The Last Blasphemer
The world is searching for a leader. After centuries of confidently striding toward a day when humanity could deliver all of the systems necessary for a Utopia, man is crying for help. Those systems which seemed to promise deliverance for the people of the planet Earth have produced such complexity and potential for global destruction that the inventors have been dwarfed by their own devices. It would take someone who possesses superhuman attributes to maintain order, understand problems, regulate affairs and produce a semblance of international unity on this earth. While there are numerous pretenders vying for the position, at this point a suitable savior has not appeared. We can be sure, however, that he is standing in the wings awaiting his call to appear at center stage.
He emerges from the maelstrom of tribulation events, prophetically projected, and rises adored and adorned as the consummate satanic response to Jehovah’s Son. He is Antichrist. Over the next few pages we will examine the Antichrist and his era from the perspective of Revelation 13. We will not attempt to labor familiar details, but rather touch several considerations which will, hopefully, serve to enhance our discernment and motivation to more effective ministry.
Antichrist’s Origin (13:1)
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”
The Antichrist comes out of the sea which symbolically portrays the Gentile nations. Daniel identifies him as the ruler of the revived Roman confederation of nations (Dan. 7:15-26). He is described as a man who possesses all of the dominant features of the three Gentile empires which preceded Rome: “like a leopard”, Greece; “a bear”, Medo-Persia; and “a lion”, Babylon. A consistently raised objection to the Antichrist’s being identified as a Gentile is that Jews would never worship a Gentile messiah. The point is, as we shall see, he is never seen by Israel as a messiah. In their view, he is a political deliverer.
Antichrist’s “Elijah” (13:1)
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon.”
We must quickly note that the second beast of Revelation 13 is, in a real sense of the word, an antichrist too. While he is Jewish, rising “out of the earth”, which is symbolically associated with Israel, he holds a subservient position to the first beast and acts as his “Elijah” or “John the Baptist” figure. Of no little interest is the fact that he duplicates one of Elijah’s miracles by making “fire come down from heaven” (13:13).
Antichrist’s Chief Characteristic (13: 1,5,6)
The word is “blasphemy.. Verse 1 ascribes “the name of blasphemy” to him. Thereafter, he is said to open “his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernade, and them that dwell in heaven” (13:6).
Even casual observers are aware of the fact that we are rapidly becoming, as a nation, almost immune to revulsion at hearing God’s name blasphemed or taken in vain. Entertainers, songwriters, periodicals, parents, children and even, unfortunately, some professing Christians are among those guilty of dulling our senses to the offensiveness of the practice. Is this, after all, a petty problem, or merely the verbal groping of people who have inadequate vocabularies? Certainly not. We are witnessing a process of preparation. Blasphemy in the Satanic stratagem is a purposeful program ~ a program designed to defy,, defame, denounce, deny and declare God impotent in preparation for Antichrist’s offer to the world of one whose name will be revered, or else (13:16, 17).
Antichrist’s Aura (13:13-15)
“. . . And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority” (13:2).
The Antichrist and his false prophet will move in an environment of miraculous manifestation. “Great wonders”, “miracles” and “power” will be their stock-in-trade. The
climactic wonder of wonders will be the apparent creation of life. “And he hath power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (13:15).
Can we wonder about this transpiring when we are observing today the intensifying interest
in the occult and superhuman experimentation? And need we be reminded that a neo-ecumenicity, centered in experience at the expense of sound doctrine, is a perfect seed bed for the end-time acceptance of the Antichrist as the emissary of God?
Antichrist’s Obsession (13:4, 8, 15)
The words “worshiped” or “worship” occur several times in the chapter before us. It presents a pattern which clearly reveals Satan’s insatiable desire to “be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). There is a trinity of evil personages who are attempting to displace the Lord of glory. The dragon (Satan) impersonates God the Father and receives homage as the one who has sent and empowered the beast. The beast (Antichrist) impersonates God the Son and receives worship as incarnate deity “ . . . so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 2:4). The false prophet impersonates the Holy Spirit, not honoring himself, but directing worship to the Antichrist and acting as the empowering agent in his program. We conclude, therefore, that Satan and his last-days’ cohorts are not attempting to be unlike God, but, conversely, just like God.
It is here that the Antichrist runs afoul of Israel and Israel of him. Daniel teaches (9:27) that at the midpoint of the Tribulation Period — the same time that the Antichrist enters the Temple and declares himself to be God — he breaks his covenant of peace with Israel. I am convinced that he does this in response to Israel’s break with him. Returning to the question of a Gentile attempting to obtain worship from Israel, we need to make the point that the Antichrist only seeks to do what a parade of Gentile rulers had done before him — proclaimed their own deity and demanded worship. If Jews would accept him as messiah and worship along with the rest of the world, it would make no sense for the Antichrist to move to annihilate the Jewish people. Their allegiance would be a perfect weapon to hurl at Jehovah.
One tenet Jews have adamantly clung to over the centuries is their belief that no man can be God incarnate. This was, and is, the central issue between the Chosen People and Jesus Christ. And in the Tribulation, while there will doubtless be some Jewish people who embrace him, Antichrist will not succeed in swaying the nation. What he will accomplish, much to his displeasure, is to refocus the attention of beleaguered Israel on the question of the deity of the Messiah. So, in this sense, even God’s infamous enemy will be impressed into service as a workman under His omnipotent hand in preparation for the reconciliation of Abraham’s offspring to their Anointed One, Jesus Christ.
This question is not answered within the framework of Revelation 13, but I would be severely smitten in conscience if we closed with matters “up in the air”, so to speak.
Keep in mind two things:
- Antichrist is Satan’s embodied pseudochrist.
- His primary characteristic and instrument is blasphemy.
He is, Daniel informs us, one who “. . . shall speak great words against the Most High. . .” (7:25).
His epitaph is written in Revelation 19:20 where it states, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet . . . these both were cast alive into a take of fire burning with brimstone,” and in 2 Thessalonians 2:8; “… whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Two certainties prevail:
First, the man who reigned as a false christ will be deposed by the person of the true Christ.
Second, the blasphemer, who came as a man of great words, will be subdued by but a word from the eternal Word.
In the end, for us, these facts should be assuring and motivating. Jesus Christ uses the Word to meet the greatest challenge to His authority in the history of humanity. Let us see afresh the sufficiency of the Word of God. And while we are subjected to insistent calls to help forge new instruments through which to call the nation to righteousness, may we never forget that the Church has made a difference only when she has faithfully marched to the drumbeat of the proclamation of the Gospel of the grace of God.