The Ascending Beast

The subject of the Antichrist raises common questions. Who is he? When will he appear? How will we recognize him? What is his “mark” or “number”? In popular preaching, he is a global political leader who uses military might to subjugate other nations and attack Israel in the Middle East. However, if Satan is truly cunning, why would he do the very thing we expect?

The Church has been inundated by a multitude of predictions and theories about the “Antichrist.” He has been identified with the Roman emperor, the Pope, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and numerous other political figures. In many cases, excellent arguments were made to support the proposition. Nonetheless, not one of these past candidates ever became the world-dominating “Beast from the Sea.”

Dragon floodwaters - Photo by Ryan Moulton on Unsplash
[Photo by Ryan Moulton on Unsplash]

The several terms used for this figure include “Antichrist,” “Man of Lawlessness,” and “Beast.” Do they all refer to the same individual? There are few, if any, direct literary links between the passages employing these names.

The term “Antichrist” only appears in two of John’s letters, and nowhere in Revelation. Is it the correct label for the global leader of popular expectations? Are we certain John had the same figure in mind as the “Beast” or the “Man of Lawlessness”?

The language used for this figure is drawn from the Hebrew Bible, especially the Book of Daniel and its vision of the “Little Horn speaking great things.” However, Paul and John did not simply quote those passages verbatim. They reapplied them in the light of what God did in Jesus, often in unexpected ways. If there is any hope of correctly identifying the “Beast,” we must seek it in Scripture, not the daily news headlines.

In Revelation, the “Beast is ASCENDING from the Sea.” When John described this image, he used a participle in the Greek present tense, signifying an ongoing action. Thus, the “Beast” was in the process of “ascending” from the Abyss/Sea.

Its “Seven Heads” represented “Seven Mountains,” which, in turn, symbolized seven successive kingdoms rather than seven concurrent realms, and by the first century, five had “fallen,” one existed, and the final or “seventh” kingdom was “yet to come” - (Revelation 17:8-11).

John used the characteristics of Daniel’s “four beasts from the Sea” to describe what for him was one entity, one “Beast.” In Daniel, the “four beasts” represented four successive kingdoms, yet John saw only one “Beast” that incorporated the animal features of all four of Daniel’s beasts, and he listed them in reverse order as if he were looking backward over the history of world empires.

AN ANCIENT STORY


Daniel linked the Babylonian incarnation of the World Empire to the “Land of Shinar,” the ancient kingdom of the Sumerians where Babel originated, and the first attempt to unite all peoples under one government - (Genesis 11:1-9, Daniel 1:2).

This is an old story. What the Bible pictures is not a one-time event that will occur just before the end of the age. The satanic conspiracy to install the World Empire is history-spanning. It has been underway since the beginning of civilization. Prophecy teachers who previously identified this beastly regime as the Roman Empire or the government of Nazi Germany were not entirely wrong.

How do we identify the final incarnation of this World Empire, the “Seventh Kingdom”? Whether discussing the “Beast,” the “Antichrist,” or the “Man of Lawlessness,” certain characteristics are common to each description.

All three terms are linked to deception and apostasy. Jesus warned of coming “deceivers” who would propagate false information about the “End,” thereby “troubling” many. Their deceptions would cause many to apostatize – “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” False prophets would use “great signs and wonders” to deceive “even the elect.”

Likewise, Paul instructed believers not to be “troubled” by disinformation about the “Day of the Lord.” That day would not come until the “apostasy” and the “revelation of the Man of Lawlessness” occurred. He described the latter as using “lying signs and wonders” to deceive those who refused the “love of the truth.” Likewise, the “False prophet” in Revelation will use “great wonders” to cause many to “pay homage to the Beast” - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13:11-15).

In his first letter, John called false teachers in his congregations “antichrists,” forerunners of the final “Antichrist.” They were driven by the “Spirit of the Antichrist” that is active already. They were identifiable by their deceptive activities - (1 John 2:18-22).

When Jesus warned that the “love of many would grow cold” due to “lawlessness,” he was not speaking about humanity in general, but about his disciples. “False prophets” would work overtime to deceive them.

Similarly, the “Man of Lawlessness” would appear in the “Sanctuary of God,” a phrase Paul applied consistently to the Body of Christ. John likewise was concerned about the “many antichrists” that were disrupting his congregations. In Revelation, the “Dragon” wages war against the “saints,” “those who have the testimony of Jesus,” not other nation-states or modern Israel.

Church Ruins - Photo by Osman Kahraman on Unsplash
[Photo by Osman Kahraman on Unsplash]

Neither Jesus, Paul nor John stated that the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist, or the Beast would be a global political leader who wages war against the state of Israel. Whether he would do so was not their concern. Their focus was on how events impact the Church. They did not assign any geographic location or limitation to this figure. Satan’s efforts to destroy the “saints” will be global.

So, where does this leave us? First, because the rise of the “Beast” is an ever-present reality, we must remain ever-vigilant. Second, since Satan and his agents can employ “signs and wonders” to deceive us, the manifestation of supernatural power is no guarantee that any individual, church, or ministry is from God. Third, however small it may begin, the Antichrist program will become global in scope, especially as it targets faithful believers wherever they are.

The “Dragon” is not sending his “Beast” to deceive an already deceived world, but to misdirect, mislead, and cause the followers of Jesus to apostatize and abandon their mission to preach the Gospel. His target is the Body of Christ. Only by misdirecting or otherwise deceiving us does he stand any chance of defeating Jesus.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Mystery of Lawlessness - (The Mystery of Lawlessness is preparing the way for the unveiling of the Lawless One who will cause many believers to apostatize)
  • Spirit of Antichrist - (The Antichrist Spirit works to destroy the church from within, especially through deception propagated by deceivers and false teachers – 1 John 2:18-22)
  • Seated in the Sanctuary - (The Man of Lawlessness will be unveiled when he seats himself in the House of God - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

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