Becoming Antichrist: Vol. II - By Pete Garcia -
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." Luke 4:5-7
We (Randy and I) have compiled a list of biblical and extra-biblical characters (antichrists and types) who seem to make up the parts of the sum for the man of sin. While not exhaustive, these seem to take the mantel in type and carry forward some aspect of the Antichrist's character and nature. Next to each name is the key characteristic of that individual that most links him to the coming future Antichrist. Again, none of the listed are THE Antichrist, simply prototypes of the coming last world leader. Using history and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we will begin to chart a path from the distant past, to the near future, for this man becoming The Antichrist.
The Way of Cain (Man of Sin)
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude 1:11
Speaking to the apostates who have crept into the church to corrupt the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, here Jude lists three Old Testament examples of men who had done terrible wickedness. What he leads off with here is Cain (the eldest son of Adam and Eve), who after having his sacrifice of works rejected, allows sin to fester in his heart and mind. So what is the way of Cain? Well, the Bible tells us. Knowing what was in his heart, God asks Cain,
Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. Genesis 4:6-7
Shortly after that is when sin consumed Cain and he rose up in anger and struck down his brother Abel in the field. It is the first physical murder mentioned in the Bible. [Technically, Satan murdered Adam and Eve indirectly by deceiving them into disobeying God]. After this occurs, God rhetorically asks Cain where Abel is, and Cain plays dumb about his whereabouts. It is here that God comments that Abel's blood was crying out from the ground (Gen. 4:10). Then God curses the ground so that it would no longer yield its full strength. Furthermore, sin is now consuming him and he is fearful over his life, so God places a mark on Cain's forehead that no one should strike him down in revenge. What is of interest here is two-fold: first, that God directly warns him about what sin would do to him. Secondly, is that God places a mark on his forehead. We know that according to Revelation 13:16-18, the Antichrist will also place a mark on his followers. Instead of protecting them sevenfold, the mark of the beast will damn the bearer for all eternity. Furthermore, Jesus stated that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and aside from what he did to Adam and Eve, I believe this is whom He was referencing.
The Rebelliousness of Nimrod (Man of Lawlessness)
Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore, it is said, "like Nimrod the might hunter before the Lord." And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh and Calah (what is the principal city). Genesis 10:8-12
The second antichrist character we come across in Scripture is Nimrod, the son of Cush, the grandson of Ham, and the great-grandson of Noah. Nimrod was described as a "mighty hunter before the Lord." However, we might just think of him as the world's first superhero. He could also be considered the world's first dictator, or tyrant. According to certain ancient and historical documents (the Divine Comedy being one), Nimrod (whose name in Hebrew means rebel) was actually a giant (which may lend credence to his ability rule over other men). At that time, (a 100 years or so after the Flood), people had begun to congregate on the plains of Shinar (Iraq-Syria, Fertile Crescent) instead of spreading out and repopulating the earth as they had been instructed by God to do (Gen. 9:1).
It was in Babel where men (presumably under Nimrods' instruction), began the construction of a great tower. Much conjecture has been spent on why exactly they were building this tower, but all Scripture states, is that they were building this so they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth. (Gen. 11:4) Moreover, it is here that God goes down and confuses the languages and then scatters the people over the face of the earth supernaturally (Gen. 11:9).
The correlation between Nimrod and the future Antichrist is this spirit of rebellion (or lawlessness). Nimrod was the world's first dictator, and the Antichrist will be the world's last. We know that according to Daniel 8:25 and Revelation 13:1, the coming Antichrist will be boastful, proud, and blasphemous against God to the point that he believes he is God. When reading the extra-biblical books of Jasher and Josephus, this seems to be the same characteristics of Nimrod. About Nimrod, Josephus adds-
Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage that procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.
Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than anyone could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them diverse languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion... (Josephus, the Complete Works, Book 1, Chapter 4)
A final correlation can be made to where Nimrod established his headquarters. This will also be the same geographic location (demonic stronghold) where the Antichrist assumes his as well.
The Hardening of Pharaoh (The Willful King)
Another antichrist character we come across in Scriptures is the Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaved the Hebrews. Although not named specifically, it was most likely Pharaoh Neferhotep I who plays the main antagonist in the Exodus drama. When reading the accounts leading up to the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the Bible, we see an interesting progression of hardening of heart against the one true God. After enjoying a period of peace and prosperity in Egypt under the leadership of Joseph, the Hebrew's numbers were increasing and their success became a threat to the culture and leadership around them. Eventually, a Pharaoh did not remember Joseph outright enslaved the Hebrews and put them under extremely harsh work and living conditions. (Gen. 15:13-14, Ex. 1:8-14) Here in Egypt, Pharaoh would institute the first of many government-mandated infanticides against the Hebrew people. Although probably unknown to Pharaoh, he was simply an instrument used by Satan to attempt to prevent the arrival of the One born of the seed of woman (Gen. 3:15).
The Hatred of Haman (The Dragon)
One clear sign the bible gives us for that antichrist spirit, is the supernatural and completely irrational hatred of the Jewish people. Why is antisemitism, antichrist? Well, since the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received their unconditional and everlasting promises of blessings from God (Gen. 12, 15, Jer. 31, etc.) they are in a special class of people. There has been a strong sense of supercessionism throughout the history of the Christian church. Currently, in our dispensation, there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile INSIDE the body of Christ (Gal. 3:28). However, just because there is no distinction INSIDE the body of Christ does not mean that God has annulled His promises to them, nor replaced their uniqueness in God's overarching plan. They (and Israel) are a constant reminder of God's faithfulness, which is why Satan hates them with a passion. Of note, is that the story of Esther plays out in the geographical area of what is today, Iran. Back then, it was simply known as Persia. This area has long been a stronghold for Satan and his minions. This is from whence the Angel who came to reveal the end times to Daniel, had to go back and continue his fight with (i.e., the prince of Persia) (Dan. 9:20-23, 10:10-14, 20). Clearly, Satan had his dark forces out to prevent this understanding from reaching Daniel at all costs, and their headquarters, was now where Esther and Mordecai were stationed to prevent the genocide of their people. Haman (the antagonist in this story) is just another example of an antichrist being used by Satan to destroy the Jewish people. In the last days, the Antichrist will also attempt to wipe out the Jewish people, and even succeeding what Hitler had done. Hitler wiped out one-third, but the Antichrist will wipe out two-thirds (Zech. 13:8).
The Delusion of Antiochus Epiphanes (The Little Horn)
Although not THE Antichrist, Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a ruler who most closely foreshadows what the future Antichrist will do regarding the persecution of the Jews and the desecration of the Jewish Temple. He was a Seleucid King, which was an offshoot of the former Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. In Daniel (Dan. 7:8, 21, 11:29-31), the vicious and virulently anti-Semitic exploits of Antiochus are captured, and then directly jump into the latter times where the antagonist shifts from Antiochus to THE Antichrist (Dan. 11:31-45).
In 167 B.C., Antiochus committed an "abomination of desolation"; specifically, he set up an altar to the Greek god Zeus inside the Jewish temple and sacrificed a pig on it. Antiochus proceeded to require pagan sacrifices in all Jewish villages. In the village of Modein, a Levite named Mattathias, who had five sons, was told to make the sacrifice. Mattathias refused and killed the troops and the villager who volunteered to do the deed. This sparked the Maccabean Revolt, led by Mattathias's sons. Israel gained its freedom from the Selucids for a time and was later recognized as an independent state by the Roman Senate. The years that the Jews were led by Mattathias's descendants are called the Maccabean or Hasmonean Period. (Link)
The Jewish Historian Josephus also had much to say about Antiochus Epiphanes in his destruction of Jerusalem and desecration of the Jewish Temple in his War of the Jews, Chapter 1. We can also see from certain Apocryphal books (1 and 2 Maccabees) about more details pertaining to the short reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. When Jesus explained that a future abomination of desolation would occur in the last days, He did so by referencing back to the book of Daniel and the abomination desolation that Antiochus performed (Dan. 11:31, Matt. 24:15).
The Destiny of Charlemagne (Rider on the White Horse)
Charlemagne (742-814), or Charles the Great, was king of the Franks, 768-814, and emperor of the West, 800-814. He founded the Holy Roman Empire, stimulated European economic and political life, and fostered the cultural revival known as the Carolingian Renaissance. (Link)
Although Charlemagne was not a particularly cruel or evil ruler, his popularity in defeating the Moors in Spain, the Saxons to the north, and the Huns to the east, has cast a long shadow down the centuries on the idea of a revived Roman Empire. Likely, this same kind of fame in defeating their enemies will also be what the Beast uses to unite Europe once again (Rev. 6:1-2, 13:4). The Antichrist's main weapons will be deception, treachery, and violence. He will offer up false peace treaties, which will mask his true intentions much like an iron fist hidden in a velvet glove. His popularity will help finally remove the barriers in fully uniting Europe once again; then he will begin to exert his will across the face of the earth. Charlemagne's victories (like the future Antichrist's) catapulted him to the head of his kingdom. He became both the head of the government (the Holy Roman Empire), and the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The Antichrist, will become head of the government (the Beast), and eventually the object of its worship ultimately supplanting the Harlot (who was formerly the apostate church).
The Rise of Hitler (False Messiah)
With World War II behind us, but still present in so many living memories, we are often guilty of biasing our opinions of the Nazis by the outcome of the war and the knowledge of all their evil deeds. Yet, if one were able to go back in time to the Roaring Twenties, and without the knowledge of the future, one would see a broken and deflated Germany trying to pick up the pieces and recover from their disastrous militaristic misadventures during World War I.
In the 1920s, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), or NAZI for short, were slowly but steadily building their political base and structure. Their eventual supreme leader, Adolph Hitler, would call these years (1926-1929) the quiet years. However, these quiet years were a boom for political activity with Marxists, Communists, and Socialists (of every stripe), all vying for power in the Weimar Republic.
However, during these years, the NAZIs were not able to gain as much traction as they hoped, even with their highly charged appeals to racial superiority, nationalism, and Anti-Semitism, times were good and Germany was on the mend. What Hitler lacked, was not the message or his ability to deliver said message, but to circumstances. As Obama's former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel once famously quipped, you never let a good crisis go to waste. Hitler did not.
In another part of the world, Wall Street in New York, events were happening that would bring an end to this quiet time for Adolf Hitler and would ultimately help put the Nazis in power in Germany. On October 29th, the Wall Street stock market crashed with disastrous worldwide effects. First in America, then the rest of the world, companies went bankrupt, banks failed and people instantly lost their life's savings. Unemployment soon soared and poverty and starvation became real possibilities for everyone. The people panicked. Governments seemed powerless against the worldwide economic collapse. Fear ruled. Governments stood on the brink. The Great Depression had begun. Adolf Hitler knew his time had come. (Link)
The Treachery of Obama (The Fierce King)
Having just lived through the worst eight-years of American political history, I do not feel I need to regurgitate the entire list of scandals and misdeeds by one Barack Hussein Obama...for they were legion. Aside from his enigmatic history, and his meteoric rise to power, Obama's past (as a character study) was as much an enigma as are the weathered Sphinxes that sit quietly in the Egyptian desert. He is duplicitous, dishonest, and seems to loathe biblical Christianity. Nevertheless, one of the scariest legacies he left behind, was his creation (or reinvigoration) of a deep state and shadow government (akin to J. Edgar Hoover era). The attempted Democratic coup of our current President was an overt and offensive attempt at delegitimizing a duly elected president by weaponizing federal agencies and a complicit media to discredit Trump's political victory. All that to say that this coming Antichrist will likely rise to power in much the same way. He will after all, have the full backing of Satan (Luke 4:5-7). His past will be shrouded in mystery. His ability to manipulate truth will make Obama look like a rank amateur.
In the end, I believe that history serves as a great teacher (for those who are willing to learn) about what is coming in the last days. I believe that each of these men were either antichrists or types of antichrists, in their own right and serve the purpose of being examples. The Antichrist will most likely be someone we do not expect at all. He is called the "Little Horn" because he arises out of obscurity and dethrones three other rulers (Dan. 7:8, 8:9).
Because Satan is not omniscient, and cannot see into the future, he does not know when the Lord will return at the Rapture. I believe there is probably numerous antichrist candidates alive today, and depending on the circumstances, can activate those who he thinks will most likely achieve his ends the most efficiently. Thinking back to World War II, Hitler was not the first leader Satan began to give access to the kingdoms of the world too, but first to Benito Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito, and Joseph Stalin. These men all started to rise to power around the same time that the Ottoman Empire was defeated, and the Balfour Declaration was giving Jews the right to return to their ancestral homeland.
So what makes a good antichrist candidate? Well, if Satan thought the World War II era was likely to be prophetically significant, and he exercised his options with four world leaders, I do not think he will fall for that again. But he was limited to his options given the technology of the day. He saw the defeat of the Nazis and the Axis powers. He saw the return of Israel; he has seen how she has survived and thrived in a sea of Islamic instability for the past seventy-years. He has seen the explosion of the interest in the Rapture of the Church from within Christendom with the likes of Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth, and the Left Behind series. Satan, if anything, is a master of observation and probably senses long before most when the prophetic winds are beginning to shift.
It would seem that with the surprise election victory of the long-shot Donald Trump, that Satan may have been caught off guard. At the very least if he wasn't caught off guard, then his human agents (i.e., the secular, Christ-rejecting world) were. I would be willing to bet that he is currently scrambling to line up his frontrunners for the upcoming position of Antichrist.
What is interesting to me though is that throughout the past two and a half years of Trump's presidency, he has been thwarted/obstructed/attacked/etc. at almost every turn, WITH the exception as it pertains to Israel. As if he were being channeled into almost singularly focusing on that tiny nation in the Middle East.
I believe this has emboldened those Jews who want a third temple, as nothing else could. What was the status quo for decades, Trumped turned on its head. Now, what the Orthodox Jews' lacked since 1948, they finally have in the form of hope. Hope that now is the time to rebuild the third temple. Hope that they finally have just enough political support from the world's greatest nation, to begin construction on this temple. The only issue now is getting the Muslims off the Rock.
This is what I believe Satan is watching extremely closely, and is now, readying his man/men, to assume control. He will stir up the Gog-Magog coalition to try and preemptively thwart the rebuilding of the third temple. We know that this will backfire on him gloriously, and be the impetus for actually making the third temple become a reality. Somewhere in this conflict, I believe both the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque are destroyed during this particular conflict, and will open the door for the rebuilding of the temple.
With this much prophetic activity going on, He knows that the Rapture is near; however, he does not know when it is exactly. He knows the Rapture has to happen before the 70th Week begins, because he knows Scripture, and Scripture shifts the focus from the Church, back to the nation of Israel in the last days. Moreover, if he did not believe the Rapture happened before the Tribulation, he would not have wasted as much time and energy in trying to destroy/corrupt/malign this biblical teaching.
We know that there is no mention of a USA-type nation in the prophetic word, so the next most likely options for his pool of would-be candidates, seem to come from either Europe or the Middle East. We know in the last days, that Satan will also use the kings of the east (Rev. 16:12) to come against Israel, but is likely keeping them in his reserve forces to use a last resort.
We know now that what was lacking in World War II (and before) was the technology to accomplish all of what Revelation 11 and 13 seem to indicate. We know that technology has finally reached the point to achieve all that Scripture states must happen (Mark of the Beast, worldwide communications and travel, weapons of mass destruction, etc.).
We know that Christianity has entered into this final stage of Church history, that being the Laodicean Age. This is because the culture (primarily in the west) rapidly deconstructing itself and is becoming increasingly barbaric, hedonistic, pluralistic, and pagan. Intense pressure has been put on the church to make it bend to the will of the culture, rather than the Church standing firm on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What this all means, is that Satan's man/men of the hour, are alive today. These men likely have access to great power, but will not have expended any of that political capital as of yet. These men will not even be known by the general public, but most likely are thought to be the "power behind the throne" for many in the geopolitical world. These men (like those antichrist prototypes before them), are likely great observers of the state of the world, and know how to achieve their ends without appearing to want a one-world government. They will likely be watching the current crop of world leaders fumble, stumble, and make a mess of things today, and are learning from their mistakes. They are probably tied heavily into both the banking and technology industries. They will have access too, and know of, the breaking technologies that will change the landscape before anyone else does. These privileged men, are like walking Manchurian Candidates who will be flipped-on at the right moment to begin their conquest in their respective areas. Next, the conclusion, Becoming Antichrist: Vol. III
Becoming Antichrist: Vol. I - by Pete Garcia & Randy Nettles -
I do not think about the Antichrist often, nor do I want this to seem as if I am glorifying him in any way, shape, or form, but I have at times, wondered about a few things. How does Satan go about selecting the Antichrist? Is he alive today? Does he know he is the Antichrist? If he does know, when and how did he find out? What does he hope to achieve? Does he have a long-term plan, or is it more like playing out things as they unfold? Is he like the Hitler with the unsustainable four-year economic plan? Or is he like the Hitler with his thousand-year Reich plan? Does he know his fate? Does he care?
The Scriptures has much to say about antichrist. Not only is it a real person(s), or a human condition, but it can also be a zeitgeist (spirit of the age). Not only are there antichrist(s) (little 'a'), but a final, literal, future Antichrist (big 'A') who assumes control over the entire earth. Here are the four passages (all New Testament-all from John) that use the actual term antichrist.
[Deceptions of the Last Hour] Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 4:3
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22
And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 1 John 4:3
[Beware of Antichrist Deceivers] For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 2 John 1:7
In a broader sense of the word (referencing both the Old and New Testament), an antichrist is one who opposes God, His agenda, or His people. Although there are only four New Testament passages using the term antichrist (antichristos, Greek-ἀντίχριστος), Scripture affords us an abundance of clues as to the nature of the coming future Antichrist. He is called the worthless shepherd, little horn, man of sin, the lawless one, son of perdition, the beast, the dragon, and the rider on the white horse. However, we are not told who he is. Granted, every generation has had their favorite candidates, and up until now, they have all been wrong. The reason we know they were wrong, was well, all of those Roman Emperors, Catholic Popes, and brutal tyrants have thankfully come and gone and yet we are still here.
Fortunately, as born-again believers, we will not be here to find out who he is when he is finally revealed. The Apostle Paul writes in his second epistle to the Thessalonians that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming (2nd Thess. 2:7-8). First, the Restrainer can be none other than God the Holy Spirit. Second, Christ must destroy the Antichrist at His coming; no other death will suffice.
Some Preliminary Discussions
Since the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is to my knowledge, the only eschatological view that identifies the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer, critics of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view scoff at the Holy Spirit/Restrainer interpretation. The reason they scoff is because the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead and as such, is both omnipresent (everywhere at once) and will remain in the salvation business even after the Rapture.
I (as do other Pre-Trib believers) whole-heartedly agree with them.
However, let us deconstruct this passage even further.
What this phrase taken out of the way does notmean, is that God the Holy Spirit is physically (or spiritually) removed from the earth, because that would be impossible. What it does mean is that His role will change, specifically, because of the Rapture (or removal) of the Church from the earth will necessitate a change in function. For those who do not understand this idea of what changing roles means, just think back to Acts 2 Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit to those Jewish believers' fifty-days after the Resurrection. Keeping that in mind, ask yourself-
1. Did God the Holy Spirit exist on the earth before the Acts 2 Pentecost? Yes He did.
2. Did His role change from Old Testament to New? Yes it did.
3. Can the Holy Spirit exist on the earth after the Rapture? Yes, He Can.
4. Will His role on the earth be different from before the Rapture? Yes, it will.
So the main question becomes, what will the primary role of the Holy Spirit be after the Rapture? Well, what was the primary role of the Holy Spirit before Christ came?
The Holy Spirit had many different roles over the history of the world. During Creation, He was the energizer or life-giver (Gen. 1:2, 2:7). From Adam to John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit's role included empowering select persons to accomplish specific missions (for ex. Moses and David). He could infill someone from a young age (Samson) or even before birth (John the Baptist), but could also depart from people for whom He once indwelt (for ex. Samson and Saul). He overshadowed Mary at the Incarnation (Luke 1:35), visually descended upon Jesus at His baptism, and at the incarnation of the Church at Pentecost (Matt. 3:16, Acts 2:1-4).
However, after He was given as The Helper at Pentecost, His role in this dispensation was to permanently seal those believers into the universal, singular, Body of Christ (ex. 1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 5:23) until the day of Redemption, which is the Rapture (or Harpazo). For those who have already died, will receive their glorified bodies just ahead of those of us who are alive at His coming for the Church. We shall be instantaneously translated from mortal to immortal and from corruptible to incorruptible. This is in part why we groan within ourselves for, awaiting our birth into glory (Romans 8:23). The groaning gets worse as the days get darker. What changes after the Rapture, is that the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the dark forces from interacting here in the human domain.
After Christ's body (the Church) is removed fully from the earth, they will have unfettered access to our physical realm. Therefore, in strictly mechanical terms, although Christ ascended to the Father forty-days after His resurrection, He still has His body (the Church) here on earth carrying out the Great Commission. This is why I said the incarnation (putting on of flesh) of the Church. Once the Holy Spirit infilled those believers, we were not born, but began to grow and gestate much as a baby does after it is conceived. Remember what Christ said,
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19
First, Christ is building His Church- not the Pope, not Martin Luther, not the Southern Baptist Association, nor any other human organization. Second, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Clearly, when reading the summarized accounts of Daniel's 70th Week in Revelation 13, we see that authority has been given to the Antichrist to overcome the tribulation saints, so this group cannot be the Church. For two-thousand years, Satan has been trying to stamp out the Church. Moreover, the more he crushes it, the more it grows. This is not the case inside the 70th Week. This is also, why God has to resort to using Angels to proclaim the gospel (Rev. 14:6), because there are so few remaining on the earth during this time.
Secondly, at present, what the Church binds on earth means that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). And since the Church has direct access to the throne of God (Heb. 4:16), the things we war against here on earth (Eph. 6:12), not only has heavenly authorization, but divine execution on our behalf. This is what restrains Satan and his demonic forces at present, from plunging the world headlong into darkness. Trust me, if Satan could have done this, he already would have.
Once the Church is physically removed from the earth, the path to salvation goes back to one similar to that of the Old Testament. Salvation by faith through grace, yet, the believers (tribulation saints) are not permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit as we are now. They must maintain their faith, and can lose it should they take the mark of the beast, or apostatize in some other way (Matt. 24:13, 2 Thess. 2:10-12, Rev. 12:17). In fact, the only ones we do see who are specifically mentioned as being sealed by the Holy Spirit, are the 144,000 Jewish male virgins, 12,000 from each tribe (Rev. 7:1-8).
It is for this reason, that the book of Revelation often paints strange and bizarre images of demonic beings waging war on mankind in a visually symbolic way. We often try to relegate these images to things we understand in order to make some sort of sense of it all. However, the reason we cannot understand it, is that for the past two-thousand years, the spiritual domain has not been open to us. Once we are removed, those "bizarre images" so many have relegated to pure symbolic mumbo-jumbo, will be mortified to see them fill their headlines and reality.
In summary, even though we cannot know the identity of this Antichrist this side of the Rapture, the bible is not silent on the nature of this wicked man. My hope and prayer is that this article may serve as a warning to those left behind and perhaps persuade some, to avoid him and his mark of damnation. In the next Volume, we will look at the forerunners of The Antichrist.