The Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antichrist

The Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antichrist

March 18th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM

2 Thessalonians 2:3-12

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
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THE RISE, REIGN, AND RUIN OF THE ANTICHRIST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Thessalonians 2:3-12

3-18-84     10:50 a.m.

 

This is pastor bringing the message entitled The Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antichrist.  This is the last message in the section, the doctrinal section, on the beginning of the end of the world.  Next Sunday morning, we shall begin the series of eight messages on the Second Coming of Christ.  And the first one next Sunday morning delivered will be entitled The History of the Doctrine of the Return of Our Lord.  This morning, The Rise and Reign and Rule and Ruin of the Antichrist.  In 2 Thessalonians, the second chapter; Second Thessalonians, chapter 2, beginning in the middle of verse 3:

 

There shall come a falling away, and that man of sin will be revealed, the son of perdition;

 He is the one who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;

so that he, proposing to be God, sitteth in the temple as God, showing himself that he is God."

– verse 7 –

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.

[2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 7]

 

These things in the Bible are already moving toward their final consummation, and we’re gathered up in it. We are a part, inextricably, of it. "Only He who now prevents," will prevent, and He’ll be "taken out of the way," the Holy Spirit in the church, until we are raptured with the Holy Spirit to heaven [2 Thessalonians 2:7].  And then, after we are raptured:

Shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. 

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.

[2 Thessalonians 2:8-9]

 

It is an amazing revelation to me, one that I had not thought for before, how much the Bible portrays the rise and course of the Antichrist.  He is Satan’s finest and final masterpiece.  He has many types that we see in history, but all of it moves toward that final consummation when Satan’s incarnate presentation of himself to the world rises in the person and power of that antichrist.  Throughout the Word of God is he portrayed.  We read of him in Daniel 7, Daniel 8, Daniel 9, Daniel 11, and Daniel 12.  We read of him in the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord in Matthew 24.  We read of him in this passage, a few verses I have chosen, in the second chapter of Thessalonians.  We read of him in John: 1 John, chapter 2; 1 John, chapter 4; 2 John, verse 7.  And we read of him extensively, in detail, in Revelation 6, in Revelation 11, in Revelation 13, in Revelation 17, and in Revelation 19 – all of this in the Word of God concerning the rise and rule of the antichrist. 

What we shall do this morning is, we shall follow, chronologically in order, we shall follow the biblical description of this final, great ruler and dictator of the world, and the blaspheming antagonist to our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.  We shall take it book by book as he is presented in the Word of God.  Daniel, chapter 7, beginning at verse 7:

 

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly . . . and it had ten horns. 

I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn . . . and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man,

[Daniel 7:7-8]

 

Intelligence and worldly wisdom "and a mouth speaking great things" [Daniel 7:8].  He has world-wide authority.  Verse 21: "I beheld, and the same horn."  The horn is a sign and a symbol of a king.  "I beheld and" – the same ruler, the same dictator, the same king – "the same horn made war with the saints."  He’s at war with Daniel’s people and nation, and he’s at war with those who have found refuge in our Christ, "And he prevailed against them."  He’s the victor. Verse 25:

 

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and there shall be given unto him and into his hand the people of God and the world for a time and a times, and the dividing of times

– for three-and-a-half years –

[Daniel 7:25]

 

These are the days of the Great Tribulation. 

We turn now to Daniel, chapter 8, the next chapter, beginning at verse 9, "And out of one of the horns, came forth a little horn." We meet him again:

 

. . . which waxed exceeding 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 . . . And an host was given him . . . and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.

– verse 17 –

Understand, O son of man, for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

[Daniel 8:10-12, 17]

 

  The Lord is revealing this to Daniel about 600 B.C., but the time that the Lord speaks is even beyond us.  It’s at the time of the end. Verse 23: "And in that latter time a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences," that is, he rises and he uses falsehood and dissimulation to carry out his purposes:

He shall rise up. And his power shall be mighty, and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.

And he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall he destroy many.

[Daniel 8:23-25]

 

Over and over again, you’re going to see that presented.  He comes into the world as a champion of peace and progress and prosperity and rest and victory, and the great solution to all of our difficult problems. 

The next chapter, Daniel 9, verse 26:  "And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  Verse 27: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."  That time period is where the Revelation and the Book of Daniel speaks of three-and-a-half years and three-and-a-half years, the dividing of the week [Daniel 9:27].  Sometimes it will speak of it as forty-two months, the Great Tribulation, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days, or "a time, times, and half a time," or "a time, times and dividing of times" [Revelation 13:5; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21, 29; Mark 13:24; Daniel 12:11; Revelation 12:6, 7:14; Daniel 7:25, 12:7].  It comes from this time period in Daniel 9, verse 27.  Now, we turn to Daniel 11:16, and here we read of him again: "But he that cometh shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him."  Verse 21: "He shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flattery." He’s going to be the great champion, the solution to the problems of the world.  Verse 31: "And they shall set up the abomination that maketh desolate."  Verse 36: "And the king shall do according to his will," a willful king, "and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished" – until God’s judgment is fulfilled.  Now the next chapter, Daniel 12, verse 1, "And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time . . . But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end," and "the abomination that maketh desolate" is set up [Daniel 12:1, 4, 11]. 

So we are in the way of looking for that abomination of desolation, the antichrist.  I read of him in the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord in Matthew, chapter 24, verse 15.  "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand) . . . Then shall be," verse 21, "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this present time, no, nor ever shall be."  Verse 22, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved," not one living man would stand in the earth, "but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened."  I read of this antichrist again in the Gospel of John.  John 5:43: "I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not.  If another shall come in his own name," that’s the antichrist, "him ye will receive," the dictator of the whole world. 

Second Thessalonians 2:1-11, and I haven’t time to read it; it was a part of our text this morning.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-11.  Why did Paul write this unusual word in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2?  It came about because of this:  in the 1 Thessalonians letter, the first letter that the apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he spoke in chapter 4, verses 13-18, he spoke of the rapture of the church: the taking away of the people of God out of the earth, and he spoke of the Second Coming of Christ.  Third, he spoke of the Day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.  And fourth, he spoke of the Great Tribulation that should follow in the Day of the Lord: chapter 5, verse 3.  Now, after Paul had written that letter, there came upon the Christians in Thessalonica a heavy and drastic persecution.  And remembering what Paul had written, they thought that the Day of the Lord had come, and they thought that they were already in the Tribulation.  Now, to add credence to that there was delivered to the church at Thessalonica a forged letter as from Paul, and it was confirming those thoughts of the Thessalonicans – that because of the tremendous persecution in which they had found themselves, the Day of the Lord had come and they were in the Tribulation [2 Thessalonians 2:1-3]. 

Now Paul’s answer to the Thessalonicans is the second letter that he wrote to them in which he says:  One, the Day of the Lord will not come until first, antichrist is revealed.  Two, the sure sign of the Tribulation period, the sign of the Day of the Lord is the appearance of this antichrist.  Third: Paul calls him "that man of sin."  Again, he called him the "son of perdition" [2 Thessalonians 2:3].   God has a Son that redeems the world.  Satan has an incarnate son that damns the world.  And Paul calls him "that wicked."  That’s the way it’s translated in the King James Version, "that wicked" [2 Thessalonians 2:8].  The Greek word is ho anomosNomos is the Greek word for law.  An "a" in Greek is a privative; it is a negation. So anomos is "the lawless one" – the one that doesn’t obey or observe any law in heaven or in earth – and that one must be revealed first before the Day of the Lord can come. 

Now, we read again of this antichrist in the epistles of John, and he’s the one that uses the word "antichrist."  And John refers to him five times.  He uses that word antichrist five times: in 1 John 2:18a; 1 John 2:18b; and 1 John 2, verse 22; and 1 John 4, verse 3. And he uses the word "antichrist" again in 2 John 7.  Now what the apostle writes in those two letters is that there are many – that there are many antichrists that have come.  There are many of them in human history who are types and adumbrations of that final antichrist yet to appear.  In Scripture time, he says there are many antichrists that have come.  In Scripture time, in that period of history, there have been the pharaohs of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria, Nero of Rome.  And beyond Scripture time, there have been Alaric the Visigoth; there has been Attila the Hun.  There has been Genghis Khan, the Mongolian; there has been Tamerlane the Mongol; there has been Hitler, the Nazi-German.  All through history have these antichrists appeared, and all of them are adumbrations of that final world dictator who will be the finest specimen of incarnate evil that Satan has ever brought upon the earth. 

Now, we come to the sixth chapter of the Revelation where the antichrist appears, where he’s present.  Revelation, chapter 6, verse 1: "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the voice of thunder," one of the four cherubim.  In the King James Version of the Bible, you have it translated, "beasts," one of the four beasts – the word is [záō], in our English language, "zoology," zoology, the study of animal life.  He is a living one and a [cherub]; there are four of them.  Ezekiel saw them and described them [Ezekiel 1:5-14].  That’s one of the cherubim here.  And one of the cherubim cries with the voice of thunder, "Come and see!" [Revelation 6:1]

Next verse, "And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer" [Revelation 6:2].  Now, because in Revelation 19, verse 11, when Christ comes from heaven on a white horse, there are many who identify this first seal white horse with the Lord Christ as though both of the riders were the same.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth.  The two riders have nothing in common but a white horse.  In Holy Scripture, all through the Bible, a horse is a sign and a symbol of war and of victory.  The Persian Army, wherever it went in its tremendous, victorious marching power, always was accompanied by a sacred white horse.  You’ve never seen a picture of Napoleon, an equestrian picture of Napoleon, but that he was on a white horse.  Napoleon rode a white horse.  It is a sign and a symbol of war and of victory.  But because two men are on a white horse does not mean at all that they are the same men, and it is certainly not here. 

Now, you look at the differences between these two riders: the first seal white horse rider and the great, conquering Christ who comes to the earth in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation.  The rider in Revelation chapter 6, on the white horse is not named. He has no title [Revelation 6:2].  But in chapter 19, the Rider is called "The Lord of Lords and The King of Kings" [Revelation 19:16].  And He’s called "The Word of God" [Revelation 19:13].  Number two: the rider in Revelation 6, as in Revelation 13:1, comes out of the earth, and the Rider in chapter 19 comes out of heaven [Revelation 19:11].  Number three: the rider in Revelation 6 has a crown given him, a stephanos; that is a reward won in war, a stephanos [Revelation 6:2].  But the rider in chapter 19 already possesses many diadēma – diadems [Revelation 19:12].  A diadem is a crown of royalty.  In chapter 6, the crown is a stephanos.  He has won it. It is given to him by his conquests, his military victories.  But in chapter 19, He comes not [with] crowns given Him. By divine right He wears many diadems. He is our Lord Christ. 

Number four, the rider in Revelation 6 is followed by the red horse of war and murder and blood, and by the black horse of famine and want and despair, and then by the pale horse of death and of the grave [Revelation 6:4-5, 8].  But in chapter 19, the white horseman comes who is followed by the saints of heaven in robes pure and white [Revelation 19:14].  Number five, the rider in Revelation 6 takes peace from the earth [Revelation 6:4]. He is the earth’s military dictator.  But in chapter 19, that rider brings hope and peace to mankind. He comes, followed by the Millennium [Revelation 20:2].  Number six, the rider in Revelation 6 – in chapter 6 – the One who breaks the seals is Christ. He’s the One. The Lamb breaks the seals [Revelation 6:1].  It was His right to open the book [Revelation 5:1-9], and it would be strange indeed if when the Lamb opens the seals, He’s the first rider who comes out.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Number seven, the rider in Revelation 6 is Satan’s masterpiece, the earth’s last and final dictator [Revelation 6:8], but the rider in Revelation 19 is the Lord Christ, our Friend and Savior forever and ever [Revelation 19:11-16].  So the presentation, the description, the appearance of the Antichrist, this final world dictator, is found in Revelation, chapter 6. 

Now in Revelation chapter 11, verse 2 and 3: "And the holy city" of Jerusalem "shall they tread under foot for forty and two months." That’s that Great Tribulation. 

 

And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy

– and here’s that three-and-a-half years, that forty-two months –

they shall prophesy 1,260 days . . . And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them and shall overcome them and kill them. 

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom, where our Lord was crucified. 

[Revelation 11:3, 7-8]

 

Now we come to the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, where the beast is described minutely – Revelation, chapter 13.  I don’t have time to read it.  In that chapter, there is one world political system, and he heads it [Revelation 13:2].  There is one world military system, and he leads it [Revelation 13:4, 7].  There is one world monetary system, and he controls it.  In Revelation 13:17, "No man can buy or sell without his mark." There is one world religious system, and he is its object of worship:  Revelation 17:1-18.  Revelation 13, verse 6 says, "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name and them that dwell in heaven."  Now, what on the earth could that mean?  Well, in the previous chapter, chapter 12, there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.  And Michael and his angels were victorious, and they cast Satan and his angels out of heaven [Revelation 12:7-9].  And that’s what this means.  He lifted up his voice to blaspheme them that dwell in heaven down here on this earth where he’s been cast. He shakes his fist to curse Michael and the victorious angels of God up there in heaven. 

In that chapter, 13 and 18, the number of the beast antichrist is the number of a man, and his number is 666.  And there are ten thousand efforts through the ages by ten thousand thousand interpreters trying to identify the name of that man.  This final dictator, his number is 666.  As you know, in Hebrew, in Greek, and all those languages, each letter represented a number.  Well, his number is 666.  Now I want to tell you, verily, you will not know that man’s name until he is revealed.  Not until he arises in the earth will you know what 666 is.  All we can know from the revelation of God is that the number is the number of a man [Revelation 13:18].  That’s what he says, and the number of the beast is the number of a man. The number of God is seven – fullness, completeness, the glory of the sovereignty and omnipotence of God. 

Number seven.  The number of a fallen man is six – short of the glory of God.  He was created on the sixth day.  His opposition to and blasphemy against God is often presented in the Bible in the number of six.  For example, Goliath was one of six brothers.  He was six cubits tall and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron [1 Samuel 17:4, 7].  Or take Nebuchadnezzar’s image.  It was sixty cubits high.  It was six cubits in breadth, and it had six kinds of instruments played at which the people were called to bow down before it [Daniel 3:1, 5-6].  Six is the number of a man, and this man is the superman: 666.  But we won’t know who he is until he is revealed in the earth. 

Now, the occasion of his rise to power is very apparent in the Word of God, and I would say, confirmed by human history.  For example, in Revelation 6, verses 1 and 2, he comes riding a white horse of victory with the promise of peace and rest and prosperity.  In Daniel 11:21: "He shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries."  When the super antichrist, the world’s dictator, shall come he will rise to power on the platform of peace and prosperity and rest to the nations of the world.  He will announce to the earth, "I have the solution to all the problems of mankind."

That is the cry of Israel.  If you’ve been in Israel, from one side of it to the other, from the humblest peasant to the Prime Minister himself, the cry of Israel is for peace and for rest from her surrounding enemies.  The cry of the world is for a solution to their insoluble problems.  A European statesman recently said at the United Nations, he said, "Give us a man who will solve the problems of our world and we will follow him, even if he be the devil."  Dag Hammarskjold, the past Secretary General of the United Nations said, "We have tried so hard and have failed so miserably" [quoted in "World Aflame," Billy Graham, 1965].  Our problems are beyond us, and one of these days, America is going to be caught up into that insoluble situation.

I’ll give you one little tiny facet of it, and I mean this is just one of the facets.  There’s no organization, there’s no man, there’s no anybody in the earth that can go in debt, and go in debt, and go in debt, and go in debt and not finally come to a reckoning day.  You can’t do it.  If you live beyond your means in debt, in debt, in debt, live beyond your means, you’re going to have trouble one of these days.  If a corporation does that, if a bank does that, if a business house does that, if a church does that, if anybody in the earth does that, you’re going to have a day of chaos, of tragedy, and of reckoning.  And the United States government is no exception to that.  If the United States government keeps going in debt, a deficit, a deficit, a deficit, a deficit bigger every year and bigger every year and bigger every year, finally, there’s going to come collapse to the American system.  We are headed for trouble, for chaos.  That is what the Bible is speaking about. 

The whole world is going to be plunged into tragic chaos.  Our politicians are not able to solve the problems.  We have, I think, some of the noblest and finest politicians in American history.  But all they do is plunge us further and further and further into that ultimate chaotic day of reckoning.  The international conflicts in this world are not capable of solution whether it be by a socialist, or a communist, or a democratic government.  The earth is looking for a man who can lead us out of the conflicts of our day, and mankind is looking for a man to solve our problems. 

Now, the Scriptures say that that composite superman will appear on the world scene before the days of the Great Tribulation [Daniel 9:26-27, 11:40-12:1; Matthew 24:15, 21].  And I have written out here, I have a composite picture of that man from what the Scriptures have said about him.  One: he will be intellectually superior with superhuman wisdom [Daniel 8:23, 11:21].  He will be politically astute.  He will be an economist of the highest order.  He will be a politician of shrewd and cunning adroitness [Daniel 8:24-25; Revelation 13:16-17].  He will be, at first, a special friend of the Jewish race [Daniel 9:27].  He will be versatile in his political gifts.  He will be a consummate flatterer.  He will be a superb strategist [Daniel 11:21-24, 40-45].  He will possess the genius of Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Darius, Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.  He will be endowed with an irresistible and fascinating personality [Revelation 13:3-4]. 

Like Satan, who is an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14] – I have never in my life seen anything foisted upon mankind as the idea that come Satan has a horn, has two horns and a tail and a red suit and a pitchfork. That is a caricature, and I presume it pleases him. Satan is the most alluring, and wooing, and delightful, and delectable, and sought after of all of the things in human life.  That’s Satan.  He’s an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14].  He’s brilliant.  There’s no scientific theorem that he doesn’t know. He’s foisted it off on us such as evolution.  That pleases him. Teach these little kids evolution: "You come from monkeys."  And when they act like monkeys, why, I wouldn’t be surprised.  You taught them they were monkeys. Then, they act like monkeys. That’s the Satan.  That doesn’t have anything to do with this sermon.  Let’s get back to it. 

We’re talking about the biblical picture of this antichrist.  He promises to bring to mankind its golden age.  "You follow me, and I will bring you the peace and the prosperity that the nations cry for."  He will appear with the credentials of never-varying success [Revelation 13:2-4].  There is something about mankind that worships success whether in the athletic field, whether in the monetary world, whether in the political world.  I never heard of this fellow, Hart, until just recently, but because of success, he makes the headlines of the papers.  This ultimate and final dictator will be a man of unvarying success and that impresses the world. 

In Revelation 17:13, it says the kingdoms of the world shall give their power and strength to him. He will seek to solve the problems of the earth by unsanctified human resources: by human culture, human science, human philosophy, and human government.  We’re told to look to God for our answers [Colossians 2:8-10, 3:1-2].  He will, as the world avidly follows, he will seek their solution in human genius. 

Now, in Revelation 13:11-18 and in Revelation 17:1-18, to my amazement, there is revealed to us the religious leader called the false prophet, the second beast.  And he appears to support and sustain the world dictator.  There will be a world church, a world system of religion, and the man who heads that will support and sustain this world dictator, the antichrist. 

In Revelation 17, verses 3 and 7, the scarlet harlot, the false prophet, rides on the back of the political beast.  In Revelation 13:12 it reads:

 

The false prophet causeth the earth and all them that dwell therein to worship the first beast.  He had power to give life unto the image of the beast and caused that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

[Revelation 13:12, 15]

 

Had Nebuchadnezzar had the astuteness to build his golden image around a religious scheme, he would have been successful [Daniel 3:1-7]; instead of making it political, had he made it religious, he would have gotten by with it. But Satan doesn’t make that mistake twice.  This time the political worship of the beast is going to center around a false world religion and a false prophet who heads that religious system and who brings honor and glory and worship and adoration to that wonderful, successful world dictator, that superman, that antichrist – not religion but politics [Revelation 13:1-18]. 

In the Revelation there is a trinity from Hell.  Revelation 16:13 to 16, there is the dragon, the Satan, who imitates the work of God the Father.  There is the antichrist, incarnate Satan, who imitates the work of God the Son, and there is this false prophet who imitates the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit’s work is to point us to Jesus; and this false prophet, head of the false world system of religion, points to the political leader, the antichrist.

 Now, I want to show you in the moment that I have remaining the change in the direction of the victorious antichrist – how he changes.  First of all, he changes in his attitude towards the Jew.  At first, for the first three and one half years of the seventieth week of Daniel, this time period of the Tribulation, he is their defender. He’s their peace-maker; he’s their champion.  He comes in as the friend of the Jewish race.  And the race of Israel is enamored by his magnificent promises of support for the development of the state of Israel and for its capital city of Jerusalem.  But he has deceived Israel.  In the midst of the week, after the first three and a half years, he breaks his covenant with them and becomes their mortal enemy, and he attempts to drown the race of Israel and of His Saints in total war. That’s the first change in him. 

The second change in him is toward this world system of religion and the false prophet.   He turns to destroy the scarlet woman who rides on his back.  He’s weary and tired of her pretense.  Revelation 17:16, "And the beast shall hate the whore."  That’s the biblical name for the false system of religion and for the leader.  "The beast shall hate the whore and he shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire."  Isn’t that the strangest thing?  The political leader of the world finally is weary and tired of all of the pretenses of this world system of religion and destroys it from the face of the earth. 

And third, he changes toward the political world.  He dramatically turns from a course and a pursuit of peace to one of war and of annihilation.  Because of his very real and great popularity and success, and because of his unlimited triumphs, like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, he becomes infatuated with his own glory and turns from peace to oppress all who dare oppose him.   He sets himself forth as God – that’s the passage you just read [2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:5-8]. The tragically disillusioned world is plunged into total war and the Bible calls that Armageddon – which is the last great battle of the earth – at which time, in which time, lest the earth be destroyed, Jesus comes in the nineteenth chapter of the Apocalypse [Revelation 16:12-16, 19:11-21] .

I must close. The tragic and catastrophic end of the Antichrist, this world dictator, is described in Revelation 19:20:

 

And the beast was taken and with him the false prophet . . . These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone,

– chapter 20, verse 10 –

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.

[Revelation 19:20, 20:10]

 

All man-made solutions fail – all of them. They always have and always will. The only final and ultimate and final answer to our problems lies in God alone.  We face inevitable death [Hebrews 9:27].  We face the opening of the grave.  We face the end of time.  Any scientist will tell you the very sun will one day burn out.  We face the end of the age. We face increasing political conflicts and national problems.  Who has a final answer?  It is God; it is our Lord. 

When I face the inevitable day of death, who can raise me up?  Can the hand of man deliver me from the hard, dark, cold clutches of the grave and of death?  Our answer, our hope is in Christ and in Him alone:

 

Lift up your heads, O burdened hearts;

The King is on His way.

The signs long spoken of are here;

He may come back today!

 

Men’s hearts are failing them for fear;

Writ large across the page

We read of rumors, wars and death,

The passing of our age.

 

Lift up your heads, O burdened hearts;

He may come back today.

The signs long spoken of are here;

The King is on His way!

[Maude Howe]

I don’t; I am not forced; I don’t have to face the inevitable days that lie before me: the dissolution of my human body, death, the burial in the grave.  All of the problems that inevitably overwhelm our world – our lives, our homes, our hearts, our people, our loved-ones – the whole earth drowned in darkness and in death!  I don’t face that alone. Christ is King. He’s victorious. He’s Lord.  On His head are many diadēma, many diadems – and that is the gospel of hope, not of despair, but of triumph; not of defeat, but of victory. 

My brother, there is no more meaningful or comforting word that can come to the human heart than that Christ lives.  And our Lord is coming again. And someday He will reign over the earth and the heavens above, and we shall reign with Him [Revelation 5:10, 11:15].  That is the gospel appeal and is our appeal to your heart today: to give your life, every dream, every vision and prayer to the Lord Jesus.  Invite Him into your heart, into your home, into your life, into your work.  Make Him the constant friend and companion through every decision, through every day. 

Welcome. It is God’s blessing for us.  In the balcony round, you; in the throng on this lower floor, you; a family: "Pastor, we’re putting our lives in this dear church."  A couple, or just one somebody you: in this moment we stand to sing our appeal, and while we sing it may angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.