Francis Schaeffer describes the background and culture that brought about the totalitarian rule of the Caesars this way:
“Before the days of Caesar, the senate could not keep order. Armed gangs terrorized the city of Rome and the normal processes of government were disrupted as rivals fought for power. Self-interest became more significant than social interest, however sophisticated the trappings. Thus, in desperation the people accepted authoritarian government.”
In America, we’re now seeing a near-complete breakdown of law and order that differs from past episodes in at least two ways. First, historically, criminals used to at least acknowledge they were committing moral wrongs, but not today. Witness the recent example of the looting and property damage that totaled $60 million in Chicago in just one night, and rather than being decried, it was brazenly supported by groups who called it “reparations”.
Secondly, in many cases, the prosecutors and politicians who have been appointed to maintain civil peace are cowardly bowing to the mobs and – in an unprecedented fashion – choosing to keep the criminals safe from us instead of keeping us safe from the criminals.
In short, the same type of anarchy that ancient Rome experienced is occurring today. And like back then, such uproar will produce desperation in a population who, hoping to re-establish peace, will cede their freedoms to an authoritarian ruler who appears on the surface to give them what they want.
But the Church won’t bow the knee, right? Don’t be so sure. Remember that even the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church rejoiced at the elevation of Stalin to the role of Premier of the Soviet Union and saw it as a good and providential act of God that would result in peace and prosperity for their country. How wrong they were.
Sadly, history shows this cycle repeats time and again. It’s also how the Bible says the ultimate and final dictator will one day take control.
The ultimate replacement with the ultimate gift
You can count on it like the rising of the sun: when you hold God’s funeral, someone will always take His place. The names differ, but the pattern remains the same.
The lineage of Egyptian kings, and names like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Caligula, Domitian push right up into the past century with Hitler, Stalin, etc., and are exhibited today with leaders like those in North Korea and China. All of them being biblical types and examples of what John said long ago: “so now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18).
We mistakenly think that something like that can’t happen in America, but historian Arnold Toynbee observes: “By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons, and at the same time making the world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for the deifying of any new Caesar who might succeed in giving the world unity and peace.”
In other words, everyone is at risk.
That ultimate future führer – antichrist – is predicted in both the Old and New Testaments. And don’t let his label fool you. The default is to think of “anti” as meaning the opposite of something, and while that will be true, the Greek term used for it (ἀντί) can also mean “in place of”, i.e. a replacement, and in this case, a substitute for the real Messiah and true Prince of peace, Jesus.
Scripture says the antichrist will use a false peace to counteract global turmoil and thereby deceive the world into granting him ultimate rule. Recall that the first horse of the apocalypse to emerge in Revelation is “a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (6:2). Most all commentators agree that a victor with a bow and no arrows equates to overcoming people with peace vs. war, which is the next horse that appears and takes that false peace from the earth (vs. 3).
Paul describes a similar scene during the last days and says, “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). Jesus likens it to the days of Noah and says the people back then, “knew nothing about what would happen [i.e. they were living normal, peaceful lives] until the flood came and took them all away” (Matt. 24:39).
To successfully set the stage for totalitarian rule takes more than just civil unrest and a desire for peace. You also need to strip people of certain rights and abilities like being able to possess the means to practically defend your life from criminals and a corrupt government (second amendment) and the freedoms of religion and speech (first amendment of the Constitution). Both are no-no’s to any despotic government.
First they come for your means of self-protection, then they come for your faith and voice, and lastly, they come for you.
This is precisely what’s happening right now in America. In short, our religious foundation and political philosophy that gives us our freedoms to choose is being forcefully evicted for a religion and political philosophy that takes away our freedoms to choose.
Once that’s accomplished, it leads to the kind of cultural upheaval and inevitable appointment of authoritarian rulers who eventually make things much worse. It’s not unreasonable to believe the same progression as the one being experienced now won’t lead to the last world-wide dictator, just as theologian Renald Showers describes in his commentary on Daniel:
“The more intense man’s predicament, the more entrenched is man’s determination to prove that he can rule the world without God. Such firm resolve together with the worsening world situation makes man susceptible to the claims of an ultimate man – a man who opposes God, who seems to have the ability necessary to solve the world’s problems and to rule the world well without God, a man who claims to have attained deity and has supernatural powers which appear to support that claim, a man who eventually demands total devotion from the human race and is the ultimate expression of absolute dictatorship and ruthless self-rule.”