When looking at Revelation chapter 13, we are able to get a clear picture of just who the antichrist is and what his plan will be primarily at the end of this age, though he has been at work since of beginning of time. Among the many things that will be covered throughout this chapter what I will be doing is working to remove a false image of the devil and the antichrist and we have created around him. Though it may sound funny, I want to remove his red tights, pitchfork and cheesy Halloween horns so that we can see a man, who’s fully demonized garnering through deception the heart and loyalty of the nations.
It’s important that we receive sound instruction about the antichrist because it helps us remove the confusion surrounding him and it gives us a sober look at this great opponent of the human race. When I say the great opponent of the human race, I am saying just that; he’s the great opponent of the human race, but not an opponent of God. Jesus will slay this man simply by His breath and His brightness (2nd Thessalonians 2:8). But for the human race, he will cause more havoc and trouble on planet earth than anyone before him and none greater will come after him. This man is the great opponent at the end of this age.
John the Beloved, the one who wrote experienced the Revelation, said in 1st John 2:18 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” Though others spoke of the antichrist, they all reference him indirectly by using other names, but John is the only one who simply calls him the Antichrist. And what he is saying here is that others have come and acted in the spirit of the Antichrist, but they weren’t him. But there is coming a day, when the spirit of the antichrist, which is presently in the world, is going to give way to the physical man, who is called Antichrist.
John records these words from Revelation 12:10,11-12,17 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon: and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was there a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the GREAT DRAGON was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him…for the accuser of our brethren who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death…Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time…And the dragon was enraged with the women, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Here in these verses from Revelation 12 we get a clear picture into the storyline of the devil and his activity which was previously taking place in the heavenly realm but now is moving into the earthly realm. It’s here in Revelation 12 that the devil is thrown down to the earth and it’s in Revelation 13, the following chapter that we see a beast (the Antichrist) arising out of the sea, moving through the nations, persecuting both Jews and Gentiles, and working to steal from Jesus His beautiful bride.
As I have discussed in previous chapters, the power of looking at the Revelation constantly and coming to understand it more and more, is that we see the book isn’t broken up nearly as much as we think it is. It’s far more congregant than most give it credit. I challenging you to read this chapter with an open mind and pray as we look at these verses to see what the devil’s final plan for life in this age really is. For it’s clearly spelled out here in Revelation 13.
The Incarnation Of The Lawless One (Revelation 13:1-4)
John opens by saying in Revelation 13:1 “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his head a blasphemous name.” When we look at the whole testimony of scripture we can clearly see that this beast John sees isn’t so much a beast, but rather a man, the Antichrist. The Antichrist is like Jesus Christ, in that he is incarnated as fully man, but yet fully demonized. Jesus Christ was God incarnate, meaning that He was both fully God and fully Man at the same time.
The reason John sees him coming up from the sea is because he is the fully embodiment of earthly life and earthly wisdom. James says in James 3:14-15,17 “But if you have bitter envy and self seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic….but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits…” And then Paul says in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 speaking of the Antichrist “…For that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped…”
Both James and Paul let us know that this earthly, demonized man is someone who will embody life in this age and will work to exalt himself above God, above humility, lowliness and meekness. It was in the days of Nazi Germany that a wicked man who was energized by the spirit of the antichrist spoke with such disdain of meekness and lowliness and saw them as despicable qualities. Though Hitler was evil, this one who is coming later, will far surpass Hitler in his attempt to exalt himself above God.
John sees that this beast who is emerging from the sea has both seven heads and ten horns which joins him to his father the devil. If you remember from Revelation 12:3,9 John saw “And another sign appeared in heaven; behold, a great fiery dragon having seven heads and ten horns…so the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan…” In short these seven heads represent seven empires that persecuted Israel in the past and will again partner with the Antichrist during his short 7 year campaign to do it yet again. These seven horns are ten kings (Kingdoms) that will also partner with the antichrist during this time as well (Dan. 7:7, 20,24; Rev. 17:3, 7, 9-11, 12).
From the initial arising of the beast John gets further information about the Antichrist. In Revelation 13:2-3 he sees this “Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”
The Characteristics of the beast that John seen had three primary facets. First, He was like a leopard. This speaks of his swiftness with which he will both emerge on the scene and move through the nations with power. Second, John saw that he was like a bear. This speaks of his power that he will wield militarily, politically and economically. And third, he was like a lion which represent’s his fierceness to devour (Dan. 7; Joel 1:6-7).
The reason why the Antichrist is described by John as a beast is because he isn’t like any one animal, or thing. He’s a mixture of several things and different types of animals. There is nothing like him, nor has there ever been anything like him. It’s evident that the Antichrist will be empowered and sent forth by the devil himself, who will also vest him with great demonic authority. This demonic authority will be to send him forth in power as a mock or counterfeit messiah. And just like Jesus, the Antichrist will have a mortal (deadly) wound that will have been healed (a counterfeit resurrection). This will be the first time that the earth has had two messiahs (one counterfeit and One real) being preached simultaneously, and both being attested to with signs and wonders (some lying signs and some true signs)(Daniel 8:25).
Looking at the difference between the Antichrist and the true Christ of God is mindboggling. They are contrasted through vast differences, but it’s deception will capture the imagination of many. Here is a small list of some of the contrasts;
Christ will come from above, and the Antichrist will ascend from below. Christ will come in His Father’s name and the Antichrist will come in his own name. Christ humbled himself and the Antichrist will exalt himself. Christ was despised in rejected and the Antichrist will be admired. Christ will be finally exalted and the Antichrist will be cast into hell. Christ came to do His Father’s will and the Antichrist comes to do his own will. Christ came to save the lost and the Antichrist comes to destroy the lost. Christ is the Good Shepherd and the Antichrist is the false shepherd. Christ is the 2nd Person of the holy Trinity and the Antichrist is the 2nd person of an unholy trinity. Christ has a pure bride, holy an chaste and the Antichrist has an apostate church/harlot or a whore.
When the contrasts are laid out clearly for us to see, we can understand why the Bible refers to the Antichrist as a counterfeit messiah and a man of lawlessness who embodies life in this age.
In Revelation 13:4 John says So they worshiped the dragon (satan) who gave authority to the beast (antichrist); and they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? What we see in this passage is that prior to Jesus’ return, at the end of this age, there will be two houses of prayer colliding on a world stage. Both will have a messiah, both will have ideals, both with have signs and wonders and they will be fueled with music. The devil is currently raising up forerunners that will speak on behalf of the harlot Babylon as she has been and will continue to set up shop in the nations. But that harlot Babylon system will give way to the revealing of the Antichrist whom John tells us that the earth will worship.
It’s not just that they are worshipping their messiah (Antichrist) but they are also worshipping the dragon (satan) who give his authority to the Antichrist. Have you ever taken a moment to think about what the earth will look like when the majority of the nations are openly worshipping a fully demonized man and his father the devil? We are talking about untold billions openly engaged in overt worship of the devil. So much so, they will be giving themselves to him in the same way that the Church is giving themselves to Jesus, singing the same song “who is like the beast, and who can make war with him?”
Through this verse and the subsequent ones, we see that the purpose of the beast is far more than political power, influence or economic status; it’s to garner the affection of the human heart in worship. When the devil rebelled in heaven, he was working to be worshipped in the same way God was. From that time forward his primary, if not only goal is to be worshipped as god, in the same way that God is worshipped.
The Antichrist’s Global Persecution (Revelation 13:5-10)
The story of John’s experience watching the beast emerge from the sea continues with Antichrists wicked, vile and global persecution of Jews, non-Jewish Christians and Gentiles alike. John says in Revelation 13:5-6 “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.”
It’s important that we see neither the devil nor the Antichrist have power in and of themselves. God has given them the authority and power that they operate in. They are both created beings and are predestined for eternity in the lake of fire. Through the first 3 ½ years of the antichrist empire on earth, he will introduce through the Harlot Babylon a religion of tolerance (Revelation 17,18). But it’s here in the final 3 ½ years of his 7 year empire that the Antichrist introduces a religion of intolerance. And although the great tribulation is only 42 months, it’s critical that we comprehend that this will be the longest 3 ½ years of human history. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:21-22 that this hour, these 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation will be the darkest and most difficult time in human history and if God didn’t shorten them to less than 3 ½ years, literally no flesh would survive.
It’s here in Revelation 13:7-8 that we see John’s vision shift from the antichrist’s power and arising to the war that he wages against the people of God. John says “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This is a most interesting turn in the story of his global campaign against the people of God. It’s common for nations to fight against nations, or ethnic groups against other ethnic groups but not with the antichrist. This passage among others tells us that the man (Antichrist) with the most power, the greatest economic base and governmental authority will use all of it to take out his rage (Rev. 12:11-12) primarily on Jews and Christians. This is stunning and nothing like it has taken place in human history to the degree that it will happen at the end of this age.
Daniel 7:25 speaking of this future wicked leader says “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the most High, and he shall intended to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his (Antichrist) for a time, times and half a time (3 ½ years).” Beloved, it’s not that we are to fear this hour, but we must approach it soberly and cognizant that there is a very difficult hour yet ahead.
It’s my personal belief, primarily from the ample scriptures in the Word of God, many Godly present and historical Christian authors and a growing community within the Body of Christ that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation at the end of this age. This means that I don’t believe that this word saints used in Revelation 13:7 is speaking of Jewish believers who were converted during the Great Tribulation.
In this chapter I will share four simple, yet profound reasons according to the Word of God in defense of my belief that the Church will endure the Great Tribulation. First, the word Saints used here in Revelation 13:7 is Strong’s Greek word #40 and it’s the only word used for saints from Matthew 27-Revelation 20:9 (Which includes the entire New Testament). The word simply means pure, scared, blameless or consecrated. It’s terrible exegesis and Bible interpretation for us to have the word Saints refer to both Jews and Gentiles throughout the whole of the New Testament and then something different here for Revelation 13:7.
Second, some assume that because the Word Church isn’t mentioned after Revelation 3 that it means the Church isn’t involved in the Great Tribulation or the remainder of the Revelation for that matter (this belief is strongly aheadered to by many within the body of Christ). What we must consider when making this inference, is that there are 6 other epistles where the word Church isn’t mentioned (2nd Timothy, Titus, 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, 2nd John and Jude). If we kept with this mode of interpretation we would have to say that those 6 Epistles are also only for Jews and not Gentile Christians which is silly and heretical.
Third, though the word Church isn’t mentioned after Revelation 3 these words are;
“Saints, Souls of those slain for the Word of God, fellow servants, servants of God, a great multitude which no one could number of all nations, tribes—coming up out of the great tribulation, the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Saints, Saints, those who follow the Lamb, Saints—those who keep the faith of Jesus, the dead who die in the Lord from now on, those having the victory over the beast-over his image—having the harps of God, they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, she was drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, those who are with Christ are called, chosen and faithful, you holy apostles and prophets, in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her, praise Him all you who fear Him both small and great, Him who sat on the horse and His army, the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus (Revelation 5:8; 6:9,11; 7:3,9,14a,14b; 12:17; 13:7,10; 14:4,12,13; 15:2; 16:5-6; 17:6,14; 18:20,24; 19:2,5,19;20:4).”
Fourth and lastly, many assume that the Revelation is primarily historical which means we don’t need to look at it as still yet coming in the future. The truth is, we have never seen a leader rule with a worldwide dominion, being worshipped as God by the majority of the earth. We have certainly had leaders in the past that were lower case antichrists, but we have never seen the capital letter Antichrist that the Bible prophecies is still coming. This means that the previous leaders were only prefiguring a much more sinister man who is still coming.
Continuing along in the Revelation, John says in Revelation 13:9-10 “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints.” Beloved, in light of what just took place, John is giving a sober exhortation into faith and patience in the midst of certain death. This is what we call a divine pause. In between Revelation 13:1-8 and 9-18 we receive this sober calling by John.
Though the day of divine retribution is coming to all that inflict pain on the ones He loves, it will take endurance to see that day. And throughout the Word of God the scriptures concur that God has called us to have faith and patience while we are still yet waiting to overcome. Beloved, we have need of endurance so that in the midst of tribulation, crisis and the shaking of the nations that we would stand fast in and through Christ.
The Unholy Trinity (Revelation 13:11-14)
Now we see the root of this counterfeit messiah, an unholy trinity. Because of the devil’s relationship with the Godhead prior to his fall, he seen a picture of perfect unity, family and humility and it’s from this vision that he been working to corrupt it and market it to the masses. John says in Revelation 13:11-12 “Then I saw another beast (the False Prophet) coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. And he exercised all the authority of the first beast (the Antichrist) in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast who’s deadly wound was healed.”
It’s through this vision that John sees the 3rd person of this unholy trinity, the false prophet. Just like the first beast (Antichrist) he also comes up from below, which makes clear his earthly/demonic nature. In the Holy Trinity, God the Father sent forth His Son and the Son sent forth the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness to the Son, and the Son bears witness to the Father. But in the unholy trinity the devil sends the Antichrist and the Antichrist sends the false prophet. The false prophet bears witness to the Antichrist and the Antichrist bears witness to the devil (the dragon). This is seen clearly in Revelation 13:2,4,11,12 “…the dragon (satan) gave him (Antichrist) his (satan) power, his (satan) throne and great authority…so they worshipped the dragon (satan) who gave authority to the beast (Antichrist); and they worshiped the beast (Antichirst)…I saw another beast (false prophet)…who spoke like a dragon (satan)…the second beast causes the earth and those that dwell in it to the worship the first beast (Antichrist)…” Beloved, these things are not a mystery, in that they are clearly revealed through the Word of God.
In Revelation 13:11 John refers to the 3rd person of the unholy trinity as “another beast”, but in Revelation 19:20 John clearly identifies this “other beast” as the False Prophet. The body of Christ will need great discernment in that hour because John says in Revelation 13:11 that this False Prophet looks like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon. The truth is, this false prophet will look tender and approachable, but his speech will give him away. He will be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, young and tender like a lamb, but his voice joins him to the unholy trinity for it’s the same as his father, the devil.
The reason the Church will need great discernment in that hour is because what we see won’t be true. Though he looks like a lamb, his voice gives him away as he speaks like the dragon. Just like Isaac was deceived by going with what he felt when he touched Jacob, more than what he heard in Genesis 27, so also in that day we won’t be able to go by what we see, but by what we hear. This False Prophet will even be pointing to a real (counterfeit) messiah who has actually been raised from the dead through demonic power. The confusion and crisis that this unholy trinity will be a great deception to many sincere, and well meaning Christians.
It’s during this time that John says in Revelation 13:13-14 “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” In an hour when two resurrections are being preached and both being attested to by sings and wonders it will take a lifestyle of prayer and fasting coupled with a fierce allegiance to Jesus in order to stand fast in the faith. Some lying signs and wonders and some truthful sings and wonders being from the public stage will cause many to both come to Christ and others to lose their way.
One of the things that will make us like the Revelation 1:5 Jesus who was called the Faithful Witness of God is that we will have to speak out and expose this great deception within the nations. Often times our ideas of being a faithful witness don’t include speaking out against the head of every nation who is commanding everyone in every place to worship him at the penalty of death. Among the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will be taking place, this will be the darkest, most difficult hour of human history.
The Antichrist’s Threefold Global Campaign (Revelation 13:15-18)
It says in Revelation 13:15-17 “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the number the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Through this passage we get a clear picture of the Antichrist’s threefold campaign to be worshiped as god throughout all the earth. And according to the timeline of Bible prophecy regarding the final 7 years of the tribulation, this is what begins the great tribulation, or the final 3 ½ years. Jesus called it the “Abomination of desolation.” In Matthew 24:15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads let him understand)…” This is a weighty passage of scripture, so much so that Jesus gives you and I a pause to make sure we understand what’s being said.
Mike Bickle has rightly said that is called “the abomination that leads to desolation.” When it’s said that way we can better understand that this specific abomination actually leads not only the Antichrist and the people but the nations into great desolation. It’s at this time that the antichrist will replace the Revelation 17 (Harlot Babylon) religion of tolerance with his religion of intolerance and this will be enforced by the penalty of death for all who refuse it. This religion of intolerance will be the Antichrists demand that every person in every nation worship him as god.
Speaking of this very hour and situation Paul said in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4 “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless first the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” It’s been rightly said that you can’t fall away from something that you’re not a part of. So this great falling away, which was great enough for the Apostle Paul to make a prophecy about are actually Christians who will leave the body of Christ in mass, making a break from traditional Christianity as we have received it from our forefathers. And the man of lawlessness is none other than the antichrist himself who will move into the temple, set himself in the holy place, declaring himself to be god. This is what first Daniel, then Jesus and finally Paul spoke of as the abomination that leads to desolation.
Through these final verses in Revelation 13 it’s clear to see that the Antichrists kingdom will comprise three primary elements. We will briefly look at them here. First, it’s a spiritual kingdom. Revelation 13:15 “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not WORSHIP the image of the beast to be killed.” The Antichrist won’t be satisfied until the nations worship him as god, but to garner the worship of the nations he will have to enforce that worship at the penalty of death.
Second, it’s a political kingdom. Revelation 13:16 “He CAUSES all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads…” It will be impossible for the Antichrist to pull off global worship without a strong political system in place where there is trust in him and his ability to lead. His leadership will be attested to throughout the nations by demonic wisdom, but also with signs and wonders. This wisdom coupled with signs and wonders will capture the imagination of the people and they will hail him as god.
Third and lastly, it will be a financial kingdom. Revelation 13:17 “…and that no one may BUY or SELL except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” The Antichrist will tie up all the food and general commerce in connection to the worship of him. This alone will cause multitudes, to join his system and pledge their allegiance to him sealing their fate in the lake of fire. When I say multitudes, I am assuming that the number will be in the billions. Beloved, the majority of the earth will be following the antichrist and his path is a road marked out for death and separation from Christ and eternity with Him.
Earlier in this chapter, I mentioned that prior to the devil’s fall from heaven, he seen the Holy Trinity operating in perfect unity, family and humility. Well, he also seen God’s final plan to reign with His saints for a 1,000 years on the earth. And this plan that the Antichrist will enact will actually be mirroring Jesus millennial reign. During the Millennial reign one Man (Jesus Christ) will have all the WORSHIP, WISDOM and WEALTH. And during the Tribulation one man, the Antichrist will attempt to have all the WORSHIP—spiritual, WISDOM—political and all the WEALTH—financial. This is sober and should cause us to stand before God, in the power of the Holy Spirit and gain understand into the hour that’s yet ahead.
With those sober words, John closes Revelation 13 with Revelation 13:18 saying “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; his number is 666.” This is a call to wisdom, understanding and discernment in light of what’s coming to the earth. These visions totally shook John to his core and they should do the same to us. Beloved, we must abandon all of the rhetoric that we hear within the Christian community about the book of Revelation and the Antichrist if it’s not rooted, steeped in and filled with Biblical clarity and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The reason I say this is because many in leadership among the Church have little or no room in their lives for the book of Revelation. This must not be so among us. We must immerse ourselves in this book, while talking with the Holy Spirit to gain understanding of Jesus Christ and the Revelation of Himself that His Father gave Him.
And just for fun, I have no special information about the mark of the beast. I have no decoder ring, or secret key to gain understanding into what the Bible calls the mark of the beast. The only thing I do know about this, is that you won’t receive it by accident. It will be a pledge of allegiance that a person will make away from Christ and towards the Antichrist. You will be worshipping him as God and at that time you will separate yourself from the life of God and un-savable. That I do know.
My pray for you and I is that we would take these words to heart and change whatever needs to be changed within us that we might find ourselves fully alive in God, filled with clarity about the hour that’s yet ahead and ready to equip others both within and outside the family of God.