The Antichrist - His Aliases and Activities
G. B. Fyfe, London
Having already considered the personality of the great political dictator of the last "week"—the coming prince—we now take a look at his sinister collaborator in the religious sphere, the apostate king of the Jews, ruling from Jerusalem in Palestine. Together these two prominent personages form an unholy alliance, and they work hand-in-glove during the period of the great tribulation.
From the account of this vile impostor, the second beast in Revelation 13. 11, arising from the earth (or, the land), it would seem that this Jewish king will be slightly later in arriving on the scene than the Roman supremo, whose vicegerent he will prove to be, exercising control as the religious dictator over a very wide area of the habitable world.
Along with Satan, their invisible overlord, they form a triumvirate of evil—a crude counterfeit of the Holy Trinity—of the devil's devising, for he, not being an originator, but merely an imitator, a master counterfeiter, seeks to emulate the true God—one God in three Persons.
In the interest of clarity and space, it will be helpful to condense the Scriptural references to the antichrist and his evil doings, under the following six captions:
(1) His person—As king of the
Jews he is surely himself an authentic, albeit an apostate, member of Israel's race, Dan. 11. 36-39; John 5. 43.
(2) His presentations—Some eight designations are employed in the Bible to provide a composite picture of this evil man and the enormity of his sinful ways and works:
(i) He is the wilful king, Dan. 11. 36. It is important to observe that Daniel 11 gives us a history of the kings of the north (Syria)—the Seleucidae—and the kings of the south (Egypt)—the Ptolemies—down to Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 164). This sequence of history ends with Daniel 11. 31, and verses 32-35 treat of the period from the time of the Maccabees down to the "time of the end". Then verse 36 introduces the antichrist, as typified by the wilful king, and from that stage to the end of Daniel 12, we have a prophetic record of what shall befall Daniel's people, the Jews, in the latter days.
(ii) He is the "worthless shepherd", Zech. 11.17 r.v.
(iii) He is the "false prophet", Rev. 19. 20.
(iv) He is the "man of sin",2 Thess. 2. 3.
(v) He is the "son of perdition", 2 Thess. 2. 3.
(vi) He is the "lawless one", 2 Thess. 2. 8 r.v.
(vii) He is "the antichrist", 1 John 2. 22 r.v; John 5. 43.
(viii) He is the two-horned beast out of the earth, the second beast, Rev. 13. 11.
What a series of aliases is this, branding him as a character even more intensely evil than his political ally, the blasphemous head of the Revived Roman Empire.
(3) His pretence – The arrant blasphemy of the antichrist reaches its zenith when he declares, I am God, 2 Thess. 2. 4. Beyond this in terms of awful blasphemy it would seem impossible to go. Adam's ambition was to be "as God"; antichrist's ambition is to show "himself that he is God"— fallen Adam's fantasy fully developed ! This follows Satan's ambition in Isaiah 14. 14.
(4) His presumption—This man of sin claims worship for himself, and also sets up an image of the Roman prince in the temple precincts in Jerusalem, commanding the Jews and all others within the sphere of his power to worship it. Rev. 13. 12-15.
(5) His punishment—His punishment (as in the case of the Roman beast) will be unique, for he will be despatched directly to the lake of fire from Armageddon's battlefield, without passing through physical death at all, Rev. 19. 20. (Consider this intriguing contrast. Two men in the Old Testament were translated to heaven without dying—Enoch and Elijah. And two men in the New Testament will be consigned to the burning brimstone lake without leaving their bodies—the beast and the false prophet, Rev. 19. 20. They will enter the second death without passing through the first, so extremely heinous will be the manner of their sinning.)
(6) His precursors—There are three characters in the Scriptures whose outstanding features mark them out as forerunners of the man of sin:
(i) Adonizedek in Joshua 10. 1-5. This king was determined to defend Jerusalem against God. Such will be the defiant attitude and action of the last usurper of David's throne.
(ii) Adonijah in 1 Kings 1. 5-6 was a man who, inflated with pride, made the pronouncement, "/ will be king". The antichrist likewise exalts himself as the wilful king, Dan. 11. 36.
(iii) King Herod in Acts 12. 22 is perhaps the closest representation of the man of sin, Israel's apostate king. Herod, persecutor of the godly, accepted worship of himself, and came under the summary judgment of God, meeting his appalling end by being eaten of worms. Here is a foreshadowing of the antichrist, almost in his full delineations.
To complete this brief sketch of the second beast of Revelation 13, it will be appropriate to include a few further features of the man it symbolizes:
(1) Its source—It arises out of the earth (or the land, perhaps Palestine) suggestive of more stable conditions existing then in the civilized nations, in contradistinction to the turbulent waves of the sea, from which the first beast emerges. Does this imply that the king of the Jews is ensconced on the throne of the Israeli state by general consent, in a regular democratic way, and accepted by the mass of the people?
(2) Its simulation—Satan, as already remarked, is the great counterfeiter, and the lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 is his supreme attempt to simulate the Son of God. The two-horned young lamb is an impious caricature of the second Person of the Trinity, Satan's supposed master-stroke to emulate the Lamb of God. But where as Satan's lamb, his spurious messiah, has two horns, God's holy Lamb has seven, 5. 6, betokening the plenitude of power that belongs to Christ alone, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth", Matt. 28. 18.
(3) Its speech – The lamb-like beast cannot conceal the moral evil of its real nature. It speaks like a dragon. In appearance it initially deceives the people, but soon displays the innate ferocity of its character. Inspired by Satan (himself the fiery red dragon), the antichrist speaks like a fire-breathing dragon.
(4) Its secular power—Positionally the second beast is subordinate to the first beast of Revelation 13; but in practice he exercises all the power of the first beast, wielding authority over a world-area reaching beyond the territorial boundaries of the western confederacy of nations.
For apostate Christendom as well as idolatrous Judaism will be compelled by the antichrist to worship both himself and the image of the Roman dictator. (A slight example of those two arch-criminals has perhaps been seen during the second world war in the persons of Hitler, the ambitious dictator, the lying Goebbels, his minister of propaganda in the evil Nazi regime which plunged the world into global warfare.)
(5) His satanic power—The antichrist, moreover, is no ordinary man. He is the man of sin, energized by Satan, working great signs, such as calling down fire from heaven, as if to match Elijah's impressive miracle, thus deceiving the astounded spectators by his acts. His coming is "after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders", 2 Thess. 2. 9. Contrast the Lord's case, Acts 2. 22.
Now, as confusion frequently arises regarding the respective roles of the two beasts, it will be beneficial for the sake of readers who are new to the prophetic content of the Word, to tabulate a number of differences which Scripture indicates between the wild beasts of Revelation 13:
The first beast is from the sea; the second from the earth (or, land).
The first beast is a political dictator; the second a religious one.
The first beast has 10 horns, the second has 2 horns.
The first beast is of Gentile origin; the second an apostate Jew.
The first beast is predominant in civil and military affairs; the second is conspicuous for his sinister and cunning work in destroying the souls of men.
The first beast chronologically appears on the scene before the second.
The first beast is the imperial head of the Revived Roman Empire, whose centre is probably Rome; the second is the king of the apostate Jewish state, ruling from Jerusalem.
One other important distinguishing feature is that the second beast performs miracles; whereas it is nowhere stated that the first beast does. This is a salient point in determining the second beast's identity as the antichrist, the man of sin.
(The foregoing pen portrait has been presented in precis style, to condense within the compass of a single article the mass of detail relative to the person and power of the antichrist.)