The "Antichrist" of the Future
Each of the following concepts has a focus on the future. Some have had a limited fulfillment in historical events of the past; but when is this so,
the past events stand as a guarantee (and a warning) that the future fulfillment will also come to pass.
All of these passages tell us about a ruler who will do horrible things. Some of them indicate that God's people will suffer intense persecution or
death. But those who do experience such things can look forward to the coming Day of Justice. God will destroy this ruler and will bring his "reign
of terror" to an end. He will bring peace to the earth, and justice will be given to all, even to those who have died. (They will be brought back to
life - Revelation 20:21+.)
1. The "little horn" - Daniel 7:7-8, 24-25.
The "little horn" of Daniel 7 represents a boastful ruler (7:8) who will do much evil and will persecute God's people (7: 24-25). Eventually he
will be destroyed and thrown into the "blazing fire" that is described as flowing from the throne of God (7: 9-11, 26). Immediately following this
judgment, one who is "like a son of man" (compare to Revelation 1:13) will come from heaven and will set up an eternal kingdom (7:13-14, 27).
How should God's people respond? Remember that the day of justice will come (v. 9-11), and so will the Son of Man (v. 13-14). In the end, God (and
God's people) will be the victors (v. 18, 27). [Interestingly, though fire flows from God's throne for his enemies, living water flows from the
throne for his friends (Revelation 22:1)!]
2. The cruel, "stern-faced" king - Daniel 8:23-25.
Daniel 8 mentions a cruel, "stern-faced king" who will do horrible things (8:24-25a), but who will then be destroyed, "but not by human power"
(8:25b). This prophecy was partially fulfilled in 168 BC, by Antiochus Epiphanes, a conquering king from the area of modern-day Syria. However, Daniel
was also told that these visions were related to the time of "the end" (8:8). How does this work? Prophecies often had a partial, "near"
fulfilment during the lives of the readers, or soon thereafter. The "near" fulfilment would serve as a sign (a reminder and a guarantee) that the
ultimate, "distant" fulfilment would eventually take place. In this case, the actions of the historic king could be said to "foreshadow" (point
to) the actions of an even worse ruler (the antichrist), who is yet to come.
How should God's people respond? In this passage we are told that this evil ruler will be destroyed, but there is very little to instruct us (God's
people) on how to respond. Perhaps the most important "instruction" is the implied message that we need to trust God, regardless of what happens
(and whether or not we understand it). When God tells us about the future (such as through Daniel's prophecy) he gives us what we need, not what we
might simply want, to satisfy mere curiosity. As with many of the other prophecies given to Daniel, there are details here which are not fully
revealed, so that even Daniel did not fully understand the significance of what he was told (8:26-27). He was even told that some of the visions were
to be sealed until later (compare with 12:4,9)!
Today we have more revelation about the future, because of what we have been given in the New Testament. Yet even now we don't have all the details
about everything. (See Revelation 10:3-4 for an example in which certain information is not fully revealed to us.) Just like Daniel, we also must put
our trust in God, and not in our understanding of prophecy. We need to trust the one who does understand all things, for he is the one who has
promised to deliver his people through these horrible times.
3. The one who causes the "abomination of desolation" - Daniel 9:27;11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14.
The "abomination of desolation," described in Daniel, and referred to by Jesus, are probably a reference to something that the future antichrist
will do. Though these verses were partially fulfilled by the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes, in 168 BC (see the comments about Daniel 8, above), Jesus
indicated a future fulfilment, in the days just prior to his return. We could describe what happened in 168 BC as a "foreshadowing," a limited
illustration, of what will happen in the future.
How should God's people respond? We are reminded that the leader who is responsible for this "abomination of desolation" will come to his end in a
devastating judgment (9:27b). But before it happens, God's people will oppose this evil ruler (11:31), and they will instruct many about the truth
(11:33a). There will be a temporary time of tribulation, trial and persecution (11:33b). Some of God's people will stumble during this time of
tribulation, but God will use what happens to accomplish good in their lives (11:35). Though this time may be difficult for God's people, they are
reminded that the end will come at its appointed time; this evil king will come to his end (11:45). Those who are willing to be patient and to wait
until the end will be blessed (12:12).
Jesus, referring to the same situation, tells his people (the Jews) to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16+ and Mark 13:14+). He warns them to not
follow those who claim to have the answer, or who claim to be the "Christ" (Matthew 24:23+ and Mark 13:21+).
Terrible times may lie ahead, but God's people can take courage. Jesus tells us that these days of crisis will be shortened; he will not allow
everything (and everyone) to be destroyed (Matthew 24:22 and Mark 13:20).
4. The "man of lawlessness" (or "man of sin") - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10.
Paul warns us that this "man of lawlessness" (or "man of sin" - KJV) will be revealed during the time of rebellion that precedes the coming of the
Son of Man. This evil person will oppose everything that pertains to the true God, and will attempt to take God's place. When Jesus returns, he will
destroy this evil leader.
How should God's people respond? The response God's people should have, when the future antichrist arrives, is the same as what they should have
during present day trials and difficult circumstances.
The apostle Paul was writing to people who were already experiencing persecution and trials. They were already persevering faithfully (1:4). He
encouraged them to look forward to the time Jesus would return. God had called them to salvation (1:11 and 2:13) and he would consider them worthy of
his kingdom (1:5). They would share in Jesus glory (2:14).
In contrast, God's enemies will be destroyed - punished and shut out from his presence (1:8). This man of lawlessness is also doomed to destruction
(2:3); he will be destroyed when Jesus returns (2:8).
5. The "beast" - Revelation chapters 13 and 17; also 19:19-21, etc. [Possibly also the rider on the white horse, Revelation 6:1-2.]
The "beast" is a political leader, perhaps representing an entire political system, who will gain power over the entire world. (This is the ruler
who is associated with the number "666.") He will receive his power from the "dragon" (devil). His leadership will be promoted by a second
"beast" (or "false prophet" - a major religious leader). In the end, he will be thrown into the "fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation
During his rule, the "beast" will demand supreme loyalty from everyone. Those who do not belong to God will worship him and will do whatever he
says. God's people will refuse to follow him, and because of that, the "beast" will oppose and persecute them.
The rider on the white horse, found in Revelation 6:1-2, might also be identified as the antichrist. However, the passage does not give enough details
about this rider, to be definite. Some suggest that it could be a forerunner to the final antichrist. It is not Jesus Christ, who is described as
riding on a white horse, in Revelation 19:11. (Other than the color of the horse, there is nothing else in common between these two riders. Also, the
context in which each of the riders is described is radically different.)
How should God's people respond? It seems that people always want an escape from difficult circumstances. But the Bible tells us that, since we live
in a sinful world, horrible things can, and will, occur. When talking about the events at the end of the age, Jesus says that such things must happen
(Matthew 24:6b). We must remember that genuine peace will not come until the Prince of Peace, who is Jesus, returns.
In the end, when the "beast" has control of the world, Jesus does not tell us that his people will escape trials. Rather he encourages them to be
patient and faithful through them (Revelation 13:10). Even if the trials result in death, they are but temporary. The end will come, and the Day of
Justice will arrive. Those who die in the Lord are blessed, and Jesus will reward them appropriately (Revelation 14:13). Remember that death is not
the end of the story.
It is important to note that the entire world - those who do not belong to God - will worship and follow the "beast." This will be a time of
horrible deception, and the only way we can avoid being deceived is by remaining faithful to God's Word, and submitting to it - allowing it to
control our hearts and minds. (All genuine disciples will do this. Those who claim to be disciples, but to don't do this, are actually counterfeits.
In the end, they will follow the "beast," all the while thinking that they are doing what is right.)
6. False Christs - Matthew 24:5, 23-24; Mark 13:6, 21-22; and Luke 21:8.
Jesus refers to false Christs and to people who claim to be the Christ. Such people will increase in number, as the end approaches. Many of them will
actually perform signs and miracles, and they will gain many followers.
How should God's people respond? When others are being deceived, when they turn away from the truth, when they become filled with hate, and when
their love grows cold (Matthew 24:10-12), we are to stand firm to the end (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13b; Luke 21:19). Though they may oppose us, we are
to be witnesses to them, testifying to the truth (Matthew 24:14, implied; Mark 13:10-11; Luke 21:13-15). Even if we are betrayed, persecuted, or
killed (Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:9, 12-13; Luke 21:12, 16-17), it is but temporary. In the end, we will be saved - and that salvation will last forever.
As for rumors that the Christ has returned, Jesus tells us to not go out looking for him. We should not pay attention to such rumors, for all of them
will prove false (Matthew 24:26). When Jesus, the genuine Christ returns, it will be obvious to all. We, his people, will not have to go out looking
for him; for he will come looking for us! All nations will see him and will recognize that he alone is the Christ (Matthew 24:27-28, 30-31).