"The coming of the year 2000 had haunted the Western imagination for the past thousand years. Ever since the world failed to end at the turn of the first millennium after Christ, theologians, evangelists, poets, and seers had looked to the end of the second with an expectation that it would bring something momentous. No less an authority than Isaac Newton speculated that the world would end in the year 2000. Michel de Nostradamus, whose prophecies have been read by every generation since they were first published in 1568, forecast the coming of the Third Antichrist in July 1999. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, connoisseur of the "collective unconscious," envisioned the birth of a New Age in 1997. Such forecasts may easily be ridiculed, but there is no denying that they excited a morbid fascination when many were not entirely sure what to believe" (James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, Sovereign Individual, page 11, modified quote).
The year 2000 has come and gone, but will there eventually be a New Age? Will the world end? Will there be an Antichrist? By the end of this booklet the hope is that the readers will be able to answer these questions for themselves.
The apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation - where we find the only use of the term "Armageddon" - said in a pastoral letter:
"Little children, it is the last hour; and you have heard that the Antichrist is coming..." (1 John 2:18).
This was the expectation of the Church of God in the first century. Some in the church in Thessalonica even thought that "the day of Christ" had already come. The apostle Paul had to reminded them:
"Now concerning the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ... that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first and...the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (1 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
At the End of this age, often referred to by Biblical writers as "the last days" - the period generally associated with the return of Jesus Christ - the "Antichrist" will arise and promote himself as god and will require the people of his global-reaching empire to worship him. This individual will eventually bring the world to point where all of mankind could be wiped off the face of the planet - "for there will be a time of sore misery then, such as has never been from the beginning of the world till now - no and never shall be" (Matthew 24:21, James Moffat, A New Translation of the Bible). But he will be prevented from doing so by the intervention of Jesus Christ - "Had not those days been cut short, not a soul would be saved alive" (Matthew 24:22, ibid.) - who will then usher in a "new age" - the Kingdom of God.
The Antichrist will have the greatest ungodly impact that a human-being will ever have in the affairs of mankind. Hitler will pale into insignificance. No one during his reign will escape his pernicious influence.
Who is the Antichrist? What does this Antichrist do? How are we to identify him?
To begin to answer these questions we need to go to the end of the Bible.
Paul went on to write that this coming "lawless one" would be destroyed at Christ's return (2 Thessalonians 2:8). But not only would he be destroyed but also his great collaborator. The apostle John wrote:
"And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him [Christ]... Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:19-20).
Who are the beast and the false prophet? What is there relationship? Which one of these two is senior? Which one will exalt himself as god? Which one is the Antichrist?
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A GOD AND A PROPHET
The story of Moses and Aaron provides the outline. J. Barton Payne, comments that:
"...Biblical usage confirms the concept of the prophet as an announcer: for example, when God sent Moses to Egypt He explained, "See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet: thou shall speak all that I command thee, and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh" (Ex 7:1-2). To this, then, corresponds the basic meaning of the Greek word profetes, one who speaks forth, in behalf of another; in classic culture, one who interprets the will of some deity" (Encyclopaedia of Biblical Prophecy, pages 4-5).
Moses and Aaron provide a positive example of a relationship between a god and a prophet (Exodus 4:16 & 7:1; cp. Acts 14:12), while the beast and his spokesman provide a negative one. The 'beast' is the individual who will set himself up as 'god' and who is referred to as the Antichrist, the man of sin, the lawless one, the little horn, the king of the North - and various other titles - while the false prophet is his subordinate henchman - interpreting the will of the yet future pseudo-deity. A modern example of the latter would be Joseph Goebals. As minister of propaganda for the Third Reich he is "generally accounted responsible for presenting a favourable image of the Nazi regime to the German people" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, CD-99), Joseph Goebals). On assuming this position he "began to create the Fuhrer myth around the person of Hitler and to institute the ritual of party celebrations and demonstrations that played a decisive role in converting the masses to Nazism" (EBritannica, ibid.). Whereas Goebals was a secular prophet this coming false prophet will be a religious one.
THE PERFORMING OF MIRACLES
Of the ten miraculous plagues and the miracle that Pharaoh asked to be shown prior to them, Moses's actions brought on four of these miracles - for example: Then the Lord said to Moses, "'Stretch out your hand towards heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.' So Moses stretched out his hand towards heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days" (Exodus 10:21-22).
While Aaron also brought on four miracles - for example: "So the Lord said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.'" And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast" (Exodus 8:16-17).
From the confrontation of Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh we may say that both the "God" and his "spokesman" perform miracles. In the gospel of Mark we see this also: "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22). But does the Antichrist actually perform any miracles? More on this later.
STATE vs CHURCH
Moses became the leader of the new nation of Israel. As leader he had civil as well as religious duties, including judge and lawgiver. Aaron was his subordinate helper as high-priest.
Moses could be said to represent the state while Aaron represents the church. Therefore the state, in the person of Moses, could be said to be the more dominant of the two. One of the premises of our argument is that when the state is strong, which implies a strong king or emperor, then the church is, from necessity, subordinated to and dependent on the state and civil ruler.
In Revelation 13 we have two beasts. The first beast is described as having seven heads and ten horns, while the second has two horns like a lamb and speaks like a dragon.
Who and What are these Beasts? Which beast is greater than the other? To begin to answer these questions we need to go to the Old Testament Book of Daniel to lay the foundation.