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The Scroll of Revelation, 28 – Antichrists Through The Ages
Revelation 17:3, 8-14
Close up: “the beast from the sea”
Chapters 13 and 17 could be companion pieces, both telling about the two groups, beast and rider, who will do Satan’s will in harmony in the last hours of history. Certainly, if this is true, there is an additional meaning that the woman “sits on many waters” (17:1), and the beast, accordingly, rises “out of the sea “(13:1). Thus, although chapter 17 is widely thought to be about “Babylon”, an equal place is given to Babylon’s main client, “the beast.” Likewise the beast shares chapter 13 with “the false prophet”, possibly the head of Babylon.
The Antichrist is first mentioned in 17:3 as a “scarlet” beast. The woman herself is dressed in the same color (17:4). Only one other person who wore scarlet in the New Testament, Jesus himself, was humiliated at the hands of Herod’s men (Matthew 27:28). Although he is King, and was, and will reign forever and ever, how inappropriate it was for Christ to be dressed in the king’s robes before the Time. How inappropriate to see his followers exposed. How clear are these customs of dress and material of the things that mark the confessional church as something of the beast!
Next in 17:3 comes the sign of “blasphemous names”, connecting it squarely with an animal 13:5-6. Also the reference to seven heads and ten horns takes us to 13:1 and portions of Daniel.
The description of the beast then continues in 17:8. This passage tells that a man who has already lived on this planet is even now waiting to be released from the bottomless pit. Paul agrees in II Thessalonians 2, and John’s record of an angel over that pit adds light (Revelation 9:1). He will come back to earth, work, be destroyed and be lost forever.
In 17:9 we are told that the seven heads of the beast have a double meaning. First, they stand for seven mountains or hills (the word in Greek can mean either) on which the woman is sitting. Connect this with 17:18, and we have indeed placed the city of Rome: “The woman you saw is that great city that rules over the kings of the earth. ” Here it is confirmed that “heads” represent rule, with the current rule of this seven-hill town.
But the angel takes it a step further (17:10): The seven also mean seven “kings”. Narratives connect “kings” to the Empire of the world. And it is true that there cannot be a King without a Kingdom. But the word is “King”, not “Kingdom”. Perhaps it would be beneficial to look more closely at these Empires, and the “King” that the Spirit is considering. It is obvious even from a brief study of history that not every ruler in every Empire was dead against God and God’s plan. It seems to me that there could easily be one man in the principal kingdoms who will rise up and answer the account of the man of sin for that generation. One man who from time to time pushed Satan’s agenda until it became the world’s agenda. He had to be a taster. Against God or against Christ. He had to have a real hatred of Jews and/or Christians. A dictator with all authority over his people. And as we see, the King of Babylon. Before John’s day, five such people had fallen, says the angel. One ruled on the Roman throne. One is yet to come in our own future.
And then one more (17:11). That’s eight. The man of sin, the antichrist, is one of those seven who will rule the second time! He was, that is, he was there, in John’s day. He is not “present” on earth in John’s day. And yet he lives, somewhere. He rises from the pit, thought in many Scriptures for the grave, although the angel is holding him for them now, says Paul. He rises in his “resurrection body” as Jesus did. He is deceiving the world. He is going to trouble.
Now we must surely stop and look back in history to find the other men. If I found out the truth about this matter, there are certainly seven people from whom the Spirit can give us grace to choose the very one who is revealed here as number eight. Did I say open? Oh yes, we know this secret. All the facts are out there. John was surprised about it but he was slightly rebuked! He was told (17:7) that the mystery is solvable! The book before us is not the Book of unanswered mysteries, but the Book of Revelation! Those who seek these answers must surely find them.
Seven men. I cannot start my study in Egypt, although I understand the thinking of those who do. The secrets of the enemy began at the Tower of Babel, with one “Nimrod.” I have seen him with the name “the first antichrist”. In Genesis 10 we read about his greatness and how he founded the cities of Babylon and Nineveh, the two capitals that would rule the world from his day until almost the end of the history of the Old Testament. Even Persia, which surrounds the secular history that forms the background of the Old Testament, has legends about a man who “hunted” with dogs and leopards. His reputation as a world leader has given rise to myth and legend in many cultures. Shouldn’t the founder of nations be considered the first of the “men of sin”? Josephus, a Jewish historian, in his Antiquities I, 4 says of those early days:
“. . . . . . . . . the sons of Noah . . . came from the mountains to the plains, and settled there; and they urged other people . . . who were greatly loved to come down from the highest place, to follow their example. God commanded them to plant colonies outside, for the full population of the earth… [since they had] the suspicion that they were ordered to send out separate colonies, so that, being divided from one another, they might be more easily oppressed. Now it was Nimrod who incited them to such opposition and contempt of God…he gradually changed the government to tyranny…[bringing] they are always dependent on his power. He also said that he would take revenge on God, if he had a mind to drown the world again…”
Before I move on to man number two, let me state here that since the first man in the line is the founder of Babylon, and the last man closely supports Babylon, it is possible to investigate, yes I believe, for the fans of the King of Scotland. Babylon alone, to find the men we seek. I found out that 133 men are like that. They go back to the beginning of Babylon in the 200’s BC to and beyond the end of Babylon proper, through Assyria, Persia, and even Greece! Yes, Alexander the Great and his successors called themselves “King of Babylon”.
Furthermore, Isaiah identifies a man with this title in his apocalyptic message recorded in chapter 14. Here a man called “King of Babylon” is somehow related to Lucifer! He is said to have “weakened the nations”. His pride raises him to exaggerated thoughts of his own godliness. But he is taken to the pit. It is very similar to Revelation’s account of details. Written 800 years before John.
Man number two. Historically, the Assyrian Kingdom rose with Shalmanezer I at the helm, and conquered Babylonia around 1300 BC Nineveh now reigns. But Nineveh is also from Nimrod. And the men of Assyria called themselves the King of Babylon. It’s in the blood. Babylon is the mother of all abominations and she must give them a name. Historical records help us with this label through the Greek Empire. John the Expositor adds Rome to the list.
Sennacherib was one of the most powerful rulers in Assyria. A brief mention is made of the rule, but with great importance in the Word of God. Through his men he challenged the God of Israel and the Israel of God in the 700s BC (II Kings 18), because he was looting buildings around the Promised Land. In fact he was successful in destroying the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and he felt he could claim the South (Judah) as well. His pride and self-confidence turned him into a blasphemer, one of the main requirements for Satan’s men (II Kings 19:22). His hatred for Israel and his plan to destroy them, also revealing his character and origin, was caught by God through the intercession of the king of Judah Hezekiah and the prophetic views of none other than Isaiah (II Chronicles 32).
Micah and Isaiah both speak of a man they call “the Assyrian”, a real enemy who will be defeated by the Lord. Like Isaiah’s words about the “King of Babylon” it seems almost like an end time statement in both cases, leading some to believe that the man of sin will be an Assyrian. I can almost believe this myself, but of course only in the light of a resurrected King as John predicts, not as a revival of the Assyrian nation today, an idea that seems a bit too long and not wanted by anyone in particular. text.
For the record though, Micah says that the one born in Bethlehem, the Messiah, is the one who will deliver Israel from “the Assyrian” (Micah 5:2-6). And Isaiah, in the same chapter that speaks of the “King of Babylon” and Lucifer (14), later mentions the “Assyrian”, who will be broken, removing the yoke from Israel.
Now I have suggested earlier that it is Antiochus Epiphanes who is waiting in the Pit of revelation 17:8, and I think I have good reason. But I can understand the reasoning that would make people think that it is Sennacherib. One more thing that makes note of this Assyrian: As far as I know he is the only one of the seven who was killed by the sword, (II Kings 19:37). Now, the wording of Revelation 13 does not in my opinion call for a sword for a man, but I still find Sennacherib interesting and worth further study.
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