I came across a typical explanation of what is about to happen in these here “End Times,” as foretold in The Book of Daniel and The Revelation of John. This throws a huge question mark over all the web posts and YouTube videos identifying President Obama or Pope Francis as the Antichrist, considering that this—the most authoritative theory on the subject, according to its author, as it comes directly from Church Fathers Irenaeus and Hippolytus—says that he has to be a Jew. (Although, there is a sect of anti-Semitic Catholic traditionalists that accuses “the Antipope Francis” of “heresy and apostasy” for “practicing Judaism,” so there may be a possibility there yet.)
People who are into this go on and on about how they only ever read the Bible “literally,” then spin these allegorical interpretations, (in this case, explicitly based on extra-biblical literature), that are way weirder and more elaborate than any fiction. They have to have it both ways for their belief system to work. The result can be entertaining. (I’ve emphasized the best parts for your reading enjoyment.)
Here is the text:
“1. Satan will appear as a man in the person of the Antichrist because he seeks to reign as king over mankind and desires to focus the worship of God on himself.
“2. The Antichrist will be a Jew, and will achieve his stated objectives by being accepted as the Christ, the messianic king of the Jews, taking his seat in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, pretending to be God Himself, and thereby becoming the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by the prophet Daniel and mentioned also by Jesus (Daniel 12:11, Matthew 24:15).
“3. The Antichrist is the ‘little horn’ of the fourth beast mentioned in Daniel 7. He will slay three of the other horns and reign as an eighth with the remaining seven (Hippolytus explains that those three are the rulers of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia).
“4. The Antichrist will achieve his objectives in the middle of the final 7-year period of this age. At that time he will be proclaimed the messianic king of the Jews and will take his seat as God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. He will reign for three and one-half years.
“5. The Antichrist, during his reign, will deceive the majority of people living on the Earth at the time into believing he is God. However, he will persecute those who refuse to worship him because they are able to see through his delusion.
“6. Jesus Christ will return to Earth at the end of the three and one-half year reign of the Antichrist, destroying Satan’s kingdom. The resurrection of the just will occur at that time.”
(Found HERE. Emphasis mine.)
In other words, in a stark, sudden reversal of 6000 years of Jewish theology and culture, after rebuilding the temple, Israeli authorities are going to let this character install himself on a throne there as “God.” More likely they would just commit him to a mental hospital and nothing more would come of it.
Meanwhile, “a majority of people living on the Earth”—Hindus, Sufis, scientists, politicians, Secular Humanists, Atheists, Communists, Orthodox Jews, people with master’s degrees—are going to fall for all this and “worship him.”
I’ve long been fascinated, imagining what life is like for people who literally believe this kind of stuff. I had a co-worker for many years who quite literally believed that demons and evil spirits were floating around her in the air, trying to make her sin. She could ward them off through steadfast faith, but only with God’s help and constant vigilance. Real dangers, like car crashes, earthquakes, nuke plant meltdowns, radon, serial killers, muggers, disease, drowning, brain worms, poisoning, domestic violence, black widow bites, falling from a high balcony, falling in the bathtub, obviously existed for her, but it was clear that all these took a back seat in her mind to these more vital, more deadly supernatural risks. To lose one’s life, after all, is nothing compared to losing one’s soul. And all being said, I suppose it was easier to cope with all those natural dangers as well, with the Lord to protect her.
Putting off all those natural fears onto a supposed future “Apocalypse” is central to that belief structure, and a common coping mechanism in America today. It all comes down to sacrificing truth, and the possibility of a search for ever deeper truth, in exchange for false hope and the inexplicable, transitory comfort of a weird, complex apocalyptic delusion. That is a high price to pay for a commodity as abhorrent as it is seductive. Plain, unadorned nihilism is cheaper if what you care to believe essentially is that life is so utterly meaningless and devoid of value that it’s easy to contemplate the horrific, torturous destruction of all humanity.
Unfortunately, we have it in our power to cause it ourselves; multiple existential threats of our own doing are already in progress, and may already be beyond the point of no return. This only serves to bolster such people’s deep, religious longing for annihilation. But if Jesus were here today, he would be working to stop it, not hasten it—thus if we “push the button” it’s all on us—we will only have ourselves to blame.