That's six. Five before John, one in John's day. Now read carefully. "The other has not yet come." Number seven is not yet here. Guess what? He hasn't come even yet. There has not been another Empire beyond the Roman Empire. Papal Rome does not fill the bill of another Kingdom or King. It is still Rome, and continues the political status of the same Roman Empire, though very much in decline.
Besides that, John adds that when number seven comes, he will only continue a short time. Can't be Catholicism on the Vatican throne. It's been around a long time.
So Empire Number seven is the next thing that must happen on the world scene. Look for a world Empire that is against Jews, and against Jesus, against the true God and His purposes, as all the world empires have been. It will be headed by a man who represents the anti-Christian attitude of the world at that time. But not the antichrist. Not yet.
Surely a Russian, or some other Communist, or an Islamic Empire would fulfill this prophecy. All of them are decidedly anti, against, the Christ of the Bible, and against the Jews.
Whoever or whatever or wherever it is, this government will only last a short time. Perhaps this is the first half of the seven years that Daniel saw in his famous 70 week prophecy (Daniel 9). One period of seven years has not yet come to pass as it was supposed to, per that vision. Yet "3 and 1/2 years" is the period always cited by John and Daniel for the very final kingdom, that of antichrist. Not seven years.
So Empire and Emperor number seven comes, and goes. How does he go? And who replaces number seven to become number eight? Here the text is explicit and worthy of our attention. Through perhaps political intrigue, or assassination, or a power grab, a la Hitler, number eight seizes the kingdom from number seven and an even more sinister world unfolds before us.
This final leader before Jesus is none other than "the beast" or the antichrist, according to verse 11. The beast is the 8th, it comes out and says. Then it adds this chilling note: The eighth is one of the seven!
So though speculation is difficult, and not precise and exact, it is a man we are looking for, as well as an Empire. What the text is telling us is that someone who raised his ugly head once before, sitting on a mountain of power over the whole world, will rise to that power again. The antichrist that is coming is the once and future king of the earth.
Someone has an unfinished score to settle with Israel. Someone hates Jesus Christ and is in direct competition with him. Someone was trying to wipe out Israel and Israel's Messiah once before, but he didn't finish his work. Now he is certain he will. He will be directly empowered by Satan, somewhat in the way that the father empowered the Son,
Someone who lived before and who lives again. The last kingdom before Jesus, is now in place, to last for three and one half years. Number eight.
Can we be any more specific? I believe there are three choices that make a lot of "sense". Human sense has proven wrong quite often, and the answer may be hidden more deeply than this, but given the fact, and this is non-negotiable - that antichrist is indeed a resurrected world leader, one who lived before and who will live again, here's where I have traced the evidence thus far, not given in order of preference by me:
1. Perhaps: The seventh ruler is assassinated, and rises from the dead within days, mimicking Christ, to become the eighth ruler when empowered by Satan.
· Revelation 13 talks about how one of the heads of the beast is wounded, and later talks about how the world marvels at the fact that this deadly wound is healed. Sounds like the very resurrection that the text suggests. There seems to be an immediacy here, though it is not definite.
· Another positive is the fact that he is an anti-Christ. Not just opposed to, but a copy of, an imitation of. He would be able to convince the world of his Messiah-ship by simply rising from the dead as did the real Christ.
· According to Paul, there was a "restraining order" already issued against someone who was waiting for his time to be revealed. This was as early as the first century. II Thessalonians 2:7 and following tells us that this whole mystery was already in play 2000 years ago. Only when the restraining (angel) is taken away can the man of sin be revealed. When he comes it will be with great power.
· If the seventh and eighth ruler are the very same man, albeit the latter is Satan-filled, which one is it that comes from the bottomless pit, and why would he be there anyway? The coming from the pit seems to suggest that he has been there quite some time, as Paul suggests.
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