REVIVED ROMAN EMPIRE
We discussed last time more about this nation itself. That it will be a 10 nation confederacy in which one leader will conquer three of the nations, and then the other 7 nations will submit to that single leader. We will now take some time to examine who that leader is. Whereas we do not have a name for him, we do have a name that is a definition of who he is. That is, he is the Antichrist.
This name itself gives us a definition of who he is. That is, he is against Christ. He is someone who will lift himself up into a great position and try to make himself look like the Christ. Counterfeiting the work of God has long been the desired work of Satan. Whereas Jesus rose from the grave after He died on a cross, Satan’s crowning piece will appear to be a miraculous healing from a fatal wound to the Antichrist (Rev 13:3. Therefore, the Antichrist will appear to be a substitute for the Lord Jesus. Mind you, this exact term, Antichrist, even though accepted by Bible teachers and prophetic students, is never used in connection with a specific person. John uses it in I John, but just to refer to someone who opposes Christ; particularly about teaching of the deity of Christ. There are at least 20 names given to the person we refer to as the Antichrist in the bible. But since Antichrist best embodies what this person is about, anti-Christian attitudes, purposes, and motives, this is the name most commonly referred to him. Some of the names given him in the Bible are: Dan 7:8 and 8:9 – ‘little horn’; Dan 9:26 – ‘a king of fierce countenance’; 2 Th. 2:3-8 – “that man of sin”, “the son of perdition”, “that wicked one”; Rev 13:1 “a beast”.
Of all the titles given to this man, the most descriptive one is in 2 Th. 2:3, “the man of sin”. As this, he will enter the scene as the embodiment of all the sinful men who have ever lived. The following verse, 2 Th. 2:4, offers an appropriate description of his conduct: “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” He opposes everything that Christ represents, he will sit in the Temple in Jerusalem and commit the ‘abomination of desolation’; that is, he will enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem and will proclaim himself God.
The Antichrist’s exact nationality is hard to say. All we know for sure is that he will come out of the Revived Roman Empire. Based on the passages about the abomination of desolation (Dan. 9:27 and Mt. 24:15), some think he could possibly be a Syrian Jew. They compare him to Antiochus Epiphanies, who was the leader of the Seleucid Empire, and committed the abomination of desolation when he sacrificed pigs in the Temple around 167 BC. Another possibility is that the Antichrist is a Greek-Roman Jew. One thing is for sure, that is, he needs to have some Jewish blood in him if the Jews are going to believe that he is the Christ. He could be like Hitler and hide his Jewish line, only revealing it at an opportune time for people to believe that he is the Christ. A number of people have speculated as to whom the Antichrist is over the years, and they have all been wrong. Some people have even thought that our current President, Barack Obama, could be the Antichrist. Could he be? Not likely, because he is not Jewish. Whereas he is not totally of African descent, his mother’s descent is from Great Britain, not Israeli.
Future Activities of the Antichrist
The Antichrist will not come on the world scene looking like an evil person, which would be too easy for people to detect. He will not be the leader of a warring country. Instead, he will rise to power through the stealth of diplomacy. The Antichrist will look like a man of peace. He will gain control over the Revived Roman Empire by looking like he has the answers that will cause world peace. This is confirmed by looking at Dan 8:25, “He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” He will gain power through deception. He will rise to power looking peaceful, and the power of the kingdom will be given to him. But sometime after he gets this power, this false peace will come to an end, and the world will see what an evil man he truly is. Satan himself will be the driving force behind the Antichrist. 2 Cor. 11:14 tells us that Satan can masquerade himself as an angel of light. Satan himself is a deceiver, and his protégé, the Antichrist, will also be a deceiver. There is a confirmation of this in Rev. 6:2 warning us about him: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest”. He will be looking pure upon the white horse; a man of peace. But he has a bow in his hand; this is designed for war, not for peace. A crown will be placed upon his head, after that happens will he go out to conquer. Then in verses 3 and 4, the rider of the red horse comes out. His power is to take peace away from the earth and make people kill each other. So only after the Antichrist comes to the power that he craves will he show his true nature.
We talked earlier about how Daniel was shown about the Revived Roman Empire. There is a confirmation of this in Revelation. We see in Rev. 17:12-13 how the Antichrist will get the power over this Empire, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.” This gives us another indication of how he will get power. The other leaders will think that he has the power and charisma to bring about the peace they are looking for. We have already entered a day in which man’s political concept of government is one world in scope. Look at the United Nations. This was built so all of the world can come together to help bring peace to the world. Our politicians think that they have all the answers. But just because they can talk well enough to get the majority of votes, doesn’t mean that they have the best answers for mankind.
Even though the Antichrist comes into power as a man of peace, his love of power and hatred for Christians will take on a brutal force after he obtains the power that he craves. Rev 13:7-9; It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. The Antichrist will make everyone in his kingdom worship him. As Christian’s can only worship God, this will infuriate him to the point where he will have all Christians killed. Much of today’s culture is already against the teachings and character of Christianity. The Antichrist will take it the next step, waging war against Christians and having them killed.
The Antichrist will dominate the world’s economy. If he is going to be the true world leader, he will need to control the money as well, because we have a global market. The world today has a currency on which it does a lot of its business, the US Dollar. It isn’t the currency in independent nations, but when many countries transact monies between the two, they use the US Dollar. This is because it has a history of being strong and dependable. But look what happened to the world’s economy in 2008 when many Americans defaulted on their mortgages: it sent much of the world into a recession. Because of this, some nations have suggested that the world should use another currency, because the US Dollar isn’t as stable and dependable as it once was. We can see that at the foreign exchange, we can’t get as much foreign currency with the dollar as we used to. Some people think that the Revived Roman Empire could come from the 27 nation European Union. Right now, 16 of their nations have a currency, the Euro that can be used in any of those nations. So they already have developed a currency that could fit that bill. The currency that the Antichrist will use is associated with a number that people are familiar with, but we don’t know exactly what it means; that is, 666.
We are given a brief description about this in Rev. 13:16-18, “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.” This is something that everyone in the Antichrist’s kingdom has to take if they are going to buy or sell anything. People won’t be able to hold a job without this number. The Antichrist will be in total control of the means by which people do business. The Bible says this mark is the number of the beast. It doesn’t say that the number 666 will be written on people’s hands or foreheads, just that it is some kind of mark. It is a mystery as to exactly what it will look like. Satan knows that people will readily recognize it if he made it the number 666. Therefore he will have to disguise what it looks like and the way it is started to be used so it won’t make people suspicious and not wanting to use it.
I saw a Christian movie years ago named “A Thief in the Night”. It is an old one, as it came out in 1972. It centered on a woman who missed the Rapture and some of the events she had to go through at start of the Tribulation. In it, the mark that people had on their hands was 0110 0110 0110. What does this mean exactly to you? To most people I ask, it means nothing. But to someone who knows binary numbers, which is the way computers see numbers, 0110 is 6. So they had 666 written on the back of their hands. What about if you saw 1010011010? This is exactly how a computer would see 666. My point is; we don’t know exactly what it will look like.
There is nothing inherently evil about this number. Just because this number appears on something, does not mean it is evil. In fact, the Bible uses it in a few other non-harmful places. 1 Ki. 10:14, King Solomon received 666 talents of gold each year. In Ezra 2:13, this is the amount of descendants of Adonikam who returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile.
Living in this generation, we know that much of our life’s information is stored somewhere in a computer. Without computer technology, the internet and satellite technology, we would not have the lifestyles that we have today. This new monetary system of 666 could be easily controlled by computers. They now have Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) chips that can be placed under the skin and are about the size of a grain of rice. They already use these with dogs in case they get lost. An RFID chip is placed the skin between their shoulders. So if that dog is found, a scanner can be passed over that place; immediately it will appear who the registered owner of that dog is. Then the dog can be returned back home. Some are even using it on some people today to track what medications they need. There are companies, like Applied Digital Solutions, that have been suggesting since 2003 [i] that people could place these under their skin to identify themselves when going to an ATM or use it instead of a credit card. This RFID chip could easily be used by the Revived Roman Empire to track what money people have. With the efficiency of the internet, it could quickly and easily be processed by a financial institution. People then wouldn’t have to bring any money, credit or debit cards with them. When an item is purchased, the clerk can just scan the hand. This will verify that the person has enough money and take it right out of their bank account like a debit card, or push a button and put it on a credit card. People wouldn’t have to worry about anyone stealing their money or credit card, because they would not be carrying them.
Think about the sequence of how money has evolved. First people had to have the cash with them. This could be inconvenient to carry a lot of it, especially if it was in coins, and it could easily be stolen from you. Then they came up with checks. Banks would keep a certain amount in a back vault, so if someone wrote a check, they could use that money against that check. Now you didn’t have to carry that cash along with you, especially all of those heavy coins. Then last century they came up with the credit card. Now you didn’t even have to write a check. Just let them use the credit card, sign the slip, and you could pay several items at one time later one. You were actually even using someone else’s money. But they charge interest and fees if you are late, and some people don’t like want that. So now we also have the debit card. Now you pass your debit card in the machine, enter your PIN number, and they take the money directly from your bank account. You can spend cash but not have to carry cash with you any more, nor would you be in debt to a credit card company. But debit and credit cards can still be stolen. Identity theft is one of the biggest things being stolen today. Credit and debit cards were implemented by banks. Remember at the beginning of this recession how suspicious the government was of the way banks do business? They implemented several laws putting more control on how banks do certain parts of their business. The government thought that they can do banking better. So in the future, government could implement having everyone have an RFID chip under their skin as a better way to do transactions. After all, many people are used to not spending cash. Instead they prefer to use their credit cards to get their reward points. Nowadays money is just a number in the bank. The government could market this new monetary system as they next logical step. Think about it, since your money information is in your hand, there is no money to steal. For anyone to access it, you would know it because they would have to pass a wand over it. No one could buy or sell anything without this mark, because it is a cashless society. All transactions would require this mark. The Antichrist’s government would not only have control over money transactions, but they would also know exactly where you are and how much you spend by tracking your purchasing items. They will have more control and knowledge about their citizens.
But there is a major catch to having this mark. That is, anyone who gets it will not be able to enter into heaven. We read about this in Rev. 14:9-10 “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” God will take the mark as worshipping the Antichrist. Yes, God wants us to work for an honest living and lovingly support our families. But God is a jealous God, he doesn’t want us worshipping anyone else but Him, let alone worship someone who is against God. So whoever takes this mark will have to face the wrath of God, not just His disapproval or punishment. They will face God’s wrath, poured out at full strength. God can justly do this because people have had a chance to come to know Him and have been warned for centuries about the evil of the 666 system. The Gospel message will have gone throughout the whole world. The Bible is already translated into every major language in the world and several minor languages as well. There are several Christian books, magazines and other literature to point people in the way. The Gospel (good news) is taught at many churches (unfortunately not all), is spread throughout the world on radio stations, (am, fm and shortwave) and through TV. There have even been a few good Christian movies out there. So if someone was searching for God, He could be found. God is not willing that anyone should perish, and He has waited about 2,000 years since the death of Christ, giving mankind a chance to know Him in true salvation. So there will be no excuse.
There will be Christians on the earth during the Tribulation who do not take the mark. The good news is, they will rule and reign with Jesus through the Millennium, which is Christ’s thousand year reign on earth on which there will be peace. The bad news is; that they will have to die for their faith. Rev. 20:4, “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” There will be a great persecution of those who will not worship the Antichrist. Those who do not have the mark will not be able to have a job. They can’t sell anything, nor would they be able to buy any food in the stores. The government will be all powerful, and will not want any opposition. The government will be total in control, and they will have the technology to track most everyone. Like the communist block nations of a few decades ago, they will come against those who are against them with a strong arm.
The False Prophet
The Antichrist will not be the only person coming against the Believers during this time; he will have a helper who is called the False Prophet. Rev 14:11-15 warns us about him; “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” The False Prophet will also look like a person of peace, which is why he will have horns like a lamb. He too will be deceptive in the way he comes to power. He will even be especially deceptive to the Jewish people. This is because the Old Testament prophecies that the prophet Elijah will come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord to lead people back to God (Malachi 4:4-6). Christians know that this passage actually came to fulfillment in the person of John the Baptist, (Mk 9:11-13). But the Jews don’t recognize John the Baptist; they are still expecting Elijah to fulfill this prophecy. One of the miracles that Elijah did was to call down fire from heaven. So when the Jews see the False Prophet calling down fire from heaven, the Jews will naturally see this as being the fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi. Another prophecy they are awaiting fulfillment is Is 40:3; A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. The Jews are still waiting for someone to lead them to the Christ. So when the False Prophet deceives people into believing he is Elijah, he will cause many people to follow the Antichrist, because they will believe that he is the Christ. This will be a very deceptive time. In another passage that directly deals with the Antichrist, or the man of lawlessness, we are told in II Th 2:9-12 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
So the calling down of fire by the False Prophet will not be the only false sign, but there will be several other types of counterfeit miracles and sings as well. God will send a powerful delusion, so that many people will believe these signs and follow the Antichrist and the False Prophet. The Gospel has been spread throughout the earth before Jesus comes back, so everyone has had a chance to know about Jesus. But since they have chosen on their own to reject the truth of the Bible and not accepted Jesus into their lives. Because they have made this choice, God is sending a powerful delusion that they will believe.
Other Countries Mentioned
There are other countries mentioned in the Bible that will be active in the End Times. Some are mentioned by name, like Persia, which is modern day Iran. Others are mentioned by ancient names or by location, like Magog. But by researching these names, scholars have been able to figure out who these nations probably are.
Russia. The Prophet Ezekiel in Chapter 38 talks about Gog, in the land of Magog, that is going to be pulled down into the conflict in the Middle East. Ez 38:2-4, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.” This area is identified by teachers as modern Russia. The scripture says that this nation is being pulled down into the conflict (Ez 39:4); so it looks like they will not be the willful aggressor. But they are going to have reason to go down into the Middle East and will be led into a conflict there. They will lead a coalition of nations to go down into the Middle East and fight against Israel, but this coalition will not include the Revived Roman Empire.
This country used to be the main country in the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), one of the most aggressive and feared countries in the world. Christian teachers could really see how they could be fulfilling End Time prophecies. But the U.S.S.R. collapsed; many of their satellite countries broke away from Russia. It looked for a while that Russia might be trying to become democratic. But their leaders regrouped. They haven’t gone completely back to their old ways, but we see that Russia is back on the rise. A big motivating influence is their current leader, Vladimir Putin, who is an ex KJB officer that is very powerful. He served two terms as President, but term limits stopped him from a third. Nonetheless, a person who was seen as his puppet, Dimitry Medvedev, was installed and made Putin the Prime Minister. During this time, the laws were changed, and to no one’s surprise, Mr. Putin ran again and won in 2012, but this time to a 6 year term. He is seen by many as undemocratic and as pushing the country toward an authoritarian regime.
In October 2009, the New York Times had an article, “Russia’s Leaders See China as Template for Ruling”. It does say that whereas they are not looking to go back to Communism, their leaders do appreciate the Chinese ability to use a one-party system to keep tight control over the country while driving significant economic growth. Russia is currently the world’s largest producer of oil, accounting for 13.28% of the world’s production in 2013. Since they export a large portion of this, it gives them the finances to build up their military more. Even though they are not as strong as they were when they were the U.S.S.R., they are still using their resources to build up their military. They are also modernizing their military. In January 2010 they unveiled their new top secret fighter plane, the PAK FA; it is a fifth generation jet fighter that is stealth.
They don’t have as many countries attached to them that are under their direct influence as the used to in the old U.S.S.R. days, but they are building strong relations among other countries. They are working to get back the influence they use to have in the world. They are not just going after nations that used to be under their influence; instead, they are going to nations in other regions of the world. They are exporting military and nuclear hardware as well as knowledge about these to help build relationships with other nations. Late in 2009 Russia announced that they are also going to help out Venezuela develop nuclear capabilities. In March 2010 it was announced that they are going to build 12 Nuclear Reactors in India, with 6 to be finished by 2017. This means they are making those nations dependent upon them, because if those nations lose Russia as an ally, they will lose the military strength and nuclear knowledge they are gaining. This will also benefit them by having more countries they could lean upon for help if they would go to war. But more importantly for End Times discussion, Russia is also a good ally of Iran. They have been helping Iran to increase their nuclear capabilities and working to stop any sanctions that other nations, like the U.S., want to put on Iran that would try to prevent Iran in growing in nuclear capabilities. Russia is a big reason why Iran has been able to stay such a threat by building more nuclear reactors. Russia has many things set in place to be the nation that Ezekiel prophesied will dragged down into the Middle East during the End Times.
There are two more nations we will be looking at next time: Iran and China. Then we are going to look to see if there is anything mentioned about what is currently regarded as the strongest nation in the world, the United States: to see if our nation could possibly be mentioned.