Extract from Countdown book written in 2010
According to the prophecies of the Bible, a series of crises will shake the world in the last days. The problems are caused by human sin – greed, aggression, destruction of the earth, false religions and philosophies. God’s solution would be for nations to repent and believe the Gospel. But instead the scriptures indicate that only a remnant among the nations will accept Jesus as the Messiah and the majority will reject Him and come together in an anti-Christian world system.
Psalm 2 opens with the words:
‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel against the Lord and against His anointed (Messiah / Christ), saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.”’
This messianic Psalm speaks of a rejection of the Lord by the rulers of the nations who do not want to be governed by His commandments. When the Psalmist speaks of breaking their bonds and casting away cords, he is speaking of a loosing from the restraint of God’s laws. Interestingly in 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul writes about ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ in relation to the coming Antichrist who is described as ‘the lawless one’. These nations mentioned in Psalm 2 are described as being against (or anti) the Anointed One, so they are ‘anti-Messiah’ / antichrist. The Psalm goes on to say that the Lord has them in derision, knowing that He will set His King / Son / Messiah on His holy hill of Zion who will rule the nations in the Messianic Kingdom age or Millennium.
The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation indicate that there will be an antichrist world system at the end of this age. Chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel are parallel passages in which God gives insight into the world empires which would follow the Babylonian Empire, which was dominant at the time of Daniel.
In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a dream of a great image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. The image was struck on the feet with a ‘stone cut without hands’ and broken in pieces. The stone then became a ‘great mountain and filled the whole earth’, a picture of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the kingdom He will set up on the earth after His return.
In Chapter 7 Daniel himself had a vision of four great beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard and ‘a fourth beast dreadful and exceedingly strong’. In Daniel’s vision the empires would be overthrown by ‘One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven’ who would then have an everlasting dominion over ‘all peoples, nations and languages’ (Daniel 7.13-14). Jesus quoted this passage, applying it to His Second Coming in Matthew 24.30 and 26.64.
The interpretation of both chapters is that they refer to a succession of empires, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek and the Roman. All these empires would be run by an oppressive political system, which would be under the spiritual power of ‘Mystery Babylon the Great’ (Revelation 17.5) and would therefore conflict in some way with the people of God. The fourth beast (Rome) would be different from all the others and would be revived in the last days.
Daniel prophesied that there would arise from ‘this kingdom’ (i.e. the revived Roman Empire), a leader who is described as a ‘little horn … speaking pompous words’ (Daniel 7.8), ‘a stern faced king who understands sinister schemes’ (Daniel 8.23) and ‘the prince who is to come’ (Daniel 9.26). This one will persecute ‘the saints of the Most High’ (Daniel 7.25) and will also make some kind of covenant / treaty with many in Israel for ‘one week’ (7 years), a covenant which he will break half way through (Daniel 9.27).
His identity is further revealed in the New Testament Book of Revelation where he is called the Beast, who persecutes the saints and brings in the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Daniel 11.31, Matthew 24.15-31, Revelation 13). The Book of Revelation, written in the days of the persecution of Christianity by the Roman Empire (Daniel’s fourth beast), describes a future beast, whose leader will be given power by ‘ten kings’ (Revelation 17.10-13). His rule will be shattered by the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus in power and glory at the end of this age.
Revelation 13 describes how the ‘Beast’ is given power by the dragon (Satan) in the final period of this age for 42 months (3 ½ years – the last half of the seven year Tribulation period described in Daniel and Revelation). He blasphemes God and makes war with the saints. ‘And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation.’ A second Beast, the False Prophet, makes an image to the Beast which people are made to worship half way through the seven-year Tribulation period. He sets up the mark of the Beast system 666, whereby people receive a mark on their right hand or their foreheads without which they cannot buy or sell.
Revelation 17 describes how the Beast comes to power riding a woman known as Mystery Babylon the Great, a false religious system. He is given power by ten kings as in Daniel 7:
‘The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they shall receive authority for one hour with the beast. These are of one mind and they will give their power and authority to the beast.’ (Revelation 17.12-13)
These ten kings did not exist as an entity when John was writing Revelation, but they will come into being in the last days of this age. They will make war with true believers in the Lord, as well as the false religious system of Babylon. The Beast and the ten kings will be destroyed in the last days’ events. After the final conflict when the nations gather for war at Armageddon the returning Lord Jesus will set up His 1000 year Messianic kingdom on earth.
John Lennon’s famous song ‘Imagine’ invites us to imagine ‘a brotherhood of man’ when the ‘world will be as one’ with no countries, no possessions and no religion and ‘nothing to kill or die for.’ Is it just a dream? Are there people working for a day when the ‘world will be as one’? If so will it mean people living in peace with nothing to kill or die for or the opposite – an antichrist dictatorship in which millions are put to death or imprisoned? Students of Bible prophecy have long held that in the last days there will be a union which corresponds to Bible prophecies of a Revived Roman Empire which will be in the power of the coming Antichrist (Revelation 13).