The Coming Deception
We know that a popular but wicked ruler is coming. He will not be alone; a religious deceiver will aid and abet this global leader. Let’s consider the end-time teaching of the world’s fastest-growing religion to see if there is an interface with the Bible’s predictions about what’s next:
What We Know (vv. 11-18)
There will be strong delusion during the last days, caused by the Antichrist (see vv. 1-10) and the False Prophet (see vv. 11-18).
The Antichrist will be known by his wickedness, world dominance, wonder, worship, and war (see Revelation 7-11; Daniel 9).
The False Prophet will work for the Antichrist, cultivating a global religion and economy. His authority will be spiritual–not political–and his intent will be to deceive (see v. 14).
His primary incentive to encourage people to worship the Antichrist will be economic (see vv. 16-17), supported by a system of global government.
Probe: Consider how the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world might fit into prophecy (see Daniel 7:8-11, 24-27; 9:24-27).
What We’re Told (assorted writings)
Islamic theology says there will be three signs of the end times:
The Mahdi will come (the Muslim messiah). He will establish a seven-year treaty with Israel and bring global peace.
Jesus (known to Muslims as the human prophet Isa al-Masih) will follow. Muslims teach that Jesus will come back and say that Allah is the true God and Muhammad is his prophet.
The Dajjal–the Muslim antichrist–will come as a false miracle worker, claiming to be Jesus. The Dajjal will attempt to stop the Mahdi and Isa al-Masih.
Probe: Consider the differences between the Bible’s true Christ and Muslims’ understanding of Christ (see Daniel 7). The Bible’s Antichrist is Islam’s savior, the Bible’s False Prophet is Islam’s Jesus, and the Bible’s Christ is Islam’s antichrist.
What We Hope (v. 8)
Revelation 13:8 implies that during the tribulation, some will resist the Antichrist, finding hope in the true Christ, Jesus.
Muslims live without assurance of salvation: Allah can remove his blessing at any time, and becoming a martyr is the only guarantee of paradise. But Christ brings lasting forgiveness for those who believe; it’s His work on the cross, not ours, that saves us (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
Probe: Millions of Muslims have converted to Christ after discovering the truth of Islam’s teachings and contrasting it with Christ’s forgiveness. Pray for the newly converted and those needing miraculous intervention.
Connect Up: How can understanding the end times draw you close to God? Why is it important to have a general understanding of eschatology?
Connect In: Because we live with the assurance of heaven–knowing that we’ll be with one another throughout eternity–how should we treat one another now?
Connect Out: Though the end times will unfold as God intends, how can we partner with the Holy Spirit in reaching out to Muslims? Remember who the real Enemy is: Satan.
The Most Interesting Man in the World
Unlike the fictional beer commercials, the most interesting man in the world has yet to come. Dynamic, persuasive, and a breath of fresh air, this leader’s diplomatic skills will be off the charts. On one hand, he will be everything the world has been waiting for; on the other hand, he will be its biggest nightmare.
Wickedness (v. 1)
In his vision, John saw the Antichrist as an insidious man–a beast.
Though starting as a man of peace (see Revelation 6:2), the Antichrist will reveal his true colors halfway through the tribulation.
In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul called the Antichrist “the man of sin” (v. 3), “the lawless one” (vv. 8-9), and “the son of perdition” (v. 3).
World Dominance (vv. 1-2)
The Antichrist will pull together one world-governing empire (see Daniel 7).
He will rise from the sea, or the nations (see Isaiah 17; Revelation 17).
He will promote globalism: a global network of political alliances with a single law and economy.
Wonder (v. 3)
The Antichrist will be fully possessed by Satan. People will wonder at his ability and be mesmerized by his talent.
Many will see him as a political savior, the bringer of peace in the Middle East and the world.
Worship (vv. 4, 8)
People’s fascination with the Antichrist will turn to adoration.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Paul said the Antichrist will “oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God” (NIV).
The prefix anti means against, but it also means instead of.
The Antichrist will be a counterfeit Christ, part of an illegitimate and unholy trinity: Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
Words (vv. 5-6)
The Antichrist will sway people with his words.
Daniel 7:8 describes him as “a mouth speaking pompous words.”
War (vv. 7-10)
Once the Antichrist succeeds in dominating the world, he will seek to eradicate the Jewish people and new believers (tribulation saints: those saved after the rapture).
Daniel 7:25 states that he “shall persecute the saints of the Most High.”
Connect Up: The first three and a half years of the Antichrist’s reign will be peaceful, but the last three and a half years will bring about an abomination during which two-thirds of the Jewish people will die (see Zechariah 13:8-9). Why will God allow such desecration on the earth?
Connect In: Read Matthew 24. How can the church protect itself from deception?
Antichrist is called the man of sin; Jesus is the Sinless Man.
Antichrist is the idol shepherd; Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Antichrist is pictured as a beast; Jesus is the Lamb.
Antichrist’s false death will be meant to deceive; Jesus’ death was meant to save.
Pray for friends and family who are not yet Christians.