According to Bible prophecy, the antichrist builds his government on three main pillars of power; a global government, a global economy and a global religious system. All three must exist and be functioning prior to his arrival on the scene, since his time frame is limited to just 2,520 days.
The prophet Daniel says that the antichrist will be a prince of the people who destroyed the city and sanctuary; "...and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary..." (Daniel 9:26)
That was accomplished by the Roman legions under the command of Titus in AD 70.
Daniel says this coming Roman 'prince' will confirm a seven-year covenant between Israel and 'many' that results an a period of peace and safety for the Jews of Israel.
Two things to note about this covenant. First, note the context. This is about Israel's future. Not about the antichrist. In this context, he is a supporting player, not the object of the prophecy.
The fact the antichrist confirms a covenant 'with many' would be irrelevant if Israel were not the other principal to this covenant. An agreement in which Israel plays any lesser role cannot be Daniel's covenant.
The second thing to note is that this covenant must already exist in some form. One cannot 'confirm' that which does not exist. This is not a newly-negotiated covenant cooked up by the antichrist to include Israel among the many.
It is a confirmation of a previously existing agreement. There is but one failed seven-year agreement involving Israel, the revived Roman empire and 'many'.
That is the Oslo agreement, initially negotiated to run exactly seven years, negotiated between the State of Israel and Yasser Arafat on behalf of the Palestinian 'people' under the supervision of the Europeans.
The Oslo formula of 'land for peace' remains the foundation upon which any future agreement will be built. Every effort since has built on the efforts of Oslo.
Once Daniel's covenant is confirmed, Temple worship will be restored, which requires Israel to somehow recover possession of Temple Mount. We know that it must be restored because mid-way through the Tribulation Period, the antichrist suspends Temple worship.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)
Any covenant negotiated with Israel that does not leave Israel in possession of Temple Mount and provides for the restoration of Temple worship is NOT the covenant of Daniel 9:27.
How can I say so with such confidence? Because the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is the one that starts the clock ticking.
From the signing of that confirmation of the covenant until the return of Christ at Armageddon is 2,520 literal days. If that covenant were already in place, then the antichrist would already be in power.
Except that at some point before he could BE the antichrist, he must first recover from a deadly head wound.
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." (Revelation 13:3)
It is AFTER his deadly wound is healed, that John says;
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?"
So, the antichrist, having been healed from a deadly wound, is acclaimed by the whole world for this apparent miracle. John says that, AFTER this takes place;
"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."
Let's stop there and summarize. First, the covenant, confirmed by a prince of Rome. Then the head wound. Then he is acclaimed as worthy of worship as a god.
Then he is given power to mesmerize the population with a supernaturally gifted 'mouth speaking great things and blasphemies' -- and this power lasts for forty-two months (1,260 days or 3 1/2 years).
This is the first half of the Tribulation Period. If the antichrist were active and if we were now in the Tribulation, all this would already be in motion. None of it is as yet.
But let's pretend that we're in the Tribulation now. That means that within the next 1,260 days, a functioning global government capable of ordering mass executions for political purposes must be fully in power.
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Notice this power isn't given him over just Europeans. Or just over the nations around the Mediterranean.
It is over ALL 'kindreds' (families) tongues (languages) and nations (ethnicities)
Anybody care to guess what the word translated into English as 'all' means in the original Greek? (Give up? Ok. It means, 'all').
That power is, after forty-two months, fully developed and operational. Then, the second beast takes his place onstage.
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." (Revelation 13:11) This second beast is a counterfeit prophet, one who has the appearance of Christianity, but who openly teaches the worship of the first beast (the antichrist).
"And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
This second beast will be Satanically energized with supernatural powers. "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, "(Revelation 13:12-13)
Now, I want to stop here again. We are just now at the mid-point of the Tribulation -- it started 3 1/2 years ago with the confirmation of the covenant with Israel and the healing of the first beast's deadly wound.
What must also exist by this point?
Obviously, a global religious system, since there is a global religious leader with the power to condemn apostates to death. So if the Tribulation were to begin tomorrow, say, then within the next 42 months, a new system would have to replace both Christianity and Judaism.
According to the Bible, the persecution of Christians and Jews would be global, bloody and with the enthusiastic cooperation of the global population.
Like most of you, I can see all that coming. But it isn't here.
The third pillar in the antichrist's government is a global economy that is tied to both the global religious system and the global government. All three are administered by the same overall authority.
All three must not only exist, but they must be fully operational within three and one half years of the covenant that restores Temple worship to Israel.
Because three and one half years after Israel's Temple worship is restored, it must then be taken away, signaling the onset of the "Great Tribulation" in which three quarters of mankind die from the plagues and judgments that fall upon an unrepentant human race.
There are some Christians who believe we are already in the early part of the Tribulation Period now and that the current head of the EU/WEU, Javier Solana, is the antichrist.
For that to be true, then, Israel must be in a period of peace and safety right now.
The covenant must be in full force, the Jews of Israel must be in possession of the Temple Mount and the Jewish priests must now be offering legitimate sacrifices to God in a ritually cleansed Temple.
That means the ashes of a pure red heifer must already have been found and sprinkled to cleanse the Holy of Holies after two millennia of desecration.
Within the next forty-two months, the false prophet must convince everybody on earth except the Jews to worship the beast.
By the mid-point of the Tribulation, the global economy will be tied to a mark in the right hand or forehead without which no man could buy or sell.
So within 1260 days, all cash transactions must cease to exist.
Within forty-two months, all Christians and Jews the world over will be hunted down and ultimately executed if they refuse to take the Mark of the Beast.
Problem: Even with Satan's enthusiastic cooperation, there isn't enough time. You can't get there from here.
The covenant has not been confirmed and Israel is not living in peace and safety. Temple worship has not been restored and al-Aqsa remains standing atop the Holy of Holies.
There is no functioning global religion. There is no functioning global religious authority. As long as there are Christians and Jews, there can NEVER be a universally acceptable global religious authority.
The global economy is outside of any one nation's control, let alone the control of one man. Cash makes global control impossible. And a universal currency would take a lot longer than 42 months from now to implement.
That is not to say that the Rapture couldn't take place tomorrow. The Rapture of the Church is an event INDEPENDENT of the Tribulation Period. They are not 'bookends'.
The Rapture is the conclusion of the Age of Grace. It is when Jesus comes to retrieve His Bride from the earth. The Tribulation is the resumption of the Final Week of the Law. They are as separate as distinct as Pentecost is from the Destruction of the Temple forty years later.
Since the Holy Spirit indwells the Church, when the Bride is retrieved, His earthly ministry concludes, just as Jesus' earthly ministry concluded at the Ascension.
Temple worship didn't cease on the day the Church Age began -- it continued another forty years before Titus.
The Rapture of the Church could take place tomorrow and the Tribulation Period could still be a decade or more into the future. Maybe two decades. However long it takes. The two are independent events.
That is why we, as Christians, are not charged with watching for the antichrist. We are given details concerning the coming of antichrist because, if we can hear his approaching footsteps, we can know that the time of our deliverance is even closer.
The signs of the times were given for the lost -- the saved don't need them -- except as witnessing tools.
The Tribulation period is close. No doubt about it. What does it mean to the Church? It means the Rapture is closer.
"And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh," Jesus said. (Luke 21:28)
At the beginning. Not at the end.