The Four Returns, part 2

Return 3: The Assyrian and Assyria
After WWII there was an increase in discussions about the identity of the antichrist and his kingdom, the revived Roman Empire. These discussions happened because of several movements in politics. First Israel became a nation in 1948, indicating we were entering the last days. Then NATO was formed in 1949 which united Europe militarily.
Then in 1957 the foundation was laid for the European Union. It went by several names; the European Economic Community, the Common Market, the European Community and, finally the European Union. The name of the treaty which created the union was what grabbed the prophecy watcher’s attention; it was called the Treaty of Rome and its purpose was to unit Europe, first economically then politically. Attention of the prophecy watchers was then focused on Europe and where the leader would emerge, who would become the Antichrist. In all this attention, one important fact was missed. The Roman Empire extended into the Middle East and North Africa. A person didn’t have to be born in Italy or live in Italy to be called a Roman. The Apostle Paul was a Roman; he was born in Turkey. St. Augustine was born in Algeria.
Europe was the western half of the Roman Empire. The eastern half lasted 1000 years after Rome fell and was called the Byzantine Empire. The book of Daniel indicates that the Antichrist will come from the eastern half of the empire. Daniel chapter 8 tells of how Alexander the Great would conquer the Medo-Persian Empire and that the antichrist would rise from one of those four kingdoms into which Alexander’s dominion was broken. The four kingdoms were Thrace, Macedonia, Syria, and Egypt.
Daniel chapter 8 speaks of the eastern part of Alexander’s empire as where the antichrist will arise or Syria (Modern day Syria and Iraq/Iran). This parallel’s Revelation 13 where the beast has characteristics that is like a leopard (Greece), with feet of a bear (Medo-Persia/Iran), and the mouth of a lion (Babylon/Iraq)
The eastern part of Alexander’s empire will be North Jordan/Iraq initially. Later it will extend itself as follows: Daniel 8:9 “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” The pleasant land would be Israel and moving south and east would encompass Saudi Arabia and Iran.
As for the antichrist, many believe the only thing we know about him is the number of his name. (Revelation 13:18) However there is a lot more information about him in the Bible than just the number of his name. There is a physical description of him in Zachariah 11:17 and there are more than 20 names listed in the Bible, which reveal some things about his character. We miss a lot by using only the name Antichrist because it is used, as a name, in only one place, 1 John 2:18.
The most common name for the antichrist in the Old Testament is the Assyrian. The following passages cover the events of this future leader and end times; Isaiah 10, 28, 30, 31 and Micah 5. The Passage in Micah indicates the Assyrian will invade Jerusalem after the Messiah is born in Bethlehem. This passage can’t be a reference to Sennacherib, because his army was destroyed outside Jerusalem. He never got inside the walls of Jerusalem.
Let’s look at the history of the Assyrian people and their leaders:
The Assyrian people get their name from Asshur, Noah’s grandson and the founder of Nineveh. They had several periods of influence and expanded control using an army famed for ruthless efficiency. During one of their periods of expansion, which extended from 911 BC to 612 BC, they came into contact with the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, but lost 185,000 men in one night outside the walls of Jerusalem in 701 BC. Their king, Sennacherib returned home and was assassinated by two of his sons.
Then in 612 BC when the City of Nineveh was destroyed by the Babylonian army united with an army of Medes and Scythians. This is considered the end of the Assyrian empire, but the nation and people continued to exist. The religion of the Assyrian Empire (sometimes called Ashurism by Modern Assyrians) centered in the god Assur, patron deity of the city of Assur, and Ishtar patroness of Nineveh.
After Jesus rose from the dead and His Disciples went out from Jerusalem, the first church outside of Jerusalem was among the Assyrian people at Antioch. The Assyrian Church was led by Thaddeus, Bartholomew and Thomas. The Assyrian church grew and at one time was larger than the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches combined. By the fourth century AD, they had sent missionaries as far as China. When Muslim influence reached the Assyrians, they were given a choice of converting or death. Many converted, but many refused and were slaughtered. Through all of the persecution, the Assyrian people and the Assyrian church survived and never retaliated. This supports the idea that the Assyrians were truly Christian.
The Assyrian missionary enterprise, which had been so successful throughout Asia, came to an abrupt end with the coming of Timurlane the Mongol in the 1300’s. The indiscriminate destruction leveled by Timurlane against the civilizations he encountered put to a permanent end the Assyrian missionary enterprise. A large segment of the Assyrian population escaped the ravages of Timurlane by fleeing into the mountains of present day eastern Turkey. The remaining Assyrians continued to live in their homelands (presently North Iraq and Syria).
In the 20th century, the Assyrian people again faced multiple persecutions and many fled the Middle East in what has been called the Assyrian Diaspora. It is estimated that there are four million Assyrians worldwide and there is a longing in their hearts to return to their homeland in Iraq. The Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) is calling for the establishment of an Assyrian province in the historical Assyrian lands in Northern Iraq as part of the modern day Republic of Iraq.
The Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, into five religious sects with their own distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Catholic (Universal) and Syriac Orthodox. Since Daniel 11:37 states that the he (the antichrist) shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, this passage could be a reference to the Christian heritage of the Assyrian.
According to Psalm 83, the next war could be the War of extermination of Islamic terrorist organizations in the countries that border Israel. This will result in peace and expanded territories for Israel. The territories conquered would be Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Northwest Iraq, Syria, Gaza and the Sanai. This would give Israel room for settling the influx of Jews who are fleeing worldwide persecution and a moment of peace from attacks. It would also give Israel access to oil fields and allow them to increase exports, driving oil price down. This would give Israel a temporary boost in good will among the nations of the world, but also make them a tempting target for invasion by Russia.
The first Battle of Gog and Magog (Ez. 38 &39) will have Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, and Ethiopia attacking Israel. They will be stopped supernaturally by God (more on this in a later post) but the antichrist will take credit for their defeat, Because of the power vacuum caused by these wars, the antichrist will rise very rapidly to become a leader with worldwide clout.
After the Assyrian’s defeat, referenced in Micah 5, when the LORD returns to earth and sets up His kingdom, the Assyrian people will have a homeland in the Middle East. (see Isaiah 19:23-25)

Recommended reading:
The Assyrian Connection by Phillip Goodman
Asshur the Assyrian by Allen Bonck
Isralestine by Bill Salus
Northern Storm Rising by Ron Rhodes

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