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Works of Arthur Pink: Pink, Arthur - The Antichrist: Chapter 08. The Antichrist In The Prophets.
TOPIC: Pink, Arthur - The Antichrist (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: Chapter 08. The Antichrist In The Prophets.
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THE ANTICHRIST IN THE PROPHETS.
The references to the Antichrist in the Prophets are numerous; nor is this to be wondered at. It is there, more than anywhere else in Scripture, that we learn of the future of both Israel and the Gentiles. It is there we have the fullest information concerning End-time conditions, and the completest description of the varied parts which the leading characters shall play in those days. It would carry us beyond the scope designed for these articles were to examine every passage in the Prophets which makes mention of the Man of Sin and the numerous roles he will fill. Yet we do not desire to pass by any of the more important allusions to him. We shall, therefore, make a selection, and yet such a selection that we trust a complete outline at least will be supplied. Certain scriptures, notably those which view the Antichrist in connection with Babylon, will be waived now, because they will receive separate consideration in a later chapter.
One other introductory remark needs to be made. We are conscious that this chapter will probably be somewhat unsatisfactory to a few of our readers, inasmuch as we shall be obliged to take a good deal for granted. It is manifest that we cannot here attempt to give a complete analysis of the passages where the different allusions to the Antichrist occur, nor should this be necessary. We are writing to Bible students, therefore we shall ask them to turn to the different places from which we quote and examine the contexts so as to satisfy themselves that they treat of End-time conditions. While in most instances the context will show that we are not reading into the Scriptures what is not there, yet in a few cases they may fail us. This is sometimes true with passages which contain prophecies concerning Christ. It is often the case in the prophets that the Holy Spirit is treating of something near at hand and then, without any warning, projects the view into the distant future. But just as the New Testament enables us to determine which Old Testament passages speak of Christ, so other scriptures help us to identify the person of the Antichrist in verses where there is but an indefinite and passing allusion to him.
I. Antichrist in Isaiah.
A brief notice is taken of the Man of Sin in chapter 16. The opening verses make it clear that conditions in the Tribulation period are being described. They intimate how that the persecuted Jews flee to the land of Moab for refuge—"Hide the outcasts; betray not him that wandereth," makes this clear. These outcasts are definitely identified in Isa_16:4, where Jehovah terms them "Mine outcasts." The same verse goes on to tell why they were outcasts, outcasts from Palestine: "Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the Spoiler: for the Extortioner is at an end, the Spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land." Here the destruction of the Antichrist is noted. A further proof that these verses describe what immediately precedes the Millennium is found in the next verse, which conducts us to the beginning of the Millennium itself: "And in mercy shall the throne be established: and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness." Thus, in the light of other scriptures, there is little room for doubt that the Spoiler and the Extortioner refer to none other than the Son of Perdition.
In Isa_22:25 we have another incidental reference to the Antichrist. For our comments on this verse we refer the reader to chapter 4, section 17.
"In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish, Leviathan the piercing Serpent, even Leviathan that crooked Serpent; and He shall slay the Dragon that is in the sea" (Isa_27:1). This chapter is by no means easy to analyze: its structure seems complex. That its contents point to a yet future date is intimated by its opening words—compare other verses in Isaiah where "in that day" occur. As one reads the chapter through it will be found that there is a peculiar alternation between references to the Tribulation period and conditions in the Millennium. The closing verse clearly refers to the end of the Tribulation period. So, also, does the first verse with which we are now chiefly concerned. Leviathan, the piercing Serpent, is, we believe, one of the names of the Antichrist, compare chapter 3, section II, 2. A comparison with a passage in Job confirms this conclusion. It is generally agreed that "leviathan" in Job 41 refers to the crocodile, yet the commentators do not appear to have seen in it anything more than a description of that creature. But surely a whole chapter of Scripture would scarcely be devoted to describing a reptile! Personally, we are satisfied that under the figure of that treacherous and cruel monster we have a remarkable silhouette of the Prince of darkness. Note the following striking points:
In verses 1 and 2 (of Job 41) the strength of Leviathan is referred to. In Job_41:3 the question is asked "will he speak soft words unto thee?:" this is meaningless if only a crocodile is in view; but it is very pertinent if we have here a symbolic description of Antichrist. In Job_41:4 the question is put, "Will he make a covenant with Thee?:" this, too, is pointless if nothing but a reptile is the subject of the passage; but if it looks to some Monster more dreadful, it serves to identify. "None is so fierce that dare stir him up" (Job_41:10): how closely this corresponds with Rev_13:4—"Who is able to make war with the Beast?" "His teeth are terrible round about" (Job_41:14): how aptly this pictures the fierceness and cruelty of the Antichrist! "His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone" (Job_41:24): how accurately this portrays the moral depravity of the Antichrist! "When he raiseth up himself the mighty are afraid . . . the sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold . . . the arrow cannot make him flee" (Job_41:25-26, Job_41:28): how these words suggest the invincibility of Antichrist so far as human power is concerned. "Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride" (Job_41:33-34 ). Surely these last verses remove all doubt as to who is really before us here! The whole of Job 41 should be studied carefully, for we are assured that it contains a remarkable but veiled amplification of Isaiah 27:1.
In Isaiah 33 there is another reference to the Antichrist. This chapter, like so many in Isaiah, passes from a notice of Tribulation conditions to the Millennial state and back again. The opening verse reads, "Woe to thee that spoileth, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! When thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee." This is evidently a judgment pronounced upon the head of the false messiah. Two things serve to identify him: he is the great Spoiler, and the one who shall deal treacherously with Israel. It is in view of the perfidy and rapacity of their Enemy that the godly remnant cry, "O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee: be Thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble" (Isa_33:2). A further word concerning the Antichrist is found in Isa_33:8: "The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man." The last three statements in this verse make it certain who is there in view. It is the Antichrist displayed in his true colors; the one who breaks his covenant with Israel, sacks their cities, and defies all human government to resist him.
A brief notice must be taken of Isa_57:9 ere we turn from Isaiah. In this chapter we find God arraigning Israel for their horrid idolatries and wickedness. The opening verse again makes it clear that it is the Tribulation period which is in view: "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart," etc. Following this we have the various indictments which God makes against the unfaithful Jews—"But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore" (Isa_57:3, etc.). The remainder of the chapter continues in the same strain. Among the many charges which God brings against Israel is this: "And thou wentest to the King with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell" (Isa_57:9).
It is evident that as this chapter is describing the sins of Israel committed in the End-time that "the King" here must be the false messiah. Incidentally this verse furnishes one of the many proofs that the Antichrist will be king over the Jews.
II. Antichrist in Jeremiah.
In the 4th chapter of this prophet there is a vivid description of the fearful afflictions which shall come upon the inhabitants of Palestine. Doubtless, what is there said received a tragic fulfillment in the past. But like most, if not all prophecy, this one will receive a later and final accomplishment. There are several statements found in it which indicate that it treats of the End-time. The plainest of these is found in the closing verse, where we read, "For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her which bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion." It is the "birth-pangs" of Mat_24:8 (see Greek) which is in view. The sore trials which Israel shall then undergo are tragically depicted: "Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defensed cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The Lion is come up from his thicket, and the Destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant" (Jer_4:5-7). The Destroyer of the Gentiles now turns to vent his fiendish malignity upon the holy land. Destruction is in his heart. Terrible shall be his onslaught: "Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled" (Jer_4:13). Fearful will be the devastations his fury shall accomplish: The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen: They shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein" (Jer_4:29 ).
In Jer_6:27 there is a remarkable statement made concerning the Antichrist: "O daughter of My people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the Spoiler (Destroyer, as in Jeremiah ) shall suddenly come upon us." This Spoiler is the Destroyer of the Gentiles. But it is what follows in the next verse which is so striking: "I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among My people, that thou mayest know and try their way." Here we learn that, after all, the Antichrist is but a tool in the hands of Jehovah. It is He who sets him in the midst of Israel to "try" them. A parallel statement is found in Isa_10:5-6, where the Lord says of the Assyrian "I will send him against a hypocritical nation." It reminds us very much of what we read concerning Pharaoh in Rom_9:17. He was "raised up" by God to accomplish His purpose. Even so shall it be with this one whom Pharaoh foreshadowed. He shall be an instrument in God’s hand to chastise recreant Israel.
Chapter 15 contains brief allusions to the Antichrist. In Jer_15:8 we have a statement similar to what was before us in the last passage. Speaking to Israel God says, "I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a Spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city." It is the Lord, then, (behind Satan) who brings this Spoiler against them. After His purpose has been accomplished, after the Antichrist has done what (unknown to himself) God had appointed, we read how that the Lord assures His people, "I will deliver thee out of the hand of the Wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the Terrible" (Jer_15:21). Thus will God demonstrate His supremacy over the Son of Perdition.
Jer_25:38 takes us back a little and notices the awful desolation which the Antichrist brings upon the land of Israel: "He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the Oppressor, and because of his fierce anger."
III. Antichrist in Ezekiel.
We shall notice here but two passages in this prophet. First, in Eze_21:25-27—"and thou, profane wicked Prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him."
So far as we are aware, all pre-millennial students regard this passage as a description of the Antichrist. It pictures him as Satan’s parody of the Son of Man seated upon "the throne of His glory." It sets him forth as the priest-king. Just as in the Millennium the Lord Jesus will "be a Priest upon His throne" (Zec_6:13), so will the Antichrist combine in his person the headships of both the civil and religious realms. He will be what the popes have long aspired to be—head of the World-State, and head of the World-Church.
"And thou, O deadly wounded Wicked One, the Prince of Israel, whose day is come, in the time of the iniquity of the end; thus saith the Lord: remove the mitre, and take off the crown" (R. V.). This is clearly Israel’s last king, ere the King of kings and Lord of lords returns to the earth. He is here termed "the Prince of Israel" as the true Christ is denominated "Messiah the Prince" in Dan_9:25. The description "O deadly wounded Wicked One" looks forward to Rev_13:12, where we read, "The first Beast whose deadly wound was healed"! "Remove the mitre and take off the crown" point to his assumption of both priestly and kingly honors. The Hebrews word for "mitre" here is in every other passage used of the head-dress of Israel’s high priest! Finally, the statement that his "day is come...in the time of iniquity of the end" establishes, beyond a doubt, the identity of this person.
In the opening verses of Ezekiel 28 we have a striking view of the Man of Sin under the title of "the Prince of Tyre," just as what is said of "the King of Tyre" in the second half of the chapter is an esoteric allusion to Satan. First, we are told his "heart is lifted up" (Eze_28:2), which is precisely what is said to his father, the Devil, in Eze_28:17. Second, he makes the boast "I am God" and "I sit in the seat of God" (Eze_28:2), which is parallel with 2Th_2:4. Third, it is here said of him, "Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee" (Ezek. 28:3), which intimates he will be endowed with superhuman wisdom by that one of whom this same chapter declares, "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom" (Eze_28:12). Fourth, it is said of him, "By thy wisdom and by thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures" (Eze_28:4). Thus will he be able to dazzle the worshippers of Mammon by his Croseus-like wealth, and out-do Solomon in the glory of his kingdom. Finally, his death by the sword is here noted, see Eze_28:7-8.
IV. Antichrist in Daniel.
It is here that we find the fullest description of the Man of Sin. First, he is looked at under the figure of "the little horn." As there has been some dispute whether this expression really applies to him, we propose to examine the more carefully what is here said of "the little horn." Personally, we have long been convinced that this expression refers to none other than the Antichrist. There are a number of plain marks which make it comparatively easy to recognize his person, whenever Scripture brings him before us. For example: his insolent and blasphemous pride; his exalting himself against and above God; his impious and cruel warfare against the people of God; his sudden, terrible, and supernatural end. Let us compare these features with what is said of "the little horn" in Daniel 7 and 8.
We turn first to Daniel 7. In vv.7 and 8 (Dan_7:7-8) we read, "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts which were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." This refers to the rise of "the little horn" within the bounds of the Roman Empire, for that is what is represented by the "fourth beast." The first thing said of the little horn is that he has eyes like the eyes of man, which speak of intelligence, and a mouth speaking great things—the Hebrews word signifies "very great," and the reference is, no doubt, to his lofty pretensions and his daring blasphemies.
In Dan_7:21 it is further said of him that he "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them." This contemplates his persecution of the godly Jews, and agrees perfectly with Rev_13:7; "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them." In Dan_7:25 we are told, "He shall speak great words against the Most High." Surely this serves to identify this "little horn" as the first beast of Revelation 13: "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies" (Rev_13:5). If further proof be needed, it is supplied by the remainder of verse 25: "And shall wear out the saints of the Most High...and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." A "time" equals a year (see Dan_4:23 and Rev_12:14, and cf. Rev_12:6), so that a "time and times and the dividing of time" would be three and one-half years during which the saints are given into his hand. This corresponds exactly with Rev_13:5, where of the first Beast, the Antichrist, it is said, "And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months"—in a later chapter we shall give a number of proofs to show that the first Beast of Revelation 13 is the Antichrist.
In Daniel 8 the Little Horn is before us again, and that it is the same dread personage as in chapter 7 appears from what is predicted of him. First, he is referred to as "a king of fierce countance" (Dan_8:23), which agrees with "whose look was more stout than his fellows" (Dan_7:20). Second, it is said of him that he "waxed exceeding great (first) towards the south, and (second) towards the east, and (third) toward the pleasant land" (Dan_8:9), which agrees with "there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up" (Dan_7:8). Third, it is said that he "shall destroy the mighty and the holy people" (Dan_8:24), which agrees with "and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them" (Dan_7:21). There should, then, be no doubt whatever that the "little horn" of Daniel 7 and the "little horn" of Daniel 8 refer to one and the same person. Their moral features coincide: both, from an insignificant beginning, become great in the end: both persecute the people of God: both are stricken down by direct interposition of God. We may add that Messrs. B. W. Newton, James Inglis, G. H. Pember, Sir Robert Anderson, Drs. Tregilles, J. H. Brookes, Haldeman, and a host of other devout scholars and students, take the same view, namely, that the "little horn" of Daniel 7 and 8 and the Man of Sin is one and the same person.
Let us now consider briefly what is revealed concerning the Antichrist under this title of his, the "little horn." We confine ourselves to Dan_8:23-25. First, he is "a king of fierce countenance." This we believe is a literal description of his facial expression, though we are satisfied that it also has a moral significance. In Deu_28:50 we read of "a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old nor show favor to the young." In the light of this scripture it seems clear that when the Antichrist is denominated the "King of fierce countenance" the reference is not only to his actual features, but that it also intimates he will be empowered to face the most perplexing and frightful dangers and the most appalling scenes of horror without flinching or blanching. It is significant that the reference in Deu_28:50 is to the Romans, while what is said of the Antichrist in Dan_8:23 relates, specially, to his connections with Greece. The two dominant characteristics of these Powers will be combined in the Man of Sin. There will be concentrated in him the irresistible will of the Romans and the brilliant intellect of the Greeks.
Second, we are told that he shall be able to "understand dark sentences." The Hebrews noun for "dark sentences" is used of Samson’s riddle (Jdg_14:12, of the Queen of Sheba’s hard questions (1Ki_10:1), and of the dark sayings of the wise (Pro_1:6), which are too profound to be understood by the simple. This characteristic of the King of fierce countance, that he shall be able to "understand dark sentences," suggests an attempted rivalry of Christ as the Revealer of secret things. This is one of the fascinations by which the Antichrist will dazzle humanity. He will present himself as one in whom are hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He will bewitch the world by his solutions of the enigmas of life, and most probably by his revelation of occult powers implanted in men hitherto unsuspected by most, and of forces and secrets of nature previously undiscovered.
Third, it is said "And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power" (Dan_8:24). This is explained in Rev_13:2, where we are told, "And the Dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority." Just as we read of the Lord Jesus, "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (Joh_14:10), so shall the Son of Perdition perform his prodigies by power from his father, the Devil. This is exactly what 2Th_2:9 declares, "Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." Thus will men be deceived by the miracles he performs.
Fourth, he will "destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people" (Dan_8:24). This has received enlargement in the previous chapter, where we have given several illustrations from the Psalms of the Antichrist persecuting Israel.
Fifth, "And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand" (Dan_8:25). The Hebrews word for "policy" denotes wisdom and understanding. It was the word used by David to Solomon, when he said, "Only the Lord give thee wisdom" (1Ch_22:12), as it is also employed by Huram when writing to Solomon: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence" (2Ch_2:12). The Hebrews word for "craft"—"He shall cause craft to prosper"—is the one employed by Isaac when speaking to Esau concerning Jacob: "Thy brother came with subtilty" (Gen_27:35). It has in view the chicanery and treacherous methods the Antichrist will employ. "By peace shall destroy many" (v. 25) refers to the fact that he will pose as the Prince of peace, and after gaining men’s confidence—particularly that of the Jews—will take advantage of this to spring his bloody schemes upon them.
Sixth, it is said "He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes" (Dan_8:25). This unmistakably identifies him with the Beast of Rev_19:19, where we are told, "And I saw the Beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army."
Seventh, "But he shall be broken without hand" (Dan_8:25). This expression means that he shall come to his doom without human intervention or instrumentality—see Dan_2:45; 2Co_5:1, etc. That the King of fierce countenance shall be broken without hand refers to his destruction by the Lord Himself—"And He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the Wicked" (Isa_11:4).
We turn now to Dan_9:26-27. This forms a part of the celebrated prophecy of the seventy "weeks" or hebdomads. We cannot now attempt an exposition of the whole prophecy: sufficient to point out its principal divisions and examine that part of it which bears on our present theme.
The prophecy begins with Dan_9:24 and concerns the seventy hebdomads, a word signifying "sevens." Each "hebdomad" equals seven years, so that a period of 490 years in all is here comprehended. These seventy "sevens" are divided into three portions: First, seven "sevens" which concerned the re-building of Jerusalem, following the Babylonian captivity. Second, sixty-two "sevens" unto "Messiah the Prince," that is, unto the time when He formally presented Himself to Israel as their King: this receiving its fulfillment in the so-called "Triumphal Entrance into Jerusalem." Third, the last "seven" which is severed from the others. It should be carefully noted that we are expressly told that "after threescore and two weeks (which added to the preceding seven would make sixty-nine in all up to this point) shall Messiah be cut off." The reference is to the Cross when Christ was cut off from Israel and from the land of the living. This occurred after the sixty-ninth week before the seventieth began.
The sixty-ninth terminated with the formal presentation of Christ to Israel as their "Prince." This is described by Matthew (the distinctively Jewish Gospel) in chapter 21. The rejection of their Prince caused the break between Christ and Israel. It is very striking to note that (following the rejection) Matthew records three distinct proofs or evidences of this break. The first is found in Mat_21:19 in the cursing of the "fig tree," which signified the rejection of the Nation. The second was His sorrowful announcement from the brow of Olivet that the time of Israel’s visitation was past and her overthrow now certain (Mat_23:37 and cf. Luk_19:41-44). This was the abandonment of the City. The third was His solemn pronouncement concerning the Temple: "Behold your House is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Mat_23:38-39). This was the giving up of the Sanctuary.
The entire Christian dispensation (which began with the crucifixion of Christ) is passed by unnoticed in this prophecy of the seventy weeks." It comes in, parenthetically, between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth. What follows in Dan_9:26-27 concerns what will happen after the Christian dispensation is ended when God again takes up Israel and accomplishes His purpose concerning them. This purpose will be accomplished by means of sore judgment which will be God’s answer to Israel’s rejection of His Son. But let us examine more closely the form this judgment will take.
The judgment of God upon the people who were primarily responsible for the cutting off of their Messiah was to issue in the destruction of their city and sanctuary (Dan_9:26). This destruction was to be brought about by the people of a Prince who should subsequently appear, and be himself destroyed. The Prince here is the Antichrist, but the Antichrist connected with and at the head of the Roman Empire in its final form. Now we know that it in A. D. 70, but that "the Prince" here does not refer to the one who then headed the Roman armies is clear from the fact that Dan_9:27 informs us this Prince is to play his part in the yet future seventieth week—further proof is furnished in that Dan_9:26 carries us to the end (i.e. of Israel’s desolations) which is to be marked by a "flood," and