“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
When will the Antichrist come? When will God’s Kingdom come (the Millennial Kingdom – the thousand year reign of Christ on earth)? The Jews longed for this day and it was the last question the disciples asked Jesus before He ascended: “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”” (Acts 1:6) Daniel speaks of this through the visions God gave to Nebuchadnezzar (chapters 2) and then to Daniel directly (chapters 7-12). This week we will take a closer look at the Antichrist and the prophecies related to the timing of his coming.
From Daniel 8, John MacArthur gives a good summary statement of when Jesus will return for the judgment of Antichrist and the establishment of His Kingdom: [“The Kingdom of Christ follows a divine judgment for the great persecution by the final ruler of the final phase of the final kingdom of the nations. What have we said then? First the kingdoms of the nations: (Babylon represented by the gold head and lion; Medo-Persia represented by the silver arms and chest and bear; Greece represented by the bronze thighs and leopard; Rome by the iron legs and mongrel beast. Then the final form (Revived Roman Empire by the iron mixed with clay feet). Then the final ruler. Then his final persecution (esp. of Israel). Then the final judgment (of the Antichrist and the false prophet – Rev. 19). Then the Kingdom of Christ (and then the final judgment of Satan and all the unsaved – Rev. 20) http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/27-17/The-Coming-Kingdom-of-Christ-Part-3]
[The following is a study By: John F. Walvoord From the Series: Daniel The Key To Prophetic Revelation Article contributed by www.walvoord.com http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-8-vision-ram-and-goat] “J. D. Pentecost summarizes the facts from Daniel 8:23-25 as a description of the beast (Antichrist) in that
(1) He is to appear in the latter times of Israel’s history (Dan 8:23) “In the latter period of their rule, When the transgressors have run their course, a king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue.”
(2) Through alliance with other nations, he achieves worldwide influence (Dan 8:24); “His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.”
(3) A peace program helps his rise to power (Dan 8:25); ”And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence.”
(4) He is extremely intelligent and persuasive (Dan 8:23); “A king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue.”
(5) He is characterized by Satanic control (Dan 8:24); “His power will be mighty, but not by his own power.”
(6) He is a great adversary against Israel and the Prince of princes- the Lord Jesus Christ (Dan 8:24-25); “And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes.”
(7) A direct judgment from God terminates his rule (Dan 8:25). “But he will be broken without human agency.” Both Antiochus and Antichrist will be directly judged by God. [“He (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall not be slain in war, nor shall he be assassinated, as tyrants commonly were, but he shall fall into the hand of the living God and die by an immediate stroke of his vengeance. He, hearing that the Jews had cast the image of Jupiter Olympius out of the temple, where he had placed it, was so enraged at the Jews that he vowed he would make Jerusalem a common burial-place, and determined to march thither immediately; but no sooner had he spoken these proud words than he was struck with an incurable plague in his bowels; worms bred so fast in his body that whole flakes of flesh sometimes dropped from him; his torments were violent, and the stench of his disease such that none could endure to come near him. He continued in this misery very long. At first he persisted in his menaces against the Jews; but at length, despairing of his recovery, he called his friends together, and acknowledged all those miseries to have fallen upon him for the injuries he had done to the Jews and his profaning the temple at Jerusalem. Then he wrote courteous letters to the Jews, and vowed that if he recovered he would let them have the free exercise of their religion. But, finding his disease grow upon him, when he could no longer endure his own smell, he said, It is meet to submit to God, and for man who is mortal not to set himself in competition with God, and so died miserably in a strange land, on the mountains of Pacata near Babylon: so Ussher’s Annals, A.M. 3840, about 160 years before the birth of Christ.” Matthew Henry on Daniel 8]
(Vv. 23-26) It may be concluded that this difficult passage apparently goes beyond that which is historically fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes to foreshadow a future personage often identified as the world ruler of the end time. In many respects this ruler carries on a persecution of Israel and desecration of the temple similar to what was accomplished historically by Antiochus. This interpretation of the vision may be regarded as an illustration of double fulfillment of prophecy or, using Antiochus as a type, the interpretation may go on to reveal additional facts which go beyond the type in describing the ultimate king who will oppose Israel in the last days. He indeed will be “broken without hand” at the time of the second advent of Jesus Christ.”
Other descriptions of the Antichrist are seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, the son of destruction (perdition/hell), who 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. 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 will 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. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
Other descriptions of Antichrist: – the little horn (Dan. 7:8, 24b–26); the king of fierce features or insolent and skilled in intrigue (Dan. 8:23–25); the prince (or ruler) who is to come (Dan. 9:26); the willful king (Dan. 11:36); the worthless shepherd (Zech. 11:17); the Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18); the beast out of the sea (Rev. 13:1–10).
[“Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) said, “The nations are ready to give the kingdoms of the world to any one man who will offer us a solution to our world’s problems.” The first president of the United Nations General Assembly, Paul-Henri Spaak, who was also a prime minister of Belgium and one of the early planners of the European Common Market, as well as a secretary-general of NATO, affirmed, “We do not want another committee, we have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all the people and to lift us up out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and whether he be God or devil, we will receive him.” President George H. W. Bush said in a speech before the U.S. Congress during the Gulf War, “We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. Out of these troubled times a New World Order can emerge. Today that New World Order is struggling to be born.” http://www.angelfire.com/realm/ofstardust/RISE_AC.html]
How will he be able to deceive so many people? ”This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.” (2 Thess. 2:9-10)
The Antichrist will not just be against or opposed to Christ, he will be disguised as Christ – the ultimate false Christ, false teacher, false prophet. False teachings and false teachers are spoken of throughout the Bible and our Lord Jesus, Paul, Peter, and Jude gave us many warnings and ways to recognize them. There are false teachers even within the “church” today and with the added danger of TV and internet, many people are being seduced away from the truth.
“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
[The article in italics below gives us some ways to recognize false teachers for ourselves and to warn others.
1. Peter strongly implies that we should regard anyone who claims to be a “prophet” as a false prophet.
2. Peter teaches us to expect false teachers to arise.
3. Peter teaches us to expect false teachers to arise from within the church as well as from without. (Also see Acts 20:28-32)
4.The teaching of these false teachers is destructive to the teachers and to all who follow their teaching and practice.
5. False teachers bring reproach upon true saints and the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. (e.g., David Koresh)
6. These false teachers are not always readily apparent. As Jesus warned, they come as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (See Matthew 7:15-23).
7. False teachers can be identified by their morals and their motives. The false teachers of whom Peter writes are self-centered, self-serving, and self-indulgent (verse 10, 12-14). Worse yet, they are lost (verses 4-6, 12, 17-22; see Jude 4, 7-8, 12-13, 15, 19).
8. False teachers can be recognized by their methods. When false teachers “arise,” their heresies are “secretly introduced” (verse 1 NASB). They “creep in unnoticed” (Jude 4). These false teachers are devious and deceptive, not wishing to be known for what they are. They rely on slick methods rather than on the Spirit of God and appeal to the lusts of the flesh (compare 1 Corinthians 2; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:1-2).
9. False teachers can be recognized by their message. False teachers deny the truth and deal in error. The “way of truth is slandered” and their words are false (verses 2 and 3). Their doctrines are heresies which are “destructive,” while the truth leads to “life and godliness” (1:3). They claim to teach the Word of God, but they actually twist and distort the Scriptures so their interpretations justify their lifestyle and their lusts (see 3:16).
10. Both Peter and Jude inform us as to how far these false teachers will go; even denying the Master who bought them (2 Peter 2:1); ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 4). Jude says they pervert grace, twisting it so that it becomes a pretext for sin. (1 Peter 1:14; 2:11; 2 Peter 1:4)
You see, there are many Jesus’ proclaimed today. There is Jesus the liberator and Jesus the revolutionary. There is Jesus the teacher and Jesus the example. There is Jesus the healer and Jesus the burden-bearer. Homosexuals and adulterers point to “an unconditionally accepting Jesus,” seeking to show that Jesus is on their side. Even the demons are willing to accept certain aspects of our Lord’s identity, but not His authority. We want to have “Jesus the way we like to think of Him.” We would rather conform Jesus to our views and values than have Him transform ours. In his early days as a disciple, Peter believed in Messiah, but he wanted nothing to do with a suffering Savior. The Jewish religious leaders, along with the nation Israel, also looked for the coming “Messiah.” But it was not the Messiah the prophets described. So they rejected the true Jesus, because He was not their kind of Messiah. He was the wrong Jesus, and they liked their kind of Messiah better. In the parable of the soils, two of the soils initially received “Jesus,” but when they learned what kind of “Jesus” He really was, they fell away (see Matthew 13:5-7). The crowds congregated around Jesus when they thought He came to give them a free meal (John 6:22-27). But when He began to speak of His death, the crowds vaporized (see John 6:60-65).The false teachers speak of “Jesus,” but it is a “Jesus” of their own making, a “Jesus” with whom sinful men feel comfortable and affirmed. They wish to follow and imitate such a person, but they deny the real Jesus, substituting a more palatable Jesus. So it is that false teachers gain a following by tickling the ears of those who will not have the real “Jesus.” http://bible.org/seriespage/false-teachers-2-peter-21-3]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
2. “He (Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15) This is the most important question any one could ever be asked. Who do you say Jesus is?
3. C.S. Lewis in speaking about Jesus says, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Do you know people or religious groups who say these kind of “foolish” things about Jesus? How can we lead them to the truth of His Divinity and that He is ultimately their Judge?
4. “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” (C. S. Lewis) Why is this true?
5. “Are you aware of how the FBI trains its agents to spot counterfeit bills? The FBI schools agents by training them to see all of the characteristics of bills printed by the U.S. Treasury – they deal only with genuine money. An FBI agent learns to recognize authentic ones, fives, tens, twenties, fifties and hundred dollar notes until his or her appraisal of them becomes second nature. An agent studies a bill, both sides of it, until he or she learns every feature that makes it a genuine issue of legal tender.That way, when FBI agents see counterfeit bills, they immediately recognize them as such.” http://deniswaitley.com/ezines/2005/ezineissue38.htm “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) How can we learn from the FBI to spot false teachers and teachings? (See John 8:31-32)