Epidemics and natural disasters, wars and threats of wars between nations, lawlessness in society, apostasy in the church, and a falling away from the truth. All these are the beginning of sorrows. All these are the first signs that lead to the coming of Jesus Christ.
With this sermon, and subsequent ones, we are going to discover how all the signs are interrelated, working together to bring about Christ’s coming in the end of the world. You see, all these signs serve the purpose of bringing about, before the return of Christ, the great antichristian world-power. In order that we might understand how this is true, however, we must first establish the identity of the Antichrist. This emergence of the Antichrist is itself a sign of Christ’s return. Everyone seems pretty well agreed that at the end of time there is going to arise this mighty antichristian kingdom. But there have been diverse opinions as to who exactly he is going to be. There have been many predictions in the past. There still are many opinions. I am sure that, in many instances, our own position will be considered only one more opinion and carry no weight or authority. That is why we want to be scriptural in our view of the Antichrist. If we are scriptural, then our position is authoritative because it carries with it the pure, sound exegesis of the Scriptures.
In order to identify the Antichrist, we are going to consider the Word of God and its symbolism found in Revelation 17:9-12, and 17. There we read:
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
Very few dispute that the Antichrist will be a great political power. The Bible speaks of it as a kingdom, or an empire of great power and magnitude. Yet, when we search the Bible to find proof for this idea of the Antichrist, it is striking that such a definition is formed on the basis of certain dreams and visions that were seen. There is no passage of the Bible other than visions and dreams that instructs us of this in so many words, that the Antichrist will be a powerful future worldwide empire.
Yet almost everyone is agreed on this conception of the Antichrist. Perhaps this is true because the dreams and visions are, in fact, clear enough. Daniel 2 records a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had envisioning a future kingdom or empire that would reign over the world. Daniel’s vision, in Daniel 7, of the four beasts (the leopard/bear/lion/and the dreadful and terrible fourth beast of ten horns) speaks of various empires that will arise resulting in a final kingdom that all agree is the Antichrist. Revelation 13 speaks of two beasts, the first arising out of the sea. It is a horrible beast, having seven heads and ten horns, with a crown on each head. Our text is a part of the explanation of the meaning of that vision. Here, too, we find the Antichrist defined as a kingdom with kings and great power and authority.
Now we realize that Scripture uses the language of its day. Rome was a kingdom, or an empire, ruled over by an emperor. Today we do not speak of the United States, for example, as a kingdom or an empire. It is a nation, or we call it a country. China is not referred to as the kingdom of China. It is the nation of China. Nevertheless, if we were to label the great nations of this world using the language of Scripture at that time, then the United States is a kingdom. It is the Empire of the United States. China is a kingdom. It is the Chinese Empire. So we must not presume that the prophecies of Scripture no longer apply today just because we no longer designate various countries or nations as kingdoms. There will be a great political entity, a powerful nation or country, a kingdom that will arise in the last days that will give rise to a new world order.
Unbelievers, of course, will not view that particular kingdom as the Antichrist. That will not be the name of that nation. The wicked world will not be appalled at this nation and scream in terror and cry, “Oh, the Antichrist has come!” On the contrary, the unbeliever will look at this world power in awe and throw in his support to its powers and its ideals. But God will reveal to those who are carefully watching the signs that this is in fact the Antichrist that has emerged in this world.
The verses of Revelation 17 describe for us how this final kingdom of the Antichrist will emerge. We read in verses 10 and 11, “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” The rise of the Antichrist is another sign But it does not suddenly appear at the end of time. We have already noticed that wars and threats of wars have been around for thousands of years. Well, this is true because of the slow development of the Antichrist.
John’s vision of Revelation 17:10 and 11 refers to a total of seven empires, nations, kingdoms that, in history, contribute to the final realization of the Antichrist. Five of these kings or kingdoms had already fallen prior to this vision of John. Though there may be some dispute over the exact identity, at least of one of these kingdoms, the vision is clear. The kingdom of Babel is the first of these. The Assyrian Empire is the second. The third is the Chaldean or Babylonian Empire, followed by the fourth empire: Persia. And then the fifth, Greece. These kingdoms, and their kings, had risen in history and had already fallen by the time John received this vision. The angel then tells John that the sixth kingdom ruled at the time of this vision. Since John saw this vision around A.D. 95, it is safe to assume that this kingdom is that of Rome. Then the angel informs John that there is one more kingdom yet to come. That seventh and final kingdom, at the end of time, will give rise to the eighth and final kingdom of the Antichrist.
So, there is one more kingdom to come yet. One more powerful kingdom or nation or political entity that will wield great power in the world. It will have the technological skills, the medicine, the power to make war and win, the diplomacy, the humanitarian infrastructure that is of huge influence in all the world. All the world will look to this last kingdom or nation to take the lead in world politics and economy. They will look to this country to lead them into a new world order. That, then, is the seventh kingdom that will guide the world into the final, all-powerful eighth kingdom of the Antichrist.
The final world power or world empire of the Antichrist, we are told in verse 11, is the eighth kingdom—the final realization, the embodiment of all the other kingdoms that go before it. This kingdom will come out of the seventh empire or nation. The seventh nation will be the inspiration behind all of mankind joining together in one grand and glorious kingdom of the earth, the Antichrist, the new order of the world.
Let us be clear on this point. The Bible does not identify this seventh kingdom for us. It does not say particularly what nation of this earth is going to be the last world power that will lead the world into the dawning of the age of the Antichrist. It will be a western power. We cannot look to the East for this power to rise. It is a western power, as we are going to see in a moment. What western nation is of such power, or ever shall be of such power, to lead the world?
I have my own personal opinion. In my own reasoning, this nation fits in well with the other signs that we watch. But, since Scripture does not identify that kingdom, we will refrain today from opinions. We can be certain, however, that this final realization of the Antichrist will be a powerful, powerful kingdom. It will be an empire that no one will be able to resist. We say this, first of all, because in verse 9 of our text, the angel describes these kingdoms of the past as mountains. According to Scripture, when a kingdom is called a mountain, it refers to its greatness and power—a kingdom that is able to conquer the earth, truly an empire. And that is why, when we identified the seven kingdoms, we spoke of the major empires that ruled the earth. We spoke of empires that had gone forth conquering lands and peoples to place them under its rule.
Well, such will be the Antichrist. It will be a mountain, a powerful nation, an empire that will, by its power and rule, awe the smaller nations of the earth into submission. Peoples of the earth will worship the Antichrist. According to Revelation 13, they will exclaim, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” We can be sure that the people of this world will come to look to the Antichrist to resolve the problems and differences present in the world.
In order to reach that place of authority and might, the Antichrist must be the most powerful kingdom in all of history. And he will be powerful because the Antichrist will be a worldwide empire. It will encompass all the nations and countries of the earth. There will not be one little nation that would dare stand outside of the control of this empire. The Antichrist will indeed be a new world order. It will be under a world constitution, having a world economy. All the kingdoms of the earth will have a part in it and will have a certain say in what is happening in it. We are looking at an empire so great that all the earth will rejoice and feel that at long last it has reached the ultimate goal of all things. There will be peace on earth. And everyone will live together in harmony and love.
It will be the dawning of a new age. The fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of many since, at least, the 1960s. Who can forget the song of John Lennen entitled: “Imagine.” Listen to its lyrics:
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us; above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today. Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for; and no religion, too. Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.
That is the Antichrist!
But where does Scripture teach us that this empire is indeed going to be worldwide? We learn of that, once again, from the verses we consider. We are told that there are ten kings that will give their power and rule to the Antichrist. The Antichrist himself is going to arise out of the West and encompass the western nations. We say this, first of all, because the powerful empire spoken of in verses 10 and 11 of this passage are empires, the first of which found their seat, their center of power, in the mid-East. But then, to Asia Minor. Rome then grasped hold of the power and moved the center of rule to Europe itself. If the seventh kingdom is related to these, then it is clear that the power of the Antichrist will arise out of the West, yet, and not the East.
We say this secondly and, perhaps even more conclusively, because the Antichrist will arise out of those countries who have been under the direct influence of Christianity. We will consider this in detail next time. But the one who rides on the heads of the beast, the one who is carried on the back of these empires is the great harlot. And as we will find, the harlot of Revelation 17 is the false Christian church, the apostate church. Where Christianity has spread, so also the empire of the Antichrist will arise. The Antichrist, therefore, will arise out of the Christianized West rather than the pagan East.
This is also made clear when in verses 12, 13, and 17 we read of the ten kings: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
These kingdoms, we are told, have, until the time of the Antichrist, received no kingdom. Throughout the historical development of this world, these ten kings have not been able to gain enough power to rule the world. Now, that does not mean they do not have the capability of becoming a great empire. They simply have not in the past. They were never influential in the world because they were too small or too underdeveloped. What makes the kingdom of Antichrist worldwide is that these less powerful nations, with one mind, agree to give what power they have to the antichristian kingdom. This is what makes the antichristian kingdom the eighth kingdom. Even the seventh kingdom may be powerful. But it is not universal. As soon as this seventh kingdom that arises at the end of time negotiates and allies itself with these ten kings, then it becomes the eighth kingdom—the antichristian kingdom.
These ten kings are the eastern nations of this world. They are the kingdoms of the earth that have so far been the smaller, poorer, or more underdeveloped nations of the earth. These nations, we are told, are of one mind with each other. They agree with each other on something. They do not like Christianity, no matter what form it takes. They are pagan. They do not agree with Christianity. But they are willing to enter into political federation with the Antichrist because of the huge advantages—economically, medically, technologically, and so on—that will be theirs as a part of that kingdom.
That there are ten kings is symbolic. It simply means that the pagan countries of this world will all lend their power for a time to the Antichrist. Not just a few of them, but all of them. The idea of the number ten is that of completeness. They will become a part, a suspicious part, but a part of that final realization of the Antichrist. We are told in verse 17 that, according to God’s sovereign control over the hearts of men, these pagan nations will agree to join with the Antichrist. They will consult one another, maybe by means of their own league, and will come to an agreement. And they will agree to be a part of that worldwide kingdom of peace and economic prosperity. They will latch hold of the dream of fallen, unbelieving man. They will attempt to enter into this brotherhood of all men.
Out of this agreement, then, will emerge the superpower, the greatest world power of all times, the kingdom of the new age, the grand and glorious kingdom of man, the new world order, the Antichrist.
Now, all of this is rather overwhelming. It is alarming for the child of God. We who live in the last days see for ourselves how this prophecy is being fulfilled already now. It takes spiritual eyes to see and believe it, but those who are given such eyes watch the development of this antichristian kingdom right now in our present world. The believer knows that all of this is taking place according to God’s sovereign will and good pleasure.
We learn in verse 17 that God has put it in the hearts of the fallen human race to join together in this kingdom. According to God’s sovereign, all-controlling will, He is directing the development even of the antichristian kingdom. That is why we say this kingdom of Antichrist is limited. At the end of verse 10 we read that the Antichrist must continue a short space. The Antichrist must come to power because this is the way that God has chosen to save His church by the second coming of Christ. But the antichristian kingdom continues only for a short while. Man will never fully reach his utopia on earth. The dream of the unbeliever can never be realized. The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, must prevail. We need not fear, but we rest assured in the sovereign will of God who will use even this to bring about Christ’s return.
Let us pray.
Our gracious God and heavenly Father, we are thankful for Thy Word and for the guidance that it gives us in our lives. Even as we look for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we also watch this sign of the antichristian kingdom develop in this world. We are thankful for the assurance that all these things are under Thy divine control. Father, we pray, strengthen us by Thy Word. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Rev. Wilbur G. Bruinsma (Wife: Mary)
Ordained: October 1978
Pastorates: Faith, Jenison, MI - 1978; Missionary to Jamaica - 1984; First, Holland, MI - 1989; Kalamazoo, MI - 1996; Eastern Home Missionary - 2006; Pittsburgh PRC - 2016.Website: www.prcpittsburgh.org/
Address216 Thornberry Dr.
State or ProvincePennsylvania