We have endured the wild speculations of a lot of would be Bible interpreters of prophecy and as a result a long list of potential antichrists has come and gone. The bible promises that at the appropriate moment he will be revealed, (2 Th 2: 3) but for some the temptation to name the man before the time is too great. Taking a chance at making a fool of themselves is not the worst of the matter, but mis-leading the believer and creating more confusion in the minds of unbelievers is. Here is the bottom line; when he (antichrist) arrives to begin his rule, no one in this world will miss seeing who he is.
Although the bible does not name the antichrist it does offer a lot of information about his nature and the means by which he comes to power. His short lived rule will be the most tumultuous in history. It will start as the hope of the world, but will end in the final judgment of the earth and transference of all power out of the hands of men. The unlearned call it the end of the world but the truth is diametrically opposite. At the end of antichrists rule Christ re-enters the history of men, in person, and removes both antichrist and the spirit (Satan) by which he ruled. Next, according to scripture, Jesus Christ begins his divine rule from Jerusalem for a period of 1,000 years.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev 20: 4)
Before naming some of the worst interpretations of second coming doctrine to arrive on the scene these days it does well to quickly go over a few rules of interpretation. Each of the interpretations of second coming that are untenable, spurious or completely out of order will be seen to fail one or more of the following rules provided to keep both the novice and the seasoned expert from error.
(1.) Rule one is the simplest. Think it through. If the view you have arrived at cannot not pass the common sense test it will never hold up under divine scrutiny and scriptural comparison. Is it anywhere near plausible, possible or provable? After checking historicity, precedent and plausibility if it doesnt hold promise dump it. If you dont possess a sound doctrine (Titus 2: 1) to start with, it may do well to put your thoughts aside for greater scrutiny and comparison. Keep foremost in your thoughts that speculation is not sound doctrine.
(2.) If you find you are standing alone or nearly alone in your view that may be the first indicator that you have come out from Holy Spirit inspired conclusions. Peter said Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Pet 1: 20) Paul insisted that we all spoke the same thing because he knew we would all be taught by the same spirit. He said, Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Co 1: 10)
(3.) Check your sources. If you are drawing conclusions from a liberal source your theology is not trustworthy. If a theologian or interpreter has doubts about the total inspiration of scripture those doubts are already obstructing any chance of arriving at proper conclusions. Remember the bible is not asking the modern expositor to unravel its last days mysteries, it is in itself the unraveling of all the mysteries and we need to discover Gods plan, not create our own. The name of a scholar followed by a long list of letters is not a guarantee of a solid interpretation. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 Jn 4: 1)
(4.) This test is a cardinal rule that must never be ignored. The first and the best interpreter of scripture – is the scripture. If one part of scripture is speaking to the same subject as another, to clarify, amplify or add an additional meaning that is where we must look first. Bible commentaries, scholarly works and trendy modern interpretations must never be referenced first or in place of supportive scriptures relating to any particular subject.
The list of spurious interpretations is fairly long, but some are more damaging than others. We can only address a few of the most popular modern interpretations that clearly invite further scrutiny.
Ten Economic Blocs
The latest new idea about the last days is that rather than a revived Roman Empire the world will mutate into ten blocs or economic divisions. Since the dream the prophet Daniel interpreted in Daniel 2 shows no disconnection from the previous kingdoms, but rather a direct connection to the Roman Empire proposing such an idea constitutes an enormous stretch to both logic and the imagination. The EU is forming today in the same general geographic location as the old Roman Empire. To suggest that this is not the revived Roman Empire we have to take a giant leap.
Since the feet of Daniels interpreted dream are directly connected to the legs, which are beyond doubt, the old Roman Empire there is nothing in the dream or supporting scripture anywhere in the Bible that can add credence to the idea of ten economic blocs. To put it simply, the revived Roman Empire interpretation which is the interpretation most commonly held and trusted is supportable, but the idea of ten economic blocs, stands alone and is unsupported by anything in scripture. The current unstable condition of the EU is not reason to think it will not emerge as a great world power. In fact, if it combines as it is in the process of doing at this very moment by solidifying banking and commerce it can emerge as a world power – overnight.
In Islamic eschatology there is a belief that a ruler called the Mahdi will come and rule either seven, nine or nineteen years depending on who you ask. He is supposed to be the last ruler before the earth is judged.
Because of this prediction, which is not accepted by all Muslims neither found in the Koran, some modern biblical expositors have decided that the Mahdi is really the antichrist. This idea is gaining momentum with some, especially now, that the threat of terrorism, jihad and the general spread of Islam is seen all over the world.
The refutation of this idea has several powerful proof texts and some strong arguments against it that would make it a rather shaky assumption to build on at best. It must be noted that there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the antichrist could not be a Muslim or have at least have a Muslim background. The idea that he will rule the final caliphate and be seen as the supreme ruler by Muslims is nearly an impossibility.
The first passage to refute this theory says that antichrist exalts himself to the place of God. Since the Mahdi and no Muslim ruler can declare themselves to be God that nips the idea in the bud. The Mahdi is said to come and rule until Allah comes to judge the world, he is not God or the son of God. The second reason the theory is untenable is the fact that at some point in his rise the antichrist openly leaves the religion of his fathers and then goes on to stop the worship of any and all Gods imagined or real. How many Muslims will continue to follow him after he makes that declaration?
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2Th 2: 4) No Muslim will accept that he is God.
But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. (Dan 11: 38)
The strongest argument against a Muslim antichrist comes from the fact that four entire chapters of the prophecies of Ezekiel declare that the power of Middle Eastern armies is brought to dust when in the last days they decide to attack Israel. Chapters 36 through 39 of Ezekiel show a confederation of Muslim nations under the guiding leadership of a northern nation (Russia) being destroyed all across the northern mountains and plains of Israel. God has no intention of allowing the devastation of Israel just before his Christ returns to earth to begin his rule. With the basic power of the Muslim nations broken, who would accept or expect that out of that, a Muslim will emerge to rule the entire new world order?
The Next Pope is the Antichrist ?
I have watched misguided prophecy enthusiasts chase that twisted assertion for my entire life. This too has strong scriptural refutation. The first is the fact that according to scripture the scarlet clad women (all apostate churches) who rides the back of the beast (the antichrists kingdom) is hated by those in that kingdom and subsequently cast off its back and destroyed. (Rev 17: 1f) The antichrist is destroyed by the coming of Christ not by members of his own kingdom. (2Th 2: 8)
The other argument against such a foolish assertion comes from the fact that the city of Rome will be completely destroyed in one day. Why would the antichrist base be destroyed and where would he and whatever is left to his center take up to complete the time of his rule. (Rev 17: 9)
Yet a third reason to dismiss this idea is that even with the next Pope possibly leaning toward liberalism, no Pope has ever been a political, military and economic genius, but antichrist will most certainly be all three.
It behooves those studying and openly proclaiming the prophecies of the last day to carefully ponder their beliefs and dont rush the timetable or create figures, facts or fantasies that simply do not exist. It is a matter of serious responsibility to espouse and relay to others only that which can be strongly supported by scriptures.
Perhaps the saddest message ever impressed upon me in my life was a clear warning that regardless of who I spoke to or, how well I addressed the subject, that not many people would come out of their own darkness to heed the message. This does not keep God from calling to anyone who has ears to hear.
The destruction of the great city of Rome and of all apostate systems of Christianity has been given more than an entire chapter in the book of Revelation. Holding up a way to escape is the hallmark of Gods mercy. It is part of the proof that the prophecies are sure. Those who know their God – will always be given the call and the path to save themselves. To Wit:
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (Rev 18: 4, 5)
The most important question anyone can ask themselves in these troubled days is not who is the antichrist, but rather the most serious question that can be raised is who is the Christ.