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The story of Absalom’s attempt to replace David as the anointed one on the throne set the overall pattern of the New Testament conflict between the “Son of David,” Jesus Christ, the true Anointed One, and the chief priests led by Caiaphas, the usurper of the throne of David.
Most Bible commentators appear to have missed this important fulfillment of prophecy. Though I was raised in the church and was taught its version of prophecy, never once did I hear anyone mention this connection. It was not until much later that I discovered it when I came across Acts 1:16-20, where Peter spoke about replacing Judas. Peter quoted two passages from the Psalms.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, “Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it” [Psalm 69:25], and “Let another man take his office” [Psalm 109:8].
Both of these psalms were a reference to Ahithophel, the betrayer of David who had hanged himself, but Peter applied them to Judas, his New Testament counterpart. By extension, Jesus played the role of David, and Caiaphas played the role of Absalom. This was eye opening.
What is an Antichrist?
In that both stories were about usurping the throne of David, it is clear that both Absalom and Caiaphas were antichrists, each in their day. David was a type of Christ (or Messiah, one called and anointed as king); Jesus was the actual Christ, the Anointed One. The Greek term anti means “in place of.” It is used in Matthew 2:22, “Now when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judah in place of [anti] his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there.”
In other words, the word itself means “to replace,” but the New Testament uses the term “antichrist” to mean usurpation—because that is what Absalom and Caiaphas did. In Jesus’ day, the throne of God was supposed to be in the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of God once stood. Jesus was “the only-begotten God” (John 1:18) with the anointing to rule the world. His throne was both the throne of David and the throne of God Himself.
However, Caiaphas, the antichrist of the day, had usurped the throne. Only John uses the term antichrist in his writings, but Paul speaks of the antichrist and Judas the betrayer in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4,
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [or “perdition”], 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as God.
Verse 7 tells us that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” showing that this was a present-day reality in the first century and not merely a latter-day manifestation. When Paul wrote this, Caiaphas himself was no longer the high priest. Paul wrote both of his letters to the Thessalonians a few months apart from 50-51 A.D. during the time when Ananias ben Nebedeus was high priest (46-58 A.D.).
In other words, Ananias was then the antichrist who had usurped the throne of Christ in the temple.
John’s description of antichrist is in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3 and again in 2 John 1:7. He speaks not only of antichrist but also of “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). Antichrist (singular) was the Jewish high priest in Jerusalem, but he also had many supporters, most notably Judas, “the son of perdition” (John 17:12 KJV and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV) and those who followed in his footsteps in betraying Christ.
Denying the Father and the Son
The clearest definition of antichrist is in 1 John 2:22,
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.
Judaism claims to worship the Father while rejecting the Son, but Jesus said in John 14:6, “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” He said of these usurpers, “These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me” (John 16:3). Hence, John’s description of antichrist focuses specifically on those who think they can reject the Son while worshiping the Father. 1 John 2:23 adds,
23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
We also read in 1 John 4:3,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
This was a unique problem with mainstream Judaism. The issue in John’s time (as well as today) was whether or not Jesus was the Christ. From the New Testament viewpoint, there can be no compromise, nor is there any middle ground. Jesus either is or is not the Christ.
John says of antichrist “that it is coming,” but also that “it is already in the world.” The high priest had usurped the anointing of the Dominion Mandate, the throne, and the scepter with the help of Judas, the son of perdition. But a later manifestation was coming in the time of the second coming of Christ. A Judas company has arisen in our day that is betraying Christ in the matter of usurping Joseph’s Birthright.
The Birthright Name
The Birthright name is Israel, the name given to the sons of Joseph in Genesis 48:16,
16 The angel [Peniel] who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name [Israel] live on in them…
None of the other sons (tribes) of Jacob-Israel had the right to claim the name Israel unless they were in unity with the sons of Joseph to whom that name was given. Years later, when the kingdom was divided after the death of Solomon, the northern tribes retained the name Israel, because Ephraim and Manasseh were among them. The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin had to take an alternate name: the Kingdom of Judah. From then on, legally speaking, they were not Israelites, and the prophets clearly distinguish between Israel and Judah from then on.
The Dominion Mandate remained with Judah; the Fruitfulness Mandate (called the Birthright, though only a stripped-down version of it) remained with Ephraim in the northern House of Israel. This “breach” (Isaiah 58:12) could only be repaired by the Messiah Himself, and, in fact, it required Him to come twice in order to accomplish this task.
So He came the first time through the tribe of Judah and comes the second time as Joseph with His robe dipped in blood.
In today’s world, the conflict no longer focuses on Christ’s throne rights but upon His right to confer Sonship, which is the Fruitfulness Mandate. Those who are declared to be the sons of God are given the name Israel, even as Jacob himself was given that name as a testimony to his change of nature after wrestling with the angel Peniel.
Jacob did not become an Israelite until he was 98 years old. He was not born an Israelite. This name is given to the company of sons who are in unity with Christ in His Joseph calling. The opposition today arose in 1948 when the Jews proclaimed that their state was Israel—as if to say that they were the true sons of God while still rejecting Jesus as the Christ.
Many in the church supported the Jewish claim, not understanding the Scriptures. Christian believers thus joined the ranks of the new Judas company in betraying Christ in His second manifestation as Joseph.
The Jews are not Israelites
To be an Israelite, one must be in unity with the Holder of Joseph’s Birthright—that is, Jesus Christ. The Jews (or Judahites) lost the unity with Ephraim on a national level during the Divided Kingdom. It can be regained only through Christ, who is not only the King of Judah but also holds the Birthright of Joseph. Those who are of the flesh are Jacobites, not Israelites. If they are called Israelites, one must understand that this should be defined in fleshly terms only. From God’s perspective, an Israelite is a son of God who has been given a new nature, and this is illustrated perfectly in the manner in which Jacob became known as Israel.
Many Christian believers, who have not been taught these things, have inadvertently sided with the usurpers, even as Judas (who was a believer and disciple) sided with Caiaphas, not knowing that he was following the prophetic pattern of Ahithophel. The Roman Catholic church, in fact, was one of the last to call the Israeli state Israel. The pope did so in March 2000.
The underlying conflict today—in the context of Christ’s second coming—is to see who supports Jesus’ claim to the Birthright and who supports the Jewish claim. Christians who support the earthly Jerusalem—which Paul calls “Hagar”—testify that the Old Covenant is the foundation of the Kingdom. They also support Ishmael’s claim to be the inheritor of the Kingdom.
Hence, Christians betray Christ in many ways today. It is difficult to see how those who believe such things can qualify as manifested sons of God when the Feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled. Jesus Himself will decide, of course, and it is clear that He will judge the hearts of men. I am glad that this decision is not up to me. Nonetheless, this seems to be an important issue.