There is no shortage of theories regarding the identity of the antichrist, Mystery Babylon, or any of the various elements of Bible prophecy that have yet to come to pass. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is filled with prophecies. Many have been fulfilled, particularly pertaining to the first coming of Yeshua, but there are just as many that point to the end times, the latter days, that have yet to come to pass.
The identity of Mystery Babylon, the seat of Satan, and how things will play out with the rise of the mark of the beast have poised many to go into deep studies in order to learn and share it with the world. Some of these theories are farfetched. Others make a lot of sense. The biggest challenge that we face with it all is that there is compelling evidence that any one of them could possibly be the reality that we soon will face.
Some of the prevailing theories regarding from where the antichrist will rise and who will take over the world for a time include (in no particular order):
- Rome, the Vatican, and/or the Roman Catholic Church
- The European Union
- A revitalized Ottoman Empire
- The United States
- The United Nations
- Syria/Lebanon (or whoever is in control of Mount Hermon when it all gets started)
- Mecca (either under the control of Saudi Arabia or following an invasion by Iran or Turkey)
Over the last few years, I’ve made it a hobby to study eschatology. I would love to devote more than a few hours per week to the studies, but between the distractions of the world and a need to study the Bible itself as well, it can only be a hobby right now. However, over time I believe that I’ve listened to (without deep exploration) a large amount of theories and there are a few things that I’ve seen to be universal about them:
- Those who present their ideas based upon fervent study are absolutely convinced that they are right.
- Each theory, at least upon cursory inspection, seems to have legs. In other words, if you focus on the ones that are based upon facts, sound interpretation, and common sense, they stand up as being possible and worthy of exploration.
- Many completely contradict each other. This is one of the most perplexing elements of eschatology because most prophecies that have been fulfilled have clear meanings in retrospect with very little contradiction. This would point to an outside force spreading disinformation in order to conceal the truth through competing theories.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenging elements of eschatology to try to discern a proper path to explore.
Watch for the signs but do not be misled
To quote a lyric from rock band Tesla’s song Signs: “Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs.”
This is very true today. There are ministries that are dedicated to watching the news and world events to identify signs happening today that point to Bible prophecy unfolding. Some would argue that these signs are nothing new, that even those who walked the earth at the time of the apostles were seeing signs of Christ’s return or of prophecies coming true. This is true, but a better argument could be made that the signs today are much more pronounced and compelling.
To quote a better resource than rock and roll, let’s look at the Book of Matthew:
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
If you set your mind to looking for signs of the end times, of the identity of the forces of evil, or of the imminent return of Yeshua, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of seeing significance in nearly everything. I have yet to see a video with modern interpretations of end times prophecies that did not have at least a few instances where the content producer was reaching in order to make a point. They wanted something to be true, so they took facts, spun them around, and presented them in a way that tried to prove their point rather than taking it all at face value. We have a tendency as humans to see what we want to see.
It’s one thing to keep your eyes open, to pray for discernment, and to collect the understanding that our Father is putting before us. It’s another thing altogether to allow our desire to see the signs cloud our understanding and point us in the wrong direction. There’s a reason that this is so easy. It’s because that’s what Satan wants.
Forces of evil at work
There’s a reason that many of the prophecies of the Old Testament clearly point to Yeshua being the promised Messiah. When comparing them to the stories of the New Testament, they act as 100% validation that He is the Christ. Between the two books of the Bible, the only way to come to any conclusion other than that Jesus Christ was exactly who He said He was is to be fooled by having a closed mind.
The events of the end times will be the final proof of the validity of the Bible and the forces of Satan know this. That is why they have gone about clouding the issues for the last two thousand years. They have systematically manipulated men to preach false doctrine and to point to incorrect paths for those who want to follow Yeshua. When the truth will be made clear, the only way for them to confuse the masses is to make false paths that will seem to be clear as well.
We have discussed one of the original changes in doctrine, the switching of the Sabbath, as well as other false paths that are designed to mislead such as Easter, Halloween, and the pre-tribulation rapture (or the secret rapture concept as a whole). There is no shortage of manipulations designed to mislead those who seek salvation.
The end times pose the greatest challenge of them all for Satan because he knows that this last great deception will have to be his greatest manipulation ever. This is the reason for all of the confusion. If the watchful are looking in the wrong places or convinced to walk down a false path, they will not be able to warn others or spread the Word of the Gospel before it’s too late.
No man will know the time or the hour, but we will be given the Spirit to understand it when it’s happening. As faithful believers continue to explore and anticipate the terrible events before they unfold, they will be faced with poor information. In essence, they will be unwittingly assisting in the misleading of the masses. This is happening today in churches. It is happening in videos and on blogs. This deception is turning tools of righteousness into vehicles to guide people in the wrong direction.
There’s only one way to see clearly.
Study in prayer
Eschatology is one of the most exciting types of Biblical study, particularly for those who believe that we truly are in the end times. I personally felt myself drawn to it years ago before I had a better understanding of the reality of faith and truly submitting to the Will of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As a result, I went down the wrong path on more occasions than I care to admit.
Before diving into the concept of what is to come, it is paramount to be properly covered in pure faith in Yeshua as your Lord and Savior. Then, one must wear the whole armor of God that is spoken of in Ephesians 6 because no man is strong enough to face the evils alone. One of the most important individual verses of the Bible is Ephesians 6:12:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Before, during, and after studying eschatology, you must be in prayer. To do otherwise opens you up to be taken down the wrong path. The forces of Satan are stronger than you. They are smarter than you. They are able to mislead you with things that you see with your own eyes or hear with your own ears. However, they are not powerful enough to penetrate the armor of God.
Wear it before you go out into the world.