By Merrill Olson
As there is a divine trinity, so there is an evil trinity. The Book of Revelation distinctly teaches this satanic trinity in the end times. The third person is the “beast” from the earth (Rev. 13:11) called “the false prophet” (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). As the “dragon” or Satan is the counterfeit father (Rev. 12:9; 13:4), the first “beast” or “Antichrist” is the counterfeit Christ, and the false prophet is the counterfeit Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:14), so the “false prophet” will cause worship to be given to the “Antichrist” (Rev. 13:12). Therefore, people will be compelled to worship Satan through this “man of sin…the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3).
Jesus warned that there will be “false christs and false prophets” (Matt. 24:24), but the “false prophet” of the Tribulation period will be the greatest. The Lord also said that these “false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (v. 24). In the same way, the future false prophet will be energized by Satan and will “perform great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth 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 Antichrist]” (Rev. 13:13-14).
Nevertheless, what is interesting about the false prophet is that he comes on the scene “like a lamb” (v. 11). This suggests that he will be less overpowering and terrifying than the Antichrist. Thus, he may come on the scene as a harmless lamb; but he is really a wolf in “sheep’s clothing” (Matt. 7:15). He will not appear as a conquering dictator but will be a gentle deceiver and a person of hell (Rev. 20:10). Along with his false miracles, he may appear as professing supernatural inspired messages to mankind. However, his prophecies will not be from God but from Satan.
On the other hand, this façade of gentleness will end as he becomes empowered by Satan and as his masterpiece, will speak “like a dragon” (v. 11) and will “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (v. 15). For the martyrs mentioned earlier in Revelation (6:9-11; 7:13-14), many of them are those who will be executed during this terrible time.
After his worldwide success and because “he exercises all the authority of the first beast” (Rev. 13:12), his plan will also include that “both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or 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” (Rev. 13:16-17).
Who is the false prophet? There has been much speculation over the centuries as to his identity. As a false prophet, he is obviously a religious spokesman of some kind who will combine the world religions into a universal one. Many true followers of Jesus will not be part of it and will be killed. Therefore, two questions need to be asked to everyone individually and personally: Where do you stand with Jesus? Will you be part of the “Rapture” (1 Thess.4:16-17), or experience the appearance of the two beasts?
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