David J. Nixon
This article is taken from a longer piece "The Unholy Trinity Operating in the Last Days" by David J. Nixon which can be accessed in full here
In Revelation 13 we are introduced to the second person in the unholy trinity: the Antichrist. The character of “The Antichrist” is not strictly named correctly many argue. We call him such because John warns against deceivers who have gone out denying Christ’s deity and calls all such people “the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7); indeed he has earlier indicated that those who cannot confess that Jesus is God incarnate are like this because of the “spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (1 John 4:3). This apparently indicates that there is a particular spirit of the antichrist and that it evidences itself in setting itself up against the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God to deceive people. Thus whenever we have the End Time character variously called “the little horn” (Daniel 7:8),“The prince of the people who must come” (Daniel 9:26), “the Man of Lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), or “the Beast out of the Sea” (Revelation 13) and we look at what the Bible says about what his actions will be (“opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4) then we understandably see him as the ultimate personification of the plural spiritual antichrists of history. He is depicted as a beast with 7 heads, 10 horns with 10 crowns and blasphemous names written on them; I am not entirely certain that a great deal can be derived from the image with any degree of certainty or accuracy so instead I propose to look at the more clear things we do get directly out of the scriptures.
The origin of the Beast out of the Sea and his power is made clear: “To it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:2); “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 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). Just as Satan as “Prince of this World” (John 14:30) legitimately offered all the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus in the wilderness temptations, so too he will offer the kingdoms to the Antichrist in the ultimate demonstration of the bankruptcy of gaining the world at the expense of his soul (Matthew 16:26). To facilitate this rise into power the Restrainer described by the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) must have been removed out of the way, and many of us take that to mean that the Rapture will have already have occurred by this time removing the Church and indwelling Holy Spirit from the world. At some point (I would argue 3.5 years before this empowering, for reasons you will see momentarily) Antichrist will form a 7 year covenant with Israel which marks the commencement of the 70th Week. It is perhaps this time of peace and security that the Apostle Paul refers to as: “While people are saying ‘peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The scriptures are clear that the Antichrist is given a 42 month duration of authority (Revelation 13:5) which would place the timing of Satan’s empowerment of him at the midpoint of the 70th Week at which time there are 42 months (another way of saying “a time, times and half a time”/3.5 years/1260 days) until the Second Coming when the Antichrist is judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire by Christ. It then logically follows that the Abomination of Desolation must occur quickly after this empowering of the Antichrist for it is the definitive half way point of the 70th Week with his turning against Israel in breach of the covenant to attack the Temple and so necessarily needs to fit with the timings set out in prophecy: “And he shall make a covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Daniel 9:27). Once his efforts against Israel are thwarted then he will turn and be allowed to “make war on the saints and to conquer them” (Revelation 13:7)
Daniel prophesied a great deal concerning the Antichrist and also about the archetype character of Antiochus Epiphanies IV who would commit what the Jews called the “Abomination of Desolation” in the Maccabean point of Jewish national history in 2nd century BC. Jesus Himself indicated that the Antichrist would commit the actual “Abomination of Desolation” and refers back to what Daniel prophesied (Matthew 24:15); however, we see from Antiochus a pattern that the still future Antichrist is likely to follow. For example, they both will be defiling the Temple although their specifics may be different. In this respect we can presume that the unfulfilled portions of prophecy that refer to Antiochus will be completely fulfilled in the person of the Antichrist. We find these potential dual fulfilment and descriptive portions of scripture in Daniel 8&11:
“his power shall be great –but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken – but by no human hand” (Daniel 8:23-25); “and the king will do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation: for what is decreed shall be done. He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honour the god of fortresses instead of these…” (Daniel 11:36-38a). These passages describe much of what we can expect of the Antichrist’s character which will be arrogant, godless and glorifying militarism.
In an earlier prophecy Daniel predicts some of the political milieu surrounding the Antichrist’s rise into power. We know that the “little horn” of Daniel 7 refers to our Antichrist because of the clear identification here which you will immediately recognise given earlier passages we have already looked at today: “He shall speak words against the Most High and shall wear out the Saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law, and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25) fits with “it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months” (Revelation 13:5b) as just one example. In scripture a “horn” normally symbolises power of some kind, so against this background we are seeing in this vision how the Antichrist becomes a powerful player in world politics in the Final Days. We know it is a person and not a nation because the horn is said to have human features: “the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions.” (Daniel 7:20) and this ties with our conception of Antichrist as a person who John later describes again similarly as having a boastful and blasphemous mouth: “And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words…It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:5-6).
Daniel’s vision here is inexorably tied to the earlier interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the tall statue in Daniel 2. What both visions show is the history of Gentile nations that have had control over the nation of Israel post-exile. The first vision is of King Nebuchadnezzar’s perspective of human kingdoms as being a thing of honour to bow down to and respect (a statue); while the second vision is from God’s perspective showing the kingdoms as wild beasts - with the necessary connotations of needing to be controlled. I am not going to undertake a detailed comparison nor exposition on the meaning of the two visions here as I have often done in the past, but likely do will later in this series when considering the identity of this final kingdom of the Antichrist.
Both visions strongly seem to me to be showing the same kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome and I argue that the difference in number between each vision is not important (as there are 5 parts to the statue, but only 4 beasts). The reason for this being that the fifth part of the statue is an extension of the 4th due to still having some of the iron material present which was the component of the 4th kingdom; further the 4th beast has 10 horns on its forehead which Daniel is particularly interested in learning the meaning of and I contend these relate to the 10 toes on the statue’s feet, so again are an extension of the 4th kingdom. We see that the Antichrist will arise out of 10 kings as we read that the 10 horns on the 4th beast’s head are kings of the revived-Roman kingdom (Daniel 7:24a). The Antichrist will be “different from the former ones” thus his depiction as a “little horn” and he will somehow “put down 3 kings” (Daniel 7:24b). When we go on to read John in Revelation 17 we get a bit more corroborative information that the 10 horns again are kings who will give their power and authority to the Antichrist: “and the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the Beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:12-14). So it seems that some European regathering from the ruins of the Roman Empire is the political base for the Antichrist being given authority to rule for the last part of the 70th Week.
The end of the Antichrist’s reign comes at the end of the 70th Week as Christ returns. Daniel prophesied that the Antichrist’s kingdom would be destroyed by God’s kingdom coming to Earth to destroy the manmade systems we have put in place (Daniel 2:34, 45). Daniel prophesied the end of the Antichrist’s attempts at global domination in Daniel 11:40-45 and specifically says that the Antichrist will at the end camp his armies “between the sea and the glorious holy mountain” (Daniel 11:45b) (obviously referring to Mount Zion in Jerusalem). John picks up the story by describing how as one of the final Bowl of Wrath judgements the great River Euphrates that has always marked the division between the East and West will dry up allowing the great eastern armies to march across to meet the Antichrist in battle in the land of Israel at the place “that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12-16). Armageddon refers to Har (Mt.) Megiddo in the Valley of Jezreel – sometimes known as the plain of Esraelon. It is in this large fertile plain between Jerusalem and the port of Haifa – the perfect staging ground to defend the best passage into Eastern Europe – that the final battle lines will be drawn. I think it is of this day that Isaiah wrote: “On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days will be punished” (Isaiah 24:21-22). As Jesus returns in the air He will be met by “the beast and the kings of the earth gathered to make war against Him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured…thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse” (Revelation 19:20-21).
This marks the end of the detestable character of the Antichrist and all the evil that he advanced in Satan’s cause here on earth at the cost of so much bloodshed!