WHO IS THE ANTICHRIST?- Part 14

The Protestant Reformation was one of the greatest events in world history.

By the mid 1500s this movement had swept throughout Germany, and was advancing through Switzerland, England, France, Austria and many other parts of Europe.

The Reformation was based on the idea of “Sola Scriptura” – the Bible and the Bible only.

Through a study of the Scriptures, the Reformers discovered the refreshing beauty of salvation through faith instead of works.

Prophecy also became a keen focus of study.

As the Reformers investigated the books of Daniel and Revelation, the subject of the Antichrist captured their attention.

In their view, it was the leadership of their own church that fulfilled all the criteria for being the Antichrist of prophecy.

This discovery amazed the Reformers because they loved their church so much.
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But the Reformers were certain of their conviction, and they became outspoken in their opposition to the Papacy.

Mainstream Christianity had become corrupt.

Church life was a form and tradition instead of a heartfelt experience with Jesus.

Displayed in the Luther museum of Wittenberg is a small book entitled Passions of Christ and Antichrist.

In this satirical book, the artist Lucas Cranach compares the actions of Jesus Christ with the actions of the Pope of Rome.

To illustrate: Cranach sketched on one side of a page Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

On the other side of the page was the Pope holding out his toe to be kissed.

On another page Cranach sketched Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple.

He then comparedthis to the Pope sitting with his bishops counting his vast piles of wealth, gained at the expense of the poor.

Martin Luther considered this a very good book for the average church member.

Art had the ability to effectively communicate to both the scholars and peasants of Europe.

For many years, virtually every Protestant church publicly held the same conviction regarding the Antichrist.

This conviction was held at the risk of death.

The Westminster Confession states,

There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God” (Chapter 25, art.6).
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Is there any validity to the claims of the Reformers?

Is it even “Christian” to call other “Christians” an Antichrist?

Why does Bible prophecy use such graphic and negative terms and images?

What is the relevance of the Antichrist prophecy for today?

In this study guide, in an attitude of humility and prayer, we will test the claims of the Reformers by using the clear identifying marks from the Bible.

Also, we will apply the principles of this prophecy, to help us grow in our daily relationship with Jesus.

Q1 – HOW CAN WE DISCOVER AND UNDERSTAND BIBLE TRUTH?

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Acts 17.11

It is vital that any new truth be tested by a study of the Scriptures.

Private speculations and interpretations will never unlock the secrets of prophecy.

We need to handle the Scriptures carefully and prayerfully, looking at passages in their context and comparing Scripture with Scripture.

Only a daily relationship with Jesus and a prayerful study of His Word will enable us to discover the truth.

Q2 – WHY DOES BIBLE PROPHECY USE SUCH GRAPHIC AND NEGATIVE TERMS TO DESCRIBE CERTAIN GLOBAL POWERS?

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent Revelation 3.19

The Bible reveals the good and bad of political leaders, nations and religions.

The uncensored history and future of characters and events provide graphic details of evil and personal sin.

We can learn from past mistakes and avoid future dangers.

Within the Bible God has been particularly passionate in his warnings of apostasy within His chosen people.

God is so strong in His language, because He is so strong in His love.

Throughout this series we see God pointing out faults in the Jewish and Christian faiths alike; whether Protestant or Catholic.

God has His people in all religions.

His genuine followers (of all faiths) will see the dangers and be obedient to His call for a return to the original faith of the Scriptures.

Identifying the Antichrist

Q3 – WHAT ARE THE IDENTIFYING MARKS OF THE ANTICHRIST?

Bible prophecy gives a significant number of clear characteristics to help us identify the Antichrist.

To illustrate.

Just imagine you were asked by a friend to pick someone up from the airport.

You have never met this person.

The first thing you want to know is how to recognise him (or her). After all, there will be hundreds of people coming off the plane.

“Oh that’s easy,” says your friend. “You see; he will be wearing a pink suit, a bright yellow tie and one high heel shoe.

He will have purple hair.

He is 80 years of age and only has one leg.”

Do you think you would miss him?

Now that is an extreme example.

But in a similar way, God gives a number of very clear identifying marks for the key players in prophecy.

This includes the Antichrist.

In our previous study guide (Who is the Antichrist? Part 1) we highlighted the following characteristics from Daniel 7.

Clue 1 – It arises from Western Europe
Clue 2 – It is a “little” kingdom
Clue 3 – It arises after the 10 tribes of Europe were established
Clue 4 – It overcomes three political powers as it rises to prominence
Clue 5 – It is different from the other 10 powers
Clue 6 – It would have a man at its head who speaks for it
Clue 7 – It would speak blasphemies against God
Clue 8 – It would persecute God’s people
Clue 9 – It would be in power for 1,260 years
Clue 10 – This power would attempt to change times and the law

Q4 – WHO IS THE ANTICHRIST POWER OF DANIEL CHAPTER 7?

When the Protestant Reformers studied the book of Daniel, they pinpointed the Roman Papacy as the “little horn” power.

These earnest individuals were not trying to criticise their fellow believers (many of them were still Catholic priests).

They were simply studying the messages of love and correction provided by God in the prophecies of the Scriptures.

We will now take a look at the evidence and see if the Roman Papacy matches the clues provided in the prophecy.

Clue 1 – It arises from Western Europe

Antichrist Fact 1 – The Papacy arose from Western Europe

The home or “seat” of the Papacy is Rome, Italy –

right in the heart of Western Europe.

Clue 2 – It is a “little” kingdom

Antichrist Fact 2 – The Vatican is a “little” nation

The Vatican is a very small independent kingdom within Europe.

The entire kingdom is located on just over 40 hectares (108 acres) of land.

Clue 3 – It arises after the 10 tribes of Europe were established

Antichrist Fact 3 – The Papacy rose to political power in 538AD

The 10 kingdoms were established by 476AD.

The Papacy received its major political power once it overthrew the Arian Ostrogoths at Rome in 538AD.

Clue 4 – It overcomes three political powers as it rises to prominence

Antichrist Fact 4 – The Papacy “uprooted” three tribes – the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths

The 10 kingdoms were established by 476AD.

Over time most of the 10 kingdoms of Europe adopted Roman Christianity.

However, three of these kingdoms opposed Rome and refused to cooperate.

These three powers were defeated by Catholic emperors – the Heruli (493AD), the Vandals (534AD) and the Ostrogoths (538AD).

All three kingdoms were “plucked out by the roots” – they have disappeared from Europe.

Clue 5 – It is different from the other 10 powers

Antichrist Fact 5 – The Papacy is a religious power

The Papacy is different from all other powers in terms of being a religious power.

A church controlling politics was certainly “different from the first ones” (Daniel 7:24).

They were secular governments.

Clue 6 – It would have a man at its head who speaks for it

The Papacy has one man at the head.

The Papacy is not a democratic government; the Pope is the ultimate authority who speaks for the church.

Clue 7 – It would speak blasphemies against God

Antichrist Fact 7 – The Pope claims to be “God on earth”

According to the Bible, blasphemy is either claiming to forgive sins (Luke 5:21) or claiming to be God (John 10:33). The Papacy claims both.

In 1870 the Vatican Council declared that the Pope was infallible whenever speaking from his position of authority.

Notice these interesting quotes:

“We (the popes) hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty” (The Great Encyclical Letters of Leo, XIII, p304).

“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh” (Catholic National, July 1895).

Thus the priest may, in a certain manner be called the creator of the Creator, since by saying these words of consecration, he creates as it were, Jesus in the sacrament” (Duties & Dignities of the Priest, St Alphonsus De Ligouri, p27).

Clue 8 – It would persecute God’s people

Antichrist Fact 8 – The Papacy has persecuted and killed millions of people

During the Dark Ages, the Church of Rome killed more people than what Hitler did during WWII.

Conservative estimates place the killings at 50 million people with some experts placing the figure closer to 150 million deaths.

Millions of people were burnt at the stake for “heresy” when they were simply following the truths of the Scripture instead of the dictates and traditions of the church.

Clue 9 – It would be in power for 1,260 years

Antichrist Fact 9 – The Papacy ruled for 1,260 years

The Papacy gained ultimate power in 538AD when the final opposition, the Ostrogoths were defeated.

The church then ruled for 1,260 years until Pope Pius VI was taken captive by Napoleon’s general, Berthier.

The Pope was stripped of his political powers.

Just as the prophecy predicted, the Antichrist received a “deadly wound” in 1798, ending the power of the Papacy.

A Beast

‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. Daniel 7.17

A fourth Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces. Daniel 7.23

A beast is a symbol for a kingdom or political power.

The use of an animal to represent a nation is still used today.

For instance the “eagle” represents the United States.

The “kangaroo” represents Australia.

A “beast” is not necessarily a negative symbol – it simply means an animal that has characteristics that represent a nation.

In Daniel 7 we find four great nations or political powers all different from one another, rising up from populated areas of the world where there has been a history of war and destruction.

By comparing the prophecy of Daniel 2 (the great image) with this prophecy of Daniel 7, it is evident that Daniel is seeing the same succession of world empires.

Both prophecies are aligned perfectly.

However the prophecy of Daniel 7 provides greater detail and a number of additional interesting facts.

In Daniel 2 metals are used to symbolise the nations while in Daniel 7 “beasts” or animals are used.

To illustrate the link between the two prophecies, the fourth beast of Daniel 7 has “iron teeth” and is called the “fourth kingdom” (Daniel 7:23).

The power represented by iron in Daniel 2 is also called the “fourth kingdom” (Daniel 2:40).

The four kingdoms represented in both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are:

• Babylon

• Greece

• Medo-Persia

• Rome

Q5 -WHAT BEAST IS USED TO SYMBOLISE THE FIRST KINGDOM, BABYLON?

The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. Daniel 7.4

The king of beasts is a perfect symbol for the proud and powerful Babylon and an ideal parallel to the “head of gold” in Daniel 2.

The prophet Jeremiah also described the King of Babylon as being “like a lion” (Jeremiah 50:43,44).

Q6 – WHAT ANIMAL IS USED TO REPRESENT THE SECOND KINGDOM, MEDO-PERSIA?

And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’. Daniel 7.4

The coalition government of the Medes and Persians was “lopsided” because the Persians were a much stronger entity than the Medes.

The bear had three ribs in its mouth which indicates it had eaten other beasts.

The three major powers conquered by Medo-Persia were Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.

Q7 -WHAT ANIMAL IS USED TO REPRESENT THE THIRD KINGDOM, GREECE?

“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. Daniel 7.6

A leopard with four wings represents a very fast and attacking empire.

Notice this leopard had four heads.

After the death of Alexander, the Greek empire was divided between four of his generals, the heads of his empire.

These four generals were: Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander and Lysimachus.

Q8 – THE FOURTH KINGDOM, PAGAN ROME, IS SYMBOLISED BY A POWERFUL CREATURE WITH IRON TEETH AND TEN HORNS (V7). WHAT DO THE TEN HORNS REPRESENT?

The ten horns are TEN KINGS Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. Daniel 7.24

Just as the iron legs of Rome divided into the iron and clay feet and ten toes of Daniel 2, now we find Daniel seeing ten horns arising out of the power of Rome.

A “horn” is another symbol of a kingdom (Daniel 7: 24, 8:22).

The ten horns are the ten powers that rose from the divided Roman Empire.

These nations are what we see today as Western Europe.

The Little Horn (v8-28)

Q9 – WHAT DID DANIEL SEE COMING UP OUT OF THE TEN HORNS?

I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. Daniel 7.8

The little horn and the judgment is the focus for the rest of the chapter.

It is this power that provides the additional information to the Daniel 2 prophecy.

Here we will see the character and power of the little horn, the great Antichrist of prophecy.

Q10 – WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT CLEARLY IDENTIFY THE ANTICHRIST POWER OF THE LITTLE HORN?

Clue 1 – It arises from Western Europe

The little horn was seen in amongst the ten horns “coming up from them” – rising out of the head of the fourth beast. (Daniel 7:8).

This information provides us with the geographical location of the rise of the little

Clue 2 – It is a “little” kingdom

This political power has the unique characteristic of being a “little horn” (Daniel 7:8).

Here we have a small nation that will accomplish large things.

Clue 3 – It arises after the ten tribes of Europe were established

The little horn Antichrist not only comes out of the ten horns but also comes to power after the ten horns were established: “and another shall arise after them” (Daniel 7:24).

The ten horns were finally established in 476AD, so we are looking for a power which gained its political clout after this date.

Clue 4 – It overcomes three political powers as it rises to prominence

The Bible says that three of the original ten horns were “plucked out by the roots” (Daniel 7:8).

The little horn would overcome three of the tribes of Europe on its way to dominance.

Three of the original kingdoms had been removed by 538AD.

This kingdom would come to power sometime around 538AD.

Clue 5 – It is different from the other ten powers

The ten tribes of Western Europe were all secular political powers.

The “little horn” was unique – there was something different about this power.

Clue 6 – It would have a man at its head who speaks for it

Although this power is a political entity, it would have “eyes like the eyes of a man” (Daniel 7:8).

A man would be the focus of this power and would be the absolute spokesperson (Daniel 7:8).

Clue 7 – It would speak blasphemies against God

This power delves into religion; speaking “pompous words against the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).

Clue 8 – It would persecute God’s people

The “little horn” power would “persecute the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).

We are looking for a power who is responsible for the deaths of faithful Christians

Clue 9 – It would be in power for 1,260 years

This power rules for “a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).

By comparing Daniel 7:25 with Revelation 12:6,14 it is clear that this time prophecy is another way of saying 1,260 days.

A “time” is one year, “times” is two years” and “half a time” is six months or as the Amplified Bible translates it, “three and-one-half years”.

Based on the 30-day calendar used by the Ancient Scriptures, three and-a-half years is 1,260 days.

In Bible prophecy, a day is a symbolic code for a literal year (Ezekiel 4:6).

Thus 1,260 days represents 1,260 literal years.

Seven times in the books of Daniel and Revelation the same time period is given, using different phrases, to represent the length of rule for this Antichrist power.

Clue 10 – This power would attempt to change times and the law

In one of the most intriguing clues of all, the “little horn” would “intend to change times and law”(Daniel 7:25).

In our search for the identity ofthe Antichrist we need to discover which power would attempt to alter times in connection with the law.

In the next study guide, you will have the opportunity to investigate the facts and clearly identify the Antichrist.

You will see the impact this power has had on the world and look at some practical tips on how to respond to upcoming deceptions.

Three points to remember:

•An “antichrist” is a person or entity that opposes or attempts to take the place of Jesus Christ

••The Antichrist of prophecy is called the “man of sin”

•••Daniel 7 provides at least ten clear clues to identify the Antichrist of prophecy

The Story:

Daniel was a pastor who had just been assigned to a new church in Tennessee.

Daniel’s identical twin brother, Paul, could also preach quite well.

Daniel decided to provide a graphic illustration on the subject of “counterfeits”so he asked his brother to preach the sermon next week.

In the sermon Paul stated that many would be deceived by the Antichrist in the last days.

Halfway through the presentation Paul asked his congregation if they believed he was their pastor, Daniel.

They all put up their hands and started to laugh.

To their utter shock Pastor Daniel then emerged from a side entry and stood by his twin brother.

Unwittingly, the church was fooled.

What lessons can you learn from this story?

Relational questions

1. What is the overall attitude that underlies an “antichrist”?

2. In what ways do some Christians demonstrate an antichrist attitude
today?

3. What do you think is the attitude of the true Christ and how can you
demonstrate that in your life?

Your response:

Are you willing to accept God’s truth, even if it means you will need to make changes in your life?

In Lesson 14 we take a look at Who is the AntiChrist (Part 2)

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