An article on WorldNetDaily’s website reports on an anonymous “Christian with a theological education and many years in the ministry . . . who claims Jesus might have revealed who the antichrist is.” Mr. Anonymous makes it clear in his five-minute YouTube video that he is not claiming that Barack Obama is the antichrist. He states that he is only pointing out how two Hebrew words have “striking” correlations to Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:18 and Isaiah 14:14 and the President’s name. The argument begins with Luke 10:18. “When I started doing a little research,” the unnamed minister states, “I found the Greek word for ‘lightning’ is astrapē, and the Hebrew equivalent is baraq. I thought that was fascinating.”
When he focused on the word “heaven,” he found that it can refer not just to God’s dwelling place but also “the heights” or “high places.” This led him to Isaiah 14:14, where Lucifer, another name for Satan, is quoted as saying, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” He then looked up the Hebrew word for “heights” and found that it’s bamah. On the video, the announcer notes, “If spoken by a Jewish rabbi today, influenced by the poetry of Isaiah, He (Jesus) would say these words in Hebrew … ‘I saw Satan as Baraq Ubamah.’” Actually, Luke 10:18 would read “I was watching Satan fall from bama [the high places] like baraq [lightning].” Jesus could just have easily meant that Satan fell from his high position like Barak fell from his leadership position when he refused to lead Israel’s armies and lost his honor as a commander (Judges 4:8–9).
If bama can mean “Obama,” it can also mean “Alabama” as in the University of Alabama, nicknamed “Bama.” In January 2002, the phrase “Stars Fell on Alabama,” from the song of the same name, was added to Alabama’s license plates. Maybe Jesus had the “fall” of the state of Alabama in mind when George Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963 in attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood.
Isaiah 14 is describing the fall of the leaders of Babylon (14:4). Nebuchadnezzar offers this description of himself: “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). Then there’s Daniel’s description of Belshazzar: “But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him” (5:20). Here’s Daniel’s description of Belshazzar: “[Y]ou have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. . .” (5:23). Here’s a good summary of the issue by Dennis Bratcher:
So, the Isaiah passage does not connect, either historically or theologically, with the New Testament passages about the devil or the satan. By listening to the Old Testament passage on its own terms within its own context, we discover that Lucifer is not an Old Testament name for the devil or the satan. The passage in Isaiah 14:12–17 is directed at the downfall of the arrogant Babylonian rulers who took Israel into exile. By beginning with the New Testament, by making assumptions not supported by a closer examination of Scripture itself, and by using external theological categories as a lens through which to read Scripture, we may end up badly misreading Isaiah.
Luke 10:18 describes what was happening in Jesus’ day and not some distant future prophetic event surrounding the “last days” and an antichrist figure.
Out-of-context and sound-alike exegesis are favorite methods of interpretation for many prophetic speculators. The most popular example is the way the Hebrew word rosh has been used for the modern nation Russia because the two words sound alike (Ezek. 38:2–3; 39:1). Rosh is used hundreds of times in the Bible, and its most common meaning is “head.” I deal with the “Rosh-equals-Russia” claim in my book Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future.
Here’s what the Bible says about antichrist.
- The antichrist is a “liar . . . who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and “denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22; cf. 2 John 7). It’s most likely that the antichrists were first century Jews who did not believe that Jesus was God in human flesh. They were not political leaders and did not possess preternatural powers.
- Antichrists had already “gone out into the world” when John wrote his second epistle (2 John 7). Earlier he had written “even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). The “last hour” is most likely a reference to the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.
Attempts to create a “composite” antichrist are pure speculation. According to the popular view of antichrist, he is “the king of Babylon” (Isa. 14:4), “Lucifer” (Isa. 14:12), “the son of destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3), “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26), “the little horn” (Dan. 7:8; 8:9), “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3), “the beast” (Rev. 13), and several other biblical characters all rolled into one. Tim LaHaye’s understanding of antichrist is typical: “Many titles are given to Antichrist in the Scriptures—at least twenty in number.” This futurized composite antichrist supposedly will make himself known during the seven-year Tribulation period, after the rapture of the church. LaHaye maintains that he is European, specifically Roman (this disqualifies Obama), since he arises out of the midst of the “ten horns” on the head of the “fourth beast” (Dan. 7:7–8, 19–26).
Oswald J. Smith (1889–1986) wrote about a revived Roman Empire that he claimed was on the horizon in his day. Smith was emphatic that “Ten nations, no more, no less, are to become allied and known as the Roman empire because Rome will be the centre, the capital, and it will be in Rome that the Emperor will reign.” Notice what Smith said about this revived Roman Empire: “Ten nations, no more, no less.”
In his Late Great Planet Earth, Lindsey wrote about a “ten nation [European] confederacy” that would be in place by 1980. For support, he quoted Dr. William Hallstein, the former president of the European Economic Community, who described how a “Common Market could someday expand into a ten-nation economic entity whose industrial might would far surpass that of the Soviet Union.” Lindsey remarked, “Imagine that. A ‘ten-nation economic entity.’” Like Smith, Lindsey envisioned a ten-nation revived empire.
Today, the European Union has more than ten nations and includes nations not originally part of the old Roman Empire and excludes nations of northern Africa which were part of the original empire. Eight former Communist states and two island Mediterranean nations joined the European Union in 2004. This brought the total to 25. Today, the number is 27 member states. So what happened to a literal ten-nation—no more, no less—Common Market? Lindsey fudges by revising his early comments by claiming that ten nations control the other 27. That’s not what he wrote in 1969.
Smith claimed that Mussolini was the antichrist in his book Is the Antichrist at Hand?, a book that was written in 1926! Mussolini was executed in 1945. There have been countless named antichrists throughout the centuries. Even Ronald (6), Wilson (6), Reagan (6) was one of them. So was Adolf Hitler, Henry Kissinger, and Mikhail Gorbachev (also see here). It’s time that Christians study the Bible and not the newspapers. It’s embarrassing when Christians claim they have identified the antichrist. They’ve always been wrong, and if they continue to speculate on who “the” antichrist will be, they will continue to be wrong because antichrists were first-century, old-covenant opponents to the gospel who had no intention of taking over the world politically or economically.
Tim LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 207.
Oswald J. Smith, Is the Antichrist at Hand? (Harrisburg, PA: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1926), 18.
Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 96–97.
Daniel Rubin, “European Union Close to adding 10 nations,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (October 13, 2002), B4.