Study 13 - The Beast and the False Prophet

20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 13 - The Beast and the False Prophet
 

The passage of Scripture dealing specifically with this study is found in Revelation 13. The first ten verses deal with "a beast", a character who will figure prominently in the Great Tribulation, the subject, of study 8. This beast emerges from "the sea", which in Biblical usage indicates that he will spring from the great mass of humanity. A. J. Pollock comments, "the sand of the sea referring to the multitudes of mankind, the sea to the unstable and revolutionary forces at work." A reference to (Rev. 17:15) will explain the type used. It will be from the chaos and confusion of the nations in the end-time that this vile personality will rise. Prof. Dwight Pentecost says that "the sea" depicts Gentile nations.

It must be understood that we are here considering events that will take place following the rapture, and during the period of Daniel's seventieth week (study 7), a period of seven years that will intervene between the rapture of the church to meet her descending Lord in the air, and His eventual appearing on the earth. This is the period generally referred to as the "Great Tribulation" (Matt. 24:21), the time when terrible judgments will strike the world immediately proceeding the coming of Christ in glory. This period will coincide with the reign of Antichrist. Whilst our Lord forewarned His own of tribulation because of truth, and those who follow Christ must be prepared to suffer for righteousness' sake, yet there are Scriptures which are "so specific and determinate that such a general and diffused interpretation cannot adequately cover them." (lan MacPherson in NEWS OF THE WORLD TO COME).

This period of tribulation was the subject of Old Testament prophecy as can be determined from many passages in such major prophets as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Indeed comments Dr. Rene Pache, "With the exception of the Apocalypse, it is the prophets of the Old Testament who announce with the most detail the period of the chastisement of the end, called by them, 'the day of the Lord'."

The Person and Performance of the First (Political) Beast

As already noted, the period of time in question is a future epoch of terrible judgment, overshadowed by a superman, a world-emperor, the Antichrist, termed in (Rev. 13:1) "a beast". The Greek word used here for beast is Therion meaning "a wild beast,". Indeed, says Samuel F. Hurnard in his exposition of Revelation, "He is fierce, overmastering, lawless. He is well named 'the beast'."

It is clear that warfare exists between God and the Dragon, the old Serpent, the Devil. This conflict began before time when Satan, once of the angelic hierarchy, sought to exalt himself above God. Since God could not tolerate a rival in His universe, he was expelled from heaven to a place of darkness. Disastrous results followed the fall of Lucifer, and then we find this fallen angel taking possession of a serpent in Eden and beguiling Eve, who in turn beguiled Adam. Thus "By one man sin entered into the world . . ." (Rom. 5:12). This antagonism continues to this present time, and according to the prophetic Scriptures will climax when Satan produces his masterpiece, the sinister and godless dictator, the Man of Sin, the Antichrist, the Beast, as the head of a revived Roman Empire, before the final revelation of Christ upon earth to reign and rule.

Let us look at Satan's counterfeit. As Jesus Christ was "the mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3 :16), "God manifest in the flesh", he will be, as the name implies, the opposite to Christ. The Rev. Samuel German in his book, THE COMING WORLD RULER, sets out the contrasts as follows: 

Christ Antichrist
Christ came down from heaven
(John 6:38)
Antichrist ascends out of the abyss
(Rev. 11:7)
Christ humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8) Antichrist exalts himself (2 Thess. 2:4)
Christ was despised and rejected of men (Isa. 53:3) Antichrist will have the world saying, "Who is like the Beast?" (Rev. 13:3, 4)
Jesus Christ glorified God on the earth (John 17:4) Antichrist will blaspheme the Name of God
(Rev. 13:6)
Jesus was the Man of Sorrows 
(Isa. 53 : 3)
Antichrist is a king of fierce countenance
(Dan. 8:23)
Christ is the Prince of Peace
(Isa. 9:6)
Antichrist is the prince that shall come as a desolater (Dan. 9:26, 27)

It is not surprising that as Christ's second coming is the subject of prophecy, so with Satan's Antichrist. Prof. Dwight Pentecost says that "the key to understand chapters seven through to twelve of Daniel's prophecy is to understand that Daniel is focusing his attention on this one great world ruler and his kingdom which will arise in the end time. And while Daniel may use historical reference and refer to events which to us may be fulfilled, Daniel is thinking of them only to give us more details about this final form of Gentile world power and its ruler who will reign on the earth." In(Daniel7) he is referred to as "the little horn", in chapter 8 as "the king of fierce countenance" and in chapter 9 as "the prince that shall come."

In (Matt. 24:15) we find Jesus Himself setting the divine imprimatur upon Daniel's prophecy, referring to this coming world ruler as "the abomination of desolation." In the setting up of this blasphemous worship of the Antichrist, the false prophet will figure largely, a point mentioned later. History confirms that Antiochus in his spite obstructed Jewish worship, defiled the altar by sacrificing a sow upon it - an abomination to the Jew, erected a statue of Jupiter in the temple, and decreed that he himself should be worshipped. In all this he was a foreshadow of the Antichrist.

In (2 Thess. 2:3, 4) he is referred to as the "man of sin". He is styled thus because "sin" will be his chief characteristic. Says one writer, "The sin of man is to find its final outcome in the man of sin." He is further referred to in this passage as "the son of perdition." Dr. A. L. Moore in his Thessalonian commentary says that this is "a further description of Antichrist which points to his destiny. The construction is a Semitism and means 'he who is destined to be destroyed'."

The title "beast" as used in (Rev. 13:1) has a composite nature, ". . . like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him power . . ." (v.2). Here we see the dominant points of the first three beasts of Daniel 7. The leopard-like body represents the strength of Greece, the feet like a bear, strong to destroy, the power of Medo-Persia; and the mouth of a lion symbolising the might of Babylon.

It seems that the picture given in (Rev. 13:1-10) suggests that the world is heading for world government which will be a projection of the revived Roman Empire, expanding eventually to the entire world. This dominion will be satanically empowered, and its principal objective will be to compel the entire world to worship the devil and his irreverent mouthpiece, the Antichrist. "The purpose of Satan to take the place of God in this future great tribulation is the motivating power behind Satan's activities today ... In the great tribulation this purpose will be transparently clear, and after its manifestation it will be brought into divine judgment." (Prof. Walvoord).

The Person and Participation of the Second (Religious) Beast

Following the appearance of the first beast, (Rev. 13:11,12) places a second beast alongside him, arising out of the earth and assuming an inferior role, yet confederate in the activities of the first beast. This "beast out of the earth" referred to in 19:20 and 20:10 as "the false prophet" is basically similar to the first and is his willing servant, equally energised from the same diabolical source (Rev. 13 : 2, 12). It is interesting to note, states Dr. Isbon T. Becwith in his commentary on Revelation that "this second beast accomplishes his work by deceit and trickery (vs. 13-15), and by the establishment of a kind of civic ostracism against the incompliant (vs. 16-17)."

Let us look at a few salient points concerning this "partner" of the Antichrist, (a) His introduction. John simply states, "I beheld another beast coming out of the earth," while Antichrist, the first beast, "rises out of the sea." It is held by a number of writers that since the sea in Biblical language refers to the Gentile world, agitated by political revolutions, the land has a symbolical reference to Palestine, although there are some who would not be dogmatic on this point. The fact that he is termed "the false prophet" would seem to suggest his influential infiltration into the religious sphere, (b) His description. One cannot help but be intrigued with the Biblical portrait of this religious beast. He will have the appearance of a lamb, this being a caricature of the Lord Jesus Christ, while at the same time possessing the trickery and truculence of the devil. The same use of the Greek Therion for "beast" and the Greek Allo "another", meaning "one like in kind", would suggest similarity in nature to the first beast, while speaking as a dragon bespeaks motivation by the power of the Dragon, or Satan, (c) His occupation. We find this "false prophet" is the ready agent of the Antichrist - "he exerciseth all the power of the first beast" (13 : 12), and this authority will be used to promote the worship of the Antichrist (13 : 12). Dr. Rene Pache writes, "The Devil knows that two are worth more than one. The Antichrist will become more easily the master of souls, if he does not impose himself for their worship. For that, he makes use of a powerful auxiliary, capable of mobilising in his favour the spiritual forces of the decadent world. The false prophet will be the chief of propaganda, the creator of anti-Christian mysticism. He will mobilise all thought, wisdom, and the spirit of world in the service of the Antichrist."

It is evident also that this false prophet will resort to miracle working. His ministry will be accredited by signs and wonders; a fact that will deceive the masses into worshipping the Antichrist (Rev. 13 : 14). The "deadly wound" of the Antichrist will be healed, and so great will be the power of this second beast that he will "animate" life to an image of the first beast and cause it to speak. Prof. Walvoord states, "Whether completely natural in its explanation, or whether some supernatural power is used to create the impression of life, the image apparently is quite convincing to the mass of humanity and helps to turn them to a worship of the first beast as their god."

This leads on to an enforcing of the worship of this world dictator under penalty of death (13 : 15). No dissenters will be tolerated and all who render allegiance to the beast will receive a distinguishing sign affixed to their right hand or upon their forehead. This mark will consist of the name of number of the beast - 666. Prof. Walvoord comments, "Probably the simplest explanation here is the best, that the triple six is the number of a man, each digit falling short of the perfect number seven. Six in Scripture is man's number .. . Whatever may be the deeper meaning of the number, it implies that this title referring to the first beast, Satan's masterpiece, limits him to man's level which is far short of the deity of Jesus Christ." So Antichrist will exercise a sinister dictatorship in the religious, economic and political spheres.

The Parody of the Blessed Trinity

It becomes clear that Satan in his final bid for power and worship parodies the blessed Trinity. This trinity of evil will control the world scene prior to the return of Christ to reign on the earth. The devil himself will counterfeit God the Father; the first beast will masquerade as God the Son, while the false prophet will imitate the work of the Holy Spirit in glorifying the false king who will dominate the world at that time. As Dr. Joseph Seiss puts it, "These three together are Hell's Trinity in Unity, the Devil's Unity in Trinity, as revealed and operative in our world, when iniquity has come to the full."

The Punishment Befitting The Crime

As predicted in (Zech. 14), Jehovah will then manifest Himself in vengeance. As lan MacPherson puts it, "With the blinding glory of His Advent, He will blast His enemies." The eternal fate of the Antichrist and his religious henchmen will coincide with what (Joel 3: 2 and Zech. 14 : 2) describe as the gathering of the nations for battle at Jerusalem. This final world conflict will ensue, and though no detailed account is given, the disastrous result is recorded. Christ is victorious and heaven rejoices in anticipation of the capture of the beast and his co-adjuror, and their consignment to the Lake of Fire, the first inhabitants of this place of eternal retribution. So writes Arthur W. Pink, "such shall be his unprecedented doom, an end that shall fittingly climax his ignoble origin, his amazing career, and his unparalleled wickedness."

With this swift doom will terminate the earthly existence of these two devil-inspired leaders, giving way to the eventual establishment of the millennial reign of Christ, earth's rightful Ruler.