Robert Jeffress - The Diabolical Duo
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". At this very moment, there are evil forces working behind the scenes to bring about your destruction. Satan and his demons are doing everything they can to ruin your life and turn you away from God. And the Bible teaches that in the final years of earth's history, Satan will receive some additional help from two key individuals, the antichrist and the false prophet. Today, we're going to explore who these people are, and what they will do during the Great Tribulation. My message is titled "The Diabolical Duo" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
In his Russian novel, "The Brothers Karamazov", Fyodor Dostoevsky has a character entitled the grand inquisitor who argues that given the choice between security and freedom, most people will choose security. In the past, tyrants like Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, have all used the promise of security to their people to accumulate great power and become the dictators that they were. And the Bible teaches that in the final seven years of earth's history, there will be another dictator who will rise to power, not by force, but by people willingly saying, "We will give up our freedom in order for you to promise us security". And it is that final, great world leader and his assistant who will play a role in his ascent to power that is the focus of our chapter in Revelation today.
If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Revelation chapter 13, as we look at the diabolical duo. Revelation, chapter 13. Now, in chapter 13, we look at the other two members of that "unholy trinity", the antichrist and the false prophet. Let's, first of all, look at the beast who comes out of the sea, the antichrist. And before we look at the text, let me just make three observations about the antichrist that might dispel some common misconceptions you have about him. First of all, in fact, he will be accepted by the mass of people, not rejected. Remember, after the rapture of the church, millions of Christians disappear, are taken into heaven. The world will be thrown into chaos. And out of that chaos will emerge this one, the antichrist, who will promise peace. He will be accepted, not rejected.
Revelation 6:2 pictures him as the rider on the horse who has a bow, but no arrows. He needs no force to take world power. Secondly, he will be attractive, not repulsive. When we think of the antichrist, we think of the man of lawlessness or the beast or the blasphemous horn. That's who he really is, but he certainly doesn't appear that way. He's very attractive in his appearance. And thirdly, he will be extraordinary, not ordinary. He will be unlike any leader this world has ever seen. Someone has written about the antichrist, "Everything about him will be extraordinary. He will possess the eloquence of Abraham Lincoln, the charm of John F. Kennedy, the wit of Winston Churchill, the military genius of Napoleon, the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., and the intelligence of Albert Einstein".
Now with that introduction, let's look at the antichrist, his characteristics mentioned in verses one to four. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Remember the dragon, Satan. And then I saw a beast coming out of the sea, having 10 horns and seven heads, and on his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast. They worshiped the dragon, Satan, because he gave his authority to the beast, the antichrist, and they worshiped the beast saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him"?
Will you notice the four characteristics John mentions of this antichrist? First of all, he is empowered by Satan. The picture is the dragon, Satan is standing on the seashore, looking out over the sea. And just like a magician, waving his hand over a hat and then pulling out a rabbit, you find Satan, in a sense, waving his hand over the sea and out of it comes this horrible beast, the antichrist. He is empowered by Satan. Secondly, he will be a gentile. He'll be a gentile. How do we know that? The sea, in scripture, always represents the gentile nations. In Daniel seven, Daniel talks about the sea of humanity, and out of the sea came four gentile nations, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. He will be a gentile. Thirdly, he will be a powerful ruler. He's described as having 10 horns. Horns were always symbols of strength in the Bible. And these 10 horns represent, most probably, the 10 final world nations over which the antichrist will preside, and he will amalgamate them into one world empire under his reign.
Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic is found in verses three and four, and that is, he will appear to experience a resurrection. John said he sees one of the heads having a mortal, a fatal wound, and yet it goes on to say in verse 14 that he comes back to life again. What are his activities, what will he do here on earth? I want you to notice three activities, verses five to eight describe. There was given to him, that is the antichrist, a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies and authority to act for 42 months. How long is that? Three and a half years was given to him and he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, that is to those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. Verse eight, all who dwell on the earth will worship him. Everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb who has been slain.
Notice, it's three activities. First of all, the antichrist will not be fearful to blaspheme the name of God. He will claim to be God himself. And he will say horrible things about the true God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, we find a further elaboration on this. Paul writes, "The man of lawlessness, that is the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called God or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God".
Remember, the tribulation begins with antichrist signing a peace treaty with Israel, promising peace. But halfway through that seven years, at the three and a half year mark, occurs what Jesus called the abomination of desolation. Daniel called it that too, when the antichrist breaks that peace treaty and he calls himself God and takes his seat on that throne in Jerusalem, a seat in the temple of God. By the way in John's day, Caligula, the Roman emperor, desired to make a statue of himself and place it in the Jewish temple. That was his plan, but he died before he was able to fulfill that plan. The antichrist is going to be able to accomplish what Caligula could never accomplish. He will blaspheme the name of God. He will claim to be God.
Secondly, he will attack God's people. He will make war with the saints. Who are the saints? Well, it's the 144.000 Jewish witnesses. It's those who will be saved, Jews and gentiles alike, during the Great Tribulation, and he'll do it for 42 months.
And third, the antichrist will attract the worship of many. Look at the response to the beast in verses nine and 10. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes, if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed.
Here is the perseverance of the faith of the saints. Have you ever heard of the doctrine, the perseverance of the saints? That simply says the saints will persevere until the end. How will we know who is truly saved? Those who persevere until the end. Those who don't persevere, it's not that they lose their salvation, it's just that they were never saved to begin with. All true believers will persevere until the end.
Now that is the antichrist. But beginning in verse 11, John describes the third person of the Satanic Trinity who will assist the antichrist in his rise to power. We call him the beast out of the earth, or the false prophet. Look at his characteristics, three of them all in one verse, verse 11. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. First of all, John says, this false prophet comes out of the earth.
Now in John's day, people were terrified of what came out of the water, because you couldn't see in the water. There were sea monsters, they thought, down there. And so they were terrified of what came out of the sea. Not so much so of that which was on the earth because you could see it. What John is suggesting here is, this false prophet is not quite as fearsome as the antichrist is, he comes out of the earth.
Secondly, he has less power than antichrist. The antichrist had 10 horns, this false prophet has two horns, two symbols of power. As we'll see when we get to Revelation 17, the false prophet presides over a religious and a political empire. He has less power than the antichrist.
Thirdly, he speaks deceptively. He has two horns like a lamb. A lamb is warm and fuzzy and cuddly. Everybody likes a lamb. He will have that appearance to people, he will speak very smoothly, in an appealing a way, and therefore attract many people to follow him and therefore follow the antichrist. He's like a lamb, but make no mistake about it, he speaks like the dragon. He speaks for Satan himself, which is why he is called the false prophet in Revelation 16:13. Everything he says is a lie.
What are the activities of the false prophet? What will he do? Look at verses 12 to 18. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs, which it was given to him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
I want you to notice the activities of this false prophet. First of all, he will induce people to follow after the antichrist. Remember, the Holy Spirit's job is to point people to worship Jesus Christ. Well, this member of the unholy Trinity, the false prophet, will point people not to worship Christ, but the antichrist. He will encourage people to follow the antichrist.
Secondly, he will be able to perform miraculous signs. He'll be able to call fire down from heaven, just like Elijah did. He'll be able to perform other miracles. You say, well, how does he get that power? Remember Pharaoh's magicians in the time of Moses? They were able to perform great signs. Perhaps God gave them and will give the false prophet the ability to do that in order to deceive those who have chosen not to believe. "Those who refuse to worship the image of the beast," John says, "Will be executed according to the beast's instruction". Look at verse 15, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the beast to be killed. Whoever refuses to worship the beast, during this period of time, will be killed. Many will choose to deny Christ, instead of follow after him.
The third activity of the false prophets, prophet will be this, he will restrict commerce to those who do not worship the antichrist. Look at verse 16 and he causes all, the small, the great, the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Now, again, the word all doesn't mean every human being alive, some will refuse to take the mark of the beast. But by all, he's simply saying all classes of humanity, the rich, the poor, the free and the slaves, everyone, all classes will be given a mark on the right hand or on their forehead. And he will provide that no one will be able to buy or to sell except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Those who are alive will have a choice to make. One choice is to refuse the mark of the beast, to experience the horror of starvation. The other choice is to take the mark of the beast and experience the wrath of the Lamb for all eternity.
Amazingly, most people will choose to take the mark of the beast to fill their stomachs, rather than care for their eternal souls. Verse 18, John says, "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man, and the number is 666".
Now there's been all kind of speculation through the years about who this antichrist is, using some elaborate system of the number 666. People have identified Stalin, Hitler, Henry Kissinger and so many others as the antichrist. That's a fool's game to try to do that. I like what the late preacher, J. Vernon McGee said. He said, "I would suggest that we not waste our time trying to identify a person by this number. Instead, we need to present Jesus Christ in such a way that we might reduce the population of those who have to go through the Great Tribulation, and who will therefore know what the number of the beast is". That's a much better way to spend our energy.
The most important thing to do is to make sure, in this generation, that you're a part of the group that will escape the Great Tribulation, that you don't have to experience this period of tribulation for you and your family, and that you never have to fear the wrath of the Lamb of God on your life, because you've died with your sins unforgiven.
Please listen to me, I don't understand this, but I know it and I've seen it in 40 years of ministry, it is possible to say no to God once too often. It is possible to so harden your heart against the Gospel, or just to neglect the Gospel so many times that you reach a point where you are not able to believe, where instead of offering you grace, God offers you judgment instead. Don't ever say no once too often. If today you have the understanding that you are a sinner who needs God's forgiveness, and that Christ is the one, the only one who can offer you that forgiveness, don't wait one moment longer and risk experiencing the wrath of the antichrist, or even worse, the wrath of Christ himself.