Dare I broach the subject? While the mere thought of such notions is sacrilege in the minds of countless Obamaites, some are calling him the antichrist before he can even put his right hand on the Bible to be sworn into office on January 20, 2009, the day after the nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And yes, they're connecting Barack Obama with the "Beast" of Revelation. Just take a look at the following email that has made its way around the Internet: "According to The Book of Revelations the… anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal…the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything." Scary stuff, or is it? Without a doubt, the exact identity of the Biblical "Antichrist" and 'Wild Beast' has mystified churchgoers for centuries.
These elusive enemies of God have been associated with figures both religious and political; be it the Pope of Rome or the late former President of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who's first, middle, and last names all contain six letters each (666)–the 'mark' of the Beast of Revelation. So, just who does the Bible identify as the antichrist? Who is the Beast of Revelation? And what is its "mark"? When considering the Identity of the Antichrist, Beast, and Mark, some thought of IBM and its 1980s point-of-sell grocery store scanner terminal, model 3666. "After all," they reasoned, "you won't be able to buy or sell without the 'mark' of the wild beast." (Rev. 13:11-18) The wild beast is again mentioned later in Revelation (no "Revelations" as is spelled in the above email). The apostle John, a dangerous convict who's guilty of simply preaching the good news of God's kingdom, writes while incarcerated at penal island of Patmos, the first-century version of Alcatraz:
"The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present, those who dwell on the earth will wonder admiringly, but their names have not been written upon the scroll of life from the founding of the world." (Revelation 17:8) The best explanation the present writer has seen of this Scripture? The "wild beast" that "was, but is not" was the League of Nations. Of course, it "is not" in existence today. But it 'ascended out of the abyss' of inactivity under a new name: the United Nations. And the mark of the "beast"?
"A mark in the right hand is an appropriate symbol of active support," says one popular commentary on the Book of Revelation. "What of the mark on the forehead? The Expositor's Greek Testament states: 'This highly figurative allusion is to the habit of marking soldiers and slaves with a conspicuous tattoo or brand…; or, better still, to the religious custom of wearing a god's name as a talisman.' Many humans by their actions and words symbolically wear this mark, identifying themselves as 'slaves' or 'soldiers' of the 'beast.' (Rev. 13:3, 4) As to their future, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says: 'The enemies of God allow the [mark] of the beast, the mysterious number which contains his name, to be stamped on their forehead and one hand. This gives them great opportunities of economic and commercial advance, but brings them under the wrath of God and excludes them from the millennial kingdom, Rev. 13:16; 14:9; 20:4.'" But what about the Antichrist? The Urban Legends and the Snopes Web sites attempt to tackle the issue of whether Obama is the Antichrist or not. Commendably, both sites debunk the misguided concept. However, neither site identifies the mysterious Antichrist. In fact, one says it's a "pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey" guess, and the other describes the Bible book of Revelation as "befuddling." Well, here's an attempt at demystification.
Simply stated, based on the Biblical definition, Mr. Obama is not the Antichrist, an expression that's not even mentioned in the entire book of Revelation. However, John wrote both about the Beast and the Antichrist. According to the Divine Record, there is no singular, independent, standalone antichrist. The faithful apostle wrote the following after he wrote the Bible's last canonical book, namely, Revelation: "Many deceivers have gone forth into the world, persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." (2 John 7) Note that "many deceivers" collectively make up "the deceiver and the antichrist." Further proof that it's not just one person is something else that John wrote. "Young children," he starts, "it is the last hour, and, just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour." (1 John 2:18) Again, we note "many" antichrists. Unless Brother President has multiple personalities he's an unlikely candidate for our Antichrist. But Jesus' favorite apostle isn't done yet. He addresses the matter of chronology.
John states that in his day and time, two thousand years ago, the Antichrist was already on the scene. While the presidency is bound to age the young Barack Obama it is doubtful that it'll retrogressively age him that much. Here's what John said: "Every inspired expression that does not confess Jesus does not originate with God. Furthermore, this is the antichrist's inspired expression which you have heard was coming, and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:3) Yes, the Antichrist was already spewing deceptive madness when Johnny Angel 'was in the house.' That's not all. When we reread 1 John 2:18, quoted above, we find the text contains time-sensitive expressions: "Even now," wrote Brother John, "there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour." Of this "last hour," the Bible handbook Reasoning From the Scriptures (1989) states: "By 'last hour' John evidently meant the end of the apostolic period. The other apostles had died, and John himself was very old."
In sum, this same reference work defines the Antichrist as follows: "Antichrist means against or instead of Christ. The term applies to all who deny what the Bible says about Jesus Christ, all who oppose his Kingdom, and all who mistreat his followers. It also includes individuals, organizations, and nations that falsely claim to represent Christ or that improperly ascribe to themselves the role of Messiah." The Sacred Text succinctly puts it this way: "Who is the liar if it is not the one that denies that Jesus is the Christ [or, Messiah, anointed one]? This is the antichrist, the one that denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22) Well, there it is.
To be sure, Brother President gives hope in an exceptional way. After all, he's the first Black modern head of state to lead the most power country in the world. (That distinction arguably belongs to a list of Pharaohs of ancient Egypt as well, not the least of whom was the Pharaoh of Moses' day and time.) He's involved in so many "firsts," the latest being slating Eric Holder as the first Black U.S. Attorney General in history. Whatever President-elect Obama morphs into I'll leave with the gods. In the meantime, brothers and sisters, our prayers should be with him for the sake of the gospel. (1 Tim. 2:2) Let the congregation say Amen.
Word for the Week (or is it "Weak"?): hermeneutics: 'The art or science of interpreting literature, especially scriptural texts.'
Dr. Firpo Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org