Mere mention of the word "antichrist" strikes fear into the hearts of millions of Christians throughout the world, while persons belonging to other religions (or none at all) may simply shrug. Exactly who or what is the antichrist? Since the word is associated with Christianity, does the book upon which many claim to base their beliefs (i.e. the Holy Bible) provide any clues? And lastly, should mankind even be concerned as to the truth about the matter?
First let us discuss what many in the realm of Christendom believe as to the antichrist. As promoted in Hollywood movies, popular evangelical writings, and by many fundamentalist ministers, antichrist refers to a singular person. In this belief, the antichrist will arise during the Great Tribulation, promote a one-world government, will deceive mankind and become, in essence, the devil incarnate. Most of these ideas are allegedly derived from the Bible book of Revelation, particularly chapter 13. Is this what the Bible really teaches?
Interestingly, the word antichrist never appears at all in the book of Revelation, not even once. Indeed, John (who wrote Revelation, under inspiration) was the only Bible writer to use the word at all, and then only in his letters, or epistles. For example, here is a quote from 1 John 2:18: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." (KJV - Italics mine) Nowhere in the Bible does it ever speak of a singular entity called "antichrist" that is destined to take over the world. So then, what about Revelation chapter 13? Let's spend a few moments there and see if we can't determine what John (under inspiration) was really trying to say.
I would encourage everyone interested to read the entire chapter of Revelation chapter 13. It's okay if you don't understand everything, just try to get an overall picture. Here is a partial quote from verses 1 and 2, the foundation scriptures upon which the so-called antichrist picture is drawn: "And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, and upon its horns ten diadems, but upon its head blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion's mouth. And the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and its great authority." (NWT) Before going any further, ask yourself this simple question: Does the description of the beast just quoted in any way, shape, or form sound anything like a man? But then, if not a man, what? This is one of those times that we must let the Bible interpret itself. We must ask this question: Is there any precedent for the use of such wild beast pictures anywhere else in the Bible? The heartwarming answer is - yes! What you read next may surprise and excite you!
Please turn to the Bible book of Daniel chapter 7 and read the whole chapter to get the overall flavor. Beginning in verse 4 and continuing through verse 8, Daniel is shown a vision of four separate wild beasts, all with their unique characteristics. What do these hideous beasts represent? The angel who presented the vision to Daniel does not leave us in doubt. Starting with verse 20 and through verse 27, the angel explains that these four beasts represent a succession of world powers (empires) that would have an impact on God's people, right down to the "last days." Yes, these beasts represented political empires! Going back now to verse 2 of Revelation chapter 13, did you notice that it was said that the "dragon gave to the beast its power...?" You may have already correctly concluded that this dragon is none other than Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9). With that in mind, turn now to Matthew chapter 4 vss. 8-10. In this third temptation of Jesus by the devil, Satan offers him all the kingdoms of the world (political empires) if Jesus will just perform a single act of worship to him. Ask yourself this question: Would the temptation have been valid if the devil was not in control of these powers? Hence, we understand that Revelation chapter 13 verse 2 indicates that the devil (dragon) is the real authority behind the conglomeration of kingdoms during the last days. In fact, he has been this world's invisible god, or ruler, since the rebellion in Eden (2 Corinthians 4:3,4).
Is it fair to refer to the political governments of this world as a "wild beast?" For those familiar with history, the answer is self-evident. For those not, consider this: What human government has ever existed that did not engage in conquest, in the spilling of innocent blood, in the waging of frivolous wars over religious differences, political ideologies, land and/or resources? What political government has ever existed that managed to feed all of its subjects, to provide fair and equal access to earth's resources, to promote fairness, kindness, compassion? It is just as wise old king Solomon wrote so long ago (under inspiration) at Ecclesiastes 8:9: "All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, (during) the time that man has dominated man to his injury." (NWT - Italics mine)
What we have learned, then, is that the idea of a singular antichrist, soon to come on the world scene and mislead billions, is a fantasy, a lie. Instead, the Bible indicates that it is Satan's global political system that puts mankind under compulsion to serve it, by promoting patriotism and nationalism. By giving allegiance to any part of Satan's political beast, or to its mirror-image, the United Nations (see Revelation ch 13 vss. 14-18), an individual receives "the mark" of the beast. In essence, this "mark" brands a person, symbolically, as a slave to the beast, hence, a slave to the dragon (contrast this with what is said of true Christians at Revelation ch 20 vs. 4).
Why then, should we care as to the truth about "antichrist?" The devil does his best work incognito, under the radar, as it were. If he can get people to believe the lie, then they will remain unawares as to the real danger. True Christians are neutral as to this world's political and military affairs, just as they were in the first century (see Jesus' words at John 17:14-16; also 1 John 3:10-12). By remaining undefiled from the world around us, we can be assured of entering the kingdom prepared for us from the "founding of the world." (Matthew 25:34; Hebrews 11:8-10).
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