The Assyrian – Profile of the Antichrist

“They shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod at its entrances;
and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian
when he comes into our land
and treads within our border.”

[Micah 5:6]

Ancient Assyrian relief

The way I try to read, understand, and harmonize Old Testament prophecy is first to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach me truth and reveal to me the mysteries of the prophetic word [2 Peter 1:19-21]. Then my approach is to read each passage in its original context and ask questions like, “who is the original audience, who is this written about, when is this taking place … who is involved … what is happening … how is it connected to other prophetic passages etc...”

If I can answer these questions, then usually I can gain a responsible interpretation of the text. It certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t be wrong, but this approach usually protects me from the extremes of overreaching or reading my own preconceived views into the text.

One of the more difficult passages in view when it comes to creating a profile for the end-times Antichrist is Micah 5. Famously known as the Bethlehem prophecy concerning the birth of the Messiah, this passages usually is only emphasized around Christmas. But when taking a closer look, Micah 5 reveals an interesting perspective on an end-times enemy of Israel named the Assyrian, who is most likely another prefigurement of the final Antichrist.

So what can we learn about Micah 5 and the Assyrian? There are five primary components to this passage that stand out.

  1. Israel’s Sin and Idolatry
  2. Assyrian Invasion
  3. Divine Deliverance
  4. Remnant of Jacob is Saved
  5. God’s vengeance on the nations

It must be said that many scholars and Bible interpreters contend that this passage has already been fulfilled during the Assyrian Invasions of Israel and Judah in the 8th Century B.C. But then others say that the reference to the Ruler from Bethlehem (Jesus) could only be describing His millennial reign. Neither of these interpretations, however, explain the crux of this passage, which is Micah 5:6. Let’s read it again.

He shall deliver us from the Assyrian
when he comes into our land
and treads within our border.”

The “He” mentioned here is the Deliverer, the Shepherd and Ruler of Israel, the one prophesied to be born in Bethlehem. We know His name – Yeshua, King Jesus. Consider Micah’s description of this Ruler to be born.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5And he shall be their peace.
When the Assyrian comes into our land
and treads in our palaces.”

[Micah 5:2-5]

The reason I believe this prophecy is depicting a literal, future deliverance of Israel from the Assyrian is because there has yet to be such an event in history that fits this description. King Jesus has not had direct conflict with an Assyrian tyrant who is invading Israel. Clearly this must be another prophetic passage that is describing the coming judgment on the Day of the Lord, when Jesus returns to destroy the Antichrist, strike the nations and save Israel. When harmonizing Micah 5 with the dozens of prophetic passages about the Day of the LORD and the judgment of the nations surrounding Israel, it seems to be speaking of the same future event in the last days.

Yes, the nation of Israel remains overwhelmingly hardened toward the LORD to this day, persisting in unbelief. But as with most of the passages depicting the Day of the LORD, God promises ultimately to deliver Jacob and save a remnant out of the midst of great distress. Micah 5 reinforces this motif.

The passage also emphasizes the LORD judgment of the nations and the Day of vengeance spoken of throughout the prophets. This will happen on the Day of the LORD, when Messiah returns in all His glory.

“And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance
on the nations that did not obey.”

[Micah 5:15]

“For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”

[Isaiah 34:8]

“For these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

[Luke 21:22-24]

An Assyrian Antichrist?

Finally, many have used this passage to suggest that the Antichrist must be an ethnic Assyrian. While that is a possibility, I believe it is more likely a description that gives us the general geographical region from which the Antichrist will rule. Much like the King of the North in Daniel 11 alludes to Syria, and Gog of Magog in Ezekiel 38-39 points to Turkey, the Assyrian helps narrow the focus of the Antichrist’s end-times empire to the surrounding nations of Israel. So instead of providing an ethnic marker for the Antichrist, I believe Micah 5 provides a general geographic marker.

A map of the ancient Assyrian empire will help provide a visual of this general region, which again is a composite of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Ottoman Empires.

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