Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 4 – The Conquest of Evil
by Gerald R. Thompson
THE ANTICHRIST, CON’T
A God of Fortresses
Dan. 11:36-12:4 (summary) – Dan. 11 is a very detailed prophecy which runs all the way from Darius the Mede (in Daniel’s time) up through the Antichrist. I will not here analyze vv. 1-35 which were largely fulfilled in history, including a substantial section directly pertaining to Antiochus IV Epiphanes which could have a double fulfillment. Instead, let’s start at v. 36, where the prophecy clearly speaks of the end times. Here we will gain several valuable insights into who the Antichrist is and how he will operate.
Verses 36-39 place us in a familiar context: the Antichrist is a king who does as he wills. He exalts himself above all other gods, and speaks astonishing things against the true God. He will prosper until his time has run its course. This much we already know.
Then we are told he will pay no attention either to the gods of his ancestors, nor to the one (i.e., the god) beloved by women. He will honor the god of fortresses instead of these with much wealth. Thus, there are three gods we must identify: 1) the ancestral gods of the Antichrist; 2) the god beloved by women; and 3) the god of fortresses.
Who are the ancestral gods? The term for god here is non-specific, i.e., the word itself is not the name of any particular god. It is the general term for deities, and hence does not point towards Jehovah as the god being mentioned. It therefore suggests that the gods referred to are the various pagan deities formerly worshiped in the region from which the Antichrist comes (Turkey, Syria, parts of Iraq and Iran). Likely candidates are the 300 or so gods worshiped in Arabia before the time of Mohammed. These are the gods the Antichrist will ignore.
The statement that the Antichrist will pay no attention to “the one beloved by women” has often been read as though it said, “he will pay no attention to the love of women.” In other words, some commentators have suggested the Antichrist will be a homosexual. This is not what the text says. The context is that he will not regard the god beloved (or cherished) by women. That is, he will spurn what women value, and the god who values women. The usage of the word one in this part of v. 37 indicates that a particular god is in mind, rather than the general ancestral deities.
The fact is many areas of the Middle East were at one time or another Christianized, including portions of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq (Kurds, Chaldea), Egypt (Coptic Christians) and Turkey. All seven of the churches to which letters were written in Rev. 2 & 3 were located in what is now Turkey. It is likely that the one beloved of women refers to Jehovah God. It was Christianity that brought liberation and freedom to the Middle East centuries ago, and it is Christianity that has done more for women’s rights than any other religion. And the Antichrist stands opposed to all of this.
The statement in Dan. 11:37 that “he shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all” does not mean the Antichrist will be an atheist. The Antichrist is acting on behalf of Satan, and the last thing Satan wants to do is eliminate all gods, because he wants to be worshiped as God. He simply wants to eliminate all other gods besides himself. And in his mind, the Antichrist will value one thing above all others: the god of fortresses.
Thus, the Antichrist will value a god of war over the gods preferred by his ancestors and the God cherished by women. Recall when we looked at the four horsemen of the apocalypse (first four seals of God’s judgment) that the Antichrist was portrayed as someone who worships a god of war.
Verse 39 goes on to say he will deal with the strongest fortresses (i.e., other world powers) with the help of not just any foreign god, but this foreign god of fortresses to wage war against his most powerful enemies. To motivate his forces, the Antichrist will give to his followers the spoils of military conquest – “He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.” All prior crusades and military campaigns will pale in comparison to what the Antichrist will do.
Can we look to history to inform us as to who this god of fortresses might be? There have been many religious wars and conflicts over the millennia, but which religions have engaged in war for the sake of war?
The Jews formerly engaged in wars to establish their homeland 3,000 years ago, but not much since then. The modern nation of Israel has engaged in several wars since 1948, but never (to my knowledge) for the purpose of advancing the Jewish religion. Roman Catholicism used to maintain armies and/or wage wars for various purposes, but not for the last several hundred years. Islam has engaged in numerous wars over the centuries, often gaining converts by that method.
Of these, only Islam is active in military conflicts today for religious purposes. Is this a passing phase which will eventually vanish, or a core element of Islamic theology that will endure? How many religions are there, which advance themselves by military means? Is America advancing its military interests for religious purposes? Don’t make me laugh. America is so post-Christian ….
The remainder of Dan. 11 (vv. 40-45) describes a particular military campaign the Antichrist will wage in the end times. To summarize, the Antichrist is specifically called the king of the north, which in all likelihood refers to Turkey, not Russia, as previously discussed (Armageddon). He battles with, and conquers, the king of the south, meaning Egypt, and apparently also subdues Libya and N. Sudan. Libya and N. Sudan are not said to be defeated by the Antichrist (as Egypt is), but they will “follow in his train,” meaning he will lead them.
News from the east and north (Iraq, Iran) will alarm him and he will go with great fury to “devote many to destruction.” It is clear that the Antichrist will not only worship a god of fortresses, he will in fact be a prodigious warmonger.
We alluded to it earlier, and here it is. Dan. 7:24 said the Antichrist will uproot and replace three of the kings which are part of the beast kingdom. Dan. 11:43 tells us who they are most likely to be: Egypt, Libya and N. Sudan. Dan. 8 told us the Antichrist will understand riddles and ascend to power with cunning, which could explain why Libya and N. Sudan follow in his train without having to be defeated militarily.
However, the text specifically states “Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites” will be delivered from out of the hand of the Antichrist at that time. It’s curious, that those regions when combined line up perfectly with what is today known as the country of Jordan.
Additionally, the Antichrist will overrun Israel (the “glorious land”), and tens of thousands will die. “And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.” Dan. 11:45. This undoubtedly refers to his eventual encampment outside Jerusalem and his inevitable defeat by Jesus. Consequently, the glorious holy mountain could either be the Mt. of Olives, for reasons discussed earlier re: Armageddon, or it could be the temple mount (what other mountain would be both glorious and holy to God?).
Dan. 12:1-4 opens with a brief statement recounting the Tribulation, deliverance for those whose names are written in the book of life, and the resurrection of the dead. It closes with the statement, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Is there any more apt appraisal of the days in which we live? What with the rapid expansion of scientific knowledge and technology, data accumulation and data storage, are we not living in a time of unparalleled increase in knowledge? And what are modern transportation systems, if not the means by which people run to and fro?
Finally, I will simply point out here, but not discuss except in Appendix C, the three time periods specified in the last few verses of the book of Daniel.
1) It will take 3½ times until “the end of these wonders,” the endpoint of which will be “when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end.” vv. 6-7.
2) “From the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.” v. 11.
3) “Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days.” v. 12.
We have mentioned Christianity and Islam many times already, but now it is time for a brief comparison. Both Christianity and Islam have very detailed and specific end times eschatologies, based on their respective sacred writings and a long tradition of interpretation. In some significant respects these two eschatologies are essentially a point-by-point antiparallel to each other. That is, all the bad guys in Christian prophecy are the good guys in Islamic prophecy, and vice versa.
Hence, the Muslim Messiah (al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi) is the biblical Antichrist, meaning the Muslim savior is the Christian main villain. Similarly, the Muslim anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal, or the Dajjal) is the biblical Messiah, meaning the Muslim main villain is the Christian savior (although in Islam he is perceived as a very Jewish Messiah). The upshot of which is that the biblical Jesus is the Muslim anti-Christ.
At this point you might be wondering how Jesus Christ can be the “anti-Christ” in Islam. Well, here we have a distinction in terminology. First of all, Christ simply means messiah. When the Bible says Jesus Christ, it means Jesus is the Messiah. Similarly (but in opposite world), when Muslims claim the Mahdi is their Messiah, it means he is their Christ. Therefore, the person who opposes the Mahdi, to Muslims, will be an anti-Christ. And the person who will oppose the Mahdi is Jesus Christ.
But there is more. Muslims “believe in Jesus,” as it were, as a prophet before Mohammed, but they deny that Jesus is God or the son of God. That still leaves room in Islamic theology and eschatology for a person called Isa, which is the Arabic name for Jesus. Isa is supposed to be Jesus who comes back to assist the Mahdi in implementing Islam worldwide. In other words, Isa (to Muslims) is what Christians call the False Prophet,. The Muslim Jesus (Isa) is the opposite of the biblical Jesus.
Confused yet? You are supposed to be confused. From Satan’s perspective, confusion and deceit are the whole point. Rev. 12:7. Thus, Muslims believe in a Messiah figure who will usher in a golden age, but a golden age of Islam. Muslims believe in the return of Jesus (clever!), but only as Isa, a subordinate to the Mahdi to promote Islam. Muslims believe in both the biblical Antichrist and the biblical False Prophet (Mahdi and Isa), but to them these are both good guys. And, the biblical Messiah is the Muslim anti-Christ (the Dajjal).
Christians view Jesus Christ as waging war against the Antichrist; Muslims view the Dajjal as waging war against the Mahdi. (The same actors, and the same war.)
Christians believe the Antichrist will use false signs and wonders to deceive; Muslims believe the Dajjal will use false signs and wonders to deceive.
We have seen how the Antichrist is likely to be a Muslim; Muslims believe the anti-Christ (anti-Mahdi) will be Jewish.
Christians believe Jesus Christ is the promised Jewish Messiah; Muslims believe the Dajjal is the promised Jewish Messiah, which will only confirm to them that he is evil!
These antiparallels are too striking to be mere coincidence, or an accident. No other religion compares, or anti-compares, with Christianity in this way. I conclude there must be an overriding design in all of this. Since Islam came along later, it must have been intentionally designed to be the opposite of Christianity, as well as a substitute for Judaisim.
Consider the many ways in which Islam copies Judaism. Both Ishmael and Jacob had twelve sons who became tribal and national leaders. The descendants of Ishmael and Jacob are still litigating who is the son of promise of Abraham. What religion besides Judaism practices circumcision? Islam. What religion abstains from eating pork besides Judaism. Islam. What religion observes a lunar-based calendar besides Judaism? Islam. Do you think it mere coincidence that Muslims believe Mohammed ascended to heaven on the Jewish Temple Mount, and that both Islam and Judaism consider Jerusalem to be a holy city rightfully belonging to each of them?
Do you really think all this is mere random chance? I tell you, Islam is desperately trying to undermine all of the claims of the Jews and Judaism which make them special and unique in God’s program for humanity. It is the goal of Islam to eliminate the Jew and replace them as God’s chosen people. Is it not obvious? And on top of that, Islam has adopted an eschatology which mimics Christianity while turning it inside out. In these ways, Islam seeks to destroy both the Great Satan and the Little Satan (“Christian” America and Israel). Res ipsa loquitor – the thing speaks for itself.
All I can say is, Christianity and Islam cannot both be right. Only one will win out in the end. It would be great to watch this whole thing play out as a spectator. Unfortunately, at least on earth, there will be no spectators. There will be no fence-sitting, no neutral ground, and no observation decks. Everyone will be forced to choose a side. In fact, I think that’s the whole point.
Lk. 8:30-31 – Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
Rev. 9:1, 2, 11 – And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. … They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.
Rev. 11:7; 17:8 – And when [the two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. … The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction.
Rev. 20:1-2 – Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized … Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him.
The reason we are considering the abyss in detail at this point is because we have already discussed Armageddon, when the forces of evil are defeated. Further, we have looked at the Satanic Trinity in some detail. What is now left to consider is what happens to each of the members of the Satanic Trinity immediately after Armageddon.
Rev. 19:20 tells us that at Armageddon when the satanic forces are killed by Jesus, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be captured alive and thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. In other words, they are immediately committed to hell. But Satan is treated differently. He is cast into the abyss with a great chain, and the abyss is shut and sealed over for a thousand years. Thus, he is imprisoned where he can do no harm to anyone on earth, but not forever. [Note: Hell can be defined as either the grave, or as the eventual lake of fire. However, I will use hell to refer only to the lake of fire, and Sheol or Hades to refer to the grave.]
Interestingly, there is no further mention of the demonic angels. Revelation does not directly say whether they go back into the abyss, or end up in the lake of fire. What happens to them? I can only assume they are no longer free to plague mankind during the Millennium, because the very nature of the Millennium precludes their presence. Most likely they will spend the Millennium in the abyss, and eternity in hell, along with Satan.
The purpose of the abyss, or bottomless pit, appears to be primarily to hold fallen angels (demons) until they are released either as a judgment on the earth or to face judgment themselves. Thus, we see in Lk. 8:31 that the demons possessing the man from Gerasenes implored Jesus not to send them to the abyss.
I take it they made this request because being in the abyss would imprison them and keep them from wreaking havoc in the world on behalf of Satan (which they would want to continue). They may also consider the abyss to be an unpleasant place (possibly a place of darkness), although I can find no indication that the abyss is a place of torment.
The abyss seems to be simply a prison for angelic beings. We have already seen in Rev. 9 (the 5th Trumpet) that in the Tribulation the dark armies of Satan (i.e., demon hordes) will be released to torture people for five months. These are, I would guess, all the demons who have been cast out of people and into the abyss since the First Advent. It may possibly include other fallen angels cast into the abyss directly from heaven by God.
Rev. 9:11 indicates that Satan, the king of the demons, is also “the angel of the bottomless pit.” So he rules over the inmates of the abyss, but is not imprisoned by it himself at this time. At the same time, he cannot release his demon hordes until God gives him the key, which he does not now have. Rev. 9:1. So when we are twice told that the beast “rises from the bottomless pit” (Rev. 11:7; 17:8), this is probably a reference to demonic activity in each case.
Where is the abyss? Based on Lk. 8:31, the abyss must be a place that presently exists, and this is consistent with the scriptures in Revelation. However, I do not expect it to exist once the new creation gets here. At that time, all who are wicked – including the fallen angels – will inhabit the lake of fire, or hell, for eternity. “Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mat. 25:41. There will be no need for a temporary prison such as the abyss.
Does the abyss have a physical location or is it solely in a spiritual realm? No one can say. My first guess is that it exists in the spiritual realm, similar to Hades (the grave) and Paradise. It is hard to conceive that any place on earth could be truly bottomless, or that any earthly location could be inescapable for an angel. If it were on earth, its location would have to be kept a secret, and frankly I don’t think God has any hidden vaults on the earth. Although the grave is sometimes referred to as being below the earth (Eph. 4:9; Ps. 63:9), I am not aware the abyss is ever described that way.
The abyss could potentially exist in the heavens, which is to say, outer space (second heaven). But this is pure speculation, and God is not limited to physical phenomena. That is, He does not need a physical place to hold fallen angels any more than He needs an atomic bomb to defeat the Antichrist. God is perfectly capable of confining demons anywhere and anyway He wants. The location of the abyss and the key that will unlock it are known to God alone.