The Antichrist

The prophet Daniel revealed that the antichrist will actually take a seat in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem during the midpoint of the seven years of tribulation and proclaim himself to be God (see Dan. 9:27, which we will study later). It is this event that Jesus had in mind as He continued His Olivet Discourse:

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.[1] And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short” (Matt. 24:15-22).

This is a more specific elaboration concerning the tribulation Jesus had spoken of earlier (see 24:9). When the antichrist declares that he is God from Jerusalem’s temple, unimaginable persecution will break out against believers in Jesus. In declaring himself to be God, the antichrist will expect everyone to acknowledge his deity. Consequently, all true followers of Christ will immediately become official enemies of the state to be hunted down and killed. That is why Jesus said the believers in Judea should flee for the mountains without any delay, praying that their escape not be hindered for any reason.

My guess is that it would be a good idea for believers all over the world to flee to remote places when that event occurs, as it will probably be one that is televised around the globe. Scripture tells us that the whole world will be deceived by the antichrist, thinking he is their Christ, and they will give him their allegiance. When he declares himself to be God, they will believe him and worship him. When he speaks blasphemies against the true God—the God of the Christians—he will influence the entire deceived world to hate those who refuse to worship him (see Rev. 13:1-8).

Jesus promised eventual deliverance for His own people by “cutting short” those days of tribulation; otherwise “no life would have been saved” (24:22). His “cutting short” those days for “the sake of the elect” must be a reference to His delivering them when He appears and gathers them in the sky. Jesus does not tell us here, however, how long after the antichrist’s declaration of deity that deliverance will occur.

In any case, we note once more that Jesus left His listeners that day with the impression that they would live to see the antichrist declare his deity and wage war against the Christians. This stands in contrast to those who say that believers will be raptured to heaven prior to that event. If you had asked Peter, James or John if Jesus would be returning to rescue them prior to the antichrist’s declaration of his deity, they would have responded, “Apparently not.”

[1] If the rapture of the church occurs at this precise point in the seven-year Tribulation as some say, there would be no need for Jesus’ instructions for believers to flee for their lives because they would all be raptured.