The False Prophet – Revelation 13:11-18

 

In his book, Because the time is near, John MacArthur writes, “Just as the false christs who have plagued mankind will culminate in the final Antichrist, so also will the false prophets culminate in a final false prophet. He will be Satan’s last and most powerful lying deceiver. Along with Satan, the counterfeit of the Father, and Antichrist, the counterfeit of Jesus Christ, the false prophet will form the satanic false trinity. He will be the counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. The false prophet will be the Antichrist’s partner in Satan’s massive final deception of the world.”[1] Here in the last part of Revelation chapter three, we see three basic things about this final false prophet.

Who He is. John describes his vision of the false prophet in verse 11. And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”[2]  This second beast of Revelation 13 will come up out of the earth. The first beast, the antichrist, came up out of the sea. Both men are demonically possessed and have great powers. It is interesting how the false prophet is described as being a beast, a lamb, and a dragon. One commentary says, “out of society civilized, consolidated, and ordered, but still, with all its culture, of earth earthy: as distinguished from “the sea,” the troubled agitations of various peoples out of which the world power and its several kingdoms have emerged. “The sacerdotal persecuting power, pagan and Christian; the pagan priesthood making an image of the emperors which they compelled Christians to worship, and working wonders by magic and omens; the Romish priesthood, the inheritors of pagan rites, images, and superstitions, lamb-like in Christian professions, dragon-like in word and act” [Alford, and so the Spanish Jesuit, Lacunza, writing under the name Ben Ezra]. As the first beast was like the Lamb in being, as it were, wounded to death, so the second is like the Lamb in having two lamb-like horns (its essential difference from the Lamb is marked by its having two, but the Lamb seven horns, Rev 5:6). The former paganism of the world power, seeming to be wounded to death by Christianity, revives. In its second beast-form it is Christianized heathendom ministering to the former, and having earthly culture and learning to recommend it.” [3] Here we have a leader who unites the world’s religions and seemingly merges Christianity and paganism. The false prophet will be a very powerful leader who is well respected. He is gentle like a lamb. He is seemingly loving, caring, and compassionate. He is persuasive and soft-spoken. He is good at capturing an audience and causing people to be in awe of him. The whole world respects him. When I think of what religion in the world today that has both elements of Christianity and paganism, I think of the Roman Catholic Church. When I think of a gentle and loving leader that all the world in enamored by, I think of the Pope. Though I cannot be very dogmatic on this point, it is my personal opinion that whoever the Pope is during the tribulation period, will be the false prophet. It seems to fit perfectly. Who else could unite the world’s religions other than the Pope? What world-wide organization has both elements of Christianity and paganism, other than the Catholic Church? To me, personally, it is obvious that the Pope will be the false prophet seen Revelation 13.

The power of the false prophet. In verses 12-14 we see the power that the false prophet has. “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” [4] Possessed by a demon, the false prophet will have amazing powers. He will perform many miraculous signs in order to deceive the people into worshipping the Antichrist. “Magicians do these things, by the aid of the apostate angels, even to this day. He shall cause also that a golden image of Antichrist shall be placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and that the apostate angel should enter, and thence utter voices and oracles.” [5] Deception by the performing of amazing feats is nothing new. Such a practice will culminate in the false prophet and he will perform things in such a way that will cause the whole unbelieving world to be in awe of his power in such a way that they will do anything he says.

The plan of the false prophet. The false prophet initiates a program that we have come to know as the mark of the beast. This is seen in verses 15-18.  “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” [6] Here we find that infamous mark of the beast. It is interesting to note that the mark of the beast is not implemented until the last half of the tribulation period. Therefore, such a program of not being allowed to buy or sell without the mark is fairly short lived. “The members of this Church of the Beast shall recognize each other, and accordingly consign to social death those who are unmarked, not simply excommunicating them, but also civilly outlawing them.”[7] It is interesting that the ability to control the world’s population and regulate who can buy or sell is certainly available today. With the rise of micro-chip and biological technology the idea of one man having such control is certainly valid.

It is interesting that in describing the number of the beast, he mentions that ‘here is wisdom.’ Lange points out, “The wisdom of God, like the wisdom of men, relates to the ends and aims of life. Hence Christianity, towards the end of the world, is more and more a vocation to wisdom, to the trying of spirits, especially to the recognition of the signs of the Antichristian spirit. Herein wisdom must show itself (see Synop. View). Wisdom, however, is to be learned in learning to calculate the number of the Beast.”[8] It is very difficult to understand the meaning of this number. Weirsbe writes, “This special mark is the name or number of “the beast”—the mystical 666. In the ancient world, the letters of the alphabet were used for numbers, both in Greek and Hebrew; and Bible students have been attempting for years to unravel the mystery of this name and number. If you work at it hard enough, almost any name will fit! Since man was created on the sixth day, six is the number of man. Creation was made for man and likewise has the number six stamped on it: twenty-four hours to a day (×), twelve months to a year (×). Seven is the number of perfection and fullness, but six is the “human number,” just short of perfection. Despite all man’s imaginative calculations, we must confess that no one knows the meaning of this number and name. No doubt believers on earth at that time will understand it clearly. The “satanic trinity” cannot claim the number seven; it must settle for 666. This much is sure: in recent years, we have seen a worldwide increase in the use of numbers for identification. In the United States, a person’s Social Security number is indispensable. In fact, numbers are more important to computers than names! Perhaps this is an advance warning of what will happen on earth when “the beast” is in control.”[9]

The spirit of the Antichrist and the false prophet is certainly alive and well today. As believer’s living in this age, we must be careful to keep ourselves from falling prey to this world’s system. Now, more than ever, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. We must be aware of the signs of the times and be careful that we are not deceived by the spirit of Antichrist that is in our world today. “An antichristian system pervades our world, and true believers must not be a part of it (1 John 2:15–17). We must shun false worship (1 Cor. 10:14–22), that we may be found faithful to the Lord in these last days! (2 Tim. 3)”[10]

 

 

[1] MacArthur, John. Because the time it near. p. 220-221

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 13:11). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Re 13:11). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 13:12–14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] Victorinus of Pettau. (1886). Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), R. E. Wallis (Trans.), Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies (Vol. 7, p. 357). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 13:15–18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 271). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 271). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[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.

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