There is another figure which stands in relationship with the dragon in all the works and power of Satan. Let us begin with his description. “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.” The first beast rises out of the sea. This second beast rose out of the earth. Both are domains claimed by the angel of the Lord in the 10th chapter when the angel descended from heaven and set one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth. So the origin of these beasts (the greater and the lesser) are already subject to the authority of God. Let them blaspheme as the will, they are under the power of Christ; their defeat is assured. It may be considered that false prophet rising out of the earth is related to the great whore of chapter 17; she also is related to the earth: “Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth….” It may be that this great whore represents that one world religion that will come and this man will be its leader or its pope. Both the great whore and the false prophet are both religious in nature and that is clear by both descriptions. The description of this figure is specific to John and finds no correlation to specific Old Testament prophecies. This beast plays the role of the Holy Spirit in this unholy Trinity. Everything that this figure does points to the Antichrist and seeks his glory. His role is to convince men of the deity of the first beast. This figure may be a re-organized Roman Catholic Church (the great whore appears to have a relationship with Rome – see chapter 17) leader or possibly the leader of an apostate Jewish sect centered on the temple that was just built (where the antichrist now sits declaring that he is God – possibly an attempt to replace the two true witnesses that were slain with his own false miracles – hence the description of two horns). It is not beyond the pale to see the leader is Persian in nature (like a Shiite Muslim preaching the coming of the 12th Imam) since the ram with two horns in Daniel 8 was Medio-Persian (Dan. 8:20). Maybe it is the melding of all three world faiths.
The description is of this beast regards how it appears and how it sounds. It appears as a lamb with two horns but it speaks like a dragon. The lamb speaks of a religious economy. Man approached God through the means of a lamb. Rising out of the earth may be a description of its worship of the earth; religion married to WICCA and extreme environmentalism. But, it will strike familiar religious chords. The fact that he appears as a lamb does not mean that he stands in the stead of Christ for that is the role of antichrist. Instead he stands as the preacher of and the purveyor of his religion. He will the one that convinces the world that the worship of the beast is a legitimate means of attaining heaven or heaven on earth or whatever nirvana that that religion will be promising. He will be the one that is saying to the world, Look Christ is here or He is there (Matt. 24:26). He is the Vicar or Antichrist. But, despite the genuine nature of its appearance it still speaks like a dragon. He speaks with all the subtlety of the serpent in the garden, no doubt saying to all its parishioners that they shall be as gods if they will follow antichrist. This is where the New Age will lead to, a melding of religion with the doctrine of Satan, bowing before the man that is empowered and representative of the dragon. Heed the warning of Christ regarding the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Further than the description of the False Prophet we see his cause: “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.” He was able to exercise the same power as the first beast. The word all is used. All the power that was given to the first beast is shared by this second beast. He was satanically empowered by the dragon. He had the power to speak blasphemies and to make war with the saints and overcome them (note: religion will take an active role in persecuting true believers in the last days – much the same way the Roman church pronounced anathemas and burned true believers at the stake in the Dark Ages). They will be partners who exercise power together; one who has the power and the other who gets to share it; when who possessed it and the other to implement it. The second beast is not the successor of the first but the indispensable supporter of the first beast. The power belonged to the first beast for it is described rightly as the power “of the first beast.” He was the “before” the second beast in matter of time and in matter of importance. The term “before him” also speaks of the fact that this second beast stands in the presence of the first. The cause of the second beast was to serve and exult the first beast. His cause is a religious one. His cause is to bring the earth to a place of worship. It may be said that this is the most successful worship leader in recorded history. We saw already that all of the world wonders after the beast and worships the beast. Now we learn why. They do it because this second beast caused it. This is the new propagandist in the line of Joseph Goebbels. He sways the opinion of men in a way in which the modern media and education system could only dream. He not only brings men to place of obedience like many despots have accomplished before but to a place of heart felt worship. He is responsible for preaching a new false gospel of a false resurrection of a false Christ. He is the false Spirit that was prophesied (II Cor. 11:4). He is the cause of the strong delusion which those who are not written in the Lamb’s book of life (II Thess. 2:11, 12).
Our text goes on to describe the actual means of the false prophet. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men….” There is a specific connection here to the Jew and possibly to the apostate Christian that nominally as such. Elijah must come before Christ and therefore this man will feign the powers of Elijah (forgetting the words of Christ that Elijah had already come). Elijah called fire from heaven (I Kings 18:38, II Kings 2:9). The devil is always interested in making himself appear scriptural; he has always deceived first by saying “hath God said.” He quoted scripture to our Savior in the wilderness in His temptation and so he no doubt will do so again when the final hour of temptation comes with all of its deception. He appears as an angel of light and his minsters as minsters of righteousness. After all the antichrist will come in “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders…” (II Thess. 2:9). Notice that it is “in the sight of men” that these wonders are done by this propagandist. It will convince the world that they must be following the right man. Not only that, we just got done seeing two prophets of the true God calling down fire from heaven in the 11th chapter. After their death this charlatan will, like Jannes and Jambres (the apparent names of the magicians who withstood Moses in Egypt – II Tim. 3:8), attempt to do the same miracles to show their king and all of Spiritual Egypt that there is nothing to fear from the power that was given to the true prophets. Calling down fire from heaven “in the sight of the people” will comfort the apostate world with the vain thought that they can win this war against Christ.
“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.” The first means of the false prophet was lying wonders. The second means was idolatry. By the means of the lying wonders our text tells us that he deceived those that dwell on the earth. He did those not only “in the sight of men” but here “in the sight of the beast.” He was the mediator between the two. He was the one that brought the world to the feet of the first beast by means of his lying wonders. The warning of Moses is pertinent here: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:1-13). This then is a test for the whole world by which God will prove that they are worthy of judgment. This is a warning for Israel specifically about this prophet. He was doing signs that came to pass. He appears to be a real prophet. But, at the end of his wonders is a message to serve another God. The warning of Paul is also pertinent as well: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (II Cor. 11:3, 4). At the heart of both of these tests is a need to know what we believe. There is a shallow spirituality that has no definitions in our culture. It is ripe for one to come forward and say that this other god should be served, this other Christ should be worshipped, and this other gospel should be received. Don’t be a part of this new spirituality. We cannot recognize counterfeits but by knowing the genuine truth. Give attendance to study so you can try the spirit of what sort they are (I John 3:1). Here the world by means of lying wonders take heed to the message of idolatry. He tells them that they should make an image “to the beast” or in the honor and adoration of the antichrist. He coupled the call to idolatry with the message of a false gospel of one that had a deadly wound by a sword (we ascertain that this was the surviving of some sort of assassination attempt) and yet lived. Here is a false gospel that flies in the face of the commandments of God. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…” (Ex. 20:4, 5). This will become the second part of the three part damnation of the world (Rev. 14:9 – worshipping the beast, worshipping his image, and receiving his mark). The idea is like that of the first kingdom of times of the Gentiles, Nebuchadnezzar. He was not willing to think of himself as only a head of gold in the grand scheme. So he built an image wholly of gold to represent his kingdom. He also compelled all to bow down to it. In the end of the times of the Gentiles the last king will do the same on a global scale. And the sounds of worldly music will be heard and the world will bow. They will willingly erect his image probably in the city of Jerusalem where he now sits.
This prophet has a means that will be different than all other false religions before this: he will offer them something personal and powerful. “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.” This text tantalizes the imagination. The description of our text only begins to give us a clue to what it means. First, it is described as miracle or at least a lying wonder. Whatever it means to give life unto the image, the second beast had power to do it. It then comes along the list of the means by which this second beast deceived the world. Secondly, it was described as life. Therefore it has motion and breath and consciousness (or at least a likeness of such). It was animated. An image is not the real thing but it is a powerful representative of that thing. This image apparently carries the authority of the first beast and was animated by the second. Thirdly, the image had a voice. It spoke. It was able to communicate to and with mankind. It was able to fulfill the need to belong and other social needs. The image of the beast will become a communicating thing. It became a real presence in the lives of men. Fourthly, it had the power to cause men to worship it. It became an extension of the ministry of the second beast. It also became a vicarious representation of the first beast. Just as men foolishly bow before the Eucharist so they will one day do so to this image. The worship of this idolatrous image becomes the focal point a world religion. I can picture its reality on the temple mount in Jerusalem but I can also see it in the individual homes and workspaces and public squares of all men. Lastly, it had the power to kill those who would not bow. Like those who would not bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s image these must also be killed. Just as in the dark ages when men would not bow before the Eucharist they must be taken to the stake. The difference here is that the image itself becomes the cause of the death of the martyrs. It could be the immediate cause of their death in that their refusal to bow before it would immediately result in death at the hand of the image. Or, it could be the secondary cause of their death through gestapo or Orwellian tactics. Talk about Big Brother! We can imagine a day of rejoicing idolatry and nightmarish martyrdom where all of mankind are brought before an image of Antichrist and given a choice to bow or die. There apparently will be many that will bow out of fear. There apparently will also be some that will not bow because they will not worship. To many it will be joyous return to the days of the oracles where they can come before a personal image and hear from a god. To some though it will be a nightmarish confrontation with their convictions that either kills the convictions or kill them. In a sense it is the fulfillment of the words of Christ: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, [Christ] is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matt. 24:26). Each man will be told at some time that Christ is ready to meet with them in individual places. This will be the most grand of deceptions and the most dangerous.
Thus are the means of false prophet, but what of the results. “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….” This then is the third part of degradation of society which will make up the reason for their damnation and judgment. They progressed into complete depravity and reprobation first by worshipping the beast, second by worshipping his image, and now lastly by receiving his mark. The false prophet has helped (through the power of Satan – the dragon) to cause the whole world to worship the beast and his image. Now the final step occurs in the successful propaganda campaign or deception in the history of man. He will cause the world to receive a mark. We first mark the utter success, for all classes of mankind are brought to the point that they take this mark. It does not appear that death is the threat for those who will not receive the mark as it was to those who would not worship the image. Those that would not worship the image would die but those who would not receive the mark only lost their place in society (the right to commerce). So these classes of man decide to take the mark not because they feared for their lives but because they genuinely wanted to take part in the day to day commerce of this new world order. It is interesting that six is the number of man and there are six classes of mankind named. The small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the bond and the free; those of all statures, those of all statuses, and those of all stations. No matter how small they were in stature or reputation they were willing to bow. The humble and the proud found themselves marked. No matter what economic status one belonged to, from Skid Row to Park Avenue, they were ready to receive the mark of the beast. No matter what station in life they were from the lowest slave to the most independent of spirits they took the mark. They were compelled by the lie to complete the unholy trinity of rejection of Christ. They gladly worshiped and the gladly identified with the single figure of the beast.
We note secondly, not only the universality of the deceptive conquest, the mode of their total submission. They received a mark in either their right hand or their forehead. What is a mark? A mark is an outward sign or symbol that shows some form of ownership. The apostle Paul said that he bore the marks of Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:17). In other words that which he did in the body was a sure sign that he belonged to Christ. The first mention of the term mark in the Bible was the mark that was placed on Cain by God to show that he was set apart for the vengeance of God alone (Gen. 4:15). No doubt the end of this mark will be the same for a world of those who went the way of Cain. For the mark of our text it serves to say who they worship. We noted how God had marked the 144,000 Jews as belonging to the Lord. This mark is no doubt an answer to that. It shows distinctly that they stand with the beast. It has often been the practice of pagan generals to mark those to whom they conquered. The marked person is a conquered person from the days of the Roman Caesars to the days of Adolf Hitler the conquered have been marked. This world will one day be conquered by Satan the great devourer. They are branded like cattle as the property of their god. They are marked in one of two ways. Some were marked on their right hand. The right hand of a man speaks of the source of his power. Some will no doubt be willing to yield all of their power to this new god. The forehead speaks of the will and reasoning of man. Many no doubt will be surrendering their will and the power of their reasoning to this god. All their work and all their thoughts will be branded and directed toward the beast. Where Christ said that He will write on His name on His followers the devil here says he will do the same (Rev. 3:12).
We have seen the results of the work of the first prophet and the mode to which the world has been marked, now let us see the implications of the marked: “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.” Whether or not there will ever be a realization of a one world economy is not clear in the text but what is clear is that the world economy will be subject to this new religion. Those who were not willing to openly embrace it would not be able to buy or sell. They became outcasts of society. It is very possible that this will be a matter of necessity for the world’s rulers. After all the disaster and famine, the world will be rationing what is left of their resources. They will only be willing to sell their food and other goods to those who stand with them (not aiding the “enemy”). But even more than that, it speak of totalitarianism. The rights of citizenship will only be given to those who have the mark of the beast. The price of acceptance in society is total loyalty. In a world where men and women care so much about what society thinks this world will be ready made for them. To be cut off from the world’s fair (Bunyan’s Vanity Fair) and the world’s frivolous markets, to not have access to all the tantalizing contraptions, is a fate worse than death to many even now. Men even today would sell out their convictions for the latest contraptions. The implications of being a social pariah will convince the spineless world to call the devil’s man their god.
The connection of the mark of the beast to commerce has caused many to see this future mark as being connected to technology. Already we are known by our numbers. Some envision the mark as a set of three numerical sixes, an 18 digit code, which identifies and tracks all men. They connect it with microchips inserted in the skin and all sorts of various technology. I will not doubt that this is a possibility but I myself see that this world to come will have been through an untold amount of devastation, more than half of population is dead through famine and war and supernatural disasters. It is possible that this future world will be much more limited in their technology then we could imagine.
Our text tells as that those who have the mark take either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Now, what shall we make of those statements? The text appears to be adding information with each ‘or’ in the text. We can speak of the mark or we could speak of the name of the beast or we could speak of the number of his name. To take the mark (i.e. the symbol) is to take his name and to take his name is to take the number of his name. First, the mark then is not only a symbol of slavish ownership but it is also the taking of a name. One can compare this then to a marriage. The apostate world becomes the false bride being brought into marriage to the false Christ by the means of a false prophet. The true Christ has His bride, the church, so the false Christ will have his. The taking of this mark will be more than just an assent to shop at the local stores but a decision to be joined wholly to the antichrist, his mission and his future. The command for men is to take the name of the Lord (and to not do so in vain – Ex. 20:7 – we should kiss the Son or be joined to Him – Ps. 2:12). The mark becomes the equivalent of a wedding ring. The world becomes his bride. The mark is the equivalent of a name and the name is the equivalent of a number. It is assumed therefore that the mark of the beast is itself a number but when we see the term “number” it is usually connected to the description of a company or an army. We must then remember the context, they are preparing for war against Israel and other believers in specific and Christ in general. Chapter 12 ended with an ominous defeat of the antichrist as he was attempting to flood the remnant of the woman’s seed. Taking the mark is then the equivalent of joining the army on the side of Antichrist. They are soldiers standing and declaring themselves to be his support and ally. The name does most certainly have a numeric meaning but the implication is clear, to receive the mark is to take the name of antichrist and to declare one’s self a part of his number. To take the mark will be to purposely stand against Christ. They embraced his religion and are ready to be his crusaders as he brings his armies to the Promise Land.
But there is still yet more to be said about that number. “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Is the number and the mark actually the number 666 or is there spiritual significance to the number. I don’t know. It would not surprise me that the number is actually used but there are some things in this verse that make it apparent that there is spiritual significance. First, it is apparent that the number is not readily apparent but will only be seen or known by those who have wisdom and understanding. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). It will be those who truly tremble before God who will be able to recognize the rebellious number. It will be those who have an acquaintance with true holiness that will be able to see the unholiness of that number. Further, it will not be readily apparent for it must be figured or counted in order to be seen. There is a certain amount of reckoning or reasoning that leads the wise and understanding men of God to know the meaning of the number. Secondly, it is said that that number is the number of a man. It belongs to a specific man; “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” (II Thess. 2:3, 4). He is a man and not a god. His end will be the end of a man. This number has been waiting for one specific man. I have heard all of my life of some various men from Napoleon to the Pope whose name adds up numerically to 666 in Latin, Greek, or Old Hebrew. The number has a specific meaning that will be manifest in a specific man. Finally that number that belongs to that man is 666 (not 616 as a couple of corrupted manuscripts read – the Greek letters CHI, XI, SIGMA in the assignment of a letter to each number in the Greek method). The wise will know him and account of him when he arises. I will not bore you with a hundred theories about what it can be of which I don’t necessarily agree or even understand. The number 6 itself is the number of man. Man was created on the sixth day. The man of sin is the apex of rebellious man. Three is the number of manifestation. Three sixes would represent the manifest rebellion of man. The number 7 is the number of perfection and completion in the works of God. The number 6 represents the works of man that falls short of Gods glory. Three sixes would represent the deification of man (as opposed to a Tri-une God) which would fit with everything that we know of our text. Nebuchadnezzar built his image for worship at 60 cubits high and six cubits wide. It would only be fitting that the last image of man that men worshiped would be surrounded by sixes as well.
People generally connect the number of the beast with economics for men will be unable to buy or sell without it. It no doubt makes the steady move of cashless societies, computerized communications, and global socialism compelling. We could spend time speaking about UPC codes which begin and end with the numeral read out of 6 as well as being a the numeral reading of 6 in the middle (symbolized by two small thin lines). We could speak of the 18 digit computerized identities (18 being three sixes) that identifies each person (at least those who also have a corresponding social security number). We could talk about microchips implanted under the skin that can carry all identifying, medical, and economic information.
All of that is just speculative although it is compelling. Whatever the number is the number is small and limited like all of the works of man. The works of God cannot be counted up in number but the works of man can. They will have their limit and just like Babylon (in the days of Belshazzar) they will be weighed in the sight of God and found wanting. The wise man of the last days will know and be able to reason that those works are the works of darkness. They will be able to see that that number and the name that it represents is opposed to God. They will be able to see that though this man claims to be God that his number is just the number of a man. And being wise they will bow down to the infinite and eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ even if it means that by so doing it will be their death.