Who is the antichrist?
What do you think of when you hear “antichrist”? For most Christians it is associated with something negative, as the word anti means against or in place of. Antichrist is something that is against Christ and what He stands for, and takes the place He should have. Antichrist will therefore also be against everything that belongs to Christ, including God’s people.
Many believe that antichrist is a person, such as the President of the United States, of Russia or North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Others believe that antichrist is a revolutionary leader from the past, or someone that is to come in the future. And thus, they claim, we do not need to worry about this now. But is that true?
Outwardly, antichrist appears to be Christian and good in nature. The world will therefore easily be deceived. The Bible describes how antichrist has (intended to) destroy God’s revealed truths, that He has shown us through the sanctuary. He claims to take the place of Christ. Let’s see how the Bible clearly identifies this power, that is contrary to Christ, the Bible and the Truth.
Daniel chapter 7 was written around 600 years BC, in Babylon. Daniel was captive there with many others of God’s people. The captivity lasted, as prophesied, for 70 years. During this time, the prophet Daniel received a dream from God with an important message, that is very relevant today. In fact, it predicted not only the rise and fall of kingdoms, but it also gives us clear characteristics of antichrist.
A Lion with Eagle Wings
“Daniel spoke, saying, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” (Daniel 7:2-3)
• Water is a symbol of people, multitudes, and nations (See Revelation 17:15).
• An animal is a symbol of a kingdom (Daniel 7:17,23).
Verse 4 states: “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.” (Daniel 7: 4)
A lion is a common symbol of the ancient and mighty kingdom of Babylon. The lion represented the king, as well as Ishtar, who was one of their gods. The road that went into Babylon had 120 lions of gold side by side. The Bible refers to Babylon as a lion (see, for example, Jeremiah 50:17).
In the book of Habakkuk, Babylon is likened to an eagle. You could actually see pictures of lions with eagle wings on the walls and on the coins of ancient Babylon.
This beast is a symbol of Babylon which was a mighty kingdom, and ruled between 612-539 BC. The following beasts in the dream will give us information about the kingdoms that gained great power after Babylon.
A Bear with Ribs in his Mouth
“And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’” (Daniel 7:5)
The kingdom that conquered Babylon was Medo-Persia, a merge of two tribes from Iran’s mountainous regions. The description is a striking image of the Medo-Persian empire! The largest bear species lived in the mountains and forests of the kingdom of Media. They were slow, wild and evil.
Persia was the strongest of the two kingdoms, and this is well illustrated by the bear rising on one side. The three ribs in the mouth symbolize the three kingdoms conquered by Medo-Persia: Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.
Medo-Persia ruled between 539-331 BC.
The Rapid Conquest of Greece Predicted
“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.” (Daniel 7:6)
Medo-Persia was soon conquered by Alexander the Great, the ruler of Greece. This realm is known for its rapid conquest and is well illustrated by the leopard with wings. It only took three years for Alexander the Great to conquer all kingdoms from Egypt to India! Compare this with Babylon that spent three years conquering Jerusalem. As soon as Alexander died, his kingdom was divided between his four generals, clearly illustrated by the leopard’s four heads.
Greece ruled between 331-168 BC.
Can you see how the prophecy has been fulfilled to the very letter, so far? Daniel 7 is a parallel to the prophecy in Chapter 2 of the same book, but with more details.
The Iron Monarchy that Crushed its Opponents
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” (Daniel 7:7)
The Roman Empire was a very strong but fearful kingdom. One of the main historians of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, calls Rome the Iron Monarchy. Very interesting considering how the Bible describes the Roman Empire. The ten horns here represent the division of the kingdom, which at one point was divided into ten kingdoms.
The Roman Empire ruled between 168 BC-476 AD.
This was a special kingdom. It was indeed “different from all the beasts that were before it”. The Romans were really violent and evil. They crucified their enemies as well as criminals, and the discipline in the army was very harsh. The Romans practiced something called decimation – they killed 1/10 of their own troops, so that the rest would be motivated to give all for the kingdom.
Antichrist – a small kingdom
Now we are getting to the next kingdom. A small kingdom that, according to the Bible, is the enemy of God, and of His people.
“I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” (Daniel 7:8)
At one point, 10 new kingdoms would emerge in the Roman Empire. We are told in v. 24 that “ten kings … shall arise from this kingdom.”
The ten kingdoms were as follows:
- Visigoths – Spain
- Anglo-Saxons – England
- Franks – France
- Alemani – Germany
- Burgundians – Switzerland
- Lombards – Italy
- Suevi – Portugal
- Heruli – Rooted up
- Ostrogoths – Rooted up
- Vandals – Rooted up
These last three kingdoms / horns were uprooted to give space to a small horn, according to the prophecy. This power is the same power described as the beast from the sea in Revelation chapter 13. Daniel 7:24 and 8:22 makes it clear that a horn is a symbol of a king or kingdom.
This little horn is therefore to be understood as a small kingdom which was to present itself as the 3 of the 10 other kingdoms were uprooted.
“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. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
In this verse we find some more distinct characteristics of the antichrist:
- He will speak against God
- He will persecute the saints (God’s people)
- God’s people will be surrendered in his hand for 3.5 prophetic years (The word for a time can be translated with one year.)
- Intend to change times and law.
The prophetic 3.5 years of Daniel 7:25 are also described in several other places: Daniel 12:7, Revelation 11:2,3, 12:6,14 and 13:5.
The prophecies in the book of Daniel are symbolically given – therefore it is logical that the timeframe is also symbolic. A prophetic day in an apocalyptic prophecy equals one literal year. There are several reasons for this. (See, for example, Ezekiel 4:6, Deuteronomy 14:34 and Luke 13:31-33). In this prophecy, it means that 3.5 years are the same as 1260 days, as a biblical year was 360 days.
7 Biblical Facts about Antichrist
- Antichrist emerged in Europe after the division of the Roman Empire, among the 10 barbaric tribes. (Daniel 7:8)
- It’s a small kingdom. (Daniel 7:8)
- Three of the tribes were uprooted (the Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths) when this kingdom was established. (Daniel 7:8)
- It is a blasphemous power that speaks great words (Daniel 7:8, 25 + Revelation 13:5-6). The biblical definition of blasphemy is to falsely claim to be God on earth (John 10:33) and to claim to be able to forgive sin (Mark 2:5-7).
The pope, according to the Catholic Church, is God’s vicar on earth, and the priest has the power to forgive sin.
- It was to “intend to change times and law” (Daniel 7:25).
- In the catechism of the Catholic Church, the second commandment is removed – the one that forbids idolatry. The last commandment is split in two, so that there are still ten. They also “changed” the biblical Sabbath to Sunday. So, they have not only changed the law but time – just like prophesied!
- It shall make war against the saints (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:5-7).
- In the Dark Ages, between 50 and 150 million people were killed by this power, because they believed in the Bible rather than the church.
- The people of God were given into the hand of antichrist for 1260 years.
- Thus, the little horn would have the power to persecute God’s people for 1260 years.
There is only one power that fits all these characteristics with time, place, and size – namely the Papacy. When the three kingdoms were uprooted, the Roman Catholic Church gained power – a small, yet powerful kingdom.
The Roman Catholic Church gained power in 538 AD, when General Belisarius took Rome and conquered the Ostrogoths. They had power until 1798, when Napoleon’s general took the pope captive. This is exactly 1260 years!
It is important to note that antichrist is a system that is in conflict with God and His character. Thus, antichrist is not a person. I am sure that God still has His children in this church. There are people who live up to the light that they have, and are faithful to it. I have met some of these who seek the truth in the Word of God. My wife is one of them, who grew up in the Catholic church. God calls these to come out of this system (see Revelation 14 and 18). Like the first Christians, the Reformers, and many others, we must follow the Bible more than humans. It often requires that we make a clear stand.
Satan’s deception is often a mix of truth and error. If you don’t want to be deceived, it is important that you know the Bible, and the God of the Bible. Study and follow God’s instructions.
Bloodbath, Persecution and Deception
During the first centuries, the Christians were persecuted very strongly. Satan tried to wipe out the Christians by force. But the martyrs’ blood just nourished the church even more, and it grew like never before. Satan failed to get rid of God’s people with force, so he had to come up with another plan – deception.
Satan creates counterfeits to lead people away from what is true and right.
This false system, raised up by Satan, persecuted God’s people for 1260 years. Persecution against God’s people will happen again, for the deadly wound described in Revelation chapter 13 is well on its way to healing. Antichrist claims to take the place that only Jesus has. And “the whole earth” will follow him (Revelation 13:3), with the exception of a small group of people who are faithful to God and keep His commandments (Revelation 12:17, 14:12).
On July 22, 2011 Anders Breivik came to the island Utøya, Norway wearing a police uniform. Here they had a summer camp for young people. Before he arrived, he had placed a bomb that blew off in a government building in Oslo. He said he had arrived for security reasons and assured them that they were now safe.
He looked like a police, behaved like a police, but he wasn’t a police. He deceived many, and killed them that way. But there were some things about him that made some people suspicious.
In a similar way, the antichrist makes his way. He pretends to be Jesus, he says he has the same power, and does some of the same things Jesus did on earth, but he is not Jesus. Antichrist goes against Christ and what He stands for – a complete falsification.
69 people were killed and many more injured on Utøya. Two girls that had survived, arrived at Sundvolden hotel, trying to digest what they had just experienced. They were without clothes, and had just a towel around them, as they had escaped in the water. As they were sitting there, crying, an older man came over to them, took them in his arms and comforted them.
After a while one of them looked at him and turned to her friend and exclaimed, “It’s the king!” Yes, the Norwegian King had come there to share this difficult time with their people.
One day soon, Christ Himself, the King and Creator of the universe, will save His people from this world that is full of evil! He wants to comfort and hold his arms around you. It will be a day full of indescribable joy! Do you want to be there that day?
It is important to know who the antichrist is so that we can avoid being deceived. However, knowing who the antichrist is does not save anyone, unless we know God and give our lives to Him. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
Knowing Jesus is eternal life, and the Bible testifies of Him (John 5:39). Jesus does not want us to make the wrong choice! He has paid dearly for you and I to be saved, by giving His life for us! Satan knows it and does everything he can to stop us. We need to take the Bible as an authoritative source and build our faith on it, not on human traditions.
The only way you can be absolutely sure that you will not be deceived in these last days of earth’s history is if everything you believe is completely rooted in God’s Word and in Christ.
Written by Christian Hjortland