Who Is the False Prophet? Part 1 :: By Steve Ashburn

The false prophet is the Antichrist’s right-hand man and co-conspirator in deceiving the world during the tribulation. He is a religious leader who forces everyone to worship the beast and take his mark in their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell—or else be killed. He is described in Revelation 13:

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:11–17).

Unlike the Antichrist who rises up “out of the sea,” the false prophet comes up “out of the earth” (lit. “land”). Often in Scripture, “sea” represents the nations around the Mediterranean, whereas “land” represents Israel; this implies that the false prophet will be from Israel. The false prophet appears to be benign (“like a lamb”), but he shares the same evil character as the Antichrist (“as a dragon”).

He has the same power as the Antichrist; that is, “power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” He also leads the entire world to worship him, “whose deadly wound was healed.” Why would people do this? Perhaps one reason is that he will take credit for defeating the army of demonic horsemen (Revelation 9:18), by which a third of the earth’s population will have been killed over the previous thirteen months. The dead bodies of these 200 million horsemen which demons previously inhabited now lay decaying on the earth—having finished the appointed time of their judgment, which was for “an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” (Revelation 14:10)—and the Antichrist seizes the opportunity to take credit.

The false prophet also has power to do “great wonders”—such as making fire come down from heaven—which are “miracles he had power to do in the sight of the beast.” How exactly can he do such things? Moses and Aaron faced a similar situation when they stood before Pharaoh; Aaron cast down his rod, and it became a serpent. In response, the occult magicians of Pharaoh cast down their rods, which also became serpents as recorded in Exodus 7. The magicians’ serpents probably were not real—only God has the power to create life—but evidently were an occult phenomenon which demons have the power to perform. These serpents were “lying wonders,” which 2 Thessalonians 2 also describes in reference to the Antichrist.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:8–9).

Here Paul speaks of the Antichrist (“that Wicked”) coming with “power and signs and lying wonders”—those exact same “great wonders” which the false prophet has the power to do in the sight of the beast.

The false prophet deceives people with these “miracles” into making an image of the beast, “which had the wound by a sword and did live” (implying that the false prophet claims the Antichrist somehow resurrected himself from the dead). The false prophet has power to “give life unto the image of the beast” (lit. “give a spirit to the image,” i.e., a demonic spirit) so that this image both speaks and causes all who will not worship it to be killed. This apparently is another lying wonder, like the serpents of the magicians before Moses, and the fire which the false prophet calls down from heaven.

These are occult phenomena which those practiced in sorcery are able to induce. Daniel 8:23 says the Antichrist will be “understanding dark sentences,” meaning he will be trained in occultism and able to perform lying wonders. Note that it’s the image itself which commands all persons to be killed who will not worship it. This is a direct demonic manifestation, not the result of human engineering.

At this time—the midpoint of the tribulation—the Antichrist sits in the temple in Jerusalem and demands to be worshipped as God: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15). He is possessed by Satan, who has empowered his image to order all persons killed who will not worship it. Probably the false prophet will cause this image to be transmitted worldwide electronically, and empower regional governments to execute all persons who will not worship it.

How could people on earth ever let such a horrible situation develop and actually make “an image to the beast,” so that they must worship it or else be killed? Second Thessalonians 2 gives us the answer:

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10–12).

People will have been deceived because of their own unrighteousness; for that reason, God sends them a strong delusion so that they should believe the Antichrist’s lies, that they all might be damned who refused to believe the truth but had pleasure in their sins instead. Despite the warning judgments of the tribulation, which were designed to lead them to repentance, “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:21).

The false prophet also creates an enforcement mechanism for worship of the beast. He forces everyone on earth to receive a mark in their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell, and as a symbol of their allegiance to the beast. Refusal to take the mark or to worship the beast means death. Revelation 14:10–11 says that whoever receives this mark “shall be tormented with fire and brimstone” and that “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever”; in contrast, Revelation 20:4 says that those who refused the mark “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Today it’s possible to tag animals with RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips in order to track and identify them. Some medical patients also have been tagged. It’s impossible to say whether this mark will be an electronic device or a barcode tattoo, but it will almost certainly be machine-readable. This mark is described as “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” The number of the beast can be calculated by translating the Antichrist’s name into Greek, and then adding up the numerical value assigned each Greek letter. (A table of Greek letters and their corresponding numbers is given below.) According to Revelation 13:18, this number is equal to 666. This suggests that the electronic data will be present in three groups of six digits—identifying the person, their citizenship, and bank account number.

Revelation 20:4 also indicates this mark will be both “upon their foreheads, or in their hands” (lit. “upon their forehead and upon their hand”). The KJV translates the Greek preposition “epi” as “upon” the forehead in the first case [superficial placement of the mark], and “in” the hand in the second [deep placement of the mark]; furthermore, the conjunction “kai” (“and”) indicates that the mark will be in both places. This suggests that information will be encoded in an electronic chip inserted beneath the skin of the right hand or forehead for purposes of ecommerce; whereas, in addition, the visible mark of the beast will be a simple tattoo on the forehead. This scheme would facilitate ecommerce and allow easy identification of those loyal to the beast.

Ezekiel 9 records an interesting account whereby God “marked” his saints in Jerusalem for their protection prior to his destroying the city because of sin; He commanded an angel to place “a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4). In the original Hebrew, the word “mark” is “tahv,” or the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This letter often symbolizes “truth and spiritual perfection” in Hebrew writing.

At the time that Ezekiel wrote this in the sixth century BC, this letter was written in the shape of a cross (+ or †); therefore, taking the Bible literally, these saints in Jerusalem were sealed in their foreheads with the sign of a cross. This was a prophecy of Christ’s future work which he accomplished on the cross, and it strongly suggests that the tribulation saints will be sealed with the same mark, as Revelation 7:3 indicates: “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”

But what will the mark of the beast look like? The Bible sheds some light on this subject in Genesis 4:15: “And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” In the original Hebrew, the word “mark” in our text verse is “oht” (spelled [,ut]); whereas the word for “mark” in Ezekiel is “tahv” (spelled [u,]). Thus, the very letters of Cain’s mark are the reverse of those in Ezekiel for the seal applied to the saints in Jerusalem. The mark of Cain, then, would be a reverse, or twisted perversion of the cross. Such a variation likely would resemble a “broken cross.”

Such a symbol—a swastika, or broken cross (卐)—was widely found in the pantheistic religions of the early Indo-European peoples; it represented the sun, and was used in worship of their various sun-gods, such as Apollo and Odin. In fact, it was used worldwide as a religious emblem; for example, by Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and native peoples of the Americas. It, therefore, is thought to pre-date the flood. This mark, in fact, could have been the very one that God placed upon Cain, who committed the first murder and also martyred a prophet (his brother Abel), and whose descendants led the pre-flood world into illicit intercourse with and worship of demons; in those days, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and…filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:11, 13); it was by and large because of this activity that God destroyed the world that then “being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6).

This symbol was adopted by the Nazi Party in Germany in 1920 as a symbol of the purity of the “Aryan race,” whose twisted philosophy demanded the murder of “inferior peoples,” such as Poles and Jews. It would not be surprising at all if the Antichrist took up where Hitler left off, and attempted to finish the job of eliminating all Jews. Perhaps this explains why Daniel 11 indicates there will be such intense opposition to his kingdom—in fact, the leaders of the north, east and south divisions of his ten-division one-world government will revolt and will have to be eliminated: “…three of the first horns[were] plucked up by the roots” [Daniel 7:8]).

In addition, many non-believers during the tribulation will refuse the mark and sympathize with and protect tribulation saints, while not having the seal of God themselves; these are the “sheep on his right hand” (Matthew 25:33) who will repopulate the earth during the millennium. By protecting God’s people, they will indicate their willingness also to receive the Lord. (I personally am acquainted with several independent Texans who aren’t Christians [but who are kind people], who would never let themselves be marked with a swastika, and would never worship the image of the beast; perhaps it is people like these who will pass into the millennium as saints.)

We’ll discuss more about the false prophet in Part 2 of this series, including his enforcement of the mark of the beast, his role in facilitating commerce, and his physical characteristics.

I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my recently published book, END TIME DAWNING: Get Ready! (available from www.endtimesrecord.com). Please read it! Also, if you would, please leave a book review on Amazon!

Yours in Christ,

Steve Ashburn