The Closing Events Under the Seventh Trumpet
The REIGN OF ANTICHRIST
When the Woman escaped the dragon, he turned upon “the rest of her seed” who remained within his reach. This seed is known by two facts: They “keep the commandments of God,” and “have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Later in 19:10, we are told “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Hence, we conclude that these whom Satan turns upon are testifying that Christ is coming soon in judgment upon the earth, and He will translate all His saints into His presence. Satan now tries to turn their testimony into a trap for their souls.
He goes and stands upon the sand of the sea. (It should be translated “he stood” not “I stood.”) This place of standing was probably the beach of the Mediterranean near Joppa. We must understand that John is still being shown matters in the region of Jerusalem and nowhere else. We do not know what will be taking place all over the world after chapter 9 except for an occasional glimpse now and then. Indeed, some think that from first to last the entire book of the Revelation describes the state of things in Palestine alone or its immediate neighborhood.
John says, “I saw a beast rise up (coming up) out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads names of blasphemy.” This word for “beast” means a wild beast. It is altogether different from the word used for the “four living beings,” but translated unfortunately “beasts” in the Authorized Version. John sees the creature as a wild beast, for he sees through his false professions in the blasphemous names on his head, such as in all probability “king of kings and lord of lords,” titles that would be blasphemous for him to assume according to his real character, which is beastly. To ordinary, unspiritual eyes this creature will seem very lovely–the most splendid and gifted and powerful of men. After all, he is the man who is going to rule for a short time at Jerusalem as Antichrist--Christ’s great enemy and counterfeit.
Satan usually tries to imitate God’s work and to produce his skillful imitation just before God’s work appears. He induces men to answer their own prayers instead of waiting for God to answer them at the proper time. As a consequence of what Abraham and Sarah did, Ishmael was born before Isaac, the child of promise. To this day, the Ishmaelites are a troublesome lot for the inhabitants of Palestine. Herod built the Temple for the Jews just before Christ came. He wanted to be considered the Jews’ Messiah even though he was not a real Jew, but an Ishmaelite–an Idumean. The men of his party, the Herodians, were persistent persecutors of Jesus Christ. Herod was a type of the coming Antichrist as was Nero. John pictures the actual Antichrist, not a type.
The Two Witnesses had prophesied that Jesus was coming again, and all in the world must be ready for Him. The “seed of the woman” believers were doubtless preaching the Second Coming all over the world. Then, they learn that not only have the Two Witnesses been slain and translated but also a large body of women has disappeared from Jerusalem and perhaps in other places as well.
However, these women have not been translated yet, only hidden from the coming fury of the beast. A large number of men, the 144,000, were translated. We imagine this might make them very uneasy. They would remember the Lord’s words: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matt. 24:40-41). With so many in their midst missing, they might begin to fear they were left behind. If so, this state of perplexity would afford Satan the best possible opportunity to deceive God’s people.
What it means when Satan calls Antichrist up from the sea, we are not certain. Yet, when he appears, he has been wounded with a sword-thrust (13:12, 14). This wound killed him, and now he is alive again. Later, we are told that he “shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” (17:8). This time, however, he does not ascend from there but out of the sea.
In 11:7, we are told that the one who slew the Two Witnesses was “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit,” making him alive on earth at the same time of the Two Witnesses. For these reasons, we believe when the “beast” slays the Two Witnesses the people will see them rise again from the dead. Remember, these are the same people who made merry over the death of the witnesses. Also, when they feel the terrible earthquake, these same people will turn and take vengeance upon the “beast” and slay him with the sword, throwing his body into the sea. Satan, then, will resurrect him to life again.
Can it be possible Satan should ever have such power? Yes, quite possible, for Paul prophesies this very Antichrist‘s “coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders (2 Thess.2:9). And, it is certain the people recognize this “beast” as someone they knew before. Also, they recognize him as someone whom they knew to have been killed, for they are all filled with wonder because he is alive again (13:3). As we understand it, Antichrist is the same “beast” that slew the Two Witnesses. In the meantime, he has been killed. Now John sees him come up out of his watery grave as the Apollyon in 9:11.
Now, just imagine what perplexity must fill the minds of uninformed people who do not know their Bibles. When the Two Witnesses were slain and came to life again, they were sure that proved they were genuine. Those Two Witnesses turn upon the “beast” that killed them and slew him. Now, that “beast” comes to life again.
Alas! Who is genuine, and whom shall they believe? Now they cry, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” The “beast” takes advantage of their perplexity and fright and makes all manner of blasphemous boasts that he is Christ, who has come in judgment to put down all his enemies. He begins “to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” And the world gives him complete rule over its entire length and breadth.
However, God’s own intelligent people will not acknowledge him. Therefore, he persecutes or slays them, for they have no power to resist him. At this time, God causes good people to resist all temptation to try to fight against this monster. From this time forward, all military action is forbidden to God’s people. They are commanded to let Antichrist do his worst, and resistance will be punished by God. The message goes forth: “If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword . . .” (13:9-10).
From the time of that battle in heaven when Satan was cast out into the earth, it was announced by a loud voice in heaven: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (12:10). From this point on, Christ assumes the right alone to rule. Either by putting wrongdoers in prison or waging war against them, those who attempt to rule will be punished by Christ. He alone will put down the wickedness of the world, after which His saints will rule with Him.
“Here is the patience and the faith of the saints,” ends verse 10. This statement means that because Christians may not even try to defend themselves from Antichrist’s violence, both their patience and their faith will be sorely tried. Often we hear it said that Christians should prefer above everything else to live to be translated when the Lord comes. Yet, a higher glory is possible for those who live until near the time when Christ comes and who accept a defenseless death under Antichrist. These martyrs will make up the full number which will hasten the Lord’s coming (6:11), and they have special mention and honor when Christ comes to establish His rule on earth (20:4).
About this time, Satan brings another “beast” up out of the earth, who comes out of an earthly grave much like the first one came out of a watery grave. We are not told whether people see where he comes from, but he becomes the head of a great religious organization. This man will work with all his might to secure obedience and worship of the first “beast.” He is mild and lamb-like in appearance, but his speech is Satanic. He is called the “the false prophet” in 16:13, 19, 20, and 20:10. Therefore, we will call him that from the first. Now, we have fully developed a diabolical trinity--Satan, the counterfeit of God; Antichrist, a counterfeit of Jesus Christ; and the False Prophet, counterfeit of the Holy Spirit.
Satan knows the Bible as well or better than we. He quoted Scripture to Jesus Christ to tempt Him. Satan is a very pious fraud. All he does is imitate God. Whenever he can, he finds out what God is about to do and then hastens to make a fraudulent copy of God’s work to impose on us as the real work of God which has been promised. We have a Christ raised from the dead who showed the wound print in His side to Thomas.
Satan produces his Antichrist, who is also raised from the dead, and has a wound print to show. Christ is called the one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8), and it is said, “They that dwell on the earth shall wonder (and worship), whose names were not written in the book of life . . .when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and shall come” (17:8, RV). As it has been prophesied, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord “ (Phil. 2:10-11). Therefore, as far as possible, Satan sees to it that all are compelled to worship his false christ. The False Prophet carries out his will at this point.
The False Prophet makes an image of Antichrist and causes it to speak. and he does it so skillfully that, with something in the image like breath, some of the people are convinced that the image has been created and brought to life by the False Prophet. The false miracle succeeds. Most of the inhabitants become idolaters and worship the image. Those who will not are boycotted and can neither buy nor sell. In time, they will starve unless God rescues them.
Meanwhile, Antichrist will enter a temple built at Jerusalem and will establish his throne. From there, he will rule and be worshiped in person. Likewise, his image will be worshiped. Paul tells us about Antichrist seating himself in God’s temple for worship and pretending he is God. (2 Thessolonians 2:4).
Imitating the two witnesses by bringing fire down from heaven, the False Prophet compels the people to make images like his breathing and talking image and to worship those images (13:13). Those who will not worship the image of Antichrist will be killed. Others will be marked in their right hand and forehead as worshipers of the beast, boycotting and starving those who will not yield. These events will transpire probably during the entire three-and-a-half years Antichrist continues to rule (13:5). What sad, sad times these will be for God’s people who live in the midst of these trials!
If only they will study their Bibles diligently, especially the Revelation, God’s people need not be deceived as to Antichrist when he comes. We may not understand all that is in the book until the time comes. As a learned writer has said, “The only certain interpretation of prophecy is its fulfillment.” It is not meant that we should understand every prophecy before its fulfillment. However, we should understand enough that when it begins to be fulfilled, then we will be able to identify it because of our familiarity with the Scriptures.
Now, a very curious method of discovering Antichrist by his very name when he comes is told us. The method did not seem so strange in the days when John wrote it because the Jews were in the habit of using it for other purposes. In early days, the letters of the alphabet in various languages were used for figures. This method remains to this day in the Roman numbers we use on the face of clocks or for chapters of the Bible, for example. Although not true of Roman numbers, generally speaking, a=1; b=2; c= 3; d=4, and so on. Antichrist is merely a title that John gives him (I. John 2:18, 22; 4:3). However, the sum of the letters which make up the name of Antichrist is 666.
Do we know any name that will equal this sum? Yes! Either in Latin, Greek or Hebrew, many names will, but we are not told in which language to compute the name. Some of the names proposed are: Nero, Diocletian, Luther, Calvin, Napoleon, Balaam and Caesar. The oldest interpretation on record is given by one of Polycarp’s disciples--Irenaeus, A.D. 170, who was one of John’s disciples. Irenaeus declares the name is lateinos, meaning “Latin.” In Greek, L = 30 + a = 1 + t = 300 + e = 5 + i = 10 + n = 50 + o =70 + s = 200 with the sum total of 666.
It so happens that the Greek letters for the phrase, “the Latin kingdom” (he basileia latine) also equal 666 as well as the Hebrew word for Roman–romith. Probably, this solution is correct, especially since other strong reasons exist for believing Antichrist will be of the Latin race. But, we have already spoken of Antichrist being a Jew from the tribe of Dan. That tribe, however, is not mentioned in chapter 7. Also, the obscure prophecy in Genesis 49:17 causes us to leave the matter in uncertainty for the present.
As to the False Prophet, it is not unlikely that some day in the future a so-called “Reunion of Christendom” will take place. However, according to the present trend, all “religious” faiths, pagan and Christian, will be taken into it. Should this circumstance ever happen, the Pope of Rome is the only one upon whom all are likely to agree for the head of that Reunion. Then, he may prove to be the False Prophet who will persecute all who will not worship Antichrist. Others teach, however, that Antichrist will be a Pope of Rome.