Beast from the Earth
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is 666.
Moses ordered the death of any prophet advocating the worship of another god (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). During the monarchy, false prophets were often in the majority in the court of Israel. Ahab’s 800 prophets openly advocated the worship of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18:20).
Later, 400 prophets, influenced by a lying spirit, assured Ahab of victory at Ramoth-gilead, only to be contradicted by Micaiah, the true prophet (22:6-23). Frequently, lying prophets told the leaders what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 5:31; Luke 6:26). Jeremiah inveighed against those who claimed to be receiving visions from God, but who counseled rebellion against Babylon (Jeremiah 27:9). Zedekiah and Ahab were two prophets cursed because of their evil advice (29:21-23). Testing the prophets should have been a constant practice.
In the New Testament, false prophets were plentiful (1 John 4:1) and were compared with wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). The false prophet Bar-Jesus was smitten with blindness by Paul (Acts 13:6, 11). Christ warned of false prophets whose miracles would deceive many in the end (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). In Revelation 13:12-14 and 19:20, the master false prophet is described. He will support the beast through powerful signs before his destruction.
The apostle John describes this person and gives us clues to identifying him when he shows up. First, he comes out of the earth. This could mean he comes up from the pit of hell with all the demonic powers of hell at his command. It could also mean he comes from lowly circumstances, secret and unknown until he bursts on the world stage at the right hand of the Antichrist.
He is depicted as having horns like a lamb, while speaking like a dragon. The horns on lambs are merely small bumps on their heads until the lamb grows into a ram. Rather than having the Antichrist’s multiplicity of heads and horns, showing his power and might and fierceness, the false prophet comes like a lamb, winsomely, with persuasive words that elicit sympathy and good will from others.
He may be an extraordinary preacher or orator whose demonically empowered words will deceive the multitudes. But he speaks like a dragon, which means his message is the message of a dragon. Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as the devil and Satan.
Verse 12 gives us the false prophet’s mission on earth, which is to force humanity to worship the Antichrist. He has all the authority of the Antichrist because, like him, the false prophet is empowered by Satan. It is not clear whether people are forced to worship the Antichrist or whether they are so enamored of these powerful beings that they fall for the deception and worship him willingly.
The fact that the second beast uses miraculous signs and wonders, including fire from heaven, to establish the credibility of both of them would seem to indicate that people will fall before them in adoration of their power and message. Verse 14 goes on to say the deception will be so great that the people will set up an idol to the Antichrist, the image of the beast, and worship it.
This is reminiscent of the huge golden image of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3) before which all were to bow down and pay homage. Revelation 14:9-11; however, describes the ghastly fate that awaits those who worship the image of the Antichrist.
Those who survive the terrors of the tribulation to this point will be faced with two hard choices.
Those who refuse to worship the image of the beast will be subject to death (Revelation 14:15) but those who do worship him will incur the wrath of God. The image will be extraordinary in that it will be able to speak.
Whatever the image is a statue? A hologram? An android? A human-animal hybrid? A clone? It will have some kind of ability to breathe forth the message of the Antichrist and the false prophet. Along with being the spokesman for them, the image will condemn to death those who refuse to worship the unholy pair. In our technological world, it is not hard to imagine such a scenario.
Whoever the false prophet turns out to be, the final world deception and the final apostasy will be great, and the whole world will be caught up in it. The deceivers and false teachers we see today are the forerunners of the Antichrist and the false prophet, and we must not be deceived by them.
These false teachers abound, and they are moving us toward a final satanic kingdom. We must faithfully proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and rescue the souls of men and women from the coming disaster.