The People of the Prince to Come: A Roman-European Antichrist?
Daniel 9:26, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof [shall be] with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”
Many have traditionally believed that since the army that destroyed the city and the sanctuary in 70 AD was considered Roman then this, therefore, must mean that according to Daniel 9:26 the Antichrist would rise out of Europe. The majority of popular Biblical eschatology teachers today, even in light of events happening on the global stage, still teach an Antichrist who comes out of Europe, a charismatic leader that rises from within the European Union to then lead a One World Government. Writers have published novels such as the “Left Behind” series promoting it, even Christian movies have been inspired and produced by this very idea. However, although the people of the prince to come mentioned in Daniel 9:26 may have been considered “Roman” soldiers merely because they were (supposedly) under the command of Rome, many of these same teachers have either ignored or were just not aware of the following very significant fact.
By the time Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 AD, the Legions responsible for the destruction were dominated by eastern peoples from Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor (Turkey) and that general area. This is confirmed by Tacitus, Josephus and numerous scholars and historians. Thus, although the Legions responsible for the destruction of the city and the sanctuary in 70 AD were by that time considered Roman citizens, they were not European people. (The Wars of The Jews, History of the Destruction of Jerusalem By Flavius Josephus, Trans. William Whiston BOOK V: Chapter 13; and Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria by Nigel Pollard, Ph.D, p. 115).
Prior to the turn of the 1st Century the majority of the men who served in the Roman armies were Italians. That is true. But as the Roman Empire grew it became virtually impossible for it to be manned with only Italian soldiers, so Emperor Augustus was forced to change the ethnic demographic of men who made up the Roman armies, and after the reforms were completed early in the 1st Century just a small part of the Roman army consisted of only Italian men — the Praetorian Guard [1, 2]. The rest of the army was expanding to be increasingly made up of citizens who were from the outer provinces far away from Rome.
Some may say, however, that since Rome gave the order to destroy the city and the sanctuary then Rome is therefore responsible, but this is not the case at all. Josephus records that Caesar did not want the temple destroyed, writing:
“And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire … whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire.“ (Josephus War of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 4).
The soldiers were hell bent on destroying the sanctuary, despite Caesar’s orders to put out the fire. But they hated the Jews. And as Josephus later writes, “And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation.“
History bears witness to the very fact that the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary were almost exclusively Arab/Egyptian/Syrian/Asia Minorian, etc. and from that general area. From Tacitus in The History New Ed edition Book 5.1 Editor: Moses Hadas (Translated by Alfred Church and William Brodribb; Modern Library, 2003 NY):
“Titus Caesar … found in Judaea three legions, the 5th, the 10th, and the 15th .. To these he added the 12th from Syria, and some men belonging to the 18th and 3rd, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria. This force was accompanied … by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbors …”
From Josephus in The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem(Book III, Chapter 1):
“So Vespasian sent his son Titus [who], came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood.“
In the next chapter Josephus writes:
“Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen and footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand.“
Virtually all Roman scholars concur that the overwhelming majority of soldiers would have been Eastern provincial conscripts by the time Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 AD.
Additionally, Clarence Larkin in “Dispensational Truth Or God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages“, which many Western AC proponents consider to be one of the best dispensational authors of all time, disagreed with the now popular Roman theory and through Scripture recognized in his own way why Antichrist cannot come from Europe, writing:
“The ‘King of the North’ was the King of Syria, and his character and conduct is described (Dan. 11:36-39) as similar to that of the ‘Little Horn’ that came out of one of the ‘Four Horns’ it is clear that the Antichrist is to come from Syria… The term ‘North’ and ‘South’ are applied to Syria and Egypt because of their geographic relation to Palestine (the Pleasant of Glorious land. Dan. 8:9, 11:16, 41). In the thought of Jehovah, Jerusalem is at once the geographic and moral centre of the earth. We are to understand therefore by the ‘King of the North’ the King of Syria, which also included Assyria. This fixes the locality from which the Antichrist shall come…” (p. 118)
Since Scripture calls Antichrist “the Assyrian” numerous times throughout the Old Testament, which would hardly be accurate if he were to come from Rome (Zechariah 10:10-12, Isaiah 30:30-31, Micah 5:2-6, Isaiah 10:12-13 cf Daniel 7:20, Isaiah 14:24-25), Clarence Larkin would in all likelihood be among those to conclude that the Antichrist would arise out of Islam if he were alive today.
… Of The Prince That Shall Come
With Daniel 9:26 we have a specific reference to the prince that shall come after Messiah is “cut off”, a prince whose people are not only associated with the destruction of the city and the sanctuary, but who are also associated with wars and desolations ‘unto the end’. For the sake of argument let’s consider that Daniel is also referring here to an eschatonic leader and people that many consider to be the End-of-Days Antichrist and his kingdom (who would seek to destroy the foundations of the spiritual city and the spiritual temple in the Last Days) since the teachers I am arguing against use this very verse to support the idea of a European Antichrist. With this in mind, let’s ask ourselves the following question: If the Antichrist is European, why was Daniel not inspired by the Holy Spirit to say “the country/region (erets – H776) of the prince to come”, but was instead moved by the Spirit to use the word “am” (H5971) which means “people” or “nation“? Does it not stand to reason that this is because the prince and the people who would destroy the city and the sanctuary — and therefore by extension the Last Days Antichrist and his people — are not necessarily identified geographically with Europe, but are instead identified primarily through ethnicity? I say yes indeed, and it matters not if they were considered Roman soldiers (even the Apostle Paul called himself Roman, yet he was ethnically a Jew) because there is nothing in the verse to identify the prince to come with Europe geographically.
In closing, the overwhelming evidence that we are now beginning to watch unfold before our very eyes in these Last Days, underscored by authors and teachers such as Joel Richardson, Walid Shoebat and now other like-minded thinkers who have begun to re-examine this question such as Chuck Missler, Dr. John MacArthur, Ray Gano and others, is that the Antichrist of these Last Days will not be coming out of Rome or Europe. For many, the blinders of tradition and pop-theology has locked them into a state of eschatological tunnel-vision while a prowling Beast creeps beside them, rising out of the Middle East and ready to devour. But a close examination of Daniel 9:26 along with a brief lesson in history and an even cursory look at current events leaves little doubt about it — Antichrist and the spirit of Antichrist is rising out of the Middle East, and from within radical Islam. Christian author Joseph Chambers concurs, and sums it up nicely by saying:
“There is no other geographical area on planet Earth where the Antichrist could appear but the Middle East. Those who continue to look only toward the European Common Market as the primary movement toward the Antichrist will soon be disappointed… To look for Satan’s final activities in any other area than the Middle East is to look in vain and in error…. The Islam or Moslem religion provides an excellent covering for the rise of the Antichrist.” (A Palace for the Antichrist, News Leaf Press, 1996, pages 136-142).
Credit: For more information please be sure to read Joel Richardson’s excellent article titled “Daniel 9:26: Who Are The People of the Prince To Come?” here.