The Antichrist: East vs. West
By Britt Gillette ( http://www.brittgillette.com )
One of the great mysteries concerning
bible prophecy and the end times is the national identity of the Antichrist.
This is an important topic because it will eventually aid the last days
generation of Christians in the correct identification of the Antichrist.
Lately, it seems this subject has created a rift within the community of those who study bible prophecy.
One side believes scripture points to the Antichrist coming from Assyria and the Eastern portion of the ancient Roman Empire, while the other side believes scripture points to the Antichrist coming from Italy and the Western portion of the ancient Roman Empire.
Many, but not all, of those in both camps believe their side is right and the other side is wrong.
Fortunately, the Bible provides us with several details regarding the nationalistic origins of this sinister personality…
His Italian Roman Nationality
Although much debate surrounds the Antichrist’s national identity, the Book of Daniel clearly states that the Antichrist will rise from among the people whose armies destroy the Temple.
“and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” Daniel 9:26 (KJV)
The City and the Temple referenced in this passage were destroyed in A.D. 70 by Titus and the Roman legions, but Titus was not the ruler referenced in this verse.
Daniel 9:27 describes the ruler as one who will make a seven-year treaty with Israel, put an end to the sacrifices and offerings, and set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration. These are events that will be fulfilled in the life of the Antichrist.
According to Daniel, the Antichrist will be connected in some way to the people who destroyed the Temple.
Therefore, we can be certain that the Antichrist will rise not only from the resurrected Roman Empire, but from among people connected to the Roman people of the ancient Italian peninsula.
Despite arguments by some that the Roman armies were populated by persons from various ethnic backgrounds, including Assyrians, the fact remains that Titus is the prince who led the siege on the Temple. And the earthly power and authority of Titus came from Rome.
While Assyria may have been a part of the Roman Empire, the directive and the people responsible for the destruction of the Temple came forth from Rome, not Assyria.
So it’s rather hasty to dismiss the geopolitical significance of the City of Rome’s role in the destruction of the Temple, not to mention the City of Rome’s significance in the career of the Antichrist.
Does This Mean the Antichrist is Not Syrian?
Daniel Chapter 8 provides us with further clues in regard to the life and times of the Antichrist.
The angel Gabriel explains Daniel’s vision of a Ram and Goat as events relating to the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. In a claim verified by history, Gabriel states that, following the death of Alexander, the empire will be divided into four parts.
From one of those four parts, the Antichrist will arise:
“And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Daniel 8:21-24 (KJV)
Daniel Chapter 11 provides an in-depth examination of the history of the breakup Alexander’s empire, describing historical events relating to the King of the North and the King of the South. The latter part of the chapter describes the Antichrist, identifying him with other historical figures who have held the title “King of the North.”
This, along with the passage cited above, clearly links the Antichrist to the Northern Kingdom of the divided Greek Empire. This kingdom was ruled by one of Alexander’s generals, Seleucus, who ruled the areas of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Antichrist will in some way be linked to this geographic area of the Middle East as well.
Isaiah Chapter 10
In addition to Daniel 8, the prophet Isaiah also offers some interesting insight concerning a “king of Assyria”:
“I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.” Isaiah 10:12-14 (KJV)
Although not directly identified by Isaiah, this king of Assyria bears a striking resemblance to the Antichrist. Both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation describe the Antichrist as proud and arrogant, boasting arrogantly and blaspheming God Himself. His boast that “no one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest” also fits the description of the Antichrist as given in the Book of Revelation:
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:4 (KJV)
Isaiah 10, coupled with Daniel 8, lends support to the idea that the Antichrist will somehow be connected, either by ethnic origin or political power, to this region of the world.
Is It East or West?
It is an absolute certainty that the Antichrist will arrive on the world scene as the ruler of a revived Roman empire. However, it is less certain whether or not he will be of actual Italian descent or some other ethnic background. And it’s also uncertain whether his central power base will initially be located in the eastern or western portion of the ancient Roman Empire.
Several verses of scripture offer the possibility that he could be Assyrian, Italian, Greek, or Jewish. But none offer us the definitive statement contained in Daniel 9:26.
So how do we rectify these seemingly contradictory prophecies concerning the Antichrist’s nationality? Is he Roman? Italian? Jewish? Assyrian? Greek?
Who says the Antichrist has to be exclusively one or the other?
Maybe he’s an Assyrian Jew born and raised in Italy, or maybe he’s an Italian who brings Assyria to the pinnacle of world political and military power. Any number of possible combinations are possible. We simply don’t know for certain.
But history indicates that each of these prophecies will be harmonized when the Antichrist finally appears.
Below is an example of how seemingly
conflicting prophecies eventually all come together in the fullness of time
The Origins of the Messiah…
How can I be so sure?
Because two thousand years ago, the seemingly contradictory prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah were all harmonized in the life of one man, Jesus Christ – the Nazarene born in Bethlehem who came out of Egypt.
The Messiah will come out of Bethlehem…
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 (KJV)
The Messiah will come out of Galilee…
“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:1-2 (KJV)
The Messiah will come out of Egypt…
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Hosea 11:1 (KJV)
Before Jesus Christ fulfilled these prophecies, Jewish factions debated the origins of the Messiah. They found it difficult to imagine that one man could fulfil all these prophecies.
With the benefit of hindsight, we now see how this was possible…
But for the Jewish scholars who lived before and during the ministry of Jesus, these prophecies sparked intense debate.
Would the Messiah come from Galilee, Bethlehem, or Egypt?
These differing viewpoints are put on display in the Book of John:
“Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.” John 7:40-44 (KJV)
“Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” John 7:47-52 (KJV)
The complete answer eluded both the crowds and the Pharisees.
Since each person was absolutely convinced his position was the correct position, all of them failed to recognize the true and complete picture.
In similar fashion, a debate continues today in regard to
the prophecies of the Antichrist and his national identity.
But regardless of how much we speculate on the ultimate real-life fulfilment of the scriptures, no one but God will know the absolute truth until it’s revealed at the appointed time.
Therefore, it’s unwise to establish a hard line position on a particular theory regarding this prophecy’s fulfillment – even those theories based on iron clad scriptural references. After all, even though your belief may be 100% accurate, that doesn’t mean someone else’s belief is false.
In many cases, two viewpoints which seem diametrically opposed, are in fact both true.
Your eyes offer a perfect illustration…
Close your left eye and look at the world through your right.
Now, close your right eye and look at the world through your left.
What did you see?
Both eyes saw the same thing from two different perspectives. But they didn’t see exactly the same thing…
Now, what if the left eye argued that the right was wrong; and the right eye argued that the left was wrong?
If that happens, both eyes fail to see that, taken separately or taken together, each viewpoint is correct…
Am I saying that no belief or viewpoint is false?
Some things are true, and some things are false.
But this case illustrates that just because one belief is true, that isn’t proof in-and-of itself that another belief is false.
So don’t become wedded to the idea that the Antichrist is Assyrian, and therefore anyone who says the Antichrist will come from Western Europe is wrong. Likewise, don’t become wedded to the idea that the Antichrist is Italian, and therefore anyone who says he’ll come from Assyria is wrong.
You might both be right.
But the importance of the matter has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong. The importance is in each belief’s scriptural origin. For the study of bible prophecy leads people to examine God’s Word, and by examining God’s Word, people are led to Christ.
So by studying these prophecies and teaching them to others, Christians of the end times generation will be able to positively identify the Antichrist based on the sound Scriptural evidence outlined by those who trod before them.
And the work of that last generation will be much easier if we present them with a unified body of unbiased scriptural references – starting points so they can examine the bible themselves…
This is one of the greatest benefits of studying bible prophecy, and upon His Return, I hope the Lord Jesus Christ finds us actively engaged in spreading knowledge of the truth found in His Word and not our deeply held human beliefs.
In the meantime, may we live with a patient and enduring faith that His Return is soon upon us.
( see related article HERE )
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