What does the Bible tell us about the character of the Anti-Christ?
|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
What does the Bible tell us about the character of the Anti-Christ?
Dr. Renald Showers: There’s a very significant prophetic passage in Daniel Chapter 11 that sheds a lot of light on this man and particularly, significant world events that are going to impact him. In Daniel 11:36-39, we have the character of the Antichrist being portrayed. The first thing we’re told in verse 36 is that “he will do according to his will,” indicating that once this man comes to power, he’s going to be a strong-willed individual; he will demand that he have his own way; he will not tolerate anyone else being in authority over him telling him what he may do and what he may not do.
The next thing we’re told about his character is that he will oppose all established forms of worship. For example, near the middle of verse 36, we’re told that he shall speak marvelous—literally monstrous—things against the God of Gods. He’ll be a blasphemer against the true and the living God, and that’s what is being declared here.
Verse 37, “Neither shall he regard the god of his fathers.” Now, some have concluded that this indicates the Antichrist will be a Jew because, you know, the Jews talked about the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Maybe he will be a Jew but I’m not convinced we can conclude that on the basis of this one statement. The reason I say that is, the word translated “god” in the expression “god of his fathers” has a pluralized ending so it could also be translated “the gods of his fathers.” The point here is not whether he is a Jew or Gentile, but the fact that this man will oppose the worship of any god or gods that his ancestors revered and worshipped.
Then we’re told in verse 37 that “he will have no regard for the desire of women.” Now, many have taken that to mean this man will be a bachelor; that he will not experience a man’s normal physical desire toward a woman. But I’m not convinced that by “desire of women” it’s referring to a man’s normal physical desire toward a woman. Let me explain to you why I say that. Right before the expression “the desire of women” the text is talking about objects of worship. He’ll have no regard for the god or gods of his fathers. Right after the expression “the desire of women” it says, “nor regard any god.” The whole context surrounding “the desire of women” is talking about objects of worship. In light of that, it appears “desire of women” is referring to an object of worship.
What could it be? Well, historically, it was the supreme desire of many Jewish women to be the mother of the Messiah, and because of that, the Messiah historically was also known as “the desire of women.” And so I take it what this is saying is, this Antichrist will have no respect, no regard whatsoever for the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus. He will oppose everything that Jesus is or that Jesus has done or that Jesus stands for. That’s why, in 1 John 2, John calls him “anti Christ.”
Then we’re told at the end of verse 37 why he will oppose all established forms of worship: “He shall magnify himself above all.” He’s going to try to magnify himself above every god or goddess that’s ever been worshipped by mankind. Paul indicates in 2 Thessalonians 2 that Antichrist, when he’s at the peak of his power, will take control of a new Jewish temple in Jerusalem and will set himself up there as God.
Daniel 11:38 tells us that he himself will have a god whom he will worship: “But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces,” literally the “god of munitions or armaments.” The point is, this man is going to make war his god. Whatever a man is totally sold out to and devoted to, whatever is the center of his life and drives and motivates him, is that man’s god, and war is going to be the Antichrist’s god. He’s going to try to conquer the whole world and bring it under his dominion on behalf of his master, Satan.
We’re told here that’s a god whom “his fathers knew not.” His ancestors didn’t make war their god. And we’re also told in verse 38 that he shall honor this god “with gold, silver, with precious stones and precious things.” Apparently, he will expend huge amounts of wealth in equipping, training, preparing and then marching his armies out across the landscape of planet earth and that’s how he will honor his god of war. And it would appear that he will enjoy a great deal of military success because verse 39 says, “Thus shall he do in the most strongholds with a strange god.” The idea seems to be that, making war his god, he will be successful in conquering some of the strongest military outposts on the face of the earth.
And then verse 39 says, “Whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory.” Now, the Hebrew text gives the idea that he shall honor those who acknowledge him. In other words, he will reward his most devoted followers. The end of verse 39 tells us two ways he shall reward them. First, “he shall cause them to rule over many.” As the Antichrist conquers new groups of people, he will turn over the rule of those newly conquered peoples to some of his most devoted followers. In other words, he will put some of his most devoted followers into positions of rule within his government. And the second way that he will reward them is, “he shall divide the land.” As he conquers new geographical territory, he shall turn over choice pieces of land as gifts to his most devoted followers as rewards for being so devoted to him. Very interesting insight into the character of the coming Antichrist.
But when we come to verses 40 through 45 of Daniel 11, we have the military career of the Antichrist being revealed. Verse 40 says, “And at the time of the end [this is going to be in the future Tribulation] shall the king of the south push at him, and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships.” Who is the “him” of verse 40? Well, in light of the fact that it’s the Antichrist that’s just been described in the immediately preceding verses, it’s obvious that the “him” of verse 40 is the Antichrist. So Daniel is being told in verse 40 that at the time of the end, Antichrist will be attacked militarily by the king of the south and the king of the north.
But who are the king of the south and the king of the north in verse 40? Thankfully, verses 2 through 35 of Daniel 11 have already been fulfilled historically. In fact, they were fulfilled even before the first coming of Christ. In light of that historic fulfillment it’s interesting to note that the king of the south and the king of the north are referred to several times in verses 2 through 35. We know who they were in that passage. The king of the south in those verses was always the nation of Egypt, directly south of Israel. And the king of the north in verses 2 through 35 was always the nation of Syria, directly north of Israel, the same Syria and Egypt that are in the Middle East today and that sometimes cause problems for Israel.
Verses 2 through 35 are past history; but the king of the south and the king of the north are referred to again in verse 40 which has not yet been fulfilled. Since Daniel is not told these are different from the king of the south and the king of the north of verses 2 through 35, we can draw the conclusion they are still the same two nations. Therefore, what Daniel is being told by God in verse 40 was this: that in the future Tribulation period, Antichrist will be attacked jointly by Egypt and Syria at the same time. But that revelation poses a problem. How will they attack Antichrist? At this time, our understanding is, Antichrist will be headquartered over in Western Europe as the head of the Western European revived Roman Empire, and as you know, Syria and Egypt are two Middle Eastern nations. If they’re in the Middle East and he’s in Europe, how will they attack him? I want to make a proposal to you as to how this could happen.
According to Daniel 9:27, at the very beginning of the seven-year Tribulation, Antichrist is going to confirm a covenant with the nation of Israel in the Middle East. Now, the Hebrew language of Daniel 9:27 makes it very clear that this will be a strong, binding covenant. The implication seems to be that through the confirming of that covenant, Antichrist will so strongly bind the nation of Israel in the Middle East to its Western European revived Roman Empire, that he will actually regard Israel as an extension of himself and his revived Roman Empire in the Middle East. And therefore, any attack against Israel will be an attack against him.
In light of that, I would propose that the way in which Syria and Egypt will jointly attack the Antichrist is by those two Middle Eastern nations jointly attacking his Middle East ally, Israel, at the same time: Syria, coming down from the north against Israel, while Egypt comes up from the south against Israel in a pincer type military movement.
How will Antichrist, over in Western Europe, react when he receives news that his Middle Eastern ally, Israel, has been jointly attacked by Syria and Egypt? At the end of verse 40 we’re told: “and he shall enter into the countries and shall overflow and pass over.” Keeping his covenant commitment to Israel, Antichrist will move his Western European armies into the Middle East and will begin overflowing the nations of the Middle East.
Now, when you begin reading at the end of verse 40 and you read down through verse 43, it becomes obvious that once he invades the Middle East, his movements will be from north of Israel to south of Israel. Apparently, he will invade Syria north of Israel first and other peoples probably around there (probably Lebanon as well) and take control of them. But then, verse 41 says, “He shall enter also into the glorious land.” Obviously to Daniel, the “glorious land” is the land of Israel. After Antichrist has finished his conquest of Syria in the north, he will march his Western European army south through the land of Israel. And we’re told, “many shall be overthrown, but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon.” In Daniel’s day, Edom, Moab and Ammon were nations located due east of Israel right across the Jordan River.
Today that is the nation of Jordan. The implication is that when Antichrist marches his army south through Israel, he is so anxious to get down to Egypt (the other enemy that attacked his ally, Israel) that he won’t take the time to cross east of the Jordan River to take control of the nation of Jordan. And he will get down to Egypt. We are told in verse 42, “He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries and the land of Egypt shall not escape, but he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver and over all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” What this is saying is, he will get to Egypt and he will be able to conquer the entire nation of Egypt.
When it is says here “the Libyans will be at his steps,” literally at his heels, the point is, he will conquer Egypt clear over to its western border with Libya and stop there and turn around so that when he turns around, the Libyans will be at his back, at his heels, and then he will conquer Egypt as far south as you can go to its border with its southern neighbor, so that when he turns around, that southern neighbor of Egypt will be at his heels as well. This is God’s way of saying, the Antichrist will be able to conquer the entire nation of Egypt, and it will look as if the whole Middle East is going to come under this Western European ruler’s control.
But look at the contrast word that begins verse 44: “But…” In other words, in contrast to the way it will appear, “tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.” What will be the substance of this disturbing news from the north and from the east that Antichrist will receive while he’s down in Egypt taking a spoil of the resources of the nation of Egypt? God gave a prophecy in Ezekiel 38 to the effect that during the first half of the Tribulation period, Israel will be jointly attacked by Islamic nations and Russia, Russia leading this multi-nation attack against Israel. Russia is going to come from the north against Israel, and one of the Islamic nations, possibly Iran, will attack from the east of Israel. I would propose to you that the disturbing news that Antichrist will hear while down in Egypt is to the effect that his ally Israel has been attacked again, this time by the joint forces of Islamic nations and Russia—Ezekiel 38.
In Daniel 11:44, Antichrist will receive disturbing news down in Egypt, disturbing news from the north and from the east. How will he react to this disturbing news? In the middle of verse 44 of Daniel 11 we are told, “Therefore, he will go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many.” In other words, keeping his covenant commitment to Israel, he will rush his Western European armies north out of Egypt to the land of Israel with the goal of trying to totally destroy the invading armies of Russia, Iran and other Islamic nations. But if you know the Ezekiel prophecy, Ezekiel 38 and 39, God makes it very clear that in the day that Russia, Iran and other Islamic nations attack Israel, God says, “Then my fury will come up in my face,” and God indicates that He will intervene supernaturally, through supernatural means, and God will supernaturally wipe out these massive armies of Russia, Iran and other Islamic nations. Read Ezekiel 38 and 39 where that is made very clear. The end result is that by the time Antichrist gets up to Israel, the armies of these other invaders have already been wiped out supernaturally.
That will give the Antichrist a free hand to do what he wants in the Middle East. And so notice what he will do in verse 45 of Daniel 11: “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain.” Once he gains control of the Middle East, he will decide to plant his palace, his headquarters for what he hopes will become the capital of a worldwide kingdom, there in the Middle East between two seas. That would be between the Dead Sea on the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. That palace between the seas will be in the glorious holy mountain. The glorious holy mountain to Daniel would be Mount Zion where the Temple stood in Old Testament times. In other words, once Antichrist gains complete control in the Middle East, he’s going to make Jerusalem the capital of what he hopes will become his worldwide kingdom.
And it’s my understanding that at this point that the world will come to the exact middle of the seven-year Tribulation period and it’s at this point that what Paul described in 2 Peter 2:4 will take place. Now that he has complete control of Jerusalem, Antichrist will walk into a new temple that the people of Israel will have built there by that time and according to Daniel 9:27 he will put a stop to sacrifices and offerings that the Jews will have re-instituted there in their temple by that time.
And then Paul says “he will take his seat in the temple of God, making himself out to be God.” He will claim that he’s absolute deity. I would not be surprised that he will try to claim the credit for the supernatural destruction of the armies of Iran and Russia and their Islamic allies and say to the world, “Look at what I was able to do without using one man-made weapon. It’s obvious these massive armies have been destroyed supernaturally. This demonstrates I’m more than a man. I am supernatural. I am God. And you either worship me as God, or I try to put you to death.” And according to Daniel 9:27, when Antichrist does that, that’s when Israel will begin to be desolated worse than it’s ever been desolated in all of past history.
That’s when Antichrist now will turn against Israel and the man that Israel thought would be its great protector in the Tribulation period will end up becoming its great attacker and he will go after Israel with a vengeance and try to annihilate it from the face of the earth because his master Satan wants Israel annihilated before it can repent so that God will not crush Satan and his forces and get rid of them from planet earth altogether.
Now, we are told in Daniel 12:1 that at that time Antichrist will take control of Jerusalem in the middle of the Tribulation and claim that he is God, “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people, and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time.” What God is revealing is this. When Antichrist makes that claim to be God, Michael, the great Archangel whom God has assigned to the nation of Israel to prevent that nation from being fully annihilated from the face of the earth, is going to have to stand up and go into all-out action. The reason is because Antichrist and other satanic forces are going to go after Israel now throughout the entire second half of the seven-year Tribulation period, they’ll go after Israel with a vengeance trying to annihilate them from the face of the earth, and Michael is going to have to go into all-out action to prevent Israel from being totally annihilated from the face of the earth. And this passage is saying that is going to be the unparalleled time of trouble in all of world history.