The Signs of the Times (32): Antichrist(s)

editor - 27 January 2019

‘Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many’
Mark 13:6 (NIV)

In His Sermon on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem about the last things, Jesus also speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. When the disciples ask when this will happen and what the sign will be of the end of the age, this terrible part of world history, He starts off by first warning them about spiritual deceptions: false messiahs and false prophets. In Matthew 24 He even mentions them three times: in verse 5, 11 and 23/24. Only after this does He mention wars, earthquakes and famines as the beginning of birth pains.

It’s approximately the year 30 AD when He speaks these words. Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 AD. Over one million Jews were killed by the Romans. Hundreds of thousands dumped on the slave markets of the Middle East. Thousand taken as prisoners to Rome, many ending their lives in the gruesome gladiator fights. Does Jesus mean that between the year 30 AD and the year 70 AD many will come in His name? This is possible, because the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus reports on whole series of messiahs shortly before and after the coming of the Lord Jesus. Because it was an apocalyptic time. In the years previous to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, it seemed like the ‘end times’ had arrived.

At a genocide in Caesarea, in fights between Syrians and Jews, 20,000 Jews were killed. These two people groups were mortal enemies in many big cities in Syria. There was much unrest and many riots throughout the Roman Empire. Proper government under the wings of Rome is almost completely lacking. No less than five Roman emperors succeed each other within just a few years: Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian. Under emperor Claudius in the year 46 AD there’s a terrible famine (Acts 11:30). Under emperor Nero entire cities in Asia Minor are wiped out by earth quakes, like Laodicea for example and Hierapolis. Due to an earthquake and a volcanic eruption, Pompeii and Herculaneum are buried under the ashes in the year 63 AD. In the year 64 AD under emperor Nero, half of the eternal city of Rome goes up in flames with thousands of victims. And so on. The Roman historian Tacitus says in his writings: ‘The history on which I am entering is that of a period rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, horrible even in peace.’

This is what happens in apocalyptic times. There will be people-seducers, demagogues, would-be-saviours and self-declared-prophets with all kinds of enticing ideals, impressive ideologies and brilliant speeches and slogans, promising tempting (social) programs. These people, if given the chance, will lead the way with a great display of power and unrestrained cruel violence to what they claim will be a beautiful earthly paradise. Peace, righteousness and prosperity for all. Utopia at your fingertips, they promise! Even then.

People like a Johnathan, Theudas (Acts 5:36), Dositheos, Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9), Menander, ‘the Egyptian’ (Acts 21:38), etc. And after the fall of Jerusalem as well, for instance during the Jewish uprising under Emperor Hadrian from 132-135 AD. Bar Kokhba for example, who is greeted and acknowledged as Messiah by the famous Rabbi Akiba.

They can be reckoned among the ‘many antichrists’ that 1 John 2:18 speaks of. They don’t claim to be Jesus, but they do claim his title messiah, anointed, Christ, saviour. They are deceivers, both big and small.

The Lord Jesus warns for such people. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount for example, in Matthew 7:15-20. ‘Ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing’, He calls them. They come in their own name, not in the Name of the Father, as He said of Himself.

And He predicts in John 5:43: ‘I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.’


The Signs of the Times
Many people are afraid of the future. Will the turmoil in the world lead to World War III? Or is there still hope? What do the ancient prophecies of the Bible teach us? Are we at the beginning of the end of this world? Or are we approaching a new beginning? Could Israel be a sign of hope? In this new series Rev. Willem Glashouwer looks at 52 of the many signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible. The English edition of ‘The Signs of the Times’ is available in our webshop. Order today!

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