Many students of Bible prophecy would contend that in his final attack on God’s people, satan will indwell a person who will take control of the end-times, one world government described in the Revelation.
This person is alluded to in a number of biblical passages (Dan 7:24-25; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:3-8), and in his letters, John identifies him as the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The Christian writer Arthur Pink says of him:
……this one [who] will be the full embodiment of human wickedness and the final manifestation of satanic blasphemy. (1)
According to Isaiah (Is 10), he will rise up out of the land that was once called Assyria, and Revelation 17:12-13 further tells us he will lead a coalition of ten nations in a war against God and His people. These ten nations are represented in the Bible by the ten toes of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan 2:42), the ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel’s dream (Dan 7:7) and the ten horns on John’s beast in the Revelation (Rev 17:3).
The Feet Empire
In my last post, I put forward the idea that the iron and clay feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue represented a seventh pagan world empire that followed Rome.
Most commentators agree that the legs of the statue represent the Roman Empire, but the significance of the feet is a point of contention. In my last post I suggested the feet of the statue do not simply represent the end of the Roman Empire, as many Bible prophecy students hold, rather, I proposed they are a representation of a further empire – the Ottoman Empire.
In the Revelation, John saw a seventh kingdom, which he explained had “not yet come” in his time. This was the seventh head/kingdom of the scarlet beast (Rev 17:10). From history we learn that the Roman Empire was changed into the Ottoman Empire in 1453, one year before Gutenberg printed the first Bible in Germany. While most of the Eastern Empire was overtaken by the Ottoman Empire, the area that had once been the Western Roman Empire began to grow and expand with the dramatic spread of biblical Christianity through the advent of printing.
Christianity and the Western World
From this growing Christian foundation grew the civilization of the western world. The so-called Dark Ages were transformed by access to God’s Word, as faith in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, which are revealed in The Bible, influenced almost all areas of human existence. Bible believing Christians made invaluable contributions to the arts and literature, science and law, politics and economics, health and education. Many of these areas of human endeavour owe their very existence to their Christian foundations. As American historian R. R. Palmer put it:
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the coming of Christianity. It brought with it, for one thing, an altogether new sense of human life. For the Greeks had shown man his mind; but the Christians showed him his soul. They taught that in the sight of God, all souls were equal, that every human life was sacrosanct and inviolate. Where the Greeks had identified the beautiful and the good, had thought ugliness to be bad, had shrunk from disease and imperfection and from everything misshapen, horrible, and repulsive, the Christian sought out the diseased, the crippled, the mutilated, to give them help. Love, for the ancient Greek, was never quite distinguished from Venus. For the Christians held that God was love, it took on deep overtones of sacrifice and compassion.” – R. R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World.
The Toe Empire
In my last post I also made the case for the coalition of ten nations John outlined in the Revelation being an eighth empire (Rev 17:11), which will be the final, pagan world empire to overrun Israel. Like the former empires represented by the dream statue and John’s vision of the beast, this empire will occupy Israel. And just as the toes grow from the feet, so this empire will arise from the remnants of the seventh empire – the Ottoman Empire.
While Daniel’s dreams foretold the history of the Jewish people, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream gave an outline of gentile history. In Daniel’s prophecies Christianity is not highlighted: Daniel’s message was for Daniel’s people, the Jews (Dan 9). Although the dreams of both Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar looked forward to the end-times, Daniel’s beast dream did not include any obvious reference to the Church Age.
However, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the Revelation included representations of the gentile Christian era, when “an altogether new sense of human life” became more commonplace and the notion of human rights entered western society.
During this era God turned His attention away from the Jewish people to the Body of Christ, which carried His message of redemption to the four corners of the world. While the feet empire trampled God’s Holy Land underfoot (Dan 7:7, 19), God’s Christian foot-soldiers tramped all over the world carrying His message of mercy and forgiveness to all humankind.
But when the Church Age comes to an end, and the Body of Christ is withdrawn from the world, the Father will once again turn His attention back to the Jewish people during the Tribulation period. It will be during this terrible time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7) that the antichrist will emerge as leader of the eighth and last pagan world empire.
From Daniel’s dream we learn:
….. The fourth animal is a fourth kingdom that will come on the earth. It will be changed from all the other kingdoms that went before. It will devour the whole land and it will trample it and break it into pieces. (Dan 7:23)
When the kingdom represented by Daniel’s fourth beast was changed and became an empire like none before it, it became the iron and clay feet empire Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The change that Daniel refers to was the unifying force behind the seventh empire; it was the introduction of the great, false, monotheistic religion – Islam. What Daniel saw in his dream was the feet of this fourth changed beast trampling the land and breaking it to pieces. Thus, comparing Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 we find:
After examining the historical data and the relevant biblical passages, it seems clear that the kingdoms represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue all occupied Israel and we know the Ottoman Empire occupied Israel for 400 years. During this time the land God had promised to Abraham was broken into pieces. However, shortly after this seventh empire fell, the State of Israel was reborn. The seven pagan kingdoms, which are represented by the seven heads of the scarlet beast (Rev 17:10), had completed their occupation of God’s Beautiful Land (in Hebrew the number seven represents completion) before His chosen people returned to dwell in the land God had given to Abraham.
The Great Pretender
Having aligned these three passages it is easier to consider the ten toe/horn coalition of nations, which will be led by the antichrist. From Daniel’s dream we learn that “the ten horns out of this (changed) kingdom are ten kings who will rise” (Dan 7:24). When we align this with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream we find:
As the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. (Dan 2:42)
And from the Revelation we learn:
The beast that was and is not—he himself is the eighth, and is one of the seven, and is heading for destruction. The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These kings are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them—because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful. (Rev 17:11-14)
Thus we discover that the beast represents the eighth kingdom – the final pagan world empire – and he receives power and authority from the ten king coalition. But earlier in the Revelation we find:
Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, his feet like a lion’s, and his mouth like a bear’s. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. (Rev 13:2)
Therefore, we know that this beast will already have received great power and authority directly from satan. He will be controlled by satan before he assumes leadership of the eighth empire, when the coalition of ten kings submit themselves to him.
Turning back to Daniel’s fourth, changed beast we find that while Daniel was thinking about the significance of the ten horns, another small horn appeared amongst them. Then three of the ten horns were torn out by the roots to make room for this little horn, which had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly. (Dan 7:7-8)
In the Revelation we also learn “the beast was given a mouth uttering great boasts and blasphemies” (Rev 13:5). The little horn in Daniel’s dream and the scarlet beast of the Revelation have similar characteristics to those of the individual John calls the antichrist (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). These are all references to the same person. Daniel further explains this strange beast dream when he writes:
And the ten horns out of the area of this kingdom are ten kings who will rise, then another will rise after them, he will be a change from the earlier kings and he will humble three of those kings. He will speak words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High. And he will attempt to change their times and law and they will be given into his hand until a time and times and one half time. (Dan 7:24-25)
Thus we find that after deposing three coalition leaders this person, who is sometimes called the “little horn”, will begin his campaign by verbal attacks on the God of The Bible. This is not unusual in today’s post-Christian, anti-Semitic climate, but he will go one step further, he will attempt to totally remove any reference to the God of The Bible from calendars and the law.
Is He a Man or a Supernatural Being?
Despite the fact that Paul calls him the man of sin (2 Thes 2:3), some commentators have suggested the beast/little horn will not be a human person. Instead, they see him as a purely supernatural being, while others suggest he is actually a kingdom. However, others point out that he rises from the sea (Rev 13:1), which we are later informed is symbolic of humanity (Rev 17:15). Once again we are confronted with the question of symbolism in the Revelation. Just how much can we take literally and how much is purely allegorical?
This is a difficult question to answer when we are talking about the end of this present world order. It is more than likely that the usual, natural world order will not apply when, for a limited period of time, God allows satan to virtually do his worst (Rev 13:5-7). Even though God has, for His own purposes, allowed satan limited access to humanity, this powerful angelic being has been held back throughout the history of the world (Job 1:12; 2:6; Eph 6:11-12; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-10).
Although God gave the angels free-will, Satan has always been incapable of truly harming those who turn to their Creator for refuge (Ps 18:2; 46; 91:2). But the Bible tells us that in the final 7 years of premillennial Earth history, people who have not chosen God’s Way (Mat 12:30-31; Luke 11:23; John 8:43-45), will finally get a clear picture of the true nature of this fiend, whose lies they have chosen to believe.
We know certain parts of the Revelation definitely contain symbolism, because John is specifically told that aspects of his vision are representations of future people and events (Rev 17:7-17). Nevertheless, it is quite feasible that many of the demonic creatures mentioned throughout the Revelation may be quite real. When the Body of Christ is withdrawn (1 Thes 4:15-17), the Restrainer is removed from the Earth (2 Thes 2:7) and the angel of the abyss is let loose (Rev 9:2, 11), there is no doubt all hell will break loose and it is quite conceivable that the creatures from hell will be found roaming the earth (Rev 9:3-10).
The Angel of the Abyss
In Revelation 9:1 and 2 we learn that a star will fall from heaven to earth; this star is then given the key to a hole in the bottomless pit.
The bottomless pit is also called the abyss and it appears this hole is a distinct compartment of the abyss where God has confined a demonic horde in preparation for the end-times. A little later we also learn there is an angel of the bottomless pit, who is called Abaddon (Rev 9:11). He is the destroying angel, who is king over the demonic creatures that ascend from the abyss.
It seems reasonable to propose that the fallen star is this angel, because in Revelation 1:20 Jesus explains that stars can represent angels. This star has fallen from heaven – he is a fallen angel, who is also the king of the abyss. Thus, he is given the key to the abyss to unleash the demonic creatures God will allow to torment those who stubbornly continue in their outright rejection of, and rebellion against, their Creator.
Christians throughout the ages have had many different opinions on who this angel is, but I believe it is satan. In The Bible we find Luke records Jesus’ words:
And he told them, “I saw satan fall as lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing will in any way hurt you.” (Luke 10:18-19)
Jesus prophesied this future event, which is also recorded twice in the Revelation. The first of these records is when the star/angel falls from heaven to release the demonic hordes from the pit (Rev 9:1, 2). The second record is when the dragon sweeps a third of the stars from heaven and drags them to the earth with him (Rev 12:4). Most commentators agree that these stars are also angels, they are the fallen angels who have pledged allegiance to satan.
The demonic hordes that satan releases from the pit, are creatures with scorpion tails. These creatures of torment and destruction are not God’s holy angels, as some would have us believe, but God is their Creator and He is able to use their fallen natures to His own ends. Jesus said:
You fathers, if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? So if you, being sinful people, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. (Luke 11:11-13)
The thief only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I came so that people can have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
In the first passage Jesus points out that the Father would not give His children something evil, like a snake or a scorpion, He is the giver of good gifts. In the second passage Jesus is comparing His role with that of His adversary, satan. Satan is the thief who comes to destroy, he is the agent of destruction – it is his nature to hate and to destroy.
The name abaddon means destruction and God is able to use the natural bent of this fallen angel to achieve His own ends throughout the seven years of Tribulation. Just as the Father used Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His judgment on Israel, He will also use satan to fulfil His purposes during the Great Tribulation.
Following this terrible time of destruction, the Lord Jesus Christ will reign on the Earth for 1000 years. During Christ’s millennial reign, God will confine satan in chains (Rev 20:2), but eventually, satan will himself be destroyed (Rev 17:11), because he is simply a corrupted part of God’s creation and he will have no place in the New Heavens and the New Earth the Father will create (Rev 21:1). This new creation will be totally submitted to the rule and reign of God the Father, our Creator.
The Rise of the Beast
In Revelation 11:7 we discover that the beast also arose from the abyss. We must therefore ask the question: Is the beast also the angel of the abyss? Does the leopard-like beast (Rev 13), which morphs into the scarlet beast (Rev 17:3), also represent the angel of the abyss?
We can assume that this beast is a symbolic representation of something or someone, because the angel who is conversing with John makes this clear (Rev 17:7-18). The seven heads of the scarlet beast are representative of seven powerful kingdoms, but I believe the beast as a whole is also representative of a powerful person, who will be indwelt by the angel of the abyss – satan.
This beast represents the man of sin (2 Thes 2:3), the antichrist (1 John 2:8, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7), the lawless one (2 Thes 2:8), the son of perdition (2 Thes 2:3) – the second person of the evil trinity satan presents to the tribulation world. This person will be like all the other great pagan world rulers represented by the heads of the beast (Rev 17:11), in that he will be submitted to satan and will propagate the godless lies of satan; but he will be greater than all that have gone before (Dan 7:20), because he will allow himself to be totally possessed by satan (Rev 13:2). Of this seven headed beast we are also informed:
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and yet is about to rise up from the abyss and head for destruction. Those who dwell on the earth—whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world—will be astonished when they see the beast, because he was and is not and is to come. (Rev 17:8)
We can contrast “he was and is not and is to come” with “Holy is the Lord God of Hosts, who was and who is and who is to come” (Rev 4:8). In his futile attempt to usurp God’s kingdom, satan is constantly preoccupied with counterfeiting God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Thus, we discover that during the end-times, satan will manifest a counterfeit trinity – the dragon, the beast and the false prophet (Rev 16:13). John gives us a very clear picture of this evil, counterfeit trinity in the Revelation.
By the time the Tribulation events unfold, people will be so biblically illiterate they will have no idea how they are being duped by this satanic threesome, when the dragon/satan is the pretender to the very throne of God the Father, the beast/antichrist assumes the role of false messiah, and the false prophet is satan’s attempt at counterfeiting God’s Holy Spirit.
During the period of the Great Tribulation satan will be allowed to manifest this demonic trinity and his horde of fallen angels will be part of his retinue on the earth (Rev 9:3; 12:9). This horde will reek havoc on unredeemed humanity. At present God’s Holy Spirit indwelling the Body of Christ on the earth has satan restrained and the prayers of the saints have been a powerful tool in this work (Acts 2:42; 10:4; 1 Tim 2:1; 1 Peter 3:12; Rev 5:8; Rev 8:3-4).
While the saints have been constantly active in battling the principalities and powers (Eph 6:12), physical manifestations of these demonic powers have not been a common part of the church age. Indeed, the church is the salt and light Jesus mentioned in the gospels (Mat 5:13-16). Those who belittle the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and its powerful restraining qualities will soon understand that it was not the people of God who were holding back the evil that constantly threatens humanity (1 Peter 5:8), it was God in His people, the Body of Christ, which quietly performed this miraculous work.
The Age of Deception
One need only turn to any of the multitude of godless media outlets swamping the airwaves in this present age, to observe that in the minds of the majority of “progressive” people, satan “is not”, he has been delegated to the realms of mythology. But his time will come, he and his retinue will be released when he “is to come” upon the earth, and then he will empower the beast/antichrist and the false prophet to assume control of all those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Ex 32:31-33; Ps 69:27-28; Dan 12:1; Mal 3:16; Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Heb 12:22-23; Rev 3:5; 9:4; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27), because they have recklessly and foolishly rejected the glorious gift of Eternal Life the Lord Jesus Christ died to procure for them (John 3:16).
When writing to the Thessalonians Paul told them:
For the mystery of lawlessness is already operating, but just now there is One who holds it back until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and disempower him with the appearance of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is through the working of satan, with all power and signs and false wonders and with every kind of wicked deception toward those who are perishing. They will perish because they did not accept the love of the Truth so that they can be saved. For this reason God will send them strong delusion, so that they will put their trust in a lie, in order that may all be judged, who did not believe the Truth but delighted in wickedness. (2 Thes 2:7-12)
During the millennia since Jesus’ incarnation satan has been carefully constructing a web of lies and deceit to ensnare those who reject the Truth. In the last two centuries he has successfully captured the popular imagination with just-so stories, which are woven daily in schools and universities, churches and the media. Through this flourishing campaign, satan has been able to reinforce his Machiavellian plan to keep people from knowing and worshipping their Creator.
In the place of good, evidence based science, the popular dominant paradigm now almost universally rests on blind faith in processes that have never been observed. These mythical mutations are claimed by blind academics to be the driving force behind evolution. Thus we see the blind leading the blind (Mat 15:14) into satan’s arms. Satan has cleverly introduced this intricate fabrication to replace faith in God the Creator and Redeemer.
Into a world totally blind to a true understanding of the robust science behind biblical creation, will step the person who will deceive the masses into worshipping satan’s false trinity. The antichrist will be a truly gifted person, who will prey on pride and arrogance, which are the negative human traits growing out of God-given human ability and achievement. He will elevate human endeavour, while dismissing God the Creator, as he leads people away from the Truth into satan’s snares.
The Father Has Revealed His Plan for Humanity
To understand the last book of the Bible we need to have an understanding of the books that precede it. The final chapter of The Bible is like the final chapter of any book, it draws on all that came before it. God has given humanity a clear understanding of His plan for humankind in His Word. He sent His Son to die so that we might have Eternal Life, and He gave us all the information we need to understand His purpose, provisions and program.
The Father has declared in His Word that He will allow the antichrist to enter the last phase of this Earth’s history to carry out the destruction of all that is in rebellion against His reign and rule. We are first introduced to the antichrist in Daniel’s dream about the four beasts. Naturally, as Christ was yet to be born of a virgin (Is 7:14), the antichrist was not given this title in the Old Testament, but the majority of commentators see a number of passages in the Book of Daniel as referring to him. Daniel also introduced “the prince that shall come”, he wrote:
And after the 62 weeks Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. Then the people of the prince that shall come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. But his end will come like a flood. Until the end of the war that is decreed there will be destruction. (Dan 9:26)
Daniel tells us the people of the prince would destroy the city and the temple. Many commentators point to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70AD as being the fulfilment of this prophecy. Therefore, they predict the coming antichrist, who they claim is the prince Daniel is referring to, will come from Rome. However, I believe this prince is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), he is “the spirit who is now operating in the children of disobedience”. Jesus said of those who reject the Creator God, who has revealed Himself to humanity through His Son and His Word:
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. (John 8:44a)
Satan was the power behind all of the great pagan world empires and he will be the force behind the antichrist and his false prophet. However, this beast-leader of the eighth empire will be different to all the other leaders that went before him: this beast and his prophet will be totally possessed by satan and will be able to manifest supernatural powers. The beast/antichrist will be “one of the seven” (Rev 17:11), in that he will be a human person, but he will have supernatural powers. The miracle that will capture the attention of the public, is that he will be fatally wounded but will recover (Rev 13:3). This false messiah will appear to rise from the dead.
The false prophet will also have amazing powers; he is also a beast and like the first beast he will be possessed by satan. John tells us of him:
He exercises all the authority of the first beast before him, and he makes the earth and all those who dwell in it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth through the signs he is permitted to perform, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image in honor of the beast who has the sword wound yet lived.
The second beast was permitted to give life to the image of the first beast, so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause all who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also causes all—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slave—to receive a mark on their right hand or upon their forehead. (Rev 13:12-16) TLV
Between them the antichrist and the false prophet will make people’s lives a living hell. They will take over the world-wide government and economy and create a great religious system like none that has come before. They will set up an image of the beast that can speak (perhaps screens or holograms in every place of worship?) (Rev 13:15) and insist everyone must worship this image under threat of death. They will also force people be tattooed or chipped if they wish to buy or sell goods (Rev 13:16-17).
The only way to avoid being part of this horrific scenario is to be in Christ; to be part of the Body of Christ, which will be taken out of the world before these events come to pass (1 Thes 4:17). Satan is presently working frantically to line up all the players for this, his final thrust at ruling God’s world. He has sown seeds of delusion and seductions into the pagan kingdoms of this world. People now believe that all of the miraculously fine-tuned workings of the universe happened by chance, by random minute mutations (that have never been observed) and natural processes. Not only do they disparage their Creator, they are also being swept away by the false belief that human affections and sexual desires can fill that place in their hearts reserved for God alone.
The world is ripe for the entry of the antichrist. He may even now be walking amongst us. If you have not looked into God’s alternative to this man, who will be the personification of evil, do it now. Jesus died to save you from the destruction this fiend will bring to the world before God’s millennial kingdom is ushered in. The Father has given us a choice, it is up to each one of us to make that choice. Will you choose God’s Way and Truth or satan’s lies?
(1) Pink, Arthur W. (2012-06-17). The Antichrist (Arthur Pink Collection Book 1) . Prisbrary Publishing. Kindle Edition.