Beast from the Land - Page 2 (Lessons on Revelation)
by John Lowe
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
The false prophet has a very deadly approach. He is deadly in the way he BLINDS mankind. Signs from heaven and signs from hell will be included in his bag of tricks, and men will be so confused that they will not be able to tell one from the other. John says, “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” This will be no mere sleight of hand, no sham hocus-pocus of a stage magician. This will be a real miracle, convincing the most skeptical of men—all, in fact, except the saints of God. The memory of the two witnesses will be fresh in the minds of men. They summoned fire from heaven; the false prophet will do the same. And who can forget that spectacular miracle by Elijah recorded in 1 Kings 18:36-38 where he called on God to send down fire from heaven. Ironically Elijah had performed that miracle so that God could show who was a true prophet and who was not. The unbelieving Jews demanded that Jesus show them a sign from heaven, and He positively refused to perform such a miracle to support His claims. But the false prophet didn’t follow Jesus’ example! He will delight to set the sky ablaze. Never forget, the devil can perform miracles . . . limited, yes—but miracles.
Keep in mind that these two beasts work together—political and religious. The first will be the leader of the most powerful united kingdom that has ever been on this earth. He will be the most colossal ruler—the boldest, most blasphemous ruler who ever lived upon the face of this earth. The second beast will have no royal authority outside of Palestine; therefore, he uses the power and prestige of the political beast to bring about his diabolical design to get all the peoples of earth to bow down to Rome and worship the great beast who was wounded unto death but now has miraculously come alive. The second beast will have no military power of his own. Military power will be turned over to the first beast by the dragon—the devil. The second beast is much worse than the first. He influences man religiously and leads them into the vilest blasphemy and idolatry. He demands men to worship him. He sits in the temple in Jerusalem and announces publicly that he is God Almighty. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10, especially verse 4—“. . . He will even go into God’s Temple and sit there, claiming that he is God.”
Jesus came in His Father’s name, to do His Father’s will. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. The false messiah will come in his own name, to do his own will (John 5:43). With the exception of those who have believed and been redeemed through the testimony of the 144,000 and the two witnesses of chapter 11, the masses will fall down and receive the beast as their messiah, and joyfully line up to receive his mark in their forehead or in their right hand. They will be sent strong delusion; they will believe the lie. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
He also BLINDS men with signs from hell. John says, “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed . Because of these powers, he will be able to convince people that he preaches the truth, and everyone who is NOT a true believer will be fooled.
The prophet instructs people to make an image of the first beast and to put it in their homes. Then, according to verse 15, the prophet gives the image, or idol, the power to speak. The word speak is often translated “spirit.” This seems to mean that not only can the image speak, but it has a spirit within it that will be watching everyone in his or her home. If anyone strays from total allegiance, that person will somehow be killed, apparently by the idol itself.
The Jerusalem temple will have been rebuilt by this time. The beast, having turned against the Jew, will march his troops into the temple, set up his image in the holy place and command that it be worshipped. This is the “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” referred to by the Lord Jesus in His great prophetic discourse (Matthew 24:22; Daniel 12:1). The image is referred to seven times in Revelation (13:15; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). To worship this image will be the crowning act of blasphemy for mankind. For this sin there will be no forgiveness, either in this life or the next. Yet to refuse to worship it, will cause one to incur the wrath of the beast and to court imminent death. (This is reminiscent of the great statue that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had built to himself and then had required everyone to worship; Daniel 3:1-11). The bringing to life of the image is an unexplained miracle of Satan. Perhaps the devil himself, lurking behind the idol, will lend the wood and stone his own life force. So then, the false prophet, the agent both of the beast and of Satan will blind mankind with the strong delusion, making beast-worship the universal religion of lost mankind.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
The false prophet is deadly not only in the way he BLINDS mankind but also in the way he BINDS mankind. He does this very cleverly, and he does it very completely. John tells us how cleverly he BINDS them. He says “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” In the days of the Roman Empire, a citizen had to offer a pinch of incense on a pagan altar as a token of his loyalty to the Caesar cult. That was all—just a pinch of salt. Christians refused to do it and perished by the thousands for their loyalty to Christ. In a coming day, the last of the Caesar’s will make a similar demand. He will require a simple mark stamped on forehead or hand, as a token of allegiance. This mark is another of the grim parodies which occur in this chapter; it is a parody of a sacred Jewish custom. When a Jew prayed, he wore phylacteries on his left arm and on his forehead. They were little leather boxes with little scrolls of parchment inside them on which the following passages were written—Exodus 13:1-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.
One and all the unregenerate of earth will line up to receive the brand of the beast in a universal display of solidarity. Some will receive the mark because they are convinced. The world, they think, has long needed to unite in a binding federation to end war and waste. These will be convinced that in the beast can be centered a common government, a common market, and a common faith. Others will receive the mark because they are careless. It will make no difference to them one way or the other. They might just as well bow to the beast as to some other dictator and, as for his mark, well, so what? Others will receive the mark because they are spineless. Not to receive that brand will be highly dangerous, for it will put a person into a very unpopular and small minority, a minority opposed to an all-world federation for peace, progress, and prosperity under the highly popular beast. So then, for one reason or another, men will accept the mark. Cleverly, in the name of world unity and under the guise of the good of mankind, the false prophet BINDS mankind.
This mark, sometimes translated, “the mark of the beast,” is designed to mock the mark God places on His followers: John wrote this about the mark God gives to believers—“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (7:2-3).
Just as God marks His people to save them, so Satan’s creature marks his people to save them from the persecution that Satan will inflict upon God’s followers. Identifying this mark is not as important as identifying the purpose of the mark. Those who accept it are showing their allegiance to Satan, their willingness to operate within the economic system he promotes, and their rebellion against God. To refuse the mark means committing oneself entirely to God, preferring death to compromising one’s faith in Christ.