R/Dean Daniel Lesson 53
The Antichrist or the False Prophet; Revelation 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 2 – Daniel 11:36
Open your Bibles to Daniel 11:36, this is one of those really fun passages that if you are a pastor and like to study that you can really sink your teeth into because there are a number of difficulties with interpreting different things that are a lot of fun to get into. I've seen this coming up and I've been studying on it and I think in the last couple days as I've been cranking on it I've probably read over 200 pages of material and cranked my way over the last couple of weeks cranked my way through about 8 or 10 different cassettes of different people teaching aspects of this passage as well as going through probably another hundred pages of material which just barely scratches the surface. I think a lot of people don't understand, they get the idea that somehow when a man goes to seminary that they give the answers to these things. Well, they don't, they just get the tools and what is especially fun about a passage like this is that even among scholars who are dispensational, premillennial and pretribulational, what happens is you start looking at the literature on the subject and no two people agree, and that makes it just a whole lot of fun because you've go deal with maybe 15 or 20 different passages that all correlate and nobody puts them all together the same way.
But it's always fun to go through and study and develop because each time you go through you gain a little greater understanding of some of these issues. I spent about an hour on the phone with Dr. Ice today and I don't agree with his position on some things here, but that's okay, he and I've discussed it and you know, nothing here is the kind of thing that you want to go fight a war over. And you need to know that as a congregation, that there are some things that, in prophecy especially, that just aren't that crystal clear in terms of timing. But a lot of that we won't quite get to until next time, but we will start getting into the subject with Daniel 11:36.
And at verse 36 there is a shift in the subject from what we covered in the first 35 verses of the chapter. The first 35 verses have focused on the historical aspect, what's history now, it was prophecy when Daniel had the vision, at the time, 538 BC, it was yet future, it was a detailed description of what would take place during the time of the Seleucid Empire after the Greek Empire broke up following the death of Alexander the Great. Everything up to the point of verse 35 had been fulfilled in human history and had been fulfilled roughly between the period of about 205 BC down to about 160-150 BC and then the last few verses indicated certain trends that would continue up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Then there is a shift in verse 36 and this is typical in prophetic passages. In Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 and Daniel 9 we have seen where there are gaps, prophetic gaps between two verses. One verse will talk about something that was fulfilled before the first coming of Christ and then the next verse is really related to something that occurs during the Tribulation and some 2,000 years may separate the two verses. And to understand this we have an illustration called the mountain peaks of prophecy. Now I just scanned this picture in from the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible but it's a good illustration of what takes place. Now if you look over here at the prophet, this is looking forward in time, so these mountain peaks represent key events in history that are yet future to this time of the prophet, so it's like a timeline running from the left to the right. If you've ever been out somewhere where there are some high mountain peaks, like out in Colorado or up in Washington State or California, and you are approaching from the plains, I remember many times driving from Texas to Colorado and you would get that first glimpse of the Spanish peaks down in southern Colorado, and you would see them off in the distance and then you would begin to see other peaks behind them, and they looked like they were just right up against each other, but once you get there and get right on top of those peaks you realize that the next peak that you saw is really separated by about 30 or 40 miles from the first peak. But when you're off at a distance you don't see that valley that is in between those two peaks. They look like they're right together, part of the same mountain.
So when the prophets in the Old Testament were looking forward they would see events such as the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem prophesied in Micah 5:2; they would see the events surrounding the suffering Messiah, for example in Isaiah 53, they would see information about the antichrist, the coming of Christ as royalty, as the king at the Second Coming, but they wouldn't see the time gaps in between these events. And so to them they were often just joined right next to each other and it's not until you get into the New Testament and into the Church Age that we realize that there were large time gaps between some of these events. So up to verse 35 you have history that takes place prior to the First Advent and actually can go up to about 70 AD and then in between verse 35 and 36 you have the entire Church Age, and then starting with verse 36 you have information about the coming of the antichrist.
Another way of looking at this is in terms of the timeline we've had before, at the cross Jesus died, paid the penalty for our sins and then 50 days afterwards, on the day of Pentecost, the Church Age began. The Church Age ends when Jesus returns in the clouds, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and 18, and then the rapture occurs and all believers from the Church Age are taken to be with Him in the clouds. Jesus returns in the air, 1 Thessalonians 4, for the Church, then at some point following the rapture, there's some gap, we don't know how long, but then the last week of Daniel 9, of Daniel's seventy weeks, takes place, which is for Israel. It's a seven year period of tribulation and that ends with the Second Coming of Christ when He comes to the earth with the Church in judgment. And that's just some of the argument for why the rapture must occur before the Tribulation. There is one coming of Christ described in 1 Thessalonians 4 where He comes in the air for His bride, to take the bride to heaven, John 14:1, "for where I am, there ye may be also." The Second Coming He comes to the earth in judgment and the bride or the Church accompanies Him. That is followed by the thousand year rule and reign of Christ on the earth.
Here's just another way of looking at it, Christ comes at the rapture, during the seven year Tribulation it's divided into two three and a half year periods, with the abomination of desolation taking place in the midpoint of the Tribulation. And that ends with the Second Advent of Christ; there will be a judgment of Tribulation unbelievers and then the thousand year millennium. Now what we're looking at is this period, the Tribulation, and specifically the career of the antichrist. That's what's in view here in Daniel 11 starting in verse 36. It can be divided into two sections; verses 36-39 focus on his religious and political career, and verses 40-45 focus on his military career. So we'll have to take some time to compare what's taught in this passage with what is taught in some key passages in the New Testament.
First of all, let's look at the person of the antichrist. I want to take a majority of the time this evening to look at the two key personages in the Tribulation period. The first is the person we refer to as the antichrist. This is the key human leader during the Tribulation who opposes the plan of God and is the pawn of Satan and who attempts to destroy the Jews. This term is used primarily to refer to what John refers to in Revelation 13:1 as the first beast; he is the ruler of the Revived Roman Empire, the western confederacy of ten nations. Now all of this is going to be clear but the reason I'm emphasizing this right now is because the phrase "antichrist" is only used in a few verses. In 1 John 2:18 John says, "Children, it is the last hour, and just as you hear that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour." So it is this one phrase where you have the word "antichrist" in the singular that it refers to a specific individual.
Now this phrase, "antichrist" in the Greek is "antichristos," now this preposition that's used as a prefix here, in classical Greek had the meaning of against; also in the English we have a preposition "anti" that has the idea of against. However, in Koine Greek in the New Testament this preposition never has the meaning of against. It is always used to mean instead of, it has the idea of a substitute, and when applied here in "antichrist" it has the idea of a counterfeit Messiah. "Christos," from the noun meaning anoint, and He is the anointed one, it is the Greek form of the Hebrew Meshiach meaning anointed one, Messiah or title for Jesus of Nazareth, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Promised Savior from the Old Testament. So its primary emphasis is as a counterfeit Messiah, however in his role as a counterfeit Messiah this personage is going to be against the plan and purposes of God. But this idea "against" is really a secondary background concept. He really functions as a counterfeit Messiah, a counterfeit God. Now that is crucial to understand when we get into some of the other passages we're going to look at in the New Testament related to this personage, the antichrist. He is distinct from the second beast of Revelation 13:11 who is known also as the false prophet, that's another title that's applied to him later and we have to understand the distinction between the antichrist and the false prophet as two individuals.
Now there are various titles that are given in the Old Testament, specifically more in Daniel than anywhere else, to the antichrist. This is the "little horn" that we studied in Daniel 7:8-9 and 19-26. Remember there was the goat with the little horn that came up and supplanted the ten horns and it's the little horn that conquers, and that's the antichrist. Then in Daniel 8:23 he's referred to as the insolent king. In Daniel 9:26-27, which is the passage that deals with Daniel's seventy weeks, he is referred to as the prince who is to come. He's referred to as the one who makes desolate and the one who performs the abomination of desolation described in Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31 where it talks about the historical fulfillment of that with Antiochus Epiphanes when he put up a statue to Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem and then sacrificed a pig on the altar and desecrated the temple. That is a type or a picture of what the antichrist will do when he sets himself up as God during the Tribulation.
That is also referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 where He warned the Jews that when they see the abomination of desolation…now remember, Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple in about 167 BC, so when Jesus speaks in Matthew 24:15 that's already past, so He is focusing on the future that in Matthew 24 He says when you see in the future the abomination of desolation then go to the mountains for protection. So that was a warning. The one who makes desolate is the antichrist. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he is called the man of lawlessness and also the son of destruction. That's based upon a Hebrew idiom indicating that he is characterized by lawlessness, meaning he doesn't recognize any other authority other than himself and he produces destruction. Jesus Himself said of the Tribulation period that it would be a time of destruction and warfare unlike any that was experienced at any other time in human history. The antichrist is called the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. And then in Revelation he is referred to as the beast, he is the first beast, the beast who comes out of the sea in Revelation 13:1. Key passages for this reference are Revelation 11:7, Revelation 13:1; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 17:13; Revelation 19:20 and Rev 20:10. He is called the despicable person in Daniel 11:21, actually that is directly related to Antiochus but it applies by application to the antichrist because Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of shadow image of the antichrist. He is called the strong-willed king in Daniel 11:36 and the worthless shepherd in Zechariah 11:16-17. These are just some of the titles and these titles combine to give us some sense of his character, some sense of who he is.
There are various other characteristics given in Scripture, I'm going to go through ten of them. First, he rises to power during the transition between the rapture and the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week; he is not revealed during the present Church Age. We're not going to be able to look out there on the historical scene and look at somebody, for example, who is the head of the European Economic Community or Prime Minister of Britain or President of the United States or some present contemporary personage and say ah, that's the antichrist. If you know who the antichrist is you're either stuck here during the Tribulation or you're having a psychotic episode. We will not know who the antichrist is until after the rapture; he is not revealed, he does not come to power, he does not make his power plays until after the rapture occurs, so don't get distracted. Daniel 9:27 gives us this information. The "he" of this verse refers to the prince who is to come, "He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week," that is what begins the Tribulation, that's what begins the last week of Daniel and he doesn't come into power until that point in time.
Second, we see that he is the head of a confederation of western powers, ten nations, during the Tribulation years.
According to Daniel 7, point number three, he rises to power following the confederation of ten nations and he assumes control by force and subdues three of the ten members. That's in Daniel 7:24, "As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise, and another will arise them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings." So the antichrist is the one who arises after the first ten kings. These ten kings represent ten nations in Europe, we've seen from our study of the image in Daniel 2 that these are nations that have their historical and cultural roots in the old Roman Empire. They are not all specifically nations that were part of the old Roman Empire; they could include the United States, for example, because our cultural and historical roots are in old Rome. If you go back and study your American history in the 18th century, our founding fathers were educated in a system that idealized the Roman Republic and that was the model on which they based our Constitution and our form of government. For them a republic was the highest form of government and the precedent for their education; the forms of their education, the priorities of their education system in the 18th century was ancient Rome. So this could include the Untied States. Remember, at the base of Daniel's image in Daniel 2 you have the feet, which includes the ankles, the feet of iron and clay. So the iron represents the members that were part of the old Roman Empire and the clay that is the brittle potter's clay that was used there would be newer or weaker elements that are introduced and brought together to form this new or Revived Roman Empire at the end time.
Then we read in Daniel 7:25, and I want you to remember this, this is one of his characteristics, "And he will speak out against the Most High, and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law," see, he is lawless, he makes his own law. We're going to connect that to 2 Thessalonians 2. But he speaks out against God, the Most High. So that's part of what the little horn of Daniel 7 will do, this eleventh king that arises is going to be compared in Daniel 7 with the little horn.
The fourth point on the antichrist; at the mid point of the Tribulation he sets up his statute in the Holy of Holies. I skipped one; point 1 was he rises to power during the transition between the rapture and the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week. Point 2 he's the head of a confederation. Point 3 he rises to power, and then this is point 4, he establishes a mark…I have a different point 4 in my notes, let's go with what's on the screen. The antichrist establishes a mark which signifies religious allegiance to him without which there is no buying or selling. This is the mark of the beast described in Revelation 13:16 where they are given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, this is the Greek preposition in Revelation 13:16, epi, which means upon not in. Sometimes you'll hear people talk about some kind of microchip that's implanted; it could be something like that. That would be a different preposition, that would be "in." So this is something visible, it's something that you can easily spot and identify, who is someone who has accepted the mark of the beast. So it will probably be a tattoo of some kind, I would guess, especially with the rise in popularity of tattoos in recent years in western culture.
Point number 5, at the midpoint of the Tribulation his statue will be erected in the Holy of Holies of the Tribulation temple. At the midpoint of the Tribulation his statue will be erected for worship in the Holy of holies in the Tribulation temple. He will set himself up as God. We've already seen in Daniel 7 that he speaks out against God, and he will offer himself as a substitute God.
Point number six, he's usually pictured in the Bible as a warrior, he pursues peace and he wages war, and he operates on deceitful tactics. He is a military man; that's what we will see in our passage in Daniel 11, he is primarily a warrior. One might say he worships war, that is his primary way of engaging diplomacy is through war. On the one hand he will speak deceitfully and then he will strike out in military attacks.
Point number seven, he is personally indwelt by Satan. There is an unholy trinity presented in Revelation 12 and 13 and that's also important to understand some of the difficulties in these passages is that just as you have the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, where the Father is unseen, the Son is revealed and is the Messiah and the Holy Spirit is the One whose job it is to reveal and promote the Son, there is an unholy trinity during the Tribulation. There is Satan who is roughly analogous to the Father, there is the antichrist who sets himself up as a substitute Christ, and then there is the false prophet whose role it is to bring worship to the antichrist as sort of a pseudo Holy Spirit. So we have this unholy trinity functioning during the Tribulation.
Point eight; the first three and a half years of the Tribulation represent his rise to power. He will persecute Christians and other opponents during a reign of terror that's going to go beyond any persecution or pogrom, any kind of hostility or holocaust ever experienced in human history. He is going to slaughter millions of Christians in order to get them out of the way. Now remember the Church, we as the Church, will be resurrected at the rapture, but following the rapture millions are going to come to Christ. We know that there's a returned emphasis to Israel, that there will be 144,000 Jews saved almost instantly after the rapture, they will be evangelists who will have the seal of God on them, they will all survive the Tribulation and they will give out the gospel. And I think that one of the reasons, somebody once asked me why is it important to study these kinds of prophetic passages now, they don't apply to us, Daniel 11 doesn't apply to us, why is this significant, and I think one reason it's significant is because as we study these passages and teach them, it's on the internet, it's on tape, it's in books, as this material is taught in the Church Age it's going to survive the rapture and it's going to be there for the people who are in the Tribulation to read, to study, and to give them an understanding of what's going on. The Tribulation is so terrible, so horrible, those folks aren't going to have time to study the Word of God, they're not going to have the leisure to get into these kinds of studies, so I think that one of the reasons we need to study this and have this information is that it will be available during the Tribulation as they go through this time of unprecedented horror and persecution.
Point nine, at the end of the seven years the antichrist worldwide coalition begins to fragment and there's an army from the east invading into Palestine in concert with one from the south and all of this culminates in the campaign of Armageddon. Armageddon is a massive series of military battles, a campaign that would culminate in the self-destruction of the human race if it weren't for the fact that Jesus Christ is going to return and cut the battle short, defeat the antichrist and false prophet and Satan and save the remnant of Israel.
Tenth, his destiny is to be sent to the lake of fire with the false prophet, Revelation 19:11-21. He is initially bound, during the millennium he is released again where at the end of the millennium he will lead a brief, unsuccessful revolt and then he is permanently consigned to the lake of fire along with the false prophet and along with Satan.
And then finally, is he Jewish or Gentile? He is a Gentile because Revelation 13:1 says that he comes out of the sea and the sea is usually a term referring to the unregenerate mass of humanity as opposed to the earth or the land which speaks of Israel. So he is a Gentile; furthermore, as part of the times of the Gentiles he is the last of the Gentile rulers who will dominate Jerusalem. Remember starting in 586 BC with the defeat of Israel and the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar the Jews are in the times of the Gentiles, when Israel is always dominated by Gentile powers. Even when there is an autonomous Jewish state as there is today and as there was during the time of the Maccabees, they are still in existence simply because the Gentile powers that surround them and are stronger than them allow them to exist. The third reason he's a Gentile is because Daniel 9 says that the people who destroyed the temple in 70 AD were "the people of the prince who is to come." That phrase, "the people of the prince who is to come" indicates that the people in AD 70 who destroyed the temple are identified ethnically with "the prince who is to come." Romans, the Roman army, the 10th legion under Titus destroyed the temple and destroyed Israel militarily in 70 AD. So that indicates that he will be ethnically related to them, a European descendant and so that means he is a Gentile.
Now that's a summary of the antichrist, the leader of the Revived Roman Empire, the first personage. Now we have the second personage, the second beast, the false prophet; the false prophet or the second beast. First, Jesus warned of false Christs and false prophets as two distinct categories. This is important to understand. Jesus warned in Matthew 24:24 that there would be false Christs and false prophets who would arise. Now he's speaking generally in terms of the trend of the age, but he makes a distinction between a false Messiah and a false prophet. They are two different categories. One claims deity the other is one who promotes a false religious system. Jesus said, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect." So there is a distinction between the antichrist as a pseudo Christ or pseudo Messiah and the false prophet who would be someone who would promote the religious worship of the false Messiah. This is further substantiated in Revelation 13:1-18 where the second beast is described as a distinct personage from the antichrist, the first beast, who is the subject of Revelation 13:1-10. As such he is described in Revelation 13:11-18 as a prophet or spokesman for the antichrist and one who promotes the religious worship of the antichrist.
Let's briefly go through Revelation 13:11-18. John says, "And I saw another beast," in the first ten verses he describes the first beast, "I saw another beast coming up out of the earth," the first beast came up out of the sea. In the ancient world sea monsters were among the most horrible thing you could possibly imagine because the sea was virtually unknown. So an imagery of that time, a beast coming out of the earth was not be as horrible, would not be as unknown, would not be as frightening therefore not was powerful as a beast that came up out of the sea. So right away there's the indication that this beast is less powerful, less threatening, less frightening than the first beast. So "I saw another beast, coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." I want you to notice this; this is where observation in Bible study is crucial. Notice it doesn't say he was like a lamb. That would indicate a Messianic function. Now there's a problem with that because among some older dispensationalists they took the reference to a lamb here to indicate that he has a Messianic role, but wait a minute, the antichrist is the one who has the Messianic role. That's why I belabored the point up to this point to indicate that the 1 John 2 passage is talking about this individual who offers himself as the substitute God. So John does not say he was like a lamb with two horns, he says "he had two horns like a lamb."
Now the two horns, horns were symbolic and used in prophetic imagery as signs of power. So the two horns here indicate his power but he doesn't have ten horns like the antichrist does, he only has two horns. Antichrist, remember, in Revelation 12 has ten horns, he takes over those ten nations. So he's less powerful than the antichrist. This is a point of comparison, "he had two horns like the lamb," see a ram has two horns, "and he spoke as a dragon." So it's going to contrast the fact that he has this image of being passive and non-threatening like a lamb but yet he really has the power of Satan behind him and he is extremely dangerous.
Revelation 13:12, "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence." Now here it's important that we look at this word, "in his presence." Who does the "his" refer to? This pronoun, that must refer back to the first beast, that's the nearest antecedent, "he exercises all of the authority of the first beast in the presence of the first beast," so the first beast delegates a certain amount of authority to the second beast and the role and responsibility of the second beast is to promote the worship of the first beast. That's what we'll see. "And he," now the "he" here is going to refer back to the…you've got to really be careful here with the pronouns, "he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence," that indicates that the subject is the second beast, the false prophet, now when you get to the "he" as the subject of the second sentence we're still talking about the antichrist, this isn't a reference back to the antichrist as the first beast, "and he," "and he," and it's clearly referring to the second beast, "And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast," so the context also clearly states that the "he" here must refer to the false prophet. So the false prophet's role is to "make the earth and those who dwell in it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed."
Revelation 13:13, "And he performs great signs," so he's going to be a miracle worker, "he performs great signs," the Greek indicates highly unusual miracles are going to be performed by him, not just fraudulent things, not just miracles that are believed in by the credulous, but he is actually going to perform genuine miracles of an astounding…he is imitating Jesus Christ and the apostles in his performance of miracles. "And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men." That reminds us of the fire that Elijah called down from heaven when he was in his contest in 1 Kings 19 with the prophets of Baal. So he is going to perform these incredible miracles and that is going to give credibility to himself but primarily to the antichrist, so that millions will be deceived, verse 14.
Revelation 13:14, "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given to him to perform in the presence of the beast," so he performs them in the presence and under the authority of the first beast, who is the antichrist, "telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast," so you see, he's bringing worship to that first beast, to the antichrist, they're going to "make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life." He's not making an image to himself; he's making the image of the antichrist.
Revelation 13:15, "And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast," so he's going to bring this non-animate image to life, this thing is going to come to life and it's going to be like he creates a living breathing creature. "And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." So if they don't worship him they're going to be martyred.
Revelation 13:16, "And he causes all," the "he" being the second beast, the false prophet, "causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead," and that's the mark of the beast. So the mark of the beast for the antichrist is actually ministered and enforced by the second beast. Everything he is doing is designed to bring power, to bring authority and to bring worship to the antichrist.
Revelation 13:17, "And he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast of the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast," we're not going to get distracted by trying to figure out what 666 refers to but it doesn't mean that it's a universal product code like you find on your can of coke or anything else you buy at the store. You may not know this but if you look at the first, middle and last digit on any UPC code it's 6 and back about 20 years ago when those were first coming out, everybody thought ah, this is the mark of the beast. In fact, Moody Monthly ran a cover article on it and there was a picture of somebody on the front cover of Moody Monthly and stamped in the middle of their forehead was a UPC, Universal Product Code. Everybody gets so silly when they start talking about prophecy.
Okay, what do we know that the Scripture reveals to us about this second personage, the false prophet. Characteristics of the false prophet: First of all, he is motivated by Satan. Second, he has delegated authority, delegated from the antichrist. Third, he promotes the worship of the first beast, that is the antichrist. Fourth, he performs signs and wonders; signs and miracles, he is going to perform legitimate…legitimate in the sense that they're real, they're nor fraud, it's not sleight of hand, he's not David Copperfield, he is going to actually heal people, he is going to bring this image to life, it's not just some fraud, God is going to allow him, through Satan, to have these real miracles. The only thing, they're not legitimate in the sense that they're not from God. He deceives the unbelieving world so that millions follow him and worship the beast. He will promote the idolatrous worship of the first beast, the antichrist. He has the power of death over people who do not worship the beast so that if they don't worship the antichrist they're going to be executed. And he has great economic power such that people will not be able to buy or sell unless they possess the mark of the beast. He is probably Jewish; you can't say this dogmatically but based on the fact that he comes out of the earth and the phrase, ge, used for earth, often refers to the land in contrast to the sea of 13:1, the antichrist coming out of the sea, the false prophet out of the land, many believe that this indicates that the false prophet is Jewish. The antichrist is a Gentile but the false prophet is Jewish.
Another key passage that we need to look at to understand the antichrist is in 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul is writing in Thessalonians in the second epistle to the Thessalonians to again further help them understand what he has already taught them in prophecy. Remember, Paul went to Thessalonica on his second missionary journey. While he was there he obviously taught them about prophecy and what would take place in the future but everybody got upset, Jesus was coming back but then some believers began to die and they wanted to know, well, what's happen to those who die before Jesus comes back. And that's why he answered that question in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 when he said that Jesus would return in the clouds and those who were dead in Christ would be caught up to be together with Him in the air, then we who are alive and remain would be caught up also with Him, thus to be with the Lord forever. He's already told them that in the first epistle.
Now he comes back in the second epistle because they want some clarification on what he has said about these prophetic issues. So in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he states, "let no one in any way deceive you, for it" that is a reference to the Tribulation which he had gone into in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, "for it will not come about unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." Now this is a fascinating verse, I don't agree with the translation here in verse 3, the word translated "apostasy" is the Greek word apostasia, we just transliterated into English. It has been demonstrated in numerous Lexical studies that the core meaning of apostasia means to depart, it's used of someone getting on a ship and leaving. The core meaning is a departure. Of course there are many different kinds of departure. Sometimes the word was used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to describe the disobedience of the Jews, that they had departed from the Law of Moses. So that came to have the idea of a religious departure or a departure from the truth which is the way we often think of the concept of apostasy as going into false doctrine, departing from the truth of Scripture.
However, in the core meaning of the word it means to leave, it means to depart, it means to exit and in the first eleven English translations of the Bible it was translated depart. It wasn't until the King James Version that it was transliterated apostasy. The first eleven English translations all translated it departure. And if you look down at verse 5 Paul states, "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things." Now it's possible that Paul could have been referring to something he taught while he was there which we don't have any record of, but he's clearly referencing something he has taught them already. What did he teach them and what was the subject of 1 Thessalonians? It was the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, so it is more than likely, I believe, for a couple of other reasons, that the way 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ought to be translated is that "for it," that is the Tribulation, "will not come unless the departure comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," indicating that the departure, i.e. the rapture, must come before the revealing of the antichrist, "the man of lawlessness."
Furthermore, when you look at this passage, if it means apostasy in terms of falling away from truth or falling into false doctrine, people have fallen into false doctrine for the last 2,000 years. I mean, you have major denominations that are in serious apostasy today. What apostasy are we talking about? Furthermore, if the apostasy has to come before the rapture can occur, then shouldn't we be looking for the apostasy instead of the blessed hope? You see, the next thing that we're supposed to look for is the return of Jesus Christ for the Church. But if the apostasy has to come, then the rapture isn't imminent any more because something has to happen before the rapture can occur, that is the apostasy. So it is the most defensible, both lexically and theologically that the word translated "apostasy" here should be translated "departure" and refers to the rapture, that the Church will be raptured before "the man of lawlessness is revealed" and that's the antichrist, called "the son of destruction," and we've studied the Hebrew idiom of "son of" which is an adjectival description or characteristic of an individual. So when he's called "the son of destruction" what that means is he is going to be characterized by destruction.
Then in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 we read that he "opposes and exalts himself above every," not most, not 99% but "above every so-called god or object of worship." So it is "the man of lawlessness" who is going to exalt himself above every god, all the gods of the Greek pantheon, all the gods of the Roman pantheon, all the New Age gods, Hindu gods, Buddhist gods, he will exalt himself above every god including the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ. He "opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." So the antichrist is going to make claims, personal claims, that he is God. This fits with the whole concept of him being antichrist, that is, the substitute of Christ. He is going to set himself up as God.
2 Thessalonians 2:5 Paul says, "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?  And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed." You see, one of the things that is happening during this Church Age is the presence of the Church and the presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer is having a restraining influence on Satan. Satan wants to promote his agenda through the antichrist and the false prophet. He hasn't a clue when the rapture is going to occur any more than you or I do. So in every generation he's got his system, he's got somebody he's going to empower to be the antichrist, he's got somebody he's got somebody he's going to empower to be the false prophet. That's why in every generation you can have people who can legitimately look out and say well, it looks like Napoleon could be the antichrist, it looks like Bismarck could be the antichrist, it looks like Wilhelm of Germany could be the antichrist in World War I or Hitler in World War II, or Saddam Hussein, I mean, it just goes on, every generation can legitimately identify people in circumstances that could potentially be pulled together for the Tribulation but it doesn't happen because there is a restrainer in human history and that is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. And as soon as the Holy Spirit is removed, as soon as the Restrainer is pulled out of human history, then the pot boils over and then literally all hell is going to break lose in human history.
And that's what 2 Thessalonians 2:6 is all about, "And you know what restrains him now," that is Satan, "so that in his time he may be revealed.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." So God is designing history in such a way that He is preventing the ascendancy of the antichrist and false prophet in order to fulfill His plan and purposes for mankind.
The application that we can take from this is that if the chaotic mess of the Tribulation has been designed by God for a purpose and is completely under His control then we shouldn't panic whenever international or national conditions look chaotic, no matter how far down the stock market drops, no matter how many terrorist's attacks there are, no matter how many wars occur on the scene, we have no excuse for ever panicking as believers. We know that God is in control and is going to bring everything to pass according to His Word. So we keep our focus on Him and keep up the fight of learning doctrine.
What we learn from 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 is that there is two people, the antichrist and the false prophet. The antichrist is a substitute Messiah, he is going to exalt himself above ever god, it is the role of the second personage, the false prophet, who is possibly Jewish, to bring all worship and honor to the first beast, the antichrist.
So now the question becomes, in Daniel 11:36, "Then the king will do as he pleases," and we have to ask the question, who is the king here? We just have a couple minutes so we can't get very far into this but I'm going to cover the first point. Some people teach that the king here is still Antiochus. Now I want to cover seven reasons why this can't be Antiochus. Mostly it's liberals who don't believe in predictive prophecy in the Bible and some covenant theologians who reject the idea that the king here is the future antichrist.
Seven reason why this can't be Antiochus. First of all, there are statements made about the character of the king in these verses, Daniel 11:36-45, which are not true of Antiochus.
Second, the policies of the king in verses 36-39 are presented as if they are new information. Now we've just seen similar policies in the previous 7 or 8 verses related to Antiochus, but when it comes to this new king in verse 36 the similar policies are presented as if they are brand new information, so that would suggest that it's a different king.
Third, historical matters in these verses are presented…historical matters here do not match anything that occurred in the lifetime of Antiochus Epiphanes. And even liberals do suggest that this possibly could be reference to somebody else because the details in the first 35 verses have been fulfilled so precisely or so historically correct in terms of Antiochus that it just seems odd that these details wouldn't fit Antiochus Epiphanes as well.
Fourth reason, the text seems to end with the expression of Antiochus' hostility to the Jews in verses 34-35. Everything leads up to a crescendo in verses 34 and 35 and then there seems to be a shift in focus in verse 36.
Fifth, the terminology, "the king" in verse 36 is different from what precedes. Up to this point it's been the king of the north, the king of the north, the king of the north, now here it's "the king" and when we get down into verse 40 we will see that this king in verse 36 is distinct from the king of the north in verse 40. So the Antiochus and the Seleucid kings have all been referred to by the title king of the north and yet this king in verse 36 is distinct from the king of the north in verse 40. I combined two points there. Fifth, the terminology of "the king" is different from the preceding king of the north.
The sixth point is that this king is distinguished from the king of the north in verse 40.
The seventh point, this ruler, described in verses 36-45, operates in the worst period of history for the Jews and that was not an Old Testament period, that is something that is predicted by Jesus in Matthew 24. Therefore the personage of verse 36 must be someone yet future. That has been identified with three different people. There are those who think that this describes the antichrist but they identify the antichrist with the king of the north. In other words, up to this point the focus of this passage has been on the king of the north. And the king of the north, specifically in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes, is a type or a picture of the antichrist. Therefore there are a few people who say that the antichrist is going to be equated to the king of the north. Then they also go to a passage which we'll look at next time, in Isaiah 10:5 that refers to the Assyrian and their conclusion is that the antichrist is an Assyrian, arises out of the geographical area of the old Seleucid Empire and it's not related to Rome. The problem with that is it's clear from Daniel 9:26 that the first 69 weeks ends when "the people of the prince who is to come" destroy the city and the sanctuary. "And the people of the prince who is to come," the "prince who is to come" is the antichrist; the people who destroyed the temple were Romans. So therefore the "prince who is to come" must be Roman and must be a European, not a Syrian. Now this is a view that's taught by a professor I had at Dallas Seminary, Prof Hodges, Zane Hodges takes this position and I really have some problems with it and it's not really well supported, I think, in the Scripture.
There's a second view and that is that this is the false prophet, the second beast in Revelation 13 and we'll look at that position starting next time.