan… In studying the prophecies of the Antichrist, we would be wise to refer to the Book of Matthew, where Jesus is tempted in the desert prior to his ministry. Here, we get a firsthand view of the deal brokered between the Antichrist and Satan: “Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. ‘I will give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will only kneel down and worship me.’ ‘Get out of here, Satan,’ Jesus told him. ‘For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’ Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.” Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT) Because He is faithful and true, Jesus turned down the Devil’s offer to rule the kingdoms of the world. However, at some point in the future, a man will arise who will accept this deal with the Devil. He will sell his soul for a brief and destructive career as the most powerful dictator in human history. He will hold absolute power, and he will be the personification of all evil. But his destruction is certain. He challenges the Prince of Peace, and Jesus wins.