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The Book of Revelation
“The Rise of Antichrist”
We’re continuing through the Book of Revelation series. Last week we saw Jesus taking the scroll from the Father’s hand, and now He’s about to open it up. Today I’d like to take a look at the introduction of one of the main characters of the Tribulation, and that is, the Antichrist.
And so let’s take this long awaited look at the opening of the scroll.
Read Revelation 6:1-2
The identity of this rider really hasn’t been disputed, however some have held that it’s Jesus Christ, but for me this view has too many difficulties.
What all of this points to is that this first rider is not Jesus Christ, but rather someone who closely resembles him, hence the Antichrist. The word “anti,” means “against or instead of.” And so the Antichrist is someone who assumes the guise of Christ, but opposes all that Jesus Christ stands for.
We see this deception in Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks to finish the transgression and make and end to sin, Daniel 9:24-27. It says that the Messiah, which he called Mashiach Nagid, the Messiah the Prince, will die 483 years, or 69 groups of seven years, after the commandment was giving to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This commandment was given by Artaxerxes in the year 444-445 B.C., which was fulfilled when Jesus died.
But Daniel talks about another who is going to arise, but not the Messiah Prince, but a prince who will issue in the last 7 years of Tribulation, or the last week. It says that he will make a covenant of peace for 7 years.
Throughout the ages people have become absolutely fixated and obsessed in finding out who this man will be.
One of the qualifiers they use is by adding the numeric value of their names to see if it adds up to 666, the number that represents the Antichrist in Revelation 13:17.
But instead of a big guessing game, let’s look at what the Bible says who this person is and what he’ll be like.
The Little Big Horn
Daniel see’s four beast rising from the sea. The fourth beast Daniel saw was terrible in appearance having iron teeth and crushing everything in its path, and it had ten horns. The vision so bothered Daniel that he asked what it meant, and was told that the four beasts represented the four major kingdoms of the earth. Of the last beast and the horns, this is where we see the coming of the Antichrist and of His being this little big horn.
After saying that the ten horns are ten kings who are going to arise from this last kingdom, another is going to arise.
And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.” (Daniel 7:24b-25a NKJV)
This person will arise from a kingdom ruled by either ten kings or ten political entities that set the stage for his coming. His religious position will be directly against the God of the Bible as He speaks pompous words against the Most High, and in Revelation 13:6 it says he continuously speaks blasphemies.
He’ll also persecute believers in Jesus Christ. It says he persecutes the saints of the Most High, and in Revelation 13:7 it says he makes war on the saints and eventually overcomes them.
And finally he will set up his own anti-God standards. He’ll do away with what the Bible calls right and wrong, setting up human and demonic standards in their place that allows people to do whatever they desire.
The Prince to Come
This is from what we saw earlier in Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks.
It talks about a prince who is going to come and make a covenant that ushers in the last seven years.
“He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” (Daniel 9:27a NKJV)
It’s this covenant that will identify the Antichrist. I believe that this covenant will be both political and religious in nature.
The Man of Sin
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church he tells the church not to be deceived that this time will not come until there’s first a falling away and the revealing of the Antichrist.
“That Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV)
In this passage he’s also called the son of perdition. The word perdition is interesting. It means someone who is spiritually ruined, that is, lost and their soul is in damnation. And so this man is the son of the one who is damned forever, which refers to Satan.
Think about this with me, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, whereas the Antichrist, that is, the one who takes the place of Christ, is the son of Satan.
And so what we see is that not only will the Antichrist be against God, but he’ll also put himself in the place of Christ, demanding worship.
What we see from these descriptions is that the Antichrist during this seven-year stretch will be doing Satan’s work, but even more than that, Satan himself possesses him. In Revelation 13 it says that the dragon, Satan, gives him power, a throne, and authority. But what I find interesting is that the only other person to be possessed by Satan was Judas Iscariot, who was also referred to as the son of perdition by Jesus.
What this reveals is that Judas’ and the Antichrist’s mission is so important that Satan couldn’t trust it to any other demon but himself.
These are just some of the many aspects about the Antichrist that helps us identify him, and there’s more, but we’ll get into these later on.
What I’d like to do now is take some time and look at what’s behind the title of today’s message, “The Rise of the Antichrist.” I see two major events that we can look at.
These natural events are found in Matthew 24.
Jesus is telling His disciples the signs pointing to His coming, which Jesus says will occur prior to the Great Tribulation.
To understand these signs is to understand what Jesus said in verse 8.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:8 NKJV)
More literally this reads the beginning of birth pangs, that is, they begin far apart, but as the time gets closer they’ll happen more regularly, in closer proximity, and with greater intensity. In other words, while these signs have always been around, as we see the last days approaching, so will the frequency and intensity of these events.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:6-7a NKJV)
All you need to do is look at the news and see this reality intensifying on a daily basis. There is not a continent on this earth where major violence isn’t going on and it’s getting worse, not better.
Is there any doubt that a man who promises peace will garner great support?
“There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7b NKJV)
The world will continue to be rocked to even greater degrees by natural disasters. We’re seeing one natural disaster after another, not only from killer storms and earthquakes, but also from drought and pestilences, like the recent Ebola outbreak.
Persecution of Christians
“They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9 NKJV)
Such persecution has always been around, but today it’s growing around the world, especially in both Muslim and Communist countries. But it’s now extending into the Western Industrialized nations including the United States.
Here in America we’re seeing a rapid rise in anti-Christian sediment, as God, prayer, and the Bible have been systematically removed from all public venues, and those who hold Christian morals and values are being labeled as “extreme” and we’re losing our freedoms.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many … Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5, 11 NKJV)
The world will be filled with false prophets claiming they are the way, that they have the answers to life, but their claims are false, along with the religions they start. New religions and their prophets are popping up all over the place. Some are old religions dressed up in new attire, while those claiming they’re God’s representatives are starting new ones.
The Apostle John calls anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ as antichrist, that is, against Jesus Christ, and that this is nothing less than the spirit of antichrist. And that since there’re so many of them, and the spirit of antichrist is so strong, we know that we’re actually in the last hour , John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7.
Apostasy means to renounce or abandon one’s faith.
“That Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NKJV)
I have a real conflict with knowing this reality. While I want the Lord to come and pray, “Come quickly Lord Jesus,” I also pray for God to bring once last revival to the church. My desire, more than anything, is to see Christians repenting of their compromises and backsliding, and for the lost to come into the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
But I know that more will probably fall away than repent. And so while I pray for revival, I’m not surprised to see attendance falling at spirit-filled churches. This is really agonizing for me.
3. Spirit of Antichrist
“Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” (1 John 4:3 NKJV)
Just as there is an Antichrist, so there is also the spirit of antichrist.
When the Antichrist comes on the scene, he’ll not be rejected, but wanted and desired. He and his agenda will not be repulsive but appealing and extraordinary. He’ll be well received because the spirit of antichrist, the denial of Jesus and the Bible, is already at work.
David Wilkerson who pastored Times Square Church in New York, and who wrote the book, The Cross and the Switchblade, said, “There will always be a Christ on the throne of every heart – either Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, or the Antichrist!”
The spirit of antichrist is already at work in the world today and its influence is growing. How else can we explain the anti-God, anti-Jesus, and the anti-Bible rhetoric? How else can we explain what we’re witnessing in media, movies, and the music that’s out there?
The spirit of antichrist is seen in the anti-Jesus and anti-Christianity that pervades in our schools, courtrooms, and political houses. It’s prevalent on the streets, in homes, and unfortunately in churches. It’s where the church may have the form of godliness, but denies God and biblical values.
4. The Church’s Removal
“And now you know what is restraining … only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 NKJV)
Before the Antichrist can be revealed, the One who is presently retraining Him must be removed.
Who then is the restrainer? Paul describes the restrainer as both a “what,” and a “who.” Notice the wording, “you know what is restraining” and “He who now restrains.”
The “who” is the Holy Spirit, and the “what” is the vehicle of grace the Holy Spirit works through, which would be the church.
And so, when Jesus breaks that first seal, the man of sin, the son of perdition, the lawless one, the Antichrist, comes, and following his arrival will come some really bad things that will end life for one quarter of the earth’s population.
More on this next week
Wednesday Evening Bible Study