The identity of the Antichrist has long been a source of both debate and anxiety for Christians. The Bible warns that many people will be taken in by his lies or fail to recognize him for what he is. No Christian wants to be one of those who is deceived by this frightening and demonic figure.
Given that the stakes are nothing more or less than a person’s eternal soul, a great deal is riding on successfully identifying the Antichrist. The internet is filled with bloggers and preachers alike claiming that this political figure or that rival preacher is the Antichrist.
Speculation is not confined to the depths of the web either. Innumerable churches have heard sermons warning about what the Antichrist will say and countless Bible study groups have debated the where the Antichrist will originate.
The Bible is peppered with verses warning about this false prophet and alluding to the acts that will reveal him for what he truly is. The problem and source of debate comes from trying to weave dozens of cryptic remarks and prophetic hints into a clear picture. Unfortunately, someone has yet to turn the myriad of clues and references to now-ancient empires into a single cohesive portrayal. This leaves Christians stuck in the same uncertainty that all the debate is attempting to clarify.
That said, the continued study of the Scriptures does leave us with a general idea of what the Antichrist will be like. Here are four signs that will hint at the Antichrist’s true identity.
The Antichrist will sway many people to his side. This fact is undeniable based on the descriptions of the Antichrist throughout the Bible.
He will be admired, and the odds are good he will be a smooth talker who will win people over through his ability to speak “great things.” Those who follow the Antichrist will become zealous and follow him unquestioningly. They will revile and persecute those who are leery of the Antichrist or disavow him. In this regard, many believe the Antichrist will be similar to Adolf Hitler.
Hitler was known to be extremely charismatic. Those who actually met him in life say that he was extremely skilled at making connections with people and saying exactly the right thing at the right time. Hitler projected a certainty that lent his opinions authority, and he had a talent for sinking his claws into a person’s subconscious thoughts or desires.
The Antichrist is likely to have similar gifts. He will give voice to what people believe but are reluctant to say and, in doing so, gain their utter loyalty.
The Antichrist will also be clever. Daniel 11 describes the Antichrist as taking control through “intrigue,” and Daniel 8 says he will be a “master of deception.” This supports the idea of the Antichrist as something akin to a charming, clever psychopath. That calculating cleverness will help bring the Antichrist to global prominence in multiple ways.
One of those ways is as a military tactician. Verses in both the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel describe the Antichrist as being a powerful military leader, an unrivaled military genius in his time who will develop a tendency to attack when his victims feel secure.
Another is the Antichrist’s ability to avoid what people would see as scandalous behavior. It is said that he will not “regard…the desire of women,” thus avoiding the common scandal of an affair. Revelation also says that the Antichrist will be given the authority to “make war.” His actions, violent as they will be, will be supported by not just zealous followers, but by what the average person will recognize as legitimate authority.
The Antichrist will have the cunning to be a successful military leader. Revelation and Daniel both describe the Antichrist’s military prowess, but there is a difference between being a talented tactician and being a conqueror. The Antichrist is undoubtedly the latter.
Revelation 6:2 says that the Antichrist will go “forth conquering, and to conquer.” He will take over lands that did not belong to his people and hold them. His conquests will likely take place at least partly in the Middle East. The theory of the Antichrist’s involvement in the Middle East is common, especially the notion that part of his strategy will be to make peace with Israel before attacking the Jewish people.
The Antichrist’s conquests will also be seen as legitimate. Revelation 13 says that the Antichrist will be “permitted to wage war on God’s holy people” and “given [power]… to extend his authority over every tribe and people.” Revelation 13 also states bluntly that the Antichrist will succeed in conquering God’s people, at least for a time.
As well as gaining military control over much of the world, the Antichrist will gain economic control. In Revelation 13, the infamous number of the Beast is discussed, and it is related to the Antichrist’s control of the economy.
According to the Scriptures, the Antichrist will compel all people to be “marked with an inscription” on their hands or foreheads. Only those with this mark will be allowed to “buy or sell.”
Whether the Antichrist will use force or charisma to compel people to accept his mark is not stated. It could, however, be born of simple practicality. People may be presented with the choice of refusing to take this mark or losing their chance to participate in any sort of buying or selling.
The Antichrist’s charisma and cunning would allow him to make this seem like a reasonable requirement of trade. With society accepting this new regulation, even those who disagree with the Antichrist oblige and take the mark so that they can feed their families.
The Antichrist will be a blasphemous man. It seems like blasphemy would be an easy way to identify the Antichrist, but consider what the Bible defines as blaspheming: any use of the Lord’s name in vain. Now, think of how often the phrase “oh my God,” is used to denote shock or excitement.
Recognizing the Antichrist will be difficult, especially in the Western World today where religion is often kept carefully out of politics. A clever man could very easily get away with a great deal of blasphemy, especially if he takes care to do it in ways that are common around him. But, the blasphemy of the Antichrist will eventually reach new and unheard of heights, and he will attempt to say that he is God. Until that time, however, no one is likely to look twice at a man who uses “Jesus Christ” as a curse when startled or angry.
What will set the Antichrist apart from other clever, charismatic leaders is his ability to accomplish wonders. The Gospels of both Matthew and Mark warn that the Antichrist will perform miracles that convince many people that he is the Messiah returned, not Christ’s enemy. In 2 Thessalonians, it is said that the coming of the Antichrist will coincide with numerous signs and marvels.
One of these false miracles may give us a few physical characteristics of the Antichrist. In Revelation 13, we learn that the Antichrist will survive a deadly wound, usually attributed to a head or facial wound. This miraculous survival or perhaps even a return from the dead, will convince many that the Antichrist is actually Jesus returned. Some link this sign with Zechariah 11:17 which calls for the Antichrist’s arm to be “completely withered and his right eye totally blinded.”
While some interpret these verses as meaning that the Antichrist will actually be blind in one eye, possibly from whatever mortal wound he survives, others believe the verse describes a more metaphorical wound. Those familiar with the history of Hitler’s rise to power know that there was a period where it looked very much like the Nazi party was going to fade into obscurity.
Revelation may be describing a time where the Antichrist loses power and support, only to regain it spectacularly and, in returning to prominence, gain more followers than ever.
Christians Must Be Vigilant
Despite the sheer number of times the Antichrist is mentioned in the Bible, there is little that will definitively identify him before he has the world under his thrall. Christians must be vigilant and be sure to maintain a questioning attitude.
The spell of charismatic men and women can be dampened through logic. After all, those who experienced Hitler’s rise said that many of his speeches could be “refuted by reason.” Be wary of things that sound perfect and of those who seem to have all the answers, especially in today’s divisive time. Reason serves as a strong barricade to the sort of zealotry such a clever, charismatic leader will breed.
by: Stephanie Hertzenberg