The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 99

The False Prophet

     The sign of the dragon and the beast now veers to another aspect and wicked personage, the third member of the infernal trinity.  In an evil parody of the Holy Spirit, who glorifies Christ (John 16:14), this third personage seeks to cause men to worship the beast, who has received his authority from the dragon.  Although he is not identified by this name here (at this point he is merely called the “beast coming up out of the earth”) he is three times later in Revelation called “the false prophet,” and is directly associated with the beast and the dragon (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

Revelation 13:11.     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.

     John sees another (that is, “another of the same type”) beast (Greek therion, “dangerous beast”) arising from the earth, instead of from the sea like the first beast.  Since the first beast is a man, so is the second, but their backgrounds are different.  As noted previously, “the sea” probably refers to the Mediterranean, the implication being that the first beast comes from one of the Mediterranean kingdoms.  In fact, Daniel 9:27 suggests that he comes from the people of the ancient Roman empire, possibly a direct descendant of the Romans.  By the same token, the second beast must come from somewhere in the great land masses outside the Mediterranean nations, but we apparently have no other clue to his origin.

     There has been much speculation as to the identity of this second beast.  Since he is later called the false prophet, he apparently first comes to world attention as a miracle-working religious leader, professing to convey supernaturally inspired messages to mankind.  His “prophecies,” of course, are not from God but from Satan, though it may well be that he will first become known (possibly before the tribulation) as a man supposedly receiving messages from God.  He professes to be a true prophet but is in reality a false prophet.  Jesus warned of false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:24) in the great tribulation, and these two (the Antichrist and the false prophet) are the very prototypes of these two classes of deceivers.

     Actually the term “antichrist” occurs only in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18; 4:3; 2 John 7) and is applied to anyone who deceives men by professing to serve God while at the same time denying the supernatural incarnation and the divine/human nature of Christ.  However, the concept of “the Antichrist” does occur often in both ancient and modern Christian literature, usually referring to the great antichristian world dictator of these last days.  The second beast is interpreted by some writers (as Scofield, in his reference Bible) as the Antichrist, but this seems arbitrary.  In any case, John calls them the beast and the false prophet here in Revelation and it does seem significant that he, as the author of the only New Testament verses in which the term “antichrist” is used, does not apply it in Revelation to either of these men.  He had already, in fact, said that anyone who denied the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh is “the antichrist” (the definite article is used this way in the 2 John reference).

     This second beast is clearly a religious spokesman of some kind and possibly he is the leader of the world religious system as it will culminate in the last days, coming into its ultimate character as the great harlot of Revelation 17.

     The modern ecumenical movement, active first among apostate Protestant churches in the first half of the twentieth century, then essentially combining (or at least fellowshiping) with the Catholic and Orthodox churches in the second half of the twentieth century, will eventually amalgamate with all other world religions, especially after the departure of all true churches to be with Christ.

     This second beast, or false prophet, will most likely emerge as the patriarch (or pope, or ayatollah, or guru or, more likely, simply “prophet”) of this universal religion.  He will originally counterfeit the gentle character of Christ (“two horns like a lamb”), but his “inspired” words will be those of Satan, the old dragon.  First they will be sweetly deceptive words, soon they will become deadly, tyrannical, dragon words.

Revelation 13:12.     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.  

     The two Satan-empowered men had somehow become allies, probably at some time before the actual onset of the tribulation period.  The alliance of religion and state has a long and sad record of despotism and suppression, but the ecclesiopolitical union of these two human beasts will culminate in the worst period of persecution in the history of the world.

     By the time the political power of the first beast is reaching its zenith, the syncretistic religious union of world religions is also being concentrated under control of the second beast.  Each leader assists and supports the other, the king enforcing the religious authority of the prophet and the prophet persuading the world’s superstitious masses that the king should be worshiped and obeyed as a god.

     With his worldwide reputation as a miracle-working prophet already established, he will see that the remarkable pseudo-resurrection of the beast is widely publicized and idolized in every church and temple around the world as the chief argument to persuade people to acknowledge him as divine and deserving of worship.  The two will soon become an unprecedented team, working in partnership to establish universal control over all people everywhere.     

Revelation 13:13.     And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.

     The false prophet will be able to perform certain types of miracles by the power of Satan, and this will further enhance his reputation and authority.  Among these wonders will be the ability to call down fire from the sky.  Special understanding and control of atmospheric phenomena by satanic angels will probably be imparted to the false prophet to enable him to accomplish this and other miracles.

     No doubt he will exploit his ability to produce fire from heaven because this had been one phenomenon which had been used by Christ’s two witnesses to intimidate the unbelieving world for three-and-a-half years (Revelation 11:5).  Even though the beast had prevailed against them and killed them, their resurrection and rapture was known around the world, and people still feared their power.  It was important that men everywhere should see (perhaps on television) that the beast and false prophet had powers similar to those of the witnesses.

Revelation 13:14.     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.

     Thirteen times in Revelation we read about those who “dwell on the earth,” twice in this verse.  These earth-dwellers easily are subject now to satanic deception and are especially impressed by the prophet’s ability to perform miracles.

     Men through the ages have always been profoundly awed by the supernatural.  Often it is true that the more skeptical a person has been about the miracles of God the more gullible he will become when he sees a demonic miracle.  Although neither Satan nor his angels can perform miracles of creation (since only God can create), they can and do sometimes manipulate natural processes so as to produce unusual and apparently inexplicable phenomena.  Thus miracles (except for genuine miracles of creation) are not necessarily evidence of divine origin and must always be tested in relation to their purpose and fidelity to Scripture (Isaiah 8:20).

     Especially in the last days will such demon-produced miracles be abundant.  The Lord Jesus Christ warned: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).  Paul, speaking probably of this same false prophet, says his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).  His miracles are lying miracles, in that their purpose is to cause men to “believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) that the “man of sin,” with his image “sitting in the temple of God” is, as he is claiming, truly God (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4).

     Men have always been prone to idolatry, even in an age of science, desiring to see something or someone in whom they can place their trust.  When intellectuals decide that no real God exists, they replace Him by evolution.  Then, regarding man as the apex of evolution, they decide that man is God and idolize great men, worshiping at the feet of Darwin or Marx, Hitler or Stalin, Hirohito or Mao, Einstein or Schweitzer.  They erect great statues to their honor, making long pilgrimages to see their tombs or their birthplaces, paying them homage.

     This idolatrous system of evolutionary humanism will come to its climax and its ultimate culmination in the worldwide worship of the beast as the greatest of all men, the man who had conquered death and conquered the great witnesses of God and conquered the world.  He is man in perfection, the great leader for whom all mankind had been searching for thousands of years, the king who would bring universal peace, prosperity and freedom from fear of God.

     Now that the dream seems reality, and all the world is worshiping the beast and the dragon (verse 4), it seems fitting to formalize and systematize this worship.  The prophet instructs people to make or purchase small statues of the emperor and to use them in their homes as reminders of his power and beneficence.

     But all these household gods will be mere replicas of the great prototype image of the beast, an image which, like the great image of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:31; 3:1) will be set up in the most strategic place possible, symbolizing man in all his perfection, the most fitting object conceivable for humanistic worship of all men everywhere.

     The establishment of this worldwide system of humanistic idolatry has at least two purposes: (1) satisfaction of the immense ego of the man of sin (the sin of pride is the sin of the devil, the root sin of all sin, and the man of sin will certainly be a man of pride); (2) consolidation of his rule by causing people to accept him as a god as well as king.

     The great act of blasphemy was prophesied long ago by Daniel.  “And he [that is, the prince that shall come] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [that is, shall make a seven-year treaty with the Jews allowing them to reestablish their temple and ancient system of worship]: and in the midst of the week [that is, at the midpoint of the seven-year treaty period] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [break the treaty, terminating the sacrifices and worship ceremonies], and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27).

     The word “overspreading” here is the usual Hebrew word for “wings,” commonly used for the overspreading wings of the cherubims, as they hovered over the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple.  But now, instead of cherub wings, there will, in this holy place, be established the overspread arms of the great image of the man of sin.  The term “abominations” means the worst types of crimes and pollutions men can commit, and is often in Scripture applied to the making and worship of idols.  The prophecy thus anticipates the unspeakable blasphemy of making the temple and its holy place a “desolation” (the same word is used for “astonishment”), emptying it of its sacred furniture and true worshipers, and installing in their place a hulking statue of the beast to which all must bow.

     The Lord Jesus Christ also referred to this coming event: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: . . . For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15-21).

     This is undoubtedly also the event about which Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4).

     The military and political might of the first beast is thus exploited by the religious cunning and wonder-working capabilities of the second beast.  When the image is set up in the holy place, the temple is soon emptied of its worshipers and the Israelite remnant will flee into the wilderness (Revelation 11:2; 12:6), but most of the earth-dwellers will quickly be obediently worshiping the great man of sin and the devil himself.

Revelation 13:15.     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.

     The false prophet next performs perhaps the greatest of all his feats of magic.  Soon after the image is carved and installed in the temple, the image begins to speak.

     This image is more then a mere robot with a computer voice.  That would be no great marvel today, with all the accomplishments of automation and kinemetronics (or audio-animatronics).  Millions of people have observed an image of Abraham Lincoln move and “speak” at Disneyland, but they were hardly moved to bow down in worship of his image.

     The image of the man of sin will speak intelligibly and his words will not be preprogrammed.  He will issue commands, among them the command to slay all who do not worship him.  Those who observe this remarkable phenomenon, whether in person at Jerusalem or on another side of the world by television, will be convinced the image is really speaking of its own volition.

     It does not actually possess life, of course (only God can create life).  The word in the Greek is pneuma, meaning “spirit” or “wind.”  The false prophet is enabled (by his own master, Satan) to impart a spirit to the image, but the spirit is one of Satan’s unclean spirits, probably a highly placed demon in the satanic hierarchy.  This is a striking case of demon possession, with the demon possessing the body of the image rather than that of a man or woman.  And, just as the evil spirit possessing a human being can use the vocal chords of that person to convey his own messages, so the spirit indwelling the image of the beast will utilize the complex “audio-animatronics” apparatus with which it will be equipped to convey Satan’s messages.  Possibly these will be relayed worldwide to receivers in the individual household replicas of the image so that everyone can hear the beast speaking.

     Whether this is the exact means Satan will use remains to be seen, but the prophecy is entirely plausible in any case.  In some way, the edict will be conveyed around th world that it will be considered a capital offense not to worship the beast via his image, and the dragon via the beast.  It would also be feasible to have monitors installed in every home to feed information back to a centralized network of computers recording whether or not such worship is actually being rendered as well as any other information desired by the vast intelligence network of the beast.

Revelation 13:16.     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. 

     In order better to control the activities of the people of his vast dominion, each person is required to register and to receive a brand which will identify him as a loyal citizen of the world kingdom.  This registration is intended to be absolutely universal, although one can imagine it will be carried out only with some difficulty in the far-flung lands of Asia and Africa.  No one is exempted, no matter how wealthy or how eminent.  No doubt registration centers will be set up in every community, and people will be instructed to report for registration and marking on or before a certain date.

     The nature of the mark is not described, but the basic principle has been well established for years in various nations.  The social security card, the draft registration card, the practice of stenciling an inked design on the back of the hand, and various other devices are all forerunners of this universal branding.  The word itself (“mark”) is the Greek charagma.  It is used only in Revelation, to refer to the mark of the beast (eight times), plus one time to refer to idols “graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29).  The mark is something like an etching or a tattoo which, once inscribed, cannot be removed, providing a permanent (possibly eternal) identification as a follower of the beast and the dragon.  One may contrast this mark with the protective “seal” (Greek sphragis) provided for the servants of God on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3).  That seal is apparently the name of the Father (Revelation 14:1), and it seems the beast intends to imitate this by branding his name either on their foreheads or in their right hand.

Revelation 13:17.     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.

     As far as convenience of enforcement is concerned, an openly visible mark is obviously much superior to a wallet card or other device.  One would think that being branded would be so demeaning that widespread resentment and rebellion would hinder its implementation.  No doubt there will be much grumbling and many will refuse to report to the registration centers.  This will certainly be true of those who are still trusting in God, as they will understand the spiritual significance of this act and firmly reject such permanent identification with the beast.

    But is will be extremely difficult to survive at all without the mark.  Once the enforcement machinery is set up, no one will be able to get or hold any kind of employment, nor will he be able to conduct even a one-man sales business of any kind.  Even if he has money or other valuables stored away somewhere, he will be unable either to spend his money or sell his property.  No transaction of any kind will be legal unless all parties to the transaction can display either on their foreheads or in their right hands the mark of the beast.  If one party does not have the mark, the other will surely report him to the ubiquitous police and that will be his death sentence, for the image of the beast has decreed that all who would live must worship the beast, and worship certainly includes obedience.  Others, as enemies of the people, must die.

     There will undoubtedly be many who survive by living off the land or by setting up secret communes in the wilderness or by other means, but it will involve extreme hardship and danger.  The rural areas, with their produce and livestock, will offer the only potential havens, but the whole world will have just endured a three-and-a-half year drought (Revelation 11:3, 6) and the famines associated with the judgment of the third seal (Revelation 6:5, 6).  It is perhaps these traumatic times to which the Lord refers in Matthew 25:31-46, the so-called “judgment of the nations” (or “Gentiles”), when He will commend those who have provided help to His brethren, but will consign to everlasting punishment those who do not.

     Evidently the brand may take any one of three forms, perhaps based on certain further categories into which the emperor wishes to divide his followers – say, perhaps, military, governmental, and civilian, with different types of privileges and duties applied to each.  One group receives the mark, some peculiar design (or logo) which is appropriate for the beast, and this is probably applied to the bulk of the population.  Another group is imprinted with the beast’s own name, probably the group associated most closely with his purposes and actions.  The third group is marked with a number, that number which is peculiarly fitting both for his character and for his own name.  Unless a person can display one of these three brands, thus marking him permanently as committed to Satan, he is marked for privation and death.

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