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The Book of Revelation
It was testimony night and a lady got up and said, “We are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week.” Her husband, who was sitting by her side, said, “It’s not all my fault; she’s tough to get along with.”
It’s interesting that there’s so much interest concerning the End Times. In fact you can almost hear more about the end times in theaters than you can in church. Maybe it’s because the church has tried to stay away from to the sensationalism and hype that surrounds the End Times.
The problem is there’s a lot of misinformation out there, along with a deliberate attempt to have people miss the real point. As believers in Jesus Christ we need to know the truth of what the Bible teaches about these events. Although much of what the Bible reveals is wrapped in symbolism, we still can understand the realities of what takes place.
And though the Bible doesn’t give us a specific date as to when these events will occur, as well as any detailed analysis, it does reveal the general aspects of these events along with a kind of time frame when they will happen, including these last 7 years.
Read Revelation 13:1-10
The First Beast: The Antichrist
The Antichrist’s Origin
We see Satan standing on the shore and that this beast, the Antichrist, comes out of the sea. The sea has two basic meanings that help us understand the origins of the Antichrist.
Throughout Scripture the sea is often a picture of mankind, particularly the Gentile nations. We certainly see that in Daniel 7, where the four beasts that come from the sea represent the Gentile nations who will rule over Israel.
This is confirmed later on in Revelation 17 where it says that the waters are “peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.” (Revelation 17:15)
But the sea in the ancient world is associated with chaos and evil. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Antichrist is going to be able to rise to power during a time of great chaos. In fact, he comes on the scene at the very beginning as a man of peace.
We have several examples throughout history. The most well known is the rise of Hitler in Germany. In the midst of the chaos following World War I, the German people were facing hunger and were in most regards without hope. They were searching for a leader who could bring order out of the chaos. Hitler didn’t need to take power by force because the people willingly gave it to him.
With these two descriptions we see the Antichrist first bringing peace to the world’s chaos, seeing there will be wars and rumors of war, natural disasters will abound, and people will be looking for a leader that will bring order and peace into the chaos.
I see two nationalities of the Antichrist. In Isaiah we see someone coming who is called the “Assyrian,” Isaiah 10:5-6; 14:25; 30:30-31. This was also the nationality of Antiochus Epiphanies who actually is identified by Daniel and Jesus as a forerunner of the coming Antichrist. But I also see him being Jewish as well, because who better to bring peace to the Middle East than both an Arab and Jew combined together.
He’s also coming from Europe, or the revised Roman Empire, which is described as that little horn in Daniel 7, and the ten toes of Daniel’s dream in chapter 2. This also fits the sea being understood as many different people groups, because Europe and the new revised Roman Empire will be a diverse group of people covering a multitude of languages and nations.
But there’s also the spiritual origin, and that is the dragon Satan. It says that the dragon Satan was standing on the shore and to which the beast comes out unto.
Similarities exist between the Antichrist and the dragon. In Revelation 12:3 it says that the dragon had “seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.” The only difference is that the crowns in chapter 13 on the horns of the Antichrist are 10 instead of 7. This clearly shows that the dragon and the beast are not the same, but that they are certainly related.
Now ten crowns to the seven is easily remedied in Daniel when the little horn is raised up, which is the Antichrist, and he uproots three of the ten horns, thus leaving seven.
When we get to Revelation 17 we’ll examine this in more detail, but this is saying that Satan is behind and orchestrating the events of the world through the Antichrist. And what we will see is that he literally possesses the Antichrist.
Real quick, why do I believe that Satan possesses the Antichrist, it’s by a name he is given, “The Son of Perdition.” It’s the same name given to Judas Iscariot. Jesus calls him The Son of Perdition, and when he left it says that Satan entered him, Luke 22:3, John 13:27.
We might say that the Antichrist is the very incarnation of the devil himself. As Christ is the incarnation of God, and many will see the Antichrist in the same light.
John tells us the world is astonished at the Antichrist and worships both he and Satan since he has given the Antichrist his power. But the Antichrist won’t come subjecting the people to suffering. Instead he’ll be attractive, and will usher in a time of peace and the whole world will be united. He’ll have control over the powers of nature, science, religion, and industry. It will be a time the earth has not seen before.
The Antichrist’s Attributes
From the description and interpretation in Revelation 17, what we see is a ruler of great authority that will rule the world with his headquarters most probably in Rome.
In Revelation 17 the seven heads are explained as seven mountains that the religious harlot, the apostate church, sits upon. The only city built on seven hills is Rome. The ten horns with the ten crowns are explained as the ten kings, or rulers who have both power and authority.
Having names of blaspheme, these world rulers will not only stand in open defiance to God and all that is of God, but they are merely puppets to the Antichrist who will speak openly in defiance to everything that is holy. Further, he’ll sit on God’s mercy seat in the Holy or Holies proclaiming himself to be God, which is the biggest blaspheme of them all. These last 3 ½ years are not going to be pretty.
We also see that the Antichrist resembles or is a composite of the empires that preceded the Roman Empire, the leopard, or the Grecian Empire, the bear, or the Medio-Persian Empire, and the lion, or the Babylonian Empire.
Each of those kingdoms were powerful and ruthless, but the Antichrist’s kingdom will be unlike anything the world has seen, combining the worst attributes of these three. In Daniel it’s seen as “terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.” (Daniel 7:7 NIV)
He is allowed to then exercise this authority for the last half of the Tribulation time and is allowed by God to make war on the saints and conquer them.
And seeing how he is going to proclaim himself to be God, he also will demand worship of everyone on earth, and they’ll all give it with the exception of the true followers of Jesus Christ.
The beast is anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti God’s people. He will deny God and maintain that everything in the world is the result of man and science, and these he will make into his religion that the false prophet will head up.
He’ll be seen in the eyes of many as God and worshipped as such. In fact, they’ll wonder at his godlike qualities and think, who can make war against him. Especially seeing that he was healed from a fatal wound.
Being fatal gives him this air of actually dying and coming back to life, counterfeiting the resurrection of Jesus. It’s here I believe Satan comes in and possesses him. Now, this is not a genuine resurrection since only God can give life, but since most people by this time has denied God, they’ll never know the difference.
Read Revelation 13:11-18
The Second Beast: The False Prophet
While the second beast is never referred to here as the false prophet, later in Revelation 19:20 the false prophet was identified as the one who performed the miraculous signs on behalf of the Antichrist. It’s the same thing that’s listed out here for the second beast.
What I find interesting is that he looked like a lamb, the same look Jesus had, but while Jesus’ appearance was of the Lamb that was slain, the False Prophet has two horns. While he looks gentle and all religious, he speaks like the devil. We’re reminded of Jesus’ warning.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 NKJV)
As we see he’s the head of the Antichrist’s religion, therefore he represents the power of false philosophy, science, and religion combined. In the End Times it will be a combination of all the religions and beliefs everyone agrees on.
It reminds me of the New Age movement which doesn’t deny religion, science, or philosophy, but combines them into one overall belief. It’ll be dictated though creeds and beliefs. And while they’ll preach tolerance they’ll be intolerant of those opposing them.
The False Prophet’s mandate is to direct all worship towards the Antichrist.
“He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.” (Revelation 13:12 NIV)
He does this is through deception, which isn’t surprising, because Satan is the master deceiver, which we saw last week and how Satan deceives the whole world, Revelation 12:9.
The Apostle Paul describes the coming of the Antichrist through false signs and lying wonders deceiving those who are perishing. And so the Lord sends to the people at this time a strong delusion so they’ll believe the lie, and that’s because they’ve refused to believe the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.
It’s the same thing happening today as Satan is using false prophets to turn even believer’s away. Jesus said there’d be false christs and false prophets who will perform great signs and wonders for the purpose of leading astray the faithful, Matthew 24:24.
Now this isn’t in your face deception and lies, but rather subtle and gradual so that people don’t even see it coming or realize they’ve been duped.
The False prophet will do this through signs.
In many ways the false prophet is like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. He will be able to perform great signs. He’ll counterfeit what Elijah did when he called down fire from heaven. He’ll create an image of the Antichrist and enable the image to speak, and he’ll kill the followers of Christ who refuse to worship that image.
It’s not hard to imagine why people are going to be so easily duped into following someone who can perform these kinds of signs and wonders. This is why we’re told in the book of Deuteronomy that if a prophet performs a sign or wonder and then says to follow after other gods, we shouldn’t believe them, and that God is allowing it to happen in order to test our faith, Deuteronomy 13:1-3.
Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” (Matthew 12:39 NKJV)
The fact that Jesus has called those who seek for signs “evil and adulterous” is all the proof we need that we’re not to live our lives in Jesus seeking signs.
The other way the False Prophet uses to direct worship towards the Antichrist is though the mark of the beast.
A Bible College Professor taught: “The less that Scripture has to say on any given topic the more theories you’ll find on the subject.” This is exactly what we find when we tackle this topic of the Mark of the Beast.
This is what many of you have been waiting for – the revelation of the identity of the Antichrist. If that’s the case, then you’re going to be disappointed.
Over the years there’ve been countless attempts to identify the Antichrist based on the number of his name. Using this method commentators have attempted to identify the Antichrist by converting names into numbers and seeing if they add up to 666.
Among those who’ve been identified as the Antichrist using this method include Caesar Nero, Adolph Hitler, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and Prince Charles, among others. As you can see, this is a very subjective approach, and by manipulating the system almost any name can be made to add up to 666.
If we stand back and take a look at the bigger picture, we know that the number 6 in biblical numerology is the number of man. Man was created on the sixth day, for example. The number 6 also pictures the sinfulness of man since the number six falls short of the number 7, which represents completion, perfection and is representative of God.
What we can be sure of is that this mark is another counterfeit of Satan intended to imitate the seal on the foreheads of the 144,000 that we saw back in Revelation 7. And whatever that mark is, it is going to be required to engage in commerce.
“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17 NIV)
The method of this mark has also been widely discussed. What I have found interesting is that right now the technology exist and there are companies that are putting it into practice where microchips the size of a grain of rice can be implanted in both human and animals that can be scanned and can carry a person’s complete identification and other information.
But let me give you just one piece of advice that has helped me throughout my studies and all the speculation about the Antichrist, and that is, stop trying to figure out who the Antichrist is and start getting to know Christ a whole lot better.
The Unholy Trinity
Through these last two chapters what we see is an unholy trinity, a counterfeit and mockery of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The unholy trinity is
Understanding what they represent helps us to better fight Satan. So how does all this apply to us? What we need to know is that the Antichrist and false prophet may very well be among us today, We just don’t know, but what we do know that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world.
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18 NIV)
So we need to be equipped to counter that deception. In Revelation 13:9 John says, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” And then he says,
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. (Revelation 13:10b NKJV)
God is in control. Jesus has overcome the world! To compromise in order to save our lives, our job, or our reputation is to deny His power. In 1543, Luther wrote these words in a letter to a friend who was worried about persecution by a king:
“Why . . . do you fear and worry? Be of good courage! Let your heart be strengthened. Do not overestimate that water bag who does not know whether tomorrow he will be a king or a worm. We shall reign forever with Christ; they will burn in hell with the devil.”
So we need to have faith in God that He is in control, because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, 1 John 4:4. We are to live by faith.
We are to have faith that in the end it will all work out to our good, as well as to the good for the Kingdom of God, Romans 12:1. Jesus also said that in this world we will have tribulation, but we are to joy-filled because Jesus has overcome the world, and because of that we can be overcomers, 1 John 16:33.
Jesus said several times that those who endure to the end will be saved, Matthew 10:22, 24:13. Hebrews 10:36 tells us that we have need of endurance, so when we fulfill God’s calling we can receive the promises.
The Apostle Paul gives us this encouragement: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
So have faith! Endure! And finally:
In describing the Antichrist in 17:9, John says, “Here is the mind which has wisdom.” And then in calculating the Antichrist’s number he says, “Let him who has understanding.”
We do this first by getting better acquainted with the authentic rather than focusing on the fake. To develop the kind of wisdom that will counter the deception of Satan we need to learn to discern what is of God and what is not, and the only way we do this is through the daily intake or consumption of God’s word.
Next treasure the truth. The Apostle Paul tells us that the time is coming when people won’t want to hear the truth, but rather that which matches their own desires, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
The truth is not always pleasant or painless. In fact, the truth of God’s Word often reveals some very ugly things about our lives that we must deal with through confession and repentance.
Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV)
So if we want to develop wisdom that will counter the deception of Satan, we must come to treasure truth rather than pursue that which is pleasant and will spare us from pain.
And finally understand the unseen rather than surrender to the seen.
We are a very visually oriented society and are influenced by the things we see.
So it’s not surprising that the world is going to be so easily deceived through the signs and wonders the False Prophet performs. Because we are so visually oriented problems arise when there is a conflict between what we see and what we know to be true.
Understand that Satan is capable of manipulating our circumstances and the things we see for the purpose of drawing us away from the truth and deceiving us. So we have a choice to make. Will we live our lives based on what we see and end up being deceived? Or will we develop the wisdom that will allow us to hold to the truth even though we can’t always see it with our physical eyes?
Jesus said to Thomas who had to see for himself, “Blessed are those who don’t see but believe.” (John 20:29 NKJV)
Wednesday Evening Bible Study