As we move into this part of our study, I want to remind you of a couple things that will already be happening on earth before the tribulation starts. The first is the ministry of Elijah the Prophet (Malachi 4:5-6), and second is the government of 10 kings/10 kingdoms. This government must be in place prior to the tribulation because the Antichrist rises out of these 10 kingdoms. The 10 kings & kingdoms are technically the first stage of the One World Government. The Antichrist will ultimately take over these kingdoms and the world.
Three other things will be happening alongside the first 6 seals during the first 3.5 years of the tribulation. First is the ministry of the 144,000 Jewish believers. Second is the ministry of the Two Witnesses (Rev. 11), and third is the One World Religion led by the False Prophet (Rev. 17). We will be studying these elements of the tribulation in future posts.
Fruchtenbaum says, “The seal judgments of Revelation 6 are the first of three series of judgments that will take place during the tribulation. They begin as a result of the signing of the seven-year covenant and are part of the decree of the destruction upon the whole earth (Is. 28:22). There are seven such seal judgments, with the seventh containing the seven trumpet judgments. The first four of the seven seal judgments are also known as “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 202). Today we are going to study the first seal judgment.
The rider’s crown is an indication of his identity. He wears a “stephanos” crown (victor’s crown) as opposed to “the diadem crown, the crown of sovereignty and royalty, the type of crown Messiah will be described as wearing in chapter 19. This figure who enters the tribulation conquering and bent on conquest is the Antichrist” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 202). The Antichrist will come under a guise of peace, but will ultimately show himself to be a ruthless conqueror. He will be the first world leader in history to make a legitimate peace deal with Israel, allowing them to worship freely in a newly built Temple on the Temple Mount. After 3 and a half years, he will break the 7 year covenant and desecrate the Temple.
“The world will go delirious with delight at his manifestation. He will be the seeming answer to all its needs. He will be filled with all the fullness of Satan. Handsome, with a charming, rakish, devil-may-care personality, a genius, superbly at home in all the scientific disciplines, brave as a lion, and with an air of mystery about him to tease the imagination or to chill the blood as occasion may serve, a brilliant conversationalist in a score of tongues, a soul-captivating orator, he will be the idol of all mankind” (John Phillips/Hitchcock, The End, p, 258).
There are several names for the Antichrist in Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments. In fact, there are over 100 passages that refer to this final world ruler (Hitchcock, The End, p. 253). He is often referred to as “the beast” in the book of Revelation.
I used to assume the Jews would worship the Antichrist as their Messiah, but have since discovered that is not the case at all. Evidence points to him being a Gentile. Fruchtenbaum says, “that the Antichrist will be a Gentile is seen first by looking at biblical typology. The only biblical type of the Antichrist is given in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, a Gentile. Another argument for the Gentile nature of the Antichrist is found in biblical imagery. Whenever the word ‘sea’ is used symbolically in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Revelation, it represents the Gentile nations (Rev. 17:15), this points to the Antichrist as being of Gentile origin” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 208).
Perhaps the greatest argument for the Antichrist being a Gentile is seen in Daniel 9:26-27 which we studied last week. It says, “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come [a reference to the Antichrist] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then 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. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate” (NKJV).
“Verse 26 states that ‘the prince who is to come’ is of the same nationality as the people who will destroy the city and the sanctuary… History has shown that the sanctuary was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The obvious conclusion then, is that the Antichrist is a Gentile of Roman origin” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 209). One could also say the Antichrist has a Satanic origin. Satan will use him to counterfeit the truth. The three main characters on earth during the tribulation are Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet forming what some have called “the unholy trinity.” Gotquestions.org says, “This unholy trinity will persecute believers and deceive many others, resulting in their eternal death. But God’s kingdom will prevail.”
Scripture teaches the Antichrist will “be assassinated or violently killed” near the middle of the tribulation (Rev. 13:3, 12, 14). “He will descend into the abyss and be raised back to life” (Hitchcock, The End, p. 264-265). We’ll be studying this in more detail later. When the Antichrist is resurrected, Satan himself appears to indwell him. At that point “the Antichrist’s mask will come off, and he will replace his olive branch with a sword. He will subjugate the whole world. All the greatness of Alexander and Napoleon will pale compared to him. No one will be able to stand in the way of his conquest. He will crush everything and everyone before him. He will be the final great Caesar over the Roman Empire. ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’ (Rev. 13:4, NASB; Hitchcock, The End, p. 263).
I love Hitchcock’s closing comments in his chapter about the Antichrist. He says, “Scriptural teaching about the Antichrist is not given to make us anxious, but to make us aware. God has revealed this information to us not for us to become preoccupied with the Antichrist or to recklessly speculate about his identity but to show us where this world is headed and to assure us that God is still in control. Our awareness of God’s final victory over the Antichrist and evil reassures believers that both the present and the future are firmly in God’s grasp” (The End, p. 266-267).
Week Four: Homework Reflections
Day One: The Antichrist’s Rise to Power
- Read Daniel 8:23-25 and list everything you learn about the Antichrist.
- Read Daniel 11:36-39 and record what you learn.
- In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, when will the Antichrist appear?
Day Two: His Mouth
- Read Daniel 7:8, 11; 11:36. What do these verses tell you about the Antichrist’s speech?
- How does Revelation 13:5 compare with what you read in Daniel?
- Who does the Antichrist claim to be according to 2 Thessalonians 2:4?
Day Three: The Beast
- Read Rev. 13 and record what you learn about the “beast out of the sea.”
- Read the following passages and record the names and descriptions you see of the Antichrist: Daniel 9:26; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8; 1 John 2:22; Rev. 11:7.
- What do you learn about Satan in contrast to Jesus from John 8:42-47? Now read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. How does that add to what you’ve learned so far?
Days Four & Five: Christ Above All
- Read Rev. 13:1; Rev. 19:6, and Phil. 2:9-11. How does the Antichrist’s name compare with Jesus’ name?
- Read Psalm 113. How is the LORD above all?
- Read Romans 11:33-36 and meditate on the attributes of God. Praise Him that He will overcome in the end!