The Rise & Evolution of the Antichrist:
Revelation 6,12,13, & 17
To those who know how to interpret the heavens,
Kisses, hugs, and spiritual gifts to you, weathermen and weatherwomen.
When we think of Adolf Hitler, we tend to think only of the climactic horrors of his short-lived absolute monarchy. Attentive students of mechanism and process, however, see more: a circumstance-enabled, pragmatic evolution from a desperate Germany to a superpatriot savior of Germany to a mass murderer warlord to a Eurasian ruler. Remember that evolution.
Prophecy functions like Russian matryoshka dolls. Smaller, lesser foreshadows increasingly preview the final big one. Each silhouette fulfillment increases in size, intensity, and detail until the final fulfillment. What Nimrod first tried to do, and Pharaoh, and the Assyrian tyrants, and Nebuchadnezzar, and Haman, and Antiochus Epiphanes of Seleucid Greece, and the Roman emperors, and Adolf Hitler...all silhouette what a final Antichrist figure will do to a truly unprecedented extent (Mt 24:21). The penultimate matryoshka doll and most recent foreshadow--Adolf Hitler and his rise and evolution--silhouette with exactness the Antichrist's rise and evolution described in the book of Revelation. Four chapters bullet-point that arc: Revelation 6,12,13, and 17.
The Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation was written immediately to the seven churches in western Turkey (Rev 1:11), secondarily to the churches in the circulatory system of that time (2:7,11,17,29, 3:6,13,22), and ultimately to the entire bride (1:3, 22:26,17). The book is an elaboration of an important phrase that runs through the New Testament: the revelation of Jesus Christ (1Co 1:7, 2Th 1:7, 1Pet 1:7). The phrase refers to the Second Coming, Jesus finally revealing Himself to the world in His full identity, not as a man in first-century Nazareth, but as God the Son.
The book describes the world and its systems, events, and main actors just before Jesus' revealing. The main actor is a Mediterranean and global leader illustrated to John as a grotesque beast, whom John called "the antichrist" in his first letter (1Jn 2:18). This Antichrist figure is Satan's final anti-God, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian dictator, the last and greatest in a very long line that began with Nimrod.
Scripture gives this figure many nicknames and tropes to help us understand various aspects of him. Ponder this description in Daniel 8:23,24 (NIV): ...a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise...He will cause astounding devastation... The literal Hebrew for fierce-looking king is "fierce of face". Think of Hitler's abyss-filled eyes and concrete-shut stern jaws.
This "fierce of face" Hitler redux will first emerge, however, in a non-fierce, non-scary form. He will emerge as a white knight. A fake white knight.
A Fake White Knight Emerges
Revelation 6:1,2 (Young's Literal Translation): And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as it were a voice of thunder, 'Come and behold!' and I saw, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a bow, and there was given to him a crown, and he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome.
Adolf Hitler used political agreements to dazzle and lull the nations around him into a false peace, like the Munich Agreement over the Sudetenland and the Warsaw Pact with the Soviet Union. In identical fashion, John writes, the Antichrist will emerge politically on a proverbial white horse, with a bow, but amazingly, no arrows. We'll get to that in a sec.
Daniel, four times, tells us this leader will rise like a white knight towards Israel and others, using intrigues and agreements to abracadabra the world into feeling secure. 8:25 (NIV): He will cause deceit to prosper...When they feel secure... 9:27 (NIV): He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven."... 11:21 (NKJV): ...he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. 11:24 (NIV): When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade...
A Bow with No Arrows?
The white horseman is, conspicuously, without arrows. Only a bow is mentioned. Some have suggested it should be assumed the arrows are in a quiver on his back. Fair point, fair possibility. In all the Bible there are around forty scriptures total in which only a bow is mentioned; the arrows are either silently assumed, or, there are genuinely no arrows at all (Gen 48:22, Jsh 24:12, 1Sam 2:4, 18:4, 2Sam 1:18,22, 22:35, 2Ki 6:22, 1Chr 5:18, 8:40, 14:8, 17:17, 2Chr 26:14, Neh 4:13,16, Job 29:20, 30:11, Ps 18:34, 37:14,15, 44:6, 46:9, 78:9,57, Isa 13:18, 21:15, 22:3, 41:2, Jer 6:23, 49:35, 50:42, 51:3,56, Hos 1:5,7, 2:18, 7:16, Zec 9:10, 10:4, Rev 6:2).
The weakness of this assumption, however, is that none, not one, of the above forty scriptures refer to the Lord. They all refer to an earthly, human bow. On the contrary, in all the Bible there are twenty scriptures that refer to the Lord's archery, and, all twenty mention arrows or grammatically imply arrows are present (Deu 32:23,42, 2Sam 22:15, Job 6:4, 16:13, Ps 7:13, 18:14, 21:12, 38:2, 45:5, 64:7, 77:17, 120:4, 144:6, Lam 2:4, 3:12,13, Eze 5:16, Hab 3:11, Zec 9:13,14). For example, Psalm 21:12 and Lamentations 2:4 do not use the word "arrows", but they grammatically imply arrows with the phrase "drawn bow" and "bent bow", meaning an arrow was primed and ready to shoot.
What do these archery scriptures indicate to us? A human archer may or may not have arrows, but the Lord, the Archer of heaven, is never without arrows. This directly influences our understanding of the white horseman: he cannot be the Lord. The uniform, unbroken testimony of all twenty scriptures is that the Lord is never without arrows. The interpretive and logical raw material indicate the white horseman is not Jesus, but an illustration of the Antichrist's seemingly-peaceful, seemingly-winsome emergence. In other words, he first appears as harmless as a bow with no arrows. Discern the metaphor.
There is more. Let's go deeper.
Nimrod's Bow & Antichrist's Bow
The first shall be last is a versatile divine law with multiple layers and possible applications. This divine law was not introduced by Jesus (Mt 19:30, 20:16), as many assume. If you know the Word like your life depends on it, you know this law was introduced by the Spirit of prophecy through Balaam, in Numbers 24:20 (NKJV): ...Amalek was first among the nations, but shall be last until he perishes. It is a versatile principle with multiple layers and possible configurations.
This principle gives us profound, profound insight into the iconic bow the white horseman possesses. The world's very first anti-God dictator, Nimrod, began his career with a bow; he was originally a hunter (Gen 10:8,9). The world's last anti-God dictator, Antichrist, also begins his career with a bow. The first shall be last.
To Conquer & To Conquer (To Overcome & To Overcome)
John sees, "...he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome" (YLT). English translators of the Bible, trying to capture the intent of the context, often translate this phrase as "he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest" (NIV) or "he went out conquering and to conquer" (NKJV) or something similar. The literal Greek reads, "...he went forth to overcome [nikao] and to overcome [nikao]." The same verb, nikao, is repeated twice, which can be translated as "overcome" or "conquer".
This gives us insight into Antichrist's thinking: from this moment on he is intent on overcoming militarily, whereas before he was intent on overcoming through passive-aggressive social skills. At this moment he is done with charismatic magic and shifts into a stern-faced warlord. His fake white knight act has gained him position and resources, now he is poised for war. He mobilizes people and assets, or as John words it, "he went forth".
A Fiery Horse & Mega-Weapon Emerges
Revelation 6:4 (NKJV): Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
The white horseman phase illustrates Antichrist's fake political and social winsomeness, and secret mobilization for war. The fiery red horseman phase illustrates the actual commencement of those wars. We could call these Antichrist's general wars, but they amount to World War III.
At the red horseman stage, the Antichrist does not yet target Israel or Christians or the Harlot. He wants territory, manpower, and resources for later wars. Think of Adolf Hitler's progression. His remilitarization of the Rhineland, annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland, and invasion of continental Europe all prepared the way for later and greater goals: the liquidation of "undesirables" and the invasion of the Soviet Union. Antichrist follows an identical phased war effort, beginning here with War Phase One, the red horseman phase.
Not Merely Red, but Fiery
When the second horseman is called forward, John does not say it is literally "red" (Greek erythros), he says it is "fiery" (Greek pyrros). We get our English words pyro and pyromania and pyrotechnics from this Greek word. What is the Holy Spirit, writing in John, conveying through this feature?
Judging by the fallout of the fiery red horseman phase--widespread famine, disease and pestilence, animals roaming hungry, a fourth of the earth's population erased (Rev 6:5-8)--it seems clear Antichrist uses nuclear weapons in this phase. This is the idea of "a fiery horse", and its companion phrase, "a great sword". The literal Greek of the latter is "mega sword", which in today's vernacular would translate as "mega weapon", i.e., nuclear weapons. Peter was the first New Testament writer to hint at nuclear devastation; he mentioned "blood and fire and billows of smoke" in the final seasons before the End (Ac 2:19,20). John tells us it starts here, in Antichrist's general wars, when a fire-horse wields a mega-weapon.
But, the Antichrist, still needs a supernatural dimension to pull off a global conquest. He needs Satan.
Satan's Panorama & Intervention
Revelation 12:3 (NKJV): And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
Roughly halfway into Revelation, the Antichristic storyline phase-shifts again into what Jesus referred to as "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Mt 24:21 NKJV). What precipitates this never-seen-before global horror? Satan intervenes and directly helps Antichrist. Revelation 12:12 (NKJV): ...Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.
Satan's Panoramic Plan
The red dragon vision is supremely enlightening about Satan's grand scheme. Christians tend to think of Satan solipsistically (oh the irony)--on a smaller and personal scale, as a dark force tempting them to lie, steal, kill, destroy, be depressed, have anxiety, overreact, break rules, etc. The reality is, 99% of us have never encountered Satan himself in spiritual warfare; he is not omnipresent. 99% of us deal with the vast demonic superstructure that functions in his name, under his panoramic plan (Eph 6:11,12). Satan spends most of his time on high-level projects and high-level leaders. One of those projects, we see in Revelation 12, is empire building. A smidgen of common sense will tell you about the wicked utility of having an empire.
Seven Heads with Seven Crowns, Ten Horns
The seven heads with seven crowns, and ten horns, tell us about Satan's empires. I will greatly simplify here for the sake of time and space. If you would like to see the hermeneutical arithmetic, please reply to this email or send me a note through the Contact page.
Seven Heads with Seven Crowns
What the Lord is showing John--a dragon with seven heads--is that Satan is the source and executor of seven Mediterranean, anti-Israel, anti-God empires. The locations of these empires are embedded in Daniel 7's beasts, with some locations having multiple periods of dominion over Israel. John and Daniel are seeing different perspectives of the same storyline. That storyline is, Satan has used seven Mediterranean empires to oppose Israel. If we arranged the seven heads/empires/locations in chronological order of peak power over Israel, when they had their "crown" period, it would look like this: (1) Egypt, (2) Assyria, (3) Babylon, (4) Medo-Persia, (5) Greece, (6) Rome, (7) Turkey.
From the birth of Israel in Egypt to her rebirth in 1948, Israel has been ruled, oppressed, desecrated, or targeted for extermination by seven consecutive empires. These are the dragon's seven heads, each with its own "crown" or period of rule over Israel.
The red dragon also has ten horns. These horns are not spread out evenly across the seven heads, they are on one head only. Pictures that depict the horns as spread out have erred and failed to read Daniel 7 more attentively. Correct the error!
Daniel saw the ten horns on the head of the fourth beast only (Dan 7:7). He said, explicitly, "I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head..." (v20 NIV). The Aramaic word here for "head" is re's, and it is in the singular form. The ten horns are on one re's only.
Thus, in John's vision, the heads on the dragon are imported directly and unaltered from Daniel's vision. This means, once again, only one of the dragon's heads has the ten horns.
What do the ten horns mean? Revelation 17:12,13 tell us, with easy and precise language (NIV): The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.
The ten horns are some type of alliance of leaders who will enable the final Antichrist. Reiterating Daniel, John sees them on one head only, the seventh and last and greatest head, and will appear in the last days to support Antichrist. Like the seven heads, these ten horns are on the dragon, Satan--they are his. This means Satan himself will inspire the organization of this ten-king alliance and Satan himself will inspire their fealty to Antichrist.
The Antichrist's Evolution
Revelation 12, the vision of the red dragon, is crucial to understanding the Antichrist and his evolution. It is not just a neat or cool metaphor. The Holy Spirit is trying to show us something panoramic and utilitarian about Satan's master plan. The dragon has been working on anti-Israel empires since Egypt, and he will prepare one final empire for his Antichrist. Within that last empire, Satan will inspire ten horns or leaders to be the ultimate enablers.
What we learn here is that unless Satan intervenes with the full muscle of his power and authority, the fake white knight turned mega-weapon warlord would be just another self-destructive dictator. Satan needs a ruler of a global antichristic system, he needs more than a fiery warlord (which are a dime a dozen at any given time). Daniel 8:24 and Revelation 13:2 summarize Satan's intervention and Antichrist's evolution into his next state (NIV): He will become very strong, but not by his own power...The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
A Sea Beast Conquers & Organizes
Revelation 13:1,2 (NIV): ...And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns...The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.
The sea beast, or conglomerate beast, has near-identical features to the dragon (the crowns have moved), meaning, Satan is reproducing himself in the Antichrist man and his geopolitical power base. (And directing billions of demons into his mission.) The result is hard to imagine. The beast cannot be stopped militarily, causing the entire planet to ask, some happily, some ominously, "Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Rev 13:4). Consequently, the beast was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast (v7,8). The word "every" includes the United States.
The Saints Now Targeted
The sea beast phase is the first time Antichrist targets the saints. This is unsurprising since we are told twice the dragon gives him his authority and personality (v2,4). Satan's ax to grind against God, Israel, and Christians (12:17) becomes the Antichrist's ax to grind (13:7). This prompts the question, who are "the saints" in Revelation 13:7,10 (NKJV)? Believing Israelis? The church? Those born-again during the Great Tribulation? I will address this briefly in the final section, How is This Relevant to Me?
An Assistant Emerges, The Sea Beast Organizes
Satan needs a ruler of a global antichristic system, not merely a fiery warlord or a sea beast that cannot be stopped. A subplot develops when Satan raises up a land beast, called the false prophet (Rev 13:11-18), to help the Antichrist with public relations (via miracles, signs, and wonders), economics (get the mark or starve), administration (a ten-horn system), and compulsory worship (worship AI replicas of Antichrist or die).
A Scarlet Beast Destroys the Harlot
Revelation 17:3 (NIV): Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
The scarlet beast has near-identical features to the dragon and the sea beast, the only difference, again, is the movement of the crowns (a side subject I must bypass for this article). The Antichrist is illustrated with the color scarlet here, because, he and the Harlot have worked together in a psychopathic symbiosis to become "drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (17:6 NKJV). During this stage, however, Antichrist phase-shifts yet again, turning on the Harlot and targeting her. Verse 16 says (NIV), The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
Who is the Harlot?
There are several theories as to who the Harlot is, each with its own strength and weaknesses. We can, however, pinpoint the descriptors as to what she is like. She is an international system, a religious system, and an exceedingly wealthy system (Rev 17,18). Whatever this system is, the Antichrist works with it for most of his career. She rides him (meaning she guides him to some degree), but he is the one carrying her (meaning he provides the basis or essentials for her existence). He and his ten-ruler team hate her deep down, though, and when this phase comes, they end her power ("bring her to ruin"), humiliate her ("leave her naked"), devour her resources ("eat her flesh"), and destroy her ("burn her with fire").
During the fake white knight stage, Antichrist emerges into the public with a Great Guy charm offensive, with unmatched political and social skills, with charismatic magic, yet secretly preparing for war (Rev 6:1,2). During the fiery red horseman stage, he fights general wars for more territory, manpower, and resources (v3,4). During the sea beast stage, with Satan's direct intervention and burning resentment (12:12,17), he takes the rest of the world (with a few exceptions) and targets the saints for captivity/prison or extermination (13:10). During the scarlet beast stage, Antichrist turns on the Harlot and destroys her (17:16).
There is one more phase Antichrist enters, which induces Armageddon and the Second Coming, but I will stop there for now. The aforementioned cover the entirety of his career until pre-Armageddon.
How is This Relevant to Me?
If it is in God's Word it matters to Him, and therefore, it must matter to you.
After Moses, Jesus, and Paul, the Antichrist is the most discussed person in Scripture. Do you think the omniscient God made a mistake by giving us all this information via forty Spirit-inspired authors? Your comfort level with certain subjects does not change the nature of truth. 2Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture is God-breathed, the parts that make you feel all lovey dovey and warm and fuzzy, and the parts that offend or terrify you. We cannot love God and not love all His Word, "for you have magnified your word above all your name" (Ps 138:2 NKJV) and "the entirety of your word is truth" (119:160 NKJV).
Seeker-sensitive Christians, cherrypicking the Bible for what makes your feelings feel good and for what idolizes your earthly wishlist, repent and return to God!
The Rapture Fiasco
There are five main theories on when the rapture will happen: pretrib, midtrib, prewrath, posttrib, and phased. Each one has convincing strengths and problematic weaknesses. This has generated a messy fiasco in the born-again community, especially among those who are literate in eschatology. I have zero interest in entering the fiasco, except to bring the whirlwind of Yahweh and call everyone back to what really matters. I encourage you, then, to be well-educated on all the theories and be ready for anything, as Jesus said many times. One thing is absolutely certain: someone with the testimony of Jesus will be on the earth during Antichrist's rise and evolution (Rev 12:17, 13:7,10, 17:6). No matter what, be educated Biblically and encounter the Presence daily and obediently. Ultimately and functionally, it does not matter when the rapture will happen if we walk with God in holy unending obsession, in life or in death, in comfort or in pain, in prosperity or in poverty, with our head in clouds of glory or on Antichrist's chopping block.