I remember as a kid growing up hearing people talking about the anti-Christ, trying to figure out who he was and whether or not he was even alive yet. At the time most people seemed to think that it was Henry Kissinger, citing various reasons including one that suggested his name equaled the number 666. Over the year’s people have speculated about who is the anti-Christ. For one reason or another, people have speculated that it was Nero, Hitler, John F Kennedy, Prince Charles, and even Mikhail Gorbachev, just to name a few. In recent years, it has been largely speculated that President Barak Obama is the anti-Christ, a position I have been hesitant to embrace though I believe he’s done a lot to propel us into the waiting arms of an anti-Christian, One World government.
Several years ago I was watching something on TV that looked at some of the leading candidates of our time for being the anti-Christ. One name seemed to pop out at me more than the others because of where this person is from, who he associates with, and his desire to be the foremost world leader with a plan on how to accomplish that. While his name has been in the news from time to time over the years, it hasn’t been until recent weeks that he’s been in the news a lot, and he’s become more aggressive in his attempt to position himself as the world leader he’s envisioned himself becoming. His desire is to unite all the different Muslim groups under his leadership and control, sharing common goals and ambitions, and to create a Muslim caliphate state ran by Sharia law that has not been seen in centuries. His name is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey. Could he be the anti-Christ, or just someone helping to usher him in? I can’t say one way or the other, but what I can say is that he is a viable candidate for the position.
Why am I sharing this with you? Are we supposed to be focusing our attention on who is the anti-Christ, or is our attention supposed to be somewhere else? While I do keep an eye out for the leading candidates to fill that position, I also think it fruitless to focus our attentions on it and try to speculate who that person will be. There are two main reasons why I take that position that I want to share with you.
Listening to some I find that many believe we are already in the tribulation period, the period of time that marks the years the anti-Christ will rule. They see and hear of all the persecution against Christians, the natural disasters and other calamities taking place throughout the world, and their answer to all of it is to say we’re in the tribulation period. This leads to the first of two reasons for my position. In Daniel 9:20-27, we read of the angel Gabriel telling Daniel about a period of 70 weeks. In verse 24 we learn what the purpose of the 70 weeks is for, and in verses 25-26 we learn how the first 69 of those 70 weeks will conclude. In verse 27 we learn about the 70th week, the last week of the 70 weeks Gabriel is talking about, and what will mark its beginning. The beginning of this last of the 70 weeks, a period of time known by Biblical scholars as the 7-year tribulation period, starts off with the anti-Christ confirming a covenant of sorts that includes Israel. This confirming of a covenant is the only sign we are given to identify when the tribulation period will begin, and that has not happened yet. Yes, the times we are living in are tough and brutal, especially for Christians, but it is a result of sinful mankind rebelling against a holy God and His Children. While some of what we see in the area of natural disasters and calamities may be specific and isolated judgments of God, what we are seeing is nothing near the judgments of God that will be poured out upon all mankind alive on earth during those seven years. So, contrary to what some believe, based on the above scripture, we are clearly NOT in the tribulation period at this time.
The second reason for the position I take is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In this passage, specifically verses 3-8, the Apostle Paul mentions the anti-Christ, identified in this passage as the son of perdition, and when he would be revealed. In verse 7 we are told that the anti-Christ is being restrained at this time, and that he will not be revealed until he who restrains is taken out of the way. There is some debate within church circles as to who is being mentioned that is restraining the anti-Christ at this time, debating between the Holy Spirit and the Church. I personally believe it is the Church, especially since we know that we’ve been promised that God would never leave or forsake us. If the Holy Spirit were to leave He would have to take the Church with Him, but if the Church were taken out of the way, the Holy Spirit could still be working here on earth though His role may change since the Bride of Christ is no longer here. With that, I believe Scripture is telling us that the anti-Christ will not be revealed until AFTER the rapture of the Church. If that is the case, then why is it that so many Christians are caught up in this quest of sorts to identify who the anti-Christ is, often times at the neglect of watching and preparing for the return of Christ?
As Christians, we are told to be watching for the return of Christ for us, His Bride, and not for the anti-Christ. We are also told to prepare for Christ’s return, not for the appearance of the anti-Christ. I just saw a video of a woman proclaiming that God had revealed to her in two visions who the anti-Christ will be. While I believe she is well intentioned and sincere in what she believes, I can’t say that I agree with her. First off, we are told by God that the anti-Christ will not be revealed until AFTER the rapture of the Church. Why would God tell us he won’t be revealed until after the rapture, only to reveal to someone who he is before we are even raptured up? That is a contradiction of Scripture, and I choose to listen to Scripture more than someone’s visions. Whenever someone says or proclaims something that clearly contradicts Scripture, we need to align ourselves with Scripture more than their supposed “revelations”. Another reason I take what she says with a grain of sand is because the person she identifies doesn’t match up with Scripture that gives us clues to his identity. We are told in Daniel 9:26 that the anti-Christ will come from the people that destroy the city and His temple, and it is on this basis that we have concluded he is to come from the ancient Roman empire. The person this woman identifies doesn’t come from those who made up the Roman empire, though some have stretched things a lot on the basis that America was once a British colony. Going back to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple of God, which took place in 70 A.D., we see that the Roman empire did lay siege upon Jerusalem and had a part in the destruction of the temple. However, when we take a closer look at the historical accounts by two historians that saw these events first hand, we find that the Roman soldiers that took part in this siege was not primarily made up of natural born Romans. Yes, the leadership were clearly Roman, but the soldiers themselves were primarily Syrians and Arabs, arch enemies and direct neighbors of the Jews. This is another reason why I discount the person this woman identified, and why I mentioned the President of Turkey, understanding that modern Turkey was a part of Syria in 70 A.D. Based on Scripture, the anti-Christ has to come from the middle east, and more specifically the area that made up Syria in that day, which included Turkey and Iraq.
So, if the anti-Christ will not be revealed until after the rapture, why do we need to know who he is? Well, we don’t. God gives us events and details of the last days for a number of different reasons. I believe He gives us this information as part of the signs we are to be watching for to show us how imminent Christ’s imminent return for His Bride is, seeing the final steps taking place for things that will be taking place in the tribulation period. I also believe He gives us this information to validate that He really knows what will take place long before any hint of them becoming reality was ever seen or imagined, and that we can have greater confidence in how things will be in the end. Another reason I believe He shares these things with us, I believe, is more for those who are left behind, giving them information of events to come and what to expect, and to know when and how He is going to finish things off. This information will be a big comfort for those who are left behind.
While it is important for us to be aware of the events of these last days, and to know the signs of His return, it is more important for us to be watching for the return of Jesus for His Bride, and to make sure we are prepared for Him when He arrives for us. Don’t get so caught up trying to identify or speculate who the anti-Christ is, especially since God makes it clear that he will not be revealed until after the rapture of the Church, to the point that you are not actively watching for Jesus and making sure you’re prepared for Him. Jesus is very adamant about us watching and preparing for His return, and gives us no instructions for watching and identifying the anti-Christ. Don’t get caught up in the trap that so many others have fallen into.
John Johansson (Pastor John)