The Antichrist Breaks His Covenant with Israel

Daniel 9:24-27 reveals that the event that will mark the beginning of the tribulation period is the signing of a covenant between the antichrist and Israel. We know it is the antichrist who does the signing, for verse 26 tells us that the signer will be "the prince who is to come." The antichrist will thus be the covenant maker, and he will come into power by heading up a revived Roman Empire (see Daniel 7:8).


Our text tells us that the antichrist "shall make a strong covenant with many for one week" (Daniel 9:27). This is a week of seven years, so the covenant the antichrist signs with Israel is designed to remain in effect for the full seven-year period. But the antichrist will double-cross Israel, for we are told that "for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering." In other words, after the covenant has been in effect for three and a half years, he reneges on the covenant and causes Israels temple sacrifices to cease.




Daniel 11:45 indicates that the antichrist will move from Europe into the land of Israel: "He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain." Taking all this together, it seems clear that in the middle of the tribulation period, the antichrist will invade the holy land and cause sacrifices to cease in the Jewish temple.



Why cause the sacrifices to cease? The key reason is that near the midpoint of the tribulation period, the antichrist—having already attained political power—will now seek to assume religious power as well. Indeed, he will seek to cause the world to worship him (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:8). In order for him to be worshipped by all people on earth, he must necessarily destroy all competing religions—including the Jewish religion, with its Levitical sacrifices and offerings.


We can conclude that the antichrist starts out as Israels protector but becomes Israel's persecutor. He turns from being Israels defender to being its denier.

The antichrist will become a defiler by setting up an image of himself in the Jewish temple—something prophetic Scripture calls the abomination of desolation.


The Abomination of Desolation Occurs

In the book of Daniel, the term "abomination of desolation" conveys the outrage or horror of a barbaric act of idolatry within Gods holy temple (see the NASB rendering of 11:31; 12:11). Such an act utterly profanes and desecrates the temple.


Against this backdrop, we read this about the antichrist: "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation" (Daniel 11:31 NTV).


The New Testament adds further clarity on this abomination that causes desolation. It will apparendy take place midway through the future tribulation period, when the antichrist-—the "man of sin" (2 Thessalonians 2:4)-—sets up an image of himself inside the Jewish temple (see Matthew 24:15).


This amounts to the antichrist enthroning himself in the place of deity, displaymg himself as God (compare with Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2-9). This blasphemous act will utterly desecrate the temple, making it abominable and therefore desolate. The antichrist—-the world dictator—will then demand that the world worship and pay idolatrous homage to him. Any who refuse will be persecuted and even martyred. The false prophet, who is the antichrists first lieutenant, will see to this.


An abomination took place on a lesser scale in 168 BC. Antiochus Epiphanies erected an altar to Zeus in the temple at Jerusalem and sacrificed a pig, an unclean animal, on it. Antiochus Epiphanies was thus a prototype of the future antichrist.

The fact that the antichrist will "abolish the daily sacrifice" in the Jewish temple is yet another indication of his self-exaltation. He will not allow competing systems of worship. No one is to be worshipped but him.


The False Prophet Carries Out His Diabolical Ministry

Revelation 13:13-15 pictures the false prophet as a beast and describes its work.

It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast [the antichrist] it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast [the antichrist] that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.


As we have seen, Satan does not have the power to engage in the kind of grade-A miracles that God does. However, he can apparently perform lesser, grade-B miracles, and he empowers the false prophet to engage in these (see Exodus 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:8). The false prophet does this to induce people to worship Satan's substitute for Christ—the antichrist (see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15).


One of the miraculous acts the false prophet accomplishes is animating an image of the beast in the Jewish temple. The apostle Paul earlier revealed that the antichrist himself will sit in Gods temple (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4) and receive the worship that properly belongs only to God. Some prophecy scholars suggest that when the antichrist is not present in the temple, an image of him is placed there to provide an object of worship in his absence (see Revelation 13:14-15; 14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).


Many wonder what is meant when Scripture affirms that the false prophet gives breath to the image of the beast so that it can even speak. One Bible expositor explains the verse this way:

Only God is the Creator. So probably the beasts image is able to give an impression of breathing and speaking mechanically, like computerized talking robots today. There might be a combination of natural and supernatural powers to enable the beast out of the earth to accomplish his purpose.11


The false prophet may use some kind of scientific deception to appear to give breath to the image of the beast and enable it to speak. Do not forget that Satan has great intelligence and also has the limited ability to manipulate the forces of nature, as he did when he afflicted Job. So perhaps he is able to give the appearance of animating the image in some way. Whatever the explanation, many people on earth will be deceived by what they perceive to be supernatural.


This apparent animation sets the image of the beast apart from typical idols in Old Testament times. As we read in Psalm 135:15-16, "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see." Likewise, Habakkuk 2:19 says, "Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it." Contrary to such dead idols, this idolatrous image of the antichrist will seem to be alive, even godlike.

The goal of these supernatural acts is to induce people around the world to worship the antichrist. The antichrist will put himself in the place of Christ, so he seeks worship, just as Jesus was worshipped many times during His three-year ministry on earth.

Recall also the scriptural command, "You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14). Because the antichrist will demand worship, he will place himself in the position of deity.


The Antichrist Blasphemes God

The midpoint of the tribulation period seems to be when the antichrist engages in self-exaltation and self-deification. Second Thessalonians 2:4 says the antichrist "opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." There is no greater blasphemy than this. The antichrist truly is anti-Chxist, putting himself in Christ's place.


This verse should be interpreted in conjunction with Revelation 13:5-6: "The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven."

The beast will tolerate the worship of no one and nothing but himself. He places himself on center stage. He will set himself up on God's throne in the inner sanctuary of God's temple. Some people throughout church history have interpreted this to mean that the antichrist seeks to place himself on the throne of the human heart as an object of worship, but it would seem best to interpret Scripture literally with the antichrist enthroning himself in the literal temple in Jerusalem. Many of the early church fathers took it this way and there is no reason to depart from such a literal approach.


Many interpreters relate all this to the fell of Lucifer, which is recorded in Isaiah 14:13-14: "I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." Consider the implication of each of these statements.

• "I will ascend to heaven." Apparendy Lucifer wanted to abide in heaven and desired equal recognition alongside God Himself.

• "Above the stars of God I will set my throne on high." The stars likely refer to the angels of God. Lucifer apparently desired to rule over the anglic realm with the same authority as God.

• "I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north." Scripture elsewhere indicates that the mount of assembly refers to the center of God's kingdom rule (see Psalm 48:2; Isaiah 2:2). The phrase is sometimes associated with the Messiahs future earthly rule in Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom. Satan may have desired to rule over human beings in place of the Messiah.

• "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds." Clouds often metaphorically represent the glory of God in the Bible (Exodus 13:21; 40:28-34; Job 37:15-16; Matthew 26:64; Revelation 14:14). Apparendy Lucifer sought a glory equal to that of God Himself.

• "I will make myself like the Most High." Scripture says God possesses heaven and earth (Genesis 14:18-19). Apparently Lucifer sought the supreme position of the universe for himself. Satan wanted to exercise the authority and control in this world that rightfully" belongs only to God. His sin was a direct challenge to the power and authority of God.

Remember that Lucifer, or Satan, energizes the antichrist. Just as Satan sought to set himself up as God in Isaiah 14, so the antichrist sets himself up as God. The antichrist will continue in this bogus divine role for 42 months—-the last half of the tribulation period. And just as Lucifer was judged for being a pretender to the divine throne, so will the antichrist.


The Jewish Remnant Flees

The persecution of the Jews will escalate geometrically after Satan is cast out of heaven and down to the earth.

"When the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea (Revelation 12:13-17).

Who is the woman who becomes the object of Satan's great persecution?

A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars... was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:1-6).

In this passage, the woman represents Israel, building on the Old Testament imagery of Israel as the wife of God (Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 3:6-8; 31:32; Ezekiel 16:32; Hosea2:l6). Consequendy, the 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel, and the moon may allude to Gods covenant relationship with Israel because new moons are associated with covenant worship (1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13).


The male child refers to Jesus Christ. The dragons attempt to devour the child likely alludes to Herod's massacre of male children (Matthew 2:13-18; see also Luke 4:28-29). The child was caught up to God in the sense that He ascended into heaven following His resurrection (Acts 1:9; 2:33; Hebrews 1:1-3; 12:2). The child-—-the divine Messiah—-is destined to rule the nations (see Psalm 2:6-9).

In verses 12 and following, Satan seeks to persecute Israel with fury because he knows he has very little time left. But God provides supernatural aid, and the Jews manage to find shelter in a secret place.

This hiding place was not clearly identified. Some suggest that it might be Petra, fortress capital of the Nabateans in Edom, south of the Dead Sea. This city has a narrow access which could easily be blocked but which opens up into a large canyon capable of caring for many thousands of people.12


The two wings probably refer to God's supernatural delivering power (see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12; see also Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21).


Though God will preserve a remnant of Jews through this persecution, not all Jews will survive. Many prophecy scholars relate this passage to Zechariah 13:8, where we are prophetically told, "In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive." Many will die, but a remnant will survive the onslaught.


Scripture informs us that God preserves' the Jews for "a time, times, and half a time." This refers to the last three and a half years of the tribulation period (see Daniel 7:25; 12:7). This period also coincides with the 42 months referenced in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5- The last three and a half years of the tribulation period is often referred to as the great tribulation.


In the middle of the tribulation period, then, things become traumatic for the Jewish people in Jerusalem. The antichrist has assumed global political power, and now he declares himself to be God and exalts himself in the Jewish temple. To make matters worse, the antichrist is afire with a passion to persecute the Jewish people.


Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse, points to how bad things will be and predicts that Jews living in Jerusalem will flee for their lives.

When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 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 (Matthew 24:15-21).


When these horrific circumstances unfold in Jerusalem, Jesus urges the Jews living there to have no concern whatsoever for personal belongings but rather to get out of town as quickly as possible. Time spent in gathering personal belongings might mean the difference between life and death. Jesus indicates that the distress is about to escalate dramatically and rapidly. Jeremiah 30:7 describes this as "a time of distress for Jacob." Jacob is another name for Israel.


Satan Makes WAR on the Saints

Scripture reveals that the antichrist will engage in great persecution against not only the Jews but also the saints of God during the tribulation period.

[The beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints (Revelation 13:7-10).

A parallel passage is Daniel 7:21, which, speaking of the antichrist, tells us that he "made war with the saints and prevailed over them." Many will die. The Revelation passage tells us that the antichrist will conquer them, and the Daniel passage tells us he will prevail over them. There will be many martyrs during the future tribulation period.

" [The antichrist] makes war with God's people and overcomes many of them. They die rather than submit to him. His rule extends over all the world-—-the last world empire before Christ's Reign."13 God's people would rather experience death, knowing that they will live forever with the true Christ, Jesus the divine Messiah.


The antichrist now exercises global dominion, with authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. He is not only a political leader but also the central religious object of worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4). All who are on the earth—except for those whose names are recorded in the book of life—will pay homage to him.


What is the book of life? It is interesting to observe that the idea of a divine register containing names goes back as far as Moses's encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:32-33). The apostle Paul speaks of his fellow workers as those "whose names are in the book of life" (Phihppians 4:3). The book of Revelation mentions the book of life six times (3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27). It contains the names of all those who belong to God. In Revelation 13:8 and 21:27, the book of life is said to belong specifically to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Those whose names are not recorded in the Lambs book of life will worship the antichrist.


Midtribulation Announcements Are Uttered from Heaven

Revelation 14 serves as a connecting link between the events that take place midway through the tribulation period (Revelation 10-13) and the events that transpire in the second half of the tribulation period (15—16). 


In Revelation 14, divine announcements...

predict the failure of the program of the counterfeit trinity—Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet

announce the results of the approaching bowl judgments

give words of assurance, encouragement, and comfort to the saints living in the second half of the tribulation14


Here are six key revelations from the heavenlies.

An angel "with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people" proclaims with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water" (verses 6-7).

Another angel then proclaims, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality' (verse 8).

Yet another angelic proclamation follows. "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name" (verses 9-11).

The apostle John then records an affirmation. "I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" (verse 13).

Yet another angel appears with a proclamation. "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe" (verse 15).

And yet another angel calls out from the altar. "Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe" (verse 18).

Following these revelations from the heavenlies, the events of the second half of the tribulation period begin to transpire. Woe to those on earth!




To be continued