This article was written in 2011:
Ever since Sir Robert Anderson published his seminal work, ‘The Coming Prince’ at the turn of the 20th century, prophecy watchers have been trying to figure out who he is. Sir Robert took his title from Daniel 9:26’s identification of the antichrist as a prince of the Roman Empire:
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”
Of all the prophetic clues to the identification of the antichrist, this seems to me to be the most unassailable. There have been only two ‘peoples’ whom history records destroying both the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary of the Temple.
The first was Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, carried off its treasures and took the Judean intelligentsia captive to serve the Babylonian Empire. Daniel’s prophecy was recorded from Babylon, many years after the event.
The second time was in AD 70 when Titus of Rome, together with elements of the V Macedonia, XII Fulminata and XV Fretnensis, lay siege to Jerusalem and the Temple.
On the Jewish feast day of Tisha B’av (the Ninth of Av), the Romans fired and destroyed the Second Temple.
The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, was an eyewitness to the events that he described:
“Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple…but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited.”
According to Josephus, as many as one million, one hundred thousand Jews were killed during the siege, with less than a hundred thousand surviving to be captured and enslaved.
“The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.”
Most amazingly, Titus reportedly refused to accept a victory wreath from Ceasar, on the grounds that “there is no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their own God.”
Scripture paints a detailed portrait of the man Daniel said would be a prince of the people who would destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple).
Daniel 7:8, 24 says that the antichrist will rise from obscurity, but with a ‘mouth speaking great things.’ He will blaspheme God [Daniel 7:25; 11:36; Revelation 13:5] slandering His Name, dwelling place, and departed Christians and Old Testament saints [Revelation 13:6].
He will confirm a covenant between Israel and the “many” [Daniel 9:27]. This covenant will likely involve the establishment of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem [see Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15].
He will put an end to Jewish sacrifice and offerings after 3 ½ years and will set up an abomination to God in the Temple [Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15]. His power will be as absolute as any ‘king’ of the ancient Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks [Revelation 13:2]. He will not answer to a higher earthly authority; “He will do as he pleases” [Daniel 11:36].
Daniel 11:37 says he will pay lip service to the religion of his ancestors, but will give honor to the ‘god’ of [military] forces. His whole focus and attention will be on his military. He will conquer lands and distribute them [Daniel 11:39-44].
He will claim that Jesus did not come in the flesh, or that Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave [2 John 7]. He will deny that Jesus is the Messiah [I John 2:22].
He will be worshipped by many people [Rev. 13:8]. He will hate a nation that initially will have some control over his kingdom, but he will destroy this nation [Rev 17:16-18]. In some fashion, his name will be related to the number six hundred and sixty-six— but not necessarily in an obvious fashion [Rev 13:17-18].
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, he will be indwelt and empowered by Satan himself [Revelation 13:2].
I believe that he is alive today and is probably already a well-known politician. But I don’t believe that it is the responsibility of the Church to identify him or even to be on the lookout for him. The Scriptures tell us to be watching for the coming of Christ.
Signs pointing to the antichrist are important only in that the revelation of the antichrist means the return of Jesus Christ is only seven years away from that moment. The Tribulation Period lasts for 2,520 days, which works out to seven Hebrew calendar years.
Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of novel interpretations by folks who find a seven-year Tribulation Period inconvenient to their own theories, but the big hurdle to get over is that Daniel says the antichrist’s covenant is for one “week” (Hebrew: shabua).
(“Shabua” is used here in the same sense that the Greeks used “decade” to measure multiples of ten years, except the Hebrews worked in multiples of seven.)
The arguments are interesting and novel, and some of them show evidence of years of effort at making the numbers match the theory being offered, but you can’t make Daniel’s Seventieth Week into anything but a week of years without trashing the incredible accuracy of Daniel’s prediction regarding the Messiah.
Josh McDowell wrote his thesis at Dallas Theological Seminary on the Book of Daniel, and his thesis was subsequently published as a book entitled Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
McDowell calculated the date of Xerxes commandment to restore the Temple on March 5, 444 BC and counted forward 483 lunar years, which equals 173,855 days.
And exactly 173,855 days after Xerxes issued that commandment, Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass, was received as King and was ‘cut off’ (killed) “but not for Himself.”
“Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one Man should die for the people” [John 18:14].
So to argue that Daniel’s Seventieth Week is anything but seven years trashes Daniel’s most spectacular prophetic fulfillment. If the first sixty-nine weeks weren’t multiples of seven, then McDowell’s calculations are meaningless.
And so is Daniel’s prophecy – so why bother to either cite or study it?
Furthermore, the Prophet Jeremiah identifies the Tribulation Period as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” which comports to Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks being determined for Israel and not the Church.
Remember, it is to make ‘reconciliation for sin’ and to ‘bring in everlasting righteousness.’
For the Church during the Church Age, those goals were already accomplished at the Cross.
But the Tribulation Period is the final week of the Age of the Law. The Temple will be in full operation and the Mosaic Law in full force. The Church Age is concluded with the antichrist’s treaty.
We don’t know who the antichrist is — but we do know that the covenant the antichrist confirms is based on the formula of “land for peace,” the formula upon which the Oslo Agreement (September 13, 1993 –September 13, 2000) was based.
So the treaty exists, but collapsed before it was fully implemented. The principle of land for peace remains at the heart of every peace proposal. The antichrist is said to ‘confirm’ the covenant, not write it, or negotiate it or sign it. He ‘confirms’ it.
One cannot confirm anything unless it first exists!
If the symbols, heads, horns and beasts of Daniel and Revelation make sense, that is because this is the generation to whom they were addressed. Daniel didn’t understand all that he was seeing in his vision, and he asked for an explanation. Instead, the revealing angel told Daniel,
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” [Daniel 12:4].
The Book is unsealed in this generation, a generation in which a person can circumnavigate the planet in a day. A generation that has unlocked the secrets of the human genome, one in which knowledge doubles every eighteen months.
Daniel’s treaty already exists. All that remains is for it to be confirmed and guaranteed by Sir Robert’s ‘Coming Prince.’
At some point before that treaty is finally confirmed, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of an archangel, and all those living who placed their faith in Christ will be snatched away, to be forever with Christ.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” [1 Thessalonians 4:18].