There have always been great hoaxes in human history. In the 1780’s the “Chess Playing Turk” was made famous – The Turk was a machine made up of a stuffed mannequin that defeated chess players, including world masters, reportedly even the likes of Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin. Eventually it was revealed that behind the sheets and gears was a master chess champion. More recent hoaxes include 2007’s online sensation, “How to charge your i-pod with an onion” or 2012’s, “Beiber goes bald.” Likewise, Satan has ALWAYS been in the counterfeit business, hoaxing people, using various means to deceive people. Following the rapture of saints, wherein the children of Christ are taken from earth, a new world system will rise. Satan will elevate a man the Bible calls “Antichrist” to a position of global political power. And at his right hand, will be a seemingly religious leader who deceives the people to follow the Antichrist to their demise.
The False Prophet
In Revelation 13:11 John writes, “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.” Following the rise of a global political figure, a second figure rises. “Two horns” depict him to be slightly less powerful than the “Three horn” Antichrist. “Lamb” depicts him as appearing gentle. But, even though he appears gentle, he speaks with the voice of the “Dragon” which in the Book of Revelation portrays Satan.
In Revelation 13:11-12 John explains that the global world leader called Antichrist delegates a massive amount of authority to this man, making him much more than a henchman, and a presiding cabinet member, operating as a world communicator. This false prophet uses his influence to focus the entire world on the god-like claims of the Antichrist.
In Revelation 13:13 John explains that this man “performs great signs, so that even fire comes down out of heaven…” Satan empowers this man to perform miracles similar to Christ and His prophets, prompting the world to misinterpret this man as a form of savior. In the Greek the term, “Makes fire” is in the present tense, indicating this is something he can do at-will and in a regular way. One of Satan’s core deceptions is the falsification of miracles (Acts 8:9-22) a grave reminder that simply because something is special, new, big, influential, dynamic, talented, or even miraculous, it doesn’t necessarily come from God.
The False Prophet’s Lie
In Revelation 13:14 John writes, “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…” Thus, this false but influential world communicator will command, “earth dwellers” to construct “an image” (Grk Eikon) of the Antichrist. It has often been taught that this is one “icon” for the masses but notice that it could also be one icon for each earth dweller.
John goes on, “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the best…” (v. 15) Breath here is the Greek “pneuma” which indicates that this icon will be able to speak and move. Finally the text says, “so that the image of the best would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed…” Thus indicating that any who do not follow this “icon” will be sentenced to death.
Even ten years ago biblical interpreters varied widely on what this “icon” could be, some referencing a large statue with alien inspired powers and most explaining this as a Hollywood special effect – Yet today, everything we’ve just read is quite elementary – For one man (specifically a religious or technology leader) to take the world-stage during a time of increased warfare, promise to cure world hunger, put a device in everyone’s hand with animated icons designating where to proceed for social care or military protection via GPS, and ask that everyone “follow” by choice to avoid conflict with the government, is not only possible, but quite probable.
The False Prophet’s Mark
John then goes on to describe how closely the earth will be monitored. Revelation 13:16-17 says, “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.” The Greek word for mark is “charagma” and is an ancient engraving term used for tattoos Roman slaves, soldiers, or cults would give out to indicate who was included in their “protective services.” Interestingly, this mark put on the hand or forehead clearly specifies the name of the Antichrist (political world leader) thus making it a clear mark of nationalism and allegiance to the final world order – In essence, a person will know that they’re joining the political, religious, and economic system of this powerful earthly leader, literally trusting him for a coming utopia.
Due to modern technology, theories abound regarding the mark. Some believe it will be RFID tracking software, similar to that given lost pets, enabling 24/7 monitoring of a person’s location. Others have specified retinal scans, barcodes, phone GPS, and more recently wearable technology and smart-watches (on the wrist). Surprisingly, just this month the Stratos credit card was released, a card which will combine all of our credit, banking, and eventually DMV material onto one fingerprint activated card. However, amidst the conjecture, it is imperative we trust what the biblical text says and not over analyze what it does not say. For example, some have inappropriately taught that people will be tricked into taking the mark and not be aware of what they’re doing. Yet Revelation 14:9-10 explains that one of God’s angels will circle earth in the last days warning people of the choice they’re making. Another very important point of textual evidence is the term “buying and selling” which defines the mark as earth’s only avenue to trade – thus as long as global fair trade operates without a mark on the head or hand, one can be assured that they have not taken “the mark.” Conversely, should a day come when buying or selling is restricted to those who carry a designation on hand or forehead, the end is near, and that designation should be avoided at all costs.
John concludes, “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 six hundred and sixty-six.” (v. 18). Many people have given their life to the study of 666 and it appears in many Hollywood films. Some have even tried to find numerical links to the name Hitler or Stalin. However, there are two items to note when studying the number. First is that the number itself merely represents the “power of mankind” and lust for “all that is earthly.” In Scripture, the number seven is the number of perfection, or God’s number while the number six is man’s number, stemming from the concept that God created man, and man fell short (thus his creation on the sixth day). So, foremost the number 666 represents the culmination of human history and man’s rejection of God. Secondly, the number will be linked to the name of the Antichrist (v. 16-17) so in some way the number of man’s fall will be intertwined with the symbol of this satanic leader.
There have been many books written and movies made regarding the Mark of the Beast, but the biblical narrative brings great clarity and demands we: Trust Christ today in order to be taken from earth before these final days (1 Thess 4:15-17). Avoid false teachers and prophets who boast in signs over truth (2 Peter 2:1-15). Pray deeply for the saints who will be converted during the final days (Rev 13:7, 13:16, 14:12-13) and suffer harshly at the hands of the Antichrist and this false prophet.
MBC is currently conducting a study through the book of Revelation. To watch or listen to this series click HERE.