Absalom – Arch-Demagogue

and Type of Antichrist









What is a demagogue?  The word is derived from two Greek words – “demos” (people) and “ago” (I lead).  Hence, such a person is one who leads, (or is led by), the people, or populace, and might well approve of the saying: “Vox populi vox dei”, but the voice of the people is NOT, or ever will be, the voice of God.  Nations which are democratic elect their “governors”, but the legislation is often directly opposed to the LAW of GOD, as, for example, the “betting”, the “abortion” and “sodomy”* laws (so-called).  Demagogues - and they are many and popular, are such as love power, and are motivated by expediency.  Yet how true are the words: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Peter 2: 19, and note verse 18).



Is not Absalom a manifest illustration of the foregoing?  He wanted to be “noticed”, and to have power. Utterly ruthless, he set fire to Joab’s field to get his own way, just as terrorists in many lands behave today.  Moreover, he would bring about the death of the King, his own father, to attain his ends.  His methods, too, were very like those of our modern demagogues.  He used flattery and specious promises to get the support of “the people”.  Read 2 Samuel 15, and note that all this took place after David had received him and “kissed Absalom”.   “And Absalom rose up early (nothing wrong in that!) and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the King for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said: Of what city art thou?  And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.  And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right: but there is no man deputed of the King to hear thee”.  It may be noted that this took place “early”, so that possible “session” had not begun.  On the other hand, there is a possibility that some slackness existed, giving Absalom the opportunity he was seeking.  Even if such conditions were so (but the record is silent on this), a loyal subject would have helped to put things right.  Hear, further, the voice of this self-confident man ‘ “And Absalom said, moreover, O that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me and I would do him justice.  And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.  And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the King for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel”.  How like the demagogues of our day, posing as the friends of the people, making promises they cannot fulfil, never acknowledging their failures, but turning even these to their own advantage, in their lust for power. Such power, when they possess it, will prove them to be the tyrants, as in today’s Communist world.



Absalom’s purpose seemed nigh on fulfilment, for he was apparently, in favour with David (2 Sam. 15: 7-9). Not only did “the people increase continually with Absalom”, but even the King’s counsellor was for him.  But God, in His sovereignty, used even the subterfuges of men, not only to turn “the counsel of Ahithopel into foolishness”, but to bring a would-be dictator to an ignominious end.  One is reminded of the end of Mussolini and of Hitler.  Absalom was hanged in an oak, the position of a cursed one.



It is worth noting that there went with Absalom “two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not anything”.  What was their reaction when they did know? There is no record, but the lesson for today is plain, “Beware of men”.  “By their words and fair speeches, they deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16: 18).  Upon such simplicity and ignorance Absalom perhaps depended, and such is the danger in this land.  There are those who desire the removal of monarchy that “the people” (really themselves) might rule.  However, whatever kind of Government any country has, it is still true that “there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God”.  Hence, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” Romans 13: 1-7 is the guide to [regenerate] believers, whatever kind of government they find themselves under.  This may mean suffering persecution, and already saints have this painful experience in many lands today.  Young believers (and older ones, too) need to be taught that persecution may not be far distant, even in Britain.  And such conditions will be brought about through the instrumentality of the very people who make lavish promises of “a higher standard of living”, appealing only to the lower instincts of a people obsessed with materialism and mammon.  Saints are called to be separate, to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”*, for all things needful for them will be “added”.



A Type of Antichrist



In John’s day there were many Antichrists (1 John 2: 18).  In history, Antiochus Epiphanes was such, in the time of the Maccabees.  That evil man defiled the temple.



The foregoing remarks on the character of Absalom apply to him as a type of “The Man of Sin”.  He was anti-David, substituting himself in place of God’s anointed King.  “Anti” means not only “against” in the sense of opposition but it also means “over against”, in the sense of comparison or of a kind of equality.  In India, one may see in many homes a row of idols on the “god-shelf”, and among them an image or picture of Jesus Christ.  Absalom considered himself to be in the same category as David intending to supersede the King.  Now this is what the Man of Sin will do.  By his words and miracles he will claim to be equal to Christ, ultimately to claim superiority to Him.  Is it not said (2 Thess. 2) that “he, as God, sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”?  Then the full meaning of “anti” (against), will be illustrated.



Again, Absalom gained adherents by flattering the people: “he stole their hearts”.*  Antichrist, we are told, “will come in peaceably, and obtain the Kingdom by flatteries” (Dan. 11: 21).



Absalom was a most attractive man.  His physical beauty won men’s admiration (2 Sam. 14: 25, 26) but his moral character was ugly.  He was, as we have seen, ruthless and deceitful, and scheming.  In Daniel 7 there is given to the prophet a vision of world empires, symbolized by wild beasts, the last more ferocious and savage than them all, (verses 7 and 19).  From this last world empire will proceed the Antichrist, who will be the embodiment of all the Satanic evil of that empire.



Digressing here a little, we would answer those who think the pre-millennial believer is expecting a monster so described to Daniel to appear in a literal sense (and such imaginations have appeared in print).  No! The savagery there depicted represents a moral (or immoral) and ruthless character, to whom life is of little or no worth.  Indeed, the rule of that Man of Sin will mean that many will lay down their lives for Christ’s sake.  Absalom may not have exhibited the Satanic evil of Antichrist, but murder was in his heart.



Antichrist may begin his conquest of the human race (or that part of it known as the one-time Roman Empire) as a demagogue.  The words of Daniel 11: 24 suggest a socialistic attitude, that is, sharing the spoil.  Socialism is attractive to certain types of mind, but like the two hundred men who responded to Absalom’s call, they are simple and know nothing.  Only the Spirit-taught Christian can see the trend and ultimate results of Socialism.   He sees its sad results in Communist countries, in which many of God’s children are going through tribulation.



What is known as the United Nations Organisation, which is an attempt to unite the world, is just such an instrument as will be useful to “the Beast” for it is godless; it has no regard for, but rather bias against the nation of Israel, and is strongly influenced by Communism.



A godly Bible teacher, known to the writer, said to him, over thirty years, ago, that he thought Antichrist would be a person of great financial wisdom, and this at a time when inflation was a word of comparatively slight significance.



Absalom’s “religion”, though he used pious language, was empty.  Antichrist will be like Napoleon, who recognized the various religions of the countries he subdued.  So will this “Man of Sin”, whilst it suits his purpose.  Then he will shew himself in his true colours, for he “will sit in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”.  But, like Absalom, “he shall come to his end and none shall help him,” (Daniel 11: 45).



What shall you and I do, “when these things begin to come to pass”?  Shall we, if then alive, “overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, loving not our lives unto the death”?  I am persuaded that many Christians, young and middle-aged, will know the meaning of the Lord’s words: “And ye shall be hated of all nations for my Name’s sake ... and because lawlessness shall abound, the love of the many shall wax cold, but he that shall endure unto the end [of the Great Tribulation] the same shall be saved”. (Matt. 24: 9-13). ***



“The Day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night ... what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet. 3: 10-11).



David fled from Absalom and for a time he was deprived of the privilege of congregational worship, but he did return to Jerusalem after the death of the traitorous son.  But the hope of the believer, whatever his experience may be in the coming dark days, is not only to see and enter the Holy City, but to see his Saviour face to face.



“Wherefore, beloved ... be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless”. (2 Peter 3: 14).








[* This is NOT a reference to Christ’s eternal kingdom – ‘when the thousand years are finished’ (Rev. 20: 7), and the ‘books were opened’ (12), and ‘death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them’ (13); nor does it refer to ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21: 1); nor is it a reference to Christ’s imputed righteousness, which every regenerate person presently has!  The ‘Kingdom’ here, which ‘disciples’ are to ‘seek first,’ is Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom: and the undisclosed standard of personal ‘righteousness’ by which they are expected to have to obtain an entrance, is attained by obedience to His precepts.  We are expected to behave themselves in this sin-cursed age; and this is not an impossibility for those with the Holy Spirit’s power and God’s grace.


** Is this not what we see happening throughout Christendom today?  False teachers are wilfully neglecting God’s conditional promises (2 Tim. 2: 12; Heb. 4: 1, 6, 9, 11; Rev. 3: 21)?  The “Prize” (1 Cor. 9: 24), the “Crown” (Rev. 3: 11) and “the recompense [reward] of the inheritance” (Col. 3: 24.) cf. Heb. 12: 14-17, are seldom, if ever, mentioned; and Christians are being duped into believing they can “obtain the kingdom by flatteries”!


*** The context makes it perfectly clear for all who have been given eyes to see, that the salvation here is both future and conditional for those who will be left to “endure unto the end”.  Therefore, all Christians will not escape the end time tribulation under Antichrist.   Many regenerate believers are assuming all must escape; others, that all must pass through it!  But we need only study the Word of God to see for ourselves that Christ has imposed conditions for His disciples to escape, (Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 2, 10); and also for those who will be “accounted worthy” to reign with Him in the “Age” to come, (Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11; Rev. 20: 4-6).


“With pointed warnings and explicit commands He [Christ] exhorts disciples to escape these judgments.  And He tells them how.  It is not without significance that His words of prudence and caution are not spoken to the Church as a Body but to individuals: ‘Take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged  The original Greek renders ‘yourselves’ and ‘your’ with peculiar emphasis.  ‘Watch ye therefore and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape  ‘Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial which is to come upon the whole world  ‘Blessed is he that keepeth his garments  In the Lord’s emphatic admonitions to His disciples to be wary and watchful, He does not encourage them to rely on their born-again experience; neither does He encourage them to rest in any past blessing.  The Lord’s emphasis is laid on WATCHING, HEEDING, PRAYING.  The escape, according to Christ’s own words, is made on condition of personal effort and is wholly a reward of the effort to be ready.  To watch means, in the original, ‘to be alert’; ‘to be aroused’; ‘to be awake’. …  (Matt. 24: 42; 25: 13; Mark 13: 35; Luke 21: 34-36; 1 Thess. 5: 6; 1 Pet. 4: 7; Rev. 3: 2; 16: 15).”  “… What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” ]

“Be strong: the earth’s filled with violence,

With hatred and Sin;

Pray that in all things ye may be found worthy

The Kingdom to win