Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Resurrection of The Antichrist: Ezekiel 28

The other major Hebrew Bible passage on the Fall of Satan is in Ezekiel 28. Some people discuss how Ezekiel 28 starts out talking about a human ruler of Tyre and then goes on to discus Satan as if it's ambiguous where this change happens, but it's not.

 Ezekiel 28 begins with "The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying", which is a typical Sign of a new message being given, that might be in some way connected to the prior message, but might not. Verse 11 says "Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying". It's after verse 11 it's talking about the "Anointed Cherub", the first 10 verses are about the human ruler.

The human ruler is the "Prince of Tyrus" the word for "Prince" here being Nagiyd, which is also translated Ruler, Captain, Leader, Governor and Noble. Satan is refereed to as the "King of Tyrus", the word for King being "Melek". The patron deity of ancient Tyre was Melqart, who's name was derived in part from Melek and means "King of the City". So part of the intent in referring to Satan this way may have been to compare him to that false god. (Who the Ancient Greeks identified with Herakles/Hercules.)  Also the Hebrew word Melek for King is spelled the same as it's word for Angel, Malak,  M-L-K.  So the Holy Spirit could be doing some word play here.

Don't get over excited about an Antichrist passage seemingly calling him the "Prince of _____" or "King of _____". He will conquer and take over many Near Eastern locations, so none of these really tell us anything about his origin. Tyre may likely come under his control when he is victorious over the "King of the North" in Daniel 11:36-45. He'll also conquer Egypt (King of The South) which is important to remember later. This particular Prophecy is speaking of him in terms of his connection to Tyre because it spins off from Ezekiel's earlier prophecies of the contemporary conquest of Tyre by Babylon.
"Son of man, say unto the Ruler of Tyrus,
Thus saith the Lord Yaweh; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, "I Am A God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas"; yet thou art a man, and not a god, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches:
Therefore thus saith the Lord Yaweh; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring foreigners upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness.
They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.  Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, "I am God"? but thou shalt be a man, and no god, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Yaweh."
Here we have a ruler explicitly thinking of himself as God-Like, and also being sent down to the Pit. The word for "pit" here is different in the Hebrew then in Isaiah 14, but the idea is still clearly the same.

We're also told specifically he will be killed, and his killer is refereed to as "the terrible of the nations". This figure is significant, to me since many of the False Prophecies I see as setting up Messianic Figures that I think The Antichrist could seek to identify himself with have what I like to call a "Decoy Antichrist" figure who will kill him setting the stage for his Resurrection. Messiah Ben-Ephriam is killed by Armilus and the Mahdi by Dajjal. There are also similar ideas in apostate Christians traditions, though they don't as specifically expect their hero to be killed. I'll return to this subject latter.

Some see "die the deaths of the uncircumcised" as meaning he is Jewish, and that dying like a Gentile is some kind of mystical disgrace. If that's the case then it certainly goes against seeing this as applying to Ithobaal III (Ethbaal) the Ruler of Tyre at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Tyre. But others see it the opposite, as simply saying he's Uncircumcised.

I believe The Antichrist will die only one death, because of what I mentioned before about Revelation 19 and being cast alive into The Lake of Fire. Some see Daniel 7:11 as clarifying that "The Beast" is killed first. "I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." While the Beast imagery in Revelation draws on Daniel 7 it's also different. In Revelation The beast is both the individual and his Kingdom, in Daniel 7 The Beast is only The Kingdom, the Little Horn is the individual who is The Antichrist. This detail of Daniel 7:11 is about Edom/Rome as a nation being destroyed, not an individual person being killed.

Chris White and some others like to diminish the Eschatological-Antichrist significance of this passage by saying it merely makes this ruler of Tyre a type. But the problem is none of this really fits Ithoball/Ethoball at all. I alluded to one possible problem already, but there are others.

 He was not killed by Nebuchadnezzar (who in a contemporary context is the only person "the terrible of the nations" could be) or his armies, simply forced to abdicate. And there is no evidence he arrogantly deified himself, I don't know whether or not like in Egypt the ruler was ceremonially always viewed as a sort of avatar of the patron god, but that would be different from this Prophecy where someone really honestly believes he's divine in his own heart.

This prophecy appears to be about him before and up to his death. but since the Abomination of Desolation is clearly after his resurrection, isn't the focus on his deification a little out of place? This prophecy does not reference that specific event, it may not be a matter of publicly proclaiming himself yet but believing it in his heart, and/or simply not silencing his supporters who deify him. In which case I think it might work well to see Herod Agrippa in Acts 12 as a type.
Acts 1220-23

And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.  And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.  And the people gave a shout, saying, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man".  And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
This is verified by Josephus in Antiquities of The Jews Chapter 8.
Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Cesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, [though not for his good,] that he was a god; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, "I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner." When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumor went abroad every where, that he would certainly die in a little time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king's recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign;
The last part of Ezekiel 28 is about a judgment on Sidon. Which did not suffer any so epic Judgment in Ancient Times. I think it's possible to keep that passage in mind anytime tensions involving modern Lebanon are flaring up.

Ezekiel reuses some of the key themes of this passage in chapters 29-32. Another human ruler killed by "the terrible of the nations" and going down into Sheol. This time it's given new details like "and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man." But there the human ruler is the Pharaoh of Egypt.

This time there definitely is a sense of near fulfillment in Ezekiel's own time, since "the terrible of the nations" is spoken of as synonymous with 'The King of Babylon" and Nebuchadrezzar is mentioned by name.

Along with this is a prophecy of Egypt being uninhabited for 40 years. Ussher believed this was fulfilled from about 572-532 B.C., but the documentation for that isn't solid. Some see in the text a possible allusion to this 40 year desolation beginning with the Aswan Dam being Nuked, with the references to a fire being set, and references to "the tower of Syene". Syene being where the Dam was build and no major ancient structure was built there.

Nebuchadnezzar is clearly only a type of The Antichrist's killer here. Many see him ironically as serving as a type of The Antichrist in Daniel 3. So I don't see this as definitive that the future "Terrible of the Nations" will be from or in Iraq. But Daniel 11:36-45 does refer to The Antichrist having trouble from the North and the East, after he's already conquered the King of The North (Syria). So that makes either Turkey and/or Iraq a likely candidate for this new adversary.

But if the King of Babylon detail is relevant, it seems awkward given it's The Antichrist who's the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14. After his Resurrection and return to power this enemy will quickly be taken care of. Armilus and Dajjal seem to be killed by the False Prophet figure in those false prophecies, but the Apostate Christian traditions would rather see it be the Last Roman Emperor/Great Catholic Monarch who defeats the evil tyrant. Either way, it's likely The Antichrist will then take Rulership of Babylon, or whatever lands "the Terrible of the Nations" controls, for himself.

It's interesting to note that there are rival claimants to the Hashamite "King of Iraq" title right now. In addition to the proper claimants coming form two rival lines, there are those in the international community who'd rather give the title to someone of the Jordanian Royal Family.  But I'm no longer a fan of the Islamic Anitchrist view as I used to be.

That Nebuchadnezzar can be a type of The Antichrist to one Prophet, but a type of his killer to another, just further reinforces my belief that this individual will be a sort of "Decoy Antichrist". I've written elsewhere that I think there may be many potential Antichrists during the first half of the 70th Week, or perhaps even before the 70th week begins. And that no matter how convincing it might seem to view someone currently on the rise as The Antichrist, to remember that we will not know for certain who he is until the Abomination of Desolation happens.

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