They say when you have a brush with death your life flashes before your eyes.
Read Revelation 19:11-21
They say when you have a brush with death your life flashes before your eyes. I wonder as the False Prophet is careening through the air towards the Lake of Fire, having been flung like trash by the hands of angels, if he will have his life flash before his eyes. Will he remember his mother’s love when he was a child? Will he remember his first day of school? Will he remember the moment he realized how much he hated God? Will he remember his wedding day? The day of his first child’s birth? His first encounter with the Antichrist? What will go through his mind as he is hurled to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth?
That is the way the False Prophet’s career will end. But while in his prime he will lead the greatest deception in human history. He will be the High Priest of Antichrist’s society leading people to worship Antichrist. Second Timothy 3 describes the apostate Christian religion, the counterfeit Christian religion that will emerge in the last days as “having a form of godliness but denying its power”. The fake Christian religion will look outwardly and sound by vocabulary very similar to the real religion. But, it will only be a form, an imitation. Why? Because the fake Christianity will deny its power. What does that mean? Deny the power that makes the true Christianity true. What is that power: It is the Gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of salvation…” Christianity is the religion of salvation by grace, salvation that is afforded through the substitutionary death of the Son of God, salvation by faith in the Jesus. If you have everything else about Christianity but you don’t have that you don’t have Christianity.
This week we look more at the False Prophet in the prime of his life.
#2: He Compels the World to Worship Antichrist (v12)
Secondly we learn the False Prophet will compel the world to worship the Antichrist. Notice verse 12, “….”
After His resurrection Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Within the artificial-trinity we also see delegation of authority. Satan gives his authority to Antichrist (v3), and, Satan also gives authority to his high priest the false prophet. But that authority has a purpose: Satan designs that the false prophet points the world to worship Antichrist and in worshipping Antichrist the world will be pointed to worship Satan.
This is the same order within the True Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s purpose is to point people to Jesus Christ, and Jesus leads people to God the Father. Satan’s program to completely imitate God is actually meant to replace God and divert glory away from God and towards himself.
We have a modern day sneak preview of how this might look. Over in North Korea there is what is known as the cult of the Kims. It is the forced worship of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and his deceased father Kim Jong Il. The UN has listed North Korea as one of the worst abusers of human rights in the whole world. The labor camps, tortures, and executions are predicated on a doctrine of no dissent. Freedom of thought, speech, conscience and dissent are American values but not in North Korea. A ubiquitous spy program keeps people quiet about any criticism of the country’s leader. Husbands don’t express private concerns to wives or children because one never knows if his own household would turn him in. To maintain this dictatorial control of society requires absolute control and deification of the dictator. No one has access to information outside of that which is approved and disseminated by the State. But it gets interesting when you see how the Kim’s are promoted. Paternally called “Eternal Father” or “Dear Leader” indoctrinates the public with a childlike adoration for their fatherly leader. Enormous friendly bronze statues of the two Kim’s are found in major cities throughout the country. The official biography of the now deceased Kim Jong Il is particularly fanciful. When he was born a new star was born in the sky. When in college he wrote 1500 books and 6 operas, which “are better than any other music in history”. The first time he played golf he scored 38 under par with an astonishing 11 holes in one. One defector remembered how the rationed milk would arrive at the door with the reminder that this has come from the Gracious Father, Kim Jong Il. Officially atheist, North Korea has its god nonetheless.
Imagine such coerced worship and adoration for one man extending beyond this island and on a global scale. You get an idea of the end of days worship of Antichrist led by the False Prophet.
#3: He will Perform Miracles (v13)
One way is that he will perform miracles, notice verse 13, “…”
Miracles historically are powerful confirmations that the person performing them has powers beyond the natural world. A miracle is a super-normal event. It is something that happens that does not follow the laws of nature. Something or someone more powerful than the laws of nature interrupt the laws of nature, or, manipulated the laws of nature. You and I can’t do that. Beings that transcend this realm do that. Some force, or some being is available to this human enabling them to do incredible things.
Nicodemus knew Jesus was from God precisely because He was doing miracles – and Nic’ knew Jesus couldn’t do the things He were doing unless God were doing them through Him. The sorcerers of Pharaoh’s court did miracles that Moses did, but, not all of them. God proved in that contest to be greater than any supernatural demonic power they could tap into. That’s why after all the Egyptian first born males were killed by God they didn’t turn around and have all the first born-males in Israel killed – they couldn’t match that one. Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9-11 was performing miracles by his magic and people followed him thinking that “the Great Power” was with him.
When the Antichrist comes on the scene at the end of the world his right-hand man the false prophet will do many miracles to convince the world that he wields the power of God. But, his ability to perform miracles will not be by God, but by the power of Satan. Revelation 13:2b and 12 tell us his power comes from Satan. Second Thessalonians 2:9 says, “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.”
It may even be that the apparent resurrection of the Antichrist will be a miracle claimed by the False Prophet. He may be the means by which Antichrist comes back from the dead. Either way, many many supernatural occurrences are going to be happening through the false prophet. And the power to do miracles is going to validate him in the eyes of the world. Furthermore, by his miracles he will take the attention of the world captive and channel everyone’s amazement into worshipping Antichrist.
Application: DO NOT BE TRICKED BY MIRACLES.
#4: He will Make and Image of the Antichrist and Make Everyone Bow to it (v14-15)
Fourthly, the false prophet will make an image of Antichrist, and make everyone bow down to it. Notice verses 14 and 15, “…”
Nebuchadnezzar had an image of himself made as well. He made people worship it or face a horrible death. So too Antichrist will have an image, constructed by orders of the False Prophet. We can note 4 points about this image:
This image will be demanded. Verse 14 says the false prophet had power and authority and he uses it to demand that the people make an image.
The thing is everyone will be all to willing to carry this order out. The False Prophet will be carrying the world’s admiration for Antichrist to its logical next phase: worship. It will be an order the world will be more than eager to carry out.
This image will be a deception. Leading the people to worship the Antichrist means directing people away from the true Christ. This is the greatest deception. This is the very ambition of Satan vicariously accomplished through his two men: to rob God’s worship.
Another deception is the false prophets ability to give breath to the image and give it the ability to speak, verse 15a, “…” Could this be a technological trick or an actual supernatural power? I tend to think a supernatural power will be at work through the image.
This image will require devotion. The false prophet will order the people of the earth to make an image of him, then, force everyone to bow to it in worship. This image will most probably be placed in the Jewish Temple, thus becoming “the abomination of desolation” Daniel and Jesus spoke of. It will be the crowning act of blasphemy on earth: the false Christ sitting in the Jewish Temple where the true God is supposed to be worshipped, demanding people bow down to his image that he has set up within it. It is a big “in your face God” act.
This image will be deadly. Anyone who refuses to worship Antichrist or the image of antichrist will be killed. During the days of Rome Christians were killed by the thousands. The reason? Because citizens of Rome were told to take a pinch of salt and offer it on a pagan altar in honor Caesar as a deity to worship. It was part of the Caesar cult of the day, worshipping Caesar as a god. Just a pinch of salt. That’s it! And you get to live! But Christians refused and an assembly line of martyrs formed into the thousands.
Just worship the image of Antichrist. Bend your knee. Hail the Beast! And then go on with your day. You get to live! If not, this is your last day on earth.
#5: The Mark of the Beast (v16-18)
Lastly we see the mark of the beast in verses 16-18, “…”
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, powerful or weak, a big-shot or a nobody. You will be forced to take the mark of the beast. You will be forcibly brought into subjection to the system of the Antichrist. His totalitarian government is increasing. His domination of all areas of society is happening. You are not your own. You belong to him. You must worship him. You must bear his mark on your hand or your head.
But the next chapter makes clear however that anyone who takes the mark of the beast to avoid persecution, ostracization and difficulty will face the wrath of God. Turn to Revelation 14:9-11.
It is interesting to see the technological developments today that may be leading towards such an end-time scenario. I read an article 2 weeks ago titled: “Dawn of the bionic age: body hackers let chips get under their skin”
Defcon 2017 was a gathering of IT professionals and hackers from all over the world. One group of such people call themselves “grinders” who are trying to increase the use of technology by implanting chips into their bodies. Why would someone want to do this? Well, convenience. If you think about it that’s the idea of technology: to make life easier. A subdermal chip the size of a grain of rice can replace everything in your wallet. The article says “Ever so slowly, a trend that began in the hacker community is moving toward the mainstream. A Wisconsin firm that specializes in designing company break rooms, Three Square Market, announced last month that it was offering implanted chips to all its employees. The chips will allow employees to “make purchases in the company’s break room market, open doors, log in to computers, use copy machines, among other things,” it said in a statement. It can emulate every card in your wallet, so you can chuck your wallet away.”
Another person said they don’t need their train tickets because all they have to do is waive their micro-chipped hand at the ticket counter and they instantly are paid and passed to get on board.
But the reasoning to get a micro-chip goes beyond convenience and into the hope of human potential. One grinder said “its about breaking through and wanting to be more than biology offered you.” Much discussion at Defcon revolved around the ability to enhance human senses “They await the day when microchips give humans the ability for echolocation, and to see infrared and ultraviolet light, enhance the capacity to smell, sense direction, even feel vibrations that reveal movement in the stock market.
I can hear the false prophet now, “take the mark on your hand or your head. You don’t need to try to keep track of your wallet or your id card. It will be so much more convenient. It will enhance your human senses and performance. And, don’t forget, we control the resources and if you want to buy or sell you have to worship us by taking the mark.”
Many great people have speculated on the meaning of the number of the beast. JB Phillips
Learn to discern rather than decode. Biblically discern good from evil, truth from lies rather than getting swept up in Biblical numerology. It is far more important for you to be able to detect the spirit of the age than it is for you to detect the identity of the Antichrist.
Remember that we live by faith, not by sight. We don’t need images because our God is invisible and He prohibits it anyway. Anyone telling you to bow to an image is an antichrist.
Be easily persuaded to worship God and the Lamb. The false prophet is going to compel people to worship the antichrist. We should be easily motivated to worship the true Christ. If someone tries to turn you from sin in your life then be easily turned. If you’re being led back to church then run there! It should take but the force of a feather to renew in us a desire to worship our Lord Jesus Christ.