The purpose of this deception is to convince the unbelieving world that the false apocalypse is from Jesus, and that Satan and his minions are Mankind’s saviors! (And yes, that idea is as crazy as it sounds. Check out the posts and judge for yourself).
A central figure in this deception will be the false messiah commonly referred to as the “Antichrist”
Aside from Jesus, no man in the Bible captures the imagination of the public quite like the Antichrist. And like Jesus, much of what is generally understood about him is an unfortunate mixture of myth and fact.
In this post we will begin to examine the man/entity known as the Antichrist by looking at the facts behind the myths.
Myth 1: The Bible refers to him as “The Antichrist”
Perhaps the most pervasive myth about the Antichrist is his title. The false messiah is given many colorful labels in the Bible: The Seed of the Serpent, The Idol Shepherd, The Prince that Shall Come, The Little Horn, The Son of Perdition, and the Abomination, just to name a few. But despite its ubiquitous use in contemporary theology, the False Messiah isn’t directly referred to as “The Antichrist” in the Bible!
His most extensive characterization is given in the book of Revelation, and therein he is most uniformly referred to as “the Beast”
Ironically, the only place the term “Antichrist” is used is in the epistles written by the Apostle John (who also penned Revelation), who applies that label to anyone who denies the Messiahship of Jesus.
Now the person we call the Antichrist WILL deny that Jesus is the Messiah, but John never uses that title of him in Revelation even though he has ample opportunity.
Nevertheless, I will continue to use the term “improperly” in this blog for the same reason that I gave for using “Tribulation” for the seven year period before the return of Christ – its faster than typing out “The False Messiah” over and over…Plus it sounds cool.
In all seriousness, there is an interesting (and provocative) reason to keep “Antichrist” in our prophetic lexicon.
While “Anti”-Christ in our English vernacular would designate someone who is “against” Christ (which he certainly will be), the Latin translation of the term is “vicarious christus”, which means “someone who stands in the place of Christ” (which the false messiah will obviously do).
That Latin term translated directly into English is “Vicar of Christ” – the term applied to the Popes by the Catholic Church. So technically, the Popes claim the title of “Antichrist”* (hey, it’s their term, not mine…)
Myth 2: We can know who the Antichrist is by decoding “666”
The number 666, aka, “The Mark of the Beast” is as much a part of apocalyptic lore as the Antichrist himself.
In an upcoming post, we will take a deeper look at the Mark of the Beast, which I believe will be quite provocative, but for our immediate purposes, were going to focus on Revelation 13:17-18 which states that 666 is the “number of the Beast” and implies that it is the number of his name.
The verse also says that 666 can be deciphered through wisdom and understanding.
This had led to the notion that the identity of the Antichrist can be sussed out by somehow applying 666 to someone’s name.
My grandmother was convinced that our 40th President was the Antichrist because the name Ronald Wilson Reagan consisted of 6 letters each (of course the only thing it proved was that grandma was a Democrat).
Nevertheless, many intrepid Christians have used methods in levels of complexity that far exceeded grandma’s in trying to figure out the identity of the Antichrist, including Greek and Hebrew numerology, gematria, and complex computer algorithms.
Unfortunately, these open source methods yield results so diverse and subjective that everyone from Billy Graham, to Tiger Woods, to Jesus Himself have names that can somehow add up to 666.
All these attempts are utterly futile for a couple of reasons:
- The world will not know who the Antichrist is until AFTER the Rapture. And (to my knowledge) the Rapture ain’t happened yet.
- The point of the passage was NOT to figure out WHO the Antichrist is (by the time the Mark of the Beast is implemented, his identity will be pretty clear). So what IS the point? I have some interesting ideas but they will have to wait until my “Mark of the Beast” post (sorry).
Myth 3: We can know who the Antichrist is today.
This myth is somewhat related to the last one, as there has been a generational obsession in pinning the identity of the Antichrist to whichever contemporary world leader is being the biggest a-hole at the moment.
From Nero in the 1st century, though just about all the Popes, all the way up to Hitler, (and whichever world leader is currently annoying you), every generation of Christians has had their proposed “Antichrist”.
The thing is that these allegations were not wholly illegitimate.
As I wrote in an earlier post, since Satan doesn’t know when the Holy Spirit will remove Himself from the world (via the Rapture), giving Satan clearance to set up his empire, Satan has had to have a False Messiah constantly at the ready.
So then it’s likely that many of the tyrants historically accused of possibly being the Antichrist actually WERE Satan’s men, and WOULD HAVE been given the role of False Messiah if the Holy Spirit had vacated during their time (but not Reagan. Sorry Grandma).
Hitler is a good example. He embodied just about every characteristic of the Antichrist in the Bible. He was a charismatic and boastful word leader, he was a conqueror, an anti-Semite, an imperialistic war monger who pretended to be a Christian but was an occultist/Satanist. And he came to power of a platform of peace and prosperity, yet had designs to set up a thousand year dictatorship.
But the fact that many of these previous world leaders may have been “The Antichrist in waiting” is actually the reason why it’s a fools ‘errand to try to guess who the real one is. No matter who is currently occupying the role, he won’t be the REAL one until after the Rapture.
So when people ask me if I think that any current politician is the Antichrist, my answer is “no”. Not just for theological reasons, but also because I don’t think that any current politician is smart enough to be the Antichrist.
Myth 4: the Antichrist is only one guy
When people think of the Antichrist, they usually picture one man doing all the dirty work. But this view leads to some Biblical challenges.
Logically, if the Antichrist is a false Jesus who will be accepted as the Jewish messiah, then he has to be Jewish, right? But while there are passages that confirm his Jewishness, there are also scriptures which indicate he will be a gentile.
Not to mention the fact that he is portrayed as both a military/political leader, AND a religious leader.
How do we address these seemingly contradictory descriptions? The same way we deal we other conflicting dualities in the Bible – instead of seeing the situation as either/or, the answer is “both”!
If there are two distinct descriptions of the Antichrist in the Bible, then there must be two Antichrists!
The Bible clearly confirms this in Revelation 13 where it depicts two Beasts, one political, and one religious. The religious one is called the False Prophet.
If you look at these guys as an “unholy trinity”, Satan play the role of “God”, giving power and authority to the political beast (who is in the role of “Jesus”). And the False Prophet takes the role of the “Holy Spirit” who guides men to worship Beast number 1.
But make no mistake, they each have the same power and authority, and will share the same destiny.
Myth 5: Satan has any control whatsoever
I’ve addressed this ad nauseum, but there is still a prevailing myth that Satan is “God’s enemy” and that they are at war on some type of equal footing.
The Antichrist is seen as Satan’s general who leads his forces into the final battle in this “war with God”, known as Armageddon.
This is far from the case. First of all, when we get to the post that describes Armageddon, we’ll see that its not much of a “battle”. Moreover, Satan can ONLY do what God allows him to do, so his plans for the Antichrist (like all his other machinations) go nowhere unless God gives him leave.
Now that we’ve dispelled some of the misconceptions about the Antichrist, its time to examine what he will actually do when he comes on the scene. We’ll take a look at the career of the Antichrist in the next post.
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* No, I’m not saying the Pope is the Antichrist. But I’m also not saying he isn’t…