In attempting to come up with a chronological scenario that takes into account all we have learned so far, I will admittedly be speculating quite a bit. This is because, no doubt, many unanticipated geopolitical events will happen between now and then. Therefore I ask the reader to take this attempt at a chronology of events with a grain of salt, understanding that I expect some of the things I am about to say to ultimately be proven wrong. That said, I do think that we can get a pretty good idea of how this will all look when it comes to pass, even if some of the minor details can’t be fully known.
While certain events can be inferred to happen before the covenant that the Antichrist makes in Daniel 9:27, biblically speaking, we have to start the end-times narrative from this traditional starting point. I argued earlier that I believe this covenant is an attempt to mimic the new covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31 that the Jews are awaiting the Messiah to make with them. This covenant would begin a massive reinvigoration of the Jewish laws and rituals in Israel. I also argued that the text in Daniel suggests that the covenant will include the reinstatement of the daily sacrifice. If this view of the covenant made by the Antichrist is true, then we can infer that this event will be of monumental proportions and is much bigger and broader than a simple peace treaty.
For one thing, this means the Antichrist is claiming to be the Messiah at this point, or at least doing things to make people infer that he is. I say this because the concept of the new covenant in Jeremiah is something that must be done by the Messiah, both in Christian and Jewish belief. In addition, the construction of the temple is also believed possible only when the Messiah comes, though it is true that certain Jews today believe they don’t have to wait on the Messiah to build the temple. The majority of religious Jews disagree on that point. We know that this covenant is made by the Antichrist, so it seems logical to assume that one of the first things we will see is this covenant with a Messiah figure and the reinvigoration of Jewish laws and rituals. The Jews claiming to have found their Messiah and starting work on the temple will be quite a spectacle; all eyes will be on Israel 24/7 from that moment on.
This brings up several difficult questions concerning the False Prophet, who will almost certainly claim to be the biblical Elijah. In Jewish thought, it is inconceivable that a person could be accepted as the Messiah without being introduced by Elijah. It would seem, therefore, that the False Prophet will appear at the time of this covenant or before. Since many Jews believe it will be Elijah who helps them with the difficult theological questions concerning the specifics of the rebuilding of the temple, this seems like perfect timing anyway.
It may be that the Antichrist appears on the world stage before the covenant and becomes well known through political or military exploits in another part of the world. Such a view seems logical, because we wouldn’t expect the Antichrist to appear out of nowhere declaring himself to be the Messiah to the Jews. In fact, I submit that his early career, spoken of in Daniel 7 about his coming from a ten-king confederacy after subduing three of them, accounts for his being well known in one way or another before the covenant. The False Prophet then would also come on the scene during this pre-covenant time, gain support in Israel in some way for his claim to be Elijah, and become widely respected. Then, just before this amazing covenant is made, the False Prophet tells everyone that the man who has been making waves on the world stage recently is their Messiah. It’s possible that all this would be happening during a time when Israel is feeling threatened by its enemies.
In these early stages, no group will be paying more attention to this monumental development in Israel than the Muslims. Even if, as some believe, a way to construct the temple next to the Dome of the Rock is possible (without tearing it down), there is no scenario in which the events that follow the covenant don’t awaken the preprogrammed eschatological passions of the Islamic world.
The Temple Mount is currently controlled by the Muslims, even though Israel technically has sovereignty over the site. Today, you can’t be caught bringing a Bible or praying anywhere on the Temple Mount, let alone building an altar and sacrificing animals to Yahweh. Starting the daily sacrifice on the Temple Mount is just not going to go over well at all with the Muslims. I suspect that if the Jews really believe their Messiah has come, then they also believe that he is about to go to war with and conquer their enemies. So, the one thing that has prevented them from building the temple in the past—imminent war with all Muslims—will cease to be a problem for them, as they believe the Messiah will protect them, and they might even welcome the chance to defeat the Muslims in the epic war that this action will cause. If the Antichrist has a proven military background, this may add to their confidence about this impending war.
It’s not just the rebuilding of the temple that will guarantee a war with Islam. It is also the Islamic belief in a coming Dajjal (the false Jewish Messiah) that will inflame their passions to go to war with Israel en masse at this time. The Antichrist will be well aware of the consequences of these actions, and will actually be counting on such a war. As far as Satan sees it, the bigger the number of Muslim armies that attack the Antichrist, the better, because he is attempting to make it seem like the Antichrist is fulfilling the messianic prophecies of the destruction of Israel’s enemies.
I mentioned that I’m not sure if these Islamic armies will be led by a single man or not; the Bible seems to suggest that they won’t. That being said, if the Muslims believe the Dajjal is on the scene, it seems logical that they would choose someone to act as a Mahdi, even if he doesn’t exactly fit all the criteria they were expecting. Remember that Isa isn’t even expected to come on the scene until the Muslims are already involved in this war, so they certainly won’t be waiting on him to show up. I personally think he never will, but I am open to being wrong on this point. As I said in the previous chapter, if such characters like a Mahdi and Isa do emerge during this time, the group that will be the most deceived by them will be the Christians who, believing they have found an Antichrist and False Prophet to hate, will by default be ready to accept the man who defeats them, which will be the real Antichrist.
According to Daniel 11:40–45, the battles between Antichrist and the Muslim nations occur outside of Israel. This is consistent with the Jewish belief that the wars of Messiah ben Joseph are fought in the desert, meaning that the Antichrist, after the covenant is made and temple construction begins, leaves Israel to go to war with the Muslim armies that will have been so angered by the recent events. Daniel says that although the Antichrist is attacked first, he will have no trouble at all defeating his enemies. What’s interesting is that it seems from the Bible’s description of these victories that there is something about the way he fights wars that is so utterly impossible to defend that the nations he defeats become totally submissive to him. They fall under his full control after they see his war-making powers. I suspect that because of Satan’s help, the Antichrist is able to demonstrate something completely new with his warfare. Maybe it’s supernatural, maybe it’s technological, but I believe the verse that asks, “Who is like the beast, who can make war with him?” in Revelation 13:4 reflects a sentiment that will be felt by the whole world. This inability for him to be defeated in war will ultimately cause the entire world to come under his control.
After the Muslim armies are defeated, it will then be safe for Jews worldwide to return to Israel. This is something they probably would have wanted to do when the covenant was made, but it was obvious that a major war would result from those actions. Once they see that the coast is clear and all enemies are pacified, the Jews worldwide will begin to migrate to Israel en masse.
One of the most important Jewish beliefs about Messiah ben Joseph is that after the wars he fights in the desert, he will lead many Jews back to the land of Israel. Nahmanides, one of the most influential Jewish sages in the Middle Ages, orders the events as follows: “[Messiah Ben Joseph will appear,] wipe out idolatry, gather in Israel, lead them to the Holy Land” (emphasis added).1
This is consistent with the Antichrist’s movements after the initial defeat of the kings of the north and south, because just after those wars, he marches toward the Holy Land, too. As I argued in chapter 3, this march to Jerusalem is in victory, not aggression, evidenced by the fact that once he gets there, he seems to be taking on all of Israel’s “micro enemies,” those lands that directly occupy the areas around Israel, although most of Jordan will apparently “escape from his hands.” It therefore can be postulated that Antichrist’s defeat of the Palestinian coastlands and the rest of Israel’s immediate but less serious enemies may be to make room for the masses of Jewish exiles who will be pouring in to Israel after he subdues the Muslim world. Right now, more Jews live in the USA than in Israel. If Antichrist plans on fulfilling the prophecies of the ingathering of the people, he is going to need a bigger Israel, and it explains this apparent real-estate grab after the major wars.
There appear to be more conquests to the east and north during this time, too. It is conceivable that the Antichrist is trying to extend the borders of Israel at this point to the borders mentioned in Genesis 15:18–21, “from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates,” which would include all of modern-day Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, most of Turkey, and all of the land east of the Nile River. Or, at least he is trying to expand to the less significant but still greater borders of the old Davidic dynasty. This is speculation, however, and the reason that the Antichrist goes to war in the east and north before his apparent assassination in Israel could simply be for defensive reasons. Regardless of his reasons, he will be as victorious as before and presumably able to do what he wants with the lands he conquers after this.
The killing of the Antichrist (the first time) and why it is done is a mystery in the Bible. He certainly will be making many enemies around the world at this point, so it could be any number of candidates. Regardless of who does it, he receives his “mortal head wound” in Israel just after the previously mentioned wars. His killing does not appear to be the result of an invading army (as is the case in Islamic belief), because the Bible doesn’t mention any more attacks from outsiders at this point. I lean toward an individual assassin doing this, but, again, the Bible is not clear on the subject.
Just prior to the killing of the Antichrist, the Muslim world will certainly be confused and disheartened, because much of what they believed was going to happen in the end times will not be panning out. They are being defeated on all fronts by the man they surely will see as the Dajjal. I submit that they will be even more disappointed as the rest of the events unfold, but this killing of the Dajjal (the Antichrist) will be one last glimmer of hope that maybe their end-times texts were right. After all, the Dajjal was supposed to be killed, in their view, and now he has been. Granted, this killing is supposed to be done by the Muslim Jesus during a great battle, but I’m sure they can find a way to accommodate the less-than-literal fulfillment of this prophecy.
The Jewish people, on the other hand, though disheartened by the death of the man they believe is their redeemer, will no doubt be cautiously optimistic at this point. This, after all, will be exactly what they believed would happen. The death of the Messiah in Israel just after the wars and the ingathering is simply the next step in the process. They will believe that all they have to do is mourn him in accordance with Zechariah 12:10 and he will be resurrected. Unfortunately for everyone, they will not be disappointed.
We should take a moment to consider the theological problem the resurrection of the Antichrist poses. I do not believe that Satan has the power to raise the dead, but at the same time, I don’t see any way around the many verses that say the Antichrist really dies; it just doesn’t seem to allow for a fake death to me. I recommend the paper, “Can Satan Raise the Dead? Toward a Biblical View of the Beast’ s Wound” by Gregory H. Harris to anyone who’s interested in this subject. To sum the paper up, it seems that God is the one who resurrects the Antichrist for the purpose of condemning those who do not believe the truth. In 2 Thessalonians 2, we find the following verse, which I believe states that God is the one who sends the “strong delusion” that, in this view, is the resurrection of the Antichrist:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, emphasis added)
The Bible is silent about whether another man acts as if he resurrects the Antichrist. As I mentioned, many Jews believe it will be Elijah or ben David who resurrects Messiah ben Joseph, but all we’re told in the Bible is that it happens. This resurrection is a major turning point in the end-times chronology. Until this moment, Muslims may have held out some hope that their view of the end times was correct. But because of a resurrected “Dajjal” and the complete subjection of most, if not all, Muslim countries, they will hopefully begin to see that they have been deceived by their religion. I hold out great hope for a massive Muslim revival at this point. I fully expect that many of the Muslims still alive will turn to Christianity, though it will be at the cost of their lives, as we will soon see.
After the resurrection, Christians who may have been deceived in one way or another until this event will also start to wake up. Perhaps they will have been toying with the idea that this man was the return of Jesus. Or, if the Antichrist doesn’t claim to be Jesus, perhaps they will have been starting to believe that this man was the real Messiah and Jesus wasn’t. In any case, after the resurrection of the Antichrist, an event that is so antithetical to Christian doctrine, and something that Scripture clearly attributes to the Antichrist, I expect a mass awaking among Christians to occur as well.
Though this event will be a time when some people will realize the true nature of the Antichrist, it will also be a time for others to embrace the Antichrist with their whole being. Regardless of which side of that fence people will fall, it’s about to be illegal for anyone to oppose the Antichrist, and refusal to worship him will soon be punishable by death.
After the resurrection of the Antichrist—perhaps directly after—he declares himself to be God in the temple. I don’t know if this is something he would have done earlier if he could have; I don’t know if the temple was fully constructed before this time. In any case, he does so at the midpoint of the seven-year period, and this is when his theology also seems to change.
We know that at this point he stops the daily sacrifices, which he himself seems to have established three and a half years earlier. In exchange, he sets up an image of himself, the so-called image of the beast. He also declares himself to be divine. I argued in an earlier chapter that this declaration of his divinity and the setting up of the image may be an attempt not for him to break from the pretense of Judaism, as is often suggested, but rather to bolster his messianic claims. Both actions are in effect closer to the doctrine of the biblical Messiah than his previous theology. The Messiah, as Christians are aware, is in fact God, so this new declaration of divinity may be backed up with Scripture. And as for the image of himself in the temple, I argued that even this step is an attempt to more accurately reflect the important messianic doctrine that the Messiah will rule from the temple during the Millennium and receive the offerings from the pilgrims who will flow to Jerusalem. Since the Antichrist cannot waste time by sitting in the temple himself, he sets up this image to try to fulfill this important prophecy. In effect, he is reinforcing his messianic claims with these actions, though the main difference is that he now requires worship.
In the place of the daily sacrifice, he will institute an obligatory offering of gold, silver, and precious stones to the image of the beast. The image has the power to kill those pilgrims who will not worship it. I personally believe that Satan will indwell this image for the purpose of receiving worship, but this is pure speculation.
The persecution that follows the abomination of desolation is described as the worst in history. We are told in effect that this persecution has its epicenter in Jerusalem, and that it begins immediately after the abomination of desolation—so immediately, in fact, that people must flee at all cost when they see the abomination, and with great speed if they want to avoid the persecution. These facts suggest that many people in Jerusalem will not see what the Antichrist does as an abomination at all. The speed in which they carry out the Antichrist’s orders to kill believers suggests great zeal on their part. We can only infer the reasons the Antichrist will give for his order to have believers rounded up and killed, but, as I have noted previously, many Jews believe that when the Messiah comes, there will be a need for just such an extermination of unbelievers. This belief in the need for an eschatological genocide is different from the belief that the Messiah will make war on Israel’s neighbors prior to him sitting on the throne of David. This particular killing is expected to happen after those wars and after the final Messiah, Messiah ben David, takes his throne. Many Jews believe that at that point they will need to root out and kill all those who are left who won’t submit to the rule of the Messiah in order to usher in the final and everlasting peace.2 There will be a very attractive motive for the people to carry out the persecution of unbelievers. The feeling of the day will be: “Kill all unbelievers or the Utopia cannot come.”
At this point, the Antichrist really will rule the world. I believe this is when he institutes programs like the mark of the Beast, which will prevent those who don’t have it from buying and selling, beginning the great choice for the rest of the world: Accept the mark and worship the Beast or die. Even though many people might not be convinced of Antichrist’s divine claims at this point, many people, regardless of their religious beliefs, will take the mark out of convenience, to preserve their lives, or both. Only Christians and those Jews who will hear the pleas of the two witnesses will refuse the mark and either be killed or go into hiding.
Though much more happens after this, I will end this chronology here, as these are the events that most pertain to the rise of the Antichrist and the thesis of this book.