Believers in the scriptures understand that the world will be destroyed and cleansed of the wicked before Jehovah’s coming to reign on the earth. But do they know what precipitates such destruction? Patterns from the past tell us what to look for that will signal the commencement of God’s endtime judgments. Paul draws on the prophecies of Isaiah when he says that those events won’t happen until “there comes a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Isaiah uses models or types from ancient Near Eastern history and mythology to describe this endtime Antichrist as the “king of Babylon” (Isaiah 14:3–21).
Isaiah also makes clear that it is the “falling away” of God’s people that precipitates the world’s destruction by the king of Assyria/Babylon. (Assyrian conquerors of Babylon in Isaiah’s day called themselves “King of Babylon.”) Former destructions of the ancient world—first by Assyria and then by Babylon—occurred only when God’s people of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel had apostatized. Those who profess to be God’s people today, therefore, fall into this pattern before God’s endtime judgments commence. If it were not so, the archtyrant could have no power. He is merely God’s instrument for destroying the wicked from the earth.