During the entire church dispensation, there were many tyrants who played a typical antichristian role by deceiving, opposing and fighting Christians. They were all antichrists, and as such forerunners of the great, end-time Antichrist (1 John 2:18). Paul gives more details on the revelation of the final Antichrist, as well as his destruction at the Second Coming of Christ (2 Thess. 2:3-12).
In this Scripture, a clear indication is given of the taking away of the one who restrains, before the lawless one (the Antichrist) can be revealed. The one who restrains is the true church of Christ as the temple of the Holy Spirit on earth (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). We should remember that only the Holy Spirit can restrain the Antichrist and his satanic spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6). When the church departs at the rapture, the light of the world vanishes and leaves the world spiritually in total darkness. Then, when there is no one who can expose the works of darkness, the Antichrist will be revealed without any opposition and be accepted worldwide.
The four horsemen
According to Revelation 6:1‑8, the Antichrist will be revealed in a highly deceptive way as an angel of lightin an effort to first mislead people, and later to extend his merciless dictatorship over them. In the first stage of his rule he will appear to the world as a global peacemaker who brings hope and new opportunities of economic survival to a conflict-ridden and poverty-stricken world (the rider on the white horse). He will deceive everybody and successfully disguise his true identity. His claim to be a special man of God will be based on astounding supernatural powers and miracles. All religions of the world will accept him as their common messiah. To the deceived, nominal Christians he will be the Christ, to the Jews the Messiah, to the Muslims the Imam Mahdi, to the Hindus Krishna, and to the Buddhists the Maitreya Buddha. In a show of clever diplomacy he will also unite the world politically and become the head of a world government.
When his peace initiatives and political and religious unification reforms collapse after 3½ years, the Antichrist will show his true colours and turn to coercion to enforce his authority over the world, becoming a cruel military dictator (the rider on the red horse). The next logical action will be stringent economical control and food rationing during the severe wars and famine (the rider on the black horse). After these calamities, the only activity left for the Antichrist is his ride as the angel of death to reap as many souls as possible to join him in perdition (the rider on the pale horse). What commenced as a peace movement will end in utter tragedy.
Identity of the Antichrist
In Revelation 13, more details are given about the identity and character of this evil world leader. He is described as a beast having seven heads while his co-ruler, the false prophet, is also described as a beast but of a different appearance (Rev. 13:1-18). In Revelation 17, another intimate ally of the Antichrist is mentioned, from whom we may learn more about the beast. That is the harlot woman who represents all the false, antichristian religions of all times (Rev. 17:1-18). This woman is the mother of the apostates, and as such a spiritual parent organisation (an alliance or ecumenical body) of all the false religions. She was closely associated with the previous world empires and will also enjoy official recognition in the future kingdom of the beast. In Revelation 17:9-11 we are given more information about her and the beast on which she is riding.
The first conclusion that we must come to about this Scripture is that it is not referring to the seven mountains of Rome, and therefore the prophecy is not about the Roman Catholic Church. It says that the seven mountains are seven kings (or kingdoms) that succeed one another chronologically. We know that it does not refer to Roman emperors, as between Nero and Constantine alone there were ten antichristian Caesars in power. In this passage God gives us a broad perspective on seven consecutive world empires as the major strongholds of heathen religions throughout the centuries. In Genesis, Isaiah and Daniel mention is made of these empires. They are: 1. The ancient Babylonian Empire established by Nimrod; 2. The Assyrian Empire that took the ten tribes of Israel captive in the 8th century BC; 3. The neo-Babylonian Empire that conquered the kingdom of Judah in the 6th Century BC and took many of its subjects captive to Babylon; 4. The Medo-Persian Empire; 5. The Greek Empire; 6. The Roman Empire; and 7. The end-time empire of the Antichrist.
When Revelation was written in 95 AD, five of these empires had fallen – from the ancient Babylonian to the Greek – the Roman was currently ruling, while the end-time empire of the beast (Antichrist) was still future. This is precisely what Revelation 17:10 says, i.e. “five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come.” This last empire is symbolised by the head with ten horns. The allusion in verse 11 to the beast being “the eighth” and “of the seven” kingdoms indicates that his will be both the 7th and the 8th. The 7th is an empire like the Roman when he rules in alliance with other kings during the first 3½ years (v. 12); while the 8th is when, as sole military dictator, he rules over the whole world during the final 3½ years (Rev. 13:3-4).
A common characteristic of the first six empires is that all of them were extremely hostile towards the kingdom of God on earth. Their occult practices, pantheism, immorality, the deification of their leaders, humanism, and rebellion against God, will culminate in the seventh empire of the Antichrist and descend to even greater depths of spiritual darkness and deception. The unanimity among them has its roots in mystery Babylon, the immoral mother of all the false religions. She exerted a tremendous influence on the previous world empires, and was responsible for their wicked nature (Rev. 17:18).
The Antichrist is so closely identified with the previous world empires that he is depicted with the body of a leopard, the paws of a bear, the mouth of a lion and with ten horns on his head (Rev. 13:2). These symbols correspond with those in Daniel 7 where the Babylonian Empire is represented as a lion, the Medo-Persian Empire as a bear, the Greek Empire as a leopard and the Roman Empire as a ferocious beast with ten horns on its head.
It is evident that the empire of the Antichrist will not only be a revival of the Roman Empire, but of all the great world empires. It will have particularly strong Babylonian features. For this reason it is wrong to regard Western Europe as the revived Roman Empire and to allege that the Antichrist must come from Rome. His origin will be from a country that formed part of all the previous world empires, viz. the land of the king of the north (Dan. 11:36-45). This land lies to the north-east of Israel and was, during various times in history, referred to as Babylonia, Assyria, and Syria. It is presently known as Syria and Iraq, but its heartland is in Iraq. That is also where the ancient city of Babylon is situated, which is now being rebuilt. Isaiah 10:12-14 and 20 also refers to this end-time Assyrian, from whose tyranny Israel will be saved during the coming day of the Lord.
The Antichrist will institute a dictatorship which will be based upon political, religious and economic power bases. In all three these areas total control will be practised with a view to depriving all people of their basic human freedom. They will have no political rights, religious freedom or economic liberties outside the structures of his new world order. He will declare himself to be God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and order the execution of all people who refuse to worship him or his image (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:15). Buying and selling by all economically active people will be controlled by instituting a cashless, computerised economy for the whole world (Rev. 13:16-18). The allegation by some people that there will never be any danger attached to a cashless economy, and that the number and mark of the Antichrist should not be taken literally, is part of Satan’s propaganda campaign to prepare people on accepting the future number system of the Antichrist, and to conclude a covenant with him.
The philosophical principle upon which the Antichrist will base his global system of religious, political and economic governance is monism –everything is one. It is obvious from the prophecies that the Antichrist will be heading a new world order based on the concept of unity. In terms of religious unity it will be argued that all religions are one and that all people should worship the same, universal messiah (Rev. 13:4). The concept of political unity will pave the way to the unification of all people behind one leader (Rev. 13:4,7). Economic unity will justify the institution of a global economy, which will be centrally controlled by one government for all nations. The ideology of all is one paves the way to the emerging antichristian new world order.
It is obvious that a Christian world-view is diametrically opposed to the monistic philosophy of the Antichrist. The Bible does not teach us monism – everything is one, but dualism – everything is two. There are two major and irreconcilable realities that confront a person, i.e. the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. They are totally polarised and implacably opposed.
The final attack against the kingdom of Christ by the Antichrist, the false prophet and their hordes will occur during the battle of Armageddon. They will deploy a multinational army in the Middle East in an effort to utterly destroy the remnant of Israel, and also to await the coming of the true Messiah on the Mount of Olives and to try and fight against Him. But that will lead to the eternal doom of the Antichrist and the false prophet (Rev. 19:19-21), and also the binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1-3). Then, Christ’s promised millennial reign on earth will be established.
Evangelical Christians must resist the rise and planned revelation of the Antichrist. We are the light of a dark world and should oppose the powers of darkness in faith. Although we will not be on earth during the time of the Antichrist, we must resist the preparations for a world government and an alliance of world religions as antichristian institutions. The Antichrist’s ideology of political, religious and economic globalism, as well as his culture of sin in which everything is permissible (2 Thess. 2:3), are posing a real threat to Christians’ rights and is already being embraced by most governments. I commit myself to warning other people against these reforms and unitary thinking, and to order my own life strictly in accordance with biblical principles.
1. Will the Antichrist be a person or an impersonal system?
2. From which country or region will the Antichrist come?
3. With which world empires will he be associated?
4. Describe his role as a false prince of peace.
5. What will be the power bases of the Antichrist and how will he punish those who refuse to submit to his authority and demands?
Prof. Johan Malan