The Antichrist

His Character and History, as gathered from Holy Scripture.

By the Rev. Sholto D. C. Douglas.

At the Glasgow Conference, March, 1895.

 

[We are compelled to omit the full quotation of many passages of Scripture which were read by the speaker, but we would remind our readers of the importance of their careful Study.]

I. — The Condition of the World at His Appearing.

The Church having been caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. iv. 16-17), Question which naturally suggests itself is "What will be the condition of the world when this has taken place?" This is best answered by another question suggested by a figure used by the Lord Himself. The salt having lost its savour, or, as in this case, the salt having been removed, what will be the condition of that which it preserved? The answer is "corruption" or lawlessness, which ultimately develops with, and is headed up in, the Lawless One — "the Man pf Sin."

God having now resumed His dealings with. His ancient people, particularly that portion of 1 the nation, the two tribes, the Jews; Israel, partly restored, will be dwelling in the land. Two distinct bodies will return at two distinct times: —

The first — before the coming of the Lord to the earth with His saints.

(1). Before the appearing of the witnesses.

(2). Before the gathering of the nations against Jerusalem.

(3). Before the battle of Armageddon.

(4). Before the destruction of the Antichrist.

The second — after the advent of —

(1). Our Lord to the Mount of Olives.

(2). After His deliverance of the city of Jerusalem.

(3). And after the destruction of the Antichrist.

The first is proved by the fact that the Lord has said — Zech. xiv. 2-4. Thus the Jews are besieged at Jerusalem before the Advent, and therefore have returned before the Advent.

The second — To take place after the Advent — "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (or wicked one), as interpreted by the Holy Spirit in 2 Thess. ii. 8 (Isa. xi. 4).

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, and from Pathros, and from. Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea " (Isa. xi. 11-16).

After the Light of Israel has come — ''Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and' gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee " (Isaiah lx. 1*4). Read-also the whole chapter.

II. — His Character and History.

1. Emphatically a man (2 Thess. ii. 3).

2. Endued with diabolical, superhuman powers (2 Thess. ii. 9).

3. Assuming to be God, and above all gods (2 Thess. ii. 4).

4. Accompanied by a "false prophet" (Rev. xix. 20).

5. Spoken of in Rev. xiii. as one of three persons —

I. Dragon (Satan), ch. xii. 9.

II. First Beast (or Antichrist).

III. Second Beast (or False Prophet).

6. The false prophet will cause an image to be set up of the Antichrist, which he will cause to speak and be generally worshipped (Rev. xiii. 11-17).

7. The Antichrist will not be a repulsive monster, but an engaging personage, who by flatteries will ingratiate himself, and be almost universally obeyed (Dan. xi. 32).

8. Marvellous in deception. When first he arises the world powers will not give the kingdom to him. But by coming in peaceably he shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries (Daniel xi. 23).

This characteristic is mentioned three times, and by it he not only allures the ungodly, but also deceives those of "understanding" who fall under him (Dan. xi. 21).

The reason given why this is permitted is that they may be tried (Dan. xi. 35).

He wields three forms of power: —

I. Kingly power;

II. Religious power;

III. Commercial power (Dan. viii. 23).

By his policy he shall cause craft to prosper, and conciliate the nations, so that the ten kingdoms of the old Roman world will give their power and strength un:o the beast. And so he becomes a kings of kings — an antichrist — in this particular also. By his craft he sees that religion is one of the great powers of the earth. Thus he allows the woman, or world church, to "sit" upon him and thus use his power. The ten kings give their power to Antichrist, and through him to the woman arrayed in scarlet. For a time the world church is then possessed of his power, but when the Antichrist has obtained all he desires through her he casts her off, and the ten kings eat her - flesh and burn her with fire. Thus this power of flattery and " policy " is used to secure his end (Rev. xvii. 3, 10 - 16).

9. The dragon (Satan) gave him his power. Note that he is again ANTI-Christ. The Christ was offered this power by Satan, but refused: Antichrist accepts (Rev. xiii. 2).

10. By his great statesmanship and "policy" he will perceive that commerce must be fostered, inasmuch as the more intercommunication and science advance, the more the world power will be commercial.

We have seen him

(1) as a king, then

(2) as a religious power

(3) now as a commercial power; and for the proof of this we turn to Zech. v. 5 — 11.

11. Thus the seat of commerce is Shinar or Babylon — the Babylon of the Apocalypse, where, in Rev. xviii., we have Babylon described. There is no weight of lead to hide her here. There, in her own place or base, she is disclosed in all her sinful enormity. "The wickedness," says one, "becomes a kingdom, with a king."

Here Babel was built to defy God (Gen. x. 10). Here Nebuchadnezzar cried (Dan. iv. 30): — "Is not this great Babylon which I have builded?"

Here Alexander the Great reigned and Antiochus Epiphanes held his court, and made war on Egypt and the Jews, and set up an image in the temple in Jerusalem and sacrificed a sow on the altar. Here, too, the Antichrist, the greatest of all powers ever seen in the world, will set up his city and throne. Commerce will be the great binding force. But religion, even God's word, if found to be convenient, will be tolerated. But everything must conduce to worldly prosperity or be set on one side.

Monopoly will be the prevailing principle and tendency of all business, great combinations gradually crushing out smaller firms and individuals; all leading to the great monopoly of power in the Antichrist.

Indications of this may be seen in the present day.

III. — As a Patron of the Jews.

Having ingratiated himself with the world church and borne her on with his power, having enlisted the sympathies of the merchants. of the earth, he now proceeds to absorb another great factor in the world, i.e., the Jews. It would seem that he is a Jew. "God of his fathers/' a purely Jewish phrase; the "desire of women " also Jewish, because every Jewish woman desired to be the mother of the Messiah. "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women" (Dan. xi. 37).

The Jews having, as we have seen, returned in part to their own land, will, whilst in unbelief, have rebuilt their temple and instituted sacrifice. For as our Lord, referring to Daniel, foretold that the "abomination" should be set up in the holy place (i.e., the temple), there must of necessity be a temple existing at that time. There will be no more sure way of obtaining their goodwill than by making a covenant with them.

This will not be the first time that Satan will have attempted by flattery to seek the confidence of the ancient people; as will be seen presently when, at the close, I give you some illustrations from the life of that premature Antichrist, Napoleon I. In the midst of the 70th or last of Daniel's sevens of years; i.e., three years and a half, he breaks the covenant and causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease (Dan. ix. 27, A.V. and R.V.).

IV. — Assumes Divine Honours.

The awful fact now is at last disclosed. He aims at Divine honours. And now, when he has raised himself to the highest pinnacle of power and drawn all others to acknowledge him, it remains only for him to claim to be God. So we have him in Rev. xiii. connecting himself with two others, and thus carrying out a parody of the Trinity, or, as one has called it, a ''blasphemous trinity of hell."

For we first have the Dragon (Rev. xiii. 2, 4. 11), or, in other words, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, as we have it in Rev. xii. 9, giving his power to the beast. In verse 4 the empowered beast is worshipped, and in the 11th verse we have another beast who acts as his prophet and exercises all the power of the first beast, causing an image to be set up to the beast, and working miracles, making fire to come down from heaven (Rev. xiii. 11 — 13).

1. As it is by the Father's power that the Lord Jesus spoke and did His works (John xiv. 10), so Satan empowers the beast or Antichrist to do his work.

2. The Lord Jesus is the incarnation of the Godhead, so the Antichrist is the incarnation of Satan.

3. The Lord Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to work miracles and cause men to worship Him, so the Antichrist sends the false prophet to do great wonders and cause men to worship the image of the beast.

Can we have a more accurate parody? Can anything exceed this act of blasphemy? "He regards not any God" (Dan. xi. 23).

He "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. ii. 4).

What is this temple?

There are but three temples mentioned in Scripture —

1. Material temple in Jerusalem."

2. The spiritual temple of the. Lord's body.

3. The temple of the Believers body. In one of these three will Antichrist sit. It cannot be in either of the last two. It must therefore be the first rebuilt. Sitting there he will cause his image to be set up and there worshipped.

12. This the Jews, never having been idolators since their return from the Babylonish captivity, will not be able to accept, and this opposition to his will is that which may lead to the breaking of the covenant (Dan. xi. 31; Matt. xxiv. 15).

13. This leads to the persecution of the Jews, and ''the time of Jacob's trouble," or the "great tribulation " (Jer. xxx. 7; Dan.* xii. 1; Matt. xxiv. 21).

14. About this time of "trouble," two witnesses appear (Rev. xi. 3).

15. In three-and-a-half years they are killed in Jerusalem and remain unburied (Rev. xi. 7-10).

16. They rise from the dead in presence of their enemies (Rev. xi. 11, 12).

17. Subsequently, the beast, or Antichrist, and all nations are gathered against Jerusalem (Zech. xiv. 1, 2).

18. When half the city is taken, the Lord goes forth and delivers the people (Zech. xiv. 3, 4).

V.  — Destruction ok the Antichrist.

18. The Lord consumes the Antichrist with the spirit of His mouth, and also his followers (2 Thess. i. 7, 8; ii. 8, 9; Rev. xix. 15-21).

19. He is then cast alive with the false prophet into the lake of fire (Dan. viii. 15; Rev. xix. 20).

VI. — Destruction of Babylon his Capital.

Seeing that the prophecies of the absolute desolation of Babylon have never yet been fulfilled, the locality still waits for the signal destruction as described in the following words: —

"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance, there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged'' (Isa. xiii. 19-22).

It would appear that Babylon mystical of Rev. xvii, differs from Babylon literal (without the word " mystical "). The characteristic of the destruction of this Babylon is its suddenness, as mentioned four times in Rev. xviii., verses 8, 10, 17, 19. I would ask you to read the whole of this chapter. A being so great will' not live in a borrowed capital, such as Babylon mystical, or Rome, but in one which he will build for himself. Now, where great cities have been, they can be again, if the conditions which led to their existence be restored. Only then let the country be irrigated as before, and its marvellous fertility will be restored; the line for the much-talked-of railway of the Euphrates Valley has already been surveyed, and no one living in the present day of great and rapid changes, would be bold enough ' to say that such a means of communication cannot and will not be constructed. Thus the great city will have even greater facilities there than its predecessors.

VII. — Titles of Antichrist.

1. "Man of Sin." "The number of a Man" (2 Thess. ii. 3; Rev. xiii. 18.

2. "The Son of Perdition" (2 Thess. ii. 3).

3. That Wicked One (Lawless) 2 Thess. ii. 8.

4. The Assyrian (Isa. xiv. 25).

5. Lucifer, Son of the Morning, as opposed to "The Bright and Morning Star" (Isa. iv. 12).

6. "The Prince that shall come " (Dan. ix. 26).

7. Little Horn (Dan. viii. 9; xi. 41). ~

8. "Wilful King" (Dan. xi. 36).

9. "Vile Person" (Dan. xi. 21).

10. "Beast with Ten Horns" (Rev. xiii. 1).

11. "The King of Babylon" (Isa. xiv. 4).

12. King of Fierce Countenance (Dan. viii. 23).

Three Emblems.

1. The Little Horn (Dan. vii. 8).

2. Sea Beast (Rev. xiii. 1).

3. Scarlet Beast (Rev. xvii. 3).

VIII. — Historical Illustrations.

To begin — Was it not when Pharaoh declared that he knew not the Lord that, then leaving God out of his calculation, he pursued Israel to his utter destruction?

When Nebuchadnezzar walked in his palace and said, "Is not this great Babylon which I have built for the house of my kingdom by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?" While the word was in the king's mouth there fell a voice from heaven saying, "O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it' is spoken, the kingdom is departed from thee." When Alexander the Great had grasped and practically realised universal empire, he too, in his turn, died, and his empire was broken up, ultimately crumbling to pieces under the iron hand of Rome.

When Antiochus Epiphanes had filled up his cup of wickedness by entering the innermost courts of the Temple, even the "holy of holies," and sacrificing a sow upon the altar, not contented with this he vowed vengeance against the whole Jewish nation, but on his return to Palestine was seized by a fatal disease, and died in the most dreadful agonies of body and soul.

Turning, however, nearer to our own times, we see this principle signally worked out in Napoleon I., who, to quote the historian Lanfrey, vol. ii., page 531: —

"III, Napoleon wished to restore the Roman Empire in the precise manner in which it is predicted that Antichrist will restore it. On the 2nd of December, 1804, he caused himself to be crowned Emperor of the French at Notre Dame, the ceremony being performed by Pope Pius VIII., whom he had induced to visit Paris for that purpose. His idea of his empire is revealed in the fact that he had procured the iron crown of Charlemagne for the coronation, although at that time a' large portion of the dominions of Charlemagne owed allegiance to the emperor of Austria. But in 1806 he made use of his victory at Austerlitz to wrest these provinces from the protectorate of Austria', and to unite them to his own sway under the title of the Confederation of the Rhine. At the same time he was arranging to establish some of his brothers and generals as vassal kings 'over other countries of Europe. His intentions in so doing are thus explained by one of his latest biographers . . . . . .

'Thus far, then, Napoleon aimed at the restoration of the Westem Empire in the form in which Antichrist will hereafter affect it, that of confederated kingdoms under himself as emperor. In. a despatch to the Pope during the same year be thus expresses himself: — 'Your Holiness is the sovereign of Rome, but I am her emperor.' In 1809 he annexed the Papal States, and styled Rome the second city of the Empire; and in 1811 he chose the title of King of Rome for his infant son

"'The principal reason which directed the mighty conqueror to Moscow, instead of St. Petersburg, was the secret project which he entertained of turning his victorious arms, after the subjugation of the Muscovites, to the southward, and placing on his brow the diadem of the Eastern Empire.'

"This project he had in view from very early times, and is said, when only a subaltern officer of artillery, to have nourished the hope of being King of Jerusalem. Strange that he should have wished for that which heathen soothsayers predicted as the destiny of Nero. Satan will never rest until he has insulted and profaned the city of the Great King by making it the throne of the Beast. And at last he will succeed; but his success will fill up the measure of his iniquities

"IV. Napoleon made overtures to the Jews, and took them, to some extent, under his protection. In July, 1806, he invited them to hold their Sanhedrim in Paris; and in March, 1807, seventy-one doctors and leading men of the nation assembled in that city, and formed themselves into a national council, the like to which had not been held for more than seventeen hundred years — not, indeed, since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The immediate cause of his interest in them may, no doubt, be found in his desire to conciliate the wealthy Jews of Old Prussia, Poland, and the southern provinces of Russia. But they looked upon him as their deliverer, and styled him 'the Lord's anointed Cyrus *; and since we know his designs in regard to the East, we may be quite sure that he had also some ulterior plan for utilizing them in their own country.

"V. He displayed the names of blasphemy. When he was in Egypt he openly regretted that he could not, like Alexander, give himself out to be the son of Jupiter Ammon. But what he could do he did, as may be seen by the following proclamation, issued after the suppression of a revolt at Cairo.

"Sheiks, Ulemas, Orators of the Mosque, teach the people that those who become my enemies shall have no refuge in this world or the next. Is there anyone so blind as not to see that I am the Man of Destiny? Make the people understand that from the beginning of time it was ordained that, having destroyed the enemies of Islam, and vanquished the Cross, I should come from the distant parts pf the West to accomplish my destined task. Show them that in twenty passages of the Koran my coming is foretold.'

"Throughout the whole of his career he showed a desire to be considered something more than human, and while many of the addresses presented to him recognised him as a sort of divinity, it is not on record that he ever imitated the noble conduct of Canute. On the contrary, he excused many unscrupulous and outrageous proceedings by the assertion that he was acting as the arm of God; he loved to be addressed by the title of Vôtre Providence; and Lanfrey, after quoting one of his letters to the Pope, remarks: 'These singular expressions show that Napoleon already considered himself as something more than the Pope's suzerain; for he went nearly so far as to dispute with him his title of Vicar of God.'

"In the hall in which the Sanhedrim met at Paris, the cipher of Napoleon's name and that of Josephine's were blended with the name of God, and placed over the Ark of the Covenant! But a still more fearful instance of blasphemy is given by Madame de Remusat, in her ' Memoirs/

"Some years later, at another fête given by the city of Paris to the emperor, the repertory of inscriptions being exhausted, a brilliant device was resorted to Over the throne which he was to occupy were placed,, in letters of gold, the following words from the Holy Scriptures: "I am That I am.' 1 And no one seemed to be scandalized! '

"Surely the miserable man, by permitting so appalling a crime, denied both the Father and the Son, and showed a disposition to exalt himself above all that is worshipped." — Pember, "The Great Prophecies." Edition, 1881. Pages 125-133.

I should culpably fail in discharging my duty were I to close this paper here, without pointing out how this gigantic power of evil may act as a warning to* ourselves. Let it not be supposed, then, that because wickedness will be so manifestly developed in this " man of sin," that therefore there. is no danger of our falling into the same sin of which he is but the last and greatest development; for, after all, does not St. John tells us that in his day there were many Antichrists — that is, the spirit of Antichrist was abroad — of antagonism or enmity to God. Now, who is an enemy of God?" Let the Apostle tell us. One, he. says, who simply "minds earthly things."

"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Phil. iii. 18, 19).

Again, we have seen that this enemy of God ultimately desecrated the Temple of God, and what does the Holy Ghost declare our bodies to be but the Temple of God?

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? " (1 Cor. vi. 19).

"Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them " (2 Cor. vi. 16).

Have we never been guilty of thus desecrating the Temple of God, by allowing earthly things to assert their claim and usurp that position in our bodies which belongs to God only and thus allow the spirit of Antichrist to manifest itself in us? Let me remind you that the Apostle says that the end of those who are God's enemies and mind earthly things is destruction, as was that of the Antichrist.

Henceforth, then, let us shun all things which conduce to opposition to God's will in us, remembering that we are not our own, but that we belong to God. "Therefore let us glorify God in your body."