Do you like to play the “who would win?” game? Who would win: Godzilla or King Kong? Alexander the Great and his army or Genghis Khan and his? Mike Tyson or a heavy weight version of Floyd Mayweather?
You can do it with the Bible too: Samson or Goliath? Even in our own church: Dave Young or Rob Zuidema?!
The Who Would Win Game feeds into our fascination with greatness. Who’s the best? Who’s the greatest? Who would win?
When it comes to winning and power there will be no one to compete with the beast that will rise up at the end of the age. The beast is the last world empire before Jesus returns, headed by the infamous man of Satan: Antichrist. Last week we explored the appearance of the beast, today we are examining the power of the beast.
The Beast’s Power is Satanic (v2b)
The beast’s power will be derived from Satan, as we see in 2b, “The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.” Daniel 8:24 says of the Antichrist, “He will become very strong, but not by his own power.” Antichrist is going to be the most powerful man in history because Satan will make him so.
In order to understand what Satan is giving the beast in terms of power you must realize what kind of power Satan has. He is the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Eph. 2:2), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of this world (John 14:30). He controls the whole world (1 John 5:19) and has the nations under his authority (Math. 4:8-9).
Think about this: the material world we live in is subject to the spiritual world. Much of the conflict over in the spiritual world animates the material world. Men do not come to power on their own. Nations do not achieve prominence by themselves. It is the power of this unseen world behind the powers on earth.
This is not a strange idea outside of Scripture. Man has always known his ascendency is somehow the result of spiritual forces. All over the world throughout history kings have claimed their authority to rule was the will of God or the gods. In East Asia it is called the Mandate of Heaven. In Europe it is Divine Right. In ancient Egypt Pharaoh was not just the king by divine will, but, he was believed to be a god himself.
Antichrist will be no different. His rule will be authorized by Satan. He will reach the pinnacle of human power by the arm of the devil. The Antichrist will be human but the force coming through him will not be. The beast will be the vicarious operation of Satan. Second Thessalonians 2:9 tells us this, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles signs and wonders.” Satan himself will be the power of Antichrist
The Beast’s Power of Resurrection (v3)
Another way we see the power of the Beast is in his seeming resurrection. Notice verse 3. We see reference to his wound and recovery in verses 12 and 14 also. This also seems to be what is meant over in 17:8 and 11.
Pay close attention to the effort Satan is going through to imitate Jesus Christ here. He wants to set up his own “king of kings and lord of lords” over the world. Just like the real Christ, his imitation christ will do miracles and signs and wonders (v.13; Mth. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9). And, to really make the fraud successful, he will have an imitation resurrection. Remember Jesus began the book of Revelation in chapter 1 by saying, “I was dead and now I am alive”. Antichrist is going to imitate that.
When is this resurrection going to occur? Well, it seems most logical to place it at the halfway point of the Tribulation. By the deceiving power of Satan he is going to appear to be resurrected from the dead. Now, remember too that around this time he is going to kill the two witnesses. Both his resurrection and his elimination of the two witnesses will instantly make Antichrist a global sensation. The world will worship him.
Application: Do not look for miracles, signs and wonders. Satan can do them too. He has always done them (Egyptian sorcerers with Moses), he does them today (TV Preachers), and he will do his greatest feats through the antichrist (2 Thess. 2:8-9). Our faith is not validated by miracles, signs and wonders. Our faith is in the word of God and what God said. This is the faith once for all handed down to the saints. This is the good deposit given to us. This is the substance, content of our faith.
The Beast’s Power is Militaristic (v7)
Thirdly, the Beast’s power will be militaristic. Notice verse 7, “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe people, language and nations.”
With the fury of viking berserkers, and conquering like the mongols, antichrist will direct the most ferocious army in human history.
Any study of the antichrist will impress us with the overwhelming power of his military career. That career will crush a variety of opponents. Here we are told he will conquer the saints. This is consistent with what we read in Daniel 7:21, “As I watched, this horn [Antichrist] was waging war against the saints and defeating them”. Daniel 7:25 tells us it is by God’s will that he succeeds against the saints , “He [Antichrist] will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.” Daniel 8:24 says, “He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.” Remember that the previous chapter of Revelation ended with Satan pursuing all the remaining people who stand with Jesus Christ. Antichrist’s military campaign will crush the saints. Most are going to die as martyrs. The success of this persecution will be so great that unless God intervenes every saint – down to the very last one – will be wiped off the earth. This is what Jesus says in Matthew 24:22, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
Antichrist’s military power will be directed at others as well. Revelation 13:7 also says, “And he was given authority over every tribe people, language and nations.” Much of that authority will be gained by force. Daniel 7:7, 19 and 23 describes the kingdom of the antichrist as an unstoppable force of destruction on a global scale.
Daniel 7:8, 20, 24 tells us about the little horn that uprooted 3 of the 10 horns on the beast. This is a reference to Antichrist’s successful conquest over 3 kings. These 3 kings are part of the 10 king alliance at the end of the age. These 10 kings are said to receive power along with the beast (Rev. 17:12-13).
Then, 3 of them we learn are will be conquered by the antichrist. Why? What happens? Well, in Revelation 17:13 and 14 we learn the whole purpose of their kingdoms is to give their power to the beast so that they can all form an alliance against the lamb. Perhaps there is some resistance by some or all of these kings, who like having their power but don’t necessarily want to be subjugated to the kingdom of the antichrist. They like their independence, which threatens the overall strength of the 10 kingdom alliance.
This could be part of the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue with 10 toes (Dan. 2:41-44). Daniel interpreted the vision for king Nebuchadnezzar and told him that the 10 toes would be made partly of iron and partly of clay. The meaning of that was 10 toes represented 10 kings, and some of them would be weak (clay) and some would be strong (iron). Perhaps it is the clay (weak) kings in this alliance that are reluctant to join in the campaign of the antichrist against the Lamb. In order to “persuade” the 10 kings it may be that the antichrist takes over 3 of the kings and assimilates them into his kingdom, then, having made an example out of them the other 7 fall in line.
The point of all of this is that the Antichrist’s power is going to be matched by no one. Daniel 8:23-24 summarizes his power perfectly, “…”
The Beast’s Power is Temporary (v5)
For all the beast’s power we learn that it is ultimately terminal. Notice Revelation 13:5, “…”
Antichrist will have this unmatched power for 42 months, which is the same timeframe the Gentiles will trample on the city of Jerusalem (11:3). It is also the same timeframe the Jews will be running for their lives and hiding from the Antichrist, 1260 days (12:6). It is the time described as “a time, times and half a time” meaning 1 year, 2 years and ½ a year, totalling 3 ½ years. Daniel 7:25 says “The saints will be handed over to him [Antichrist] for a time, times and half a time.” Daniel 12:11 says the same thing, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”
Here’s the point: as soon as Antichrist turns on the Jews and sets himself up to be God in the Jewish Temple his clock starts. By God’s sovereign permission he will run rampant, driven by Satan’s own malevolence. But it will come to a spectacular end. Antichrist will rise by a power beyond this world, but, his demise will be by an even higher power – the very hand of of God Himself.
Think about how matter of factly the Bible describes the end of Antichrist’s life. Daniel 7:11, “I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire.” Or Daniel 7:26, “Then the court [of heaven] will sit and his [antichrist] power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.” Or Daniel 8:25, “Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human hands.” Or Daniel 11:45, “Yet he will come to his end and no one will help him.” John adds to Daniel later in Revelation 19:20 when it says, “The two of them [the antichrist and the false prophet] were thrown alive into the lake of fire.”
This means several things. First is that God is sovereign. Yes, He allows evil to run rampant. But not forever. Evil will be brought to a final end. We must remember it is temporary. It is not a sign the world is out of control but it is all under the Lord’s control. He controls the severity and the duration of evil’s extent.
Take-Away #1: I want you to hate more. Hate evil. A revulsion for evil reflects a soul that loves righteousness. And God loves a soul like that. It will keep you on the righteous path too.
Take-Away #2: Remember all evil is temporary. The righteous will endure forever. When the dust settles at the end of the age it will only be those who are righteous alive.
Take-Away #3: No power – none – can begin to compete with the power of God.