A common question is will the Antichrist claim to be God himself. Many believe he will. Is this belief accurate?
Does Antichrist claim to be God?
This belief is based on Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.
The man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 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 being God. (2 Thess. 2:3-4)
This passage is a further explanation of Daniel’s prophecy about the Antichrist:
He will show no regard for the gods (literally “God”) of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all. But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures. He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god. (Dan. 11:37-39)
These two interrelated passages are the basis of our understanding of what exactly Antichrist will or will not do in this regard. Let’s look at each passage individually and see what it really says. We will start with Daniel since the passage in 2 Thessalonians references Daniel.
God and other “gods”
The passage in Daniel is clear that Antichrist will “magnify himself above them all” (other gods). That should end the discussion but it doesn’t. Immediately after this statement it says he honors a “god of fortresses” and later receives help from a “foreign god.” This certainly doesn’t seem like he magnifies himself above every god, rather it seems there is one god that he honors.
In order to understand Dan. 11:37-39, we need to better understand the words translated “god” and “gods.” First the word “gods” in the phrase “gods of his fathers” is the Hebrew word ELOHE and it is singular not plural. It should read “God of his fathers.” In the other phrases “any other god,” “a god of fortresses,” and “a foreign god,” a slightly different Hebrew word ELOWAH is used. This is a complex use of words as both ELOHE and ELOWAH are both singular and both refer to a title of a divine being of power.
ELOHIM (meaning heavenly being) is the plural form of ELOHE. Angels are ELOHIM (plural), God the Father and Jesus are the supreme ELOHIM, and the “Sons of God” or God’s Divine Counsel are Elohim as well. Those who have read Dr. Michael Heiser’s “The Unseen Realm” (see THIS BOOK REVIEW) will quickly recognize this term. The plural term ELOHIM can be God (God is a trinity) or it can be other divine beings. The singular form, however, ELOHE, most often it refers to the true God, but not always. Yes, confusing, I know.
ELOWAH can also refer to the one true God, but more often it refers to false gods of the nations in a general sense . So our working theory is that ELOHE is YHWH and ELOWAH means a false god in the passage in Dan. 11.
So if we examine the phrase “gods (ELOHE) of his fathers,” it is actually the God of his fathers; most likely YHWH. So if the Antichrist is Muslim, how would this be possible that YHWH was God of his fathers? The “fathers” of the Muslim people are Ishmael and Esau, both of whom worshiped YHWH initially during their lives. So this makes complete sense.
Next, we find a very unusual and confusing statement: the Antichrist will show no regard for the “desire of women.” This has led many to believe he will be a homosexual (and he may be). However, it is very unlikely that this phrase carries that meaning here. This entire passage is about the religion and spirituality of Antichrist NOT his sexuality. This phrase then should be referring to a God who was the “desire of women.”
In the days prior to the birth of Jesus, Jewish women desired to give birth to Messiah. The “desire of women” therefore was giving birth to the coming Messiah, who we now know is Jesus.
If we assemble this entire phrase together we get the following statement of whom the Antichrist will and will not honor. He will not honor God the Father, Jesus, or any false god worshiped by other nations:
He will show no regard for the gods (ELOHE, meaning YHWH) of his fathers or for the desire of women (Jesus), nor will he show regard for any other god (ELOWAH); for he will magnify himself above them all. But instead he will honor a god (ELOWAH) of fortresses, a god (ELOWAH) whom his fathers did not know.
So the Antichrist will not honor God the Father or the Son or any of the gods of the nations, but rather he will honor a false god, an ELOWAH. This is very clear and very obvious. Antichrist will not declare himself the god, but will worship an ELOWAH.
Who Does Antichrist Worship?
We are given a couple clues as to the identity of the ELOWAH. We are told his is an ELOWAH of “fortresses” (Heb: MAUZZIM). This word actually means “stronghold,” so Antichrist worships a god of strongholds. This word occurs 36 times in the Old Testament and when referring to YHWH usually it is used positively to mean strength or protection. In this passage, of course, it is used negatively of an ELOWAH or false god. So spiritually this would mean a demonic power that has a hold on people who worship this god.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, (2 Cor. 10:4)
In the physical world, this word MAUZZIM refers to castles or strong defensive structures. So another nuance of the word is that this god is one of military might or strength.
Allah, the ELOWAH of the Muslims, fits both of these descriptions. He is a demon god of military might, spreading the “religion” by conquest and violence. He is also holds onto people in demonic strongholds.
Seated on the Throne
The passage in 2 Thessalonians indicates that the Antichrist will display himself as if he is God (YHWH). It does not say he proclaims himself God only that he displays himself as God. He does this by sitting in the Temple of God. The Greek word translated “display” is APODEIKNUMI meaning to show or demonstrate. This implies he will make decisions and weld authority as if he were a god. Additionally, sitting on the throne of God in the Temple is a great blasphemy to the one true God.
A Resurrected Antichrist
You may be asking, “Doesn’t the world worship the Antichrist?” It certainly appears that it does.
Rev. 13 gives us more information about the career of the Antichrist than any other chapter of the Bible. One of the first things we see is that the “Beast” appears to suffer a fatal head wound, but recovers:
I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast. (Rev. 13:3)
This verse has been interpreted by many to mean that the man, the Antichrist, will suffer a fatal head wound. He might. I’m not sure. Notice this verse speaks of “one of his (the Beast’s) heads.” Does the Antichrist, the man, have 7 heads? No, the demon and the empire have seven heads. If we look at this verse in close context we see that the heads are listed for us:
And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain. (Rev. 13: 2-3)
The verse is telling us that the Beast is part leopard, bear, and lion; that the seven heads are found within these ancient empires described by Daniel in Daniel 7 (we will discuss this further in the next article). So the fatal head wound most properly refers to the “empire” aspect of the Beast. (Remember the Beast has 3 aspects: empire, demon, and man (the Antichrist) see THIS ARTICLE). The world witnessed this fatal head wound in 1924 when the Allied powers of WWI defeated the Islamic Caliphate (Ottoman Empire) and broke it into constituent nations that we observe today. The reformation of this Empire will be the healing of the head wound. We are probably about to witness this in the next few months or years. Or perhaps we have already witnessed it in the formation of ISIS in June, 2014.
Might the man, the Antichrist, also appear to receive a fatal head wound and survive? He might. As I stated before, I’m not sure. If he does this would certainly give support to his status among the people of the world as a divine or semi-divine being. The passage in Rev. 13 continues and does discuss worship:
And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. (Rev. 13:3-5)
Notice, it says the people across the whole earth will worship the dragon (Satan) because he will give his authority to the beast. And they will worship the beast because of his ability to wage war (jihad). What does this mean? To me it means that by worshiping the Beast, the world is actually worshiping Satan who is the power behind the Beast. Worship here is the Greek word (PROSKUNEO) which means to bow one’s head to the ground; literally to “kiss the ground.” This gesture does not always represent worship as a god, but also submission. The very meaning of Islam is “submission.” Bowing and kissing the ground in Persian is “making Salam” (showing submission.)
Again, the war-like and violent nature of the Beast is obvious in this verse as it is the initial reason that the inhabitants of the world “make Salam” to the Beast. Now is the world making Salam to the demon or the man (Antichrist) or both? Probably both, but it is unclear. Notice the very next verse states that a “mouth” was given to him. This almost assuredly must mean the demon aspect of the Beast. Obviously the man, Antichrist, will already have a mouth; he can’t be “given a mouth.” The Antichrist is the mouth that is given to the demonic aspect of the Beast. The Antichrist will speak the thoughts of the demon.
This word PROSKUNEO is found a number of other times in Rev. 13:
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (Rev. 13:8)
He (the false prophet) makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. (Rev. 13:12)
The image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Rev. 13:15)
In combination, these three other uses of PROSKUNEO may be worship of the Antichrist and may be worship of the demonic aspect of the Beast (this may be Allah). Or it may be worship of both. This is not completely clear.
The question this article attempts to answer is will the Antichrist claim to be God or at least claim to be the one and only god (false god.) I think the answer to this is clearly “no” as the Antichrist will honor a “foreign god” who will outrank him.
However, it is not clear that the Antichrist doesn’t claim to be a divine being himself or demand worship himself. If the Antichrist appears to have recovered from a fatal head wound, he may appear then to be a divine being; and appear worthy of worship.
Rev. 13 exhibits four mentions of PROSKUNEO which can be translated as “worship” or as “honor.” This can be applied solely to the demonic aspect of the Beast or to both the demonic aspect and the man, the Antichrist. This is complex and not completely clear.
What is my personal belief? I personally think that the man, the Antichrist, will deceive the world by appearing to recover from a fatal head wound. At that point, I personally believe he will claim to be an historic figure come back to life. Most likely this may be Mohammed, and as such he would demand honor and worship. In the next article we will discuss this return of an historic figure in more detail.
You may wonder how Muslims will be willing to worship anyone but Allah. Islam permits prophets to change the religion! I fully expect the Antichrist to change the religion to permit the world to worship him as a lower level of divine being. He will demand the world worship Allah, and may demand they worship him as well.
This is my personal belief based on scripture, but it is not certain. Scripture is not clear enough from my reading to be completely 100% clear on this matter.
This is why we watch and pray.