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Great Tribulation
المسيح الدجّال
Al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl
"the false messiah"
Introduction 3.  Antichrist as a Person  
The Tribulation  
The Expectation of Antichrist     4.  The Antichrist's Identity  
Three points need to be made at the outset:
To associate the Antichrist and the Tribulation is natural to the case as both biblically and traditionally the Tribulation has been seen as a consequence of the Antichrist's rule.
It is an unmistakable teaching of Scripture that the goal of world history is not the natural product of that history. That is, that the fullness of the future Kingdom of God does not arrive through growth and development but through tribulation and in apocalyptic judgment.
The idea that the Antichrist is an agent in this great event has long been a significant part of Christian expectation concerning the future.

the term 'Antichrist' is peculiarly Christian, the idea of an Antichrist-figure goes back to long before the Christian era. Daniel's prophecy of Antiochus Epiphanes describes an evil person with superhuman powers who opposes God and His people in the end-time (Dan.8:9-14,23-26; 11:21-12:4).
Jewish apocalyptic literature later further developed this concept (2 Esdras 5:6; Sibil.Oracles III 63ff; Apoc.Bar.36,40) and a common Old Testament name for Satan (Belial, the lawless) became used of this Antichrist figure (Sibil. Or. III 63, a Jewish portion) for he was seen as having Satan's character.
It was this idea that became general in the Christian Church, as the apostle Paul's contrastive statement in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 demonstrates concerning the believer and the world:
"righteousness" – 
"light" – 
"Christ" – 
 "Belial" (spelled 'Beliar' in Byzantine text and Textus Receptus, as in Darby, ISV)
general expectation is confirmed by the apostle John in his first letter when he says:
"You have heard that Antichrist comes" (1 Jn.2:18).
Paul's more detailed reference to him in an early letter as the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess.2:3) shows an already well defined anticipation of his coming. The last New Testament writing gives the greatest detail of his person and rule but this does not necessarily reflect any substantial development of understanding of the concept, as the nature of the book itself demands the greater detail here given (Revelation 11:7; 13:1-18; 16:10-11; 17:1-17; 19:19-20; 20:10).
In the Middle Ages the idea of Antichrist grew to become a significant factor in public thought, especially in times of crisis. 
The 10th century in particular, with the approach of the new millennium, experienced a widespread expectation of the imminent appearance of Antichrist and the end of the world (Berkhof 1969:263).
Chronology of Confusion
In the 12th century, the followers of Joachim of Fiore (of the Order of San Giovanni) identified the Christian emperor Frederick II as the Antichrist. Others later identified the Antichrist as popes Boniface VIII and John XXII. It eventually became common, in view of the general expectation, for political and religious leaders to repudiate one another by calling each other the Antichrist. 
During the 14th and 15th centuries in particular, speculation increased over the person and date of the coming of the Antichrist. Preachers gave warnings of the signs of the times and coming of Antichrist in order to drive people to repentance (Britannica 1979).
During the 16th century however, the Reformers (especially Martin Luther), attacked the papal system of the Catholic Church (but not individual popes) as being the Antichrist. This identification became a powerful public weapon to discredit and denigrate the papacy, but unfortunately the idea that Antichrist had already come in the papal system led to a general decline in expectation of an individual Antichrist, and, except in certain evangelical circles, the concept became confused with whatever opposes the lordship of Christ and tends to deify a political power within either state or church (Britannica).

tendency to see Antichrist as a system rather than a person is basic to the Historicist school of prophetic interpretation. In a variation of this view William Hendriksen sees Antichrist as –
"the persecuting power of Satan embodied in all the nations and governments of the world throughout all history".
(Hendriksen 1962:145).
Yet the general expectation of the church up to the Reformation was, as already shown, that Antichrist is a person. It is true however that John speaks of the "spirit of Antichrist" (1 Jn.4:3) and also uses the term in a general sense (1 Jn.2:22; 2 Jn.7). Nevertheless the weight of evidence for a human figure of great personal authority remains, and the attributes of this "spirit of Antichrist" are probably the elements which reach their climax of dark horror in his person. Thus Hendriksen's view and the traditional anti-papacy view are certainly true to some extent, but they do not complete the picture of Antichrist in Scripture.
The human identity of this "Man of sin" in 2 Thessalonians (2:3-9) is undeniable. Even the sign of Daniel that Jesus taught as marking the beginning of the Tribulation is very deliberately referred to in Mark's gospel (13:14) as a person (the Greek word "standing", 'hestekota' from ἵστημι, is a masculine dependent participle). The symbolic Beast of John's Revelation (13) does combine in itself the characteristics of previous persecuting world empires (Dan.7:4-8) but the tenor of Scripture throughout is that of a personal political world leader who heads up the whole world in the great rebellion ("apostasy") against God.

for the value of the interpretation of Antichrist as an age long system, the climax of evil in Daniel's little eleventh "horn" prophecy, the "mouth speaking great things" (Dan.7:8) "who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship" (2 Thess.2:4), is yet to be. The Church's longed-for "Day of the Lord" still awaits the revealing of this "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess.2:3) whose biblical profile has tantalized so many generations.
His association with Israel's religious sanctuary in Jerusalem is plain in Christ's prophecy of the end-time (Matt.24:15; Mk.13:14; Lk.21:20), and we are referred to Daniel by the writer for an understanding of it. The Daniel reference (Dan.11:31) is bracketed by the words, "those who forsake the holy covenant" and "those who violate the covenant", in a clear association with Israel's religion. Although Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes is the immediate application of this Scripture, Christ evidently regarded it as still to be fulfilled in the yet future end-time. Antiochus was, as it were, a "dry-run" for the Antichrist. Perhaps this explains why John is told that the Beast
"was and is not and is to come" (Rev.17:8).
Remember, Antiochus IV characterises Antichrist but is not the Antichrist, so Antichrist does not come from Syria as is sometimes mistakenly/foolishly taught!
Should the Church then look for one who, after he recognises Israel's religious claim to the Jerusalem sanctuary, abuses that facility by turning its worship towards himself?
There is also an unmistakable link between both John's seven-headed Beast (Rev.13;17:9) and the "prince who is to come" (Dn.9:26) on the one hand, and imperial Rome, the city on "seven hills" whose people did "destroy the city and the sanctuary" on the other. Perhaps a resuscitated Roman empire in a ten state confederacy ("ten horns" 17:2) is rather the significance of "is to ascend from the bottomless pit" (17:8), and not Nero revived, as the so-called the apocryphal Ascension of Isaiah speculates (4:2) and the world toward the end of the first century AD seemed to fear.
have tried their hand at interpreting the number of Antichrist and have alternately found him
•  in Greek letters –   "Titan"  
      "Lateinos" or "Roman"   (Irenaeus, Bleek, De Wette);
      "Gaius Caesar"   (Spitta, Erbes);
•  in Hebrew letters –   "Nero Caesar"   (Fritzsche, Benary, Hitzig, Reuss);
      "Caesar of Rome"   (Ewald);
      "Caesar of the Romans"    (Manchat);
      "Trajan"   (Walenity);
      "Primal Chaos"   (Gumkel); and,
•  in Latin letters –    "Vicar of the Son of God"   
(Seventhday Adventism's wrongly alleged papal title).
See more detail:
666 Article!
extravagances which appear in the history of conjecture show that almost any name may be made to give the number 666 (Beckwith 1967:404). Irenaeus believed that John intended the name to be hidden till Antichrist had come, yet the express command, "let him who has understanding calculate the number", shows that the writer expected some to solve the puzzle at that time, and Beckwith points out that the phrase "it is the number of a man" means a definite personal name and not a descriptive title (1967:404).
Each of the various interpretations of Antichrist's identity has its own problems in the body of Scripture and, as John says, it remains for the "mind which has wisdom" to understand this argued aspect of prophecy (Rev.13:18;19:9).
The lesson of a political figure as preview of this ultimate evil in Daniel's Old Testament prophecy in which Antiochus IV Epiphanes serves as prototype of this future Antichrist, when applied to John's revelation would take us to a dead Nero Caesar as the New Testament's equivalent prototype of the character of this malicious man.
Special Note:
One of the sad things associated with this subject in recent times is the unbelievably stupid assertions of so-called researchers who point to this or that world personality as the possible Antichrist. Not only are they inexcusably ignorant of the God-given spiritual principle in the Bible's instruction to "honour the emperor" which at that time was antichrist-prototype Nero (1 Pet. 2:17), but the Word of God says that when Antichrist himself comes to power it is only because God has sent strong delusion to help him take power (2 Thess.2:11). The use of libelous association and disrespectful allegations by these pseudo-Christians who lead many astray with their pretended 'research' should be exposed for the deception that it is. Christians have nothing to fear – for the Lord is God!
One example of these deceivers is known as Mel Sanger (who calls himself Head of the Antichrist Identity Research Team) who appears to teach that American President Obama is the Antichrist (and he will sell you this information if you are willing to pay him 19.97 in American dollars, of course). Instead, the Word of God says –
"Be subject for the Lord's sake [in attitude as well as action] to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor [Nero] as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." (1 Pet.2:13-15).
Note: Obama slander!
Obedience to this is first expressed in an attitude of respect whether or not one agrees with the political policies of a particular leader. Antichrist comes when God decides, for Satan has no authority except under the supervision of the Most High who reigns forever. Hallelujah! Blessed be His name!

period referred to as the great tribulation is described in Daniel and by the Lord Jesus as absolutely unique in all human history and as a prelude to Christ's intervention, the Rapture and the Resurrection of God's people:
"there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book" (Dan.12:1)
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened" (Matt.24:21-22).
This period is three-and-a-half-years long (Dan.7:25; Rev.11:2-3; 12:6; 13:5), the duration of Christ's ministry, and results from the authority that Satan offered to Christ over the kingdoms of this world (Matt.4:8-9) being given to Antichrist (Rev.13:4,7-8) (Anderson 1969:217).
Sadly, the violation of Holy Scripture which is so common in order to make this fit a pre-Tribulation Rapture, followed by seven years of hell on earth, ignores the basic stated purpose for which the Apostle Paul wrote with reference to Antichrist taking his seat in the temple of God. Paul gives this as one of the two signs that must precede the Rapture of the Christian Church. which we know from Christ's reference to Daniel's prophecy (Matt.24:15) is 1260 days or 3½ years (midst of the week) before Christ returns –
"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him [the Rapture], ...that day will NOT come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness [Antichrist] is revealed, the son of destruction that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
The controversy in Christian circles as to whether the Church endures this reign of Antichrist or is evacuated earlier (which would annul the purpose of the above Scripture) has been further confused by a lack of distinction between two elements basic to this unique period, namely, the wrath of God and the rage of Antichrist. (See the 5 fold trigger-sequence in 'Its Start' in The Core Concept).
In both the Old and New Testaments the wrath of God upon the ungodliness of humanity is prophesied, and it is particularly associated with this time (Rev.14:9-10; 15:7).

To the prophet Isaiah: 
it is  "the day of vengeance of our God" (Isa.61:2);
To the prophet Joel: 
it is  "the great and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31);
To the apostle Paul: 
it is  "vengeance upon those who do not know God" (2 Thes.1:8) and "the day of wrath" (Rom.2:5);
To the apostle John: 
it is  "the wrath of the Lamb", "the great day of His wrath" and "the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev.6:16-17; 19:15).

is fundamental to the salvation message of the Bible that the people of God have been set free from this wrath to come through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ
1 Thess.5:9; Rom.5:9.
But this does not imply their absence from earth any more than that God's judgment on Egypt during the ten plagues implied Israel's absence from that country. Rather, the book of Revelation expressly informs us that God's people are not to be hurt by the judgments of God coming on the earth (7:2-3) until they 'sealed' in their minds. Those absent from this world do not need this assurance of protection!
The common explanation to get around this is that these 144,000 are all Jews. This error exposes a lack of attention to the detail of this symbolic passage in Revelation, as well as a lack of understanding concerning the meaning of 'twelve'. When God promised Abraham that Ishmael (father of the Arab peoples) would become twelve (Gen.17:20; 25:16), it had special meaning to Abraham before Isaac was even conceived.
in God's order the cycle of the year is divided into twelve months, so had Abraham understood after he had been in Egypt (which divided daylight into twelve parts and night into twelve parts as being under the administration of God Most High) the meaning of God's special promise to him – that God would supervise and manage little Ishmael's future. It would be under God's own government. This is what the number twelve mean, and it the reason why Israel was composed of twelve tribes. So '12' points to God not to Israel!
The meaning of Twelve
These 144,000 (12x12x1000) are what Paul calls the "Israel of God" (Gal.6:16), those who are new creation in Jesus Christ. They are sealed. And before they are ready the winds of judgment are held back until such time as the impress of the ownership of God upon them has made them ready!
Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians seems absolutely conclusive, and texts of Scripture that seem to teach otherwise must surely be read in terms of this their larger context:
"God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted,
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus"

Second Coming Undivided!
The signs given in 2 Thessalonians 2, as to what must first happen before "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet Him" (2:1), read in the light of the earlier letter, teach the Church's presence on earth during the Tribulation. Revelation also seems to teach this when it pauses in prophesying the course of events for the great battle of Armageddon to remind us that Christ comes suddenly as a thief and therefore to be ready (16:15-16).
The pre-tribulation school of thought has laid great stress on a distinction between Israel and the Church concerning this time. But, there can be absolutely no distinction between a believing Jew and a Gentile believer who is added to the "commonwealth of Israel" (Eph.2:12-19), nor can an unbelieving Israel ever be described as "saints" (Rev.13:7) against whom Antichrist makes war and is thus considered as making war on the Lamb (Rev.19:19). The truths of Scripture are, in this school of thought, being forced into a system of interpretation which is not natural to their biblical context and therefore violate their intention.
The rage of Antichrist is the product of:
"the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short" (Rev.12:12).
This future event is a consequence of Satan's function before the Throne of God as 'Accuser of our brothers' coming to an end. In this, the principle enunciated by the Holy Spirit through Paul to the Corinthian believers reaches its full and ultimate climax:
"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete."
(2 Cor.10:5-6)
See: The Hidden Time
The Antichrist is "allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them" (Rev.13:7) which agrees with the fate of the 'Elijah' and 'Moses' ministries which end in death (Rev.11:7) in a privileged identification with Christ's suffering. Christ plainly taught regarding this time that "he who endures to the end" of this period "will be saved" (Mat.24:13-14) and that "by your endurance you will gain your lives" (Lk.21:19).
The Tribulation is brought to an abrupt close (Mat.24:22) by the glorious return of Jesus Christ in power and great glory. Paul and Zechariah confirm each other in describing the destruction of those opposed to God by the radiant glory of the Lord's coming (Zech.14:3-4,7,12; 2 Thes.2:8). Christ declared that He would send out His angels and
"they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Mat.24:31), or,
"from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven" (Mk.13:27).
The parallel to this of Paul's teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4 is more than coincidence and, without incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, must govern our understanding of these Scriptures.
  Thus – out of the birth-pains of the great tribulation, the creation itself enters the Kingdom of God. Hallelujah!
So this future terror is but the prelude to the state of eternal Blessedness, inaugurated by the return and intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

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