Most books on the Antichrist overly focus on a few characteristics provided in Scripture or on a single aspect of his background. This is why at varying times throughout church history, and even to this present time, there are those who assert the Antichrist must be the pope, or that he must come from Rome, or that he must be Islamic, just to name a few of the apparent paradoxes. One of the critical teachings provided in Shadows of the Beast is how these elements are all pieces of the puzzle and that there is actually no contradiction in stating that they are all partially correct. The seeming contradictions have come about because authors and scholars have taken their one piece of the puzzle and tried to make it the solution to the whole puzzle instead of realizing they are only in possession of part of the solution. As Jacob states in the book, they are correct in what they are saying but incorrect in what they fail to say.
To begin with, when it comes to the topic of the Antichrist, Scripture clearly depicts three aspects: the spirit of antichrist which has been and is at work during every period of history, the "many" antichrists who appear throughout Scripture and history as figures who teach something about the final one to come, and the final person of the Antichrist who is the ultimate fulfillment in the two Beasts of Revelation 13 which we most often refer to as the Antichrist and the False Prophet. (Make no mistake, however, there are two persons involved.) Therefore in order to piece together the entire puzzle it is necessary to study each of these in depth in order to know exactly what the picture looks like that we are trying to assimilate.
In Shadows of the Beast the twenty or so chapters are divided into six major sections:
- Part One: The Spirit of the Antichrist. This focuses on how the spirit of antichrist always is and always has been at work through false prophets and false teachers in general, and various ways of attacking or rendering ineffective God’s Word first by what Scripture calls "pseudologon""”a false word, and then by "plastios logos""”a plastic word or counterfeit of God’s Word. The spirit of antichrist has a specific agenda which lays the foundation for Satan’s plans to be ultimately fulfilled through the Antichrist which is not waiting for the final Antichrist to arrive; this is the work which is ongoing at this very minute.
- Part Two: The Many Antichrists"”Biblical. Just as many figures in Scripture such as Joseph, Moses, David, the Prophets and others all teach something about Jesus the Messiah, so there are many figures who foreshadow the Antichrist and teach different aspects of his character and activities. All of the major types are examined scripturally such as Judas, Solomon, the Herods, Pharaoh, Nimrod, Goliath, the kings of Assyria, Tyre and Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Caesar and others. It is critical to understand how each of these pieces of the puzzle contribute to the overall whole as well as to study the names given to the Antichrist which teach about his character and agenda: "man of lawlessness", "man of sin", and "son of perdition".
- Part Three: The Many Antichrists"”Historical. Although the scriptural shadows of the Antichrist are the most important, it is nonetheless critical to study the various figures in history who are obvious examples of the "many" antichrists. The most important of these is most certainly Antiochus Epiphanes IV who fulfilled much of Daniel 11 in the character of the Antichrist during the time of the Maccabees, but other important figures covered in the book are the Roman emperors, the Roman Catholic popes, Islamic types of the Antichrist, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and others. While none of these add anything new or in addition to what Scripture attributes to the character and nature of the Antichrist, they all confirm different aspects of what the biblical types teach, reinforcing various parts of the overall picture critical to identification of the ultimate one to come.
- Part Four: The Milieu of the Antichrist. Just as biblical prophecy provided the information how the Messiah could be identified by where he was born and the background from which He would arrive, so it is with His counterfeit. We are provided with a rich context by which the faithful will be able identify the ultimate Antichrist which Shadows of the Beast examines as to the background from which he will emerge and the timing of his arrival. Among other things this is examined in depth in explanations of Daniel’s iron and the clay, the seventy weeks of Daniel, the recapitulation of Hanukkah and the Nativity Narrative. This background is just as critical for his final identification as all the characteristics provided through the working of the spirit of the antichrist and the myriad of biblical and historical types which prefigure the Beasts of Revelation 13.
- Part Five: The False Prophet. This is a topic which to our knowledge we have not seen addressed to this degree by other scholars or commentators, but which is usually only mentioned in passing. Scripture is actually prolific when it comes to providing us with a picture of the final False Prophet first through the myriad examples of biblical false prophets, and then individuals who serve as types who foreshadow the final one to come. Combined with extra-biblical false prophets just like the many historical types of the many antichrists, some of those discussed are Caiaphas, Ahitophel, Rabshakeh, the popes, John Hyricanus, and others. Jacob in particular focuses on the biblical concept of "The Harbinger", how the False Prophet works as a counterfeit to John the Baptist and is seen in such examples as Zedekiah and Ahab. All of these lead up to the final discussion of how they fit together in the person of the final False Prophet to come, one of the two Beasts of Revelation 13.
- Part Six: The Final Antichrist. This section not only sums up the attributes and person of the final Antichrist as portrayed in various parts by the many biblical and historical types, but goes into depth on one of the most important processes by which the ultimate Antichrist will be identified: the number of the Beast. While most discussions of "666" focus on trying to unlock some kind of "Bible code" or apply a cryptographic solution, Jacob discusses in detail the many scriptural uses of "666" as a foundation for providing the greater, spiritual meaning of what Scripture is trying to teach about this crucial piece of the puzzle.
The goal of this book is not to name a specific person and declare him to be the Antichrist and the reader will find none. There are greater purposes at work here that have come as the result of Jacob’s many years of prayerful consideration and preaching where the person of the Antichrist is concerned.
The first is the handling of Scripture. Why do some say the Antichrist must and only can be Islamic, while others categorically maintain he will be a ruler from Rome, while still others say he would have to be a Jew in order to successfully deceive the Jews? Jacob painstakingly employs the whole counsel of God’s Word to show that each of these positions provides a part of the answer, but by not taking into consideration the whole of God’s Word they are each falling short in providing a conclusive answer. Instead of these factors all being mutually exclusive as some might maintain, the scriptural truth is that many of these things are actually complementary to each other.
One of the most fascinating sections in this book is devoted to Herod as a shadow of the Antichrist, someone who was ethnically Arab (he was an Idumean by birth), but embracing the Jewish faith so that he was accepted as a Jew, but equally accepted by the Gentiles because he was a Roman citizen. In the character of the final Antichrist to come, Herod was all things to all people, equally accepted as an Arab, a Jew and a Roman. This is one example of the many teachings which come as the result of Jacob showing a bigger picture through the proper handling of Scripture that does not overly emphasize a single figure or a just one aspect of his background.
The second is a more pressing issue where deception of believers is potentially concerned. There are many who assert that there is no need for current believers to be able to identify the Antichrist because they will be removed"”raptured away, before he comes onto the scene. Another critical teaching in Shadows of the Beast is the biblical foundation that the Rapture will not occur until the Antichrist is identified to the faithful church, much the same way as the Apostles never recognized Judas"”the most important figure of the Antichrist in Scripture"”until he was revealed to the Apostles at the Last Supper just prior to his formally coming out against Christ. One of the primary responsibilities of the Elect in the Last Days is being able to identify the final person of the Antichrist when Christ ultimately reveals him to us. This is not an exercise in knowledge so much as it is in the practical application of our faith in God’s Word and ways in the Last Days.
This is not a book intended to warn the world about the Antichrist, but to first educate believers as to what Scripture and history through the prism of Scripture has been teaching all along that we might be prepared for the final revelation from Christ to come. Just as the spirit of antichrist and the many biblical and historical antichrists always have and always will successfully deceive the unsaved, all of them combined are a mere shadow of the power of deception that will be at work in the two Beasts of Revelation 13 to come. If it was impossible for them to see through the many false prophets, false teachers, and precursors to the Antichrist who are but mere shadows, it will be absolutely impossible for them to identify the final Beasts to come. It is only the faithful who adhere to the whole counsel of God’s Word whom Shadows of the Beast provides a first attempt to equip. Ultimately it is Christ who will reveal the truth to the faithful Elect, not Jacob nor any other earthly teacher.
While there has never been a book on the Antichrist which has undertaken such a holistic scriptural approach to provide a foundation for understanding the Beasts, Shadows of the Beast is only that"”a foundation. Jacob does not claim to provide an answer which, in reality, God has not yet provided; Jacob is only making a good-faith effort to provide the faithful with the scriptural foundation which will make us more acutely attentive to the final revelation to come through Christ to His faithful Bride the Church.