Where Does AntiChrist Come From: East or West?
Over the last few months I have become aware of the “controversy” regarding the location of the AntiChrist: East (Grecian / Syrian) or West (Rome). I first heard the common (and popular) view, as from John MacArthur and many others, that the antiChrist comes from the Roman Empire and therefore European (a king from the west). After all, Daniel 9 mentions the “people of the prince who will come” who destroy Jerusalem — the Romans. S. Lewis Johnson’s Daniel series, however, brings out some interesting features of the texts and evidence that the antiChrist is the Syrian aka the “King of the North,” as I blogged here.
One of the key points for the Western AntiChrist view is the identities of the two “little horn” figures in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8. The standard view is that these are different characters: the “little horn” in Daniel 7 is said to come out of the Roman Empire (west), whereas the “little horn” in Daniel 8 comes out of the third kingdom (Greece); also much of Daniel 8 appears to describe the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd century BC. Since one account has a “little horn” coming out of the fourth kingdom, and the second account out of Greece, it is said that these cannot possibly be referring to the same person.
However, as we all know, the Roman Empire covered vast territory, both in what is now Europe as well as the Middle East. Rome (the fourth kingdom) conquered Greece, and so such statements as found in Daniel 7 and 8 present no conflict when we realize that the third kingdom was included (as a subset) within the fourth kingdom.
Furthermore, the reference in Daniel 9:26 does not necessarily mean that the people who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. were Roman (Italians). As noted in this article (“From where the Antichrist will come“), Josephus tells us that the people involved were predominately Syrian. It was customary for Rome to conscript soldiers from their conquered territories, which in this case meant Syria.
Time and again throughout the Old Testament, God speaks of a certain person who will come against His people Israel, who will be defeated by God at the end, and without exception he is described as from the north (Greece/Syria) not the west. This individual is described as “the Assyrian” or “the Assyrian king” in Isaiah (see Isaiah 14:24-27), as the “King of the North” in Daniel 11-12, and as “Gog, of the land of Magog” in Ezekiel 38-39. Ezekiel 38:17 asks: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them? The only text which might indicate a western antiChrist is that statement in Daniel 9:26 about the people of the ruler, related to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Yet Daniel’s prophecies continue to further discuss the “King of the North.”
As I first mentioned in this blog, the only reason that modern prophecy buffs think that Ezekiel’s war is a separate event that happens sometime before the main Armageddon is because of the idea of the western-Roman AntiChrist, from that description in Daniel 9:26. Yet the verses immediately following Ezekiel 38:17 clearly describe the same event as Armageddon, and the whole idea of Ezekiel’s war being a different event is a relatively new idea (since sometime in the 20th century).
In a sermon series through Joel, S. Lewis Johnson noted Joel 2:20, which speaks of “the northerner,” and that this could well be a reference to the anti-Christ and his armies in the final day. Of special note is the fact that locust plagues in Judah almost always come from the south or southeast, not from the north. I followed up with a word study (from Johnson’s suggestion here) on all the references to the term “northerner” and “north,” to find that indeed many verses in the OT prophecies speak of the last days enemy as one from the north — not west as is popular thinking today.
Here is a sampling of additional references that well establish Israel’s history, that in ancient times invaders came from the north. In many of these verses, the prophecy has a near-term sense with respect to the ancient armies of Assyria and Babylon, but in many cases the prophet also zooms out to the distant future (of which the near-term prophecy is but a type, an example):
- Isaiah 14:31 and 41:25
- Jeremiah 1: 13-15; 4:6; 6:1 and 22; 10:22; 46:10, 20, 24; 50:3, 9, 41; 51:48
- Ezekiel 23:24, 38:6, 15; 39:2
- Daniel 11
- Zephaniah 2:13
Jeremiah 46:20 has interesting reference to the future, as does Jeremiah 50:3. The verses immediately following in Jeremiah 50 clearly refer to other events associated with this judgment, events that did not occur in the 6th century BC.