CHRIST OR ANTICHRIST (JESUS OR NERO) … who will it be?
From the first century birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus to the present time, many Christians and non-Christians have been seeking to know the identity of Messiah’s arch-enemy, the Antichrist, who is called a little horn, ruler, or king in the Book of Daniel, the man of lawlessness in Paul’s 2nd epistle to the Thessalonica Church, and a beast-king in the book of Revelation. Those not all that interested in Biblical prophecy and/or current events sometimes pose the question: Does it really matter if we know who this man is (will be)? Let’s see if we can answer that question with at least some degree of satisfaction.
In part, this article is a continuation of last week’s topic that established a great deal of relevancy to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the remarkable diplomatic outreach of friendship from modern-day Rome (and Germany) to Israel and the Jewish people that these nations sought to destroy. This week’s article will continue the amazing, but nevertheless unmistakable link between the ruler whose armies destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, and the end times man who will orchestrate a seven-year treaty with Israel; facilitated by certain contemporary heads of state who are strangely sympathetic to the nation of Israel.
In making this connection, we will revisit the main supposition found in my book, Out of the Abyss, as well as Eye of Prophecy articles found in the category of Antichrist. This astonishing premise comes in two parts: (1) The Antichrist cannot be a modern-day man, born and raised in the Omega (last) generation. Why? Because Revelation 17:8 is explicitly clear: The beast (Antichrist) had historically lived and died before John saw the vision of the beast. And, (2) the ruler of Daniel Chapter 9 whose armies destroyed the temple is the same ruler who will arrange this treaty with Israel at the outset of the seven-year Tribulation period. Moreover, it’s not at all difficult to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt which notorious figure from the past precisely fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy. All we need do is to thoroughly examine the text, revisit first century history; then combine points 1 and 2 listed above. When we do this, the prophecy leads us directly to one and only one man: NERO!
Out of the Abyss examines several Biblical passages that provide compelling evidence to document the accuracy of this premise and conclusion. The last passage referred to in the book is found in Daniel Chapter 9. Specifically, I’m referring to the shocking prophecy that predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Shocking especially to the Jews, because their second temple hadn’t even been rebuilt; yet here is Daniel telling his people that the temple would be destroyed … obviously referring to a future temple as Solomon’s Temple had already been torn down. Not only shocking, but also unfathomable to Israel after the erection of the second temple, because it was unthinkable to them that the second temple would also be destroyed.
*Note: The book of Daniel was written around 536 BC. The second temple wasn’t finished until 516 BC.
But Biblical prophecy ALWAYS comes to pass. So, let’s take another look at what the angel Gabriel told Daniel: “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple….” (Daniel 9:26a).
Which Roman Emperor Ordered the Campaign Against the Jewish Revolt of 66 AD?
Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, as I’ve already given you the answer and/or you already knew this from reading Out of the Abyss or some of the Eye of Prophecy articles; or perhaps you actually remembered it from a history class or two. But if you did remember it from a World History class in high school or college, or perhaps from a Sunday school class, I guarantee that you are only one of a handful! The vast majority of people, even Christians, have no clue that Nero personally commissioned two generals, Vespasian and Vespasian’s son Titus to crush the Jewish rebellion.
From a Biblical prophecy perspective as well as a historical back-drop, most Bible scholars, pastors, teachers, or historians in general say very little about Nero’s involvement. And for a logical reason: (1) Nero died in June, 68 AD, over two years before the final sack of Jerusalem took place in August, 70 AD. (2) The overriding consensus among even the best of prophecy scholars portrays the Antichrist as a modern-day man—born and raised in the generation that will experience his rise to power. Thus, Nero’s connection to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is essentially irrelevant, immaterial, and inconsequential to most students of prophecy.
But, when we intently study Daniel 9:26 and place it’s prediction in a real-life context and a real-time reality that establishes an inseparable link between the ruler and the ruler’s armies of this phenomenal prophecy, there’s only one viable conclusion to make: Nero is that ruler. Nearly two full chapters in Out of the Abyss are dedicated to documentation and rationale showing that it is not a modern-day man born in some current country that was once (2000 years ago) part of the ancient Roman Empire. Rather, Daniel 9 unequivocally attached the ruler that will arise with the actual armies that attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. For sake of time and space, I’ll quote just a few excerpts from the book:
“…People of the prince or ruler to come includes all of the prince’s country-men; but more exactly it was the armies (Roman Legions) of this people that fulfilled the prophecy. But whose armies are they? Whose people are they? If you study the text carefully, there is a clear possessive correlation between the ruler and the armies or the people. The New Living Translation simplifies the English to demonstrate this connection by stating that, ‘…a ruler will arise whose armies’ (Italics for emphasis). Whose is possessive, meaning those armies or people specifically belonging to that particular ruler. Or, if you prefer the translation that says, ‘people of the prince,’ the same possessive principle applies. The people directly affiliated, associated, or united with the prince destroyed the Temple’” (Out of the Abyss, page 254-255).
Next, “But Gabriel through Daniel is not saying that the armies of the ruler would first destroy the Temple, and then the ruler would come after that. He’s simply saying that both the ruler and the people of that ruler would come after Messiah is killed. What Gabriel is emphasizing or distinguishing is the fact that the armies of the prince would destroy Jerusalem, instead of the prince and his armies together; that it would be the armies independent of the ruler, with an excessively strong implication that the ruler didn’t live to see the conquest finished” (Out of the Abyss, page 255).
Then, “People of the prince who is to come is a prepositional phrase that demands a possessive correlation. People of the prince who is to come will destroy the city neither prophetically or grammatically state nor even imply that the city would be destroyed before the prince arrived. In other words, this ruler and his armies are inseparably linked together in possessive relationship and in a real-time context” (Out of the Abyss, page 255).
Finally, “Where have you ever read or seen or thought that a ruler of any era would be connected to armies or people hundreds or thousands of years earlier. All monarchs, both in Biblical and secular history, are linked directly with the armies of that particular time of the ruler’s life … But that’s the current hindsight application made by those who hold to a modern-day Antichrist and a Revived Roman Empire. Meaning that this prince who is to come must be born and rise to power after an enormous lapse of time (2000 years), with a 21st century result of an impractical and unrealistic time-capsule detachment from the armies that destroyed the city and the Temple” (Out of the Abyss, pages 256 & 257).
That is why it’s so important to historically remember exactly who it was that ordered the campaign against Israel … which was none other than the Roman Emperor Nero. And because he died prior to the completion of this campaign, it was necessary for the prophet Daniel to specifically tell us that it was actually the armies of the ruler who would destroy Jerusalem, rather than the ruler himself. Because in both ancient and modern times, we invariably credit military victories to the leader. Thus we say that Alexander the Great conquered Persia, not Alexander and his troops.
Then, when we read in Revelation 17:8 that the beast of Revelation (Antichrist) will make his appearance by first coming out of the abyss (with obvious implication that he must first be banished or placed in the abyss), we can much more easily grasp the connection between Nero and his generals/armies that sacked Jerusalem in the 1st century to the “reappearance” of the beast king of Revelation at the outset of the Great Tribulation. And, when we realize that Nero’s name in Hebrew fits precisely with the Gematria number of the beast in Revelation 13 (six hundred, sixty-six), we see overwhelming proof that Nero will return as the Antichrist.
Again quoting Out of the Abyss: “Nor has any conquest, in ancient or modern warfare, been accomplished or even recognized by means of troops conquering a city or country, then the supreme leader (king or emperor) of that army born hundreds of years later or even a few years later. In fact, that makes no sense at all. The only way the armies can be connected to, belong to, controlled or ordered by their leader, is a direct result of the leader—by virtue of being alive—delivering commands to his subordinates; thus, for that ruler to be unequivocally associated with and attached to the people that do the conquering. Make sense? … The passage does not state nor even imply a (far away) future ruler to the Roman Legions of the first century. Instead, we see culpability by direct possessive association with and correlation between first century Rome and a first century Roman ruler” (Out of the Abyss, page 264).
One last quote from my book, “The armies or people who destroyed the city and the Temple were Roman Legions that belonged to Nero, as ultimate Commander-in-Chief of all Roman Legions. These legions are long gone, and couldn’t possibly be the people or armies of a modern-day born Antichrist” (Out of the Abyss, page 264).
We need to think in terms of a Revived Roman Emperor, not a Revived Roman Empire. In my book, I also explain how or in what manner Nero is “revived,” again by using other Scriptural precedents and principles to verify the very event that will captivate and mesmerize hundreds of millions of people left behind at the Rapture … the reappearance of the beast. Which leads us to the answers or reasons why identification of the Antichrist puts into place a significant piece of the prophetic puzzle.
Pre Rapture & Post Rapture Benefits to Knowing the Identity of Antichrist
First, we need to dispel the notion that we are not meant to know the identity of the Antichrist until after the Rapture. To hold to that view is a direct contradiction of Revelation Chapter 13, in which the angel through John challenges the readers of Revelation (which obviously included the 1st century Christians) to “solve” the meaning of the number of the beast, which was one of several critical clues to identify the beast. “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Revelation 13:18).
Next, to comprehend the mystery of the woman and the scarlet beast on which she sat, as presented in Revelation Chapter 17; which also is equivalent to matching the identity of both the woman and scarlet beast to Rome and the Roman Emperor Nero, respectively. Believe me: it can be done. Read Out of the Abyss or the Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist with an open mind. Then decide for yourself. However, our passage of Daniel 9 can stand alone as prophetic and historical proof as to the identity of the ruler and his armies.
Then to understand that ALL of the book of Revelation was written and relevant to 1st century believers, if for no other reason that the imminent return of Christ. Unlike the book of Daniel, which was (temporarily) sealed—meaning that it couldn’t be fully understood until the time of Christ—the angel told John, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near” (Revelation 22:10).
As thoroughly documented in my book, I’m convinced that the 1st century Christians knew beyond any doubt that Nero was the Antichrist. This is what the modern-day Preterists contend, however, they overlooked or distorted one monumental fact: The return of Nero as the Antichrist. In order for their premise that Nero was the beast of Revelation to be correct, they had to symbolize nearly all of the events of Revelation, including most of the twenty-one seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of God. In other words, they claim that the Tribulation took place in the 1st century, which simply did not happen. Essentially, they missed or discounted or ignored the amazing mystery disclosed by the angel to John in Chapter 17, specifically verse 8: The beast had lived and died BEFORE the vision of the beast was given to John. BUT, the beast would reappear from the abyss! That reappearance could have occurred in the 1st century or any century thereafter, as the only event to precede it would be the Rapture itself … which has always been the imminent hope of every believer.
It’s vital that we grasp this before the Rapture takes place, so that the post-Rapture population will realize that the Bible was right after all, i.e. concerning the identity of the beast of Revelation, who is the little horn of Daniel, and the man of lawlessness depicted in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians.
According to Revelation 17:8, the beast who had died (before John saw the vision of the beast), will ascend from the abyss, and many, “…will be amazed at the reappearance of the beast who had died.” The source of this amazement is also recognized in John’s first vision of the beast by the following description: “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal would was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshipped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. Who is as great as the beast? They exclaimed. Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13: 3-4).
What is the miracle that caused such astonishment (marvel) and what is it that will lead to unadulterated worship of and allegiance to the Antichrist? What was the great power given to the beast by the dragon? Was it his charisma, or eloquence, or statesmanship, or leadership traits, or all-inclusive genius? NO, it was one and one thing only … his spectacular recovery from the deadly wound (death) and return from the grave! This is what will appeal to people from “every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). And, this is why the ten kings of Revelation 17 and Daniel 7 will yield to the authority of the beast-king.
But, if some (hopefully many) who are left behind at the Rapture grasp the truth that the revived Roman Emperor Nero’s return was predicted 2000 years ago by John in the book of Revelation, and 2600 years ago by the prophet Daniel (as explained in this article), they will not be “amazed” at such a thing. They will look back and realize that the Bible foretold this all along. And perhaps, just maybe, they will choose Christ instead of Antichrist.
The Choice (Who will you believe?)
“But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: ‘Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?’” (John 12:37-38). Then the passage goes on to say: “Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God” (John 12: 41-43).
In Isaiah’s time, in Jesus’s time, and in our time, people would not believe despite the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God; who died on the cross to purchase our redemption, and to save us from our sins and the penalty of those sins … eternal separation from God. How much more proof does someone need, than the historical fact that Jesus arose from the dead!?
After the Rapture, there will be no more fence-sitting; nor more gray areas or indecision or neutrality concerning the claims of Christ or his antithesis. Why? Because the claims of Antichrist will force people to decide one way or the other. At first, Nero will ask for your loyalty and allegiance, citing his miraculous return from the grave 2000 years after he died. Later, however, he will insist on it, to the extent of demanding that everyone take his mark if they want to buy, sell, eat, and otherwise experience some semblance of safety, security, and prosperity. He will demand that you acknowledge him as the Messiah. He will seek to kill all those who do not bow down in complete surrender to him or to his statue. He will claim that he is divine and the only real God on earth. (See II Thessalonians 2).
If you are reading this article after the Rapture, you already know that the man who fills your television screen, your laptop, your Ipad is none other than the ancient Roman Emperor Nero. Already you have been reminded incessantly that he returned from a 2000-year old grave. Therefore, he is divine; for what other man could possibly do that? But then you look around and realize again that hundreds of millions of people are gone. Who took them? Where are they? But you know … how could you not know?
What more do you need to realize that Jesus is the true Christ, the divine Son of the true and living God? What more evidence must you have to understand that all those people who were taken from the earth belonged to Messiah Jesus? Who else could have done such a miraculous thing … to suddenly take so many people from the earth before your very eyes? Certainly not Nero. In fact, he will have already ranted and raved against the Most High God by accusing him of robbing the earth of so many people. And in the same breath, expressing relief that the earth has been cleansed of those bigoted Christians, who intolerantly stood in the way of the real Utopia that only Nero can bring to the earth.
What will you believe? The Truth or the Lie? Who will you choose? Christ or Antichrist? Will you realize that whatever power Nero wields was given to him by Satan? But even that power was given by God. “Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5, italics for emphasis).
Now is the Day of Salvation
Why wait until after the Rapture to choose everlasting life in heaven that only Christ can give you? It will be so much harder then. In fact, to choose Christ after you’ve been left behind will mean certain death. “…Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die” (Revelation 13:15).
Just as in Jesus’s day, many understood him to be the Messiah, but they refused to personally invite him to be their Savior. Why didn’t they take that next step, and accept him as their redeemer and God? It certainly wasn’t a matter of physical life or death to them. No, they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the religious leaders would spurn them and they would lose their positions, popularity, prestige, and lives of pleasure.
But during the Tribulation, it will be a matter of your very survival … of deprivation of housing, transportation, clothing, and food. It will be a literal choice between life and death. If you choose Christ, you will live forever; you will be saved from hell, but not from the wrath of God and the wrath of the beast as the tribulation plays out. So, why wait? Or as believers, why wait to tell someone we love that the time is very short?
Choose Jesus now and be among those who will be wonderfully transformed at the Rapture. If you have already died by then, you will be resurrected. If you are still alive at that time, you will instantly be given a glorified body that will equip you to live in Heaven forever. No more pain, or tears, or heartache, or suffering. No more death.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36, NASB).
To not make a decision is to say, “No” to Jesus. To put this destiny-changing, life-giving decision off is to face the horrible evil of the Antichrist during the Tribulation, and the wrath of a loving, but holy God. To reject the awesome love of God as demonstrated by the amazing gift of God’s Son to the human race which meant that Christ had to make the greatest sacrifice of all time (His very blood and life), is to separate yourself from God and from the host of heaven for all eternity in hell. There’s no sugar-coating this harsh reality.
Even now, it could be a difficult choice for you. You might experience ridicule from friends or family. You might be subject to outright persecution, especially if you live in a Muslim country or in an atheistic nation like Russia or China. Even many in the United States and Europe are expressing a great deal of hostility and intolerance toward Christians and the Bible.
After the Rapture, however, the decision will increase tenfold in intensity and difficulty; with the inevitable consequence that the Antichrist will eventually choose for you. Take the mark of the beast and have a few months or years of relative security (maybe) on an earth destined for judgment and extreme makeover; or choose Christ and live forever. But your forever might begin soon afterward, as Nero and the False Prophet will hunt you down.
Here’s what is said about the Christian saints of the Tribulation: “…And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (Revelation 12:11). However, the vast majority of those left behind, those who do not die in the plagues will, “…refuse to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God” (Revelation 9:20).
So, I implore you: Choose Christ now. To do so is to choose life … everlasting life. And you won’t even have to make the hardest choice anyone will ever have to make after the Rapture: Christ or Antichrist. Jesus or Nero?
Things to Ponder:
- During the Great Tribulation, it will take extreme courage, ultimate bravery to reject the mark of the Beast and to choose the true Messiah, Jesus. But why put yourself through that? Why delay your decision and risk dying without Christ now or even worse … living and dying without Christ during the Tribulation?
- What are you waiting for? What are you holding onto? Remember the words of Jesus: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8: 36-37).