One of my several books in progress is titled “The Dynasty of Darkness: Satan’s long serpentine trail through human history in the form of successive Antichrists, and the imminent rise of his last days kingdom.” For the past year I have been publishing it in serial form, and this week am releasing installment 7. My thesis for the book is that Satan (and all the demons) are created beings who can only be in one place at one time, and (unlike God’s angels who can take human form per Hebrews 13:2) these fallen angels can only operate in the physical realm by possessing the bodies of people or animals. I believe that whomever the demon Satan is in possession of at any given time is “the Antichrist” and that there has been a nearly continuous succession of Antichrists since the dawn of humankind.
In previous installments I discussed and cataloged the key identifying characteristics of an Antichrist and used those clues to identify specific Antichrist figures in biblical history, starting in the book of Genesis. This present installment addresses the Antichrists of the Capitals of the North, through the period of the divided monarchy of Israel, when first Israel and then Judah were conquered by the northern kings and removed from the Holy Land.
Roughly from the time of King Jehu of Israel (841-814 B.C.) until just prior to the first coming of Christ, Satan used three nations to the north of the Holy Land as his primary bases of operation: Assyria, Babylon and Pergamum.
During the reign of Ahab and Jezebel the nation of Israel was entirely given over to the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth, which occurrence marked the beginning of the withdrawal of God’s hand of protection: “In those days the LORD began to cut off portions from Israel; and Hazael [of Damascus] defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites and the Reubenites and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of the Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan” (2 Kings 10:32-33).
Thus began the process of divorcement of Israel by God that is described in Jeremiah 3:6-8, of which Assyria was the instrument of fulfillment:
“Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, ‘Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. I thought, After she has done all these things she will return to Me; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce.’”
This “harlotry” was the Canaanite practice of Baalism, which began in the northern kingdom under Ahab and ended in the conquest of the House/Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. by King Shalmeneser of Assyria. At that time both Ahaz, king of Judah and Hoshea, king of Israel were vassals of Shalmaneser (2 Kings 16:3-12; 17:1-6) whose power in the world was unmatched.
The ancient capital of Assyria was Nineveh, founded by Nimrod, son of Cush, brother of Canaan, the first post-flood Antichrist, who also founded Babylon. Significantly, the two empires rooted in these capitals conquered and enslaved Israel and Judah, respectively.
The peak of Assyrian power, and the time of its greatest wickedness, was during the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which lasted for about 300 years, from 911 to 609 B.C. In other words, it started during the reign of Jeroboam, first king of northern kingdom of Israel (roughly 930 to 910 B.C.) and ended shortly after the conquest and deportation of all the Hebrews of Israel and the repopulation of the land with the foreign people who would become known as Samaritans. The very purpose of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, it seems, was to serve as the instrument of God’s punishment of the northern kingdom.
There likely were numerous Antichrists in the line of Assyrian kings from its earliest days, especially during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. These would probably include King Ashurnasirpal (883-859 B.C.) who boasted of his own cruelty: “[T]heir men young and old I took prisoners. Of some I cut off their feet and hands; of others I cut off the ears noses and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I made a minaret. I exposed their heads as a trophy in front of their city. The male children and the female children I burned in flames; the city I destroyed, and consumed with fire.”
However, we are most interested in what appears to be an Antichrist dynasty that spanned the period of Israel’s incremental dismemberment as a nation. This included, in succession, Tiglath Pileser III, his son, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II (Shalmaneser’s brother), and Sargon’s son Sennacherib.
Tiglath Pileser III took power by killing off the prior ruling family, establishing the world’s first professional standing army, and introduced the policy of mass forced deportation of conquered peoples to foster subservience and discourage rebellions. He greatly expanded the Assyrian empire and was the first Assyrian king to annex parts of Israel. Shalmaneser V was the ruler who conquered Israel and began the deportation of the Israelites. Sargon II killed Shalmaneser in a coup and completed the processes of depopulating the kingdom of Israel. Sennacherib was de facto co-ruler with his father, Sargon, and later succeeded him, continuing the attacks on the Hebrew people after his uncle’s conquest of Israel, working systematically to defeat Judah in the same manner (Isaiah 36). The Assyrian practice of dragging captives away with iron hooks in their noses is referenced obliquely in Isaiah 37:29 in reference to Sennacherib.
However, near the end of Sennacherib’s reign, Manasseh emerged as the king of Judah and at some point thereafter assumed the Antichrist role, probably upon the death of Sennacherib, six years into Manasseh’s rule. Manasseh, whose great evil caused God to curse Judah, saying “I will wipe Jerusalem like a man wipes a dish” (2 Kings 21:13), is also believed by Bible scholars to have murdered Isaiah the Prophet by sawing him in two (Hebrews 11:37).
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