2 Notes on Prophetic Subjects

J.T. Mawson

1. The King of the North

Four great armies are to meet their doom by the direct judgment of the Lord in Palestine in view of His throne being established in Jerusalem and Israel being settled in the land as the head of the nations and the centre of the whole earth. They are
1. The Northern army led by the king of the north.
2. The army of horsemen from the East led by the king of the east.
3. The armies of the revived Roman Empire led by the Beast and false prophet—the Antichrist.
4. The hordes of Gog, led by the chief prince of Meschech—Russia.

These will comprise the whole of the world’s military power and God will be behind all their movements to gather them in the land for “the Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth” (Isa. 23:9).

The King of the North (Dan. 11:40) is the Assyrian of Isaiah 7, 8, 10, and other prophecies, and will be the great enemy of the Jews at the time of the end. He will be the rod of God’s anger and God will send him against them, “an hypocritical nation” (Isa. 10:5-6).

He is called the “overflowing scourge” (Isa. 28:15), and is the desolator of whom the prophet Joel speaks. It seems certain that he also appears as “the king of fierce countenance” (Dan. 8:9, 23). Sennacherib of Hezekiah’s day was a type of him.

The great army under this ruthless king will come from the same region as that occupied by the former Assyrian—hence his name King of the North, and in Joel 2:20, “the Northern army.” He will be joined by the armies of other nations, but he will start his victorious march from the region north of Palestine, that now occupied by the virile Turkish nation which is quickly becoming one of the great powers. The chief purpose of the invasion will be the recapture of Jerusalem, which for centuries was a Turkish possession. It has been thought that because it is said “that his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power” (Dan. 8:24) that he will be supported by some neighbouring power, probably Russia. We do not think so. Russia will be reserved by the Lord for the last manifestation of His might and just judgment and He will not need to strike twice against any foe. This same fact bars Russia from being the King of the North as some have thought. May it not be that since he will be the rod of God’s anger and “to him be given a charge to take the spoil, and to tread them down like the mite of the street” that God will permit and order that one of those great spiritual powers that move behind the nations shall energise and guide him until his commission is fulfilled? We read of “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” who withstood the angel that was sent from heaven to Daniel for twenty-one days, and “the prince of Grecia (Dan. 10:13, 20). These were spiritual entities, evil in character, and subject to Satan, and against the people of God. It seems certain that these principalities and powers will exercise increasing influence among the nations as the time of the end draws near. They are already doing it. For instance, could mere human influence and power dominate such an otherwise great and sober nation as the German causing it to sacrifice its ideals and its religion and march proudly as one man along a road that must end in disaster. We may be sure that whenever a mass movement of that sort takes place an unseen spiritual power is active, and especially so when God is defied and every command in the decalogue ridiculed and broken. Antichrist will be the supreme spiritist in the last days, the chosen vessel for the manifestation of evil occult powers, a veritable vessel, of Satan, but the king of the North will not be far behind him, for if he is “the king of fierce countenance” (Dan. 8), “he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and practice … and cause craft to prosper,” which seems to imply mysterious superhuman powers.

It has been said that this king of fierce countenance is the Beast, the head of the revived Roman Empire, but that may well be questioned for the Beast will spring up in the midst of the ten kings of Western Europe, and become their leader, while this king appears to arise from the ashes of the ancient Grecian Empire.

He will appear on this campaign of many prophecies at the time that Antichrist assumes the power in Jerusalem. Antichrist is the wilful king of Daniel 9:36-40, and we read, “the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind” (Dan. 11:40). But Jerusalem will not at first be troubled, it will be the time when “the transgressors are come to the full” (Dan. 8:23), when the “scornful men” that “rule in Jerusalem” shall have made their covenant with Antichrist, a man after their own hearts, and accepted him as their Messiah. Having rejected their true Messiah when He came in His Father’s Name, they will receive this child of the devil coming in his own name and such will be their confidence in him that they will have no fear of “the overflowing scourge,” it will be as though they had made a covenant with death and hell (Isa. 28:14). God’s answer is “Your covenant with death shall be disannulled and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge (the Northern army) shall pass through, then shall ye be trodden down by it” (v. 18).

His invasion of the land will be a brilliant progress of forced marches described in vivid language by the prophet “He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Mishmash he hath laid up his carriages; they are gone over the passage; they have taken up their lodging in Geba; Rama is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled. Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth. Madmenah is removed, the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee” (Isa. 10:28-31). Thus will the news of his exploits ring over the radio to the ends of the earth.

It will be a terrible time for Palestine and the Jews in it. The prophet Joel describes it. At the time when this prophet uttered the words of God the land had been invaded by the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm and the caterpillar, until not a green thing was left in it, the whole land had been desolated. And this is taken to illustrate what the result of the invasion by the king of the North will be. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness, yea, nothing shall escape them. And Isaiah speaks of it in many vivid passages, not the least of which is “He shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of Thy land, O Immanuel” (ch. 8:8). The army and its invincible prowess is described in the second chapter of the prophecy of Joel and it is called the Lord’s army. It seems certain that that part of Isaiah 18 will be fulfilled at this time which says, “Afore the harvest when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, be shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth and the fowls shall summer upon them and all the beasts of the field shall winter upon them.” Much has been said about the marvellous fertility of the land and of the great prosperity of those Jews who have gone there to cultivate it under the Balfour declaration; it will all come to naught; it is man’s doing and not God’s. He will blow upon it and the fruitful fields will become deserts. “Where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings it shall even be for briars and thorns” (Isa. 7:23).

The triumphant march against Jerusalem will be arrested at Nob, just north of the city, and it is said that at that point he “shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.” Does this northern king turn off at this point to meet the king of the south (Egypt), who at the same time comes out against Antichrist? We read, “At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him” (Dan. 11:40). The northern king will not tolerate this, he will have marked Jerusalem as his own spoil. The result of the conflict between these two powers is that the northern triumphs and the gold and the silver of Egypt becomes his, and the armies of the Libyans and Ethiopia join his victorious fortes.

“Tidings out of the north and east shall trouble him” (Dan. 11:44). May not these tidings be of the vast armies from the East crossing the Euphrates, and the armies of the Beast gathering in the land to the aid of Antichrist? Whatever the tidings he is filled with fury and returns to attack Jerusalem and succeeds so far that the city is taken. It would appear that at this time he will consider himself invincible and will say, “By the strength of my hand I have done it and by my wisdom for I am prudent. I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man … and as one gathereth eggs, I have gathered all the earth and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the month or peeped” (Isa. 10:13-14). The boast will be scarcely out of his impious mouth ere he shall come to his ignominious end by the stroke of the Lord, “He shall stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Dan. 8:25). “He shall come to his end and none shall help him” (Dan. 11:45). “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea the Lord will answer, and say unto His people … I will remove far off from you the northern army, and I will drive him into a land barren and desolate with his face toward the east sea and his hinder part towards the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up because he hath done great things” (Joel 2:18-20). The Lord will permit the city to be taken and destroyed; it will be His final judgment upon it, but He will make a way of escape for His own elect. They will remember His word; “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand) Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16). “Then shall the Lord go forth and His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem in the east and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof towards the east and towards the west, and there shall be a great valley” (Zech. 14). To the valley shall they flee and it shall be their way of escape from their foes. But the city shall be destroyed for nothing must remain that speaks of man’s pride and boasted progress. It will have a new birth even as the people will be new born. On its ruins will arise a new Jerusalem, in which righteousness shall reign and in which the very bells on the necks of the horses will be inscribed “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.”

2. The Beast and the False Prophet

The two Beasts of Revelation 13 will be the most powerful personages to appear on earth after the catching away of the church to heaven, and they will meet their doom by the word of the Lord at Armageddon. They will be supermen, energised by Satanic power. It is said of the first “The dragon (Satan) gave him his power and throne and authority” and of the second “he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him.” The first three verses of Revelation 13 describe the resuscitated Roman Empire over which the Beast will exercise authority, from then onwards it is the man who is described. In these two vessels of Satan’s will there will be brought into full development the mystery of iniquity that is already working, and the climax of his deception of mankind which began in Eden will be reached. He will receive at last that which he has craved from the beginning—the worship of men as though he were God (v. 4); and he will incite his worshippers to fight against the Lamb whom he knows is the Heir to the earth by a twofold right.

The first Beast is termed the Beast always in the Revelation, in Daniel 7:8 he is called “the little horn,” and in the first part of 2 Thessalonians 2 “that man of sin, the son of perdition” (v. 3). It would appear that the second Beast is described in verses 8-12 of that chapter, where he is called “that wicked”, careful study of the whole passage will confirm this, we think.

The second Beast is called “the false prophet” in Revelation 16 and 19, and Antichrist elsewhere; he is also the wilful king of Daniel 2:36-39. With the dragon (the devil) they will form a trinity of evil in imitation of the Divine Trinity. From this evil trinity there will go out an influence and seducing words that will gather the kings of the earth to Armageddon for “the battle of the great day of Almighty God” (Rev. 16:12-14). It is a striking and melancholy consideration that it is among the most favoured of mankind that these men will exercise their authority—the Beast in Christendom and the false prophet or Antichrist in Judaism. These are they that will make war on the Lamb (Rev. 17:12-14) but He shall overcome them for “He is Lord of lords and King of kings.” When there has been the greatest light there shall be the greatest darkness, and this is the great apostasy.

These two men will be anti-God and Antichrist in the full and complete sense of the words. Nothing can be gained by the attempt to identify them in men active in world affairs today. Such men as Stalin and Hitler may be faint foreshadowings of them, as Napoleon was in his day but the daring and iniquity and power that they will display will be beyond all our present conception of things. In our day the Holy Ghost is here, dwelling in the church, and His presence holds back the full development of evil. It is when He shall be taken out of the way at the catching up of the church “that the wicked shall be revealed” (2 Thess. 2:7-8). Then an indescribable darkness shall cover Christendom for since men “would not receive the truth in the love of it that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusion and they will believe the lie, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (vv. 11-12). Instead of the light and love and liberty that the gospel gives there will be the awful darkness and bondage that the mire strained power of Satan will impose upon his dupes.

The Beast will arise out of the sea; the sea being a symbol of the nations in tumult, a state of things easily understood after the opening of the seals (Rev. 6). He will know no law but his own will, and will tread down all opposition, so that the nations will say, “Who is like the Beast? Who is able to make war with him?” He will unify ten kingdoms within the bounds of the old Roman Empire into one mighty kingdom. Three of these kingdoms will resist him for a while, but he will subdue them, He will pluck them up by the roots Daniel tells us. We cannot say which of the present kingdoms of Europe these ten kingdoms will be for the Scripture says, “The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (Rev. 17:12). It is probable that all present dynasties will be swept away in the tumultuous condition of things out of which the Beast arises. Then there will emerge a league of nations in which there will be no dissentient voice, after the beast has shown his ruthless power: “They have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the Beast” (Rev. 17).

The Beast will rule from Rome, the Antichrist—the false prophet, will exercise his authority at Jerusalem. There will be a Rome-Jerusalem axis, and complete collaboration between the two. The Beast will arise out of one of the ten kingdoms that will make up the Roman Empire we gather from the fact that he “will be diverse from the first” that he will not be of royal blood, but a Napoleon or a man probably of the Mussolini type, and he will be the last of the dictators. The Antichrist will be a Jew, for the Jews would certainly acknowledge no leader but one of their own race. Three things are said of him in Daniel 2:37, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women nor regard any god.” He will sweep away all regard for God, will abolish all those natural relationships that are ordained of God for the well-being of mankind and fill his kingdom with unrelieved evil, and sweep away all religion except that which will centre in the Beast himself. There is more said about him than of the Beast and if it is possible when all alike is evil, worse traits will come out in him than in the Beast. The Beast will be ruthless daring, powerful, fearing neither God nor man; the Antichrist will be the arch-deceiver, having no military power of his own he will seduce the Jews and the nations of Europe that shall make up the Roman Empire, according to the working of Satan with all “power and signs and wonders and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-10). He will call down fire from heaven and give speech to an image of the Beast and command all men to worship the image. He will proclaim the Beast to be God and himself his coadjutor and prophet.

But God has set a bound to their evil, for they shall continue forty and two months only. The end of their career is given in graphic language in Revelation 18. Gathered at Armageddon for “the battle of the great day of God Almighty.” Not to meet the armies of Gog (Ezek. 38-39) as some have supposed for they will come down on the land at a later date, but to meet the King of kings and Lord of lords, who shall come forth from heaven upon a white horse, His name being Faithful and True. And John was given a vision of this clash between apostate men and the righteous Judge of all. He says, “I saw the Beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse and against his army. And the Beast was taken and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the Beast and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19).

As we consider the utter madness of men in their efforts to cast off God and defy His power how thankful we should be for that grace that has saved us, and that we can take up the words of Scripture, “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14).