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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who Is the Antichrist?

I need to get something off my chest. It’s this issue of the Antichrist that has been troubling me. So much talk and so little Biblical documentation! A vast majority of authors, preachers, bloggers, and teachers would have us believe the Antichrist is the head of the Revived Roman Empire, a European dictator, who fits the role of the beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-10). Some pundits have even suggested Barack Obama may be the Antichrist.

Frankly, I believe this speculation is ill founded. First, the Bible does not assign the title “Antichrist” to anyone mentioned in the book of Revelation. Designating the beast out of the sea (the Mediterranean region), “the Antichrist,” is sheer speculation, like perpetuated by what has been taught in colleges and seminaries. The reasoning is, “Professor ———— called the beast out of the sea the Antichrist, so that beast is the Antichrist.” Too bad students didn't raise their hands in class and ask, “Why do you call him the Antichrist, when the Bible doesn’t give him the name?”

Sure, I know “Antichrist” means “Against Christ,” and I know the beast out of the sea opposes Christ. But “Antichrist” can also mean “In the stead of Christ.” Doesn’t the beast out the land (Rev. 13:11-17) present himself to Israel as her messiah in the stead of Jesus, the true Messiah? When Israel rejected Jesus, didn’t He predict Israel would accept another who would come in his own name? (John 5:43)

The second beast, who comes from the earth (the land of Israel) places himself in the stead of Christ. He imitates the true Messiah, but he is the ultimate false prophet. Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit; the false prophet performs his work in the power of Satan. Jesus performed miracles to attest to His messiahship; the false prophet performs “great and miraculous signs” in order to convince the Jews that he is their messiah. Jesus directed His contemporaries to believe on and worship the Father; the false prophet directs his contemporaries to believe on and worship the beast out of the sea.

One more point. Every mention of “antichrist” or “antichrists” in Scripture (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7) presents the term in the context of religious apostasy and/or deception. The false prophet of Rev. 13:11-17 is the ultimate religious apostate, who deceives the nation of Israel (v. 14). Second Thessalonians 2:9, 10 predicts “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, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing”

Maybe the next time you hear a speaker refer to the Antichrist as a powerful Gentile world dictator, take a deep breath and then tell yourself it isn’t necessarily so.

There, I took a load of my chest.

If you want to read more about this issue, you may visit my website and order my booklet, Rethinking Popular Beliefs about the End Times.

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