Tag Archive: Revelation13


 

Dominoes Falling (6)

Debate 6 – Part 3

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 6: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?’

In this debate Ron Rhodes asks a series of 5 questions which I answer here.

 Who Restrains the Antichrist?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 Paul writes, ‘And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.’ This cryptic message was no doubt meant to guard against openly speaking about the current emperor who stood between Domitian becoming the emperor and fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel.

The ‘mystery of lawlessness… already at work’ was the environment created by the Caesars that would allow for the expected Antichrist to have full expression. Consider how Nero had already behaved brutally toward the Church and Vespasian who had miracles accredited to himself. Then his son, Titus, ruled brutally as the Caesars often did. He was the Emperor who, by way of being in power, was restraining the Antichrist from manifesting himself.

Titus’ untimely death gave way to Domitian, his brother. As I mentioned in my previous post, Domitian went so far as to be addressed as “dominus et deus noster”, which translates, “Our Lord and God”. The saints, of course, refused, which resulted in violent persecution.

Is the Antichrist a Muslim? Is the Antichrist a Jew or a Gentile?

The initial Antichrist manifestation was expected in the 1st century. As such, that Antichrist could not have been a Muslim, as Islam had not yet come into existence. Neither was he a Jew. Instead, he was the gentile Roman Emperor Domitian. This is verified by Daniel’s prophecy which aligns an leader, known as ‘the little horn’ and ‘the 11th horn’, with the period of Roman rule. It was also verified historically by the Church who lived through his persecutions.

Having said that, any belief system that is contrary to Christ is of the spirit of the Antichrist. Therefore, they have always had the potential to produce an Antichrist figure just as Rome and, later, the papal system did.

Will the Antichrist Be Killed and Resurrected?

(This question is answered along with the next question.)

What Is the Mark of the Beast?

‘Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six’ (Rev 13:17-18).

When reading Revelation, you always have to remember that you are involved with interpreting symbolism. The mark of the Beast therefore should not be considered as something literal. Bizarrely, many forget the symbolic nature of the book and come up with all sorts of fanciful literal notions.

Symbolically speaking, being marked on the right hand or forehead symbolized what one did and how one thought. This imagery alludes to the tying of phylacteries (boxes of scripture) on the arm and head in the Old Testament. These were to be ‘a sign on your hand and … a symbol on your forehead’ (Deut. 6:8) to help remember God’s word. Paul teaches that the world is under the Prince of the power of the air. One way that Satan controls humanity is through the Beast, who enforces his thoughts and practices onto society.

For all the attention that the Mark of the Beast gets, it’s worth noting that just as there is a mark on those who follow the Beast, Revelation also says, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” This is a picture of a seal that is put on the foreheads of God’s servants, which echoes the scripture that says that ‘we have the mind of Christ’.

Calculating the Mark of the Beast 666

6 = man

3 = God

666 = Man setting himself up as God

666 = ‘number of the beast…is the number of a person’ (variant 616)

666 = Neron Kaesar (Greek)

616 = Nero Kaesar (Latin)

Six hundred sixty-six depicted ‘the number of a person’. Using numerology, John indicated a person by way of the number 666. Remember that John wrote as a prisoner so this was no doubt cryptically depicted so as to avoid appearing anti-Roman. However, he said that those in the churches who had wisdom would be able to determine who it referred to. This, without doubt, was Emperor Nero. This is later confirmed by the variant 616 in the Latin translation, which calculates as the same person.

However, Nero had been dead a while, so the number would have symbolized a type of ‘resurrection’ or ‘reincarnation’ of Nero. John appears to have toyed with what had been a popular belief that Nero had not died. So, in Nero the Beast had died and in Domitian he was resurrected. Though both are manifestations of the Beast, and both are Antichrists, technically Domitian was the first to be termed ‘the Antichrist’.

The person it pointed to was clearly Domitian, who was extremely brutal toward the Church just as Nero had been. However, the Beast is understood to also manifest throughout the Church’s lifetime as one of her enemies. This has been particularly evident wherever tyrannical Antichrist governments have been established by certain world leaders and popes. And, this will continue until Christ’s return.

This is clearly in contrast to Ron Rhodes’ Dispensationalist view that understands the Antichrist to be someone who exists only after the Church has been raptured and who therefore has nothing to do with the Church.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Advertisements
Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3 Falls

I’m Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 3: Ron Rhodes asks, “What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?

(My response is also to Rhodes’ teachings that are found in his other “end-time” dispensationalist literature.)

 ***********

 In this post I continue to answer, with PART 3, the 1st of the following 3 questions put forward by Rhodes:

  1. Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?
  2. Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  3. Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur?

***********

The Craving for Peace in the Middle East

This is another issue speculated on by Rhodes. He links this with the idea of ‘a revived Roman Empire’ from which supposedly the anti-Christ will come with peace solutions for the Middle East.

A Revived Roman Empire

This is another contrived notion from the misinterpretation of texts in the books of Daniel and Revelation. For example, regarding visions in Daniel 2 and 7, Rhodes says that ‘many modern biblical interpreters see the European Union as a primary prospect for the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy.’

Rhodes comments on Daniel 7:24-25 saying that ‘Rome never consisted of a-ten nation confederacy with ten co-rulers.’ But, is that even what the imagery is representing?

The text reads,

‘Thus he said: “As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.”’

What is this passage really about? Has it already been fulfilled?

Firstly, the context of this passage is of four beasts that represent four empires that follow on the heels of one another, each having an impact on the people of God. It is a parallel vision with the one in chapter two of a statue representing these same kingdoms. The kingdoms are generally understood to be Babylon followed by the Medo-Persians, Greece and finally Rome.

Furthermore, these kingdoms are each pictured as a single unit and therefore each have a single period of time. Therefore we ought to expect the fulfillments of the visions in the same way as they are structured. The four kingdoms follow consecutively. Also, when it comes to the detailed description of the fourth beast, we expect the horns to be immediately related to that beasts’ period of time.

Any idea of a great separation of time between the kingdoms or within a kingdom would be disingenuous to the imagery. Yet, this is precisely what dispensationalists would have us do with the text. They suggest that part of the imagery points to an end-time future. However, in order for that to be possible, the image of the statue would have been pictured with severed toes and the image of the fourth beast would have had the horns somehow disconnected from it, floating at a distance, but they aren’t.

The ‘ten horns’ and the ‘little one’ or ‘another horn’, represent a series of 10 emperors and a significant emperor that reigned after the establishment of the Roman Empire. ‘Another horn, a little one’ that ‘came up among’ the others speaks of the period that Domitian was stand-in Emperor. As the child of the Emperor, he fits with the term ‘little’ and, as the stand in Emperor, he fits with the term ‘horn’ (see Daniel 7:8 that parallels 7:24).

Furthermore, there is a ‘king’ that follows the ‘ten kings’. This would be Domitian who he later becomes Emperor in his own right. The ‘little’ ‘horn’ thus later became a ‘horn’. To ‘the saints’ he ‘seemed greater than his companions’ because he, in particular, ‘made war with the saints’, i.e. the people of God (see Daniel 7:21). In his time, ‘the saints’ were the Jewish and Gentile Christians who he severely persecuted.

He is the ‘another’ who is said to ‘put down three kings’. Domitian reigned in his father’s stead while his father was on a campaign, however, immediately before his stand-in reign, three other emperors followed in quick succession. They are referenced in Daniel 7:8, 20 and 24.

Interestingly, a case has been made for Domitian’s father Vespasian or his brother Titus being the horn; nevertheless, I believe Domitian fits best. Regardless of which one it is, these options are a far better than what Rhodes and other dispensational premillennialists speculate. Their idea is that these visions refer to a future outcome through a resurrected Roman Empire in the form of a European Union. This disjoins the vision, which is otherwise a single sequence of events, by almost 2 thousand years. Not only is this interpretively implausible, it’s laughable!

Globalism

Here Rhodes speculates around Rev 13:3-13 and the idea of a single world government under a single leader. However, the prophecy in Revelation is speaking about the Roman Empire that was just such a controlling government. Also, through the use of numerology, Emperor Nero is clearly linked with the number 666. At the time of the prophecy he was dead, however, the ‘beast, whose fatal wound had been healed’ meant that someone like Nero would reappear. Domitian was like Nero. He brutally persecuted the church just as Nero had. (Incidentally, it is clear that the ‘beast, whose fatal wound had been healed’ of Revelation and the ‘little’ ‘horn’ in Daniel are the same person. I personally believe that Domitian fits best.)

I have shown over several posts that the prophecies that dispensationalists place in the end-times have actually been adequately fulfilled in the past. Therefore, the burden of proof lies with them. However, according to Rhodes, this would be impossible for them to do because, according to him no signs precede the Second Coming and so the best that he can give as evidence are shadows of signs. And, shadows, as I have shown, are unauthorized speculations at best.

It comes down to using standard rules of interpretation and clear corresponding historical evidence vs. dispensationalist eisegesis that sees ‘shadows of signs’ in a future speculated using prophecy that has already been fulfilled.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
%d bloggers like this: