The Book of Revelation Revisited 7: Antichrist

We’re in the middle of John’s vision of the earth at the latter half of the tribulation period. The devil and his rebel angels have been kicked out of heaven. Because of God’s intervention, Satan has been unsuccessful in trying to kill Jesus, or the last remnant of Israel, who call Christ their Messiah. So, he turns his wrath towards the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations:

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his head a blasphemous name. Now the beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him power, his throne, and great authority. Rv. 13:1, 2. NKJV

With the ten heads and horns, the beast is a mirror image of Satan. His crowns represent ten nations that the devil will assemble, to build a world empire to rival all that came before. The physical description of the beast is a composite of four beasts the prophet Daniel saw in a vision. (Dan. 7:2 – 8.) Daniel also prophesied about the coming of this future empire. (Dan. Ch. 2)

Biblical scholars see Satan’s beast(s) as symbolizing a world empire, an antichrist, and a false prophet. Many see the dragon, the Antichrist, and the false prophet as a perverse imitation of the Godhead.

John continues:

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 because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast and who is able to wage war with him?” Rv. 13:3, 4. NASB

The beast represents a new world system – one that has suffered death and has been resurrected (insinuating something homologous to the resurrection of Christ). All ‘God-rejecters’ who survived the first half of the tribulations will fall under the sway of this satanic world order.

And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven. He was also permitted to wage war against the saints (God’s people) and to overcome them, and authority and power over every tribe and people and language and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice]. Rv. 13:5 – 8. AMP

So, the beast gets a ‘mouthpiece’ – the Antichrist. This is also described in another vision of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:26, 27.), whereby he describes the Antichrist as a ‘little horn.’ Many interpret the vision of Daniel to mean that the Antichrist will first come as a ‘man of peace’ (after God has destroyed the ‘army of the north,’ that came against Israel), and that he will strike a peace accord with Israel.

However, at the tribulation midpoint, he breaks that accord and wages war against the followers of Christ – even forbidding any worship of God in the new temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Antichrist will demand worship for himself, declaring that he is God. Many of the saints are martyred at this time. (Rv. 12:10 – 12.)

However, because of the saints’ steadfast endurance for Christ, their eternal outcome will be one of triumph over Satan and his minions.

Finally, we see that those who do worship the Antichrist, will not find their names in the Lamb’s book of life – meaning that they have no heavenly hope.

John resumes the telling of his vision:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the whole earth and those who dwell on it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come from heaven on earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on 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 of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Rv. 13:11 – 14. NKJV

Here then is the manifestation of the second beast (the false prophet) – one who appears meek and pious, but his dragon-speech reveals his evil character to those who can discern his true nature. Satan gives power to the false prophet to manifest miracles in the name of the Antichrist, in order to prop up the Antichrist’s claim of divinity. Lastly, the false prophet commands that an idol be made in the image of the Antichrist’s so that the people could worship it. [This was previously foretold by the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:9 – 12.), where we learned that God allowed this deception to take place because of the people’s steadfast rejection of His salvation.]

John elaborates further about the false prophet:

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both great and small, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of the beast, for it is the number of man, and his number is 666. Rv. 13:15 – 18. ESV

Thus, the false prophet animates the statue of the Antichrist. It must be some form of an elaborated illusion, because only God can create life. If one is not convinced by the illusion to worship the idol, that same one will be killed.

We also see the false prophet promote the ‘mark of the beast,’ one required to having indelibly placed upon their person in order to buy or sell anything. Note: no one really knows what ‘666’ means except that it is the number of man. But because ‘sevens’ are the biblical number for ‘completeness,’ it suggests incompleteness.

Ultimately then, what we are seeing is the establishment of the complete satanic world system: the Antichrist is directing the political and economic landscape, and the false prophet is controlling religion; and all of this is being orchestrated by the devil himself. The plot thickens…

Goodnight and God bless.

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The Book of Revelation Revisited – 2

The apostle John begins describing the events of Revelation from Holy Spirit-inspired visions that he received while banished on the island of Patmos, by the Romans, for preaching the gospel.

The first vision shows Jesus as He appears today:

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair where white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like brass, as is refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rv. 1:12 – 16. NKJV

The white hair denotes the wisdom of His Father (Dan. 7:9), the flaming eyes suggest Christ’s omniscience, the feet of brass His omnipotence, the voice of many waters represents His power and authority to speak for God (Ezek. 1:24), and the two-edged sword symbolizes the power of the word of God to seek out the truth. (Heb. 4:12)

Jesus then tells John that He has conquered death and is victorious over the devil. He also explains the symbols in John’s vision that we saw last time (Rv. 1:17 – 20.): the stars being the angels of the seven churches, and the lamp stands the churches themselves.

Next, Jesus gives John the messages for the seven churches – which ultimately are messages for church congregants everywhere, as each church is a reflection of them:

Jesus said that the first church was ritualistic – coming off as a rigid religion, rather than a place of love, where He can be found. His remedy is to return to our initial love and zeal for Him, keeping Him as our center focus. In addition, to repent of all behavior that has diminished that focus. (Rv. 2:1-5.)

It is easy to let our faith-related activities fall into thoughtless robotic habits. We need ‘daily dips’ in God’s word to remind us of the infinite love that the Father and the Son has for us.

The second church is living in material poverty. Christ acknowledges that, but He tells them that their greater rewards come from their spiritual abundance. He also recognizes their suffering from persecution by Satan-inspired detractors of the gospel in the world. Jesus tells them that if they will remain steadfast in opposition in the world’s ways, they will be rewarded with eternal life.  (Rv. 2:8 – 11.)

Not everyone is blessed with material abundance. As long as your lot in life is not due to sloth, you can seek God, knowing that you’ve tried your best, and He will provide what you need. (Mt. 6:25 & 33.) Remember too that the closer you get to God, the more you’ll be attacked by the devil’s minions; but Christ has got your back. (1 Jn. 4:4)

Jesus condemns the third church for polluting their doctrine with worldly behavior and false religion – commanding them to exercise immediate repentance. (Rv. 2:12 – 16.)

The only doctrine that belongs in the church is the Bible. The emphasis on the immediacy of repentance is because you don’t want to be caught up in unrepentant sin when you die or when Jesus returns, because at that point in time, salvation is no longer available.

The fourth church is filled with love, faith and service, but has allowed a satanic false prophet into their assembly. Jesus demands immediate repentance and a full-faith return to Him and His gospel. (Rv. 2:18 – 25.)

You know when there is a fox in the henhouse. It’s when anyone is teaching anything contrary to scripture. They must be uprooted.

The fifth church had lost the presence of the Spirit because of their ho-hum approach of doing church.  Jesus called it a ‘dead’ church. He speaks the remedy, which consists of repenting, returning to the Truth, and then living it out. (Rv. 3:1 – 4.)

Christ speaks only praise for the sixth church – encouraging them to continue on their faithful path, even in the face of persecution, because He will be by their side. (Rv. 3:7 – 11.)

Conversely, Jesus had nothing good to say about the seventh church. It was a place of ‘lukewarm’ parishioners with no spiritual conviction and a misplaced focus on material things. (Rv. 3:15 – 17.)  Yet even with this church, Jesus offered encouragement:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Rv. 3:18 NKJV

Jesus loves you so much. He cares so much, that if you mess up, He’s going to bust your chops to try to nudge you back onto the right path.

The bottom line with respect to these seven messages, is that Jesus is guiding us in how to build a stronger church by being stronger Christians. We do that by patiently enduring our trials as we wait for His return, using good discernment to separate ourselves from the ungodly, emulate Jesus, keep Christ as the center of all that we think or do, keep the undefiled word of God in our hearts, be zealous for God and His Son, carry the gospel to as many as we can, and repent when we slip and fall.

Our God is a forgiving God – that’s why He sent His Son.

That’s the making of a strong church…

Goodnight and God Bless.

Beware of False Teachers and Counterfeit Christs

The apostle Peter warns us extensively about the coming of ‘false teachers,’ first, by qualifying why he and Christ’s other apostles could present the truth about the gospel:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were witnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pt. 1:16 – 21. ESV

The apostles were with Jesus, they heard God coronate Him, and they recognized that all Scripture is a product of Holy Spirit-inspired writers.

Next, Peter tells us of the destruction that false teachers will bring:

…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Pt. 2:1 NKJV

Many will follow in their shameful ways, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false arguments and twisted doctrine. Their sentence [of condemnation which God has decreed] from a long time ago is not idle [but is still in force], and their destruction and deepening misery is not asleep [but is on its way]. 2 Pt. 2:2, 3. AMP

But these [false teachers], like unreasoning animals, [mere] creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed, reviling things they do not understand, will also perish in their own corruption [in their destroying, they will be destroyed]… 2 Pt. 2:12. AMP

For uttering arrogant words of vanity [pompous words disguised to sound scholarly or profound, but meaning nothing and containing no spiritual truth], they beguile and lure using lustful desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error. They promise them liberty, when they themselves are the slaves of depravity… 2 Pt. 2:18, 19. AMP

Jesus also warns us of the same:

…for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will provide you signs and wonders in order to deceive, if [such a thing were] possible, even the elect [those God has chosen for Himself]. But be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance. Mk. 13:22, 23. AMP

If you are a follower of Christ, these folks are not a lot you want to throw yourselves in with. In their ignorance and / or rebellion, they lay down seeds of corruption (lies) amongst the blossoms of your salvation. And yet, as one who walks in salvation, you can see that these false teachers need the understanding of salvation more than anyone.

We know that there are people out there right now, distorting the word of God.

Sweeping political affiliations aside, (your choice, and nobody else’s business), I find that the Huffington Post is a sweeping platform for many of these false teachers who preach legalized infanticide, denigrate God’s biological designs and express great disdain for all things biblical.

One such article I came across was entitled What it means to be a “secular” Jesus follower, designed to promote the author’s (Tom Krattenmaker) new book: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, Finding Answers In Jesus For Those Who Don’t Believe.

He begins by stating that he is not a religious person, that he is inspired by Jesus, but not a Christian. Mr. Krattenmaker defines a ‘secular Jesus follower’ as one who “is pursuing the aspects of Jesus that do not involve his religious utterances and behaviors or claims of his divine status.”

His ‘Jesus application’ as it were, is expressed thusly, “…Jesus can be a source of inspiration, insight, and ethical input that is powerfully applicable and transformative today, wherever we are on the theological spectrum. Whether the issue is our anxiety, our racism, our violence, our sexual exploitation, or our self-centeredness, I contend that as we examine and implement the insights of Jesus, we deepen our lives and begin to make the world a fairer, more loving, more peaceful, and more compassionate place.”

You cannot argue with this portion of his opinion. It’s absolutely correct. The danger is (especially for those who are ignorant about who Jesus is), the twisted message he may be unintentionally(?) delivering to others or himself. He is cherry-picking the scriptures to suit his own purpose and justify his deviation from them.

Indeed, he admits that secular folks do not seek ‘church acceptance’ and leave by the wayside the gospel parts that include ‘the supernatural – the miracles, the resurrection, salvation, teachings about God – or as I prefer to do, we can “translate” them into words and concepts that make sense to a secular mind.’

In essence then, the author is only paying attention to the Scriptures that he likes; and if he doesn’t, he ‘translates’ (modifies, corrupts, twists, distorts) them until he does. The problem with that is it makes him a ‘false teacher,’ luring other people (and himself) away from what is a life or death situation.

Let’s first address the issue of cherry-picking scripture:

Every word of God is pure…Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you… Pr. 30:5, 6. NKJV

“You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Mt. 22:29 NKJV

[The Scriptures Opened] Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Lk. 24:44 NKJV

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Rm. 10:11 NKJV

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. NKJV

I testify and warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [its predictions, consolations, and admonitions]: if anyone adds [anything] to them, God will add to him the plagues (afflictions, calamities) which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from or distorts the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away [from that one] his share from the tree of life and from the holy city (New Jerusalem), which are written in this book. Rv. 22:18, 19. AMP

Thus, you cannot even apply Scripture correctly unless you have a God-connection. All Scriptures point to Christ and to be able to follow Him, you must understand who He really is. You must apply them all to be able to live as God would have you live – in a godly fashion that fulfills and transcends Mr. Krattenmaker’s ‘Jesus application.’ Finally, having the audacity to re-write the word of God brings about a final demise of that would-be author.

Moreover, let’s look at the issue of siding with the authentic Christ as well – from His mouth:

…everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him. But whoever denies and disowns Me before Men, I will also deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven. Mt. 10:32, 33. AMP

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Jn. 5:22, 23. NASB

“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Mt. 12:30 NKJV

“…you will die [unforgiven and condemned] in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am the One [I claim to be], you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24 AMP

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 NKJV

We don’t get to say who Christ is; we profess who Jesus says that He is. If we don’t believe in that, don’t follow His primary purpose, (which is to help gather others into the kingdom), don’t honor Jesus by obeying Him and believing in His divine stature, we will be left behind to perish with this version of the earth.

God bless Mr. Krattenmaker, but we cannot afford to follow his misinformed quest or his counterfeit christ.

Our lives depend upon the truth. Stick with the Source.

Goodnight and God bless.