According to biblical prophecy this age will not end with the triumph of Christianity and the nations turning to the Lord, but with the world rule of one known as the Beast or the Antichrist (Revelation 13.5-7) and a brief time of such great tribulation that if God did not cut short these days no flesh would be saved (Matthew 24.22) (i.e. no one would survive).
Prophecies concerning this subject are found mainly in the books of Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13.1 John saw a beast coming out of the sea. Daniel 7 also describes four great beasts that come up from the Great Sea, which is being stirred up by the wind. Isaiah 57.20 gives us one clue as to what is meant by this: ‘But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God to the wicked.’
In other words the troubled sea represents humanity in rebellion against God, out of whom the antichrist will emerge. The Great Sea also speaks of the Mediterranean area which was part of all the four world empires described by Daniel. In Daniel 7 the antichrist is described as the little horn who arises out of the fourth beast (Rome) and speaks great things (blasphemies). Power is given him by 10 kings and he persecutes the saints for a time, times and half a time (3½ years). He is destroyed by the Lord and given to the burning flame (hell).
Daniel 9 speaks of the prince who is to come who is to make a covenant with Israel for 7 years, to be broken half way through this period (i.e. after 3½ years) by the abomination that makes desolate. According to Daniel 9.26 The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. This part of the prophecy has already been fulfilled when the Romans destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in AD 70. Therefore the prince who is to come must have some connection with Rome.
In Daniel 11 he appears as a contemptible person who comes in peaceably (21), sets up the abomination of desolation (11, 31), speaks blasphemies against God and magnifies himself against every god (36-37) (i.e. he is against both the true God and the false gods). He directs worship to himself and brings about the time of great tribulation.
Everything about antichrist in Daniel is confirmed in the New Testament. In the Olivet discourse Jesus speaks of the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation that follows (Matthew 24). In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul describes the Man of Sin who blasphemes God and sits as god in the Temple, deceives unbelievers, doing miracles by Satan’s power and is destroyed by the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The most comprehensive picture of antichrist comes in the book of Revelation. In Chapter 13 we are told that he has the characteristics of the beasts of Daniel 7 and that he is given power by the dragon (Satan). He experiences some kind of counterfeit resurrection after which he receives world power and worship so that none can fight against him. He speaks blasphemies against God and has worldwide authority for 42 months (3½ years) during which time he persecutes the saints. A second beast known as the false prophet performs miracles by satanic power and causes the image of the beast to be worshipped (this is the abomination of desolation). Many of those who refuse to participate in this idolatry are killed and a system of economic control is introduced whereby you cannot buy or sell unless you have the mark of the beast (666).
In Revelation 17 we read of Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots and abominations of the earth. The whore is seen riding on the back of the beast and the seat of her power is a city with seven mountains (Rome). As in Daniel 7 this chapter speaks of 10 kings giving their power to the beast, who shall make war with the Lamb (i.e. Jesus). Also he shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire. In other words in the end the Antichrist will fight the true faith in Jesus as Messiah and the Babylon religious system as well. This ties in with Daniel 11.36-38 and 2 Thessalonians 2.
Finally the Lord Jesus destroys the beast and the false prophet at the time when they have gathered together the armies of the world at Armageddon and he comes in power and glory to bring this age to an end. Then he will throw them alive into hell.
So how do we identify the Antichrist?
- There have been many antichrists in history, both religious and political figures who have demanded worship from their people, persecuted the saints and enforced a system of economic control on people. In our century we have seen types of antichrist in such figures as Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. However the antichrist of Revelation 13 is the only dictator in world history to achieve the goal of world domination. Therefore he has not come yet.
- Several passages we have referred to point to a connection with Rome, which has led many to conclude that the Pope is the Antichrist. However it is hard to see how the prophecies of Antichrist in Daniel and Revelation can apply to the Pope. For one thing these refer to a brief period at the end of the age, which is brought to a conclusion by the return of Christ. Roman Catholicism has been around for over 1500 years without bringing about the fulfilment of the events described in these prophecies. For another thing the Beast fights both the true God and all gods (Daniel 11.36-37, 2 Thessalonians 2.4). In fact he will destroy the religious system of Babylon (Revelation 17.16-17), the one world religious system that Roman Catholicism will lead in the last days. If the Pope is the Antichrist this means he must destroy Roman Catholicism. If he does this he would destroy his own power base. However the fact that at the beginning of Revelation 17 the whore of Babylon is riding on the beast indicates that at the beginning Antichrist will be in alliance with the Babylon religious system, led by Roman Catholicism. Then when it has served its purpose he will turn on it and destroy it.
- The spirit of lawlessness is at work in the world today, being unleashed through demonic propaganda in the mass media, encouraging sexual immorality, violence, witchcraft and hatred of the true God and his Messiah Jesus. In our time transgressors are come to the full (Daniel 8.23) and the world is being prepared psychologically for the false Messiah who will come in peaceably, promising deliverance from the destruction which is coming on the world, but will in fact unleash the worst holocaust mankind has ever known.
- The international scene is one in which nations are surrendering their sovereignty to regional power systems. Globalist politicians have already divided the world into 10 administrative regions upon which a proposed world government will be based. The 10 kings who give their power to the beast will arise out of these administrative regions, rather than being 10 European nations, which give their power to one dictator. However the one who emerges out of this world government system will most likely have Rome as his power base.
- This whole huge satanic operation will last a very short time and be destroyed in a moment by the return of Jesus Christ. It is not an equal struggle between good and evil, but a futile doomed rebellion, which Satan is leading. His only hope is to take as many people to hell with him. We should look up when we see these things beginning to come to pass, knowing that our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21). We should also use the time that remains to get the message of the Gospel out so that people might know what they must do to be saved.