Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (November 2012)
The end-time appearance of the Antichrist will be the final step in a demonically inspired programme for the establishment of antichristian thinking and actions which have persisted through many centuries. The final objective with this programme is to alienate the world population spiritually, morally and intellectually from God and His Word, in order that deceived humanity may voluntarily accept full control by an antichristian world government.
The realisation of this objective is dependant on the revelation of the Antichrist as a diplomat and prince of peace who will be so successful that he will be accepted as world leader and even be honoured and worshipped as messiah. He will be the personification of satanic power on earth because the devil will give him “his power, his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2).
Since Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven this hostile, demonic power operated from a mystical sphere to deceive people and cause them to be untrue to God. All people are engaged in a battle against Satan and his demons: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The devil is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) who succeeded in spiritually and morally dominating virtually the entire world (1 John 5:19).
Under the leadership of the Antichrist and the false prophet, Satan’s spiritual power will give rise to the establishment of a physical world government. That will be a renegade government which will first subject people to its authority through deception, but after 3½ years it will be transformed into a merciless military dictatorship after opposition against the Antichrist will have become widespread.
There are different aspects of the Antichrist and his future government which are described in the Bible:
The kingdom of Satan is engaged in a war against the kingdom of God with the firm objective of gaining control over the universe. The opposing kingdom of darkness is under the control of a satanic triumvirate which constitutes an imitation of the Triune God. The devil is the antitype of God, who aims to be worshipped as the universal god of all faiths. The Antichrist is the antitype of Christ, who is intent on presenting himself to the entire world as saviour and king. The false prophet is the antitype of the Holy Spirit and he will deceive the world through miraculous acts to accept and worship the Antichrist. He will also impart occult gifts to his victims, which will enable them to perform supernatural acts.
Spiritual deception has already progressed to the level where, on an interfaith level, almost the entire world is ready to give recognition to the universal god of all faiths. They regard him as the singular Creator-god who revealed himself to humanity through all religions and by different names. This “god” has no son – only a large number of prophets, or masters of wisdom, who acted on his behalf. Among them are Buddha, Krishna, Jesus and Mohammed. The interfaith Jesus, who also forms part of this group of co-equal prophets, is clearly “another Jesus” who is not God or the Son of God (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
The Bible describes the deceived followers of the universal god of all faiths as victims of Satan, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor. 4:4). This false god is preparing to send a false christ to the world to replace the true Christ as king and saviour of deceived humanity. He will be known as the cosmic messiah, the world messiah, or the messiah of all faiths, and will follow an inclusive approach by claiming that he represents all religions.
The false prophet will, most likely, be the head of a multireligious organisation, and as such the spiritual leader of the world religions. He will have special satanic powers which will enable him to deceive people through spectacular signs. In his function of convicting people of spiritual truths he will imitate the Holy Spirit but he will proclaim lies to establish the power of delusion in their hearts (2 Thess. 2:6-8). The “spirit of error” will proceed from him (1 John 4:6).
All biblical prophecies on the Antichrist clearly indicate that he will appear in the end-time, shortly before the second coming of the true Christ. He will be revealed after the church dispensation will have been concluded by way of the rapture, and will then rule the world for seven years. These seven years are also referred to as the 70th year-week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27; a year-week is a period of seven years – Lev. 25:8). At the end of the seven years of tribulation, the Antichrist will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ. Paul says:
“And now you know what is restraining, that he [the Antichrist] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way [the rapture of the church]. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess. 2:6-8).
The Antichrist will, therefore, be a living person on earth when Christ comes again; their meeting will be brief and will end in the impostor’s condemnation to the lake of fire. John says: “And I saw the beast [the Antichrist], the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Christ] and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:19-20).
It is important that biblical prophecies on the end-time be interpreted futuristically and that, particularly in times such as these, we should eagerly expect their fulfilment. We must guard against the error of historical (preteristic) interpretations of prophecies on the Antichrist, thereby regarding them as irrelevant for the present time. People who follow this approach do not seriously regard the signs of the times (Luke 12:54-56) and consequently disqualify themselves to be withholders of the Antichrist who take a strong stand against his apostate ideology.
Many people try to determine the Antichrist’s place of origin. In Daniel’s discussion of the ancient world empires it is evident from which province (or country) the Antichrist will arise. Within the framework of the Roman Empire, Daniel describes him as one among ten (Dan. 7:20-26), and subsequently, in the context of the Greek Empire, as one among four (Dan. 8:8-9). In Daniel 11, the circle is narrowed down further by referring to the Antichrist as one among two within the Greek Empire: the king of the North (Syria) or the king of the South (Egypt). In the war between these two kingdoms the king of the North is victorious, and in Daniel 11:31-45 the end-time king of the North is described as the Antichrist.
The only region which fits into all these descriptions is Syria – it was one of the ten provinces of the Roman Empire, one of the four provinces of the Greek Empire, and later also the power base of the king of the North. The ancient Syrian province was much larger than modern Syria as it also included the present Iraq, Lebanon and Kuwait. In ancient times this region was also known as Assyria or Babylonia, depending on whether it was controlled from Damascus or Babilon.
According to Revelation, the Antichrist will have characteristics of all the ancient empires. In Revelation 13:1-2, John uses the same symbols for the old world empires as those used in Daniel 7:4-6. The Antichrist is presented as a composite beast with the mouth of a lion (Babylonian), the feet of a bear (Medo-Persian), the body of a leopard (Greek), and a head with ten horns (Roman). As in the Babylonian Empire, he will compel all subjects of his empire to worship the image of an idol. As in die Medo-Persian Empire, he will order genocide of the Jews after they have fallen into disfavour with him, and he will also rule in accordance with the unchangeable laws of the Medes and Persians (i.e. by military decree). As in the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, he will establish a rapid deployment force that can be deployed anywhere on short notice to enforce his policies. As in the case of the Roman Empire, immorality, corruption and violence will occur everywhere, as well as the public execution of his empire’s adversaries.
The fact that the Antichrist’s world empire will represent the concurrent revival of all four these world empires, implies that he will arise from a region which can be associated with all these empires. Only the Syrian-Babylonian region complies with this demand as it was the heartland of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. That is the reason why Isaiah refers to the Antichrist as the Assyrian (Isa. 10:12-13). Furthermore, Syria was one of the four provinces of the Greek Empire in which, among others, Antiochus Epiphanes ruled, while it was also one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. The latter was a Mediterranean Empire which not only included countries in Western and Eastern Europe but also in the Middle East and North Africa. The end-time restoration of the Roman Empire strongly suggests that countries in these regions will also join the European Community.
The Antichrist’s initial revelation on earth will be in the guise of a prince of peace. That will most probably coincide with a big war in the Middle East (Ezek. 38 & 39) and he will claim credit for ending this war. His plan of a new world order will also offer hope to the world on economic recovery and political stability, and because of that all nations will enter into a covenant with him. During the midpoint of the tribulation, revolts will occur against his empire and that will induce him to institute a military dictatorship in order to forcibly subject all people to his authority. In Revelation 6, the progressive revelation of the Antichrist is described in terms of the imagery of four horsemen who will appear on the world scene in quick succession:
The white horse and its rider depict the Antichrist as a prince of peace who will promote globalism and harmony in all spheres of life (Rev. 6:2). Political globalism will become manifest when all people are regarded to be planetary citizens who are united under the authority of a one world government with executive powers. Religious globalism will be ensured when all faiths, under the influence of ecumenical thinking, recognise and worship the coming christ of all nations as their common messiah. Economic globalism will be realised in a centrally-controlled, cashless world economy.
After 3½ years of false peace and unity brought about by antichristian globalism, uprisings will occur against the world empire of the Antichrist and an attempt will also be made on his life (Rev. 13:3, 12). He will suddenly be transformed from false prince of peace to military dictator and continues his march to world domination as the rider on the red horse of war (Rev. 6:4). Due to aggravating circumstances in his war economy, leading to widespread famine as well as severe shortages of various commodities, he will institute a strict system of rationing and thus become the rider on the black horse (Rev. 6:5). As the rider on the pale horse (Rev. 6:8) he will increasingly engage in devastating wars in order to take along as many people as possible on his way to perdition (Dan. 11:44).
The Antichrist will succeed in pretending to be what he is not. In the same way in which the devil can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), the Antichrist will appear under the guise of a special representative of God who has come to bring peace and unity to the world. His pretence will be so convincing that the Jews will accept him as the promised Messiah (John 5:43). Other religions will do the same, and their acceptance will afford him further titles such as the Christ, the fifth Buddha, Krishna, and others – indeed a universal Messiah for all faiths. But in his heart he will abhor and hate all who worship the true God or any other gods, and he will endeavour to be worshipped as God himself. He will continuously be engaged in hidden agendas, and his followers will never know exactly where they stand with him.
Halfway through the tribulation, the dark side of his character will be revealed when he declares himself to be God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (2 Thess. 2:4), and then order the summary execution of all who refuse to worship him as such (Rev. 13:15). He will institute a military dictatorship and become a mass murderer. It will then be obvious to all that he is the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3). He will establish a worldwide culture of sin, in which violence, corruption, fraud, lawlessness and all manner of immoral acts will be rampant. He will be the personification of sin, and because of that he will blaspheme against God, Jesus Christ, and all those who confess the Name of the Triune God (Rev. 13:5-6). He will wage war against the Christians (Rev. 13:7), and also against Jesus Christ when He comes again (Rev. 19:19-20).
The Antichrist will reject God’s order of sovereign nations within their own independent territories (Acts 17:26), and merge all of them into a global state in which national boundaries will be less significant. People everywhere will be encouraged not to entertain a limited, nationalistic view but to rather see themselves as planetary citizens. All local governments will be subjected to the supreme authority of the global government, and be compelled to fully observe its policies. The Antichrist will be “given authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Rev. 13:7).
In conjunction with the political globalising of the world population, the Antichrist will also gain control over the world economy: “For he says: By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; also I have removed the boundaries of the people, and have robbed their treasuries; so I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people, and as one gathers eggs that are left, I have gathered all the earth; and there was no one who moved his wing, nor opened his mouth with even a peep” (Isa. 10:13-14).
According to Revelation 13:16-18, a cashless world economy will be instituted during the second half of the tribulation period, in which nobody will be able to buy or sell without taking an oath of allegiance to the Antichrist, which will involve the accepting of his number. The electronic control of this system will not only enable the world government to monitor all financial transactions, but also the movements of economically active people – wherever they buy or sell.
The basic ideology of the Antichrist will be based on the concept of monism or holism – everything is one. In accordance with this ideology he will unite the world by promoting globalism in every sphere of life, particularly in the political, religious and economic spheres. Everything which is at variance with his monistic reforms will be regarded as detrimental and divisive, and therefore rejected. That means that all forms of nationalism which hinders the promotion of internationalism will be forbidden. In the same way, no form of religious exclusivism will be tolerated as it will impede reforms towards religious equality and ultimate religious unity in the world. In the same way, economic unity will be achieved through the institution of a single monetary system, a single controlling body for the world economy, as well as an equitable way of the redistribution of wealth. Nations will lose their sovereignty as well as economic independence.
Synthetic thinking of this nature is in conflict with biblical principles of antithetic thinking (the ability to think in opposites). To a Christian, there are two major realities which confront him (dualism). There is not only a singular truth but also a diversity which forces him to take decisions. He should be able to distinguish between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom, Christ and the Antichrist, light and darkness, the only true religion and all the false religions. Diversity should not be sacrificed for the sake of unity. In all the areas of their existence, the worldview entertained by Christians is incompatible with the values, objectives and reforms of the Antichrist. There is no way in which their non-compromising lifestyle will allow them to adapt to the global empire of the Antichrist. As a result, they will be persecuted.
The final objective of the Antichrist is to completely replace the Triune God of the Bible by the alternative concept of god in his satanic new world order. Instead of Yahweh, the god of this world should be worshipped; instead of Christ, the universal christ of all faiths should be worshipped and followed; and instead of the Holy Spirit, the interfaith prophet (the false prophet who will be the Antichrist’s co-ruler) should be trusted for gifts and spiritual empowerment.
In the light of biblical prophecies, the Antichrist will know that his new world order will only last for seven years. During the first 42 months of his government the various religions will continue to function under his leadership, while the temple of the Jews will be rebuilt. During this time there will be two special witnesses of the Lord in Jerusalem, who will warn the Jews against the false messiah. Because of this, there will be rising opposition against the false messiah and his government. However, at the middle of the tribulation period the Antichrist will overpower and kill these two witnesses (Rev. 11:1-10).
The dramatic events during the middle of the tribulation period will be followed by the last 42 months of the Antichrist’s military reign of terror. That will begin on the day when he desecrates the temple by declaring himself to be God, forbids any further sacrifices, and set up an image of himself in the Most Holy Place: “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days” (Dan. 12:11-12).
At the end of the second half of the tribulation, after 1 260 days, the true Messiah will return and destroy the Antichrist and his followers. After 1 290 days (including 30 days of mourning – Zech. 12:10-14), Israel will be reconciled with the Messiah. After 1 335 days they will enter the Messiah’s rest when the throne of David is restored and His millennial reign begins (Acts 15:16-17).
The Antichrist is aware of biblical prophecies which predict the end of his short-lived world empire, and he will do everything in his power to fight against Christ in an effort to kill Him, thereby proving the Bible to be wrong: “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (Rev. 19:19). Satan and the Antichrist will also commission demons to deceived governments throughout the world to send troops to the Middle East to fight against Christ and His heavenly army (Rev. 16:13-14, 16).
There is no uncertainty about the final destiny of the Antichrist and his deceived followers who will be as arrogant as to think that they can take up arms against the true Christ and prevail:
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:20-21; cf. Zech. 14:12-13).
The strongest possible warning is issued to all who give recognition to the Antichrist, accept his number and worship him, thereby taking sides with the enemies of God:
“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:9-11).
We are presently in the final approach to the rapture, which will be the dividing moment between the church dispensation and the subsequent dispensation of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign. This terminal period in the church age is characterised by intensive spiritual influencing aimed at preparing humanity on the appearance and acceptance of the universal messiah of all faiths. False propaganda of this nature is obviously very successful, since in the end the entire world will follow the Antichrist in amazement – they will also worship him together with the false, universal god of this age (Rev. 13:3-4). Deluded people will regard his holistic approach as the only solution to a highly divided and hostile humanity.
The campaign of unification with the depraved world coincides with blasphemous statements about the true God and His Son. Liberal theologians are deconstructing the image of Jesus by completely stripping Him of His divine attributes. Their aim is to replace Him with “another Jesus” who was not born from a virgin, is not the Son of God, is not the only Saviour of the world, does not condemn the supporters of other faiths, did not redeem people though his crucifixion, did not rise from the dead and ascended to heaven, and can therefore not return form heaven to the earth (cf. 2 Cor. 11:4). When these lies are believed, the way is clear for the Antichrist to be accepted as the messiah of all faiths.
The campaign against the true Christ occurs worldwide and is also driven by a large number of prominent Protestant theologians who have abandoned fundamental biblical truths. Postmodern South African theologians, as well as their followers, are playing a big role in deconstructing the biblical Jesus in order to render South Africa an easy target to the Antichrist. In a wide range of books which are also prescribed to theological students, Jesus is presented as a mere human being and member of a single-parent family, who was allegedly conceived out of wedlock by a sinful man (and thus not by the Holy Spirit), was executed as a criminal without any redemptive significance associated with his death, was not bodily resurrected from the dead, and was subjectively and erroneously declared to be God by his disciples (cf. Fatherless in Galilee by A. van Aarde, 2001).
One of these theologians has even written a book in which Jesus is described as a shaman (a traditional healer or witchdoctor) who healed the sick and practised exorcism. During the process of divination, he and his disciples allegedly entered into trances, or altered states of consciousness, during which they summoned their ancestors, who appeared to them on certain occasions (The life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in anthropological perspective by P.F. Craffert, 2008).
The “historical Jesus” is the product of speculative theological reasoning which is based upon fictitious premises rather than facts. According to this approach, Jesus was only a fallible man whose thinking was determined by the primitive worldview of His time. However, there is no objective historical credibility regarding the historical Jesus who was conceptualised by theologians who have no regard for the authority of Scripture. Fortunately, the liberal, Jesus Seminar orientated theologians clearly distinguish their Jesus from the kerygmatic Jesus, or Jesus of faith, in whom Bible believing Christians believe. It is of vital importance to be able to distinguish between these two Jesuses since we are confronted with a choice between the true Jesus and various false presentations of Jesus which are all proclaimed to establish a mindset which is conducive to accepting the Antichrist.
What does Paul say of theological deception which contradicts biblical teaching? “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8; cf. 2 Cor. 11:2-4). In a true Christian’s life there is no place whatsoever for distortions of Jesus Christ and the biblical doctrine of salvation.
The blasphemous things which postmodern theologians say of the Lord Jesus emanate from the spirit of Antichrist, and indeed he himself will open his mouth to blaspheme against the Triune God (Rev. 13:5-6). The present campaign against Christ is devil-inspired and aimed at preparing the way for the revelation of the Antichrist. When the relatively small group of withholders of the Antichrist has been taken out of the way, the lawless one will be revealed to deceive the peoples of the world through great signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:6-10). The signs of his coming can already be discerned – even in the lecture halls of large theological seminaries in which the Bible is no longer honoured as the infallible norm for Christian living and thinking. In these circles there is also a notable absence of a sound faith which alone can supersede the vain arguments of scholars whose minds are not enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
All people on earth are either followers of the true Christ and His unique gospel of salvation, or of the false christ and his religious lies – there is no neutral middle road between the two. Jesus said to the Jews that if they did not receive Him as Messiah they will inevitably end up as followers of the false messiah (John 5:43). That also applies to all other people.