THE ANTICHRIST, THE FALSE PROPHET, AND THE IMAGE
THE ANTICHRIST, THE FALSE PROPHET, AND THE IMAGE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Book of Revelation stresses the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Image of Antichrist as major concerns of the last days. Just what are these people or forces? Without pretending to be the last word on the subject I would like to offer an opinion for the reader's consideration.
Table of Contents
THE ANTICHRIST, THE FALSE PROPHET, AND THE IMAGE
It is not my way to spend time writing about novel or exciting aspects of the Bible. Unless a subject has direct bearing on the behavior of the believer, leading him or her to iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father, it is of little interest to me.
In view of the amount of space given in the Bible to the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Image of Antichrist, and the nature of the comments associated with these three forces, I am going to present to you the extent of my understanding at this time.
Any interpretation of the symbols of the Book of Revelation must have a "down home" flavor. The interpretation should not present exotic, bizarre, foreign portrayals, like the current view of the two witnesses as two bearded patriarchs coming down from Heaven and breathing out fire. We should see behind the angels and stars of Revelation just people in the most ordinary of circumstances. However, some of the scenarios of Revelation are describing spirits and circumstances invisible to us.
I now will tell you what I believe to be the interpretation of the three enemies of God and man. Then if you violently disagree you need not read further.
I see the Antichrist as self-centeredness, man-centeredness, in the political, educational, financial, social, judicial, military, vocational, and entertainment realms. The opposite of self-centeredness, as I am using the term, is a focus on the needs and rights of God.
I see the False Prophet as self-centeredness in the spiritual and religious realms.
I see the Image of the Antichrist as money, in keeping with the image of gold constructed by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was the "head of gold."
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 2:1—NIV)
In your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. (Daniel 2:38—NIV)
The golden statue constructed by Nebuchadnezzar was the image of Nebuchadnezzar, the image of the wealth Nebuchadnezzar represented.
The kingdom of the Antichrist will operate by money, just as we see today that the main issue of the international community is money.
The symbol 666 refers to man making himself God, six being the number of man and three being the number of God.
The symbol 666 in the hand is man acting according to his own self-centered, self-seeking ambitions and pleasures, with money as the idol.
The symbol 666 in the forehead is man thinking according to his own self-centered, self-seeking ambitions and pleasures, with money as the idol.
The penalty for not receiving the symbol is associated with—you guessed it—money! You can't buy or sell.
It is of interest that Solomon's kingdom is associated with 666, emphasizing, as we will discuss later, the role of money in self-serving Christianity.
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, (I Kings 10:14—NIV)
I warned you that I like simple, down-home explanations.
Think about the United States of America in the present hour. The prevailing characteristic of the political, educational, financial, judicial, social, military, vocational, and entertainment realms is self-centeredness and man-centeredness. Antichrist is here already. Man is making himself god and the result is social anarchy.
The prevailing characteristic of the spiritual and religious realms is self-centeredness. The believers are seeking spiritual power and wisdom for their own happiness, success, and aggrandizement.
The American people worship money. Money is the first consideration of life in numerous instances. As we read the newspaper we see that money is playing an ever-increasing role in the affairs of the nations, great and small.
In America, people act and think according to their self-seeking ambitions and pleasures and are supported by the philosophy behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The emphasis of the Declaration of Independence is on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of God, His Kingdom and His righteousness. It was a declaration of independence from England and has evolved into a declaration of independence from God.
Our Constitution appears to be, at least in part, a product of the Age of Reason.
Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Image of Antichrist are alive and well in the United States of America.
And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. (Revelation 13:1—NIV)
The Antichrist is not the opposite of Christ but the imitation of Christ. It would be much easier for us to detect the work of Antichrist if he were the opposite of Christ.
The Book of First John mentions that those who were of Antichrist left the church, and so the spirit of Antichrist has been with us at least from the first century.
There is a spirit of Antichrist, we might say, and then there will be in the near future, possibly, a person, man or woman, in whom the Antichrist spirit will find total fulfillment. I think this person will be a deceived Christian.
The spirit of Antichrist is man making himself his own god. That's all, no new, complicated idea. Yet lawlessness, or self-rule, is a mystery, a secret power.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7—NIV)
If a person from the tenth century, let's say, were to live in America for a while he would be amazed at the emphasis on the "rights of people." Ever since the nobles rebelled against King John putting limits on royal power, followed by the evolution of the Parliament of England, the teachings of the humanistic philosophers, and the American and French revolutions, there has been an increasing emphasis on letting people do as they pretty well please. We call this "democracy."
Christians have often viewed democracy and Christianity as being compatible, if not the very same thing. So it is that Antichrist will begin as a Christian, espousing democratic ideals of government, until the death inherent in the philosophy of democracy begins to be obvious.
Why is there death in the philosophy of democracy? Because the idea of democracy is that everyone is to be able to express himself or herself with few or no restrictions. Anyone can see at a glance that the end of this is anarchy. But the philosophy of democracy has been presented as though it were God's plan for the ages.
The Kingdom of God is the very opposite of democracy. The Kingdom of God is composed of people who have surrendered their will that the will of God and His Christ might be performed.
Democracy says "The will of the people be done."
The Kingdom of God says "God's will be done."
If we think the will of the people and the will of God are one and the same we really are deluded. We are not observing the rise of immorality in America, England, Scandinavia, and other democracies.
When the Law is on the mountain with Moses the people sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play. No, the will of the people is not the will of God by any means. The opposite is true. The mind of the flesh is the mortal enemy of God's Spirit.
In America today we are beginning to see the maturing of the democratic ideal.
Recently in the newspaper an article told of the arrest of a young man who had led many young, inexperienced girls into the profession of prostitution, ruining their lives in the process. His comment in court was to the effect he thought this is what America is all about. He probably meant that people could do as they pleased as long as they didn't rob banks.
The judge did not agree that he represented the American ideal and sentenced him to life in prison.
The point is, this is the way many people perceive what it means to live in a democracy. Our laws keep changing in order to accommodate what people want to do. Babies that have come to term are mutilated to protect the "reproductive rights" of the mother. This truly is an abomination!
Some time ago a well known investment counselor was brought into court because of questionable dealings. His response was along the line that America was a wonderful country because it enabled him to "turn a profit."
It seems that in the mercantile aspect of our culture the issue is not whether an action is right or wrong but whether it made a profit. If such is the case, how can we deny the charge made by Eastern nations that the United States is decadent?
The America of today is not the nation the Pilgrim fathers envisioned. What has produced the change from godliness to crime and moral filth? The answer is, material abundance coupled with the philosophy of democracy.
Antichrist is the "man of lawlessness." As people are brought further away from the concept of "the Divine right of kings" they are focusing on themselves. When people focus on themselves they are an easy prey for Satan. Since God is not on the throne of their personality, and they are not being governed by a strong ruler, they are open to invasion by Satan.
Satan always counsels people that if they will disobey God they will be happy. This is how he counseled Eve. When there is a strong government that punishes sin, people are restrained from following the counsel of Satan. They don't want to be punished!
But when there is no strong government, and people are led to believe they can govern themselves, and are able to change the leaders and the laws when they are not pleased, they are an easy mark for Satan. The first thing you know there is an increase of sin.
Homosexual behavior is sinful, according to both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The government of America, in line with the philosophy of democracy, will not act to limit homosexual behavior. Instead it is spending a great deal of money to find a cure for AIDS.
If the government were to spend as much time and money seeking to promote abstinence outside of the family structure, it might make a considerable difference in the spread of AIDS. But the cry of anguish from large segments of our society prevents the government from pursuing this realistic solution to the problem.
This would not be the case in a strong monarchy that was concerned about an epidemic capable of destroying the kingdom.
We see, therefore, that the philosophy of democracy, the philosophy of Antichrist, while it seems to be Christian in nature, is the archenemy of true Christianity.
The Christian Gospel commands us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus along the path of suffering. Our hope is that when He returns we will enter His joy and peace.
The philosophy of Antichrist is that the individual must be in control, that his rights must be secured so nothing hinders him from a long, successful, happy, fulfilled life.
Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that these two ways of life are incompatible?
There is little evidence in the Scriptures that the Lord Jesus or His Apostles favored the idea of people governing themselves, but there is evidence that they wanted us to obey those who have the rule over us. Christianity came into being in an empire and there is not much said in the New Testament about an empire being a bad form of government, that the people ought to be governing themselves.
I am aware of the viciousness of some of the kings and emperors of history. They were self-driven if not demon-driven. While the royal courts were filled with selfish ambition and immorality, and the religious prelates were often involved in such lawless behavior, the laws of the land imposed harsh penalties on any misconduct on the part of the majority of the subjects of the kingdom.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. (Romans 13:2,3—NIV)
Paul, in the above passage, was saying the authority invested in the emperor of Rome was instituted by the Lord. Think about this! We know some of the Roman emperors were fiendish. But we must be very careful when we come against authority, just as David was very careful in his dealings with Saul.
God always works in terms of authority, so when we emphasize government by the people we are, without realizing it, leading the way to lawlessness. The philosophy of democracy can lead us out of political bondage and into spiritual slavery.
We in America talk about democracy and there are numerous social and political freedoms we enjoy. Thank God! But in our day the government is not being run by the will of the people but by skillful political maneuvering. Those with the money and the power exercise their will. At times one could wish for a strong, righteous king who would straighten out some of the abominations taking place. Well, One is coming!
I guess I am writing for the future. The great evil that we Christians are facing is not totalitarian government. Christianity can thrive under that. The danger is the rise of self-centeredness. Christians are not accustomed to the enemy coming in the guise of a friend who is ready to help them express themselves.
Let me say there is only one protection against the deceptions of the last days. That protection is to take your place with Jesus Christ on the cross. Reckon yourself dead with Christ and risen with Christ. Each day determine that you will carry the cross you have been given. Choose to remain in the prison where you are until the Lord delivers you.
Flee from the current emphasis on your rights, what you deserve, how you are supposed to be happy all the time. Present your body a living sacrifice. Invite the Lord Jesus into your personality as supreme Lord. Think of yourself as His slave, ready to do His will cheerfully and without hesitation.
Do not look to Jesus to make you happy or successful. Look to Jesus to guide you in His way, being content with whatever role He assigns you; in whatever place He puts you.
God was not made for your pleasure. You were made for God's pleasure. Whether you are happy or sad is not the major issue. The major issue is whether you are pleasing God.
Antichrist and the philosophy of democracy will never understand that human beings must become the slaves of Jesus Christ. Satan and Antichrist want to be like Christ, to have the power of Christ, but they want to remain in control of their own path in life.
You are not called to be in control of your own way. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
The ideas I am presenting to you will become increasingly meaningful and important as time goes on. The world is heading toward the rule of Antichrist, the emphasis on the rights and welfare of the self-seeking individual.
If you want God to deceive you, try to make your Christian experience a means of getting what you want. Seek your own happiness, not the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie And so all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (II Thessalonians 2:11,12—NIV)
Remember what I am telling you, for I believe self-seeking will be the way of the world of the future, the world our young people are facing. They will be caught in Antichrist's web unless they count themselves crucified with Christ and live each day with Him at the right hand of God, instantly ready to do all He says diligently and completely.
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. Revelation 13:11—NIV))
The first beast, the Antichrist, comes out of the sea. This means he comes from the mass of mankind, sometimes in the Scriptures referred to as the "sea."
The second beast, the False Prophet, comes out of the earth, that is, out of the soul of man, out of the adamic nature. Man was made from the dust of the ground.
As Antichrist is self-will in the political-social realms, the False Prophet is self-will in the religious-spiritual realms.
Never before in the history of the world have God's elect been so familiar with the working of the Spirit of God, with the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, as is true in our day. We have been saved through the blood of the cross. We have been filled with God's Spirit and given gifts.
Now the question arises: How are we to use such understanding and endowments? Democracy, the philosophy of humanism, Antichrist, and our self-will encourage us to use our spiritual wisdom and power to heal our sick world. This appears to be so Christian in motive. To save and heal the world has become the agenda of the Christians and other religious groups.
While writing the present essay I sat down to eat a sandwich and read the newspaper. There was an article that began on the front page titled "Members of U. S. media greeted by John Paul." The story described a "religion and media conference in Rome." The contents of the article portray rather clearly the gathering together of the religions of the world to improve the lot of mankind.
Let me quote from African Cardinal Francis Arinze, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican.
"There isn't only one religion in the world, . . . ." "As we get set to step into the third millennium, the followers of the various religions have no choice but to come closer to one another, to listen to one another, to try to understand one another better and to try to collaborate more for a better world."
"Arinze announced that the Catholic Church would host a four-day meeting in Rome in October 1999 dealing with world religions." (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Thursday, June 25, 1998, page A-14, by Sandi Dolbee.)
Cardinal Arinze went on to express his hope that representatives from faiths ranging from Hinduism to Native American traditions would discuss "how we behaved in this century," the idea being to "to make the world a better place for all."
Here we see the foundation being laid for "Babylon the Great." Although its headquarters are in Rome now, we think it will be moved to the site of ancient Babylon.
Sensing the historic significance of the attempts at a worldwide union of religions, one editor (same citation as above) coined the phrase "the greatest story seldom told."
Three descriptions of the religious movement of the future are as follows:
Laodicea—descriptive of the proud, apathetic, apostate condition of the self-seeking believers.
The False Prophet—descriptive of the miracle-working power of self-willed religionists as they cooperate with the self-willed government in governing the world.
Babylon the Great—descriptive of the religious organization, wealthy beyond belief, perhaps a union of all religions with Christianity at the head, that will be the "representative of God on the earth."
The greatest religious organization of all time will be made up of self-sufficient believers who seek to use the power of Christ to bring mankind into a state of security and happiness. God will be in no part of it just as He is in no part of the convention reported above.
Can you see the wave of the future in this? Can you see the emphasis on benefiting man rather than benefiting God?
I consider myself to be part of the remnant, a remnant that in the future will be driven from the centers of civilization by the democratic government and the majority of the churches as well, by stating it is not God's will for us to pray and then take our gifts and go forth to save and heal the world. This is not God's plan in the present hour.
The gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ are for the purpose of building each member of the Body to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
"But aren't we built to maturity so we can save and heal the world?"
No. We are built to maturity so we can have fellowship with God and perform the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God, but only as the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Administrator, directs.
"But how does this work out in practice?"
It works out in practice as you and I turn from our self-will and seek the Lord until we know what it is He is saying and doing. Jesus thought and acted only as the Father showed Him. We are to think and act only as Christ shows us. We are not to take it for granted that we are to go forth and try to save and heal the world.
Jesus told us He would build His Church on the Rock He Himself is. He did not instruct us to build His Church or to feed our sheep.
We are to labor to enter the rest of God. The rest of God has to do with the fact that God finished everything from the foundation of the world and we have to keep coming to Him to find out what He has already done.
The rest of God has to do with the eternal Sabbath, the day that has no evening and morning. When we live in the eternal Sabbath we do not think our own thoughts, speak our own words, seek our own pleasure. We think, speak, and act in the fullness of the Presence of God, living by His wisdom and power.
The rest of God has to do with our inheritance, which is the entire creation—particularly the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. Our inheritance presently is inhabited by our enemies: Satan, the other rebellious angels, and the demons. These are God's enemies and our enemies. They cannot be driven from our inheritance except as two armies work together, the army of holy angels and the army of the saints, the judges.
Neither army can wage war successfully except as directed by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of both hosts. When saved, Spirit-filled people go forth in their own wisdom and strength to save the world they bring more rebellion and confusion than is already present in the universe.
We humans know nothing at all. When we are forgiven our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ we still know nothing at all. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we still know nothing at all. We are as so much dust. We cannot do anything of value in the Kingdom of God until we realize we know nothing and are nothing.
The Kingdom of God will be established in the earth by the power and wisdom of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our task is to enter into Them until They become part of our thinking, speaking, and acting. Until we do, our efforts in the Kingdom result in rebellion and confusion.
Today we behold the rise of the False Prophet in the Charismatic churches. We are admonished to speak the creative word of faith. This is the False Prophet. We are exhorted to get rich by exercising faith. This is the False Prophet. We are told that if we have faith we will never be sick. This is the False Prophet. We are advised to command the angels. This is the False Prophet. We are told to take the place of the wicked spirits who control a city. This is the False Prophet. We are told to join together so we will have more power to command revival. This is the False Prophet.
If all the Christians in the world joined together to do something "for God" it would be the greatest exhibition of the False Prophet in the history of mankind.
Why are these "Christian" efforts the False Prophet? Because they desire the two horns (double portion of power) of the Lamb but speak with the mouth of the dragon.
What does the mouth of the dragon tell us to do?
Do you remember when Peter exhorted Jesus to not go up to Jerusalem to make the blood atonement, trying to keep Jesus from suffering? This was the voice of the dragon, of Satan, and Jesus addressed it as such. Jesus said, "You do not understand the things of God but of men." The dragon, being totally and irreversibly self-willed himself, addresses the self-love of people. The "love" the dragon espouses understands the things of men but not the things of God.
The love, love, love we hear today from the churches and the liberal forces of American society is the voice of the dragon addressing our self-centeredness and self-will.
Some of the Charismatic activities, such as imaging and speaking the creative word, are really exercises in metaphysics rather than Christian operations.
The Charismatics are facing a fork in the road. Either we are going to return to the Lord Jesus until we hear what He is saying, or else we are going to attempt to manipulate the physical world with supernatural power in order to build the Kingdom of God according to our own plans.
There is a real decision here that each Christian must address: Does God expect me to save the world or does He have plans of His own? It is a tough decision to make, but until it is made in favor of God's rest we cannot move past the Pentecostal experience.
Antichrist would not get very far without the assistance of the False Prophet.
He [the False Prophet] exercised all the authority of the first beast [Antichrist] on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. (Revelation 13:12—NIV)
The above verse tells us that after the tremendous latter-rain revival it will be the Christian people who will support democratic government. The fact that the Laodicean church claims to have need of nothing indicates that the churches will have learned how to get rich by faith, or that it is supported by the government. In fact, it is likely that the democratic government of Antichrist will be promoted by wealthy Christians.
The government and the churches will work hand in hand to save and heal the world. How wonderful! Peace and safety at last!
Do you remember how it used to be in Europe when the Catholic Church and the monarchies worked together to govern the people? In France, for example, the excesses of both the government and the clergy helped bring about the Revolution. Eventually the power of the Church has given way before the secular governments. So it will be in the last days that the secular rulers, after working alongside the great Babylon, will finally burn her with fire.
I think in the future we will see Spirit-filled people using the power of Christ to enforce the voice of the dragon (man-centeredness) and supporting the democratic government of Antichrist.
This is where it all is going.
This is the world our young people and children will be living in and it is of enormous importance that they learn how to protect themselves from deception. The penalty for being deceived by Antichrist and the False Prophet is harsh.
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9,10—NIV)
Because of the signs he [the False Prophet] was given power to do on behalf of the first beast [Antichrist], he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast [the Antichrist] who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Revelation 13:14—NIV)
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 2:1—NIV)
God made man in His own image. Man has made another image and this he worships. The image is gold, or money.
It is my opinion that the Image of the Antichrist is money. Already, as we see from the newspapers, money is the principal concern of the established nations and the emerging nations.
Money is so much a part of our life in America it is difficult to imagine that any culture could not have the acquisition of money as its first concern. However many smaller nations and tribes, such as some of the tribes of the American Indians, had many values ahead of the acquisition of money, or wampum.
From Balaam to Ananias and Sapphira the Bible warns us about the deceitfulness of riches. Paul told us the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus compared money with God, telling us we had to choose between serving money and serving God.
When we leave this world and enter the spirit realm we will see that money no longer has significance. There will be industry of all kinds in the ages and worlds of the future but the economy of none of them will be based on money. Whatever people accomplish will be given to whoever has need freely and happily. The curse of money will be lifted.
The present world is a probationary period to see what is in the heart of each individual. God is not certain what is in our heart until He tests us. One of our tests has to do with the use of money.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2—NIV)
"To test you in order to know what was in your heart."
You can speculate about Divine omniscience all you want to. The fact remains God is not certain what is in our heart until He tests us. This is one of the reasons for the present miserable cage in which we live, called the world.
Money is the Image of Antichrist. By means of money the self-willed, self-guided person can be independent of God.
Money is our substitute for God. The god of the United States is money.
Money cannot buy us love, joy, or peace. We think it can but it cannot. One only has to look about to see poor households where there is a loving, happy family and wealthy families where there is deep sorrow and tragedy. Of course, this is not always the case. But it does reveal that love, joy, and peace come from the Spirit of God and not from money.
We know this, but the pressures of our culture cause us to forget it.
God has promised to meet our needs if we put Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness first in our life. He will do this even if all the economies of the world fail. We do not have to hoard gold in order to protect ourselves. Our gold idol will not save us in the day of God's judgment.
If we are accurate, if Antichrist is self-will in the governmental and social realms, if the False Prophet is self-will in the spiritual and religious realms, and if the Image of Antichrist is money, then let's see what the consequences of this position are.
We then would be saying that in the future self-willed religionists will make the nations of the earth worship a self-willed society. Is this something we can see going on around us? Is it true that Christianity has brought about democratic government? Are the leading democracies nations that have been influenced by Christianity, particularly Protestant Christianity? Is the United States of America, a culture influenced by Christian thinking, attempting to force democracy on the rest of the world?
He [the False Prophet, self-willed Christianity] exercised all the authority of the first beast [Antichrist, self-will in the social order] on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. (Revelation 13:12—NIV)
Where would "great and miraculous signs" come from, in support of democratic thinking, other than self-willed religionists?
And he [the False Prophet] performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (Revelation 13:13—NIV)
Would it be self-willed religious people, mainly Christians, who would deceive the nations and order them to set up a worldwide economic system with money as the chief element? When the faith-prosperity doctrines were at their highest point, a few years ago, there was much talk about the Christians becoming so rich through faith that the world would have to go to the Christians for money.
It would not be such a great step, after the massive ingathering of people during the latter-rain revival, for the faith-prosperity doctrines (which are completely self-centered, having nothing to do with the Lord Jesus) to be revived and money to become the focus of the churches, even to the point of forcing some kind of monetary system on the world. This may be why the Laodicean churches "are rich and have need of nothing."
Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Revelation 13:14—NIV)
About fifteen or so years ago I was walking and praying in the woods in Arkansas. The faith message was at its height and the preachers were telling us how rich we were going to be.
I knew even back then that this was the False Prophet. I asked the Lord how much power He was going to permit this movement to have. I believe the Lord answered my question by saying the faith-prosperity movement would die out for a while and then later would be revived and empowered.
According to our scenario the self-willed Christians will give power to the Image of Antichrist, which we believe to be money, so the Image can "speak" and cause all who refuse to worship money to be killed.
I believe this is a symbolic way of saying those Christians who turn to the Lord and refuse to become a part of the self-willed government and society, refuse to make money the main part of their life, will be killed (perhaps "killed" in the sense of being driven from society, for this is what other passages suggest).
Already we see democratic governments penalizing Christians who speak out against homosexuality. There also are ministers of the Gospel who believe bringing an individual under conviction is the worst harm we can do him or her. What is next—churches being sued because they make the listeners anxious or unhappy?
Having refused to participate in the Antichrist scheme the remnant will be forbidden to buy or sell. Thus the money "speaks," we might say, and the remnant are "killed" by depriving them of money. Note that "buying and selling" are the issue, that is, the use of money.
He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. (Revelation 13:15—NIV)
In addition the self-driven Christians will force all people, rich and poor, to adopt the worldly scheme of Christianity and democracy that has been established. No one will be permitted to buy or sell who does not become a part of the man-centered social order, acting and thinking according to the ways of the world.
He [the False Prophet] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. Revelation 13:16,17—NIV)
This picture may seem far-fetched. But think of the controls exercised by both the Catholic and Protestant churches, from one historical period to another, in the nations of Europe? In fact some of the founders of America were fleeing the heavy hand of church rule in Europe. This is the reason for the stipulation in the American "Bill of Rights" that Congress not be involved in religion.
So it is not beyond belief that if, as we think, most people on the earth will make a profession of belief in Christ because of the unprecedented power of the latter-rain revival (symbolized by the "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation), the aftermath will be worldwide democracy sponsored and enforced by well-intentioned Christians. Out from this will come Antichrist who finally will envision himself as the only true god (as is the case with much "enlightened" thinking and preaching in America today as people are encouraged to seek the god "within them"). He will sit in the Holy of Holies of the restored Temple in Jerusalem and there proclaim Himself the living God, the God of Israel.
His announcement will trigger the Great Tribulation.
Eventually he will get rid of the religious establishment that he might rule without hindrance.
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16—NIV)
Notice how rich the self-serving Christians had become:
"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her." (Revelation 18:9—NIV)
The vision of the future is of a worldwide, self-willed Christian Church (are not the Catholic and Pentecostal movements seeking reconciliation today?) forcing democracy on every nation and making money the means by which everyone can be housed, fed, and clothed. Money and commerce will characterize the huge organization.
"They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’ Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’" (Revelation 18:19,20—NIV)
Our young people and children are facing a world in which man will be worshiped. The philosophy of humanism is the worship of man, of man's mind, of man's right to make his decisions apart from the interference of any god.
This is the spirit that undergirds the governmental philosophy of democracy.
The original problem was produced when Satan, the covering cherub, decided he wanted to be like God but not in obedience to God. Because of Satan's self-will he has been bound horribly with lust, rage, lying, thievery, gossip, and every other sin. All sin comes originally from self-will
Adam and Eve succumbed to self-will. Abraham emerged victorious from his battle with disobedience. So did the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Not my will but Your will be done." This is the battle cry of the Kingdom of God.
Whenever we choose to live our own life instead of looking to Jesus for every decision we make during the day, we nurture our self-will, disobedience, rebellion, and lawlessness. Antichrist is the personification of self-will, disobedience, rebellion, and lawlessness.
Every descendant of Adam has a spirit of self-will in his or her personality. It is because of this aspect of our fallen nature that the sins of the flesh have the grip on us that they do.
God's way of getting at the body of sin that dwells in us is to crucify the old nature, the old, self-willed personality.
We have to choose to die with Christ on the cross and then be raised with Him to the right hand of the Father. This is a conscious choice we make.
Salvation through the blood of the cross will not be sufficient to protect us from the deceptions of a self-willed world order, a self-willed church, and the worship of money.
Being filled with the Spirit will not be sufficient to protect us from the deceptions of a self-willed world order, a self-willed church, and the worship of money.
In order to escape deception, in order to remain free from Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the Image of Antichrist, we absolutely must choose each day to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We must live by the power of Christ's resurrection and share His sufferings.
Paul gave us the key to overcoming the deceptions of Antichrist. The key is as follows: "I count all things as garbage that I may gain Christ." Until this is true of us, until we turn away from every fascination that life holds for us, until we choose to lose our life rather than save it, we cannot possibly overcome the deceptions of Antichrist. We simply cannot overcome the deceptions of Antichrist by reading the Bible and determining not to be deceived!
If we say because we have "accepted Christ" we cannot be deceived we know very little about spiritual warfare.
Paul counted everything that had been gain for him as loss for Christ. As a result Paul was able to live in resurrection life and also share Christ's sufferings. This is the way of the cross. This is the only reliable cure for the deadly disease of self-will.
From the time Antichrist and his money-based culture begin to prevail in the world, from that very time there is a special blessing on those who "die in the Lord."
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13—NIV)
"Those who die in the Lord from now on."
We see, therefore, that awesome forces are building—forces that will govern the world of the future. We must prepare our young people and children to "die in the Lord," meaning they voluntarily become the servants of Jesus Christ in actuality, not just in word only. And they must do this at the earliest possible age!
What is God doing? God is preparing to avenge Himself on the rebellion that occurred before the earth was created. God is going to shake every creature on earth and in the heavens until all that is not founded on Christ is removed from its position of influence.
God began with Jesus in Gethsemane. Next in order are the overcomers. If they overcome rebellion and sin through Christ they then will sit on the throne of judgment with Christ. They will govern, judge, and otherwise take care of the creation of God. These are God's kings, the kings that will come from the East, from the rising of the sun of the morning of the Day of the Lord. Jesus is King of God's kings.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4—NIV)
The above is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood. In order to participate in this resurrection, the one that will occur when the Lord returns, the believer must be "beheaded," this is to say, he must abandon his own self-centered plans and schemes and adopt the mind of Christ. He must never worship the self-centered world order. He must never worship money. He must not reveal in his thinking or actions a willingness to decide and act independently of the will of God.
In order to test everyone for self-will and rebellion God is going to permit Antichrist to overcome the saints for a season.
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7—NIV)
God is going to authorize Antichrist to tear down part of the heavenly host, either the angelic host or the host of the saints, or perhaps both.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:10-12—NIV)
"Because of rebellion"!
God will permit Antichrist to remove the ability of people to be saved and to receive the Holy Spirit. "He will put an end to sacrifice and offering."
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27—NIV)
I think Antichrist will sit between the wings of the cherubim in the restored Temple, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The abomination that causes desolation, of which Jesus spoke, will trigger the Great Tribulation. It will be set up on a wing of the Temple. It probably will be a statue of Antichrist, standing on the same place where Satan placed the Lord Jesus. Jesus overcame the temptation to act presumptuously. Antichrist will be the personification of presumption, of self-will.
But there will be a remnant hidden away. This remnant will keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. There always will be salvation and deliverance in the remnant, even during the darkest night of the rule of self-willed people.
Let me tell you what God is going to do. He is going to move His Throne from Heaven into the hearts of the remnant. In other passages we learn that Jerusalem will be the Throne of God, and also that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be resident in the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.
But this transfer of location of the center of God's governing, judging authority and power will begin with the personalities of the remnant on earth during the darkest spiritual and moral hour of world history.
Can you see that if man is destined to become the Throne of God how utterly important it is we be delivered from self-rule?
Because the Throne of God will be in them the remnant will be invulnerable to the evil of Antichrist and the False Prophet. Over all the glory will be a defense. Christ and His nobles will be as the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land.
See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:1,2—NIV)
The remnant will be tested and perfected until they are ready to be changed into immortality and rise to meet the Lord in the air, there to take their places on the thrones that govern the world, the thrones recently vacated as Michael and his angels drove Satan and his followers from the heavens.
God will roar out of Zion in those days. He will go forth in His godly remnant as a Man of war. God will cry out as a woman in travail. He will gasp and pant until all wickedness, all sin and rebellion, are driven from His creation.
This is what will take place in the future, for which our children must be prepared.
We Christians have been saved through the blood of the cross. This means our sins of the past have been forgiven and we have received the right to be the children of God, to enter the Kingdom of God.
A smaller number of us, taken from the whole number of believers, have been filled with God's Spirit. This indicates we have received the wisdom and power to live a righteous, holy, obedient life and also to bear witness to the world of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Today the call is to those who are saved and filled with the Spirit of God. Will we or will we not cease from our own works and look to the Lord Jesus?
If we insist on living our spiritual life according to our own understanding, our own desires and ambitions, we most certainly will be deceived by the spiritual forces of the last days.
Look how Pentecostal people have been deceived by the faith and prosperity messages! After all Paul said about the deceitfulness of riches, the believers have gone right ahead, following those who are teaching them they are to be rich and prosperous in the present world. We can be deceived easily if we are not denying ourselves and carrying our cross behind the Lord Jesus.
Let us be like the Apostle Paul. Paul counted all that had been gain to him as loss for Christ. He regarded the whole world as garbage that he might gain Christ. And this toward the end of his life!
How many sermons have you heard that exhorted you to count the world as garbage, to live by the body and blood of Christ (the only true food and drink), to lay aside all else in order to gain Christ? Yet Paul instructed all who are perfect to have the same mind as he.
The "four steps of salvation" may serve as a good orientation to the program of salvation provided we do not tell the person this is all there is to salvation and the next step is a mansion in Heaven.
There are four million steps of salvation. We always, every day of our life, are taking a step of salvation. We take a step of salvation every time we turn away from our own thinking and desires and seek the face of the Lord Jesus.
How about you? Are you waiting to go to Heaven when you die or are you entering the Kingdom of God today? Are you trusting in a sterile profession of faith to insure your reception in Paradise or are you pressing forward to attain to the resurrection from the dead? Are you busily defending the accuracy of your understanding of the Bible, the gardening manual, or are you growing a garden?
Is your "salvation" actually an empty head-knowledge or are you listening every moment for the voice of the Lord Jesus?
Are you really a Christian soldier, preparing for the conflict of the ages, or are you a spiritually dead religionist, slumbering in your pew, listening to "grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture, Heaven, Heaven, Heaven"? This is the sawdust currently being fed to the saints. Notice how totally self-centered the grace-rapture-Heaven doctrine is. There is no concern for the bringing of justice to the nations, which according to the Prophets is the purpose for the return of Christ. Neither is there any interest whatever in the needs God has for fellowship or for establishing His Kingdom on the earth.
As a dead religionist you will never stand in the days to come. You are not in the army. You already are deceived.
I think our generation has failed God. Let us do all we can to prepare the young people and children for the marvelous Divine Glory and the deadly self-will of the future.
"Blow the trumpet in Zion. Sound the alarm in My holy mountain. The Day of the Lord has come!"