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There are three or four main biblical patterns that prophesy to us about tribulation that is caused by the rise of antichrist. The first is when Absalom usurped the throne of David with the help of Ahithophel, David’s counselor and friend who betrayed him. Because David was God’s anointed one, he was a messianic type, and this shows also that Absalom was an anti-David—that is, an anti-anointed one, or antichrist. The war between the two rivals represents the tribulation. The return of David to claim His throne represents the second coming of Christ.
The first coming of Christ replayed the story of Absalom usurping the throne, but this time His throne was usurped by the chief priests led by Caiaphas. He received help from Judas, the betrayer, whom Jesus called “friend” (Matthew 26:50). In this case, the tribulation was delayed forty years on account of Ezekiel’s intercession (Ezekiel 4:6). Then because there was no repentance, Jerusalem was destroyed with its temple.
Antiochus was also a type of antichrist, and on that occasion, the high priest, Onias, was the betrayer. The tribulation at that time is well known, and the importance of them as prophetic types is seen in the fact that this tribulation was the climax of the angelic message in Daniel 11. Likewise, the apostle Paul drew lessons from this history in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, where we find men usurping Christ’s place in the temple, as if they were God (or gods).
Each of these three patterns of antichrist (Absalom, Antiochus, and Caiaphas) gives us different details about the nature of tribulation. Absalom usurped the throne; Antiochus usurped the temple; Caiaphas usurped both the throne and the temple. Each had a betrayer to help him: Ahithophel, Onias, and Judas.
New Testament Prophetic Understanding
The account in Acts 1:15-26 shows how Judas was replaced by Matthias as one of the twelve. Peter showed the need to replace Judas by quoting Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8, which were the words of David concerning Ahithophel. Ahithophel had already hanged himself shortly after betraying David (2 Samuel 17:23), so David replaced him. Judas also hanged himself after betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:5), and so Peter saw the obvious parallel.
Few today seem to share Peter’s understanding of the connection between Ahithophel and Judas, but it is one of the great keys to understanding the New Testament story. If Judas was like Ahithophel, then Caiaphas was like Absalom, and Jesus was like David. Each played their part in this great prophetic drama.
This story lays the foundation of understanding in regard to antichrist and tribulation. Unfortunately, many modern prophecy teachers seem to be unaware of this truth, and so their views go off in other directions.
While all the apostles in the upper room apparently understood that they had just witnessed a replay of Absalom, David, and Ahithophel, John is the only apostle that uses the term antichrist. He does not use the term to describe a single man, not even Caiaphas. He applies the term collectively to all those who deny the Son (1 John 2:22). He also shows that many were attempting to deceive those who had come to believe in Christ (1 John 2:26). No doubt this was an attempt by the antichrists in the temple to recruit these believers and thus to betray Christ.
The Apostle Paul did not use the term antichrist, but his epistle to the Galatians was devoted to this topic. He strongly argued that the believers ought not to betray Christ by attaching (or re-attaching) themselves to the temple and the Old Covenant, especially through physical circumcision. In Galatians 4 he set forth the story of the two women, Hagar and Sarah, as allegorical examples of the two Jerusalems. He made it clear that the earthly Jerusalem was Hagar, and the heavenly Jerusalem was Sarah (Galatians 4:22-26).
The children of Hagar, then, are those Jews who consider the earthly Jerusalem as their spiritual “mother.” Conversely, true believers are the children of Sarah (Galatians 4:26) who consider the New Jerusalem as their spiritual “mother.” Hence, Paul believed that the tribulation, broadly speaking, was a conflict between two women, Hagar and Sarah, each of whom claimed the inheritance of the Kingdom for her own son.
These conflicting claims have remained unresolved for nearly two thousand years. Both Jews and Christians have laid claim to the inheritance of the Kingdom on the grounds of their respective covenants and leaders. Paul says that this will be resolved when the bondwoman and her son is cast out (Galatians 4:30), for this will establish “Isaac” as the true inheritor of the promises.
This is the prophetic equivalent of Absalom’s death at the second coming of David (2 Samuel 18:15). The anti-David was killed in order that David might reclaim the throne that Absalom had usurped. This prophesies of the second coming of Christ as well. When He returns, He will not agree with the antichrists who usurped His throne. Neither will He make them His chosen people, nor will he allow them to rule the world. Instead, that honor will go to the overcomers, those who have not sided with the antichrists. Neither “Absalom” nor “Ahithophel” will rule in the Kingdom. To put it another way, neither “Caiaphas” nor “Judas” will rule in the Kingdom.
In the “Greek” century since 1914/1917, where we have seen the Antiochus pattern emerge, the rise of antichrist has been seen primarily in the rise of Zionism and the Jewish state. The result has been almost continuous wars throughout the century, increasing in intensity toward the end of the century (2014-2017). The Jewish state, brought about by radical Jews, has been the irritant in the world and has given birth to radical Islam.
The Jewish state has been supported by Christian Zionism, which is the equivalent of Judas, the disciple and friend of Jesus who betrayed Him by assisting the antichrists. Christian Zionism today is inspired by those who would Judaize the Church. As time passes, these have begun to overthrow the New Covenant by suggesting that the Old Covenant was given to the Jews, and the New Covenant to the “gentiles.” They suggest that Jews are “chosen” apart from Christ, and that those who follow Christ will serve the Jews in the age to come.
It is now commonly believed throughout the Church that the earthly Jerusalem is an “eternal city” that will never be destroyed, that it is our “mother,” and that it will be the capital of the Kingdom in the age to come.
How far the Church has come since the days of the apostles! Judas has risen again. Jesus has been betrayed, and Paul and John have been cast aside. Absalom has found support among the followers of David. Antiochus rules with the help of Onias and subverts the temple of God.
This is a serious matter.
When Michael Stands Up
Michael is the angelic Prince of Israel. But Michael is not called to fight for those who violate the law of God. He does not fight for those who claim to be Israel, but for those who truly are Israel. Absalom could not claim Michael’s help in fighting David. Neither could Caiaphas claim Michael’s help in crucifying the Messiah.
Yet today the Church’s main focus of the conflict has shifted from a plot to destroy the Messiah to a plot to destroy the Jews, who, if they reject Christ and have sided with Caiaphas, are playing the role of Absalom.
The harlot of Revelation cannot claim Michael’s help in establishing her son on the throne of the Kingdom. Instead, Michael fights for the true woman who brings forth the son who is the inheritor of the promises (Revelation 12:5). This collective son, with Christ as his Head, overcome the dragon by “the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). These are believers, not unbelievers.
Who really are the chosen people? John tells us that the true believers (that is, his audience) are the ones who have this anointing (1 John 2:20, 27). Paul says in Romans 11:7 that Israel as a nation did not receive what it sought, “but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” Jesus said in Matthew 22:14, “many are called, but few are chosen.” Israel as a nation was called, but only the remnant of grace was chosen. Paul says that in Elijah’s time, there were only 7,000 “chosen people” out of the millions of genealogical Israelites (Romans 11:4, 5).
For a full discussion of Romans 9-11, see Volume II of my commentary on Romans.
We are now living in the modern “time of distress” (Daniel 12:1), which is the fourth and final time of tribulation caused by antichrist’s attempt to usurp the Kingdom. By studying the first three patterns in biblical history, we can overcome the Prince of Greece, who casts truth to the ground. We receive truth through the twin angels of Amen and Amet. Thereby the words of John may apply to us, where he writes in 1 John 2:21, 22,
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
These witnesses to the truth are the same found in Revelation 12:11, who overcome the dragon by their testimony. These are also the ones who are “rescued” (malat, “delivered, rescued, “caused to escape”) when Michael stands up in Daniel 12:1. This Hebrew word, malat, also means “to give birth,” adding another nuance to the prophecy. It is used in this way in Isaiah 66:7,
7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she gave birth [malat] to a boy.
Hence, when Michael stands up to “rescue” or DELIVER those who are “found written in the book,” we must ask about the manner of their deliverance. Revelation 12 puts this deliverance in the context of the heavenly Bride giving birth to a son. So the broader range of meaning in the word malat indicates that there are different ways in which the people may be delivered. Yet the ultimate meaning is that the New Jerusalem gives birth to the sons of God. This is the great hope of every overcomer.