In this chapter the writer's objective is to show what basis there is for stating that three key antiChrists were - until recently - here on Earth at the same time. But first we should consider: with even one such antiChrist figure on the scene, this could mean loads of trouble. With three of them here, the potential for even more disaster certainly was present (even if it is much reduced now). How could this ever be a good thing?
Before looking at the evidence for three antiChrists then, can we just remind ourselves of the Goodness of God, and how God can bring triumph to this situation? By the way, if you have tasted of this Goodness, it's likely that you will see the beauty of the following verses more readily. And if that's not your experience? Well, one way forward, this witness suggests, would be to examine the case for Salvation. And one place to start that process is via this link, or this (local) one.
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons.
He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much,
the Son who got us out of the pit we were in,
got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.
We look at this Son
and see the God who cannot be seen.
We look at this Son
and see God's original purpose in everything created.
Colossians 1:13-15 (Msg.)
Turning to the question of how three antiChrists can be present at once instead of one - we might start from the verse in St John's first epistle, quoted in the Introduction. John was clear that plural antiChrists were what we had to contend with. He was aware of more than one such character existing in his day.
But we are narrowing our gaze to look only at major antiChrists,
whereas John seems to be writing about all antiChrist
characters. And in the context of "major," to repeat: most of us were
taught to watch out for the
antiChrist. So let's be sure what authority we have for saying
that these arch-rogues can come
Then I saw three foul spirits, resembling frogs,
issue from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the Wild Beast, and from the mouth of the false Prophet.
For they are the spirits of demons working miracles--
spirits that go out to control the kings of the whole earth,
to assemble them for the battle which is to take place on the great day of God, the Ruler of all.
Revelation 16:13-14 (Wey.)
Here we find three creatures that disgorge spirits. These spirits go out with a single purpose: it is to do nothing less than stir up world war!
On one reading of the above text the three creatures put out just three spirits - one spirit each. And as suggested already, there were three malevolent spirits in the WWII era - you might agree they were not hard to spot. But surely that's not the end of the story? (This witness admits it was some time before he managed to accept the alternate reading of this text. Thankfully, God is Patient.) For wouldn't it be equally valid to say that the serpent, the beast, and the false prophet could expel three spirits each - giving a total of nine antiChrists? Taking this sense for the text would fit the historical and current facts much better.
Because before a WWII could take place there had to be a
WWI, sadly. Again, like
WWII, this world war didn't arise from nowhere - it had to be
up. Unlike the WWII case, it's a little more
difficult to recognize the antiChrists for WWI. However, if we
take the broad view, three men (or, "spirits") can be spotted
- in the buildup to WWI, in the war itself, and in its
sequel for Russia. At the other end of the scale, coming back
to our time, some of us believe that the
Return of Jesus Christ is imminent. If so, Scripture surely describes
at least one more antiChrist being revealed in these days
(II Thessalonians 2:1-12, especially vs. 8).
This Prophecy also shows that Jesus
will sweep antiChrist resistance aside
when He returns.
Granted, this text is normally taken to refer to a single antiChrist and his defeat. But we can be certain that if there is one active adversary left on the scene, Jesus will deal with him; and if there are two who are now out of action, it is because the Master has already dealt with them. (And by the way, the above Thessalonians text refers to the antiChrist using more than one label - in the King James Version we see: the "man of sin," the "son of perdition," and "that Wicked" [vss. 3 and 8]. Is this a Divine Hint that we should look for more than one person being involved?)
^ Let us put names to these past "spirits": WWI era - Leopold II the king of Belgium, and two Russians: Rasputin, and Lenin. Though Leopold's demise took place before WWI, we will see next that there are links between this king and that terrible war.
First then, Leopold II of Belgium: This man took the (Belgian) Congo and made it a personal fiefdom. The land became subject to a murderous regime - millions perished while the African colony was under his charge. Genocide and the terror that went with it oiled the wheels of exploitation - abuse of the people, always at arm's length, became the hallmark of this ruler. He achieved his goal, amassing a "huge personal fortune," but at what a price! The echoes of that dreadful oppression still haunt the now-independent Democratic Republic of Congo even today(1).
While he did not see WWI itself - he passed away in 1909 - Leopold II still did much to set the tone for the terrible deeds that would follow him. His genocidal example was copied in that "First World War": slaughter of the enemy abroad was not the only lethal activity in that war; there were also moves to get rid of "enemies" within(2). In addition it is worth noting the historical linkage between Leopold II, his father, and the onset of WWI: Britain had legal obligations toward Belgium, under a treaty that was concluded in the time of Leopold's father. Without those commitments, Britain may have been less ready to join in WWI(3). And without Britain and her empire, that war would have been more limited in scope. Finally, when it came to WWII, the pattern of genocide - practised in the Congo, and continued in WWI - was taken to further lengths, the Jewish Holocaust being the best-known but not the only or the last instance(4).
Next, Grigory Efimovich Rasputin: Born of peasant stock, he gained a reputation for loose living early on. Hearing that he could combine sin and Christianity (and readily buying in to this delusion) he donned a monk's habit, impressing some in the church hierarchy while continuing to indulge his appetite for women.
He got into the Russian court - seemingly he was the only person who could save the child prince from life-threatening bleeding (Alexei Romanov had hemophilia). The grateful Czarina naturally paid heed to this "savior." Increasingly, Rasputin was becoming a power in the land - this would prove disastrous for Russia(5).
In 1916 Rasputin was assassinated - but with a great deal of difficulty. Just as he had the power to stop the bleeding of Alexei, so it looked as if there was supernatural (but devilish) influence at work the night he met his mortal end. His assassins gave him large quantities of cyanide poison in cakes and wine, but with minimal outward effect! It is said that he then survived several bullets and a beating, and was only overcome in the end by the waters of the Neva river(6). It should be added that other opinions hold that there are possible natural, rather than supernatural, explanations for Rasputin's survival after taking in poison. But the belief in Russia at the time was that there was no ordinary basis for what happened. And the writer is willing to accept that this was indeed the case.
Because of the supernatural powers that attended him, the following Scripture would seem to be a fit for Rasputin:
For false Christs and false prophets will arise
and show great signs and wonders....
Matthew 24:24 (MKJV)
Thirdly, Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov): Believer in the violent overthrow of capitalism. Became head of the Bolshevik party, and Russia's leader after the October Revolution of 1917. Master of the "hidden agenda," he preached rule by the "proletariat" while actually limiting control of the country to himself and a small band of powerful men. Responsible for his share of the terrible excesses of the Russian Civil War: 1918-c.1922. Lenin set the pattern for a cruel totalitarian state lasting 70 years(7).
WWII - Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong (Tse-tung) made up a gross trio who led the way to an unprecedented level of human slaughter in and around the time of that war. In addition to the evidence given in The End-Time Harvest (link given again here), more has been learned since then about these three men. One aspect in particular should be mentioned: information showing the degree to which Hitler was steeped in Satanism, via the Thule Society(8). There is no lack of evidence, for those willing to receive it, of the antiChrist credentials of these three tyrants.
The high crimes committed by the triad of antiChrists around the time of WWI were to prepare the ground for the excesses of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, barely a generation later. Use of forced labor, concentration camps, and genocide in the WWII period was not original - all these had been resorted to in Africa prior to WWI, or in WWI itself.
It is now more than 60 years since the end of WWII. Thankfully, WWIII - as a nuclear holocaust - has not happened. But does this mean that there has been no antiChrist influence lately? Sadly, no. As will be shown, Saddam Hussein, Ariel Sharon, and George W Bush have each played their part. And the damage that these men have done is there for all to see. Let us try to track this down, that we may understand what has been going on. Simply because these worst examples stand out like a sore thumb, we can see clearly when one of the three major antiChrists has been on the rampage. And this also makes it easier to spot any other antiChrist activity. And this activity can come in many forms; further, it may come against us, or our loved ones, or the Church, or the world in general. With our Lord's Help, we will be prepared for the evil day - able to pray and act to defend those whom antiChrist is eager to harm. So we start with the major villains, that we may learn to see the minor ones also. The next chapters of this e-book therefore, look at each of these three men in turn, as we search for answers.
Can we take a moment to look at something else first though? There's another key point we ought to cover. The scale of suffering in the WWI and WWII eras was enormous. WWII alone resulted in at least 50 million deaths(9). This is clearly of a different order to the killings carried out in a more restricted way under the Saddam, Sharon, and Bush regimes. We might ask, Why is this? And how then, can it be fair to put these three in the same class as the earlier villains?
This scribe believes something happened in 1984 that enabled a stream of Mercy to flow from God's Throne. To date, this Mercy has prevented a WWIII, thank the Lord. Provided the Messiah returns to Earth soon, WWIII will have been avoided altogether. This same Mercy stream has meant that the amount of destruction brought about by the latest trio of antiChrists has been kept within certain limits. (However, we cannot take this to mean we should gloss over their crimes. Undeniably, these three have caused a lot of loss and hurt and damage.)
^ To sum up, the point being put forward is that over the last 100 years or so we have been visited with antiChrists in three sets of three each: around the time of WWI, Leopold II of Belgium, Rasputin, and Lenin; in the WWII era Hitler, Stalin, and Mao; and in our time, Saddam Hussein, Ariel Sharon, and George W Bush. And the evidence for this "three at a time" view? So far, the concentration has been on the "three frogs" Scripture - Revelation 16:13-14, but there is more.
To begin with, the number three (and the fraction one third) is a recurring theme in the Book of Revelation. For instance, we see in Revelation 9:18 (KJV) this text: "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths." And moving on to chapters 13 and 20 (especially please see verse 10 of chapter 20) more detail is given about the three "unclean" spirits - namely, the dragon (or devil), the beast (and his image), and the false prophet.
What are we to make of this? Since much of Revelation is about the End-Time - a time of suffering - it would appear that the message is: We are being given a hunger for nothing less than the Kingdom coming to Earth (Revelation 21:2-3). And so we are warned through these Prophecies that, during the "time of the end" there will be seriously malevolent characters present. These outstandingly evil ones will come not singly, but three at a time. And if we accept that three "WWI antiChrists" and three "WWII antiChrists" have already come and gone, and that three were sent to us in our day, what? Well, we can take this as another Sign that we are indeed living in the End-Time. By contrast it seems that, prior to the End-Time, major antiChrists came one at a time (or at the most two at a time).
Ever since 1914 - this witness maintains - we have been subjected to the rigors of the End-Time. This means that a greater than normal measure of the Enemy's ire is being felt (and has to be felt) by us. For the purpose of the End-Time is to ready the world for the Return of Jesus. And if the scale of the trials is at times ramped up threefold, we as creatures of this planet can probably affirm that on occasion it certainly feels like it!
But we are constantly reminded (in the Scriptures and by those who know) that God is the very essence of Kindness. So there must be a point to these trials. Could it be that the very harshness of our experience means that we will value the presence of the Prince of Peace that much more? If everything were hunky-dory, Jesus' Arrival would still be the most wonderful thing that ever happened to Earth. But now, with all the problems that beset us, surely His Return will be that much more welcome. When His Stream of Miracles are seen to flow in our direction, when we find ourselves guided out of all the stormy waters we're in these days, what joy will be ours!
Still on the theme of three, the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Essenes of Qumran) were concerned with this number: "The men of Qumran ... believed in three messiahs -- one a prophet, another a priest and the third a king or prince,"(10).
From our point of view, can we not take this idea as highlighting the three roles of the one Messiah - countering the (three sets of) three false messiahs who would be in opposition to Him?
Islam has a parallel belief - three messiahs in all are expected(11). One is for Muslims, one for Jews, and one for Christians. Of these three, one has been tagged as the Dajjal, or false messiah.
Now the writer accepts that it is a bit of a leap to go from Islam's two messiahs and one false "messiah" (for our purposes, an antiChrist) to the three antiChrists we are studying here. But if we were to allow ourselves to take that jump, how interesting it is that Islam looks for three key figures who identify with the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peoples, respectively. For of the three men of our time named as antiChrists in this e-book, one was Muslim, one Jewish, and the third says he is Christian. To this scribe that seems to be significant.
There are several webpages on the Internet that make reference to the prospect of three antiChrists appearing at one time. Links to two of these pages are given below(12).
Harking back to the three antiChrists who plagued the Earth more than half a century ago - Hitler, Mao, and Stalin - is there not a kind of symbolism here? Remember, each of them had put themselves forward as the answer for their country - its "savior"(13). These three men of death - as a group could they be said to make up a sort of false trinity?(14) What a contrast these rivals make with the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! So it seems that trinities of evil - first one then another and finally a third - were set up in the End-Time (and the years leading up to the End-Time, in the case of Leopold II). The Enemy was allowed to set up three mocking trinities. Does this not provide a most convincing argument for why these key antiChrists would come three at a time and not one at a time?
^ One important marker applying to an antiChrist is the infamous label "666." Let's see exactly what this means, because there is so much fuss about this number.
This calls for wisdom.
Whoever is intelligent can figure out the meaning of the number
of the beast,
because the number stands for the name of someone.
Its number is 666.
Revelation 13:18 (TEV)
What is the significance of this number 666? Well, a single six can be seen to represent a missing of the mark. This is because seven is the number of a full week - a week in which one day in seven was reserved for rest and for returning to God. Those who observed this seventh day, the Sabbath, as a holy day were recognized as being on the path that leads to wisdom. (Please see Genesis 2:2-3 and the many verses [such as Exodus 16:26] which refer to Israel being given the Sabbath.) Whereas, with the number six, the week is incomplete, the Sabbath is not hallowed, God is left out. So, with the seventh day's intended purpose being ignored, the number six would stand for those people who stop short. In other words, those people who are trying to do without God, who instead want to lean on their own ideas of what is the wise path to choose. Sadly, this human "wisdom" can turn out to be folly! Since the digit six is repeated three times in the number 666, this signals that great antipathy toward God is here. And could the repetition of six in 666 not also hint at a three-fold appearance of this particular evil? Namely, three antiChrists being here at once? If so, is this not a pointer to the false trinity considered above?
Going from the name of someone, or of something, to the number of that name was integral to a technique for analysis of the Judaic Scriptures. It was a natural development - stemming from the fact that the letters of any word in Hebrew have an inbuilt numerical value. The letters did this double duty because there was no separate number system in Hebrew (this was true of classical Greek also). Each letter of the alphabet had an assigned numeric value; for example the first three Hebrew letters: Aleph = 1, Bet = 2, Gimel = 3, and so on. The method (or methods - more or less complex) by which numbers were assigned to words and verses of the sacred texts is called gematria. This technique was adapted for use with the Greek alphabet and others; this meant that the principles of gematria could be used by those penning, in Greek, the Books later included in the New Testament canon. It follows that when John set down the Book of Revelation, some at least, of his readers would have been familiar with the concept underlying the above verse.
Christians have been using gematria to convert names to numbers ever since Revelation 13:18 became available (roughly by the end of the first century CE). The 666 test is a key means by which a potential candidate for antiChrist can be assessed. What gematria does not do is produce an environment in which the number outweighs the name. This may seem obvious - the name of a person is the thing of first importance, surely. However, let us look a little deeper, for in another Bible version the text concerned reads this way:
This calls for wisdom.
If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast,
for it is man's number.
His number is 666.
Revelation 13:18 (NIV)
In this translation you'll notice, there is no mention of name. It is the number that takes priority. And this rendering seems to be faithful to the original Greek. So here the "beast" is identified by his number - he is in a sense wrapped up with this number. And it is "man's number" - is this a suggestion that it is part of a number system devised by humans? It's not hard to recall where we use numbers in place of names these days. In computer systems, and in their predecessors, punch card systems, it was found that numeric codes worked much better than long strings of alphabetic characters. If information handling was to be successfully automated, numbers would often have to replace both names and also alphabetic descriptions. Just think of the scanning of the numeric barcodes when you bring your shopping basket to the supermarket checkout. And perhaps the clearest example - in the US - of where numbers have gained the ascendancy over names is in the Social Security Number. Only a very small minority of Americans find they can do without the government-allocated Social Security Number, and applying for this number is now typically done in the hospital as part of the process of registering a baby's birth.
Isn't this point being belaboured? you may be wondering. Well, not when you bear in mind that it's only comparatively recently that information technology - IT - has brought the use of numeric codes into the ascendancy. (The first use of large-scale data processing was to mechanize the handling of the 1890 US census.) The idea being proposed is that for the antiChrists to completely fulfill the above criteria, they needed to appear in an age when numbers could mean more than names. Despite the fact then, that Nero for example, certainly was a notable antiChrist, he was not among the antiChrists we're looking for. Because the above verse seems to be saying that the antiChrists we are to focus on had to arise in an age of computers. It was IT that made it possible for antiChrist's 666 identity to be of such great importance.
It is suggested that this also ties in with the character of antiChrist. These types are cold, impersonal, willing to view people as pawns in a game. And computers are likewise impersonal - just tools, to be used for good or ill. If antiChrist can bend the system to serve his corrupt purposes, what a gift to him! The development of networks of computers means that a modern-day antiChrist can do a lot of damage with very little risk to himself.We shall be looking at evidence matching 666 with the three named characters we are considering here.
Finally, Jesus Himself warned us that there would be a number of major deceivers:
"Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One.'
They will deceive a lot of people."
Mark 13:6 (Msg.)
^ Is it still a bit hard to swallow, that God would want to test us so rigorously - allowing no less than nine major antiChrists to trouble us: intense evil distilled into a span of little more than a century? Let us remind ourselves what the Divine Plan was for God's Son:
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth.
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation?
For He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of My people He was stricken.
And He put His grave with the wicked, and with a rich one in His death; although He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased Jehovah to crush Him; to grieve Him; that He should put forth His soul as a guilt-offering.
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand.
Isaiah 53:7-10 (MKJV)
And we know that all these things happened to Him, cutting Him off at a young age. He was made to suffer the Cross, despite having done so much good in Israel by His Teaching and Healing. But then Scripture reveals how blessed He would be for His Faithfulness:
You love it when things are right; you hate it when things are wrong.
That is why God, your God, poured fragrant oil on your head,
Marking you out as king, far above your dear companions.
Hebrews 1:9 (MKJV)
So if we feel unfairly treated, having all these antiChrist troubles, it is good to recall that we are in excellent company - Royal company! We could also reflect on these words - suggesting we may have been part of the problem - "and do not give the devil an opportunity," Ephesians 4:27 (NAS). Perhaps we have some share in the responsibility?
And if we do start to get discouraged about all the trials we have, and all the devilish things that are going on, let us look to the future:
... then that lawless one will be revealed
whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth
and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming,
II Thessalonians 2:8 (NAS)
This "lawless one" has the spirit of antiChrist - this same spirit that has been the driving force behind all the antiChrists - past and present. What a relief this Scripture is - at a certain moment in time, all the antiChrist opposition will be cut off and brought to nothing. How? By the Coming of the Righteous Lord.
Here is the ground of our hope: yes, we have been troubled by these three antiChrists. And yes, one of them may still have some potential for causing us grief today. Yet this is still a Sign. It means that Messiah is about to come and save us from this mess. We can cheer up and look up! This is where the Gospel comes in, and we shall return to this theme.
Now we ought to delve into the records of the three men who brought distress to the Earth in our time. After all, it's fine to look back in history and say, "There were three antiChrists doing their worst, back then." It's always easier to use 20/20 hindsight, isn't it? But it's another thing to say, "We are in some trouble right now - and the influence of antiChrist makes it worse. Till recently, three 'unclean spirits' were here in that role, and one of those 'spirits' could yet bring further harm to our planet." Before you accept such a statement, the writer suggests, you'll want to be very sure!
In the next three chapters then, each of the three candidates is studied in turn, the goal being to show beyond doubt how each of them qualified for this shameful label - antiChrist.
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