The Bible speaks, in several places, about the coming antichrist.
As the end of time unfurls, a devilish man will ascend onto the world stage with such charisma and gravitas that he will become a unifying force during worldwide times of trouble. His arrival will be heralded as the dawning era of redemption from political, economic, and ecclesial chaos. The antichrist will be a celebrity unlike anything the world has ever seen. While we often think of it as meaning “against” or “opposed to”, the Greek prefix “anti-” is more commonly used to mean “instead of” or “in place of,” that is, a substitute. Truly, then, that this coming deceiver will be revered as a global savior and will be embraced “anti-“, or in place of, the real Christ.
The dark prediction of the antichrist is a familiar event on the timetable of biblical prophecy. But, did you also know that the coming antichrist will usher in a coming antichristmas as well? As we anticipate the festivities of our own Christmas celebrations, there is something we can learn from this unholy holiday of the future.
What do I mean by the coming antichristmas? Despite what it sounds like, it’s not…
…a day for being a stingy Grinch who takes instead of gives. In fact, this Christmas substitute, detailed in Revelation 11:10, will also include festive celebrations, joyful singing, and generous gift-giving. The similarities, however, end there. Christmases of today are characterized by people celebrating Someone’s birth. The antichristmas of tomorrow will morbidly celebrate someone’s death.
In the chapters that lead up to Revelation 11:10, God gives us a keyhole glimpse into the future. During the approaching tribulation period, God will send two spokesmen to planet earth. While a great deal of lies will be spewed forth by the antichrist, these men will speak the truth on behalf of God. Also, they will have “authority” from God to perform meteorological miracles like those at the Exodus.
Instead of wearing suits and ties, these preachers will wear sackcloth. In the ancient world, such itchy coverings were worn at times of mourning or grief. Today, at funerals we typically wear black; in Bible times, men showed their respects by wearing sackcloth. Undoubtedly, the witnesses’ garb will be a fashion statement symbolizing the sorrowful and irritating message of judgment that they will be preaching.
Their scorching sermons of judgment will not be the only fearful thing coming from their lips. Verse 5 says,
“And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth [which will] devour their enemies.”
This gives new meaning to “hell-fire and brimstone” preaching, doesn’t it?
Nevertheless, their ministry will only be a temporary one. They will preach and perform miracles for 1,260 days (3 1/2 years). At the end of their time they will not simply retire from ministry, instead, they will be martyred by “the beast” (i.e. the antichrist). He will “make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.” (vs. 7) As the eyes of the world curiously gaze on, their bodies will lie, untouched and unburied, for 3 and 1/2 days.
The global reaction during the 84 hours after their death will, intriguingly, be festive. Rather than being appalled, people everywhere will be glad to see their rotting corpses on the front-pages of newspapers and the homepages of websites. In light of this, a new holiday will take place: the antichristmas. Verse 10 states,
“And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another…”
Why, again, will all of this global merriment take place? All “because [the] two prophets [who] tormented those who dwell on the earth” were now dead.
That kind of response sounds bizarre to us, doesn’t it? It’s easy for us to understand giving someone a celebratory gift in light of a special person’s birth. But can you imagine getting a bicycle, a new pair of socks, or an iPod in celebration of the fact that somebody died? It just goes to show how sinister the human heart can be and how much men love darkness rather than the light. You think the world is bad now? As Randy Bachman has said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
So, what do we learn about our own celebrations from the coming antichristmas? Here’s a few brief thoughts.
1. Be glad that our culture still reveres Christmas as a holiday of life.
While not every American this Christmas season will display a porcelain creche with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in it; nevertheless, there is still a pervasive sense in which Christmas and religious sentiment go hand in hand.
Though our culture has drifted far from many of its Judeo-Christian beginnings, it has not drifted as far as Rev. 11:10 just yet. For now, let’s be thankful for that and take full advantage of it.
2. As you give gifts this Christmas, be sure to consider why you are doing it.
This, to me, is one of the most striking parts of this passage. After the two witnesses die, the presumably appropriate response throughout the globe is gift-giving. Can you imagine, “Hey, I saw on the news today that those two preachers are dead. So, I bought you this new fishing pole?” It seems the world is headed for some very dark days. Now, to be clear, I am certainly not equating gift-giving as something evil.
But I do think that this passage reminds us to consider why we give gifts. Ask yourself, why am I spending this money on others? Why am I wrapping these presents? My purpose, here, is not to tell you what the right motive is; my purpose is to simply tell you that the right motive is important. In light of the coming antichristmas, examine your gift-giving motives this Christmas season.
3. One day, men will appreciate what the antichrist takes away. Today, we need to appreciate what God has given.
No matter if you celebrate Christmas this year in Forest, VA or Knoxville, TN; may all of our minds be drawn to another city, Bethlehem. Nevertheless, our thoughts must not stop there. We must look to Bethlehem through the lenses of Calvary. God loved the world in this way, by giving His only Son to us and for us.
Though the coming antichristmas is already marked on the calendars of the future, it is one holiday that deserves no celebration. In the meantime, let’s be sure to commemorate the birth of Christ as we, too, “rejoice…celebrate…and send gifts to one another” this season.
May God bless you this year with a very Merry Christmas!