We are getting ever closer to the Final Judgment.
In this study we see the dividing lines drawn even more clearly. Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet - the Unholy Trinity - continue to plot (in vain) to overthrow the Almighty, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Also, we see Satan's strategy unfold. He will prop up the Antichrist who will deceive the willing nations, and be worshipped by them. In all, the ungodly fall deeper and deeper into the trap of sin and rebellion.
Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. May God bless you as you read and respond to His Word. - Kirk McCormick
War in Heaven – Part 2
** We are getting set for the final battle.
** In our last study, we are introduced, again, to the key characters: Jesus (i.e.: the Son), Satan (i.e.: The Dragon or the Accuser), and the People of God (specifically, Israel – the “Woman”)
** Jesus has all authority in all of Creation and in Heaven to complete the salvation and redemption plan of the Father. So, the beginning of that plan was to kick Satan out of heaven, plummeting him to earth and the Pit.
12:13-17 – Satan plots war against God’s People
** Satan’s (i.e.: the Dragon…later called the Serpent) strategy: “If I cannot take over God’s house (i.e.: heaven) then I’ll destroy his family.”
Application: This attack is proof that persecution of God’s people is a spiritual matter, not one of the “flesh”.
Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.”
“Woman was given two wings” = symbolic of swift flight to safety and powerful protection of God while in the wilderness
Exodus 19:4 – “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
Isaiah 40:31 – “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
· Note: This attack and safety lasts half of the Tribulation. This is the same as previous teachings in Revelation (11:2, 11:3, 12:6).
“Serpent spewed water like a river” = the chaos and persecution Satan will bring to the earth… perhaps through natural disaster, but not necessarily exclusively.
· Satan is so full of venom that he “spews” it all over God’s people.
· Interestingly, the Old Testament uses “floods” as a metaphor for times of Trouble and Persecution
Psalm 32:6 – “Let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.”
Isaiah 43:2 – God says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
· Note: v. 15 – “…sweep her away…” (from “potamos” = river)…caught up/swept up like is a whirlwind
** Idea: Satan will flood the earth with anger, persecution, chaos for the sole purpose of punishing God’s people, regardless of the collateral damage. But he’ll be unsuccessful
“Rest of her offspring” = non-Jewish believers (i.e.: Christians, in our day)
· “Offspring” = seed…as in Genesis 3:15 – the woman’s seed will trample on the serpent
Recap: Satan is the chief culprit of the Tribulation.
· His purpose is to usurp God as ruler of the earth since he was rejected in heaven.
· Thus, the more Satan throws at God’s people, the more frustrated he becomes because God’s people are protected.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 – “…and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Here we have a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of protection.
Application: From this initial passage on the destructive work of Satan during the Tribulation we can…:
1. …expect that some of the devil’s attacks on you will come as false accusations.
2. …conquer the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.
3. …not despair when we are persecuted for being faithful to God and his ways.
Chapter 13 – Satan and the Two Primary Accomplices:
the Antichrist and the Beast
** The setting for the coming of the Antichrist is world confusion, decimation, war, poverty…everything that pits one person/nation against another.
** What the world needs is Jesus…but a pretender, the Antichrist, will come. He will have answers, charisma, power, and cunning like no other man. So the people will be deceived thinking they are following a good man, but they will be following him to the pit of Hell.
13:1-4 – The Advent of the Antichrist (aka: the “Beast”)
“Shore of the Sea” = vast multitudes of the people on earth
** The “Beast” (Gk: therion = wild beast, not domesticated)
His Appearance: (literal or figurative? Likely figurative – though given people’s propensity for idol worship… But Kirk understands this to be figurative/symbolic)
“Ten horns and 7 heads (same as Satan – 12:3), with 10 crowns on his horns (whereas Satan has only 7 crowns on his heads)” = we cannot say for sure, but it appears that the horns (types of kings), heads (types of kingdoms), and crowns (claim of sovereignty).
Note: This imagery is not necessarily to be broken down to be identified with particular kings/kingdoms/ages…they are meant to say that the Antichrist is an amalgamation of the strength of all of the power of the past, rolled up into one person.
“…on each head a blasphemous name” = in some way the Antichrist claims divinity… likely by claiming he is Jesus, having returned as promised.
Note: He even has survived an assassination attempt (v. 3 – “seemed to have a fatal wound…that had been healed.”
“resembled a leopard, feet of a bear, mouth like a lion” = likely representing the ancient kingdoms that have opposed Israel: Greece (leopard), Persia (bear), Babylon (lion)…
…Note: Daniel (c.f.: 7:3-8) lists these same nations in his vision. However, John leaves out a fourth: the “terrible beast” = Antichrist.
** So this Antichrist is the most powerful enemy Israel/God’s people has ever faced.
“Men worshipped the dragon…they also worshipped the beast” (v. 4)
· Note the rhetorical questions in v. 4 –
o Who is like the beast?
o Who can make war against him?
…the response/answer demanded by these questions is, “No one!”
· The people of the world will fall for the deception of the Dragon and Beast (i.e.: Satan and Antichrist) hook, line and sinker.
1. The Antichrist will rise from the nations
2. He will be empowered by Satan…stronger than any human, but inferior to Jesus
3. He will, like Jesus, seem to have been resurrected from the dead (see v. 3)
4. He will be worshipped, like his “father” Satan…so they will establish or fool people into believing that he is God/Jesus.
vs. 5-10 – The Purpose of the Beast
“Given a mouth…” = even with these multiple “heads”, the Beast has a singular voice from which blasphemy is spoken.
“…opened his mouth to blaspheme God” = though Satan has lost the heavenly battle, Antichrist continues the war on earth.
“He was given power to make war…authority over every tribe…” = that authority comes from Satan…but God allows it.
Note the impact of this Beast (v. 8) – total loyalty by unbelievers
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”
** Amazingly, Daniel speaks the very same prophecy about the Beast/Antichrist (Daniel 7:25):
“He 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.”
** Then John speaks a warning (v. 9-10) –
· “He who has an ear, let him hear”… reminiscent of Jesus’ warning in the parables.
· “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints”
o Note: the saints are still present during this part of the Tribulation
o Also note: this is going to be a very difficult time for the saints…who overcome through endurance and faithfulness – because they will be tested.
vs. 13-18 – The Second Beast (aka: the False Prophet (e.g.: 16:13, 19:20, 20:10)
** The Antichrist (the Beast) has a protégé/understudy = “another beast”
Note: In Greek, there are two words for “another”. One means another of a different kind (Gk: heteros). The other means, another of the same kind (Gk: allos). It is the second “another” that is used here, meaning, this second beast, though lesser, is cut from the same cloth = EVIL!
Note 2: One difference, however, is that this “another beast” comes out of the earth (v. 11) = he is a resurrected man who formerly lived on earth…perhaps a former world leader who was respected or effective.
Point: He looked/acted more like a humble Jesus, but spoke like Satan.
· This “another beast” is less powerful (only two horns) but equally authoritative in speech (i.e.: “spoke like a dragon”). Note, however, the absence of a “crown” = the False Prophet is not a political leader…just a spiritual one.
** This “another beast” is the “hatchet man” for the Antichrist. As such he…:
· … “exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf” (v. 12) = did the bidding of the Antichrist
· … “made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed” (v. 12) = fulfilled the desires of the Antichrist to have people worship him
· … “performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men” (v. 13)
· … “deceived the inhabitants of the earth” (v. 14)
· …“ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived” (v. 14)
· …“was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (v. 15)
· …“forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (v. 17)
o This mark appears to be a measure by which Antichrist maintains an economic stranglehold on people…as they can neither “buy or sell” without it.
** Jesus warns against such False Prophets (see Matthew 24:11, 24)
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.
** Paul reminds us (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) - 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, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.”
** The final question arising from the end of this chapter… What about the mark: 666?
· In the Bible, “6” is the number of man – since mankind was made on the 6th day of creation
· Some think this is some designation for some kind of unholy trinity: 666 = Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet. This is highly doubtful.
· Others believe that, using numerology, we can figure out the name of the Antichrist. The problem is, which alphabet should be used? Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin? This, too, is highly doubtful.
Point: The point is…we don’t have a clue, but at the time of the Antichrist, a “wise” person will be able to calculate and avoid taking the mark of the Beast.
Recap: The sides are drawn…the rulers are established…the parties are divided… all that is left, now, is for the battle to begin… BUT God is patient, as we will see next week.