David Jeremiah - The Beast From The Earth
Welcome to the Hall of Prophecy. The prophetic book of Revelation is full of apocalyptic visions demonstrated in signs, symbols, intriguing characters, and supernatural beasts. However encrypted these events and signs may seem, the very title of the book implies that God wants to reveal his future plans to us. For years, it seemed that many of the pivotal events described in the book of Revelation were beyond probability. That is, until today. Technology has finally caught up with Bible prophecy. But before we look into the future, let's look to the past.
Judea. The early Christians struggled to survive under cruel Roman occupation. These followers of Christ faced intense persecution from the Roman government for refusing to claim Caesar as their Lord and King. And this persecution followed the Christians into the agora, or supermarket of their day. In order to buy or sell in the Roman market, one needed to pledge allegiance to Caesar, and upon making this declaration, they would receive a mark on their right hand and forehead, an imperial sign allowing them to enter the market and to buy and sell. The forehead could be clearly seen, even when their arms were filled with wares, and the mark on the hand could be seen during the exchange of coins. Without these marks, it was impossible to engage in the economy of that day. For declaring Jesus as their King and rejecting the mark of Caesar, early Christians were jailed and executed for insurrection.
History often foreshadows events in the future. If we look to the 13th chapter of the book of Revelation, we find another leader who demands allegiance from every person in the world. He proclaims himself lord of all, requiring political and religious leaders to follow him, and sets in motion a one world economy under his complete control. And without his mark, no man or woman can buy or sell. Until recently, this type of economic control seemed unimaginable. But in today's world, technology finally caught up with prophecy. With microchip and GPS technology, this scenario is just a click away. So who is this demonic leader who demands allegiance from every inhabitant living in the world and ultimately destroys those who resist him? The beast from the earth. The false prophet. An agent of the apocalypse.
Revelation 13:11, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon". John describes this leader as a beast coming out of the earth, which is obviously a metaphor to describe his predatory nature. He's a man. He's called the false prophet three times in the book of Revelation. And the appeal of this man is wrapped up in the way he is described in this verse. Notice: Two horns like a lamb and a voice like a dragon. You've probably heard the metaphor that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's different on the outside than he is on the inside. On the outside, he looks harmless. He looks caring. He's charismatic. He's likable. He's sensitive. But on the inside, the scripture says, he's got a voice like a dragon. Remember who the dragon is in the book of Revelation? None other than Satan himself.
It is important to understand why Satan has recruited these two evil men. The three of them together form the unholy trinity. Just as God is a trinity, so Satan is a trinity. Satan counterfeits God, the Father. The Antichrist counterfeits God, the Son. The false prophet counterfeits God, the Holy Spirit. So the beast from the earth, or the false prophet, is the third person in the unholy trinity. And once again, Satan hasn't had an original idea since he's been on this earth. All he can do is try to copy God the best he can, and he always falls short and he never does quite measure up. Notice what his purpose is in verse 12, "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed".
The false prophet will be a religious figure, but his religion will be demonic. At the end of the age, religion will be one of the tools that Satan uses to unite the world under the leadership of the Antichrist, which is why the false prophet will be so essential to his success. Notice thirdly how powerful this person will be. Revelation 13:13-14, "He performs great signs... 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". The power of this false prophet won't be his own power. The Bible says he gets it from the Antichrist. Where does the Antichrist get his power? He gets it from Satan. So this is just a connection between Satan to the Antichrist, and from the Antichrist to the false prophet. It says here that "he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do". In other words, he's given power to do this by the Antichrist.
Now, John tells us in this little text we have in front of us three ways he goes about this deception. First of all, the Bible says he calls down fire from Heaven. Notice verse 13: "He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men". Remember, now, he's a counterfeiter. He's a mimic. All he does is try to do what God does. How may of you know that on occasions God used fire? When Sodom and Gomorrah were judged, the Bible says they were consumed by fire from Heaven. There were a couple of people in the Old Testament named Nadab and Abihu, and they were careless in the offerings of the temple and the tabernacle, and they were consumed by fire from God. So here is the Antichrist. He wants everybody to think he's the god. He's got to come up with the fire thing. It is a deceitful attempt to give an air of legitimacy to his presence.
And I got to tell you, I study this book over and over again for all these years. One of the things that just overwhelms me is the incredible illustration and power of deceit. And I'm reminded that even in our culture today, that's the one thing that we are most vulnerable to. How easy it is for us to be deceived. Nothing seems real. Everything is sort of outside the pale of reality. And even in our churches and in our walk with the Lord, if we're not careful, we deceive ourselves. Over and over again, scripture tells us to look out for ourselves that we not be deceived. Galatians 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". Satan has three things that he does. He deceives, he divides, and he destroys. And his number one tool, his entry into the life of a person tool, is the tool of deceit. And when you see Satan at his pinnacle in the tribulation period, what you see is the deceiver at his best. He calls down fire from Heaven.
And then second, the Bible tells us that he commands that an image be built. Verse 14 says this: "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". Once again, the image of the beast marks the final stage of apostasy and idolatry that has always characterized false religion. Stop for a moment and try to imagine with me this moment. If you've been to Israel, or if you've read Israel's story in the Bible or you've read books about the tabernacle and the temple and you've heard me preach, especially from the book of Revelation, you know that in the temple, the most sacred place in all of the temple was the Holy of Holies.
The picture is that people could come to the outer court. Sometimes they could come to the inner court for sacrifices, but only once a year was the high priest of Israel allowed to go into the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for the people. And it was such a holy place that they put bells on the robe of the high priest so they could hear him when he was walking in there to make sure he was still alive. They tied a rope around his waist in case he did something wrong in there and he was immediately stricken, and they could pull his body out from having to go in and get him. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred place on the earth for followers of the true god. And on this particular day, Satan's Antichrist and false prophet have an idol established in the Holy of Holies and require the people of Israel and all those who gather on that day to fall down before that idol and worship him.
The image of the beast is evidently what the Lord Jesus meant when he said this in his sermon on the mount: "When you see the abomination of desolation". That's what this is. When the statue is put in the Holy of Holies, that's the abomination of desolation. Notice what Jesus said: "When you see that, spoken by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the holy place, let those are who in Judea flee to the mountains, for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time nor ever shall be". Have you ever heard the statement, "The cup of iniquity is full"? This is the moment when the cup of iniquity of this whole world is full. I don't want to put Jesus or God into a vernacular of the contemporary. But I have to tell you, I think I hear God say, "That's it. I've had enough". And at that moment, all hell breaks loose on this earth as the second half of the tribulation begins to unfold.
Paul wrote about this to the Thessalonians in his letter. He said, "Let no man deceive you by any means". There's that word "deceive" again. "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 worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God". The devil himself has tried to take over the place that belonged only to God. And remember, this has always been his desire. When he was kicked out of Heaven and when Jesus was on this earth, remember, he took him up to a mountain and he showed him the whole area and he said, "Lord Jesus, if you'll bow down before me and worship me, I'll give you all of this". Satan's great desire was to take the place of God and be worshipped. And finally, he requires it by this terrible act of blasphemy and desecration.
And then thirdly, he not only commands the image to be built, but he causes it to speak. Says in verse 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". Now, you can argue about what this is all you want to. All I can tell you is, it seems to me that this is nothing more nor less than demonic possession. I don't know of any other place in the Bible where an inanimate object is filled with Satan, but here it appears to be that the devil fills this beast and allows this beast to counterfeit the miracles of God.
Then notice number four, "his program". and this is something with which most of us are somewhat familiar. Revelation 13:16-17, "The false prophet 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 name of the beast, or the number of his name". The false prophet is going to wear two hats during the tribulation. He'll be the religious leader and the financial czar. He's the one who will actually put into process the numbering. Now, everybody wants to know what the mark of the beast is. And I wonder if, by the time that happens, the only place on the human body where it could be put that doesn't have a tattoo on it will be on the forehead. You know, I'm not sure. I don't know if you've noticed, I've just noticed over my lifetime a lot more tattoos going on than I ever saw before.
This won't be a tattoo, but the Bible says there's gonna be a mark. Without this mark, no one will be able to buy or sell. No one will be exempt from this. Whether you're a CEO or a hired hand, no one will be able to function without this mark or this license or this insignia. No one will be able to shop at the mall. No one will be able to eat at a restaurant. No one will be able to fill up at a gas station or pay utility bills or buy groceries or get prescriptions filled or pay to get the lawn mowed or pay the mortgage without the mark. It's the tribulation trademark, and without it, you won't be able to function. So what will happen is, people will go bankrupt and they'll starve. If they don't take the mark of the beast, they will not be able to function.
And somebody says, "Well, what does the mark look like, and what does it mean"? Well, look with me again at verse 18, where we get a bit of a clue. Revelation 13:18, "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". Now, that's the number you call the phone company and tell them you don't want in your phone number. "Could you please change my phone number"? Or you call the DMV and say, "You put this on my license plate. I want to turn it in for a new one". Nobody wants 666, we don't even know for sure what it means, many of us. We just know it's not something good. Well, what is it? What is significant about 666? Oh, I'll tell you what, if you read the literature that I read on this, it would just amuse you so much. I've read so many...
If you want somebody to be the Antichrist, you can make it happen. Here's what you do. You give every letter in the alphabet a numerical value, and then you start adding up their letters, and if you add them right, you can get to 666. If it doesn't work the first time, include his middle name. If it still doesn't work, but it's close, give him a doctor's degree. And keep working on it until, if you want to, you can make anybody the Antichrist. And you've probably heard all the stories about Hitler and John F. Kennedy, who was shot. And you've heard them all. But the bottom line is, folks, we don't know who the Antichrist is, except what the word of God tells us. It says it is the number of a man.
Think with me about that for a moment, because here is the conclusion of this message. Man was created on the sixth day. They are to work six days, not seven. You couldn't be a Hebrew slave for more than six years. Six is the number of a man. Now, God's number, on the other hand, is seven. He created seven days in a week. There are seven colors in the visible spectrum. There are seven notes on the musical scale. There are seven feasts of Jehovah, seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. Seven secrets in the kingdom parables. At the fall of Jericho, seven priests marched in front of the army bearing seven trumpets of ram's horns. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times.
That's all good, but what about the book of Revelation? Well, that's where it really becomes interesting. Remember, the book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. That's what it says at the top of the book. "The revelation of Jesus Christ". So listen to me. In the book of Revelation, the number seven is used more than 50 times to describe things that are going on in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Now, I'm not gonna read them all to you, but I'm gonna read a bunch of them to you. Listen to this. There are seven churches, seven spirits, seven candlesticks, seven stars, seven lamps, seven seals, seven horns, seven eyes, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven heads, seven crowns, seven plagues, seven vials, seven mountains, seven kings, seven beatitudes, seven years of judgment, seven letters to the seven churches, seven "I am" statements of Christ, and seven songs in Heaven. And that's just some of them.
Seven is God's number. Seven is the number of completeness. We have seven days in the week. But six is the number of man. That's what the Bible says. It's the number of humanity and the number of incompleteness. And perhaps the meaning of 666 is that human beings, even to the triple, fall short of God's perfection. On our own, we are incomplete, and we long for fulfillment in the perfect completeness of God. Everyone in this room today is either a six or a seven. And I want to tell you right now, I'm gonna take all doubt away, I'm a seven. And I'm not a seven because I'm any better than anybody else. I'm a seven because I have accepted God's gift of Christ's righteousness, and that's how I got to be a seven. If you try to get to Heaven by being the best six you can, even if you triple it, it's gonna fall short. Six is the number of incompleteness. Seven is the number of fulfillment.
I'm gonna tell you a story that will help you remember this. Donald Grey Barnhouse, who was a great illustrator of another generation, explains this in a story that he tells. He said, "The children of the great composer Bach found that the easiest method of awaking their father was to play a few lines of music and leave off the last note". They said that the musician would get up immediately, go to the piano, and strike the final chord. Barnhouse said he tried it. He said, "I got up early one morning, and I went to the piano in our home, and I played the well-known carol Silent Night and purposely stopped before playing the last note. And I walked out into the hallway to see what would happen". He said, "My eight-year-old son had stopped reading his book and was trying to find the note on his harmonica". He said another child was singing the last note lustily, as loud as he could. And an adult from upstairs called down, "Did you do that on purpose? What is the matter with you"?
You see, our very nature cries out for completeness, doesn't it? Our very nature wants a resolution. The Bible puts it this way, that we're created with eternity in our hearts, and until God is at home in our hearts, we're always feeling like there's something missing. Some of you here today, you're going through that right now. You're good people. You're good sixes. You might even be a triple six. But a triple six is not enough. You have to come to Christ and get his righteousness and become a seven. Because if you don't become a seven, there's a little limerick you can keep. "If I'm not a seven, I can't go to Heaven". That's the truth. Only a seven gets into Heaven. And you're never gonna be a seven on your own. You say, "Well, I'm gonna try to be my very best, and if I work really hard, maybe I can be 666 1/2". No good. The only thing that will get you into Heaven is the perfect righteousness and completeness of almighty God through Jesus Christ.
And the wonderful news, men and women, is this, that God had made it possible for all of us to go from being a six to being a seven by just putting our trust in Jesus Christ. That's why the Scripture says, Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved". If you trust in him, he will come and live within you, and he will become for you what you could never become for yourself. You can either believe it or not believe it. But you can't deny it. And one day you'll stand before the Lord God and he will take account of who you are. And if you're still trying to be the best six you could ever be, the Lord God will look at you, and if you're not a seven in his Son, Jesus Christ, you will not get into Heaven. I hope that you'll put your trust in him today if you haven't done so already. Almighty God loves you. Oh, I can't tell you how much he loves you. Do you think he would give his Son to be your savior if he didn't love you a lot? And he wants you to know him.