The Coming Antichrist *
* From CHRISTIANITY AND ANTI-CHRISTIANITY IN THEIR FINAL CONFLICT.
S. J. ANDREWS
In the lower stages of civilization, and in the highest, individual men exert the greatest influence over their fellows, and become leaders. In a well organized society, where all is fitly framed together by joints and bands [together with the religious sects and social divisions], every man is kept in his place and limited in his action; and his personality, however marked, is comparatively of little importance. The strong and the ambitious thus restrained can render to the State better service through their greater energy [influence and acquired wealth]. But in uncivilized communities where no such restraints exist, personal qualities find their full scope, and mark out the chiefs; and if there be one superior to the rest, he [or she] becomes the all but absolute [recognized authority and] leader. The same is true also of the civilized community when it reaches its last stage - the social-democratic.
When laws and institutions are no longer reverenced as having religious sanction, when through continual changes they have no root in the traditions or love of the people, when rulers by popular election prove themselves incapable, when no surety or stability of [just] legislation exists, and all are uncertain and anxious as to the future then there arises [and will arise] a general cry for a man. In the general disintegration it is only about a man that men can rally, not about abstract principles or written constitutions. All [will] cry for one, with a clear brain, inflexible will, and a strong arm, [who] can serve as a centre of unity, and bring order out of confusion.
THE CRY FOR A MAN
It is at the time of the end of this evil age], when all elements, good and bad, are struggling together to the death, that this cry for the man becomes loudest; for all feel what is expressed by Carlyle, that there is no other remedy for whatsoever goes wrong. There is but one man fraught with blessings to the world, and fated to diminish and successively abolish the curses of the world. For him make search, him reverence and follow; know that to find or miss him means victory or defeat for you. And as he is to be sought for, so he is, when found, to be obeyed and worshipped. He is above thee, like a god. He is thy born king, thy conqueror, and thy supreme law-giver. To the primitive man the noble human soul was Divine, demanding worship. Human worship everywhere, so far as there lay any worth in it, was of the nature of hero-worship. Hero-worship is the summary ultimate essence and supreme perfection of all matter of worship.
This sense of the importance of the man, as emphasized by Carlyle, is wholly in accord with his pantheistic philosophy. As humanity is Divine, he in whom is its highest measure is the Divine man, the guide, leader, and ruler of all. And as there must be somewhere in the world such a man, one above all others, unless we suppose two or more exactly equal, he is to be sought out, and exalted to his true place, and obeyed and worshipped. Before him, when he shall appear, Carlyle, and all Pantheists, must bow down, and yield him submission, burning, boundless. He will be to them like a god, a born king, a conqueror, and supreme law-giver. Who does not see in the Divine man of the Pantheists all the features of the Antichrist?
THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD
But the political supremacy of the Antichrist is not to be explained by the extraordinary personality, and the tendencies of the times alone. There is, also, an invisible Power, of whom we know only through revelation, he whom the Lord called the prince of this world. It is as invested with his authority, and endowed by him with superhuman powers, that the Antichrist rules. We read in the Revelation (13: 2) that the dragon gave the beast his power, and his throne, and his great authority. And the Apostle Paul says that the coming of the Lawless One is according to the working of Satan with all power, and signs, and lying wonders!
It need not be said that, as the prince of this world, and as playing a most important part in human history, Satan lives no longer in the faith of many. How far the belief in his existence continues in Christendom, it is not easy to say; multitudes, doubtless, reject it as an idle superstition; and all the tendencies of modern thought run in this direction.
But if the existence of Satan and his power in the earth are a reality, it is more than folly to ignore them. To those who receive the Scriptures in their obvious meaning,* and the [prophetical] teachings of the Church [and its Messiah and Saviour], a kingdom of darkness, of which the he is the head, is a reality. There are invisible powers who set themselves against God in all He would do for men; and who have control over men in proportion as they voluntarily yield themselves to their temptations. Against them mere unbelief is no safeguard; an incredulous and scoffing [apostate and evil] age is most easily befooled.
[* Anti-millennialists take note.]
The Lord was tempted by the proffer of all the kingdoms of the world if He would pay homage to the tempter, and He refused with abhorrence. But Satan finds at least one who will willingly accept what he would give, and to whom he can transfer his throne and great authority. Many of the Christian Fathers depicted this man as a monster, repellent in person, and stained with every vice. But we have seen ground to believe that the world will see in him one who represents in fullest measure its conception of human perfectibility; one worthy to be the leader of men, and their ruler.
A NEW RELIGION
By what successive steps Antichrist will attain to supreme power, it is not for us to say. But it is obvious that, as the son of his time, he must represent its beliefs, its needs, its aspirations. There must be a community of feeling between him and those who first gather round him. If the Antichristian spirit is already widely prevalent, he will at once find many who will be his helpers, and instruments in his further plans. Later, he may use force, as did Mohammed, and destroy all who will not submit to him. But it is contrary to the light which Revelation gives us to suppose that his career is one of uninterrupted success. On the contrary, we seem to be taught that he early receives a check through the testimony of men inspired by God, symbolized by the Two Witnesses (Rev. 11: 3), who make known to the Church [and Israel of] his true character and aims, and thus recall to their Christian [and Messianic] faith many who had been deceived by him. At this time he is said in symbolic language to go down into the abyss, his power for a time obscured, and the nations bewildered in dark forebodings. But from this [position] he soon emerges, full of satanic energy; and now [near the end of his career] crushes all opposition, and puts himself at the head of the nations.
In this rise of the Antichrist into power, the world at large will, we may believe, see nothing supernatural, nothing wholly new to human experience. History records many instances of men who, appearing as the representatives of new beliefs, new principles, new institutions, have ever overthrown the old, and attained dominion. What is necessary is that the old should have lost its hold upon many minds as outworn, and that the new seems better fitted to their needs. To this must be added the gift of leadership, the faculty of command. We might take from history many illustrations.
diffusion of Christianity through the Roman Empire, and the decadence of
Paganism, gave to
It is thus very possible that Christendom may see in the growing political ascendancy of the Antichrist nothing that shows the hand of God in judgment, or any power of Satan; only the supremacy of the boldest, and strongest, and [secularly] wisest. Those alone who believe the Revealed Word, and seek in the light of the [Holy] Spirit [and His teachings] to discern the signs of the times, will see that he is the predicted one to whom Satan gives his throne, and whom God uses as His rod to punish His disobedient people*; others will see in his rule over the nations no more than their voluntary acceptance of him on the ground of his greater ability to further the general well-being. Not till the last stage of his career will his satanic character be fully revealed, and the Christians who have followed him turn back to their true Lord.
[* See The Rod: Will God Spare It? on this website.]
HEAD OF THE NATIONS
Considering the movements and tendencies of the time, democratic, socialist, anarchistic, cosmopolitical, we find no difficulty in understanding how there may be a federation of States under one head, realizing the prediction of the Revelation of the union of the Ten Kings and Beast. That these Kings act together in their persecution of the apostate Church, and give their Kingdom unto the Beast, till the words of God shall be fulfilled, is expressly ascribed to His own action upon them: For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil His will (Rev. 17: 16, 17).
We may see this union of the rulers of Christendom against Christ the final fulfilment of the predictions of the Second Psalm. Why do the nations rage (tumultuously assemble), and the peoples imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us (R.V.).
It is not a rebellion of the kings and rulers only against God and His Anointed King, but of the nations and peoples of Christendom. No longer will they be in subjection to any Divine rule. All laws and ordinances having Christs name will be cast away. And the ground of this general rebellion is the deep hatred of the doctrine of human sinfulness, of which the cross is the symbol. This hatred becomes more and more intense as humanity seems to be ascending higher and higher in [secular] knowledge and power and goodness, and indefinite progress is open before it.
The boasting of its great representative meets on all sides a welcome response: I will ascend into heaven: I will exalt my throne above the stars of God I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (Isa. 14: 13, 14). But He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. His King is the Lowly One who humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto the death of the cross; and now exalted to the Fathers right hand, is the King of kings and Lord of lords; before whom every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
The spirit of expectancy among the people of God is a sign of the times that should not be overlooked. Doubtless there have, throughout past generations, always been some who have said in their hearts, Come, Lord Jesus; but at the present time, in all lands, there are those who earnestly desire that the coming manifested glory of the Lord Jesus may be revealed. While some may be actuated by a longing to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, others assuredly are saying Come with the definite conviction that the next Advent of Messiah Jesus will bring to Him enhanced glory upon this sin-cursed earth, and the warm affections from all those whom NOT HAVING SEEN IN BODILY FORM THEY NOW LOVE AND OBEY. In a word, the prayer is not a mere selfish wish, but a pleading for earnest devotion from all within the Church, for faith and expectation of unfulfilled prophecies to be literally established by Him after His Advent.
The prayer for this future salvation of souls, and the glories that should follow (1 Pet. 1: 9, 11. R.V.) - is reference to the time of millennial blessings in harmony with the revealed purposes of God. It is in words which the Holy Spirit teaches us; and it is a prayer will assuredly one Day be answered, (2 Pet. 2: 8). The LORD WILL COME; He will receive His people unto Himself, and give them work to do in His MILLENNIAL and MESSIANIC Kingdom (Rev. 2: 27; Luke 22: 29, 30). They will reign with Him, by ever giving Him all glory and praise of things in heaven and of things upon this redeemed earth.
Behold, I come quickly; and my REWARD is with me, to render to each man according as his work is. (Rev. 22: 12, R.V.). I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man TAKE THY CROWN (Rev. 3: 11, R.V.). He that overcometh, I will - (for that time is yet future) - give to him to sit down with me IN MY THRONE, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith TO THE CHURCHES (Rev. 3: 21, 22, R.V.).