The Final Dictator
February 13th, 1972 @ 8:15 AM
THE WORLD’S FINAL ULTIMATE DICTATOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-13-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The World’s Final Ultimate Dictator; the antichrist, Satan’s masterpiece.
Before I read the text and ask God to help me as I deliver the message, could I say a word about our service tonight? At 7:30 o’clock the pastor will be preaching on that blessed hope. In our preaching through the Book of John, the Gospel of John in the evening, we are in the fourteenth chapter. And in that chapter Jesus said to His sorrowing apostles, "If I go away, I will come again" [John 14:3]. And in Titus 2:13 the apostle Paul called that promise the blessed hope. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." It is a message on the return of our Lord. And come praying and God will pour out His abounding, saving Spirit of grace and goodness upon it.
Now, at these services we are preaching through the Book of Daniel and we are in the eighth chapter. And in the seventh chapter, in the eighth chapter, in the ninth chapter and in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, there is presented this awesome and awful tyrant that some day shall be dictator over the whole world. And I read a part out of the eighth chapter of Daniel, beginning at verse 8. The empire of Alexander is broken up and out of one of the parts into which that empire was broken,
There 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 the place of the sanctuary was cast down.
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.
And so continues this prophecy in the Book of Daniel.
There is so much in the Bible about this ultimate and final dictator that the message this morning will be largely a brief summary of some of these things that are prophesied in the Bible about the end of the age and how it will close.
First of all, may we realize that through the ages Satan uses intermediaries in order to make attack against the people of God? In the garden of Eden, where the Lord placed the first man and his wife, outside the gate there is a sinister being. And he uses the serpent. What was the serpent like before he was cursed? He could talk to the woman. He was appealing to the woman. We know him only as he crawls on his belly and eats the dust of the ground. But the serpent must have been originally a beautiful creation of God. And Satan used him to tempt and to destroy our first parents [Genesis 3:1-6].
You see that again in the story of Job. Satan in his attack against Job, Satan used the Sabean to destroy all of Job’s livestock [Job 1:12-15], and he used the Chaldeans to destroy Job’s camels [Job 1:17]. Satan using intermediaries in his war against the saints and the people of God. You see that in Judas in the story of the Lord’s Supper when John asked Simon Peter to ask the Lord, "Who is it that is to betray You?" The Lord replied, "It is he to whom I give this sop." And He took bread and dipped it in the broth and gave it to Judas. Then the Scriptures say immediately Satan entered Judas [John 13:24-27]. Satan using intermediaries. You have that again in the eleventh chapter of the 2 Corinthian letter where the apostle says that Satan transforming himself into an angel of light sends forth his messengers of falsehood to deceive God’s people by false prophets [2 Corinthians 11:13-15].
But out of all of the intermediaries Satan has ever used to the war against the people of the Lord, there is none that rivals his ultimate and final masterpiece; the dictator of the world, the antichrist, earth’s last and awesome ruler.
In 1 John 2, he speaks of many antichrists [1 John 2:18], and in 1 John 4 he speaks of the spirit of antichrist [1 John 4:3]. But all of these are but preludes and preparations for the great and final antichrist that shall in terror preside over the power, political, economic, military, the power of the whole world.
There is so much in the Bible about him. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse 8, he is described [Daniel 7:8]. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse 27, he is described [Daniel 9:27]. In the second chapter of the Thessalonian letter he is described. There he is called the man of sin who sits in the temple of God and says that he is God [2 Thessalonians 2:3-4]. In the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation he is described and this is the passage that you read this morning [Revelation 13:1-3].
Let us look at the prophetic description of this ultimate and final dictator who shall be ruler of the world when the Lord intervenes in human history.
The apostle John writes in the Revelation in chapter 13, "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea" [Revelation 13:1]. That is he comes out of a world of chaos and ruin. The sea, the troubled sea in the Bible is always a picture and a type of peoples and nations in chaos. He arises out of the great chaotic turmoil of the nations of the world. And then he is described, he is like a leopard [Revelation 13:2]. That is his conquest will be swift and quick.
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel the leopard is a type of Alexander the Great [Daniel 7:6], who conquered the whole world in practically no time. He is like a leopard. He is like a bear. In the seventh chapter of Daniel the bear is a picture of Cyrus the Great, a picture of strength and power [Daniel 7:5]. And he is like a lion. In the seventh chapter of Daniel, the lion was a picture of Nebuchadnezzar and his golden kingdom [Daniel 7:4].
This dictator then is first like a leopard [Daniel 7:6]. His rise to power will be swift and immediate. In a world of chaos and turmoil he comes promising peace, and victory, and unity, and prosperity. It will be another Pax Romana, a universal Roman peace.
When we look back on the story of the Roman Empire, it was with great willingness that the rulers of many of those provinces looked to Rome. They saw in Rome strength and security. For example, the Attalid rulers of the kingdom of Pergamum gave their country to Rome, anything to promote peace and prosperity. That shall be the condition at the end of the world. The whole world will be in turmoil, in chaos. And the world will willingly accept this dictator who promises peace, unity, and prosperity [Revelation 13:2-4].
You remember those words in the French Revolution? "Liberty, fraternity, and equality." It will be like that in the chaotic conditions at the end of the world. And this man comes promising peace, and unity, and prosperity. He will be like a leopard, quick in his conquest.
He is described in the sixth chapter of the Revelation as riding a white horse [Revelation 6:2].
He is also described as a bear [Daniel 7:5, Revelation 13:2]. His power will be almost absolute. He will be strong in himself and in his government. And he is described as a lion [Daniel 7:5, Revelation 13:2]. He is regal, both in personal appearance, in the way he walks and talks and looks, the very way he holds his head, his statue, his being, his presence. He will be regal. Says here that he will be wounded unto death and will recover from the mortal wound [Revelation 13:3]. The whole world will follow him, the Book says, in astonishment and amazement [Revelation 13:8]. He will be regal. He is like a lion.
In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Satan offered to Christ all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And what Christ refused [Matthew 4:8-10], this ultimate dictator accepts. It says here in the thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse that the dragon, Satan, gives to this ultimate dictator his authority and power [Revelation 13:5]. What Christ refused, this dictator accepts; the glory and power and authority of the whole world.
Then in the midst of that seventieth week of Daniel, described in the ninth chapter of his prophecy – and the Bible is written from the standpoint of the chosen people, and Daniel prophesied from the standpoint of the Jewish people – in the midst of that seventieth week, this dictator who came promising peace and unity and prosperity to the world, this dictator suddenly changes. He suddenly turns and he becomes a fury and a terror [Daniel 9:27].
First of all, he promised a homeland for the Jews and to restore the Jews to the homeland. And in that temple he helps rebuild, and in the whole life of the Jewish people, he is their friend and compatriot. But in the midst of that final seventieth week, he suddenly turns. He breaks his compact with the Jewish people and becomes a fury [Daniel 9:27].
In the sixth chapter of the Revelation, having come in on the white horse of peace and prosperity, suddenly the whole world is plunged into blood and into war [Revelation 6:2]. For the white horse is followed by the red horse of war, and by the black horse of famine, and by the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:2-8]. And he becomes an awesome persecutor. He seeks to annihilate the people of God [Revelation 6:9-10].
And there is never a time when the Jewish people are persecuted. But in the development of the days, the Christian people are also persecuted. There is no exception to that. If Hitler hates the Jew, give him time and he will hate the Christian. If the Arab hates the Jew, give him time and he will hate the Christian. If the Mohammedan hates the Jew, give him time and he will hate the Christian. There is no such thing as persecution of the Jew and not also the persecution of the Christian. So it is in the days of the prophetic description of this ultimate and final dictator [Revelation 13:7]. He turns in fury against the Jew, and in the seventh chapter of the book of the Apocalypse you have the description of the awesome persecution against the Christian. The Jew and the Christian are there plunged into what the Bible calls the great tribulation. And there are so many who are slain in that awesome time until John says looking at their number they were innumerable [Revelation 7:9-14]. The time of that tribulation, again, is spoken of so often in the Bible.
For example, in Jeremiah 30 these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and Judah, "We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace" [Jeremiah 30:5]. Then he says, "It will be as you saw a man putting his hands on his loins, as though he were a woman in travail, and all faces turn into paleness" [Jeremiah 30:6]. It will be such a horror of fear and persecution, as if the men were in travail giving birth to children. "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble" [Jeremiah 30:7]. And that’s the most expressive description of that tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble.
And our only hope in that awesome day lies in its brevity. It will last forty-two months, one thousand two hundred sixty days: a time and times and half a time [Daniel 7:25]. And as the Lord said in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: "Except those days were shortened, there would no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened" [Matthew 24:22].
Now may I pause here to say what I read in the daily newspapers, and what I read in the articles in the magazine, and what I hear over radio confirms that this whole world is moving toward that vast chaotic condition.
In the radio this morning the newscaster from England said that Prime Minister Heath is finding himself unable to cope with the terrible unrest in Great Britain. The situation in Ireland is indescribable. The situation in the Middle East is coming more and more to a final confrontation. The situation in the Far East is becoming increasingly volative. And I heard on the radio this morning, the plans that are being made to defeat President Nixon on the part of those who oppose and hate our president are almost unbelievable and unthinkable.
The Bible says these things will continue until finally out of this world’s chaotic condition there will arise this final and ultimate masterpiece of Satan, who is the earth’s final and last and awesome dictator [2 Thessalonians 2:8-9; Daniel 8:9-12].
Isn’t that something, how people are? Reading the Bible and the prophecies of these things, I would by nature look at them askance had I not live through the rise of Hitler. Can you imagine a nation as educated, as academically advanced, as cultured as are the German people? And in those days they were the most cultured of all the people in the world. If anybody went to a great university, he went to a university in Germany. They were known throughout civilization for their tremendous intellectual prowess and advancement. And yet the German people willingly yielded their citizenship, their sovereignty, their basic rights, their humanitarian sensibilities, they yielded them into the hands of Hitler because the German nation had been plunged into such poverty and chaos after the First World War.
People are like that when they are weary of war and bloodshed, when they don’t see any way out. They willingly give themselves to the leadership of a dictator who promises every answer, a solution for every problem. And that is exactly what God’s Book says will happen to the world.
Now here in the Book of Daniel, in the eighth chapter, there is a long passage concerning a prototype of that final dictator. It is Daniel 8:9-14. Then in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel there is another long passage concerning a prototype of that final dictator. It is Daniel 11:21-35. Then in Daniel 11, verses 36 to the end of the chapter, you have a description of the final dictator himself [Daniel 11:36-45].
Now we are going to take a few minutes, and then I have to close, with a look at that prototype of the final dictator. What will that final dictator be like? What will he do? How will he act? You have an exact prototype of that final dictator according to the Word of God, in these passages in Daniel 9 and Daniel 11. And those passages of the prototype describe Antiochus Epiphanes [Daniel 8:9-12; 11:21-35]. Antiochus Epiphanes was the eighth of the rulers in the Seleucid dynasty, the great kings of Syria. His real title was Antiochus IV.
There has never been in the human story so exact a picture, and that includes Judas himself, so exact a picture of this final dictator as you have in the prototype given here in the Bible describing Antiochus Epiphanes.
Well, what is he like? This is what he is like. First of all he is inordinately vain and ambitious. Antiochus, on the coins that he minted, had "Antiochus Theos Epiphanous," "God manifest." That is exactly what you find of the ultimate dictator in the second chapter of the Book of 2 Thessalonians and in the thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse [2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:4-9]. He presents himself as God and he sits in the temple in Jerusalem as God. Antiochus Epiphanes said, "I am theos epiphanous," God manifest.
We are not talking about a possibility. We are talking about a prototype. These things have already happened. And the Bible says that they are but harbingers and pictures of what is finally yet to be.
All right, second thing about him. And as I said, all of these prophecies are written from the standpoint of the Jew and finally reaching to us. He was an archenemy of the people of God and an indescribably horrid persecutor of Israel. Down in Egypt where he was beginning, he thought, to conquer the world, he was stopped by Rome. And in his frustration and fury he came back, stopped by Jerusalem, pillaged the city, slew eighty thousand men, women and children, forty thousand he sold into slavery and practically rifled the temple; even took its golden altar of incense, took all of its gold and silver, all of its vessels.
Then he decided that he would stamp out the Jewish religion forever and substitute for it Greek culture and Greek religion. So he took God’s temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to Jupiter Olympus. He took a sow and offered her on the great brazen altar, and took the juice from the sow and poured it all over the sanctuary and all over the holy vessels, to desecrate them in the sight of the Jew.
He forbade any recognition and celebration of the feasts of the Jewish people and substituted for them the Bacchanalia, the worship of Bacchus, the god of pleasure and wine, and the Saturnalia, the worship of Saturn. And he filled the temple with harlots in order that he might forever desecrate the house of God. He forbade the observance of the Sabbath and any of the laws of Moses, and he interdicted the rite of circumcision, burning the Books, the Bible, out of which the people were commanded to make thus that covenant between them and God.
There were two mothers who had circumcised their little babies. They slew those children. They tied each baby around the neck of its mother, paraded the mothers through the streets of Jerusalem, took them to the highest wall, and hurled them down to death. There was a mother who had seven sons, and they cut out the tongues of those seven boys, and one by one Antiochus fried them in the presence of their mother, and last of all murdered her. The horror of that persecution is almost beyond description. This is a type of what shall happen in the great tribulation under the awesome hand of earth’s final dictator.
And in those days there was a priest at Modein named Mattathias. He was grieved by what he saw, his people suffering at the hands of that dictator, Epiphanes. And Mattathias had five boys: John, and Simon, and Judas, and Eleazar, and Jonathan. And when one of the emissaries of Antiochus Epiphanes came to the little town of Modein where the priest Mattathias lived, he erected an altar there to Jupiter and forced the people to bow. And when Mattathias saw one of the Jews coming to worship at the shrine of Jupiter, Mattathias slew him like Moses did in the land of Egypt [Exodus 2:11-12]. And Mattathias slew the officer that commanded the worship, the emissary of Epiphanes, and the Maccabean revolt was on.
Mattathias soon died, but he gave the rebellion into the hands of Judas, his son, who was called Judas Maccabaeus, Judas the Hammer. Like Charles Martel, Charles Martel, the king of France who in 722 at Tours in France turned back the awesome inroads and onslaught of the Saracens; otherwise Europe would be Muslim today.
Judas Maccabaeus. And when [Mattathias] fell, each one of those boys took up the torch in turn. God blessed Judas Maccabaeus, and in 164 BC, Antiochus was forever defeated. And the first thing Judas Maccabaeus did was to reconsecrate and rededicate the holy temple, the house of God.
And tradition says that when he sought for a little cruse of oil to light a lamp, he found just enough oil for one day’s burning. But the little lamp burned steadily for eight full days. And for eight full days they cleansed and dedicated the house of God to the Lord. And from that day unto this, the Jewish people observe at Christmas time, because this happened under Judas Maccabaeus in the twenty-fifth of Kislev, it happened at Christmas time, our Christmas time. And the Jewish people to this day observe the Feast of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication.
And in the ninth chapter and in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John you have those marvelous words of life and glory from the lips of our Lord as He observed with His people the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah. It is first a feast of deliverance. And upon that occasion our Lord said, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" [John 10:28]. Out of the tribulation, out of any sorrow, out of any frustration or defeat, God always delivers His people.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will never, no never desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
["How Firm a Foundation" John Rippon, 1787]
It is a feast of deliverance. It is a feast of light. The eight candles burning representing the rekindled light of God in His sanctuary and in the hope and love of His people. Upon that occasion Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" [John 8:12]. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light: and they who sat in the valley of the shadow of death, upon them light has sprung" [Matthew 4:16]. "I am the light of the world" [John 8:12], a feast of lights.
And it is a feast of dedication. In the story, the blind man who was healed [John 9:1-5], cast out [John 9:34], Jesus heard that they had cast him out. He found him and said to him, "Does thou believe in the Son of God?" [John 9:35]
And the man replied, "Who is He, Lord that I might believe in Him?" [John 9:36]
And the Master replied, "Thou hast both seen Him and heard Him and it is He that speaketh unto thee" [John 9:37].
And the man replied, "Lord, I believe." And he worshipped Him [John 9:38].
This is the message of hope and comfort to the people of God. Above the fury and the fire of battle there stands the Prince of Peace. And above the earth’s final and ultimate dictator there appears the great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ from glory. And out of our tribulation, sorrows and trials, there is the Lord speaking words of faith and encouragement and deliverance.
This is the Lord to which we have committed our life. And this is the Lord who shall save us in the hour of our need and extremity. And this is the Lord whom we love and serve today.
Come and be with us. In the balcony, somebody, a family, a couple, or just you, giving your hearts in faith to Christ, come, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front. "Today, pastor, I make this decision for Christ and I am coming. I am giving my heart to Jesus. I am giving my life in the fellowship of this dear church." As the Spirit of Christ shall press the appeal to your heart, would you come now? On the first note of the first stanza, into the aisle and down here to the front, "Here I am, pastor, and here I come." Do it now. Make the decision now. God bless you and angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and while we sing.