The identity of the Antichrist has always been a hot topic among Christians. I have written an entire series that discusses the possibility that the Antichrist will come out of the Middle East (click here for a good summary of that series). In this article, I want to discuss another possible reference to the Antichrist that may point to a Middle Eastern origin of the future world dictator – that he is known as the “Assyrian” (which today makes up parts of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria).
The main passages that refer to a man known as the “Assyrian” are in Isaiah 7-14 and Micah 5. During the time period in which these prophets were alive (c. 750-700 BC and a little later) the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms: the northern kingdom called Israel, and the southern kingdom called Judah. At this time, the Assyrian Empire was the great power in the Middle East. They were conquering nation after nation, and had their eyes set on adding Israel to their conquests. I will first discuss the views of Joel Richardson, who in his book Mideast Beast, who argues that Isaiah and Micah place the Antichrist’s origins in the Middle East.  Then I will give my opinion on the topic.
Richardson believes that Isaiah speaks about the Antichrist and refers to him as the “Assyrian.” First, let us understand the context of Isaiah 7-14. They speak mostly about God’s anger with the nation of Israel because of their idolatry and other sins. To punish Israel he will be sending the king of Assyria against them. The context of these passages look mostly to a fulfillment during the lifetime of Isaiah.
Richardson, however, believes that these passages warrant a double fulfillment (one in Isaiah’s time and one in the end-times). The reason is that these prophecies contain verses pertaining to Jesus. We have the prediction of the virgin birth (7:14), Jesus bringing earthly peace and knowledge of the Lord (9:2-7; 11:1-16), and his defeat of the Assyrian (10:12; 14:24-27). The last two did not happen during the time of the Assyrian Empire and have yet to occur. Jesus has not brought world peace (yet) and he definitely did not defeat the Assyrian as the Assyrian Empire was long gone by the time of the Jesus’ first advent. Considering we have prophecies about ancient Assyria mixed in with details about Jesus’ second coming and his defeat of the “Assyrian” may point to a double fulfillment of these prophecies.
Micah 5 starts out with the famous prophecy about Bethlehem (5:2-5). These verses not only give us the birthplace of the Messiah, but also mention that he will bring peace to the Israelites and that his greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. Like the prophecies in Isaiah this did not occur during the earthy life of Jesus. The passage also goes on to mention that when Christ does this, he will defeat a man known as the “Assyrian” who is oppressing the Israelites. This, of course, did not happen during the time of the Assyrian Empire as they destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and were themselves conquered hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. Verses 5-6 say:
When the Assyrian invades our land and marches through our fortresses. We will raise against him seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He [Jesus] will deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land and marches into our borders.
So, how can Christ conquer the “Assyrian” if the latter was long gone hundreds of years before Jesus was born? How can the Assyrian conquest of Israel be reconciled with the peace that Jesus would bring by defeating the “Assyrian?”
Is the “Assyrian” the Antichrist?
There are two interpretations of the “Assyrian.” First, he is only a symbol of the evil that God’s people face. That is, when Christ returns he will destroy the enemies of the saints but he will not be a literal Assyrian. Isaiah and Micah are only using the Assyrians as types of antichrists because that was the evil they were facing in their day. The second view is that the Antichrist will come from the land of Assyria (which makes up parts of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey).
How then do we explain why the prophets mixed up the ancient Assyrians, the Antichrist, and both advents of Christ in the same passages? Here we have the near view – far view problem about Old Testament prophecy that I spoke about in another article.
Remember that the prophets sometimes would see events not only in their time period, but also events in the far future at the same time. This is what is going on in Isaiah and Micah. The “Assyrian” is a type of Antichrist, foreshadowing the future world dictator like the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes did in Daniel 8 and 11. Bible scholar D.A. Carson wrote about this:
“Micah refers to future attacks against the Messiah’s kingdom as being carried out by the Assyrians, who were destroyed in 612 BC, centuries before Christ’s advent. Prophets did not see the centuries that separated them from the fulfillment of their predictions, but saw future happenings as imminent events on a flat tableau.”
The view that the Antichrist is the “Assyrian” is consistent with what I have wrote about in my previous series, that the Antichrist will come from the area of Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq. Daniel places the Antichrist in this region in Daniel 11 (and possibly chapter 8 as well) and Ezekiel speaks about Gog of Magog (Magog being in present-day Turkey). It is also worth noting that some Christians in the ancient world also saw the “Assyrian” as the Antichrist.
To conclude, it is very possible that the “Assyrian” in Isaiah and Micah is a reference to the Antichrist. This is consistent with other passages in Scripture where the Antichrist is said to come from the Middle East. Even if this interpretation is incorrect (if the “Assyrian” only represents evil) it still does not invalidate a Middle Eastern origin of the Antichrist.
 (Washington D.C.: WND Books, 2012. 235-245).
 Richardson, 236-241. Richardson also points out an interesting connection between Isaiah 9:4 and Judges 8:21-26. Isaiah 9:4 mentions “in the day of Midian’s defeat.” Richardson believes that this is comparing Jesus’ defeat of the Assyrian to Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites. One of the things that Gideon takes from the Midianites are “crescent ornaments.” He says, “The crescent moon, of course, is the symbol of Islam, featured prominently on most Muslim flags as well as top of virtually every mosque throughout the earth. When Jesus returns and defeats the invading and persecuting Islamic armies of the Antichrist, He will likewise remove the symbols of Islam and idolatry from among the nations” (p. 238-239). He also notes that the Hebrew for “crescent ornaments” is saharonim which is related to sahar which appears in the passage about Satan being the son of the morning star in Isaiah 14:12 (in which shortly thereafter the Assyrian is defeated in 14:25).
 Ibid., 241-243.
 D.A. Carson. New Bible Commentary. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 1994. Pg. 829. In Joel Richardson. Mideast Beast. Washington D.C.: WND Books, 2012, pg. 242.
 Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-c. 236 AD), On Christ and Antichrist; Victorinus, bishop of Pettau (c. 280 AD), Commentary on the Apocalypse; and Lactantius (c. 307 AD), Divine Institutes. See Richardson, 242-243.