Signs of Antichrist

J. N. Darby.

<05038E> 225

Though the thoughts I send you be very brief, I do not hesitate to communicate them, as I judge they aid in the estimate of one of the principal objects which fill the scene in the last days. And I apprehend that it is not merely in the arrangement of a complete system (for which our knowledge is often too imperfect) that we make progress in the mind of God on this, or indeed on any subject in Scripture, but quite as much in any light which gives a more distinct and definite character to any of the elements which compose the whole, if indeed we can say that prophetic subjects are revealed as a whole. Our sphere of vision, our capacity of embracing the entire scene as God does, necessitates in His communication of the truth the presenting of the parts which compose it: and it is in the attempt to combine them that we often find the greatest difficulty. That they do combine we cannot doubt, and that the points of combination exist since each part is perfect; but the combination itself not being always given, we have to wait much and patiently upon divine enlargement of view to be able to do it justly. The geographer can easily put together the dissected map, but the child (and we are children) must learn the geography in a slower process of putting it together. I suspect we have made them less, while some elements are very certain, than we are disposed to think. But every progress in distinct knowledge of the elements facilitates the apprehension of the whole.

I proceed to notice two characteristics of the evil power in the latter days which may aid in this - very simple, but which have much struck me. One has been noticed some years back. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 we have the statement that the presence of the wicked [one] will be with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; that is, "in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood." If we compare this with Acts 2:22, we find that the blessed Lord is described as a man approved of God, i.e., proved to be of Him, His mission and truth proved by miracles (powers), wonders, and signs. That is, we have three things which were proofs of the truth and mission of the Lord Jesus, attesting to the eyes of men the title of the wicked one: in this case, falsehood is of course added, "lying" or of falsehood; but this does not, as to the terribleness of the case or its character, alter it, because men are given up then to believe falsehood, or what is lying; 2 Thess. 2:11. In their state, it is a complete presenting of the proofs of Christ. If we turn to Revelation 13 we have a circumstance analogous to this, which completes the horror of it (v. 13). "And he doeth great wonders [signs] so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on earth in the sight of men." Now, reference to 1 Kings 18 shews us that this was the grand and sovereign test of the prophet and messenger of Jehovah. Priests of Baal in vain essayed to produce this proof proposed by Elijah, to make known who was the true God in the solemn declaration to the people, "If Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him"; and to preclude any further halting between two opinions, it was decided that the God that answered by fire, He was to be God; and Elijah thereon prays that it might be evident also that he was Jehovah's prophet, and that he had done all this at His word. And effectively at the sight of the fire descended from heaven, the people cry out "Jehovah, he is God; Jehovah, he is God." But in these terrible days that are to come, this proof also is given by the false prophet, the beast with two horns as a lamb.* That is, the very thing which was the absolute and well-known test of Jehovah's power and the mission of His messenger now accredits the false prophet. It is in the sight of men, no doubt, but that is sufficient for its object. We have, then, that which bore witness to Christ's mission as of God, as Messiah on earth; that which witnessed and tested Elijah's message as coming and sent by Jehovah-both accrediting the pretensions of the wicked one and of the false prophet. It is a frightful picture and testimony to the way in which they that dwell on the earth are given up to blindness in that day. I leave to be weighed by your readers the extent to which these circumstances give a Jewish character to the instruments and power of evil referred to in these passages (1 John 2:18), excluding any necessity to restrict it absolutely to such an accomplishment, supposing it is admitted.

{*Perhaps better rendered "lamb-like." At any rate, the allusion is evident; and note here, it is Christ in Person who is the Lamb.}