I don’t know about you, but I never spent a lot of time thinking about the Antichrist as having an army. I think that most of us think of the Man of Lawlessness as springing out of the ground with sufficient magical power to make everyone follow him. But, that ain’t necessarily so.
The first hint about this army – for most of us – would have come from the words of Jesus:
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
– Matthew 24:15-16
I always thought of that verse as talking about a situation that was much like the beginning of the Holocaust. The Antichrist will proclaim himself to be god, and the police will start rounding up Christians. And, there’s some truth to that idea, but there’s a lot more to this, than that. And, our first hint of ‘something more’ might come from the Book of Revelation:
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
– Revelation 12:13-14
The Christians living in Judea will flee ‘into the mountains’. What these wings are and where this wilderness is, is a mystery. But, it’s clear that this will be a large migration of people. If they were just fleeing the police, this woman probably wouldn’t need the wings of an eagle to flee. She could probably get to her place of refuge in a far more sedate way. But, we see that the Antichrist actually has an army:
12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
– Daniel 8:12
By the way, the word ‘sacrifices’ is not in the original Hebrew. It just says התמיד (pronounced: ha tah-meed), and it means ‘the always’ or ‘the perpetual’. If someone asks me how often I go to church on Sunday, I would say “tamid!” I always go to church on Sunday! ALWAYS – except when I’m sick.
So, it looks like the Antichrist stops all church services, and has an army to make it happen.
By the way, if you want to know WHERE the Antichrist comes from, go here:
Where the Antichrist Comes From
He comes from somewhere in the Middle East or Central Asia, and he’s the Little Horn in this verse:
9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.
– Daniel 8:9
So, the Antichrist’s army goes south, east and into Israel – The Glorious Land.
South, East and into Israel… from where?
From one of the nations exists today, in a place that Alexander the Great used to control.
If I had to speculate, I would have to say that the Antichrist comes out of either Greece, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Armenia or Azerbaijan. It would be hard to go ‘south and east’ from Egypt and Iran. And, Syria and Iraq are destined for complete destruction. The central Asian countries that Alexander conquered seem to be too far east for the Antichrist to go even farther east. But, we’ll see what happens when this man of lawlessness arrives.
The point is that the Antichrist invades Israel.
Here is one of the things that Revelation talks about, in terms of the Antichrist’s control of Jerusalem:
1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
– Revelation 11:1-3
Revelation 11 goes on to discuss the ministry of the Two Witnesses, but that’s not the important point – in terms of our discussion. The important thing is that Jerusalem is captured for 42 months. The issue of the ‘temple’ is something of a mystery and may only be answered as we get closer to that time.
Is there a place in the Old Testament that refers to the capture of Jerusalem by the Antichrist?
I believe so, and we can find it here:
1 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
And your spoil will be divided in your midst.
2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken,
The houses rifled,
And the women ravished.
Half of the city shall go into captivity,
But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
– Zechariah 14:1-2
God gathers all nations to attack Jerusalem?
And, I’m calling this the capture of Jerusalem by the Antichrist?
Have I gone crazy?
Probably, but not for that reason.
Okay, so let me try to help you understand why this isn’t so crazy. First off, we know that this capture of Jerusalem is fought either
At the Second Coming
When the Antichrist comes
And we are limited to those two choices because of the next two verses:
3 Then the Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
– Zechariah 14:3-4
This can only be the about the last of the Last Days, because Jesus Returns to fight the nations and rescue His people.
So, why do I say that verse two is about the capture of Jerusalem by the Antichrist?
Well, let me ask you this:
Does the Lord Return, capture Jerusalem, and then lose it again to the nations of the Earth?
Anything is possible, so I’m not discounting it. With all the things that happen during the Last Days, it is possible that the truly incomprehensible could happen. However, we have other passages to look at.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:15-16. He told His people to flee IMMEDIATELY when the Antichrist arrives. And, there is only one possible reason for that:
The invasion and capture of Jerusalem and Judea by the Antichrist.
Then, the Book of Revelation tells us:
Antichrist rules Jerusalem for three and a half years (42 months).
So, if you believe that Zechariah 14:2 is about the second coming Jesus and the last battle before the Millennium, this means that:
the Antichrist loses control of the Jerusalem…
…wins it back…
…before losing it again at the Last Battle.
All in a matter of… days?
I’m sorry, but that just does not fit the description that God has given us at the hands of the prophets and the New Testament.
For any of this to make any sense at all, the capture of Jerusalem must happen 42 months before the Second Coming. The Antichrist will conquer all of the Land of Israel. And, while he rules Israel for three and a half years, the Two Witnesses will preach against him and cause a gigantic drought, strike the Earth with massive plagues and burn up anyone who opposes them. And, at some point, either before the Two Witnesses come – or during their ministry – half of Jerusalem gets dragged away into concentration camps. Probably death camps.
Then, the Lord comes and rescues His people and defeats the Antichrist at Jerusalem. Those that survived the brutal reign of the Antichrist will flee through the gigantic valley created by the splitting of the Mount of Olives.
All of that sounds really reasonable. But, we have a problem with the first part of verse two:
For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
Does this blow up my carefully laid explanation of how Jerusalem is captured and then liberated?
If the order of events that I’ve laid out is true, then it means that God draws the Antichrist down to attack Jerusalem and capture it. And, we don’t normally think of the Antichrist being drawn to do something by God. But, God has been manipulating Satan into doing things for thousands of years, and that isn’t going to stop, just because of some awful guy that we call the Antichrist.
In fact, I personally believe that God makes events happen in such a way that the Antichrist is forced to appear before Satan is ready for him to do so. But, that’s just me.
It sounds to me like Jerusalem is a thorn in the side of the Antichrist, so much so that he feels forced to deal with Jerusalem. And, like every other attack upon Jerusalem, it leads to his downfall. The Arabs learned this the hard way, and now the Antichrist gets to learn. But, it’s still strange to think of the Antichrist being drawn by God to attack and capture Jerusalem.
The point is that the Antichrist invades Israel, captures Jerusalem and rules that city for three and a half years. Half of the city gets sent off to concentration camps (and probably murdered) and the other half lives in fear over how long it will take the minions of the Antichrist to haul them away. Then, the Lord comes and rescues those that are left.
After the rescue of Jerusalem at the Second Coming of Christ, the nations of the Earth mount a counter attack. And, they gather in the Jezreel Valley, which has a small mountain to the south, called Har Megiddo – or, Armageddon. They will gather in Jezreel and be soundly defeated there – but, not at Jerusalem.