The Beast, the False Prophet, and the Mark (Revelation 13)

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Yes, we are still in the twilight zone…
Today we will be finishing our study of the many layers that make up the picture of the midpoint of Tribulation. If you’re just joining us or have missed the last few weeks, you will want to listen or watch them in order to get the whole picture. In fact, even if you have been here I encourage you, once today’s talk is online that you go back and listen or watch the last four talks including today all in a row so you can get the whole picture at one time. I recommend watching or listening at 1.5 speed to make it go a little faster if you don’t mind hearing me talk like a chipmunk.
I have a lot to cover today, so let’s pray and get into it…

Three weeks ago I shared with you what I believe to be the overall timeline of the midpoint events, and I’ve included it in your bulletin on the back. So far we have covered the abomination that causes desolation, the two witnesses, the trampling of Jerusalem, the war in heaven causing Satan to be confined to the earth, and the fleeing of the Jews into protective custody.
What remains, which we will see today, is the killing of the antichrist, the summoning of the beast and false prophet, and the subsequent resurrection of the antichrist who is now called the Beast, and the commencement of Beast worship.
All of that we will see in chapter 13 of Revelation. But even more than that, chapter 13 – combined with a few other chapters in Revelation and Daniel will give us a rather detailed look at who this beast is. And it’s quite fascinating and complex. So, ready or not…here we go.
Revelation 13 begins with “The dragon stood on the shore of the sea.” – this beginning tells us that this is actually a continuation of the vision we saw in chapter 12 of the dragon and the woman, which I covered last week. Let’s revisit part of that to set the stage…
We are introduced to the dragon in verse 3
Revelation 12:3
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.
I told you last week I would address the heads, horns, and crowns this week – so keep them in mind.
Then the rest of chapter 12 tells us that the dragon is none other than Satan, the Devil, the ancient Serpent. And that he is thrown to the earth and proceeds to chase the woman – who is Israel – but she is protected.
Then the last verse of chapter 12 says…
Revelation 12:17
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
And so, the continuation of this vision in chapter 13 is explaining how the dragon goes about waging war against the rest of her offspring – which are the Jews and the Christians.
I’m going to read all of 13, then come back and talk about it. Remember that this is still a sign, or a vision, so a lot of symbolism in here.
Revelation 13
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
    into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
    with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
Here is an artist’s rendition of this.
Some crazy stuff…let’s pick it apart…starting with The Beast.
Revelation 13
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
There are several descriptions of the beast in this passage, but let’s address this one first.  This should sound very similar to the description of the dragon in chapter 12, but with a few notable differences.
Revelation 12:3
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.
So, both have seven heads. Both have ten horns. But the beast has ten crowns on the ten horns, while the dragon has seven crowns on the seven heads. In both cases, the crowns are DIADEMS – which if you recall is a crown of royalty, rather than an earned crown like a STEPHANOS. The other difference is that the beast out of the sea has a blasphemous name on each head, whereas the dragon does not. And the Beast has parts of other animals as well.
Revelation 13
The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
Now, this part of the description should sound very familiar to those who have been with us for awhile. These animals that are listed are the same animals that Daniel saw in his vision of the beasts coming out of the sea.  Let’s take a look.
Daniel 7
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
So, the first three beasts in Daniel’s vision correspond to the three parts of the beast in John’s vision. The Lion, the Bear, and the Leopard.
I showed you in the Back to the Future miniseries that these three beasts in Daniel’s vision represent Babylon – the Lion, Medo-Persia – the Bear, and Greece – the Leopard. The three nations that dominated Israel from the time of Daniel until the time of Christ.
So, what does this mean for the beast in John’s vision?  Well, let’s read about the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision and see if it helps.
Daniel 7
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
There is that ten horns again, just like on the dragon and on the beast in John’s vision. We learned when I covered this before that this beast represents the Roman empire that conquered Greece and ruled the known world for a time. And I argued that Rome never really died, but merely faced into the conglomeration of nation states in the Middle East and Europe we see today.
Daniel’s vision continues….
Daniel 7
“While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
Again we see a similarity to John’s vision of the Beast in Revelation.
Revelation 13
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.
So far, it seems like we could be talking about the same being. Let’s see what the Angel told Daniel was the meaning of this part of the vision:
Daniel 7
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.
Some similarities here to what John sees in Revelation 13…in addition to the ten horns, and the boastful words, we see a reference to this beast/king overpowering God’s people for 3.5 years.
Revelation 13
It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
So, I think it should be pretty clear by now that these two visions of beasts are talking about the same character – the Antichrist – the Beast.
Here’s what we know so far from these…
He will come from the fourth Beast of Daniel – the Roman Empire, but apparently have attributes of the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and of Greece.
First will come ten kings from this same empire.
He will subdue three of them.
He will speak boastfully and blaspheme the name of God.
He will be given power to conquer God’s people for 3.5 years.
So, that leaves us with the question of the seven heads and ten horns, which both the dragon and the beast have?
For that answer, we actually have to look ahead a few chapters in Revelation to another vision involving this same beast.
In Chapter 17, John is given another vision of the beast and of the harlot – babylon the great. We will talk about the Harlot and Babylon when we get there, but for now let’s look at the beast.
Revelation 17
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
So far, seems like the same beast: blasphemous names, seven heads, and ten horns. And here we learn it is scarlet or red in color – similar to the dragon.
In the same vision, John is given an explanation of what he is seeing.
Revelation 17
Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
I know, just when you thought it was going to clear it up, it just made it more confusing. Let’s break it apart.
The angel says a few things about this beast – pay close attention now.
He says that he “once was, now is not, and yet will come” – he says that twice – which refers to the fact that the antichrist/beast will be killed and resurrected – which we see back in chapter 13 described as….
Revelation 13
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.
The Greek wording behind this is the same as how the Lamb back in the throne room scene was described as a “Lamb as if slain.” It’s a phrase that means killed and resurrected.
And here in chapter 17 it says he will be specifically resurrected from out of the Abyss, the home of bad demons.
Now, we already knew about the abyss from chapter 11 when he was called the “beast who comes up out of the abyss” just before he kills the two witnesses.
See how there are a lot of dots to connect? There’s plenty more.
The Angel back in 17 not only says that “he was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the abyss” – but that he will “go to his destruction.” That fact is repeated in almost all prophetic references to the beast/antichrist – especially in Daniel. Such as the one we always go back to in Daniel 9 – the 70 sevens.
Daniel 9
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
So, from these different pieces, we see that the Beast comes from the abyss, as a human will be killed and resurrected, and will ultimately lose.
Next, back in Revelation 17, in describing the beast to John, the Angel continues…
Revelation 17
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. (meaning this is going to be hard to understand) The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
Let’s go through it slowly.
Now we finally see what the seven heads are. They are seven hills and seven kings. The Greek word behind “hill” here is better translated, “mountain.” So, the seven heads represent seven mountains/kings.
Remember that this is a sign, meaning most of it is symbolic. So, what do kings have to do with mountains? What do mountain’s symbolize in prophetic Scripture?
One place we’ve seen this before is in another prophecy of, you guessed it, Daniel. This one is the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had of the layered statue that Daniel interpreted.
Here’s the dream:
Daniel 2
31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
There’s a mountain in a symbolic vision. Daniel then interprets the dream to be about the same kingdoms that the beasts out of the sea vision from Daniel 7 was about. Then he says this about the huge mountain at the end:
Daniel 2
44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
So, back to the seven heads/mountains/kings of the beast in Revelation 17 – a mountain represents a kingdom. Which totally makes sense considering the heads also represent seven kings. Basically, a king is not a king without a kingdom, and a kingdom is not a kingdom without a king. They go hand in glove. Which actually also applies to the Beast in general. In talking about the Beast – he/it is both a person and his kingdom. Which is made clear by the rest of the explanation in chapter 17.
Revelation 17
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
Still pretty cryptic, but at least now we know we are talking about kings and their kingdoms.
The angel says that five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come.  Insert our symbolic interpretation, and what he’s saying is that five of the seven kingdoms have fallen (or existed before now) – one is currently in power – but there is yet another that will take over the current one in the future. That is what the seven heads symbolize on both the dragon and the beast. Effectively he is speaking of a succession of kingdoms on the earth – kingdoms that have been controlled by Satan, the dragon.  But which kingdoms is he talking about?
Commentators do not all agree on the five that have fallen, but it is almost unanimous that the “one that is” is referring to the Roman empire that John lived in at the time of this vision.
It’s easy to forget that John is seeing this vision from within his own time in AD 95. A lot of it is speaking in future terms, but this part is not. This one, about the kingdoms specifically, is speaking in terms of John’s present day- in which Rome rules the known world.
But it’s not “ruling the known world” that is the deciding factor of what kingdoms these represent – it’s ruling or oppressing Israel that gets them on this list.
That was the case for all of Daniel’s prophecies – and really all of the biblical prophecies concerning the end. Remember they are all about Israel. The seven kings/kingdoms that the heads represent will be seven kingdoms in world history that oppress or dominate Israel. And in John’s day, when he had these visions, it was Rome. In the future, when the Beast comes to full power, it will be the Beast and his kingdom.
But who are the other five?
This is where commentators are split. All agree that the three kingdoms of the Daniel prophecies make the list – Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. That’s a no brainer. But that still leaves two. Some suggest that the multiple heads of the leopard in Daniel’s vision make up the other two, but others suggest that it goes further back to when Egypt held Israel in slavery for 400 years or even to the very beginning of Babylon at the tower of Babel. I tend to agree with that view, because it would make sense that it begins with Babylon and ends with Babylon. There’s actually a lot to the story of Babylon that we will get to in a few weeks. For now, I’ll just say that it’s uncertain exactly which five of the several kingdoms that have oppressed Israel are symbolized by the five “fallen” heads of the beast and dragon. I’ll include a link in my notes if you want to read more about it.
For now, our concern is the future kingdom of the antichrist/beast. Of which the Angel says…
Revelation 17
when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
Still confused? Maybe a picture will help.
Each head is a mountain and a king. The mountain is a kingdom. Five have existed and and fallen before John’s time. In John’s day, Rome was the ruling kingdom. In the tribulation there will be a seventh kingdom. Each kingdom has a king. But the seventh kingdom will be different.
The king of the seventh kingdom (the 7th king) will be killed and resurrected, becoming an 8th king. In other words, the Antichrist of the first half of tribulation will be a human puppet of Satan. After he is killed, his body will be resurrected and possessed by The Beast from the Abyss – still a puppet of Satan, but far more powerful.
So, same kingdom, and technically the same body, but two different kings.
Simple right?
But wait, there’s more…the angel continues to talk about the ten horns.
Revelation 17
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.
Horns represent kings and kingdoms too. We see this a lot in the Daniel prophecies. This one about ten horns effectively matches part of the Daniel 7 prophecy of the four beasts. The fourth beast had ten horns and a little boastful horn that rose up among them.
Later Daniel is told what the horns mean…
24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
So, from these two visions we can gather that at the beginning of the tribulation, after the rapture, the world will be divided into ten kingdoms and ruled by ten kings. The Antichrist will arise as another ruler through political intrigue as I showed you in the “rise of the antichrist” talk a few weeks ago.  The ten kings won’t be in power very long before they apparently give their power to, or submit to the rule of the Beast. And somewhere in there, the beast/antichrist kills three of the ten. Why he does that or who they are is a mystery as it is only mentioned in that one place in Daniel 7. Must not be all that important.
Anyway, we will see these vassal kings again when we talk about the war of Armageddon where they are all destroyed along with the Beast.

So, now that we’ve travelled all over the place, let’s go back to Revelation 13 where we started and see if we can make sense of this beast.
Revelation 13
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
We now know the heads represents six historical kings and kingdoms in our past and present and one future kingdom during the tribulation.
The ten horns are the ten kingdom world government of the tribulation and their respective kings that give the beast their power.
 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
The future antichrist/beast kingdom will resemble the previous gentile kingdoms that have trampled Jerusalem. Some suggest it will have the total authority of Babylon (the Lion), combined with the brute power of the Medo-Persians (the bear), and the speed of conquest of the Greeks (the leopard). And this king and kingdom will have it’s power and authority from Satan himself, who has been given the power to rule the world for this time.
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
The antichrist will be killed and resurrected as the beast from the abyss, which will cause the whole world to worship him. And if these are actual quotes from people of the time, maybe he will actually be called “The Beast”…
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.
This checks with Daniel’s beast vision, and the timeline I have for tribulation. The second half will be mostly the beast ruling and persecuting the Jews and the Christians without restraint. It’s that “time of distress” Jesus talked about.
It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Here we see again that he will prevail over the holy people, and really over everyone. And not only will he prevail over everyone, but everyone will worship him as God.
Which we must remember is all part of God’s plan to bring the people of Israel to their knees so they will accept their Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Its sad that God has to go to these measures to make people see the truth.
But most of the world, and probably many of the Jews will instead fall for the Beast’s deception and choose to worship him and take his mark, thanks to the next character we meet in this crazy vision – the False Prophet.
But before introducing him, there is a short interjection..
Revelation 13
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
    into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
    with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
We will see a few more of these interjections of presumably Christ talking in the midst of these visions (Remember this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and John was told to write what he sees and hears.).  Here it seems Jesus is interjecting to tell the reader, and any Christian who is still alive at this point in the tribulation that they should be ready for a horrible time and to endure it without giving up. He’s saying some of you will be taken captive and some of you will be killed. Keep the faith. It will be over soon.
Then we get back to John’s vision.
Revelation 13
11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
So, right away we can see that this beast is different from the first beast. The specification that he comes from the land whereas the the antichrist beast comes from the sea, likely means the Antichrist will be a Gentile and the False Prophet will be a Jew. Also, instead of being a seven headed dragon, the only description we get of this one is that it has two horns like a lamb, and speaks like a dragon. Later in Revelation he is also given the title “False Prophet.”
The horns like a lamb seem to indicate that he will pose as a lamb, as a good prophet, a religious leader, but speaking like a dragon indicates that like the dragon, his words will be lies.
It says…
Revelation 13
12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.
He becomes the ringleader for beast worship, emphasizing that he must be a god since he was able to rise from the dead. The Beast becomes both a political ruler and the god of the world’s religion – similar to how Roman emperors were worshiped as gods for a time.
Now, what you might not recognize yet is that with the addition of this False Prophet, we now have something of an unholy trinity that in many ways attempts to mimic the real Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Think about it.
The Dragon/Devil is at the top – like the Father. The Beast was killed and resurrected and given all the authority of the Dragon – just like Christ – hence his other title: AntiChrist. And then there is the False Prophet who causes the world to worship the Beast, and by proxy the Dragon, using signs and wonders similar to what the Holy Spirit did for the Apostles and still does today. It’s the Unholy Trinity, or Anti-Trinity, and it’s not an accident. From day 1, Satan’s goal has been to be god himself, and since God exists as a trinity of persons, then Satan, in order to be like God, must do the same, though his is just an imitation.
Revelation 13
13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
This was predicted by Jesus himself in the Olivet Discourse:
Matthew 24
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
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. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time
It will be very hard not to be deceived at this time in the tribulation. For the masses that have no knowledge of Scripture and these prophecies, it will be like taking candy from a baby. Even now in our time of the apostasy, many are being deceived by the anti-christ spirit in our culture because they lack an understanding of the truth of Scripture.
Revelation 13
14 It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
Since the Beast is a human, or at least in a human body, he cannot be everywhere at once. He can’t even be two places at once. So, an image is set up, most likely in the Jewish Temple, so that he can be worshiped there all the time. Much like the statue of Zeus in Antiochus Epiphanies day. This means that the abomination that causes desolation will be a permanent fixture during the 3.5 years of the Beast’s dominance of the world. Which the wording of Daniel 9 actually indicates…
Daniel 9
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
That little word “until” indicates the abomination stays set up until the end comes. But it won’t be just a boring statue…
Revelation 13
15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
Now this is impressive. How he will do that will clearly be through supernatural means. Remember that the Dragon, the Devil, is behind all of this, and the Restrainer is gone, such that it seems the Devil can do whatever he wants so long as God allows, and God allows him to do all these signs and wonders to deceive a world that would rather believe in a false trinity than the real trinity. Remember that it wasn’t that long before this, at the end of all the seal and trumpet judgments, that …
Revelation 9
20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.
The people who are deceived by this want to be deceived rather than submit to a God that will hold them accountable for their sins.
They have experienced the devastating judgments of the first half of tribulation, and then they see their leader, the antichrist, killed and resurrected. Then he kills the two invincible witnesses, and marches into the temple claiming to be God – at which point the judgments from God stop.
And they will see that he can do all kinds of cool stuff and no doubt make all kinds of promises, and they will believe the same lie the devil believes – that he might just be able to win – or maybe that he already won!  And they were already worshiping lifeless idols anyway, so the emergence of a seemingly living one will be irresistible.
But it’s all a lie that will lead many to their doom with smiles on their faces.
There’s another reason why they are so easily deceived that I’ll talk about in my application ending for today.

But first, let’s talk about the oh so interesting Mark of the Beast…
Revelation 13
16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
Here is another imitation of God. God put a mark on his sealed 144,000 and presumably on all that put their faith in him at this time. And so, the Devil wants a mark on all who are his.
Revelation 13
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
So, not only is it a mark, but it is a mark that effectively stand for the blasphemous name of the Beast.
Now, a lot of speculation has gone into trying figure out what this 666 means and trying to pinpoint it in the present world around us, such as in UPC codes. It’s quite possible that is what the mark may look like since it will be tied to the economy and buying and selling, but we can’t really know at this point.
What we do know, because the Scripture tells us, is that this number is representative of the name of the Beast.
In the Hebrew language, each letter has a number associated with it, as does the ancient Greek language. It seems to have begun in Babylon during the captivity of Israel. It’s called Gematria.
Basically, the first nine letters are numbers 1 – 9, after that it counts by 10’s up to 90, then by 100’s. With numbers assigned to each letter, take any name or word and add up its letter numbers and you will have a number for that word or name.
For example, if it worked the same way in English, my name, Daniel, would add up to 99.
In the Greek version of this, Jesus’ name adds up to 888.
And the Antichrist’s name will add up to 666 – probably in Hebrew or Greek – which could be any number of names.
Basically, this is not something we can figure out right now. It’s not for us, the church, to know because we won’t be around for this. It’s for those alive at this time who do not want to take the mark. So they will be able to know that this is indeed the mark and not something else.
Which will be very important, because the consequences of taking the mark are quite perilous, as an angel informs us in the next chapter…
Revelation 14
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.
Its actually quite kind of God to warn everyone about taking the mark. Taking the mark will be the permanent rejection of God’s free gift of salvation and guarantee your spot in the lake of fire when all is said and done.
So, why will people do it?
Why will people be so easily duped into buying into this Satanic system and literally selling their souls?
Jesus even said that the deception will be so powerful and so attractive, that even those who have already made Jesus their Lord will be tempted to believe it.
Why?
It’s the same reason why so many so-called Christians today are already being deceived by the anti-christ spirit to compromise on God’s Word in order to go with the flow of our culture.
In case you can’t tell, I’m now shifting to the application ending….
One of the commentaries I study for this, I think says it best so I will just quote it – it comes with a picture:

The earth dwellers of the end, even those who call themselves Christians, have fallen prey to that which is already at work in our own day: an unbiblical reliance upon signs as evidence of God. They have built their faith upon the wrong foundation!
They are completely open to deception because their faith is based upon experience rather than Scripture. They validate their religious beliefs based on their own personal experience. They are the ultimate in postmodern thinking—they have their truth which is real to them. Thus, when they see the truly miraculous signs provided by the False Prophet, they easily succumb to the desired conclusion: the Beast is god. When and if such “people of faith” are confronted with the Scriptures—assuming God’s word is available at the time of the end—they will bend the Scripture and reinterpret it to validate their experience. If God’s written word denies their experience, they will reject God’s Word over their personal experience. Thus, their experience will sit in judgment of God’s Word. (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/revelation-13/revelation-13-13.html)

When I read that in my studies, I felt like the writer was reading my mind because this is something I preach often and make very clear in our membership classes. And this is why it is so important to be grounded in God’s Word and believe that it, and it alone, is the inerrant, infallible, literal Words of the Living God such that when my experience or my feelings or even my reason and thinking are in disagreement with it, then I am wrong and need to change, no matter how much it hurts.  Because nothing will hurt more than an eternity in the lake of fire.
And if you are of the majority of Christians who have never actually read the whole bible and barely crack it open outside of Sunday morning when it’s put on the screen for you, then you are in serious danger of being deceived by the lies of the Enemy that ALREADY pervade every area of our lives.
Because if you don’t have a foundation of the truth that comes from God, then you have no choice but to rely on a foundation of feelings and experience that come from yourself and from the world.
And you will easily talk yourself into doing something or agreeing with something that is absolutely contrary to scripture without even realizing it. And when you do realize it, as the commentator suggested, instead of trusting the Word and changing your feelings, you will try to change the Word to match your feelings or just reject it outright.
Such was the case in the early days of the church when the Roman emperor ordered that all citizens publicly declare Caesar as Lord and burn some incense in his honor. There was a time when they actually required it to the point that you had to go to certain place at a certain time and be witnessed doing it in front of officials so they could record it. If you didn’t, you would be put to death.
Many self-proclaimed Christians called Caesar Lord because they didn’t want to lose their lives and they justified it with Scriptures about how God establishes governments and such even though there is crystal clear scripture not to worship any other gods and that if you disown Jesus as lord to others, he will disown you before His father.
Even though many of those people wanted back in the church after the Roman emperor became a Christian, I have my doubts whether Jesus let them into heaven.  Because, while many so-called Christians caved under the pressure, many true Christians went to their death rather than deny their one and only Lord. They surely have their crowns already. It was a tough but refining time for Christ’s church. And such will be the case in the time of the Beast and his mark.
And, though the penalty is not death at the moment, I would argue that such is also the case here and now in America.
Today we don’t worship an Emperor, or the Beast.
Instead, today we worship the false deity of SELF.
We worship at the altar of self-indulgence and “to each their own.” Now the theme is not the worship of an external god, but the insistence on “tolerance” and “acceptance” of the notation that we are each the god of ourselves and beholden to no external code of right and wrong. And certainly not beholden to a God who created us in His image – male and female.
Among other things, now the powers-that-be require “all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave” to wave the rainbow flag and proclaim loud and proud that “Gay is OK!”  – Or you will be crucified as a hater and a bigot and a racist and every other name in the book. And you know that it’s true.
Sure there are other mantras out there, but this one has become the official law of the land, and many have already been persecuted for holding to their biblical foundation. While at the same time, many, many Christians and even pastors and whole church denominations have gone ahead and pinched some incense and said “Caesar is Lord” on this one.
Why? Because their foundation is feelings not Gods Word.
So, a question I hope you would ask yourself is…
What is my foundation? How prone am I to deception? And how do I know?
Well, I’ll give you a quick test that will tell you exactly what your foundation is made of.
All you have to do is look at God’s word and gauge your reaction.
Leviticus 18
21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
Here’s an abbreviated version of these consecutive verses in God’s Word…
If you think two of these condemned actions are still wrong but one is not.
Or if you started immediately in your head explaining how this doesn’t apply anymore because it’s OT or something.
Or if you are really mad at me right now for forcing you to see this.
Then your foundation is feelings – and you have been deceived.
Perhaps you are turned off by a reference to the obsolete Old Testament (which I would hope this series alone has shown you that even Leviticus is anything but obsolete) let’s go to the New Testament, which has plenty to choose from on the subject.
1 Corinthians 6
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
If you think all of these actions are still wrong except one.
Or if you are in your head trying to come up with a way that it means something else,
or that Paul is not the same as Jesus,
or any other argument to try to deny the plain truth of God’s Word so that the truth you FEEL wins.
Then you have a foundation of feelings, and you have been deceived.
These are not my words on the screen or in this book. These are the words of God. And you either have to accept them as truth despite how you feel, or you have to reject the God who wrote them.
Because you can’t claim God’s salvation while rejecting His truth.
Don’t you know that to reject God’s truth is to reject Jesus himself – who IS the way, the truth, and the life?
He is also mysteriously the Word – as in John 1:1 – In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. You see, God and his Word are inseparable. You can’t follow one while rejecting the other.
And if you don’t have THE TRUTH as your foundation, then guess what you do have…something that will keep you deceived.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. In fact, Paul’s audience in this letter used to be guilty of all of these things, and probably thought they were OK at some point, but God turned them around…
1 Corinthians 6
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Because they turned to Jesus, they were washed – made clean, no longer ruled by the dirty sin nature.
They were sanctified – which means that they became more and more like Christ in character and deed, more obedient to God’s Word, they gained a solid foundation in truth rather than feelings.
And they were justified, having their sins paid for on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And you can have the same thing, but only two of those are instantaneous. When you make Jesus your Lord, you are immediately justified – no longer guilty in the eyes of God. You are also washed clean, purified of all past unrighteousness. But the sanctification, the growing in the Lord, takes time and effort and most of all a willingness to let go of your soft foundation of feelings and experience and replace it with the hard truth foundation of God’s Word.
It’s as Jesus said at the end of his Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 7
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Don’t be the foolish person. Don’t be the easily deceived. Don’t live your life on a foundation of sandy feelings and experience trying to find truth inside yourself. Follow Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The better life, both here and in eternity.
Let’s Pray.
Following Jesus is not about being countercultural, but sometimes, when culture follows something else, then you have to make a decision because you can’t follow both. Jesus made that clear multiple times. It’s all or nothing.
I want to tell you a story that illustrates this while your eyes are closed. It’s a true story.
About 150 years ago, there was a great revival in Wales, England.  As a result of this, many missionaries came from England to northeast India to spread the Gospel.  The region was known as Assam and was comprised of hundreds of tribes.  The tribal communities were quite primitive and aggressive.  The tribesmen were also called head-hunters because of a social custom which required the male members of the community to collect as many heads as possible.  A man’s strength and ability to protect his wife was assessed by the number of heads he had collected.  Therefore, a youth of marrying age would try and collect as many heads as possible and hang them on the walls of his house.  The more heads a man had, the more eligible he was considered. This was their normal, their culturally accepted truth.
Into this hostile and aggressive community, came a group of Welsh missionaries spreading a different message – the message of love, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ.  Naturally, they were not welcomed as God’s truth clashed with their experience and feelings.  However, one Welsh missionary finally succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and two children.  This man’s faith proved contagious and many villagers began to accept Christianity.
Angry, the village chief summoned all the villagers.  He then called the family who had first converted to renounce their faith in public or face execution.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man sang his reply, “I have decided to follow Jesus.  No turning back.”
     Enraged at the refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to arrow down his two children.  As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked, “Will you now deny your faith?  You have lost both your children.  You will lose your wife too.”
     But the man replied, again singing, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.  No turning back.”
     The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered his wife to be arrowed down.  In a moment she joined her two children in death.  Now he asked for the last time, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.”
     In the face of death the man sang once more, “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.  No turning back.”
     He was shot dead like the rest of his family.  But with their deaths, a miracle took place.  The chief who had ordered the killings was moved by the faith of the man.  He wondered, “Why should this man, his wife and two children die for a Man who lived in a far-away land on another continent some 2,000 years ago?  There must be some supernatural power behind the family, and I too want that supernatural power.”
     In a spontaneous confession of faith, he declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!”  When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Most of us will likely never have to face death for Christ – but we may suffer ridicule, name calling, social outcast, and possibly even jail at times. If your foundation is feelings, and you cave on the simple question of whether God’s word is true in the face of a society that says it’s not – then don’t think you would be able to stand up to something worse like this man did.
So, how do you change your foundation?
You simply choose to. You change your mind to follow Jesus and His Word despite how you feel. That’s called repenting. It’s making a conscious choice to follow Jesus, no matter what, and no turning back.