The Final Dictator
February 13th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM
THE FINAL DICTATOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-13-72 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor preparing to bring the morning message from the Book of Daniel. The title of the sermon is The Ultimate, Final Dictator: Satan’s masterpiece, the final Antichrist. There is so much about him here in the Bible that all I am able to do in the brief period of time, such as an hour like this, is to summarize some of the things that the Bible presents concerning him.
Just as a beginning text, in our preaching through the Book of Daniel, we are in the eighth chapter, and in chapter 8, verse 9:
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Pleasant Land—toward Palestine.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him, the daily sacrifice was taken away…
And so it continues for verse after verse.
Then out of the passage that we read together in Revelation 13, “And they worshiped Satan, the dragon,” the serpent, Lucifer, “who gave his power unto the beast,” the Antichrist, the ultimate and final world dictator, “saying, Who is like him, and who could make war against him?” [Revelation 13:4] That presentation in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation is something that Satan has done through all the continuing ages. He uses intermediaries to war against the people of God.
In the garden of Eden, sheltered in Edenic bliss, in innocence, in supernal happiness God placed our first parents; but outside the gate of the garden there is a sinister being. And he uses the serpent to accost the woman. What did that serpent look like? We only know him now, cursed, crawling on his belly, eating dust. But in his unfallen nature, he must have been the most glorious creature God had made. Beautiful, appealing to the woman; he could talk to her. And Satan used the serpent to destroy our first parents [Genesis 3:1-6]. You see that again in the story of Job. When Satan was given permission to afflict Job [Job 1:9-12], [Satan] took Sabeans and destroyed all of his livestock [Job 1:14-16]. And Satan took the Chaldeans and destroyed all of his camels [Job 1:17].
You have that same thing in the story of the betrayal of Jesus. At the Last Supper when [Simon Peter] asked [John] to ask the Lord, “Who is it that betrays You?” the Lord replied, “It is he to whom I shall give the sop.” So He took bread, dipped it in broth, and handed it to Judas. And the Scriptures say, “And Satan entered Judas”; he used Judas to betray the Lord [John 13:23-27]. You have that same intermediary use on the part of Satan in the eleventh chapter of the second Corinthian letter. There Paul says that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. And he sends forth “false apostles,” false emissaries, that he might bring to destruction those who otherwise would embrace the truth [2 Corinthians 11:13-15]. This has been a program of Satan through the ages: he uses people to destroy the saints of God.
But there is no character and there is no personality that appears in all biblical story or human history like the ultimate and final dictator, who is Satan’s masterpiece. He is the great, final Antichrist, the last great, awesome, terrible tyrant who shall rule over this earth. In the second chapter of 1 John [1 John 2:18] and in the fourth chapter of 1 John [1 John 4:2-3], the apostle speaks of many antichrists and of the spirit of Antichrist. But they are all preparatory to the great, final, “the Antichrist.” And there is so much about that final dictator in the Bible.
For example, in the seventh chapter of Daniel and the eighth verse, he is the little horn [Daniel 7:8]. In the story of human history, after the empires and the breaking up of the Roman Empire into the nations of the world, there comes finally, a “little horn” who rules over all mankind. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel and the twenty-seventh verse, he is there: “the great desolater” [Daniel 9:27]. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, he is there: the “abomination of desolation” [Matthew 24:15]. In the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, he is there: the “man of sin,” who presents himself in the temple of God, in the house in Jerusalem, as God Himself [2 Thessalonians 2:3-4]. And in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, he is there, presented as “the beast” [Revelation 13:1-3].
What is he like? In great and meticulous detail—the prophetic descriptions of the beast, of the Antichrist, of the great, final dictator—in great detail the Bible presents his description. In the thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, he says, “I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea” [Revelation 13:1]. That is, he comes out of chaotic, turbulent world conditions when the whole mass of mankind seems to be plunged into irretrievable, irrecoverable, insuperable despair. They are weary of war; they have no answers to their problems. The thing seems insoluble. It is out of the turbulent sea of mankind that he arises, and he arises swiftly and powerfully and gloriously.
This is described here in the Bible, “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard” [Revelation 13:2]. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel; that describes Alexander the Great [Daniel 7:6], and it refers to the quickness, the swiftness, the alacrity with which he conquered the world. This great final dictator will be like a leopard, like Alexander the Great. He will suddenly rise and will conquer the whole earth! [Daniel 7:6; Revelation 13:2]. He is like a bear. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, the bear refers to Cyrus and the Medo-Persian Empire. The bear with great strength, he is invincible in his conquest [Daniel 7:5]. And he is like a lion [Daniel 7:4; Revelation 13:2]. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, again, the lion represented the golden kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 7:4]. And this final dictator will be regal in his demeanor, in his stature, in the way he walks, in the way he carries his head, in all of his gestures and life. He will be the king! And the Scriptures say this lion-like man, wounded unto death, but miraculously recovered—the whole world will wonder after him. And the dragon, the Satan, Lucifer will give unto him his power, his throne and his authority; the glory of the whole world will be placed in his hands [Revelation 13:2-4].
In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, do you remember, that Satan offered the kingdoms of the world and their glory to Jesus, if He would bow down and worship him? [Matthew 4:8-10]. What Jesus refused, this ultimate and final dictator shall accept. The glory of the kingdoms of the world will be placed in his hands [Daniel 7:23]. Now, the reason for such a thing is very obvious. When the world is in turmoil, men turn in any direction for an answer and for a solution.
I would hardly have believed that, had I not lived to see the rise of Hitler. In those days, the German people was one of the great cultured peoples of the world. If a man sought a degree in a university, especially an especial degree, studying in a field separate and unique, he went to a university in Germany. They were a cultured, educated, civilized people. But they were also depressed. They lived in poverty and shame after World War I, and in their necessity and need, Hitler came and promised them victory, a place in the sun, the super race with supermen. And to the astonishment of the world, Hitler became the absolute Führer of Germany!
That is the kind of a thing that will happen at the end time. As the world becomes more turbulent and involved, and finally plunged into terrible, indescribable war, they will turn to anybody who will promise peace and unity and prosperity. The Pax Romana was not something nearly so much as forced on the civilized world in the days of the Caesars, as it was something that the nations of the civilized world accepted themselves. For example, the Attalid kings of Pergamum gave the Attalid Empire to Rome, gave it to the Caesars, because they saw no other way out for security and defense. Now, just another Pax Romana, the Bible says, will obtain when the great dictator comes. He comes in the sixth chapter of the Revelation, riding on a white horse, and the whole world bows before him [Revelation 6:2]. It is in such turmoil and such agony, such bloodshed and war, that they seek somebody who can bring a way out, a way out.
I think of that in the world today. I just wonder, if these processes now continue that we are watching in our newspapers and in our daily magazines, what is the ultimate outcome? To what does it lead? On the radio this morning, I listened to the broadcaster as he described the agony of England. And from every side the newscaster said, “Prime Minister Heath is being assailed and attacked.” There are hardly answers. They are shutting down the light plants. The whole nation is being plunged into distress. You haven’t seen in your lifetime the sorrow of a nation, such as you read in Ulster, the five counties of Northern Ireland.
What would you say of the outcome of the turbulent situation in which the great powers are involved in the Middle East, and now in the Indian Ocean? And what would you say is the ultimate answer to be found in the great, moving monster, the red dragon of China and all of southeast Asia? And as though this were not enough, I heard a newscast this morning in which the man was describing the lengths to which some of the organized groups in America are going to turn to make this nation a veritable caldron against President Nixon, as the coming election approaches. It is out—and the Book says here—it is out of the sea of turmoil, and trouble, and trial, and tribulation, and terror that he arises [Revelation 13:1]. And he comes as the answer to all of the problems of mankind. In the days of the French Revolution, their watchword was “liberty, fraternity, and equality.” This man, this ultimate, final Antichrist and dictator will come with the watchwords of “peace, and unity, and prosperity” [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. And the whole world will receive him as a way out, an answer to the problems of mankind [Revelation 13:16].
Now the Bible begins in great detail to describe what happens. For the first part of Daniel’s seventieth week, described in [Daniel 9:26-27], for the first part of Daniel’s seventieth week, he is indeed all that he promised to be [Daniel 9:27]. He gives to the Jews their homeland. He makes a covenant with the Jewish nation. He’s their defender, benefactor, and protector. And he brings unity and prosperity and peace to the earth. Then suddenly, as the Book of Daniel describes, then suddenly he changes, he turns. He is something else; he is a fright, he is a fury, he is a terror [Daniel 9:27]. Now the Bible is written from the standpoint of God’s chosen people, the Jew. And Daniel describes in detail how, in the midst of that seventieth week, that this ultimate dictator, this final Antichrist, breaks the covenant with the people of God, and he turns into a fiend and a persecutor; he plunges the entire earth into war [Daniel 9:27].
First, in the sixth chapter of the Revelation, he comes riding a white horse [Revelation 6:2], the great, marvelous answer to humanity’s need, to governmental necessity. Then, he is followed by a red horse of war and a black horse of famine and a pale horse of death! [Revelation 6:4-8]. The whole earth is plunged into a maelstrom of blood, leading up, of course, to the battle of Armageddon. And in the trying, troublous tribulation—that’s what the Bible calls it, “the great tribulation” [Matthew 24:21]. In those trying days, there is persecution of the Jew unexcelled and unparalleled [Matthew 24:21]. Here is something else that you find in the Bible, repeated again and again and again. Over and over again, the Bible says that as the end time approaches, as the great consummation of history draws nigh, it says that the Jew will suffer unparalleled trouble and persecution [Matthew 24:21].
For example, here in the [thirtieth] chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, he is describing those awesome days, and he uses it in a picture, in a sentence that is overwhelming. He says it will be as if every man has his hands on his loins in travail as a woman, and in paleness and pain [Jeremiah 30:6]. Can you imagine a whole people, every man in it as though he were giving birth to a child? And in pain and in agony and in suffering? And he says, “Alas! for that day . . . it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble” [Jeremiah 30:7]. This is just one passage out of a multitude that depict, toward the end time, Israel will find itself in unparalleled trouble and sorrow and persecution.
Now, the Bible no less says that about the Christian faith. My dear people, there is no such thing as persecuting the Jew until, just a little later, you find that same bitterness and venom poured out toward the people of Christ. There is no exception to that. Don’t you ever think otherwise! If the Arab hates the Jew, give him time, he’ll hate the Christian. If the Mohammedan hates the Jew, give him time, he’ll hate the Christian. If the Islamic world despises the Jew, the Islamic world will despise the Christian. If Egypt is an enemy of the Jew, he is also an enemy of the Christian and an enemy of America. There is no such thing as persecution of the Jew without also persecution of the Christian.
And that’s why in the seventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation, you have the description of the great tribulation. There, it is mostly described concerning the people of Christ. And they are so innumerable who have suffered under the iron hand of that final dictator until John says, when he saw them, he could not count their number, they were so many [Revelation 7:9]. Our Lord says that, “were it not that those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved.” Then He added, “But for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” [Matthew 24:22]. They are in biblical prophecy, whatever that means. They are one-half of Daniel’s seventieth week [Daniel 9:27]; forty-two months; 1,260 days; time, times and a dividing of time [Daniel 7:25; Revelation 11:2-3]. It will not last forever. But those awful, awesome days of horror and tribulation under earth’s final dictator will find an answer in the intervention of Christ from heaven at the battle of Armageddon, which is fully described in the ninth chapter [Revelation 9:13-20], the fourteenth chapter [Revelation 14:14-20], and the nineteenth chapter of the Apocalypse [Revelation 19:11-21].
Now here in the Book of Daniel, let me take a large section and summarize it. In the Book of Daniel, in chapter 8, verses 9 through 14, and again in verses 23 through 25 [Daniel 8:9-14, 23-25], and then again in chapter 11, verses 21 through 26, and in verses 36 to the end [Daniel 11:21-26, 36-45], you have the description of the Antichrist himself. But in the two passages I referred to, Daniel 11:21-35, you have a detailed description. In minute detail, you have a detailed description of the prototype of this final dictator. The description in Daniel, in chapter 8 and in chapter 11, the description concerns Antiochus Epiphanes [Daniel 8:9-12; 11:21-35]. Now this is a tragic era of persecution in the life of Israel that was fulfilled years ago, but it is presented in the Bible in meticulous detail because Antiochus is a prototype, a picture of the great final Antichrist.
What is Antichrist like? What does he do? You will find it in Antiochus Epiphanes. More than any other human who ever lived, more than even Judas himself, is Antiochus Epiphanes presented in the Bible as a prototype, a picture of the final dictator who shall rule over this world. Antiochus Epiphanes actually is Antiochus IV. He was the eighth in the long line of the Seleucids who governed Syria, who built their capital at Antioch, named by Seleucus I in honor of his father. He reigned from about 175 BC to about 163. What is he like? For what he is like is what the ultimate dictator is going to be like.
Now, let me say two things about him, among a multitude that are presented. One: he is inordinately proud and lifted up and ambitious. He is Satan’s true copy. He is Satan’s true incarnation. He is Satan’s true instrument; just a prototype of the final dictator.
For example, when Antiochus came to reign, he coined the money of the realm of the kingdom, and he wrote on his coins: Theos Antiochus, Theos Epiphanes; “Antiochus, God manifest.” I don’t need to stagger that such a thing will be. According to the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, this final dictator presents himself as God manifest, Theos Epiphanes [2 Thessalonians 2:4]. I don’t have to stagger at that because I read that in human story. This is what these men are like. This is what these men do. That is the spirit of Hitler. It is the spirit of any great dictator. And he has that spirit: proud, lifted up, regal, lion-like.
Second thing about him: he is given to bitter and intractable persecution. Down in Egypt, when Antiochus was on his way to the conquering of the world, he was stopped by Rome. And in fury and frustration, he turned his forces away from Egypt and back up through the maritime border of the Mediterranean. Then to vent his anger, he took his army to Jerusalem and sacked it. He killed eighty thousand men, women, and children. He sold forty thousand of them into slavery, and he plundered the temple, even taking the golden altar of incense that stood before the inner veil. Then he decided to extirpate and to destroy the Jewish religion forever and to substitute for it, Greek worship and Greek culture. He took the temple at Jerusalem and dedicated it to Jupiter Olympus. He took a sow and offered it on the great, brazen altar and took the juice of it and spread it all over the temple and over the sacred vessels. In that way, he defiled everything in the eyes of a Mosaic Jew.
He forbade the Jewish festivals and feasts. Instead of Tabernacles or Passover or Pentecost, they celebrated in the temple the Bacchanalia, worshiping Bacchus, the god of pleasure and wine, and the Saturnalia, worshiping Saturn, and used harlots in the temple itself for those feast days. He forbade the observance of the Sabbath. He forbade the reading of the Scriptures and burned them. He forbade the institution of circumcision. There were two mothers who circumcised their babies. They took those two babies, slew them, hung each one around its mother’s neck, drove the woman through the streets of Jerusalem up to the highest wall, and flung them headlong to death beneath.
In 2 Maccabees, as in Josephus, you have the dramatic story of a mother with seven sons. First, they cut out the tongues of the seven boys. Then, before the mother’s eyes, they fried those boys to death, one at a time in frying pans heated, and last of all murdered the mother. This is just somewhat of the long story of the agony of Israel under Antiochus Epiphanes, the prototype of the great suffering and persecution yet to come under the earth’s final dictator.
Now in those days there was a priest at Modi’in, a town just outside of Jerusalem. There was a priest at Modi’in named Mattathias, and he grieved over the sorrow of his people. And Mattathias had five boys: John, and Simon, and Judas, and Eleazar, and Jonathan. And upon a time when an emissary from Antiochus came to Modi’in to make the Jews there bow before the altar of Jupiter, a Jew came to worship. And when Mattathias saw him, the aged priest, like Moses in Egypt [Exodus 2:11-12], slew him and slew the officer, and the Maccabean revolt was on.
Mattathias died soon after that, being an aged man. And he gave the torch of liberty and revolution to Judas, his third son. And Judas carried it to victory. And thereafter in the story, as each boy was slain, the other boy picked up the torch, all five of them carried it on. And in 164 BC Judas Maccabeus, “Judas the Hammer”—like Charles Martel, who turned back the Mohammedans, the Saracens, in 722 AD, in Tours, France, had it not been for that all Europe and possibly we might have been Islamic: Charles Martel, “Charles the Hammer”—Judas Maccabeus, “Judas the Hammer” in 164 BC, Judas won a victory over Antiochus and independence for his people Israel.
The first thing they did was to reconsecrate and to rededicate the house of God. It lasted eight days, and tradition says that when Judas Maccabeus sought for a cruse of oil, he could find just one small cruse—enough to last for one day. But he took the oil, lit the little lamp, and it burned steadily for eight days. That was the twenty-fifth of Kislev, our December. And for eight days, the Jewish people celebrated that feast of reconsecration and dedication. It meant more to them than the dedication of the Solomonic temple itself. They call that today, the Feast of Hanukkah. And on the first day they light a candle, and the second day a second one, until finally, in the eight days there are eight candles burning. It is a sign of victory and deliverance and dedication; the Feast of Lights [John 10:22].
And, in God’s Holy Word, is it strange that it is at that feast itself, the Feast of Lights, the Feast of Hanukkah, that our Lord is standing on Solomon’s porch in Jerusalem? [John 10:23]. And He says three things in John 8 and 9 that come out of that feast. First: it was the feast of deliverance, of victory, and assurance. It gave God’s people back God’s house and God’s land. The promises to Abraham and Jacob were confirmed to the people forever. And that was a sign and a pledge. And at that feast, the Lord said to us, “I give unto My people eternal life; and they shall never perish” [John 10:28]. It is a feast of deliverance and victory and assurance.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no never forsake.
[“How Firm a Foundation,” Rippon]
A feast of deliverance, assurance, and victory: we shall not lose this war. We shall win it. God will crown us with ultimate and final victory.
Second: it is a feast of lights. And upon that occasion Jesus stood and said, “I am the light of the world” [John 8:12]. They who sat in darkness have seen a great light [Matthew 4:16]. And we who do sit in the shadow of the valley of death, upon us light has shined, for He hath brought life and immortality to light [2 Timothy 1:10]. There’s no victory in the grave or in death, for Christ has won that victory for us [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. It is a feast of light, and in the gloom and the darkness of death, there do we see the glorious light and the promise of Christ shining forever.
Last: it is a feast of dedication. In the story that gave the introduction to His Word, “I am the light of the world” [John 9:5], the story is the healing of a blind man [John 9:1-7]. And they cast him out because of his words of witness to Christ [John 9:13-34]. When the Lord heard that they cast him out, He found him, and the Lord, finding him, said to him, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” And the man who had been born blind said, “I do not know Him, Lord, that I might believe on Him. Who is He? Where is He?” And the Savior replied, “Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that speaketh unto thee.” And the man who was healed, fell at the feet of Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him [John 9:35-38]. It is a dedication. It is a commitment. It is a worship. It is a belief. It is an acceptance. It is a trust. It is a giving of one’s soul and heart and life in faith and in hope, in life and in death, in youth and in age, in time and eternity to the blessed Jesus [Romans 10:9-12].
And that’s our appeal to you today, to accept the Lord for all that He said He was: a Deliverer, a Conqueror, a Prince, a Savior, a forgiver of sins, a seeing us through, a preserving us, a keeping us—to accept the Lord for all that He said He is, to trust Him, and to give your heart and life to Him, today, would you make that open and public, unashamed? “I stand before men and angels to confess my faith in the Lord.” In the balcony, you; on the lower floor, somebody you, trusting Jesus, accepting Him for all that He has promised to be, “Here I come and here I am.” A couple you, or a family you, or just one somebody you, to put your life in the fellowship of the church, on the first note of this first stanza, come. Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment, when we stand up to sing, stand up, coming down that aisle, “Here I am, pastor, I answer with my life.” On the first note of the first stanza, come, while we stand and while we sing.