Chapter 7 Antichrist

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists.” (1 John 2:18.) “He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” (Ver. 22.) Here we have a person spoken of under the name of antichrist, or, literally, “The Antichrist,” as yet to come.

Already the spirit of antichrist is in the world, and has been ever since the time when John wrote his first epistle (see 4:3), taking many forms, more or less subtle and blasphemous. But, notwithstanding those numerous developments of the spirit of antichrist, The Antichrist, concerning whom so much is written in the word, is not yet revealed.

In Old Testament prophecy we see him chiefly in relation to the people of Israel—to the nation as deceived by him, and to the elect, or the saints, as persecuted and oppressed by him. It is thus that he is presented to us in Dan. 8, the “little horn” rising up among the ten horns of the fourth beast—having eyes and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them until the Ancient of days came. Again we find him as “the king” in Dan. 11:36, corrupting some by flatteries; whilst those that know their God are strong and do exploits, and they that understand are instructing many, yet falling by the sword, by flame, by captivity, and by spoil. He shall enter into the glorious land, and shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious Holy Mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

Of this his final entrance into the Holy Land, and his sudden destruction by the Lord, there is a magnificent description in Isaiah 10:24-34. He is there called “the bough” that is to be “lopped” with terror; and in the next chapter we have in contrast the Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and the Branch out of his roots, who shall judge the poor with righteousness, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked “(or the “wicked one”).

This exactly corresponds with the prophecy in 2 Thess. 2, where the same “lawless one” is to be destroyed at the appearing of the Lord Jesus; “that wicked one whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” Again, we read of this same period in Zech. 14, “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle… Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations…and His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee…and the Lord shall be King over all the earth.”

Finally, in Rev. 19, we again find this same judgment “upon the beast and the false prophet,” executed by the Lord Jesus in person, when He comes from heaven accompanied by the saints.

All these Scriptures agree in pointing to the one act of judgment and deliverance. It is by the Lord in person, it is at His coming to the earth, it is sudden and at the hour of the enemy’s greatest apparent success, and it is by the sword that proceedeth out of His mouth.

The name antichrist is most significant. It might be rendered “against, or instead of, Christ.” He is to be Satan’s masterpiece of ingenuity and power, to simulate the true Christ in such a way as to deceive all who have not believed the truth, and yet morally in every respect the direct contrast to the Holy One of God.

Of Christ it is written, “He humbleth Himself.” (Phil. 2:8.) Of antichrist, “He exalteth himself.” (2 Thess. 2:4.) Of Christ, that He “came not to do His own will;” of antichrist, “He shall do according to his will.” (Dan. 11:36.) Of Christ, “He is despised and rejected of men.” (Isa. 53:3.) Of antichrist, “All the world wondered after the beast.” (Rev. 13:3.) Of Christ, that “He was a man approved of God by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him.” (Acts 2:22.) Of antichrist, that “his coming is after the working of Satan with all miracles and signs and lying wonders.” (2 Thess. 2:9.) Christ is “the truth.” (John 14:6.) Antichrist is “the lie.” (2 Thess. 2:11, literally.) Christ is “the branch.” (Isa. 11:1; Zech. 3:8; 6:12.) Antichrist, “an abominable branch.” (Isa. 14:19.) Christ is “the good shepherd “that “giveth His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11.) Antichrist, “the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock.” (Zech. 11:17.)

Many more instances might be given showing outward resemblances and moral contrasts, but these may suffice as indications of a most fruitful line of inquiry. Christ is the perfection of life, and walk, and fruitfulness according to the Spirit of God. Antichrist, the perfection of the development in humanity of the spirit of Satan.

And indeed are not these two within, lusting the one against the other? Is not the flesh always antichrist, “exalting itself”? Are not all its motions and desires directed against, the development of the life of Jesus within? Do they not “war against the soul”? There can be no truce between the two—utter and eternal destruction is for the antichrist at the hands of Christ, and nothing but death in the flesh can end the inward conflict with the Spirit of God. Even so, Lord, let the body of sin be destroyed; work out within us for Thine own glory this blessed deliverance!

The power of antichrist in the world will be immense. God will give unto the ten kings that are to arise “one mind,” so that they shall all “agree,” and give their kingdom, power and strength, unto the beast. (Rev. 17:13-17.) All the world—attracted by his lying wonders and great words—shall wonder after him, all except those whose names are in the book of life. All that believed not the truth shall believe the lie. Already the advanced thinkers of the age, the leaders of modern thought, whatever else they may differ upon, are agreed upon this, that much of the word of God, if not all, is out of date and fabulous—thus throwing aside the only light in which the true character of antichrist can be discovered, and preparing themselves to be swept away in the torrent of delusion that ere long shall roll over Christendom, with power that nought but that faith which is divine can possibly resist.

But chiefly will he appeal to the unbelieving expectations of the Jewish people. Foreseeing this time, the Lord Himself declared, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43.) The bulk of the nation shall enter into a covenant with him, receive his mark, worship his image, believe in him as their promised deliverer and Messiah. Many are the details given of the sufferings of those who refuse to own him thus; like the three Hebrews of old who were cast into the seven times heated furnace—such shall be the fiery ordeal through which the elect of that day shall pass. Very many shall be slain “for the word of God, and for the testimony which they hold.” We see their souls in Rev. 6 awaiting the time, when their fellow-servants and brethren who were to be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled; and finally, in Rev. 20:4, we see that martyred remnant raised from the dead as part of the first resurrection, and sharing the heavenly glory of the millennial kingdom with the Lord.

The revelation of this man of sin shall find the Jewish people again in their land, not indeed as a saved people, but in unbelief, with Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt, and the order of sacrificial worship restored. They return indeed to their land, like the man out of whom the unclean spirit had gone, after centuries of wandering about through dry places, seeking rest and finding none. The unclean spirit of idolatry seems never to have taken possession of Israel after their return from the Babylonish captivity. Amid all the abominations recorded by Malachi, no mention is made of idolatry, nor did there appear to be such a thing as an idol in the land in the days of the Lord. Thus they return to their land; they find it all ready for them to dwell in—empty, swept, and garnished. But nationally their moral condition is worse than before. Seven other spirits enter in more wicked than the first, the “green tree” becomes the “dry tree,” ripe for the fire of judgment.

But whether it be the sacrificial worship of Israel or the spurious religion of Christendom, no acknowledgment of the true God can be tolerated by antichrist. Under his authority, and in fulfilment of the will of God, the mother of harlots, that false church that had professed to be married to Christ, but in truth had committed adultery with the world, is hated by the ten kings; they make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire; and turning from Christendom to Jerusalem, he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, he shall pollute the sanctuary, and place there the abomination that maketh desolate. He shall exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped as God; and shall sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (Comp. Dan. 9:27; 11:31-36; 2 Thess. 2:3-12.)

To the full reception of such a king, and the acknowledgment of him as worthy of universal dominion, all things are now tending.

As the insubjection of servants to the authority of masters finds its reaction in the slavery of the trades’ unions, and the insubjection of subjects to the authority of kings its reaction in the despotism of the commune, so shall the general dissolution of all the social fabric that is now so surely progressing—the pride, and independence, and insubordination, so evident in every relationship of life—find its outcome in the last and most fearful of all despotisms, the despotism of the man of sin.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, 1 will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10.)