“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive." John 5:43 NKJV
I have been surprised in the past few years by what many might consider an obsession by some to positively identify the coming world leader most commonly called the antichrist. In many ways, it might seem appropriate given the times in which we live, and the overwhelming evidence which is pointing to the nearness of the rapture of the Church. Many very knowledgeable Bible scholars have suggested that whoever this person is, he is alive and well and more than likely a prominent individual active on the world political stage. Yet I also believe it is a fruitless endeavor to attempt to identify him simply because the Bible makes it clear that his identity will not be positively revealed until he tries to convince the world that he is God.
"Let no one deceive you by any means; for 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 worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV
This event occurs halfway through the seven year tribulation period so the question which should be on everyone’s mind is why is he not recognized before then? I cannot say for certain that this man of sin is who Jesus is referring to in the passage from John, but the fact that this coming world ruler will be not only received with open arms, but embraced as the answer to all the world’s problems should certainly give one pause for thought. There is obviously something about this individual which makes him stand out from the other leaders of the time, and the result is that he will succeed in gathering a following which will propel him to a position of immense power.
"Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?" 2 Thessalonians 2:5 NKJV
The fact that Paul had already taught the believers in this church about the antichrist raises a question many people overlook which is simply this; where did Paul learn about this man of sin? Now you could certainly say that that it was part of the teaching he received from the Holy Spirit, but I would also like to suggest that it might have come from studying the book of Daniel which was readily available to him when he studied as a young man in the synagogue. Remember what Paul said in his own words;
“I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today." Acts 22:3 NKJV
So then does it not make sense that Paul knew what Daniel had written concerning this coming world ruler, and that he used that knowledge to teach the church at Thessalonica? Whether that assumption is true or not, the fact remains that Daniel was the first to give us a detailed description of this individual and of his future attempt to conquer the world. With this in mind I thought we could spend a little time in examining what Daniel told us about him, not to try and identify who he might be but rather with the idea of becoming familiar with what he is like and how he is able to do what he will eventually do.
"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." Daniel 7:8 NKJV
Here Daniel introduces us to this coming man of sin by calling him the “little horn”. In the Bible, a horn is used to signify a strong ruler and in this verse it would seem applicable because the first thing he does is uproot three other horns as he starts to consolidate his power. Most scholars agree that the scenario here is that this leader demonstrates his power by conquering three of the ten kingdoms (plucked up by the roots) and the remaining seven simply capitulate because they believe resistance is futile. Obviously he has an agenda and his intent is for it to culminate in world domination.
I find it curious too that we are given descriptions which not only give insight into his physical appearance but personality as well. Remember we have already found that a horn signifies a strong ruler, yet notice also the passage mentions his eyes and his mouth. Eyes signify intelligence and insight, along with a shrewd and clever personality which can deceive. Also the mouth which can speak “great things” which people will find attractive and believable, but in the end will be misleading and deceitful. Remember his ultimate goal is to rule the entire world, so anything he says or does is to that end.
"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie," 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 NKJV
In the end, after all is said and done, you have to ask yourself why in the world do people accept this man of sin as their leader and embrace him with open arms? Is he really so deceitful that the world is completely taken in by his lies and deception or is something else going on here? A fact sometimes overlooked is that this man of sin somehow manages to rise from whatever position he now holds to the absolute ruler of the entire world in only three and one half years, when he sits in the temple and proclaims himself to be God! Looking at the world as it is today, most if not all would say that the chances of that ever happening are virtually impossible. Yet the Bible tells us it will happen, and many are convinced that it is going to happen very soon.
So just how is it that the coming man of sin is able to accomplish the impossible? I think from what we find in scripture it would be safe to say he has a little help, whether or not he realizes it at the time. Next week we will explore that question, and the answer might not be as simple as you believe.