With the nearness of the advent of the coming Apocalypse, many prophecy scholars and Bible teachers have been keeping an eagle eye out to see if they can spot a likely contender who may just be the dreaded Antichrist.
Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot are names which have been bandied about in recent history as likely fitting his description. Various Caesars and especially Nero seemed to fit the bill in bygone days along with a few of the popes.
But what of this Antichrist and how can we be sure that we know exactly who he is when he eventually shows up?
I intend to have a stab at identifying this person in a series of short articles over the coming weeks. I will attempt to do this task from our primary source for truth, the Bible. Before I begin to delve into this important topic, I need to set the ground rules.
That is, that I firmly believe that we should allow the Word to speak for itself. I believe that most of the Bible is plain and simple and easy to understand and is to be taken literally for the most part. Even parables have a literal interpretation. And where figures of speech are used, we can identify them and seek their literal meaning.
What was Peter’s occupation? That’s right. A fisherman. And Mark? He took care of sheep. And the rest of the apostles? They were “ignorant and unlearned” according to the chief priests and Theologians of the day. Basically they were a bunch of peasants who had little schooling. But I bet they were smart guys. Peter was a top fisherman and you wouldn’t pull the wool over his eyes. Mark was a great shepherd and probably made a decent living from sheep farming. These guys were no mugs. They were street wise and intelligent.
We should all become like children and so we might learn something afresh from Holy Writ. In fact, if we believe that the Bible is the inerrant truth of God, then none of us should be afraid to change our Theology on a subject if the plain truth is staring us in the face. Even if it means giving up believing in something which we held as truth for donkey’s years.
Listen to what the word says about itself in Hebrews 4:12:
“For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
So the Word will interpret itself if we allow it. For no prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. And boy is it exact. The following is a prime example of just how sharp it is, taken from Luke 4:16-21:
“He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.’”
Now this is amazing insomuch that he had to open the book, which was a scroll (they didn’t have books like we have today). They also didn’t have chapters, paragraphs or numbered verses. Isaiah was one long continuous document. He unrolled the scroll and found the quote which he was looking for and began reading. But he stopped reading in the middle of the sentence. For if you go to Isaiah 61 verse 2, it says:
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, AND THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD.”
The latter half of that sentence is still future. For the “day of vengeance” is speaking of the day of the Lord which pertains to the coming Apocalypse and prophecies still unfulfilled. If he had read that next phrase, then he would have been wrongly dividing the word of truth and your whole Bible would fall apart. But he didn’t. He stopped half way through. There was only a comma separating the rightly divided truth of the Word, from error.
That’s how sharp the Bible is. It is with this foundation in mind that we approach this study in trying to sketch a description from Scripture of the attributes of the coming Antichrist and what his role will be on this earth.
The epistle of 2 Thessalonians 2-4 is where I would like to go first for it has some revealing facts to show us concerning what Paul calls the “man of sin.” Speaking of “the day of the Lord,” which is the coming Apocalypse, it says:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that MAN OF SIN be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
2 Thessalonians: 2: 8-9, 11:
“And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
The man of sin is also called here, the son of perdition and the lawless one. This is speaking of the infamous person well known today as the Antichrist. But “anti” in Greek does not have to mean against. It can also mean “in the stead of.” It will become clear as we advance this study that the correct description pertaining to this being is that when he comes, he will be coming “in the stead of” Christ.
That is, when he shows up, he is going to convince a perplexed world that he is the true Messiah. More on this later. But for now, what can we learn from the passage in Thessalonians? Well the first think we must glean and get clear is that we are told that this person is a man. But he is a man that possesses great powers. For it says in verse 9, (and this is the New International Version I am quoting here);
“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.”
In the book of Acts we are told that “signs, miracles and wonders” followed those who believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So what will distinguish this man when he comes will be that he can perform signs, miracles and wonders, albeit they will be counterfeit.
So we can now eliminate Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero and any upcoming Arab Prince in the Near East, as none of these produced any signs, miracles and wonders.
That’s it for now. Watch out for Part 2 coming up shortly.
Note: Patrick Heron is bestselling author of Apocalypse Soon and The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse.