Nothing conjures up fear like the word "Antichrist". For centuries, the thought of the end times and what might happen, scares the dickens out of everyone. However, nothing does it quite like the word, Antichrist.
If the Bible warns us that he is coming, don't you think He would give us some clues? Of course He does. Sometimes the clues are right there in the open and because we have closed off our minds, they are unseen. The surest obstacle to the truth is the assumption we already have it. Seeking out things in God's Word is not only healthy, it is expected. Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the honor of kings to seek it out".
If we are to understand WHO he his, we must first understand WHERE he comes from. There are signs given in the Bible of the coming of the Antichrist. The book of Daniel is where we will spend a good portion of this article. In Daniel chapter 7, there is a vision of four beasts. It is most often taught that these four beasts represent the ancient kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. However, when looked at in context, Daniel's vision occurs in the end-times, not ancient history. Because his vision tells of events with political entities in the Middle East in the end-times, this in and of itself tells us that it may be relevant to the appearing of a Muslim Antichrist. As well, the fourth beast's eleventh horn IS the Antichrist.
Daniel chapter 8 gives a vision of a ram and a goat. Similar to chapter 7, popular belief points to these two representing the ancient kingdoms of Persia and Greece and it ends with Antiochus Epiphanes persecuting the Jews. While this may be popular, the text clearly points to the end-times and not ancient history. The vision also shows a little horn. This one does not grow out of the eleventh horn like in chapter 7. Here, it comes out of the goat's four horns. So, does the Bible give us any warnings or signs of the Antichrist's coming? Yes. Which brings up a great point. Don't get caught up in believing that nothing more will happen until the tribulation starts. When you are Jesus' disciple, He will warn you in advance but you must pay attention.
Mark Davidson, in his work "Daniel Revisited", speaks of the four signs that lead up to The Antichrist. He says the first sign is we, as a world, have arrived at the end-times. The fourth, or last sign is where The Antichrist will assemble his empire. He also links Revelation 6:1-8, the passage of the "four horsemen" of Revelation with Daniel chapters 7 and 8. When the prophesies of Daniel 7 and 8 are interpreted as future events, the mystery of the four horsemen is unlocked. All three of these passages, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, and Revelation are describing the same event, but from different view points. When linked, they point to the path and seasons until The Antichrist comes.
The vision in Daniel 7 of the four beasts tells us about the nations that will be involved with the coming of The Antichrist; it functions as an outline of end-times. Mark Davidson talks about the "four signposts" that occur BEFORE the tribulation. This makes the tribulation the fifth part of the vision.
The vision in Daniel 8 describes the major events involved with The Antichrist's coming in greater detail.
Revelation 6 points out the conditions that occur during The Antichrist's rise to power. Verses 1-8 show the unsealing of each of the outline parts.
Beginning with Daniel's vision in chapter 7, as it unfolds, it clearly describes a ruler as a horn emerging from the fourth beast. There are four beasts described; one like a lion, one like a bear, on like a leopard, and one with 10 horns. This is a series of end-time events, not a timeline of history from ancient Babylon to The Antichrist. There are two passages in chapter 7 that tell us the four beast's vision is not history, but end-time events. The first passage is that all of them are contemporaries of the returning Jesus. This is seen in verses 8, 11, and 12. The second passage is from verse 17. Taking a closer look, the fourth beast in the vision will be here at the return of Jesus as seen in verses 9-11. The other three are contemporaries of the fourth.
The second reason this vision can't be history is in verse 17. The verse states, "...shall arise..." If the vision occurred in the time of Belshazzar, Babylon's last king, the first beast cannot be Babylon as it was already in existence. Belshazzar, Babylon's king, was reigning at the time of the vision. The first beast is a king or kingdom that will arise in Daniel's future. Chapter 7 makes it clear that they are both kings and kingdoms. Since they are both, this will help identify what they represent.
The first three beasts are like a lion, bear, and a leopard. All three of these are predators. The leopard in this vision has four heads. Prophetically, heads represent government or political authority. Between the three beasts, there are six heads. This represents six modern nations in the middle east. These three are identified with the nation they represent; not symbolism, but behavior. The fourth beast is different.
In verse 19, the word used for "break into pieces" is the same word used to describe the legs of the statue in Daniel 2:40. The word means "crush". Islam pulverizes whatever it seizes until nothing left is recognizable. In history, Islam did this to Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Egypt along with a host of others. It will, and already has done this to people groups today. The Islamic Realm is the fourth beast. Where the first three beasts were "like" animal predators, the fourth beast has no description because it has no natural counterpart. Islam does not conquer for power or national pride. Islam conquers in the name of Allah, their god, and in the name of their religion.
So what are the six nations or leaders represented by the three first beasts? The book of Revelation can assist with this. In chapter 12, there is a picture of Satan attempting to destroy Israel, Jesus, and His followers (Christians). Satan is represented by "an enormous red dragon". It has seven heads and ten horns with seven crowns upon those heads. If the head represents authority or government, as mentioned earlier, Satan has had a seven-fold governing authority. This also leads us to believe he has ruled from seven significant places. Remember, crowns represent rulers and horns represent power. Throughout history, Satan has used his authority from these seven places using the seven heads to try and kill Israel and destroy Jesus (or His coming). To make war with the saints of Jesus, the dragon waits for a seven-headed beast to come out of the sea. "The Sea" always represents the people. Chapter 12 is the dragon trying to kill Israel, Jesus, and His followers. Chapter 13 gives us this beast coming up out of the sea.
Take note of the similarities of this beast from chapter 13 and the beasts from Daniel chapter 7. The new beast resembled a leopard (third beast), had a mouth like a lion (first beast), and feet like a bear (second beast), while coming out of the sea like the other three. The new beast has ten horns like the fourth beast as well. There are seven heads on the new beast in Revelation and there are a total of seven heads on the other four beasts from Daniel 7. Simply put, the new beast is a combination of the four beasts of Daniel.
One notable difference between the beast and the dragon is the crowns are moved from the seven heads on the dragon to the ten horns on the beast. This is super important. The dragon's heads wearing the seven crowns means that Satan attempted to destroy Israel using seven leaders in seven political places historically around Israel. However, in the end-times, the crowns will be moved from the seven heads to the ten horns of the new beast. They are ten kingdoms and rulers in the end-times. The end-time nations of the ten horns are different from the seven end-time nations of the four beasts.
Revelation 17:9 points out that the 7 heads are 7 mountains. These would be world empires from past history. You can identify them by their attempt to attack the woman Israel and her male child. Because the end-time beast is a reflection of the dragon and a unification of the four beasts in Daniel 7, then the identities of the first three beasts in that passage are the present day equivalents of each of six of the empires of the dragon. The seventh head of the dragon is Islam because it reflects the head of the fourth beast.
Revelation 17:10 says, "And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is,and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space." When John wrote this, the Roman Empire was the current head, mountain, and king in history. This allows us to immediately know the identity of the sixth historical empire, thus the sixth head of the dragon.
A further description of the seven headed beast is in Revelation 17:11-12.
"And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast." The same beast out of the sea in Revelation 13:1-2 is that eighth empire. This occurs after the seven empires of history run their respective courses. The beast belongs to the seven heads because it is made up of those heads. Summary? The Antichrist's kingdom will be the eighth kingdom which will follow the seven that it has combined!
Who are these seven ancient dragon heads and end-time beast heads? Mark Davidson gives four criteria for them. They had to have attempted to wipe out the Jews, remove or keep them from their land, destroy their holy city and holy place of worship, or destroy their religion or their faith.
The first is obvious; Egypt. Exodus 1:15-22 shows us the dragon was attempting to kill the male child using his authority but God delivered the Hebrews. The modern day equivalent of this empire is the present-day Egypt.
The second empire from which Satan ruled and attempted to destroy Israel was the Assyrian empire. 2 Kings 17:1-23 shows us that Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom and scattered the people while it chipped away at the Southern Kingdom (Judah). It could not conquer it because God stopped them. The modern day equivalent of this empire is the present-day Syria.
The third empire from which Satan ruled and tried to destroy the Jews was the Babylonian empire. They destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's temple and took the Jews into captivity. This is found in 2 Kings 24 and 25. The modern day equivalent of this empire is the present-day Iraq.
The fourth empire to conquer the Holy Land and make an attempt to destroy the Jews were the Medes and Persians. The book of Esther brilliantly shows every detail of this and how it was thwarted. The modern equivalent of this empire is the present-day Iran.
The fifth empire used by Satan to try and destroy the Jews was the Greek empire. After the death of Alexander, the empire was divided into four parts. Under the leadership of Antiochus IV, the leader of the Seleucid dynasty, the Jewish Temple was desecrated and they tried to destroy the Jewish faith. The modern equivalent of this empire is the present-day Albania. There is a whole lot of background to this but Albania represents the land that this group occupied. Oddly enough, out of Greece, Macedonia, and Albania, the only one that is Muslim is Albania.
The sixth empire, according to the prophecy was Rome. It was in power at the time of the writing. The Roman empire ended in 476 a.d. The Western part of the empire ended. The Eastern half continued for another millennium. The capital was moved by Constantine and named Constantinople. It was conquered by the Ottoman empire and renamed Istanbul. The modern equivalent of this empire is the present-day Turkey.
The seventh empire that came after the prophesy by John ruled over the Holy Land from 638 a.d. to 1948 when Israel became a state again. It is the seventh head of the dragon and the seventh head of the beast. It is also an empire that has "attempted to destroy the woman, Israel". That empire is Islam. The seventh empire represents a change in Satan's strategy. He no longer was attempting to prevent the Christ from coming. Now that the work was complete on the cross, that means salvation was done. Satan went from killing the Jews to prevent Jesus from coming to killing Jews to prevent Jesus' return.