Prof. Johan Malan, University of Limpopo, South Africa (April 2006)
There are clear biblical indications that the Antichrist will arise from the Middle East, from a country to the north of Israel. Some of his titles unmistakeably point in this direction, e.g. the Assyrian ( Isa. 10:12-14) and the King of the North (Dan. 11:36-45). He will also be the end-time king of Babylon who will be heading up a Babylonian alliance of false religions (Rev. 17) and will be in control of the world economy (Rev. 18).
These prophecies imply that the Antichrist will emerge from the modern Islamic world. When his world empire will be destroyed during the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 19:19-21), it will also bring about the final destruction of Islam’s power as represented by the restored Babylonian Empire (Jer. 50 and 51; Rev. 18).
With a view to these events, developments in the Islamic world must also be considered in the context of biblical prophecies related to the end-time rise of the Antichrist. Don’t make the mistake of regarding the pope as the Antichrist as he can never be the Assyrian or the King of the North in terms of Israel’s position. None of the decrepit men who are usually elected as popes will be able to fulfil the typical role of the Antichrist who will be a young, dynamic ruler and conqueror who will capture the imagination of the masses (Rev. 13:3-4).
Various authorities on biblical prophecy, among them also Hal Lindsey, make the erroneous conclusion of considering a future pope as the Antichrist. They argue that the restored Roman Empire will be the power-base of the Antichrist, and that Rome will also be the end-time capital of this empire. The serious mistake that they make is that the Antichrist will not only be the head of the restored Roman Empire as he will concurrently be the head of the restored Babylonian/Assyrian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire.
In Revelation 13, he is depicted as a beast with seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads indicate seven world empires that all had rebellious governments that ruled in association with false religions and oppressed the nations. They were permeated by the same satanic (antichristian) spirit. In the year AD 95, when John recorded his visions on the Isle of Patmos, five of these empires had already fallen, the sixth one, the Roman Empire, was ruling, while the seventh one, the end-time empire of the Antichrist, was still future (Rev. 17:8-10). The first five that had already fallen are the ancient Babylonian Empire of Nimrod, the Assyrian Empire, the restored Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire.
The seven mountains upon which the woman sits who represents the false world religions, are indicative of seven consecutive world empires and not the seven mountains of Rome. These mountains represent kings (or kingdoms) and not seven Roman Caesars. Between Nero and Constantine alone there were ten Caesars in Rome.
In any way, the beast (the Antichrist) is not only associated with the Roman Empire. He does have ten horns and ten crowns on his head (Rev. 13:1) which allude to his reign with various allies in the restored Roman Empire. But he also has the head of a lion which refers to his Babylonian connection (Rev. 13:2; Dan. 7:4), the feet of a bear which associates him with the Medo-Persian Empire (Rev. 13:2; Dan. 7:5) and the body of a leopard, which depicts him within the context of the Greek Empire. The Assyrian/Babylonian area is common to all these empires. This region and its surrounding Islamic strongholds offer the Antichrist the scene for his end-time revelation.
It is, therefore, not correct to consider the beast only with regard to the seven horns on its head (Dan. 7:7-8) and then to make the hasty conclusion that the Antichrist will emerge from the restored Roman Empire and will consequently rule from Italy. We should also read Daniel 8, in which the origin of the same impostor is described within the context of the divided Greek Empire after Alexander the Great (Dan. 8:5-9,21-25). The four horns of this empire (Macedonia, Thrace, Syria and Egypt) did not control Italy and therefore excludes this country as a possible place of origin for the beast.
In Daniel 11, the focus becomes sharper. A power struggle between two kings in the Greek Empire is discussed here, namely the King of the North (Syria) and the King of the South (Egypt). The Antichrist will be the end-time King of the North (Dan. 11:36-45); consequently, there can be no doubt about his Middle Eastern origin from an Islamic country to the immediate north of Israel. The Syrian province was also part of the Roman Empire, which clearly suggests that the end-time Roman Empire after the coming of the Antichrist will be controlled from the Middle East – not from Brussels or Rome.
John says that the beast himself will also establish an eighth world empire which will emerge from the preceding seven (Rev. 17:11). He will rule the world for seven years (Dan. 9:27), but he will use two different kinds of government. During the first 3˝ years he will be a false prince of peace who will form a government with ten other kings in the European/Middle Eastern region. Three of them will be replaced by him as he expands his personal power-base (Dan. 7:8).
During the last 3˝ years the Antichrist will be empowered by the dragon and assisted by the false prophet to institute a military dictatorship in which he will be the absolute ruler of the world (Rev. 13:2,4,7,11-18). The kings who ruled with him during the first 3˝ years, “will give their power and authority to the beast” (Rev. 17:13).
This government is associated with the ancient Babylonian Empire, and for that reason the Bible calls the alliance of false religions “Mystery Babylon” (Rev. 17:5) and the city of the Antichrist “Babylon” (Rev. 18). The final, end-time destruction of the Babylonian Empire during the coming day of the Lord (Isa. 13:9-22; Jer. 50 and 51, Rev. 18) will also bring about the fall of the Antichrist’s Mediterranean (European/Middle Eastern) Empire, his restored Babylonian/Assyrian Empire, his revived Medo-Persian Empire (Iraq and Iran), his restored Greek Empire that will be controlled from the Syrian Province, and his world empire which will rule over all nations. That will happen during the coming of the true Messiah (Rev. 19:19-21), after which Christ will rule the world from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem (Acts 15:16-17; Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17).
The Antichrist will be much more powerful and influential than the pope, the president of the Unites States, or the leader of the European Union. His power will come from Satan himself, as the dragon will give him “his power, his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2; cf. 1 John 5:19). All the world leaders, including religious leaders, will honour him as God’s special prince of peace and follow him in amazement (Rev. 13:3).