“Risers” is a term I am coining to describe those who are preoccupied with deciphering the conditions that will exist for the “rise of Antichrist.” Conditions such as Antichrist’s religion or ethnicity or where he will “rise” from (show me his birth certificate!). Risers spend very little time on what the Bible teaches about the actual revelation of Antichrist; instead, their preoccupation is on the rise of Antichrist before his revelation. It makes for good sensationalism and profits at the book tables of prophecy conferences, but it does not bode well for faithful balanced study of God’s Word.
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that this is not a subject to be studied. Indeed, there are some passages in Daniel and Revelation that may suggest the conditions of the rise of Antichrist. But my point is that when it comes to studying the Doctrine of the Second Coming, this is a minor point.
How do we determine then what is an important doctrine? One hermeneutic principle teaches us that we determine what is important for us if it was important to the biblical authors. So we should ask ourselves if the ethnic, religious, or geographical origin of the Antichrist was ever important—or even mentioned—by Jesus or Paul. It was not. Do we find in Jesus or Paul’s teaching any directive to determine the birth certificate of a claimant Antichrist to establish his legitimacy? No. Instead, we find consistently Jesus and Paul teaching us that we will know who Antichrist is through his actions at his revelation. How so? Consider the words of Jesus:
So when you see the abomination of desolation–spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) (Matt 24:15)
Consider Paul’s teaching:
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thess 2:3–4)
Notice that for Paul and Jesus you will not have to know the ethnicity, religion, or geographical birth place of the Antichrist to discern whether he is the real McCoy. And the book of Revelation shares the same outlook (see Rev 13). You will be able to identify the Antichrist with certainty by what he does, which will be the abomination of the temple through his blasphemous claim to be God, followed by his unprecedented persecution of believers.
Could the Antichrist, for example, be a Muslim? Possibly. Is there evidence for it? There may be, but I do not believe it warrants dogmatism. And certainly it does not warrant distracting God’s people from the central teaching of our Lord, Paul, and the revelation to John.
So we should major on the eschatological majors and minor in the eschatological minors, lest we become imbalanced in our time and energy spent studying eschatology.
This leads me to my final point, a sad and conspicuous irony: The vast majority of Risers think that they will be raptured away before the Antichrist’s great tribulation. The very ones who are mostly obsessed with determining the conditions for Antichrist are the ones who think they will not be here on earth at that time. What a pitiful shame! I do not want to contemplate the abject confusion they will have when they will see the revelation of Antichrist.
Listen closely, it makes no difference if the Antichrist will be Muslim, Jewish, or Baha’i, or from Russia, Iran, or Timbuktu. Jesus, Paul, and Revelation teach that it will be his revelation and actions that will identify him when he comes on the scene.
My warning to Risers will fall on some deaf ears because there will always be those who love sensationalism more than Scripture.
“Remember, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt 24:25)