14. The Rise of the Antichrist
In our previous study in chapter twelve of the book of Revelation, we began looking at what essentially is a series of flashbacks similar to a motion picture drama that provide us with insight into the events of the last seven years of this age. In Revelation 11:15, we read of the blowing of the seventh trumpet, beginning the wrath of God, but John does not write about the bowl's judgment until chapter sixteen. In chapters twelve through fifteen, the Lord wants to prepare His people for Satan's wrath against the saints. The Antichrist shall “wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25) and make war on them: “the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (12:17).
These are believers in Christ who are on earth during the second half of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24), the time also called the Great Tribulation (Distress NIV): “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matthew 24:21). God's desire is for His Church to be forewarned about the events of the second half of the seven-year period that will take place against believers in Christ. He gives us this warning so that His people are aware and spiritually prepared to endure the onslaught. Knowing these things before they take place will be an encouragement amid a dark time.
How do we know that this time is still ahead for all believers in Christ? After all, some believe that the Book of Revelation events happened in the first century A.D. and culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The answer is that there has never been any person or time in history when one man has gained control of the whole earth. This man, the Antichrist, will have authority over “every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). The world system ruled by Satan (“the ruler of this world,” John 14:30) is preparing for the time when one man will control the whole world through decades of manipulation of the resources of the world as a whole, i.e., its currency, energy, education, food, health and drug system, armed forces, political systems, etc. Let's dive in to read what happens after the devil and his angels are cast to the earth, i.e., something we read about in our previous study in Revelation 12:13 and 17.
The Beast out of the Sea
1The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4).
When John the Apostle wrote what the Lord was showing him in A.D. 95, he didn't write any chapter divisions. John wrote this account as it came to him, in a swiftly flowing vision. The chapter divisions came about nearly a thousand years after he wrote. In chapter thirteen, this passage we are studying today, continues the events John describes as unfolding after Satan is cast down to earth. When Satan realizes he only has a short time (12:12) before his kingdom reign will be brought to an end, he has already prepared a man and a political structure to use as the means for one last demonic defense of his kingdom of evil. Satan has to try and stop the growth of God's kingdom throughout the world. In this final assault, Satan calls up his two prepared vessels that he can work through to exercise full dominion over the earth—an unholy trinity of Satan, seen as the dragon, the Antichrist, and another whose focus is to use religion to manipulate humanity, viz. one that theologians call the False Prophet (Revelation 13:11). We shall look at him in our next study.
In verse one of chapter thirteen, we read of Satan (the dragon) standing beside the sea, and a beast comes up out of the sea. Why the sea? In Revelation 17:15, the political system of the beast, Mystery Babylon the Great, is seen sitting on many waters, interpreted by holy writ to be “peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues.” It is our view that the Lord is showing us that the Antichrist will arise during a time of great social upheaval: “On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea” (Luke 21:25). A leader will arise out of the storm-tossed sea of Gentile nations in turmoil to take advantage of the situation to grab power, such as Adolf Hitler did in Germany's early 1930s. I believe that this will be a literal world power and a literal individual who will arise. A climate of fear will be released by the controlled media to allow this power to thrive so that the beast of a man will be allowed to control the political and world system.
The Antichrist is described in verse two as having the same characteristics as the three beasts about which Daniel spoke in Daniel 7. This likely means that the Antichrist will be a composite of the preceding three kingdoms in history. Babylon was likened to a lion (Daniel 7:4), and this man, the Antichrist, will have an ability to speak great things that will sway people just as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did. The second beast is likened to a bear, which we know to be the Medes and Persians (Daniel 7:5), which perhaps symbolizes the Antichrist's ferocity and power. The third beast, represented by the leopard, is a picture of the Greek empire under Alexander the Great (Daniel 7:6). Perhaps, it is indicative of the speed by which his army traveled to conquer the Middle East and Western Asia in just over three years. Similarly, the Antichrist and his kingdom will have an ability to react with speed to world events.
This beast has ten horns. In the Scriptures, horns are symbols of power, demonstrated in nature by animals using their horns to fight. There have been many theories put forth to interpret the ten horns throughout church history. Some commentators see these ten horns as representing individual rulers in the Roman Empire. Others have suggested that these horns represent separate countries that arose out of the Roman Empire through time. The ten horns could even symbolize ten trading blocs being created in the year 2020 with leaders over each of them such as the 3 countries of North America, calling it the North American Free Trade Union (NAFTA). This trade agreement President Trump renegotiated calling it the USMCA. There is also the ASEAN trading bloc (Association of South East Asian Nations), the European Union, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and others, which this writer believes will become ten trading blocs covering the whole world.1 We will not know until we see this stage finally set. We have seen the spirit of the Anti-Christ at work throughout history, arising again and again during the last several centuries. Still, in this last and final battle, the Antichrist will be revealed for who he is, i.e., the incarnation of evil who violently opposes all that is good and even God Himself. Daniel, the prophet, also wrote of a powerful beast with ten horns:
A Little Horn Among Ten
7"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. 8"While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully (Daniel 7:7-8).
This reference to a little horn speaks of the Antichrist. Let’s read more of what Daniel tells us this man will do when he comes to power.
20I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, 22until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. 23"He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it (Daniel 7:20-23).
This more imposing little horn (the Antichrist) will wage war against the saints and defeat them (v. 21). What do you perceive is happening here? Who is spoken of here, and what does defeat look like for them?
This writer's opinion is that this fourth beast is represented as a remnant of the Roman Empire, which arises in a similar political form, as a ten trading bloc structure whose ten leaders will give their authority to the one called the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8). These ten trading blocs are also symbolized as the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image in Daniel 2:44: “in the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed.” It is not clear in Daniel 2:44 above what kings or leaders are mentioned, but the ten kings are symbolized by the ten toes of the image, i.e., the last stage of the fourth kingdom. The vision concludes with a Rock crashing on the image's feet and destroying Satan's series of evil empires' last vestiges. These ten leaders of nations or trading blocs will be in power when the Antichrist comes on the scene:
12“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14These will make war with the Lamb (Revelation 17:12-14).
To further study the thought of a ten-nation theme, you may like to view a YouTube video: If the below link is taken down, do a Google search on the topic, The New World Order – A 6000 Year History. If you start it at 1:35:38 you can watch the presenter talk about the Ten Kingdoms, found on a 1973 Club of Rome document. Here’s the link:
The whole world will come under this fourth kingdom's power or the latter part (13:8). This writer believes that we already see this particular phase of the plan to conquer the whole earth and bring all nations under one man's control. General Wesley Clark spoke of this plan in his testimony of what he was told just after 9-11. You might want to click on the below link, or if it is taken down, do a search on YouTube putting into the Search box the words: General Wesley Clark 7 Countries. The countries mentioned by him did not have a central bank under the domination of those pulling strings in the world before 9-11. Here’s the link:
Paul the Apostle wrote of this evil leader, calling him the Man of Sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Daniel called him the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8, 19). John the Apostle called him The Beast (Revelation 11:7), and the Antichrist (1 John 2:22). The word “Antichrist” can have two meanings: 1) It can signify one opposed to Christ, the antithesis of Christ. 2) It can also mean instead of Christ, a pretender who will paint himself as a Christ-like figure, i.e., one that will arise during dark times and set the raging sea of humanity back on its feet. When we studied the breaking of the seven seals and specifically the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, we looked at the Antichrist's rise as the first broken seal of the scroll.
The Worship of the Beast
The beast has one head that seemed to have a fatal wound (13:3, 14), and many believe he will die; instead, his wound is miraculously healed. The whole world was astonished (v. 3) and followed the beast. The Greek word used here, thoumazō, means “to wonder, have in admiration and marvel.” The emphasis in this verse certainly seems to be when the whole world admires what this man can accomplish through his overcoming of death and his utilization of power. Passages like this are why I believe this passage and associating passages are still future. Those who are Preterists have difficulty interpreting this passage at face value. (Preterists believe that this passage was fulfilled in the first century A.D.). Rome in the first century could not make the whole world astonished at any of Rome's Caesars.
This deliverance from death causes a great wonderment and a growing belief by unbelievers in Christ that the Antichrist is a god and can bypass death's claims. This healing will likely be a powerful deception and could be the lie for which many will fall: “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). The definite article is on the words the lie, indicating that the lie he tells is a big one. With the power of technology behind him, he will be able to listen in on conversations and track people's every move with the Internet of Things (IoT). With 5G technology being introduced, your T.V.'s, phones, and many gadgets in the home listening to the words we say, the Beast will seem like a god, and one to be greatly feared. All those outside of Christ will be coerced to worship Satan and the Antichrist (v. 4) because all food will be controlled. It will be easier to compromise and give in rather than stand against him. His military and financial power will be such that people will conclude that no country can resist his might (13:4).
Satan will give this man his power and authority over the whole earth (Revelation 13:2), and as Daniel 7:21 above says, he will wage war against the saints, the Body of Christ. Perhaps, many will die at his hand rather than bow the knee and acknowledge the Antichrist as God. Three of the horns, according to Daniel 7:20, will fall, which leads us to believe that three of the ten leaders of the ten trading blocs will be deposed from their positions as leaders, perhaps killed as the Antichrist gains power. We can’t be dogmatic about such things, though.
Let’s now look at the second passage in chapter 13:
5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. 9Whoever has ears, let them hear. 10“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people Revelation 13:5-10).
Like Adolf Hitler was able to speak charismatically under the power of the evil one,2 this man will influence many people with blasphemous words and slanderous sentences against the Lord (v. 5). I would not be surprised if one can only access the Internet's power by using an icon on their phone or device with the user's face bowing down to the Antichrist on their phone or device. Only believers in Christ will say no, which will be why the Antichrist will make war against them. To the Antichrist, there can only be one god: him.
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
Daniel the prophet continued to speak of this man and the blasphemies that come out of his mouth.
24The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. 26" 'But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him' (Daniel 7:24-27. Emphasis mine).
Along with the blasphemies, there will be oppression of believers in Christ (v. 25). This beast of a man will change the set times and laws (v. 25).
What do you think the scripture means when it says he will change the set times and laws? What laws and set times do you think will be changed, and how are such things already leaning towards this time?
This change of the law will probably be a complete abandonment of all Christian holidays where the name of Christ could be mentioned. Laws that allow ungodly sins will be introduced, and hedonism will be practiced openly.
The saints being handed over to him refers to the persecution of biblical Christianity that will take place during the second half of the seven-year period, the time about which Jesus warned us, i.e., the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30). Persecution has never defeated Christianity; it has only stimulated the Church to grow deeper roots in Christ and grow numerically. I believe the Church will go through persecution, but the defeat about which the passage is talking refers to the Church losing the culture war. In Scripture, the Church, or called out ones, are called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). As the days get increasingly evil, the influence of the godly upon society gets weaker. When the movie Gone with the Wind came out in 1939, Clark Gable spoke his famous "d" word to Vivien Leigh in response to her tearful question: “Where shall I go”? (“Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”) It shocked the USA so much that it was front-page news. Compare that to today, and you will see how far we have been desensitized in our modern culture, which is growing increasingly darker and at a faster and faster rate.
Scripture also warns us of this spiritual sleep in the ten virgins' parable in Matthew 25:1-13. Even though five were wise (they took oil in their lamps) and five were foolish (and brought no oil), it records that the Bridegroom was a long time coming, and they ALL fell asleep (v. 5). When the Antichrist comes to power, this battle for our culture will intensify. Many in the Church today are asleep and unaware that they are in a spiritual battle.
Scripture tells us that there is coming a time when many who have a form of godliness but lack the power of a holy life (2 Timothy 3:5-7) will fall away from the faith. They will fall away because they have never been part of the true Church. To many today, going to Church is just a formal occasion for a Sunday morning. Jesus said, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10). Paul the Apostle also wrote about this event that will take place when many shall rebel against the faith of Christ: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). This war against the saints will not overcome the true Church of Christ. They will stand for Christ even though they are being killed for their faith. The saints will be delivered before God pours out His wrath on a sin-loving world:
"for God has not appointed us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Throughout history, Satan and his demons have sought the worship that is reserved for God. Demonic spirits will sometimes possess people and manifest in objects to be worshipped. Paul the Apostle wrote, “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things that the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons” (1 Cor. 10:19-20).
Do not fear that you will unwillingly or unknowingly take the mark of the Beast. We will talk about this more in the chapters to come. There will come a time when the Anti-Christ arises and requires sworn allegiance and servitude. You will have to make a conscious choice as to whom you will serve. Those who choose the Anti-Christ will be required to worship him as well as Satan.
The Lamb’s Book of Life
When you think of the last days leading up to the Second Coming of Christ, what is your greatest fear? How do you think Christ would answer your concern?
Whatever your fear is, you do not face it alone. Jesus said, “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 24:20). Don’t spend time worrying about that time and how you will provide for yourself and your family. When you go on a train journey, you get your ticket before you board the train. God will give us the grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Expect that God will show up in power to provide and keep us as He did the Israelites in Egypt during the ten plagues. The Lord has promised to be with us and will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). When Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace, there was a fourth One in the fire with them (Daniel 3:25). The enemy will not have everything his way; many are awakening to the cosmic war's reality being fought on earth and becoming believers.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
During the second half of the seven-year period, all of society’s structure will revolve around the Beast and his mark. The whole world's commerce will have an identifying mark, which identifies each person as a worshiper of the Antichrist and a part of his system. At that time, those who are Christ’s must stand in obedience to the Lord. At no other time in history will the identity of Christians be so clear. Refusing the mark will demonstrate faith in Christ. Those whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life will worship the Beast.
God has never promised us that He will keep us from all harm (1 Peter 4:12-14). He promises that everything that happens, He will use for our good (Romans 8:28) and that nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing! Not even death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, or things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).
How do you know for sure that your name is written in the book of life? Have you chosen Christ and trusted Him for salvation? If you are uncertain, you can make that choice today. I would encourage you to read the linked study, How Can I Be Sure of My Faith?
Here is a mystery. We choose Christ, but He also chooses us. Paul addresses the Christian believers in Ephesus, those who are faithful to Jesus Christ, in this way:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:3-5).
On that great day, may you be found in Him and for us to rejoice together in the goodness of our God.