THE False Prophet

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THE BEAST FROM THE EARTHThen I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 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. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 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. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:11-18)

Coming Out of the Earth, the Third Person of the Unholy Trinity – This second beast (apparently the one referred to as “the false prophet” in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10) will be
a creature of the earth. Some have taken this as a specific reference to the Promised Land and have argued that he will therefore be a Jew. There is no direct support for this in the context, as the word for earth is the general word referring to the entire world. While his nationality and geographic origin are not specifically indicated(1) the symbolism appears to indicate that he will emerge from a specific society that is civilized, consolidated, and ordered, and still in possession of its own culture. This contrasts with the anti-Christ who emerges from the sea, symbolic of the variety of peoples (melting pot) out of which this final world power and its several kingdoms will also emerge.(2)

Horns Like a Lamb, Spoke Like a Dragon – The second beast will have two horns like a lamb, but will speak like a dragon (i.e., like Satan). The imagery of the horns suggests that the false prophet will have authority, but the absence of a crown may be an indication that his authority will not be political. Jesus warned that there would be false prophets (Matthew 24:11, 24), and this one will be the greatest (worst) of them all. He will have the appearance of a lamb but the voice of the dragon (a grand deceiver). The entire world will listen to him (at least initially).(3) From this it is conjectured that he will be a religious character whose role is to support the political ruler who is the anti-Christ. He will have great authority, apparently derived from Satan and the anti-Christ, and will make the earth and its inhabitants worship the anti-Christ. The three (dragon, beast of the sea, beast out of the earth) will be an imitation of the divine Trinity. While Satan (the dragon) seeks to take the place of God the Father and the anti-Christ (beast out of the sea) seeks to take the place of Jesus Christ, the Son, the false prophet (the beast out of the land), appears to have a role that is similar to the Holy Spirit. This is Satan’s final attempt to substitute a false religion for true faith in Christ.(4)

His Role – One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ and lead people to trust and worship Him (John 16:7–15). The false prophet will point to the anti-Christ and his image and compel people to worship Satan through the anti-Christ.(5) The false prophet acts as his spokesman, using miraculous powers to force men to worship Satan and the anti-Christ. He kills all who refuse to worship the anti-Christ and forces “everyone, small and great … 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).(6)

Great and Miraculous Signs – When Jesus ministered on earth, the Jewish leaders often asked Him to perform some sign to prove that He was indeed their Messiah. Jesus refused. But the false prophet will perform deceptive signs that will lead the world into devil-worship (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Energized by Satan, he will perform his lying wonders and even duplicate some of the signs performed by the two witnesses (Revelation 13:13; 11:5). Up to this point, the two witnesses have been ministering at the temple in Jerusalem, but the anti-Christ will slay them and take over the temple. When God raises the two witnesses from the dead and takes them to heaven, the false prophet will answer that challenge by giving life to an image of the anti-Christ. Not only will the image move, but it will speak.(7) Calling fire from heaven was a miracle and that Elijah performed and that the false prophet mimics. These appear to be more than mere tricks, but miracles of demonic origin, like those of the Egyptian magicians. They are calculated to deceive the masses and are the working (Greek, ‘energy’) of Satan.(8)

Image of the Beast – Some see this as the “the abomination of desolation” mentioned by Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 11:36), Jesus (Matthew 24:15), and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:4). If so, it will be an image of “the beast of the sea,” set up in the temple in Jerusalem. An idol is bad enough; but setting it up in the temple (“where it does not belong”) would be the height of all blasphemy. Since Satan could not command worship in heaven, he will go to the next best place—the Holy of holies, in the Holy temple, in the Holy City (see Daniel 8:9–14).(9)

Mark of the Beast – Not content to just control people through religious deceit, the false prophet will institute strong economic measures as well. Everybody except believers (Revelation 20:4) will receive a special mark, or they will be unable to buy or sell. The only way to get the mark will be to submit to the anti-Christ and worship him. This is a strong allusion to the Caesar worship practiced in the Roman Empire, and used by various political leaders throughout history. This special mark is the name or number of the beast – the mystical 666.(10)

In the ancient world, the letters of the alphabet were used for numbers, in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Bible scholars have attempted for years to unravel the mystery of this name and number. If you work at it long enough and hard enough, almost any name can be made to fit.

Since man was created on the sixth day, six is the number of man. Seven is the number of perfection and fullness, but six is the human number, a number just short of perfection. The satanic “trinity” cannot claim the number seven, so it must settle for a trinity of six, 666. Despite all man’s imaginative calculations, no one knows the meaning of this number and name. No doubt believers on earth at that time will understand it clearly.(11)

For those looking for a symbolic meaning, as opposed to a specific person, the Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666. Balaam is seen as a type of the false prophet. Like Balaam, he will possess high spiritual knowledge perverted to satanic ends.(12)

In recent years, we have seen a worldwide explosion in the use of numbers (the digital age). In the United States, for example, a person’s Social Security number is indispensable. In fact, numbers are more important to computers than names. The universal language of the world is binary. Perhaps this is an advance warning of what will happen on earth when “the beast” is in control.(13) The “mark” of the beast is in contrast to the seal (Revelation 7:3–4) and the name of the Lamb and the Father (Revelation 14:1) on the foreheads of the 144,000. Since 1 John 2:18 states that “many antichrists have come” (i.e., as foreshadowing the ultimate anti-Christ figure), there may be some marginal usefulness in noting that names like Nero and Hitler, which can be shown to have a numerological value of 666 by assigning a numerical value to each letter of the alphabet. However, it is wise to realize that such a numerological calculation for the ultimate end-time anti-Christ may only be clear as the actual events unfold.(14)

Revelation 13 gives us considerable insight into the nature of the Great Tribulation. It will be a time of one world government, a one world religion, and a one world economic system controlled by the unholy trinity. Those who will resist the ruler and refuse to worship him will be subject to execution, and the martyrs may outnumber the believers who survive. It will be Satan’s final and ultimate attempt to cause the world to worship him and to turn them from the worship of the true God and Jesus Christ as their Savior.(15)

Up Next – The Lamb.

__________________________

References

  1. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 962). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 583). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 962). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 1081). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 584). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  12. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 584). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  13. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 606). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  14. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1905). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  15. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 963). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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