Carl Sagan made an insightful comment about human nature when he said:
“If we have been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We are no longer interested in finding out the truth; the bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we have been so credulous.
We all know people who tenaciously cling to false ideas. For example: do you think that arch-atheist Carl Sagan was willing to examine and accept all of the scientific evidence that supports intelligent design and refutes evolution? Or, do you think that the Islamic terrorist is willing to examine the possibility that 72 virgins may not be waiting for him in Muslim heaven?
Rare is the man or woman who is willing to admit that they have believed a lie. I hope that you can agree with Mr. Sagan’s assertion that bamboozled people cling to their core beliefs even when there is plenty of evidence that their beliefs are nonsense. Not only do they cling to their error, they can get very angry with anyone who points to their error. French philosopher Voltaire had this idea in mind when he wrote: “It is a dangerous thing to be right when the established authorities are wrong.”
I wrote a dangerous book (Bamboozled Believers) and I will share some dangerous truths with you here. You will see theological errors exposed and you will be inclined to resist, deny and reject these ideas. That’s okay, contemplate these things in private and if you come to agree with me, you can still remain silent. If you show people the Scriptures that refute popular ideas, you may experience the wrath of pious, godly men.
The ultimate heresy is exposing the feeble scholarship of Christian leaders who cannot bear to admit error.
This has already been a long introduction to “The Sign of the Antichrist.” And I need to give you just a bit more information before discussing that topic.
I am a totally committed, born-again, Bible-believing Christian and I have been for 50 years. I try to serve my resurrected Lord in all that I say and do and I try to align my beliefs with his verbally inspired Word. My traumatic journey toward truth started about twenty years ago. It started simply enough, I wanted to understand the Bible’s teachings concerning Jesus’ second coming, so I printed out every Bible reference to his coming. Some of those passages were very puzzling. I started asking questions that my pastor couldn’t answer. I asked the questions politely and even volunteered to ask them in private, but that didn’t matter, he accused me of heresy. In the months that followed I was condemned without a trial or even any accusation of wrong-doing… The truths that I discovered were so toxic that I was not permitted to speak in my defense. I was a heretic and had to be silenced. Fortunately, I live in the 21st century not the 16th, so the laws of our secular society protect me from the self-righteous hatred of my bamboozled brothers.
Dear reader, if you are a Christian, I respectfully ask you to set aside your preconceptions and consider the possibility that a significant, but not essential, part of our belief system is total nonsense.
Nobody likes to admit that he has been wrong about anything, but it is particularly difficult to admit egregious errors concerning dogmatically proclaimed “truths.” It is also difficult to admit that you have been wrong if doing so means that you could be ostracized or even become unemployed (if you are a pastor). So I’m inviting you to start on a dangerous but exciting journey toward truth.
Here are some of those Bible facts that first got me into “trouble.”
Dear reader, if you are like me, the facts that I have just presented are troubling. They were particularly troubling to me because in the 1970’s I read “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey. I had accepted his reasoning that the “last days” started with the birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948 and I accepted his assertion that the second coming of Jesus Christ would happen during my generation. So I watched for the sign of the Antichrist and I expected to be raptured… I hoped to be gone before the Antichrist took over the one-world government and then initiated the great tribulation. I certainly did not want to be “left behind” to face the wrath of the satanic Antichrist.
Mr. Lindsey said that since a generation in the Bible is forty years, the rapture had to happen by 1988. That’s 1948 + 40 = 1988. When nothing happened in 1988 he said that he had made a mistake, a generation is actually 70 years. That means that the rapture is going to happen by 2018! Folks, I don’t think that the rapture will happen in 2018 or 2028 or 2038 and I’m going to show you why, but first please consider this little saying:
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me over and over again for hundreds of years, then you must be the latest in a long line of Christian false prophets.
The Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians?
As my troubling study progressed, I decided that in order to make sense of the Bible, I should put myself in the place of the people to whom the words recorded in Scripture were originally spoken or written. When I asked myself: “What did those words mean to them?” I started to make significant insights:
Dear reader, after Paul told the Thessalonians that they were about to get relief from their persecutions, he told them that before that could happen, the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed. Now this is a familiar Antichrist passage, so as I read it from the perspective of the Thessalonian Christians, I was flummoxed!
Well that brings us to the crux of this discussion. Was there a day of the Lord shortly after Paul wrote? And did the second coming of Jesus Christ happen at that time? There certainly was a military disaster in AD 70; Josephus reports that 1,100,000 Jews died in the siege of Jerusalem and he reports that 97,000 were taken prisoner. The temple was destroyed and the Old Covenant religion age came to an end. There certainly was “a time of trouble such as never had been since there was a nation until that time.” (Dan. 12:1) Also, remember Peter said that he was living in the last days before the day of the Lord and Joel had said: “…in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape… and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:32). From these facts we can conclude that Joel, Peter, Paul and John were all referring to the day of the Lord in AD 70. But, did the second coming of Jesus Christ happen at that time too?
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
There are a lot of reasons to believe that Jesus’ second coming happened circa AD 70:
Dear reader, if Jesus didn’t return in AD 70 the Bible is nonsense and if he did then our futurist, end-times doctrines are nonsense. You have just seen that Jesus killed the man of lawlessness on the day of the Lord in AD 70. So we have just debunked one of the purported Antichrist passages. The man of lawlessness (also called the “man of sin”) is not the antichrist boogieman of the last days of planet earth.
As noted above, when Jesus predicted his coming and the destruction of the temple, he said that no man knew the day or the hour, then almost forty years later, John said that the “last hour” had arrived. Here is what he said: “…many antichrists have come. Therefore we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
Obviously John expected Jesus’ return to happen very soon, but how did the presence of “many antichrists” prove that it was the “last hour?” That’s easy, when Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple and his second coming, he said that one of the signs of his coming would be the presence of “false christs” and “false prophets” (Matt. 24:10,24).
Some Personal Comments
Dear reader, it took me years to work through the ideas that I’m presenting in this essay. If these ideas are new to you, you probably cannot accept what you are reading… and yet, you see that many Scripture passages support these “heretical” ideas. I totally understand your feeling of bewildered amazement, and I also understand the pure hatred that some good people direct at me. One of their core beliefs is threatened and they do not know how to respond.
I urge you to be like the Christians in Berea ““These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) If you read these words and you think that I am wrong, then you should show me where I am wrong. Paul told Timothy that an elder should “be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). No elder of my church has attempted to refute what I have told you here, and although I’ve invited them to do so, none accept the challenge. They do not attempt to refute, because they know that they cannot. So, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that I am teaching sound doctrine and that all of the futurist doctrines of the church are wrong… we belong to heretic churches! J
Before I started discussing Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, I told you that I decided to put myself in the place of the people, to whom the words recorded in Scripture, were originally spoken or written. I would ask myself: “What did those words mean to them?” I decided to apply that principle to the Book of Revelation. The book has baffled great theologians and is fertile ground of futurist fantasies about everything from the sign of the Antichrist to bar codes and demonic reptilian humanoids. I think that the mysterious book is only a mystery because we do not read it from the perspective of the people to whom it was originally addressed.
The Sign of the Antichrist in Revelation
In the first verse of the book John tells the people of the seven churches that it is a revelation of things that “must soon take place.” Please bear in mind that these people were well aware of the fact that the “day of the Lord” was imminent. They knew that they were living in the “last days” before the end of the “age.” They knew that the temple would be destroyed and they knew that Jesus had promised to return before his disciples had all “tasted death.” He said that he would return before that generation had “passed away.” John had written that they were living in the “last hour.”
Addressing the church in Philadelphia (one of the seven churches of Asia Minor) Jesus said: “I am coming soon, hold fast to what you have.” Then to emphasize the fact that the subject of the book is his imminent return, Jesus repeats that same assertion three times in the last fifteen verses of the book:
Two thousand years ago he told the people in the seven churches that he was “coming soon.” Did he come soon or didn’t he. The credibility of the Bible is at stake.
Over and over John tells us that his book deals with events that were “about to happen.” Here is verse 3 of Chapter 1:
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3)
Commentators sometimes note that this is the only book in the Bible that specifically promises a blessing on those who read it. They don’t seem to notice the reason that the reader would be blessed. Look at the last five words… John said that the reader would be blessed because the time was near. Dear reader, the time was near 2,000 years ago. It is not near today. We have to remember that we are reading someone else’s mail.
Here is verse 10 of chapter 22: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” Please forgive me for being repetitive, but God is repetitive. The time of his coming was near 2,000 years ago.
Most expositors project the events of revelation into our future, they do not want to accept the fact that it deals with events that happened long ago so they ignore all of the imminence statements. And some futurist translators omit words to tone down the sense of imminence. Jesus said: “Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are about to take place after this.” (Rev. 1:19) I added the words “about to” because those words are in the original Greek. Futurist translators do not like the Greek word “mello.” It means “to be about to” do something. It is in the original of this verse but bamboozled translators omit it to tone down the intensity of the imminence language.
Dear reader, there can be no doubt that the people in those seven churches of long ago would have believed that John gave them a “revelation” of things that were about to happen. The imagery of the book deals with “great day of the Lord” when Jesus comes in judgment on a “great city.” Those first century Christians knew that a great day of the Lord was imminent and they expected Jesus’ return during their generation. They also were familiar with the fact that Jesus and the prophets used metaphors in their predictions.
I cannot analyze all of the imagery in Jesus’ revelation here, but since the title of this paper is The Sign of the Antichrist I would like to comment on the “beast” imagery. Supposedly the beast of Revelation is the Antichrist-boogieman who will one day recover from a “mortal wound” and then make war on the saints for 42 months (3 ½ years). That is what I used to think, but it is highly unlikely that the Christians in the seven churches of Asia Minor thought Jesus was warning them about the beastly Antichrist who would appear in a couple thousand years. Consider these facts:
There are several reasons to believe that the beast of Revelation was the Roman Empire and its leader.
Dear reader, this is not the place to analyze all of the metaphors in the book of Revelation. But I have written a paper that discusses a significant metaphor. It is titled Babylon=Jerusalem. And you can find in the essays section of BamboozledBelievers.com. Also, I will reference several books at the end of this paper. Now back to the task at hand…
The Sign of the Antichrist in the Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is one of the futurists’ favorite playgrounds. Much of our modern-day Antichrist doctrine comes from this book, yet you may be surprised to know that the word “antichrist” does not appear anywhere in this book. Also, this book, that supposedly deals the events that immediately precede the end of the world, never mentions the end of the world!
The people in the seven churches of Revelation knew that Daniel’s 70-weeks prophecy had correctly predicted the coming of the Messiah and they knew that it also predicted the destruction of the Jerusalem and the temple (Dan. 9:26). Jesus, quoting Daniel, said that an “abomination of desolation” would destroy the temple and he said that it would happen before that generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). So when they read John’s Revelation, the people in the seven churches would have believed that he was using metaphors to describe momentous events that were about to happen.
The 70 weeks prophecy predicted that from the going forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah would be a period of 490 years. That prophecy has been fulfilled, but our modern day pseudo-prophets put a gap of 2,000 years and counting between the 69th and the 70th weeks. They say that Daniel’s 70th week is yet to come. Folks, there is no gap in the text so the people to whom the Book of Revelation was addressed, did not think that after a period of 2,000 years, people should start looking for the sign of the Antichrist and the end of the world. Revelation does not deal with the Antichrist and neither does the Book of Daniel!
I cannot analyze all of the imagery of the Book of Daniel here, but since our topic is the sign of the Antichrist, I will discuss another vision that supposedly deals with the Antichrist boogieman. In Chapter 7 we read about the vision of the four beasts. The beasts represent empires; the Babylonian, the Persian, the Greek and then the Roman empires. The 4th beast was particularly interesting because it had ten horns and then a smaller horn arises amongst the others and it “seemed greater than its companions.” In futurist mythology, this little horn is the monstrous, satanic antichrist who will one day rule the revived Roman Empire. I disagree!
There are many good reasons to believe that the ruler of the Roman Empire in AD 70 was the little horn of Daniel’s vision. A fifteen-page appendix to Bamboozled Believers deals with the antichrist myth and four of those pages show that Vespasian is the little horn. I’ll give you a brief synopsis here, but for more detail, read the book. Here are some reasons to believe that Vespasian was the “little horn”:
I’ve given you some very big ideas to contemplate; but I did not go into great detail. This essay is intended to whet your appetite for more information…
I hope that you will read my book and maybe subscribe to my Meat Not Milk Bible study. Also, there are many good books to read on the topics discussed here. I especially appreciate the books written by Ed Stevens and the books that he sells on his website. To help you understand Daniel and Revelation I highly recommend Daniel: Fulfilled Prophecy and Revelation-Survey and Research. These scholarly books written by Jesse E. Mills Jr..
 I didn’t “discover” original new truth, I rediscovered truths that once were widely accepted by reading The Parousia by Stuart Russell. He wrote this book almost 200 years ago. I have also learned a great deal from several modern authors: Ed Stevens, Jesse E. Mills Jr., Michael Alan Nichols and Don Preston.
 There are variations in the way that his name was written. One of them has a numerical value of 666. The people to whom the book is addressed were told to calculate the number. How could they possibly calculate the number of a man who would not live until 2,000 years later, at a time when the letters of our alphabets do not have numerical values?
 Jesus did not predict the end of the world either. He predicted the end of the age, the Old Covenant age. The best known end of the world passage is 2 Peter 3:12. In that passage we read that the “elements will melt with a fervent heat.” This certainly sounds like the incineration of the planet, but the word translated “elements” in the KJV is “stocheion” in the Greek. And the other five times that it is used in the New Testament it refers to the elementary principles of a religion, four of the five times it refers to the elementary principles of the Old Covenant religion. That Old Covenant religion melted with a fervent heat when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
 Compare Matt. 24:15-20 to Luke 21:20-24 and you will know about the “abomination of desolation.”
 70 weeks = 490 days. So following the day-for-a-year principle of Ezekiel 4:6, the prophecy covers a period of 490 years.
 The Roman Empire is not named by Daniel, but virtually all expositors agree that the four beast is the Roman Empire. Futurists say that their antichrist will lead a “revived Roman” empire because they believe that the fourth beast is the Roman Empire.