Test All Things 6-2-19
Revelation 13:11-15 Lesson 41
Good morning everybody; let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 13 beginning at verse 11. The title of our message this morning is Test All Things. Just as a quick reminder of where we’re are in the Book of Revelation, the trumpet judgments have been sounded bringing various judgments to the earth. The seventh trumpet perhaps being the most significant because there we are told that “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” [Revelation 11:15, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”]
The long awaited transfer of the world from Satan’s grasp back into the hands of God is occurring in the Book of Revelation. There are about five times in the book where the chronology stops to give us an insight into something that’s related to something happening in the chronology. And that’s where we are, number three, the third major interruption in the chronology, chapters 12-14. Probably the longest chronological interruption in the Book of Revelation. And I think the best way to explain it is it’s Satan’s countermove. God has made a move to redeem the planet, Satan has made a countermove trying to stop God’s move because Satan has enjoyed, ever since the fall of man, running this world.
So we’ve had Revelation 12 where he begins to attack the nation of Israel because that’s the instrument that God will use to bring His kingdom to the earth.
And then we move into Revelation 13 where we run into the two human instruments that Satan is using during this terrible time period, the two beasts. We’ve studied the first beast, sometimes called the antichrist. Probably you get the longest fullest treatment of the coming antichrist in Revelation 13 and we’ve worked our way through that passage. And now beginning today we find ourselves in the second part of the chapter where we begin to get prophetic information concerning the second beast. The second beast, as we’re going to see, is called the twelfth prophet. The first beast is primarily a political leader; the second beast it would seem is probably a religious leader but these two work together in tandem to enslave planet earth. So as we work our way through the second beast, there’s sort of an outline that we’re going to be using and following. And we pick it up there with verse 11.
Notice what it says there in verse 11 concerning this second beast. “Then I saw another beast coming out of the earth and he had two horns like a lamb but he spoke like a dragon.” You’ll notice the words “another beast.” Now the Greek word for “another” is very interesting. What it means here is a different beast than the first one but it’s of the same variety, the same kind—different but similar. For example, this word “another” is used in Matthew 13:8 to describe another kind of soil, “And others,” that would be seed, “fell on good soil,” reminding us that the seed that is now dispatched is very like but different than the first kind of soil. [Matthew 13:8, “ And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”] So that’s sort of a way to understand this second beast, he is not identical to the first beast but he’s of the same kind and of the same variety and that’s why he is called here, like the first beast he is called a second beast or just a beast.
Now a lot of people when they see this word “beast” they have a tendency to sort of dehumanize these two beasts. And I want to assure you that this second beast, just like the first beast, is an actual person. How do I know that? I know that because in Revelation 19:20 this second beast, sometimes called the false prophet, will be thrown into the lake of fire. [Revelation 19:20, “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”]
And we learn from Revelation 20:10, a thousand years later, that this second beast, like the first beast, is still in the lake of fire. [Revelation 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”] He’s still there a thousand years later. What does that communicate to us? It communicates this to us, that this second beast, like the first beast, has an eternal soul. God, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11 has set eternity into the hearts of men. [Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”]
Human beings have souls; believers and unbelievers alike have souls. This is the way we are designed by God. The reality of the situation is every single person within the sound of my voice is going to be alive somewhere a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, a million years from now, because that’s how we’ve been manufactured as image bearers of God. That’s why it’s so important not to gamble with one’s eternity because there is an eternity, and to trust Christ for salvation.
And the fact that this beast continues on for a thousand years in the Lake of Fire demonstrates that he has a soul, he’s a person. A lot of people look at this second beast as just sort of an institution. I think it was the church Reformer, Martin Luther, that just called this second beast the Roman Catholic Church. Other people say no, it’s Islam, it’s some kind of religion. No, I’m not saying that these two beasts aren’t purveyors of religion, that is certain, but they’re actual people. And it’s very interesting that this beast is called the beast because of his character. His character is beastly, animalistic. There’s no mercy, no conscience in the second beast just like there was no conscience in the first beast. But don’t let the word “beast” somehow in your mind be humanized, these two entities. These are very real people that are going to come upon this earth that will be used strategically by Satan in the final three and a half years or forty-two months of the tribulation period.
I have a feeling that his ethnicity is identified there in verse 11 when John says, “Then I saw another beast coming out of the earth.” You might recall that the first beast came out of the sea, verse 1. And we took some time to explain that the sea, when you study it through, not just in the Book of Revelation but throughout the Bible, the sea refers to the great mass of Gentile humanity. But this second beast does not come out of the sea, he actually comes out of the earth and this Greek word used for earth can also be used for land, as in “the land of Israel.” Matthew 2:6 uses this Greek word in that very way. Matthew 2:6 says, “And you, Bethlehem, land” that’s our same Greek word, “of Judah….:
In fact over in the Book of Zechariah, chapter 12 and verse 12, the word “land” in Hebrew, it’s eretz, but when the Septuagint translators translated “land” in Greek they used this same Greek word here, speaking of the land of Israel. This is not something to start a new church over necessarily, but I think it’s very likely that the first beast will be Gentile and the second beast will be Jewish.
Dwight Pentecost, I like to quote people that are higher than myself just to show you that I’m not the only one that holds this particular view, Dwight Pentecost says, “In close association with the Beast, the head of the federated empire, is another individual known as the ‘False Prophet’ (Rev. 19: 20; 20:10), called ‘the second beast’ in Revelation 13: 11-17, where his fullest description is given. In that passage of Scripture there are some important factors concerning him to be observed: “ and then he says, Number 1, “This individual is evidently a Jew, since he arises out of the earth, or land,” now you’ll have to forgive Dr. Pentecost for this one here, he calls the land of Israel Palestine, “that is Palestine (13: 11)…” [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, Page 336]
And you have to understand that he wrote these words in 1958; that was when it was common to use Israel as sort of a synonym for Palestine. We at Sugar Land Bible Church really don’t like that word, we don’t use that word. The primary reason we don’t like it and we don’t use it is because what it is, is it’s a… and when people, like Dr. Pentecost use it unknowingly they’re actually using an anti-Semitic slur because it was Hadrian that came into the land following the eviction of the Jews in A.D. 70 and pretended like the Jews were never there and he mocked the Jewish people by giving it the land the name Palestine derived from one of their ancient enemies, Philistine. Palestine is Philistine, it’s a way to pretend the Jews were never there. And sometimes scholars use it just in academic writings but probably Palestine is not a word we should be using, at least in a positive sense. You’re not going to find the word Palestine in your Bible. That land is called the Land of Israel; that’s the proper designation for it.
But with that little problem not withstanding and of course Dr. Pentecost is with the Lord now so now he knows better, that little problem notwithstanding it’s a very good point that he makes here that the Greek word for land is used pretty frequently for the land of Israel throughout the Old Testament and also the New Testament. So again is it something to start a new denomination over? Not necessarily but it is interesting that perhaps we could be given the ethnic identity of these two beasts simply by noting that one comes out of the sea and one comes out of the land.
We move from that to the character of this beast and you see it there in the second part of verse 11, it says, “he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.” [Revelation 13:1, “…Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. Revelation 13:11, “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.”] Now it’s interesting that this second beast has two horns; the first beast that we read about in Revelation 13 had ten horns. Do you recall that, which seems to indicate to me that this one has two instead of ten to communicate the idea that he is a lesser authority than the first beast, beastly to be sure but less authority and less power. In other words, he works as sort of an assistant, if you will, to the first beast, working under his authority.
And you’ll notice what it says here concerning the character of this second beast, he was like a lamb, in other words, he looked like a lamb but spoke as a dragon. Now who is the dragon. We’ve already determined that, the dragon is clearly Satan. Revelation 12:9, Revelation 20:2. [Revelation 12:9, “[Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”]
And it’s interesting that Satan is empowering these two beasts. We know he empowers the first beast, we saw that back in Revelation 13, verse 2 and verse 4. [Revelation 13:2, “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”  “they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”] And here we learn that the source of power of the second beast is the dragon or Satan himself.
But when you look for Satan you don’t look for a pitchfork, do you? You don’t look for someone with a red cape and horns. I realize that sells a lot of Halloween costumes in late October but that’s not the way the Bible ever presents Satan. Satan doesn’t come as something evil that’s recognizable. He comes as an angel of what? An angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:14, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”] On the outside he looks like a lamb but his source of authority and his words are obviously empowered by Satan because this second beast speaks like a dragon.
It fits very well the description of false prophets given by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said this: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” [Matthew 7:15] I very much appreciate the title of one of the books written by Johanna Michaelson, I’ve always loved title. She calls it The Beautiful Sight of Evil. How appealing and attractive evil looks and we certainly see that here as we’re learning about the character of the second beast.
Now what is the purpose of the second beast? Why does he exist? Notice, if you will, verse 12. “He exercised all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes” that’s a very important word there, “makes,” coerces in other words, “he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.” Why does this second beast exist. He exercises authority on behalf of the first beast. In fact, he actually directs worship of the unsaved world to the first beast. I, not to insult the sweepstakes too much of Ed McMann but I kind of like to refer to the second beast as sort of an Ed McMann type of figure, who said and I can’t do it exactly but you know how it goes, Heeeerrrrs what? Johnny, and so he says that enough and you wonder well, Ed, what are you doing on the stage, all you say is “Here’s Johnny” and then we figure out why he’s on the stage, he sells those sweepstakes and makes millions of dollars in the process. But that’s beside the point.
Ed McMann’s purpose was to attract attention to Johnny Carson, it was not the Ed McMann show, it was the Johnny Carson’s show. Johnny Carson was given attention, given adulation, directed towards him by Ed McMann. That, in essence is what this second beast is doing. This, I hope you recognize, is a tremendous imitation of the Triune Trinity, what we know as the Trinity, because we have in the Trinity a third eternally existent member of the Trinity, sometimes called the forgotten member of the Trinity. And who would that member of the Trinity be? It would be the Holy Spirit. What exactly is the function and the role of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit has many functions and roles but no doubt one of the key attributes, one of the key activities of the Holy Spirit is to attract attention to the Son, the second member.
Jesus spoke of this in John 15:26, in the Upper Room. He says, “”When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” it’s not going to be the Ed McMann Show, it’s not going to be the Holy Spirit’s show, if the Holy Spirit gets His hands on anything He always draws attention to Jesus Christ. That’s why it’s sort of troubling to look at certain groups within Christianity that seem to place so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit when the reality of the situation is I think the Holy Spirit would be somewhat embarrassed by that attention because the Holy Spirit wants to draw attention to the Son.
And this is how you can determine if the Holy Spirit is in charge of anything, the attention always goes, not to a man, not to a group, not to a platform, not to a series of academic degrees, but always to Jesus Christ. In fact, that’s how you can tell that your life is basically what we would call a Spirit-led life, people should be able to look at your life and see in your life the character of Jesus Christ because that’s the function of the Holy Spirit. And so with this second beast coming along and drawing attention to the first beast, what do we have here? We have nothing more than an imitation of what God has done which is the best Satan can do. There’s another sort of imitation going on here, I’ve got this chart, which don’t worry, I’m not going to unleash on you any time soon, I came up with twenty-one similarities between Jesus Christ and antichrist.
How Satan Imitates GOD and the Antichrist imitates Jesus Christ
No. Category Jesus Christ Antichrist
- World prepared in advance Galatians 4:4 2 Thessalonians 2:7
- Revealed at the proper time Galatians 4:4 2 Thessalonians 2:7
- Claim of deity John 14:9 2 Thessalonians 2:6
- Heralded by a forerunner John 14:9 2 Thessalonians 2:4
- Forerunner comes: Elijah’s Spirit & power Luke 1:7; 1 Kings 18:37-38 Revelation 13:13
- Empowered by a higher source 1 Corinthians 6:15 Revelation 13:14
- Member of a Trinity John 14:9; Philip. 1:2, Acts 5:3-4 Revelation 16:13
- Head of a Church Ephesians 5:23 Revelation 2:9; 3:9
- Miracle worker Acts 2:22 2 Thessalonians 2:9
- Resurrection from the dead 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 Revelation 13:3, 12, 14
- Given a throne Revelation 3:21 Revelation 13:2
- Ruling a political kingdom Isaiah 9:6-7 Revelation 13:5
- Ushering in world peace Revelation 6:1-4 Isaiah 9:6-7
- Activity in the Temple Luke 2:41-50 2 Thessalonians 2:4
- Putting an end to animal Hebrews 9:26-29 Daniel 9:27
- Length of ministry Over 3 years Revelation 13:5 17.
- Sealing ministry Ephesians 4:20 Revelation 13:16-17
- Presentation to Israel as her Messiah John 1:11 John 5:43
- Covenant with Israel Genesis 15:18 Daniel 9:27
- Reception of worship Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16
- Establishing Jerusalem as global worship center Zechariah 14:17 2 Thessalonians 2:4
But you’ll notice that one of the similarities as you look at numbers 4, 5, etc. is the ministry of Jesus Christ was heralded by a forerunner. And who was that forerunner? That forerunner was a man named John the Baptist. In fact, this is what John the Baptist said in John 1:29 when he saw Jesus coming. “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the” what? “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” You see, Jesus really has two spotlights on Him during His earthly life it was primarily the ministry of John the Baptist and also during His earthly life but at the present time it’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit. What is the devil doing here is he’s imitating John the Baptist. And he’s imitating the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I want you to understand something very clearly, that Satan, 2 Corinthians 11:14, disguises himself as an angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:14, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”] He takes truth to such a degree, without giving you the whole truth, that it looks real. It looks genuine, it looks authentic. In fact, when the prophet Ezekiel described Satan as an unfallen angel in Ezekiel 28:12-17, it’s an amazing chapter about the beauty of Satan and how he sort of, the best I can tell, refracted the light that came from God in the form of a glorious rainbow.
[Ezekiel 28:12-17, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.  “You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.  “By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.”’]
That’s Satan. And this is why most people today can’t recognize the work of Satan or the activity of Satan is they’ve been sold the line that evil looks evil. No it doesn’t, evil appears attractive; it appears beautiful. That’s why the Book of Proverbs says “There is a way that seems right but the end thereof is death.” [Proverbs 16:25] Why would it seem right? Because of the beautiful side of evil which is what we’re seeing here in this particular passage.
And how beautiful is this evil? It’s so beautiful that it’s even performing miracles. I mean, who could be against miracles, signs and wonders. Notice, if you will, the miracles of the second beast, and I’m looking there in verse 13, “He performs” not just signs but “great signs,” the Greek word there is mega, mega signs, as in megaphone, BIG, LARGE attractive signs. This word “signs” to me is so interesting, it’s the Greek word sēmeion. And by the way, it’s not the first place in the Bible that this word where sēmeion is used. Do you know where else this word is used to depict someone’s ministry? It’s used in John 20:30-31 to describe the signs of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the summary statement of the whole Gospel of John. John 20:30-31, “Therefore many other” what? “signs” sēmeion “Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these [signs] have been written so that you may” what? fill your head with knowledge. NO, “believe that Jesus is the Christ,” why, what does He have that I don’t have, [can’t understand word] “so that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have” what? “life in His name.”
The regeneration, the Spirit’s indwelling comes into a person the moment they trust in the true Jesus as validated by His signs. And man, there were some signs in the Gospel of John, weren’t there, seven of them to be exact. The first one was the changing of water to wine at Cana of Galilee. The last one was the resuscitation of Lazarus from the dead. I mean, you talk about signs, the Gospel of John records them.
And I find it very interesting to note that this is the exact same word signs here. Pastor, are you telling me that when the false prophet shows up he’s going to be performing signs on equal par with Jesus Christ? I would have to answer that question yes, that’s what the Greek language communicates through the repetition of this word “signs.” Are you saying, Pastor, that Satan has as much power as God? No I’m not saying that! God is the Creator, Satan is the created being. We know who’s going to win this war. But that doesn’t mean that as a created being Satan is somehow powerless. He has incredible power that will be unleashed upon the world even in the performing of great signs and wonders of a satanic variety.
We have a parallel passage here in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul, the apostle, says, “that is, the one whose coming” now he’s talking there about the lawless one or the antichrist, “that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power, signs and false wonders.” The Greek word for power there is dýnamis, where we get the word dynamite or dynamic. The Greek word for signs there is sēmeion and the Greek word for “wonders” is téras. You say well who cares? Here’s why you should care, because those are the same words used to describe the miracles of Jesus Christ. The word dýnamis is used of Christ in Matthew 11:20. [Matthew 11:20, “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.”] The word sēmeion, as we’ve already looked at is used of Christ in John 20:30. [John 20:30, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;”] And the word téras is used of Christ in Acts 2:22. [Acts 2:22, “”Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—“]
This, I believe, is one of the most important slides I’ve ever produced in my whole life. And I used this slide over and over again at the College of Biblical Studies, wonderful people there but many of them came out of sort of a charismatic signs and wonders mindset, condition to believe that every miracle that ever occurred in their life had to be God because only God performed signs and wonders. And yet it’s not so. This slide contains every miracle in the Bible taking place that’s real and authentic that God doesn’t have anything to do with. God is not behind any of these miracles. And you say well, if God is not behind these miracles where do the miracles come from? They came from another source, a beautiful source but an evil source. God is not the only one in this universe that performs signs and wonders. Satan, obviously not having as much power as God has, obviously has a deep reservoir of an ability to give humans experiences; might I even say miracles that they’re looking for.
And look at what this second beast does, one of his miracles is described at the end of verse 13, [“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.” [Revelation 13:13]
You want to talk about the imitation game? Can you think of a prophet in the Old Testament that brought fire down from heaven at Mount Caramel. It was Elijah, wasn’t it. [ 2 Kings 1:12, “Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.”] 1 Kings 18:36 of Elijah’s true miracle wrought by God says, “Then fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”
And you also see fire taking place on the Day of Pentecost, when the church was born. It says in Acts 2:3, “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.” By the way, when Jesus comes back, the Second Advent at the end of the tribulation period there’s going to be a lot of fire involved. You say well how do you know that? It’s in your Bible. 2 Thessalonians 1:7, “and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” And one of these days God’s going to take this whole world and He’s going to burn it by fire. 2 Peter 3:10-13, the dissolution of this world by fire, the replacing of this world with a new heaven and a new earth.
[2 Peter 3:10-13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”]
And here we see the angels [can’t understand word], Satan himself the great imitator, through his work, through this false prophet, the one that looks like a lamb and speaks like a dragon, imitating those very miracles. And what an astounding deception this will bring to the earth, these false miracles coming from a false source. Real miracles, not hokum, not trickery, but coming from a different source. Look at the deception of the world. Look at verse 14 there, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of” what? “because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast,” you know, he is empowered by Satan and we learn that in Revelation 12:9 that Satan is the dragon empowering this first beast and this second beast, and do you recall what Revelation 12:9 says, of Satan’s deceptive ability. It says, “…the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”]
Think about that, I mean, the whole world is a pretty big place. I think one of our problems is we have completely under estimated the power of Satan to deceive the non-Christian, and dare I say also the Christian. You start to understand this and you begin to understand the purpose of the armor of God, how one of those pieces of armor, Ephesians 6, is “the belt of truth.” Another piece is “the sword of the Spirit,” which is the Word of God. How desperately I need these resources. How desperately I need to be in God’s Word, lest my mind too will be pulled into a state of deception. Satan deceived Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 before sin entered the picture. Do you realize that, that Adam and Eve were sinning in the presence of God with no sin barrier whatsoever, they were not dead in their trespasses and sins as humanity began to experience that curse following the fall. And even without that road block in the way Satan deceived them. And if that weren’t enough, do we understand that Satan deceived a third of the angels? Revelation 12:3-4, Revelation 12:7-8. [Revelation 12:3-4, “Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.  And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”]
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. [Revelation 13:14, “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.”]
You mean the angels that stand in the great presence of God, that chant over and over and over and over again around the clock, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD God Almighty,” that saw the Shekinah glory of God, you mean he deceived them? The Bible indicates he did. And if Satan can deceive our forbearers before sin even entered the picture leading to our fall, if he can deceive a third of the angels, not a small number I might add, that’s a big chunk of angels, that’s a big portion of the pot, a third. What do you think he can do with this falling world that doesn’t know Jesus Christ? What havoc do you think he could wreak in your life when you’re walking out of fellowship with God and you’re not perpetually in His Word.
And so the world is deceived by these miracles, including fire from heaven. You say well, why are you belaboring this point? Here’s my concern; society has become an experimentally based society. The proper name for it if you’re looking for one is epistemology which simply put is the study of how we know what we know. How do we figure out what’s right? How do we figure out what’s true. You know what the world system says? If you have an experience it’s gotta be true. It’s interesting to me the talk show hosts, the psychic hotlines, all of the different experiences people can have today, palm reading, whatever it is, and people think it’s true because they’ve had an experience.
And here’s something else that’s even more troubling to me. There is a whole segment today in Christendom of Christianity, that believes the Bible just as sincerely as you believe it, that it’s conditioned the exact same way; if there’s a miracle and it can be validated it has to be of God. That’s why when you talk to somebody who has had an experience one of the worst things you can do is to try to talk them out of that experience because most likely they’ve had the experience. I mean, they’ve seen the vision or the feeling or whatever it is, they’ve seen it, they’ve had it, they can’t be talked out of it. The way to direct the conversation is how do you know from which force that experience has come. This is why I have entitled this message Test All Things.
Now look at that slide, I said my other slide was the most important, I think that one is the most important. I’ll make the other slide second most important. That’s going to give you every verse in the Bible that says “test the spirits.” Test these experiences. People come up and say I’ve had vision A and vision B, experience A and experience B, miracle A and miracle B. My answer is have you tested that, because that experience, maybe it is from God, who am I to say it can’t be? But given my biblical epistemology I have an understand that perhaps that experience can come from the other side, from another source. 1 John 4:1 gives you the strongest admonition and exhortation in this area. It says, “Beloved,” now when he says “Beloved” he’s obviously talking to saved people. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit,” see, the world is conditioning us to accept everything. We’re told all truth must be God’s truth, right? All experiences must be of the divine. That’s not what your Bible says. Your Bible specifically says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit,” in other words, there’s brownie points from God for closed-mindedness, not in a nasty sense, not in an arrogant sense but does it align with these sixty-six books? That’s always the test, does the person whose given you the teaching and the experience, does their doctrine and does their lifestyle align with this book. That’s the only source of truth you have.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits,” in other words, people you know are so open-minded that their brain almost leaks out of their head. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because” a handful of false prophets, ooops, it doesn’t say that, what does it say, “many” see that, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And beloved, let me just say this, the Christian church is not doing this at all or else on a very limited scale. And God only knows that the unsaved world isn’t doing it, probably couldn’t do it if they wanted to having no knowledge of God’s Word. And you can see how, as Scripture and theology and an accurate knowledge of God from these sixty-six books is pushed out of collective conscience of people, of society, having embraced a faulty epistemology of experience, how they’re sitting ducks for this angel of light. They don’t even know he is an angel of light.
And so we read here of his deception, and his deception continues when he begins to set up, end of verse 14, beginning of verse 15, an image, a statue. You say well why a statue? It relates to the nation of Israel’s victory over Antiochus Epiphanes in the intertestamental period. Antiochus Epiphanes came upon the scene and he was a Seleucid, a persecutor of the Jewish people and he went into the functioning Jewish temple, A.D. 167, give or take a few years, and you can read about it in the historical books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, books that we as Protestants don’t accept as divinely inspired but they contain in them, in some instances, valid history. It’s sort of like reading Josephus.
Antiochus went into the Jewish temple, he told the Jews no more sacrifices in this temple, he launched a horrific wave of persecution against the Jews and he set up in that temple an image, singular. The image of Zeus, I think the Greek name if I’m not mistaken, I’m trying to think back to my Greek mythology where we had to memorize so much of these things in grade school, Jupiter is the Greek name, Zeus is the Roman name, the Greek mythology just carried over into Rome. Rome conquered the world politically but Greece conquered Rome culturally. Rome conquered Greece politically, Greece conquered Rome culturally. That’s what I’m saying. So the Greek deities continued to live on in Rome, just they gave them different names.
And this man, Antiochus was so arrogant he went up into the Jewish temple and he set up a singular image in that temple. And the Jews said to themselves, enough of this, and they had a revolt through a man named Judas Maccabaeus, known as the Maccabean Revolt, against all odds the Jews liberated the temple from Seleucid rule and rededicated it to the Lord’s service and they even got a holiday out of the whole thing. Anybody know the holiday? Hanukkah, you see it there in Kislev or December, it kind of runs alongside our time in history where we celebrate Christmas time of the year. And so another holiday was added to the Jewish calendar because of the victory that took place liberating the temple from Antiochus Epiphanes.
If you look very carefully at Daniel 11:31, Daniel four hundred years in advance predicted this event and he predicted what Antiochus would do to the temple and he calls it this: “They,” Antiochus and his forces, “will set up the abomination of desolation.” [Daniel 11:41, “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.”] Aha, so now I have a conceptual meaning of “abomination of desolation.” I know what it means, Antiochus is the prefigurement of the whole thing. He went into the Jewish temple, he persecuted the Jews, he desecrated the temple and he set up a singular image in that temple and then was miraculously overthrown by the people of God.
Did you know that according to Daniel 9:27 the exact expression, “the abomination will come who makes desolate,” virtually the same expression that has a concrete meaning in the fulfillment of the prophecies of Antiochus. Did you know that that same expression is put by the same prophet by the Holy Spirit, into Daniel 9:27 as a prediction of what the coming antichrist will do midway through the tribulation period. In other words, this chart, the picture tries to sort of conceptualize it, but what Antiochus did is about to be repeated.
And you see, you want to talk about something that breaks the scales off the Jewish eyes, when the antichrist goes into the third temple and also like Antiochus sets up a singular image in that temple, the Jews, who have been following the antichrist as their Messiah up to this point in time say wait a minute, somethings wrong here! This man is replicating what one of the villains’ in our history did. I mean, we think very little about Hanukkah. Let me tell you something, Hanukkah, Feast of Lights, the holiday that came out of this because of the liberation of the temple from these terrible things is something that is completely and totally etched on the mind and the soul of a Jewish person. They know an awful lot about it, they just don’t have the vantage point of prophecy that we have, knowing that this same thing is about to recapitulate itself and happen again. And oh my goodness, if that doesn’t wake them up nothing will. And praise the Lord, that’s what wakes them up, when they see the whole thing happen again in the person of the antichrist who up to this point in time they thought was their friend, their Messiah.
And with that background in mind you start to understand why the Holy Spirit calls our attention to the image. What does it say there in verse 14, “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” singular, “to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.”
Right there in the middle of the tribulation period the image is set up in the third functioning Jewish temple. In fact you’ll notice there in brackets the word image is eikōn, you recognize that word, we use that word oftentimes to describe religious things that we venerate, eikōn, here it’s not plural it’s singular and it’s an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and came back to life. In other words, the beast that rose, and we’ve talked about that, has an image in his honor set up in temple number three. That’s why Daniel uses abomination of desolation yet future, the same way he used it to describe something yet past concerning Antiochus Epiphanes; that’s why this image becomes a big deal. But you see, let me tell you something about the antichrist, he’s even going to go further than Antiochus because at least Antiochus set up an image to someone else, Jupiter, or Zeus. But what does Daniel’s prophecies indicate concerning the coming antichrist? He will be worshipped above what? ALL that is called God.
Many people today are trying to tell me that the antichrist is going to be Muslim. I have a very difficult time with that interpretation because I just can’t, for the life of me, see a devout Muslim elevate himself over Allah. But you see, this coming antichrist is different because the image is to him because he had the wound of the sword and has come back to life. You know, many, many liberals will try to tell you there’s nothing to see here folks, move right along, we all know that Daniel’s prophesies were all fulfilled in the past in Antiochus Epiphanes. That’s an impossibility, because Antiochus Epiphanes was nor worshipped above all that is called God. The very image that he put in the temple demonstrates that. This won’t be an image to Jupiter, this won’t be an image to Zeus, this will be an image dedicated to the antichrist himself.
In fact, this image is so interesting it actually performs miracles. Look at verse 15, “And it was given to him to give breathe to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast would even speak.” Now I remember reading that and remember thinking to myself I’ve already seen that at Disneyland, talking rocks and going through the haunted house there in Disneyland, and rocks are talking at you. I guess what I’m trying to say is technologically we’re so advanced you can see something like this happening but not to put too much of an emphasis on technology because the way I read it it looks like yet another miracle. And image is actually talking; an image actually has pneuma or breathe and you’ll also notice at the end of verse 15 it says, “and caused as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” If you don’t play ball, you don’t cooperate, you’re immediately killed.
What is this? This is the enslavement of the earth. This is a season in history where the shackles are completely upon every man, woman and child and living and breathing member of the human race… enslavement, a level of enslavement that you’ve never seen before in human history. How can I read this passage without thinking of Daniel3. You remember Daniel 3? Remember Nebuchadnezzar set up that image demanding that everyone in the kingdom worshiped the image? What Nebuchadnezzar did there with his image, ninety feet high, nine feet wide, eight stories, perhaps the image that’s coming won’t be that big. It wouldn’t fit into the temple I wouldn’t think. But it will have far more power than the image of Daniel 3 which enslaved Babylon. The coerced worship associated with the second beast and the image will enslave the entire planet.
And isn’t it interesting that that is where Satan’s program always ends. Have you noticed that? He comes as an angel of light and it looks so appealing and it looks so attractive, and it looks so right but the end thereof is death. Hey, you didn’t reveal that to me in the front end angel of light, did you? You just told me to turn my head a little bit away from the things of God and look at the bondage now that I am in. How many people do you know in this world that are in a total state of bondage, emotionally, financially, spiritually, simply because they were listening to the wrong voices? They were listening to the voice that was sort of tantalizing to the sin nature.
You think of the sexual revolution in the 60’s, free love, and how that was promoted as freedom and the chains are removed from us and we can get rid of the old morality and embrace what’s called the new morality. And how many lives went down that path only to discover that getting frequent tests for AIDS and HIV and venereal diseases is really not freedom at all, is it? What a rude awakening that is. Unwanted pregnancy is not freedom at all. Abortion is not freedom at all, it looks right but the end thereof is death.
And how different it is when a person responds to the voice of Christ. Didn’t Jesus say in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you” what? “set you free.” John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free you will be free indeed.” Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” How about 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”
It’s just fascinating to me how Satan has convinced this world into somehow thinking that the ways of Christ are enslavement and His ways are emancipation. And then you get to the end of the line and you learn it’s the exact opposite. He is the one that will take this human race and enslave it. And I say this today because there are people here that need to hear what I’m saying, because you need to trust in Christ for salvation which is the ultimate liberation of the human soul. And then there are other people within the sound of my voice that have been tempted to go back to the old path, the old ways before you met Christ. Somehow thinking that the ways of God in my life really aren’t working out, I need to go back to the man centered approach, not understanding where it’s going to lead. Satan will never ever tell you what’s coming on the frontend (probably one of the best used car salesmen in history).
And so as we conclude here think about this if you’re a Christian. Is this time in your life to covenant yourself back under the ways of God because of a wayward habit, a wayward lifestyle a wayward thought pattern, whatever it may be? You say to the Lord, you know I just don’t want to do that anymore because I know where it ends. And then of course if you’re an unsaved person the ultimate enslavement for you is really right around the corner because you have no Savior. Whom the Son makes free “will be free indeed.” [John 8:36] “”So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Who in their right mind would turn that down. Freedom from what? Freedom from a pointless life, freedom from perpetual alienation from God, and freedom from hell.
That’s what Jesus offers through the gospel. We call it the gospel because it’s good news; it’s good news because Jesus bridged the gap between fallen humanity and a holy God. The only thing He requires of us is not to do more, we’re not a doing system, we’re a done system. We don’t save ourselves by our own good works, we rest on His good works by way of faith. And there are no doubt people in the sound of my voice that have never trusted in Christ for their salvation. And so our exhortation for you is to do that now, to rest or trust the best you know how in the privacy of your own mind and heart in the finished work of Jesus Christ for the safe keeping of your soul and your security. And the moment you do that you have complete and total spiritual freedom inside of you. Now only is your whole future different but you now have within you the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit which will help you in your daily walk with the Lord. If it’s anything you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for these verses and their revelation to us concerning the ways of God and the ways of Lucifer, the angel of light, the light-bearer. Help us to be people that stay close to You, stay in fellowship with You, stay in Your word so that our minds are protected from the great deception that is all about us. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…. Amen.