God’s plan made a hopeful beginning.
But man spoiled his chances by sinning.
We trust that the story will end in God’s glory.
But, at present, the other sides winning.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes
In reading Revelation 13, the Scripture speaks of two beasts that wrap up the final seven years of mankind on the earth. The first beast comes from the sea, and is a political leader we know as the Antichrist. The sea is representative of the ‘sea of humanity’ and is largely seen as being the Gentile nations (Dan. 7:2-3; Rev. 17:15). The sea is always tossing to and fro, just as the Gentile nations rise and fall, and have traded power many times over, during the last 6,000 years.
The Antichrist is the ‘rider on the white horse’ as mentioned in Revelation 6:1-2. He comes in at a time of unprecedented peril, and uses that emergency as a means to consolidate his power over a ten nation confederacy at first, and then the world. Foreshadows and types of the Antichrist include Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar, and Antiochus Epiphanes (Gen. 11:8-11; Daniel 7:7-8, 11, 23-25, 8:23-25, 9:26, 11:36-39; John 5:43; Rev. 6:1-2, 13:1-8).
The second beast, comes from the “earth” which is the opposite of the sea.Only Israel has remained in covenant relationship status with God and has not changed in roughly 4,000 years. This is not to say they didn’t always keep their end of the covenant, but in God’s purpose, they have been (Gen. 15; Jer. 31:31-40). The ‘land’ is linked to stability and relates back to the nation of Israel.
The second beast is the False Prophet, and he directs all people to worship the first beast through lying signs and wonders (Rev. 13:11-17; 2 Thess. 2:9-11). The Jews would never accept a Gentile as their messiah, but Jesus states that in the future, they would, which means that there first has to be a Jew who would deceive his own into believing it (John 5:43). Although this part is widely accepted speculation, the thought is, is that the False Prophet would come out of the tribe of Dan for several reasons (Gen 49:17; Judges 18:1-31; 1 Kings 12:28-30). While not clearly delineated in Scripture, he should figure largely in the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple, in which later the Antichrist comes in halfway through the 70th Week of Daniel (ie…the Tribulation) and commits the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:14; 2 Thess. 2:4).
Throughout man’s short history here on planet Earth, Satan has served both as a hindrance, and an enabler of man’s fallen nature. Where God has raised men and women up to do His will, Satan has reacted in opposition. But Satan’s main sphere of influence is not in immorality or crime (because man can do that all too well on his own), but in regards thwarting the truth of God’s word. Satan didn’t go to Eve with an out and out lie, but in a question. He came at Jesus during the temptation with misquoted Scripture. He comes at people with half-truths, and takes the truth there is, and twists it but a little…just enough to get you going down the wrong path. And as noted in Genesis 3, Isaiah 14, and Ezekiel 28…Satan is a powerful, beautiful, intelligent, and a master of deception.
But, Satan is not omnipotent, and he is always limited to the technology of man’s current state. So when we look back in the Garden of Eden, Satan could only approach Eve in a manner that was fitting for that time. Satan could only inflict on Job, first, by what was allowed by God, and secondly, what was available to him in that day.
As noted by the apostle Paul, he used Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8 to counterfeit some of the signs Moses did in his attempt to persuade Pharaoh. In Daniel chapter three, where the people are forced to worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar (which foreshadows Rev. 13) on the plains of Shinar, again, Satan was limited to the technology of the 5th century BC.
But there was a time in the ancient world, when the restraints were loosed, and for around roughly 1,500 years, man was limited only by the rule of his conscience. The angelic hosts interacted in a much more visible and physical way with humanity in this time leading up to Noah’s flood, which ultimately proved to be a disaster (Gen. 6:1-7). Not much detail is known about this Antediluvian time from the pages of Holy Scripture, but what conjecture there is, comes from Apocryphal books such as Enoch (chapters 6-8). [Note: take this only as a potential historical reference, not as inspired Scripture.]
The fallen angelic hosts, possibly in an attempt to fast track Man’s technological progress, introduced alchemy, metallurgy, and weaponry to mankind. And from what we do know according to Scripture, is that things got so bad, both on account of Man’s depraved nature, and the supernatural intervention by the fallen angels, that God destroyed the human race (save 8) by water. Fast forward 4,500 years, and we are again at a point in time, when the restraints of technology have been loosed, and man is increasingly achieving almost all the things he sets his mind toward (see Gen. 11:6).
From 1900 onward, the pace at which technology has been increasing is doing so at a frightening pace, and man’s goal now is set on redefining what it is to be human, and defeating death itself, apart from God. We have entered a time again when the restraints of advanced technological knowledge are being removed. Add that knowledge to man’s depraved nature, and Satan’s plan to corrupt all of mankind again are all coming together.
If Satan is limited to the technology of our day, and we can make weapons of mass destruction, space flight, mapping the human genome, and create artificial life…then we are truly entering dark days. But all of this should come together in the form of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system becoming self-aware known as “the Singularity” (think Skynet) and with the merging of technology into the human body. It’s not hard to imagine that Satan could manipulate an artificial system for his own purposes. Whereas the idols of the past were mute and deaf, (Hab. 2:18-19) there is coming an idol who can think and talk and is the zenith of the idolization of Satan himself.
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.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 (Rev. 13:14-15).
Just like Jannes and Jambres going against Moses before the Pharaoh, Satan is limited in his ability to mimic God’s supernatural power. Satan can’t create life, but he can manipulate what is already in existence. And he isgranted power to ‘give breath” to the ‘image of the beast’, which means that whatever this image is, it will come to life (Rev. 13:15).
This idea may be what Paul via the Holy Spirit was alluding to in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, in which God causes those who reject Christ to fall for the strong delusion. And we live in a day and age when the masses have been well-conditioned by Hollywood and a godless entertainment industry for the better part of 70 years, to fall hook, line, and sinker for. This delusion, which causes one to take the “mark of the beast” and subsequently dooms the bearer of the mark to the lake of fire forever, will be so powerful, that even the elect would fall for it, if possible (Matt. 24:24).
The Antichrist, who is called by numerous titles in Scripture [man of lawlessness, worthless shepherd, son of perdition] rises to power in the aftermath of the Rapture of the Church. Once the Restrainer’s (the Holy Spirit: John 15:26, 16:7-10) ministry of restraint is removed from the earth, both the violence of nature and the basest passions of mankind will be unleashed. We see this described by Jesus in the escalating birth pangs of Matthew 24, which mirror what John saw in the Revelation 6 Seal Judgments (1-4), by which are let loose when Jesus opens them.
The Antichrist will not appear to be evil at first, but will appear as a great deliverer in a time of crisis. But even great Gentile leaders who inspire the masses, have never appeared to the Jews as THE messiah. This is where the second beast (the Jewish False Prophet) comes in and convinces by signs and wonders (1 Cor. 1:22) that this Gentile is the one whom they were seeking all along. I contend, although I admit this is speculation on my part, that he is able to do this by two things: by twisting scripture to a largely secular, and biblically illiterate Israel, and secondly by appeasing the Orthodox crowds (after the wars of Isaiah 17; Ezekiel 38), and is able to get the temple rebuilt on a largely destroyed temple mount.
At the mid-way point of the Tribulation, a fierce spiritual battle ensues and Satan is forever cast out of heaven. In his fury, he enters his man Antichrist, and proceeds to kill the Two Witnesses and then enters the Temple declaring himself to be god (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 11:7, 12:7-12; 2 Thess. 2:4). The Antichrist is only the second in person in Scripture, to actually have Satan himself possess him and he is only the second of two men having bared the title of ‘son of perdition’; with Judas Iscariot being the other(Luke 22:3; John 13:27) (John 17:12; 2 Thess. 2:3).
As Adam was once given dominion over the earth in the Garden of Eden, Satan now manages the earth as a squatter-steward since Adam’s fall into sin (Luke 4:5-6). But Satan has been limited in what he could do (Job 1:7-12). The Antichrist will be brutally efficient in how he manages this new system, because he will have Satan’s full approval and will be so effective and so powerful in its abilities to manage everything on the planet that his rule will seem impossible to challenge. This brings to mind Christ’s teaching that we cannot be both friends with the world, and friends with God (John 15:19).
We see that surveillance and economic technology rapidly advancing today. But this satanic control will be short lived. Satan will only have seven years in which to try and finally thwart God’s plan, but since the church was previously removed to heaven, that leaves only Israel for Satan to focus his fury on (Matt. 24:15-22).
He will attempt to first have all Jews take the mark of the beast, but 144,000 are already sealed by God, (Rev. 7:1-8) and these presumably go forth and share the gospel to the rest of Israel and the world. Following this, there is a slaughter of the saints by which Satan is again, granted authority to overcome them. (Rev. 7:9-17, 13:7)
Two-thirds of the Jews will be purged, and only one-third will make it through and preserved to the end. (Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2-3) Although that seems bleak for the Jews, God’s punishment is meant as chastening to bring them back to Him, but He will utterly destroy all the nations from where they have been scattered. (Jer. 30:7-11; Rev. 19:11-21)
And so Satan’s unrestrained reign will last for only these seven short years, and Christ will return with His Saints, to judge the world and cast the two beasts into the Lake of Fire for a thousand years. Satan is cast into the abyss for the same time, and is then loosed at the end for a short season at the end of that thousand years (Rev. 20:7-10) to gather the unrepentant peoples for one last battle before being destroyed by fire, and cast into the lake of fire for all of eternity. And while it appears that the enemy is currently winning and the days are dark, we know ultimately the kingdoms of this world, the enemies of Christ, and our great adversary Satan, will be overthrown by the Lamb of God, who will reign in power and glory forever and ever.
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev. 20:10).