Revelation 13:1 points out that the beast, a symbol of Antichrist, will come out of the Mediterranean Sea. Revelation 17:8 tells us that Antichrist will come out of the abyss. This means that Antichrist will come out of two sources. Before he is born, his spirit will already be in the abyss, and it will come out of the abyss. His body will come out of one of the Gentile nations around the Mediterranean Sea. Based on this, we know that those who claimed in the past that Napoleon was Antichrist, or later, that Mussolini or Hitler was Antichrist, and those who claim now that Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, is Antichrist, are wrong.
Revelation 17:7-12 explains the mystery of the beast. Antichrist will be the Caesar of the revived Roman Empire and will be ranked with the previous Roman Caesars as the seventh Caesar (Rev. 17:10). When he comes, he will be slain temporarily, and the spirit of the fifth Caesar (Nero) of the Roman Empire will come out of the abyss and will enter into his dead body, resurrecting him to make him the eighth Caesar (Rev. 13:3, 18; 17:8, 10-11). He will be revealed before the appearing of Christ, and will exalt himself above all that is called God, even seating himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God (2 Thes. 2:1a, 3-4). Furthermore, before the great tribulation comes, ten kings will be raised up within the revived Roman Empire, who will be joined to Antichrist to oppose God and to persecute the people of God, that is, the Jews and the Christians (Rev. 17:12-13). Antichrist will trample underfoot the holy city Jerusalem, and will persecute the believers for forty-two months, that is, for three and a half years (Rev. 11:2; 13:5-7; 12:14). This is the great tribulation mentioned in the Bible.
By this we can see that the ancient Roman Empire must be restored, and the temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt. We know that at present there is a Common Market in Europe. Its condition closely resembles the revival of the Roman Empire. In addition, during the past year all the satellite nations of the Soviet Union have given up Communism one after another to practice democratic reforms. This also will help the general development of Europe into a unified entity. Consider again the nation of Israel. After having been broken up for twenty-five hundred years, it was revived as a nation in 1948. Later, it even recovered its capital. Based on reliable sources, we know that the Israelites are actively making preparations for the rebuilding of the temple. All the materials needed for the building of the temple, and all the utensils used for offering sacrifices, have been prepared according to the Old Testament.
A few months ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait; this led to the military intervention of the United States. The combined forces of the United Nations’ member nations also have positioned themselves in Saudi Arabia. The two sides are having a standoff, and the situation between them is tense. This upset the order in the Arab world and brought in diverse opinions. The whole situation has turned to the advantage of Israel. The good land that God promised to Israel in the beginning extends from the river Euphrates on the east to the great sea (the Mediterranean) on the west. On the north it stretches to Mount Lebanon, and on the south it extends to the river of Egypt. This vast expanse of land has never been fully occupied by the Israelites. Hence, the development of the Mideast situation focuses mainly on who the future owner of the good land will be. Will it be the Arabs, or will it be Israel? According to biblical prophecy, the nation of Israel will become strong and will eventually be fully restored.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
The great tribulation will be a time of unprecedented and unsurpassed calamities (Matt. 24:21). It will last for three and a half years, during the second half of the last week, and is the hour of trial which is about to come on the whole inhabited earth, to try those who dwell on the earth (Rev. 3:10). According to the record of Revelation, the great tribulation will begin from the sixth seal with the supernatural calamities (Rev. 6:12-17), and will pass through all the woes of the first through the seventh trumpets (Rev. 8:7—9:21; 11:14-18), ending with the woes of the first through the seventh bowls (Rev. 16:1-21).
(The Vision of the Divine Dispensing and Guidelines for the Practice of the New Way, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)