Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Template of the Beast
Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a ruler that came into control of one of the four empires which sprang into existance after the death of Alexander the Great. Alexander's empire was divided into four parts, and the smallest of these fell under the control of Antiochus the Great; passing from there into the hands of his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Anitochus' portion of rule included Judea. Succeeding his father on the throne, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a wretch. The wickedness of his rule was the inspiration for much of the chronology presented in the Book of Daniel.
Jesus has told us that we must pay close attention to Antiochus in the way that Daniel wrote about his activities because they will be duplicated in a very similar manner by the beast of the End times.
Quoting Daniel, Jesus said that when Antiochus put iniquity on the sacrifice in Jerusalem by installing the desolating sacrilege above the altar in the temple, he initiated an allegory of the end times so momentous that it has no parallel in scripture. "So when you see the disastrous abomination, of which the prophet Daniel spoke, set up in the Holy Place, then those in Judea must escape to the mountains...for then there will be great distress such as, until now, since the world began, there never has been, nor ever will be again." (Mt.24:15-22).
Antiochus passed laws in Judea that made it illegal to conduct Hebrew religious practices. He ordered the murder of the Jewish high priest, outlawed temple worship, constructed Greek "gymnasium's" as temple alternatives, and, erected the "abominating sacrilege" over the altar of the "perpetual sacrifice".
The Book of Daniel shows that Antiochus IV Epiphanes forms one of the Bible's two templates of the Great Rebel to come (the other being Ezekiel's "Gog of Magog").
Daniel's prophecies focus on a 'prince of Persia' who will come out of the east in the image of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Antiochus constituted the fifth attack on the surviving tribes of the House of Israel, and thus manifested the 5th head of the beast. While he represented Greece, he was actually from the Syrian part of Alexander's Grecian empire. The Rebel who duplicates his apostasies will come from an area closer to Media and Persia. Most accounts seem to associate his emergence from territories associated with the Black Sea. He will be the infamous 8th head of the beast, a duplicate, said John, of one of the previous seven.
According to Daniel's chronology, after being warned by the Romans to pull back, Antiochus was overwhelmingly defeated by them because he ignored their threats. (Dn.11:30). Humiliated on the battlefield, he abandoned Jerusalem and retired to his own country. Angered by this bitter defeat at the hands of the Romans, Antiochus turned his wrath inward toward the holy covenant and the people who adhered to it. The implication, of course is that a similar attack on the people of God can be expected at the end of time after the forces of the United States administer their crushing defeat on the Rebel as he tries to recapture Jerusalem.
By focusing so strongly on the fury of the Rebel's attack on the holy people, (Dn.11:30), Daniel seems to portray this sequence as the fiercest moment of the tribulation. The template has been defined as scripture, therefore we must expect it to be followed as written. However, where Antiochus concentrated on destroying the Jewish religion, the Madman of the last days, when he is forced to abandon Palestine, will refocus his wrath on the Christian communities trapped and scattered throughout his empire. This will encompass virtually everyone in Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia and the Middle East a vast Christian community that incorporates the centers of both the eastern and western faiths.
A key part of the Rebel's war on the Church will be his promotion of a religion to replace what he has ordered displaced. When Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected the Abomination of Desolation above the altar in the holy sanctuary, he also built other shrines as well: "altars were built in the surrounding towns of Judah and incense offered at the doors of houses and in the streets. " (1 Mac. 1:57). There is a clear indication in these words that the beast, when he comes to power, will order the construction of a false set of temples and sacrifices in his kingdom to replace the worship services he has outlawed. Most likely, they will deal with his own worship. Claiming that he, himself, is God (2 Thes. 2:4), these new alters will have their services centered in emperor worship.
As a part of that worship, every Bible will be banned and destroyed: "Any books of the Law that came to light were torn up and burned. Whenever anyone was discovered possessing a copy of the covenant or practising the Law, the king's decree sentenced him to death. " (1 Macc. 1:56-61). The 'Book of the Law', of course, is the Bible. Daniel's prophecy indicates that the Rebel will try to change the Law as well as the calendar. Outlawing the Bible, the Rebel will apparently try to replace it with another book of rules one that he himself has designed.
During their reign of terror, the king's forces will "take action month after month against any offenders they discover in the towns of Israel." A measure of this wrath can be seen in the words of the 74th Psalm. Despite the terrible fury of these days, Daniel reveals that many Christians will stand firm and choose to die for their faith. "Those of the people who are learned will instruct many; for some days, however, they will be brought down by sword and flame, by captivity and by plundering. And thus brought down little help will they receive, though many will be plotting on their side." (Dn. 11:33-35). Holding firm like this to their faith (despite the terror surrounding them) many will save their lives in Christ. (Dn. 12:1-2).
When Antiochus IV Epiphanes was rising to power, his forces assassinated Onias, the immensely popular high priest of Jerusalem. (2 Macc.4:34-38). It is around this event and its surrounding circumstances that Daniel constructed his last-day prophecies. The assassination of a modern high priest will duplicate the biblical circumstances which led up to the appearance of Antiochus. The murder of Onias, the Jewish high priest, allowed Antiochus to take control of the altar and subject the Jewish sacrifice to abomination, giving historic circumstance to all the visions. Daniel's model (Dn. 9:26) projects the assassination of Onias into the prophecy, and for this reason it foreshadows a like catastrophe against the world's foremost Christian bishop at the end of time.
Paul confirmed this when he told the people of Thessalonia that the Great Rebel who was destined to enthrone himself in God's sanctuary at the end of time, could not appear until this Christian leader had first been 'taken out of the way'. (2 Thes.2:5-7). Since it is this shepherd that God has assigned the duty for holding back the wrath from the earth, none of the final events described by Daniel can happen until this terrible act of violence takes place and the Bishop who guards the Eucharist is removed from his station.
Paul's words show us that once this assassination does occur, Satan's appointed beast will appear openly on earth. The hidden purpose behind the Rebel's violence will become clear to everyone once he takes over the sanctuary and turns it into his own palace. The significance of Rome to these prophecies has already been noted. The Bible shows us that the beast will arise in the eastern hemisphere but he will be obsessed with, not just conquering Jerusalem, but Rome as well. He will fancy himself as Nero resurrected. He will take Rome, but the world will end before he can take the city of God as well.
Scripture shows that the forces of Antiochus, once they had gained access to the Temple grounds, then "fortified the City of David with a strong wall and strong towers, and made this their Citadel. There they installed an armory of sinful men, renegades, who fortified themselves inside it, storing arms and provisions, and depositing there the loot they had collected from Jerusalem; they were to prove a great trouble." (1 Mac.1:33-38). Antiochus' forces did not set up their camp inside the temple; instead, they occupied the citadel located in the City of David that looked down on the temple. In this location they were able to control what happened at the temple and to wreak havoc against it.
The early Christians had one word which stood for both the appearance of the Rebel and 'the Second Coming' of Christ. That word was 'Parousia'. The polar circumstances inherent in this single definition points to the close relationship between these two appearances one counterfeit, the other real and it may also refer to their chronology as well. That is because there is a certain day set aside in the Christian calendar for the appearance in the world of a divine Being. That day is January 6th, Epiphany the word itself meaning 'appearance' or 'manifestation'.
In the western church epiphany represents the day Jesus Christ was made manifest to the Gentiles as the Son of God i.e., the day of the Three Wisemen. In the eastern church Epiphany represents the day of Christ's birth (the eastern church does not recognize the western Christmas). It also represents the date of Jesus' baptism by John at the river Jordan (thought by eastern Christians to have occured 30 years to the day after His birth). In its ultimate fulfillment, however, the word and the date point to the Parousia the word with the double meaning.
Whether the Rebel, as the impersonation of divinity, or Jesus, returning as the true Son of God will make their appearance in the view of the world on this specific date cannot be said for certain, but scripture is clear that the whole Christmas season has deep symbolic ties to the gravest events of the last days.
Because the calendar governing Christ's return has been divinely altered (cut short by God), it is not possible to link His Second Coming with this date (or any other date, for that matter), but the Rebel's appearance is another matter. Since Epiphany follows by only 12-22 days the event of the abomination of the sacrifice (see below), the 'son of perdition' will likely make himself manifest to the world very near to this date (January 6), if not coincident with it.
With the bishop's murder, the identity of the beast will be clear to everyone who understands the prophecy. The assassination itself will permit the Rebel to openly manifest himself before the world, and his coronation will confirm it in terms bordering on the absolute. For this reason, in the aftermath of the Bishop's devastating martyrdom, the final events of the End will cascade upon each other, one after another, each precipitated by the other in rapid succession.
The persecution of the Jews by Antiochus lasted a little over 3 years in fact, the Jewish sanctuary itself lay desolate almost 3 years to the day. The prophecies of Daniel indicate that the persecutions of the Rebel will follow a similar pattern. (Dn. 12:11). The desolating sacrifice was instituted on the 15th day of Chislev (1 Macc.2:54), a lunar Hebrew month which correlates with the Christian solar month of December. The temple was purified three years later on the 25th day of Chislev (1 Macc.4:52), an event commemorated by Hannukah.
Ten days in December separate these two events, the same number of days that often separate Hannukah from Christmas. The coincidence in the two dates and their season (winter/December) are so striking that there can be little doubt that they, too, are portents of the future. The Rebel's assassination of the prince of the Christian covenant will be quickly followed by the rout of the sanctuary and the iniquity on the Eucharistic sacrifice. That is the moment when Jesus said that everyone in Judea should run for their lives by escaping to the mountains. (Mt. 24:15-16).
The assassination of the Christian bishop will signal the imminent desecration of the sacrifice. God has decreed that for as long as that Bishop remains in place overseeing the perpetuation of the Last Supper, the rebellion will be kept at bay. But with his removal, the whole Church will collapse Catholic, Protestant, Greek all of it. "That day it is the Lord God who speaks the peg driven into a firm place will give way. It will be torn out and will fall. And the whole load hanging on it will be shattered, for God has spoken." (Is. 22:25).
According to Daniel, a key part of the Rebel's attack on the Church will be focused on the liturgy of the sacrifice and it is this apostasy which will constitute the Abomination of Desolation. While Antiochus defiled the Jewish altar in Jerusalem, the Rebel of the end will, instead, focus his energies on the heart of Christian liturgy, i.e., the communion sacrifice. He will have to. He, himself, will be destroyed before he gains full access to Jerusalem. The heart of Christian liturgy is situated in Rome.
The altar in St. Peter's basilica is surrounded by four gigantic baroque posts designed by an Italian architect named Bernini. They rise to a prodigious height, stretching 95 feet above the altar, and, at the top, support a huge ornate bronze canopy. According to the Book of Maccabees, Antiochus hung his abomination of desolation in the Jewish temple 'above the altar'. (1 Mac.1:54-57). If this approximates what is to come, it can be expected that the Rebel will hang his desecration from the canopy, allowing it to swing among Bernini's columns.
The Rebel's defilement of the sacrifice of Christ, and the alternative that he decrees in its place at the basilica of St. Peters will destroy Vatican City and officially return Babylon to pagan worship. His decree separating Rome from the Christian faith will end the treaty which ties the Church to Babylon, physically freeing the Christian people from the mandate of the exile. This will free, not just the Roman church from Italy, but the entire Christian Church from its world-wide captivity to Babylon it will free all Christians and their churches everywhere from their captivity to this world. More than simply breaking the treaty, the Rebel's proclamation and the sacrilege of abomination that accompanies it will guarantee Babylon's imminent destruction.
With it's chains to Babylon broken, the City of David (David, being Christ) will be able to return to its rightful place in Jerusalem. The physical manifestation of this reunion will involve the return from Babylon of Michael the Archangel to the Mt. of Olives, from whence he will lead the remaining contingent of Christian followers to the "Golden Gate" and Jewish welcome.
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