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Antichrist and His Government

 

When the World Ends: (Part II)

by Rev. Jerry Lepasana

 

Beast of the sea w 7 heads and 10-horns

 

Revelation 13:1-9 (NIV)
1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.
6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
9 He who has an ear, let him hear.

People in general have always been intrigued with the idea that there’s going to be an end to the world. Even Hollywood is riding on this fascination that they have consistently produced movies depicting how the world may end. I’m sure many of us can remember some of these blockbuster movies – ‘2012’, Knowing, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, Armageddon, Independence Day, etc.

I hope by now we are all aware that if we are truly interested in knowing how the world would end, we cannot rely on these films to tell us how. The majority of these films, if not all of them, are simply products of the human imagination. They are all considered fiction. Also, I would even warn you regarding some of the material you find on the internet about the end times. Not everything you read on the internet is reliable.

To be safe, my challenge for each one of us is to take the time to study the prophecies of the Bible. This is why two Sundays ago, we started this series, When the World Ends. My prayer for this series is that I can whet your appetite regarding the prophetic declarations in the Bible regarding the end of the world. I know with our limited time, we cannot cover a lot of material, so it is necessary that you remain diligent in studying prophecies.

We started out explaining the second coming of Jesus Christ, which has two phases – Rapture and Revelation. I would now like to center our discussion on what will happen between the two phases of the second coming of Jesus. I feel it would be best to introduce the personality who will be very dominant during the seven years of tribulation. He is commonly known as the Antichrist. You don’t see this title in the key text we read earlier (Rev. 13:1-10), but you will understand later that the passage focuses on the same person.

The title “antichrist” only appears five times in the Bible. All of them can be found in the first and second epistles of John. Let’s take one of them for example.

1 John 2:18 (NIV)
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

If you carefully read the words we have underlined, John is quite clear that there is a definite person who is called “antichrist” that is coming in the last days. Obviously, he is called antichrist because he is totally opposed to Christ. Other verses in the Bible show that this man is fully controlled by Satan and he will set Himself against Jesus Christ. In addition to this, the basic meaning of the Greek preposition Anti, which is the prefix of his name means “substitute for” or “in place of.” Therefore, another important idea presented with his name is that he is a person who will present himself as the one who substitutes for Christ or the one who takes the place of Christ.

Bible scholars agree that this title is very significant, specifically for the Jews, because until today the nation of Israel continues to wait for their Messiah. They have rejected Jesus Christ who was crucified because He doesn’t fit their idea of their deliverer. Unfortunately, they will readily accept the copycat who is the antichrist. Now, let’s try to look at three significant Biblical descriptions about this copycat Christ.

I           HIS RISE TO POWER:

As you begin to read Revelation 13, you need to recognize some of the symbolism mentioned in verses 1-2. First, we need to identify who the “dragon” is? When you see references like this, you are not allowed to just give your personal opinion of their meaning. The rule for interpretation is: you have to let Scriptures interpret Scriptures. If you go back to the previous chapter, Revelation 12:9 plainly states that this title refers to Satan.

9 The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Then you also have the reference about the dragon standing on the shore of the sea, and the beast coming out of the sea. What is this sea referring to? Looking at Revelation 17:15, the sea represents multitudes of people.

15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.

Thirdly, we also need to identify the beast who is coming out of the sea, the multitudes of people. This is now the direct reference to the antichrist. Rather than being called antichrist, he is being referred to as the beast, which uses the Greek word suggesting a ravenous, harmful, wild animal. This is a perfect picture of the character of the antichrist as opposed to the gentle character of Jesus Christ described as the “Lamb of God.”

Now, when you continue to read Revelation 13:1-2, the beast who will rise from the people is described as having “ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name . . . resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.”

If you are a Bible student, you would be able to connect this with Daniel 7:7-8 because of its similarity.

“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast–terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.”

Don’t miss the underlined words. In Daniel 7, God gave Daniel a vision of the four beasts representing world empires.

  • Lion – Babylonian Empire (7:4)
  • Bear – Mede-Persian Empire (7:5)
  • Leopard – Grecian Empire (7:6)
  • Unnamed Beast – Clearly, there was no specific animal that looks like it. So Daniel simply called a beast (7:7-8). But in Revelation 13:2, you have a better idea about the appearance of this beast – a combination of leopard, bear and a lion.

The sight of the fourth beast left Daniel confused and terrified, so he sought the Lord for an interpretation. God graciously responded and explained it.

Daniel 7:23-25 (NIV)
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.
24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

History tells us that the fourth empire that ruled the world is the Roman Empire. John’s vision in Revelation of the beast having the appearance of a leopard, feet like a bear, and mouth like a lion, gives you the idea that the Roman Empire possessed the combined strengths of the first three empires. However, in the books of Daniel and Revelation, you find references of 10 horns, which clearly refer to 10 contemporaneous kings ruling and clearly did not happen in the Old Roman Empire. This will still happen in what Bible scholars refer to as the Revived Roman Empire. If you go back to Daniel 7:24-25, the reference to the rise of antichrist can be seen (notice the underlined words).

The little horn or the antichrist will rise to power after he has subdued three kings. Some interpret this as the antichrist assassinating three government heads who are directly opposing him. I believe this won’t be very difficult because according to Revelation 13:2, the dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

This truth is reinforced by the apostle Paul in his letter in 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.

You see, in the same way Jesus performed miracles, the antichrist will be able to display some supernatural work as well. Through this, he will rise to power.

The question is: when can we see the reality of the revived Roman Empire? Many scholars of prophecy agree that the revived Roman Empire exists today through the European Economic Community which introduced the Euro currency in 2002. They came to this conclusion because the geographic area of the present EEC Union is covering the same area of the former Roman Empire, only much larger and stronger than before. Since this is now in place, it is possible that the antichrist can rise to power any time soon.

II         HIS REIGN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD:

After the reign of Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor of Rome, ended in September 4, 476 A.D., there have been some men who attempted and failed to rule the world. The Bible explicitly talks about a coming world ruler in the person of the Antichrist. Once he begins to rule, his reign can be described in three ways.

  1. A. One World Government

Bible scholars agree that the biggest opportunity of the Antichrist to enter the political scene and dominate the world will happen after the Rapture. Think about the crisis that the Rapture will bring to the world – hundreds of millions of people will suddenly disappear from the world. If there is a charismatic leader who can also display some superhuman power, and he would rise to the occasion and calm the world with some logical explanations for the disappearance of people, he could certainly unify all the governments of the world. Notice what verses 5-6 say about the Antichrist’s ability to speak.

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.
6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

Almost all dictators the world has seen were great speakers. Today, if crises like global terrorism, genocide, or aids pandemic can get the attention of the United Nations, how much more the disappearance of hundreds of millions of people? The question is: is this something impossible to see?

Well, consider the shocking statement of Paul-Henry Spaak, Secretary General of the United Nations from 1957- 1961 and one of the chief architects of the European Economic Community,

“We do not want another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people and to lift us up out of economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and, whether he be God or devil, we will receive him.” (Paul- Henri Spaak, “Amazing United Nations Quotes”)

 

  1. B. One World Economy

I’m sure many of us have heard about the “mark of the beast,” which is 666. Revelation 13:16-17 mentions it:

16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,
17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

These verses clearly teach that the Antichrist will develop a system of buying and selling during the Great Tribulation period. It is a sort of an Identification System – perhaps a computer chip with three sets of six numbers embedded under our skin. Through this mark of the beast you will be able to buy and sell, open an account, get employment, or travel, etc. This mark is also your proof of allegiance to the Antichrist.

You see, with the Credit Cards we use, our names are always attached to some I.D. number. However, there are two major problems with cards. You can lose them and they can be stolen from you. If you have an embedded chip under your skin placed on the right hand or forehead, you eliminate those risks. Now you can easily manage all your transactions. This very possible today with all the advances we have. If you noticed, the world is quickly becoming a cashless society. In fact, this system of identification through computer chip is now being used for pets today.

One more thing, a national identification card is already being slowly implemented by the Homeland Security because of the approved legislation of the Real ID Act, effective May 11, 2011. This was strongly recommended because the terrorists who perpetrated the September 11 attacks used fake ID’s. Experts deem it as the only way we can make our society safer.

  1. C. One World Religion

Since religion is the one of the major sources of conflict today, the Antichrist will also establish only one religion in the world. There are two significant passages in Revelations that talk about this.

Revelation 13:7-8 (NIV)
7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

Revelation 20:4 (NIV)
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Evidently, the Antichrist will demand worship from the people of the world. If you don’t get the mark as a sign that you are loyal to Him, you will suffer death. However, if you get the mark of the beast, there will be no salvation for you during the tribulation time.

Some may be skeptic about this prophecy because of all the religions present in the world today. Let me say that there is a strong movement today to consider uniting religions under the guise of peace and unity in the world. I’m sure many of you have heard of Inter-faith services. They often say that Pluralism is the best way and that there are many ways to think of God. They insist that our labels may be different but all worship lead to the same God. Have you heard people say these things today? I hope we don’t buy into this because this is the Devil’s way to prepare the world for the coming of the Antichrist. The Bible is so clear that there is only one way to salvation.

Acts 4:12 (NIV)
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

We should never give up this truth because other people need to hear the truth. If we compromise this truth, then we can never be instruments in helping people believe in Jesus Christ.

III        HIS RUIN TIED TO CHRIST’S RETURN:

Lastly, we need to establish the fact that the Antichrist will have a very limited reign on earth. Although he has the power of Satan within him, his ruin has been ordained by God at the second coming of Jesus on earth.

Revelation 19:20-21 (NIV)
20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

During our last study, we mentioned that Jesus will return at the end of the seven years tribulation to fight the battle of Armageddon. As we said the last time, this second phase of Christ’s coming is to defend Israel from the Antichrist and his army. Let’s make sure we understand this clearly. Today, Israel is still waiting for their Messiah, and when the Antichrist comes, they will all receive him as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies. However, the nation will discover in the middle of the seven years that the Antichrist is a fake Christ. Daniel 9:27 gives this prophecy:

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”.

Daniel prophesied that at the beginning of the reign of the Antichrist, which happens to be the beginning of the Great Tribulation, Israel will enter a covenant of peace in the Middle East through his help. However he, the Antichrist, will reveal who he really is when he begins to offer abominable sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem during the middle of the seven years. This will now usher the national repentance of Israel, humbling themselves and bowing to Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. If you turn to Revelation 7, the 144, 000 Jews will be the evangelists during the Tribulation Period. This will be their worship.

Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV)
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Now, because they will openly oppose the Antichrist and lead others to real Messiah, Jesus Christ, there will be the battle of Armageddon. Antichrist will try to destroy them. But this is when Jesus will finally return and finish the reign of Antichrist. Then Jesus will establish His Millennial reign on earth.

What can we take away from our study today? I hope we know to whose side we should belong. We can choose to be deceived by the Devil even today, but we need to recognize that he will not bring us the real advantage in this life. We need to choose God’s side at all times. Belonging to God’s side always begins with choosing Jesus Christ. He can be our Savior and hope today.