by Mark Robinson
Tyrants have graced the world’s stage oftentimes throughout history. Some have been world rulers whose ruthlessness knew no bounds. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Babylonian empire and ruled for 43 years. He was known as “the wicked one.” He made a covenant with the king of Judah and when convenient, broke the covenant and killed the king. He then destroyed the city of Jerusalem and took the inhabitants captive. Arriving in Babylon he “massacred thousands of youths whose beauty had inflamed the passion of the Babylonian women—a passion which did not subside until the corpses were stamped upon and mutilated.”1
Cyrus, the leader of the Mede-Persian Empire, ruled through generosity and a willingness to co-exist with existing religions. Cyrus is prophesied about by Isaiah (44:28; 45:1) that he would come to power subduing nations. His willingness to allow the practice of other religions caused him to look favorably on the Jewish people and their desire to return to Jerusalem. Cyrus was a great soldier but he is also looked upon as a great statesman. His political prowess would enable his kingdom to continue long after he died.
Alexander the Great swiftly conquered the world in his brief life time. Alexander was ruthless in coming to power. He had his chief rivals slain so he could ascend unimpeded to power. He was primarily known for his military genius and his egotism. He was undefeated in battle, although usually outnumbered, and is looked at as one of the great military leaders in history. It is suggested that Alexander looked upon himself as being on a divine mission. Legend has it that his court historian wrote that the Sea of Cilicia drew back from him in proskynesis (prostrating oneself before a person of higher rank). “The philosopher Anaxarchus checked the vainglory of Alexander, when he aspired to the honors of divinity, by pointing to Alexander’s wound, saying, ‘See the blood of a mortal, not the ichor [according to Greek mythology the ethereal golden fluid that is the blood of the gods] of a god.’”2 Alexander died at the age of 33.
One of the most influential and long lasting powers was the Roman Empire. Rome was ruled by emperors, with Julius Caesar being the first. Caesar used violence to take control of the Roman Republic which had dissolved into chaos. The ensuing Empire would be ruled for 500 years through the military dictatorships of the emperors. One writer states, “The Roman Empire in the first century AD mixed sophistication with brutality and could suddenly lurch from civilization, strength and power to terror, tyranny and greed.”3
One could list additional tyrants and rulers through the ages but the above named rulers and empires are especially important to the prophetically knowledgeable Christian. These rulers headed up the empires the prophet Daniel spoke about in Daniel 2 and 7 – the Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires.
Final World Ruler
The Scripture is clear that there is one final world dominating tyrant to come. He is identified by a number of different names in the Word of God. The most well known title is that of Antichrist. 1 John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.’
This despotic world ruler is also referred to as:
“little horn” – Daniel 7:8; 8:9
“a king of fierce countenance” – Daniel 8:23
“the prince that shall come” – Daniel 9:26
“the king” – Daniel 11:36
“Man of sin” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3
“Son of Perdition” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3
“that Wicked” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8
“The beast” – Revelation 13:1-4; 17:12
This final world ruler will be the most ambitious, ruthless, and driven of all tyrants in history. It seems that he will embody all the strengths of the above mentioned rulers. The wickedness and ruthlessness of Nebuchadnezzar, the statesmanship and (initial) willingness to allow religious freedom practiced by Cyrus to bring together his subjects, the military prowess and cunning of Alexander, and the sophistication, cruelty, and power of the Roman Empire. The difference with the Antichrist is that he will have these abilities in a greater way than any of these former world rulers and empires.
The Scriptures describe four power bases that the Antichrist will rule through. During the first half of the Tribulation, a period of three and a half years, the Antichrist will be building his control in these four areas. When he has consolidated his power after three and a half years, he will reveal himself for the despotic ruler he is: a man ruled and controlled by Satan (Revelation 13:4)! At this point he comes forth in great fury to destroy Israel and the Jewish people (Revelation 12), and if he were to be successful, destroy God, because he would have proved Jehovah a liar, impotent and an imposter. What are these four power bases of the Antichrist?
“…and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
The world is presently in chaos with the sovereign debt crisis confronting the western nations, Islamic terrorism and Islam’s world domination desires, and Iran’s desires for nuclear weapons. All of these have this world on the precipice of a collapse. One or more of these problems exploding could throw the nations of the world into a tailspin. Throw in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church when millions of people vanish, and the resulting pandemonium, and the citizens and the leaders of the nations will look for someone to bring order out of the chaos.
Into this coming world disorder will step the Antichrist. He will solve the Israel/Arab/Palestinian problem (Daniel 9:27) with a covenant of seven years. Through his efforts the world will become united under his reign. He will be looked at as a brilliant statesman, a politician cut from the finest cloth. He will initially be perceived as benevolent and the one with all the answers.
Ultimately, he will be ruler over all people and nations of the world. Satan’s desire to establish a one world kingdom (government) that began back with the tower of Babel will see its greatest victory through “the king,” “the prince that shall come,” as he, through the power of Satan, rules the entire world.
“… Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:4
When the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to end WW II, the weapons of warfare would forever be changed. Since those unprecedented events we have been fortunate that nuclear bombs have never been used again. Today, though, we are living in times where nuclear weapons are proliferating and many nations now have them.
The Antichrist will develop a military power that no nation can rival. When the question is asked, “Who is able to make war with him?” the inference is there is no power on earth that can successfully fight against the Anti-Christ and his forces. Perhaps the Antichrist will have control over most, if not all, of the nuclear arsenals in the world.
We know from Scripture that the beginning of the Tribulation period will have many different military conflicts (Daniel 11:40-45). The Antichrist and his forces will successfully defeat every attack that comes.
When the king of the south and the north come against Israel, it is the Antichrist that goes into Israel, “the glorious land,” and defends Israel by defeating these armies (Daniel 11:40-42). When the Antichrist receives news that there are additional armies coming against Israel (Daniel 11:44), he is incensed and goes to destroy them. I believe these armies are the nations of Ezekiel 38 and 39. We know from Ezekiel 38 and 39, it is God who destroys these armies, though, and not the Antichrist. But, it seems that the Antichrist will claim credit for the destruction of these nations on the mountains of Israel. This event brings us to the consideration of the third power base of the Antichrist.
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? …And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast…” Revelation 13:4-12
Lucifer’s (Satan) rebellion against God, Isaiah 14:12-16, was because of his desire to be like God. Since that time the great lie of Satan has been that men can become gods. He seduced Eve with this promise, and has continued to seduce men and women through the ages with this lie. This desire of Satan’s will reach its pinnacle in the Tribulation period with the Antichrist. We know from Scripture that in the middle of the Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) the Antichrist will declare himself God in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. It seems this will be done on the heels of the destruction of the Ezekiel 38 armies by God with the Antichrist taking credit for this supernatural act by claiming that he is God (Daniel 11:45).
In the Tribulation period there will be a “false prophet,” also known as the beast. He is distinct from the first beast, the Antichrist, and causes all inhabitants of the earth to worship the first beast, the Antichrist. At the mid-point of the Tribulation period, the Antichrist, claiming to be God, overthrows all religious activity and demands worship from all the inhabitants of the earth. Many people on the earth will have no difficulty in worshipping the Antichrist. They are seduced by his miraculous works, charismatic personality, and gilded tongue.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:16-18
The Antichrist will use the first three and a half years years of the Tribulation to consolidate his control on the financial resources of the world. In the middle of the Tribulation period no man will be able to buy or sell without the “mark of the beast.”
Our world is relentlessly moving toward a cashless society. Sweden recently announced that it is moving towards a cashless society. Bills and coins only represent 3% of Sweden’s economy. In the U.S. they represent 7% and in the Eurozone 9%.4 The sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the U.S., and other western nations could lead to a collapse of the world’s fiat currencies. If this were to happen, it makes sense to “fix” the problem by expediting the move to a cashless society.
Regardless of how the “cashless” society comes about, it will happen. Scripture is clear on this.
We live in times unprecedented in the history of the world. The technology is available for a world ruler to control everything. With the nation of Israel being re-established in 1948, the prophetic clock started to move once again.
The confluence of events taking place world-wide are setting the stage for the appearance of the Antichrist and the start of the Tribulation period. The world, as it spirals out of control financially, religiously, militarily, and politically, will be looking for someone who can bring stability to a very unstable situation. Into this void will step the man of sin. His time may not be far off.