Would The Real Antichrist Please Stand Up
Have we got it wrong? Is the Antichrist really the False Prophet?
In these days of floods of teaching everywhere, we owe it to ourselves to stick very close to the bible in all that we believe. For that reason I'm going to correct an idea that most people (including myself) held to without really checking it out.
That idea is about the person we call the Antichrist.
I am sure that I'll find, when I check up on myself, the many articles, emails and other pieces of information I've shared where - along with everyone else - I identified the two main evil characters in Revelation as the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
Nothing wrong with that, you say. But is it biblical?
Up to recently it probably didn't matter much, as it's only a tag, a label. WE knew who we were talking about. NOW, it's become more and more urgent to get all these things correct before we see them happening for real. (Oops, I just trod on another set of toes there, by suggesting we will see the Antichrist rise to power, but please overlook our differences for a moment, and read on. Indulge me.)
In fact, the bible is fairly sparse in what it says about the Antichrist or the plural "antichrists". As a consequence, we have built our beliefs on conjecture and incorrect reasoning over the years, and it won't hold firm against the truth.
False Teachers and Deceivers
The term antichrist is not used in Revelation at all, and that may surprise some. In the rest of the bible it's used exclusively for FALSE TEACHERS. It's revealing that all the non-Revelation references to the antichrist come from the same source as that book, the Apostle John (assuming the writers are one and the same.)
The references in the letters of John are as follows - pay close attention to the context.
1 John 2:18-27 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy one, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us -- eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.
1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many FALSE PROPHETS have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Please notice two things here. One, that John calls these antichrists "false prophets", in a similar way to the book of Revelation. Two, that his readers apparently are already aware (verse 3) that THE personal antichrist is to come "which you have heard was coming", of which these false prophets are the forerunner. It could be that the letters of Paul or his preaching have taught the Church about the coming of a personal Antichrist, in which case it is further confirmation from John that he identifies this coming deceiver as the same type he was dealing with in his own time.
2 John 7-11 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist . Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
The Antichrists are Deceivers
Do you see how John identifies the antichrists as false believers, those who "went out from us"? And he appears to be dealing with some heresies that are troubling the churches.
He speaks of these antichrists as denying the coming of the Lord in the flesh, not abiding in the doctrine of Christ, being worldly and being of a false spirit. They are false, lying, deceivers who deny that Jesus is the Messiah (Gk Christos).They also deny "the Father and the Son" which might mean they deny the Trinity, or see Jesus as merely an angel.
Whatever was intended, John speak of antichrists exclusively as heretics, not political leaders, kings or emperors.
Antichrist in the Greek can mean 'another-messiah'. An alternative to the real christ. The word "antichrist" is made up of two roots: anti and christos, but anti can mean not only "against" and "opposite of", but also "in place of". The Greek word Christos is Greek for the Hebrew "Messiah". Both literally mean "Anointed One". [Only three people could be anointed in OT Law, a Prophet, a Priest and a King/Ruler. Jesus was all three.]
False Christs and False Prophets
In the Gospels (Mark 13, Matthew 24-25, and Luke 21), Jesus warned his followers of the terrible events and persecution that will occur just before his return. Like the apostle John Jesus mentioned "false christs and false prophets" who "will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." so there we have a corporate body of deceivers eventually exemplified in one False Prophet who has the power to shake even the beliefs of the elect!
This religious deception is I believe what John in his letters meant by "antichrists and THE Antichrist" not the Beast Kingdom and its Ruler. Let's look at the differences.
In Revelation we see an unholy trinity:
- The DRAGON - Satan the Accuser (the word satan means to oppose or resist from a Hebrew root word meaning "to attack, accuse")
- The composite BEAST - a false Prince/Ruler who "will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition" Rev 17:8 The "son of perdition".
- The FALSE PROPHET - a false religious leader who emerges from the nations and draws all the world into worship of the other two. (Rev 13:11)
When John wrote Revelation, his own experience of these three were (1) the satanic powers opposing God, (2) the Roman Empire and its Emperor, and (3) the Apostate High Priest in league with Rome. This false christ figure wooed and deceived the Harlot who sat on the Beast, and she stood for Israel in apostasy. Therefore it is easier to understand that he saw the False Prophet to be a deceiving messiah figure, the so-called Antichrist, and not the Emperor or Rome. Especially as his own letters spoke in the same terms.
1. The Beast from the Sea
The POLITICAL entity is described in Revelation as "The Beast" both corporately and individually. Revelation and the book of Daniel both show that this Beast is at one and the same time a powerful and terrifying military leader and ruler, AND the empire that he heads.
This confuses some, but Daniel speaks in the same way. He tells Nebuchadnezzar that the king is the statue's head of gold, even though the head of gold is clearly stated as representing the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 2:37-38). In much the same way, the beast of Revelation is BOTH the empire and the ruler of the empire. You could say that he personifies the empire.
The First Beast is an Empire
Rev 13:1-8 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying,"Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
This beast is aggressive, warlike and mighty in battle. He is given invincible power, authority and a throne. He is not a Christ-like religious figure.
King of Babylon
He is described as one who "was, and is not, and is to come". [Rev 17:8] John wrote Revelation during the first Roman Empire and he and the prophet Daniel both prophesied that Rome would, in effect "come back from the dead" to rule the world again in the latter days. However, the Roman Empire in John's day was still in existence, so strictly speaking it wasn't the Beast Empire because according to scripture that "is not" in John's day.
However, BABYLON was, is not and is to come! And the Beast can be identified as the King of Babylon who was, and will come again. You will recall too that his associate the Harlot riding his back and pulling the reins to steer him is "Mystery Babylon". Notice also how the beast in Revelation, as in Daniel's vision, is the symbol of Baal and Babylon, the lion. "The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings." (Daniel 7:1-4).
Read Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 together to see this satanic King of Babylon who also seems to be at the very least a ruler possessed by the spirit of Lucifer. They are a type of the beast of Revelation.
When Ezekiel wrote, the Overlord of Tyre was Baal, king of BABYLON. See Kings of the Phoenician city state of Tyre, 990 – 475 BC. Tyre was part of Babylon during the time of Ezekiel. Thus both the kings of Babylon in biblical prophecy (Isaiah and Ezekiel) are specifically said to have descended into the Abyss. (Is 14:9-11 and 15 and Ezek 28:8). Note how the Abysss is said to be in the midst of the SEA. The Beast of Revelation arises from this watery grave, the PIT under the ocean.
Thus, the endtimes Beast Ruler, whose evil power - remember - "ascends from the bottomless pit", is most likely this fallen spirit being who was bound for his arrogance and activities on earth, held in prison until the last days. This spirit - loosed by one who is given authority for that very task (Rev 9:1) - will then incarnate in the human body of the Emperor in a parody of the coming of Christ. Having been loosed from his prison he will physically enter and possess the human body of the Ruler in order to set up his global kingdom.
Son of Destruction
The hallmark of the beast is "destruction"; he is the very son of destruction, or perdition as the bible calls it. The leader of all the demons, loosed from the Pit, is also called Destruction, for that is what the word Abaddon means. (Apollyon in Greek). [See HERE]
Abaddon Is The "Beast" Who Ascends From The Abyss: In Revelation 9:1-11, Abaddon is clearly identified as the king of the evil spirits released from the Abyss. This fact identifies him throughout the rest of the book of Revelation. Twice specifically, and once symbolically, Abaddon is referred to as the "beast" who is to come up out of the Abyss: REV 11:7 When they [the two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the Abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. (NASU) REV 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition . . . (RSV) REV 13:1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea . . . (NKJV) Revelation 11:7 and 17:8 are clearly referring to Abaddon as the "beast" who will ascend from the "bottomless pit." What we see described in the first part of Revelation 13:1 is a symbolic reference to the release of Abaddon from the Abyss.
In Jewish thought, the Abyss was often associated with the ocean depths. Speaking of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in use at the time of Christ, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary says: "The LXX renders Heb. tehom, 'the primeval ocean' (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 24:2; etc.) as 'abyss'" (p. 18, "Abyss"). This identification of Abaddon as the primary "beast" mentioned in the book of Revelation will help us to learn more about his activities in the end-time. [Source]
In what way does he fulfill, then, the saying that he "was, and is not, and is to come"? Is this being not the satanic power that was cast out from heaven for his arrogance and pride, whom we now call "lucifer" - that name meaning light-bearer, or the one who brings wisdom. It is taken from just one passage in scripture where he is exemplified as the King of Babylon. Significant then, that Daniel also identifies the head of gold as both the kingdom and king of Babylon and John in Revelation carries the thought forward into the coming Beast Kingdom.
In Revelation we see the first Beast has identical properties to Daniel's vision, including the ten horns, and the power to crush all opposition. The Beast of Revelation 13:1 has "ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns". Daniel too saw this Beast of Revelation: "in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devoured and crushed its victims with huge iron teeth and trampled what was left beneath its feet. It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns." (Daniel 7:7-8)
An angel reveals to John a very similar being: "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast". [Rev 17:12-14]
This is enough to establish that the FIRST BEAST mentioned in Revelation is a mighty political and military power akin to the Roman Empire that takes dominion over the world and its people. But to call this first beast "The Antichrist" is wrong. He is not a miracle-worker or preacher. The first Beast is a Dictator, but we have already seen that the Antichrist is a spiritual deceiver. Terminology is becoming important as we seek to understand more and more of what is happening in the world around us.
2. The Beast from the Earth - the False Prophet!
The second Beast of Revelation on the other hand is a False Prophet, a RELIGIOUS figure who is lamb-like [Jesus was the Lamb of God] but with horns, and a mouth like the Dragon.
This is the person who is "given all authority" by the Dragon to do miracles, to deceive the nations, to cause everyone to receive the mark of his companion "The Beast" and to draw them into satanic worship.
Rev 13:11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast....
The Second Beast of Revelation is the Real Antichrist
A number of notable similarities exist between this second beast of Revelation 13 and other biblical descriptions of the Antichrist.
One is his power to perform astounding miracles, so as to deceive the people of this world: " He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do..." (Revelation 13:13-14).
Paul also tells us that the Beast will be revealed with deception and miracles worked on his behalf: "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
As has been said:
False Prophet Exercises All Authority: "He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and those who belong to this world to worship the first beast, whose death-wound had been healed" (Revelation 13:12). Throughout the Scriptures, the Antichrist is described as a man of unprecedented power who answers to no one. If the false prophet is merely an associate of the Antichrist, then how could he "exercise all the authority" of the Antichrist without being at least the equal of the Antichrist himself? He doesn't, because the false prophet IS the Antichrist.
It's easy to see how the first beast of Revelation 13:1 can be confused with the person of the Antichrist. As the Antichrist's kingdom and primary vehicle for world domination, the beast shares a number of common attributes with the man of perdition. However, this has also led to confusion over the identity of the beast described in Revelation 13:11. Traditionally, this false prophet has been viewed as a contemporary and an ally of the Antichrist, rather than the Antichrist himself. However, a careful examination of the Scriptures uncovers an undeniable similarity between the career of the false prophet and the career of the Antichrist. [Source]
So we have both a political ruler, and a religious ruler in Revelation. This is where confusion has crept in.
The false father, son and spirit
The two beasts of Revelation are indeed two members of a satanic trinity that mimic the Son and the Holy Spirit (Satan himself as the dragon being the false "father") thus we have tended to label the first beast of Revelation as the "antichrist", that is, the false christ, leaving the False Prophet to mimic the Holy Spirit - the power of God.
The ten-horned ruler-beast got the label the Antichrist because he appears [in this satanic trinity] to be the stand-in for Jesus, the true Christ. But this is not accurate.
The first Beast is ONLY a false messiah in terms of POLITICAL dominion and rulership! That is, he is the type of king-ruler that the apostate Jews demanded of a Messiah, one powerful enough to overthrow the Roman oppressor and "return the kingdom to Israel" as even the Lord's followers continued to hope after the resurrection. The Jews "tried to make Him their king" but Jesus declared that "My kingdom is not as yet of this world." He also prophesied that "another will come in My Name and HIM you WILL receive" simply because he will be the kind of Messiah they looked for and wanted.
Jesus Christ refused to be that king-ruler! When tempted by the Devil, he refused to take the nations by force, and would not put himself in any position of leadership, steadfastly refusing to become politically active. He is the antithesis of the Beast of Revelation therefore. The Beast only represents the Christ of the unholy trinity in that one sense, and it is not sufficient for us to label him the "antichrist" of the biblical prophecies.
But just as Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit, and did many signs and great miracles, so this Ruler-Beast will work alongside a satanic spirit called the False Prophet. Looking back at the letters of John, then, we should see that in fact the Antichrist IS THE FALSE PROPHET! He is a religious deceiver.
Here is what Revelation says this antichrist false prophet will do:
Rev 13:11-18 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
The Number of the Beast
We can see from this passage that the number and famous mark everyone will receive, the 666, is the "number of the BEAST" and not the Antichrist! How many times have we seen or said that 666 is the number of Antichrist, and some have tried to identify the Antichrist by adding together the numbers of various names, yet in the bible, that number belongs to "The Beast", the coming world ruler and his empire, and not the religious false prophet, the other-christ.
The Beast will gain political power and spiritual authority over every nation on the earth. He will most likely begin his rise to power as a very influential, very charismatic, political figure or diplomat. He may come at a time of global crisis to solve the world's problems and bring peace. But he will need to call upon the spiritual power of the Antichrist (also probably the Antichrist's followers in churches and religious groups, that is the Harlot of Revelation) to achieve his status as a Superpower and god worthy of adoration and worship.
What are the differences between these two beasts, in the rest of the bible?
Man of Sin
Paul carefully distinguishes between the two main characters of the last days, the Emperor/Ruler and the False Christ. He first identifies the Beast as "the man of sin": Then the "son of perdition". These attributes are the direct opposite of Jesus who is the Son of Righteousness and the Lord of Peace.
2 Thess 2:3-4: Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Son of Destruction
The Greek word for perdition is APOLEIA; probably coming from a root word APOLLUMI that means utter ruin or destruction, the loss of everything. But in Revelation we find that the Beast from the bottomless pit is APOLLYON (also from apóllymi, "cause to perish, be ruined") – properly, "the destroyer" the active participle of apollumi.
Instead of righteousness the Beast brings ever-increasing sin, and instead of peace and stability he brings destruction. He is born of sin and loss and therefore is "the son" of destruction.
We might see him laying waste to the nations in a similar way to Islamic terrorists and other rebels and murderers. This beast's campaign summons up news footage of Syria, Iraq or Japan after the tsunami as examples of the utter destruction he will cause to those who oppose him in any way at all. He will of course also lead mankind to spiritual ruin and destruction.
The Beast seeks to be god
Secondly, and very revealingly, Paul tells us that he will do as the Roman Emperors of old, seat himself in the Temple and seek to be worshipped "as a god". This alone identifies him as the First Beast, the ruler of the global Empire to come. [Source] Likewise the King of Babylon in prophecy, whom we have established as just the same possession of the Beast, seeks to elevate himself to the status of a god:
Ezekiel 28: Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord God: "because your heart is lifted up, and you say, I am a god....they shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain In the midst of the seas"'.
Is 14:14 For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
But it is the Antichrist who has to draw the worship in his direction, and indeed to animate a kind of living statue to this godlike Beast (possibly a hologram?).
Rev 13:14-16 And he [The False Prophet] deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
Secondly Paul calls the first Beast "the Lawless One" who is introduced to the world with lying signs and wonders performed by his sidekick, the false christ.
2 Thess 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
We have been confusing the two beasts by attributing similar behaviour to each of them - and they are indeed very similar in their outlook and activities. But this confusion may catch us off-guard. The Antichrist may come in a way and in a form that nobody really predicted, not as a victorious evil ruler, but as a supposedly benign religious man with the power to "deceive even the very elect".
Are we close to that time? With deception in the churches running at an all-time high, I would say - definitely so!
Missing The Obvious Signs
We must beware of overlooking the obvious. How many are straining their eyes to perceive the Antichrist and identify him in the belief that it will be an obvious military coup, and that it will herald the Rapture, being the very first sign of the End? Whereas in fact we are already progressing through the agonising labour pains of that time, seeing the Church enveloped in ever-deeper antichrist heresies, with the majority not even identifying this as part of the preliminaries to world domination!
Apostasy is not just at the doors, it's inside the buildings! It's inside the people! Wake up!! The antichrist heresies are here already. His deceiving spirit is loosed already.
The bible makes it clear that a time of apostasy will come prior to Christ's return and then the "man of lawlessness, the man doomed to destruction" will be revealed in person. The Antichrist will be an integral part of that apostasy and delusion as we have seen from the scriptures. The change will not happen all of a sudden, but inch by inch and by "fairy steps" and using a process that has already begun to show itself in the world and churches.
The counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and false doctrines needed to gain a following and deceive almost everyone cannot be thrust upon mankind without forward preparation and I submit we are already in that dangerous build-up to The Great Falling Away. If we remain blind to these facts, and continue to look for a political ruler as the Antichrist, we may miss the greatest danger of all - being deluded by an overwhelmingly powerful spiritual deception.
The White Horse Rider
In this new light we see that the antichrists to come are both the pseudo-christs that Jesus warned of, as well as the ultimate incarnation of THE false christ who will do and say much the same thing. Thus, we can more easily realise that the effect on the world of the first seal rider of Revelation [whom many do identify with the Antichrist] is spiritual delusion and not political domination!
The White Horse rider is the coming of a great spiritual apostasy, a pseudo-christian deception, loosed upon the religions of the world as the predicted "great falling-away" of Thessalonians. The Great Apostasy, Paul says, MUST come before the Man of Sin himself is revealed in person.
Wait - am I saying that the White Horse Rider is the False Prophet appearing? NO. The first seal rider is NOT that person. Nor is he the appearance of any physical being. Let me explain why:
1. Sent From Heaven. All the riders are sent forth from heaven as God's judgements, just as they are in the Old Testament, whereas the first beast of Revelation arises from the sea, and the second one from the earth - and not heaven.
2. God's Ordained Judgement. The beasts of Revelation (The Ruler and Antichrist/False Prophet) are the embodiment of the Dragon's evil authority and rule, whereas the first four seal riders are sent out by God from the heavenly places, and are judgements loosed under HIS control and direction.
Zech 1:8-10 I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white. Then I said,"My lord, what are these?" So the angel who talked with me said to me, "I will show you what they are." And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said,"These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth."
3. Spiritual Beings. Furthermore, the white horse rider is not a man nor human being! He is not incarnate in a human body as the beasts eventually are. The four horse riders are spirits (indeed, the bible calls them the four winds, or spirits, of heaven Dan 7:2 and Zech 6:1-6 "What are these [horses and chariots], my lord?" And the angel answered and said to me, "These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth.")
They are sent on a mission direct from God. Therefore, the first seal rider has the power to release the SPIRIT of antichrist deception that provokes and opens the door to rebellion and apostasy, overturning faith in God and adherence to God's word. The first rider, like the other three, is a preliminary preparation to the situation that will prevail upon earth during the final days. They are sent out to make a way for the Man of Sin.
The Meaning of the Bow
Many have conjectured on the symbolism of the empty bow carried by the white horse rider.
Since this being is a spirit from the heavenlies, on a mission, we should not look for an earthly explanation. This is a spiritual symbol. In almost every culture the bow is the method of projecting a wish, belief or desire into the heart of man. The arrow is a symbol of words and actions designed to penetrate the heart and bring about an effect. Thus we find the god of seduction, Cupid, holding a bow and arrow.
God likens deceivers and spiritual adulterers to bowmen, shooting lies into the heart:
Jer 9:2-6 For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men.
And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.
"For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me," says the LORD.
Everyone take heed to his neighbor,
And do not trust any brother;
For every brother will utterly supplant,
And every neighbor will walk with slanderers.
Everyone will deceive his neighbor,
And will not speak the truth;
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves to commit iniquity.
"Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;
Through deceit they refuse to know Me," says the LORD.
Apollo as the White Horse Rider
Even more startling we find that Apollo the carer of the flocks -- the beloved god of music, prophecy, medicine, poetry, dance, and intellectual inquiry - was also the god of archery (but not for war or hunting). His attributes were the bow and arrows, on his head he wore a laurel crown! Apollo was also a god of light, known as "Phoebus" (radiant or beaming), and he was sometimes identified with Helios the sun god, being portrayed with a halo round his head.
He was also frequently seen being drawn by four white horses!
One could almost believe that John in Revelation deliberately chose imagery of Apollo to depict the type of spiritual deception that would befall us in the last days. This is not a bow designed for warfare, but for sport and entertainment. The activities of the followers of Apollo (music, dance, poetry, medicine, prophecy and so forth) can hardly be those of a conquering king but are now seen as the result of this Rider's bow in almost every CHURCH around the world! How effectively that arrow has found its mark.
As one writer observes:
The white horseman carries a bow, a weapon of war. Strangely, John makes no mention of arrows or a quiver, although we may infer the former, since a bow is nearly worthless without arrows. (Then again, the lack of arrows may suggest war fought, not with blood-letting weapons, but with words or ideas; see Psalm 11:2; 64:2-4; Jeremiah 9:8; Ephesians 6:16.) ... A sidelight of the bow's imagery is the frequency of its use as a symbol of God's judgment. Job complains, "His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity; He pours out my gall on the ground. He breaks me with wound upon wound" (Job 16:13-14; see also Lamentations 2:4; 3:12-13; Jeremiah 50:9, 14, 29; 51:3). The white horseman's bow, then, represents an effective instrument of God's judgment on the world for rebellion against Him. Unlike the sword that Christ wields (Revelation 19:15), the bow's long range hints at God being somewhat removed in His judgment, yet it is just as devastating in its effectiveness at meting out justice. In addition, whereas the sword symbolizes the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12)—His truth—the bow suggests a counterfeit "truth" or a false gospel. As II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says, "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." [Source]
We ought to rejoice that everything that happens during that terrible time is under the direction and permission of God, until satan is no longer restrained and is permitted to take over rulership of the world.
Clarity is important, never more so than in these confusing days. We need a firm grasp on the distinction between these two beasts of Revelation so as to avoid getting out of step with events as they unfold. As always, the bible is our handbook and guide. We cannot be at variance with the text, which shows conclusively that the Antichrist is a religious miracle-worker who will be given power to deceive the nations.
Let us both hold to this truth and teach it, to educate everyone what to expect and to look for. However well-meaning, the teachings in some quarters are merely man's fanciful ideas based on half truths and misunderstandings. It is time to think for ourselves and reject anything unbiblical.
© 2014 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.