Summary: We avoid being deceived by developing godly wisdom that is based on truth.
[Show clip from “The Wizard of Oz” – “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”
As we continue our journey through Revelation this morning, we’ll be introduced to a character that reminds me a lot of the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Before we read our passage for this morning, let’s take a moment to review where we are.
Chapters 12-15 of Revelation comprise one long scene that reveals the underlying reasons for all of the events that we have seen portrayed by the seals and the trumpets. That scene revolves around seven major characters – the five we saw in chapter 12, the beast from the sea that we saw last week in the first part of Revelation 13 and the beast from the earth we’ll look at this morning. That scene is further broken down into seven sub-scenes. We’ve examined those first two sub-scenes the last two weeks and we’ll take a look at the third one this morning. So go ahead and open your Bibles to Revelation 13 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 11:
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
THE SECOND BEAST – THE FALSE PROPHET
This second beast will be referred to later on in the book of Revelation as the “false prophet” and our passage this morning makes it clear why he is given that title. So let’s see what we can learn about him from the text and then, most importantly, let’s develop some principles that we can apply in our day-today walk with Jesus.
• Mandate: to direct worship to the Antichrist
Last week we saw the first beast, who represented the Antichrist and the governmental alliance which he will control. The false prophet takes on more of a supporting role. Rather than direct attention to himself, his actions are intended to get people to worship the first beast, the Antichrist.
The false prophet relies upon the fact that man is hard-wired with a need to worship something or someone. And so, using the tools we’ll look at in just a moment, he works behind the scenes to encourage people to direct their worship toward the Antichrist.
The unholy trinity of the dragon and the two beasts is undoubtedly intended to be a counterfeit of the triune God. Just as Jesus received authority from His Father, the beast from the sea, the Antichrist, receives his authority from the dragon, Satan. And in much the same manner that the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, the beast from the earth, the false prophet, glorifies the Antichrist.
• Method: deception
Not surprisingly, the method that the false prophet employs is that of deception, which he has learned well from Satan, who was indentified back in chapter 12 as the one who deceives the whole world. That deception begins with his appearance. On the outside he looks like a gentle lamb, obviously trying to imitate the one who is described elsewhere in Revelation as a lamb – Jesus. But looks are deceiving. He may look like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon. We’re reminded of this warning that Jesus gave to his followers.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:15 (ESV)
The apostle Paul also described how the evil one would operate by deception in the end times.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.