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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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2-3 Babylon And Antichrist

Zech. 5:5-11 outlines a vision in which a woman who personifies “wickedness” is put into a basket with a heavy lead over, to stop her from escaping. This basket is then taken to Babylon to have a temple built around it. The idea of God restraining wickedness is undoubtedly picked up in the prophecy of the “man of sin” who is presently restrained, but will be released in the last days. Zechariah’s vision says that the “house” or temple of Babylon will rise again “when it is ready” (Zech. 5:11). The city where mankind’s first rebellion began against God will be the place where the final rebellion will be based.

2 Thess. 2:3 is clear enough that the “man of sin” will arise in the last days immediately before the Lord’s return. We need not think that Christ is about to return until we see this person gloriously enthroned “as God”. This is what Paul seems to be saying. And when the Lord was asked for the signs of His coming, he started off by warning that false Christs would come (Mt. 24:4,5). 1 Jn. 2:18 says just the same: “It is the last time [RV “hour”]: 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 was true in the run up to AD70, and it will be true in the ultimate last hour too. Ezekiel 38 likewise speaks of a man called ‘Gog’, a “chief prince”, who would come against God’s people at the time of the end.

This is the man of whom Dan. 8:25 speaks- “he will destroy many and will stand up against the Prince of princes”, the Lord Jesus. This person is therefore and thereby ‘anti-Christ’, against Christ. One of Daniel’s terms for the antiChrist is “the little horn”. This alludes to the Semitic practice of anointing leaders- when the horn of oil was poured on the head, it seemed as if a horn was coming out of the head of the leader. This “little horn” is associated with, to the point that he is, the “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). This only had a partial fulfiment in Antiochus Epiphanes, because the Lord Jesus says Himself that this “abomination” will appear in the very last days as the special sign of His return. The vision concerned “the time of the end” (Dan. 8:16,17). There are often big leaps in Bible prophecy to the end time- and here we have such an example. Having spoken of the break up of Alexander’s Kingdom, Dan. 8:23,24 jumps right ahead to the last days: “In the latter part of their reign…a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastatiojn and will succedd in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people”. And yet he, or “the Prince of [his] host” will by himself offer “the daily sacrifice” [see Pulpit Commentary on the textual problems here]. This along with 2 Thess. 2 and other passages demands a rebuilt temple to exist in Jerusalem, where Antichrist sits. And it can be no accident that the Jews are determined to build one. Perhaps they may have short term victory over their Arab enemies in order to do this. And then the Lord will come suddenly to His holy temple (Mal. 3:1) to destroy the Antichrist system enthroned there.

The little horn takes a stand against the Prince of princes and then is destroyed “but not by human power” (Dan. 8:25), i.e. he will be destroyed by the stone [Jesus] cut out without human hands. This is just the language of 2 Thess. 2, of how the Antichrist will be destroyed by the Lord’s sudden return. Micah and Isaiah call this individual “the Assyrian” (Is. 10:5; 14:25). We have shown elsewhere that the description of Lucifer being thrown out of heaven can be read as describing the fall of a future King of Babylon in the last days. The most comfortable understanding of antiChrist as being an Assyrian / Babylonian is that he will be an Assyrian / Babylonian, and ruler of those areas. A leader of Iraq would ideally suit this. And their leadership shows every sign of the aggression, meglomania and anti-Semitism which will characterize the antiChrist. Note too that Gog is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal- areas identified by some as being in present Iran / Iraq. The number of the beast is the number of a man (Rev. 13:18); he becomes personally identified with the system that persecutes the saints and Israel in the last days.

The “man of sin” will sit in the temple of God and proclaim that he is God. This is surely the “abomination that maketh desolate” that the Lord Jesus predicted would sit in the temple just prior to His return. The abomination makes “desolate”, clearly referring to Jerusalem being made desolate by Babylonian / Iraqi invaders (Dan. 9:2,17). Luke 21:20 parallels “the abomination that maketh desolate” in Mt. 24 and Mk. 13 with “the desolation of Jerusalem”. The abomination / abominator will stand “where he ought not” (Mk. 13:14 RV). He is the “one that maketh desolate” (Dan. 9:27 RV). A specific individual is clearly implied. Dan. 8:13 RV describes this person as “the transgression that maketh desolate”- yet it is the abominator that makes Jerusalem desolate. Therefore “the transgression” is surely being put by metonymy for a man, who will sit in the Most Holy place and make Jerusalem desolate. And 2 Thess. 2 says just the same- “the man of sin / transgression”. The whole tenor of the Daniel prophesies is that they refer to an individual who will arise in the last days- not someone like a Pope sitting in St. Peter’s for centuries. The vision of the 2300 days of abomination- the days during which the abominator will make Jerusalem desolate- “belongs to the latter days” (Dan. 8:26). These are the days during which the sanctuary and the host of God’s people will be “trodden under foot”; interpreted by the Lord as Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled”.

It is quite clear that the Iraqi leadership would dearly love to sit and stand in the Sanctuary if they could get their hands on Jerusalem [as they vow they will]. He will sit there “as God”. Another place where we read of a man sitting in the temple proclaiming that he is God is in Ez. 28:2, where the King of Tyre proudly says that he sits as God ruling the seas of the people. The King of Tyre was a prototype for the latter day man of sin. And he was an Arab, too- what we would call a Lebanese. It could even be that the rebuilding of Babylon is to be associated with a rebuilding of Tyre. One of Nimrod’s characteristics- the founder of Babylon- was that he filled the face of the earth with cities. The King of Tyre was “in Eden the garden of God” where he was “anointed” and beautifully adorned (Ez. 28:12,14). These descriptions may be further information about the serpent in Eden, although omitted from the Genesis account. In this case, the fake-Christ [annointed one] is “the old serpent”, just as the latter day beast leader will be (Rev. 12). The beast is so often paralleled with its leader, just as the little horn seems to refer to both a leader and a nation / political system. The sudden destruction that comes upon Antichrist in 2 Thess. 2 is the same kind of thing spoken of in 1 Thess. 5:3- “When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh”. The saying of peace and safety is exactly the language of Daniel regarding the false peace produced in the very last days by Antichrist. It could well be that under Babylon’s domination there is a brief boom period for the entire world. This ensures his political survival, and explains why all the world’s merchants will weep at his fall. This sorrow by the traders hardly seems likely to happen if the Vatican was destroyed. This person will accuse the brethren of Christ before the throne of God (Rev. 12:10), but will be thrown down by the Lord’s return and the establishment of the Kingdom. This is exactly the language of 2 Thess. 2 about the antichrist who is to be destroyed by the Lord’s coming. Yet the idea of a false accuser of the brethren before the throne of God takes us back to Job’s satan- who seems to have been an Arab pseudo-disciple, bringing down the outpouring of vial-like judgments upon God's ’eople (cp. the scene in Revelation).

Antichrist, the man of sin, sitting in the temple of God, is surely the abomination that Jesus said is to be in the temple in the last days, leading to the final desolation. Is. 14 describes the rise and fall of the King of Babylon; he too desired to set himself as God in the temple of God, having first terrorized the nations that dwell on the ‘earth’, those situated in the land promised to Abraham between the Nile and Euphrates. This seems so on the cards for latter day Babylon in the form of Iraq- to terrorize the Arab world into accepting her leadership, and then to seek to set up the King of latter day Babylon on “the mount of God”, Zion. Finally, Nahum speaks of how there was one specific Assyrian leader who was to be destroyed by the coming of Messiah. The phrasing is so similar to that found about the “man of sin”: “There is one gone forth out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor…behold upon the mountains the feet of him [Messiah] that bringeth good tidings…the wicked one shall no more pass through…he is utterly cut off. He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face” (Nah. 1:11,15; 2:1 RV).