Why does it matter that we know the location of the empire of the Antichrist? Well, I’m not the best to answer the intent — I just know there is an overwhelming number of passages that pinpoint this final empire of this age. It’s amazing that Jesus told His followers 2,000 years ago to be watchful and ready — how much more should we be 2,000 years from that first admonishment. Therefore, we need to know the biblical narrative of the end of the age so we can accurately be watchful and ready.
In part 1 (see the March 30 issue), I touched on a piece of indirect evidence of the identity of the Antichrist’s empire — the fact that all the biblical prophets called for judgment on the neighbors of Israel. I believe we’d all agree this wasn’t due to their inept geographical knowledge. Therefore, it might be because they are the nations that make up the Antichrist’s empire.
In that article, I shared that Daniel 2 and Revelation 17 both reveal the final empire will be a revival of a previous empire and that Revelation 17 is the smoking gun because it presents that the final empire would be the one to follow the Roman Empire. History tells us this is to be the Islamic Caliphate/Ottoman Empire which eventually ruled from Modern Day Turkey.
Scripture itself calls for there to be two to three witnesses, not just the one I shared. That’s no problem because nearly all the Biblical prophets could be called to the witness stand for they all paint the picture of an Antichrist arising from the Middle East. Few of the prophets identify the location of this beast empire alone, but rather provide the pieces that, when configured together, parallel Revelation 17. Like the Messianic prophecies throughout the prophets of which Dr. Michael Heiser, in his book Unseen Realm, describes as a Mosaic picture: “The pattern in a mosaic often isn’t clear up close. It may appear to be just a random assemblage of pieces. Only when you step back can you see the wondrous whole.”
Today we have the completed end of the age mosaic, but God’s people haven’t always had all the pieces. I believe it’s helpful to look at the prophetic evidence in the order to which it was revealed.
Joel is one of the oldest prophetic books. He was warning the people in Judah of the coming invasion of the Assyrians, but as with all the prophets, he warned of an immediate doom, but also an ultimate showdown. We can tell they’re pointing to the ultimate end of the age showdown by the context. Often the prophecies of the latter days are coupled with the mention of the Day of the Lord or the Messiah. Most refer to this as an “already” but “not yet” prophecy. My Aussie colleague, Daniel Secomb, calls it pattern prophecy.
In the book of Joel, the focus is on an invasion that will ultimately befall the people of Israel. Immediately, this would be the Assyrians, soon after the Babylonians, but the context is clearly concerning the end of the age. As the Day of the Lord and Messianic language is in the context. Interestingly, in Joel 2:20 an origin of the invading army is given. The invaders are said to be from the north.
The New King James renders the term “northern army” as does most English translations: “But I will remove far from you the northern army and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; His stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things” (Joel 2:20 NKJV).
The word army is assumed and rightly so, but the English Standard Version (ESV) follows the original language more directly as well as the singular attributive pronouns that follow: “I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things” (Joel 2:20 ESV). The ESV’s rendering points to the reality that is intended — the one we know as the Antichrist.
So, Joel reveals the Antichrist and his army will come from the north. Now this isn’t concluding evidence, but it is helpful in building the mosaic. It’s not helpful in the sense that since this is also pattern prophecy — Assyria and Babylon were considered invaders from the north, but it does help pinpoint the location, especially when we find Daniel referring to the Antichrist as the King of the North and Ezekiel says he will come from the “far north.” Again, these three witnesses to the northern location aren’t helpful alone, but when graphed with insight from Micah and Isaiah they complete the picture. We’ll do that in part three.
For now, Joel, Daniel and Ezekiel tell us the Antichrist will rule north of Israel. Present-day options would be Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and eventually Russia, all of which are directly above Jerusalem. One of these nations came up in part 1 from Revelation 17 — modern day Turkey.
Jake is available for revivals and preaching learn more at standfirmministries.com.