GracEmail subscribers from several states ask about the Antichrist or the Abomination of Desolation in biblical prophecy. Will there yet arise such a specific individual on the stage of world history? Need we fear such a one?
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The Old Testament prophet Daniel originally spoke of such a figure (Dan. 9:27; 11:20-45). Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled first in the Seleucid tyrant Antiochus IV, who persecuted the Jews nearly three centuries before the birth of Christ. Jesus, Paul and John repeated language taken from Daniel’s prophetic imagery, probably foretelling the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian (Matt. 24:15-22; 2 Thes. 2:1-12; Rev. 13; 19:11-21). Both emperors demanded to be acknowledged as divine and persecuted Christians who would not comply. Through human history there have been many false Christs (Mk. 13:22) and many antichrists (1 John 2:18).
History repeats itself, in a sense, and biblical prophecy sometimes has recurring fulfillments. In that light, many Christians since the second century have understood these Scriptures to describe still another particular man near the close of earthly history who again — supremely and for the last time — will embody defiance against God. This end-time antichrist, like earlier ones, will deceive the world, set himself up as God and lead his followers in rebellion against God. He will persecute God’s faithful people and almost attain world supremacy, only to be brought down by Christ at his glorious return in power. This view has been held by representative scholars across the Christian spectrum. It is not limited to one school of interpretation or confined to any denomination.
Very significantly, in both Daniel and Revelation, this particular drama lasts for three and one-half years, also identified as “a time [one year], times [two years] and half a time”, or 42 months, or 1260 days — three ways of saying the same thing. This was the literal period of extreme conflict and testing in the days of Old Testament Elijah, and again in the New Testament ministry of Jesus. It signifies a limited period, being one-half of seven years, the number of fullness. Evil’s reign is temporary. God will have the last word. All who trust in God will finally triumph. An antichrist may kill, but God can raise from the dead. We need not fear any man, therefore, but only God (Matt. 10:28). These are the clear truths of biblical prophecy on which we can securely base our lives.