Saturday, October 13, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 35 - Revelation 13:11-18

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 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. He performs 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, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 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. He 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.

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. (NKJV)

The Second Beast


What is the significance, if any, that another beast comes out of the earth?
  

Scholars come up with some interesting thoughts regarding the statement that another beast comes out of the earth. First, some say that the word another could also be translated as one of the same kind. This would imply that the second beast is just as vile as the first and is empowered by Satan. This seems to be a logical conclusion, especially since he speaks as a dragon and exercises all the authority of the first beast. Scripture supports this conclusion.

The second thing that some scholars point out is that the word earth is translated as land in many verses (Matt 2:6, 20 and 21; 4:15). Since the ones listed refer to Israel or parts of Israel, it appears that they conclude the use of the word land is symbolic of Israel. Therefore (here comes a jump in logical) the second beast comes from the land of Israel and therefore must be Jewish. What is not consistent is that the word is also used for the land of Sodom (Matt 10:15), Midian (Acts 7:29), and Egypt (Acts 7:36). Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5) and used the same word.

These scholars further support their argument by pointing out that the first beast (of Roman origin) must have a confederate among the Jews in order to make a covenant with Israel. I think that’s skating on thin logical ice. I haven’t seen any other scriptural evidence to support this conclusion. Beside, I’ve quoted the verse many times (Dan 9:27) and it states that the covenant is with the many, not specifically Israel.

Lambs Don’t Have Horns


Since lambs don’t have horns, what is the significance of this reference to the beast having horns like a lamb?
  

When I read that the second beast had two horns like a lamb, I thought I’d better check out the word “lamb” to make sure we were talking about a young sheep. After all, lambs don’t have horns, only grown sheep. The Greek checks out. The translation is lambkin. So why would John choose these words to describe the second beast’s horns? Are they so small that it appears he has no power? Are they references to two rulers who are weak and unable to have influence? Neither of these explanations seems to fit since the second beast is able to do great and miraculous signs.

This word for lamb is only used by John. He uses it once when he told of Jesus telling Peter to feed His lambs (John 21:15). Every other use of the word refers to Jesus in the book of Revelation other than this one verse. It then stands to reason (not a large logical jump) that the horns refer back to horns of the Lamb, Jesus, in Rev 5:6. Jesus’ horns and eyes represent the Spirits of God. From this and the fact that there are no references to the beast’s horns as rulers, I conclude that this reference to horns like a lamb (like Jesus’) refer to his spiritual power. In fact this is why I think he represents a false holy spirit. Scholars, however, say that because they are horns of a lamb, he will proclaim himself to be the Jewish Messiah.

What other reasons can you give that would agree or disagree with the scholars?
  

The horns can be seen as counterfeit authority of Jesus. Using that authority, he makes people worship the first beast, which is what he does while exercising authority on behalf of the first beast. If the first beast sets himself up as god in the temple, and this beast exercises his power, then it appears that we have a parallel to God and Jesus. That seems to make sense. However, the problem with this is that the first beast is the one that is wounded and has an apparent resurrection. The first beast fits the bill of the false Messiah better than the second does. Since people at that time will not have spiritual discernment, it probably doesn’t matter that it isn’t consistent which beast claims to be the false messiah, holy spirit, or father. They will buy into this masquerade because he does exercise authority on behalf of the first beast and causes fire to come from heaven in front of men. It is possible that the second beast is the one who actually fakes the miracle of raising the first beast.

Miraculous Signs


Are these miraculous signs actually signs or are they sleight of hand trickery? How do you know? 
 

Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. (Ex 7:11 KJV)
And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. (Ex 7:22 KJV)
And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. (Ex 8:7 KJV)  

It amazes me that the Egyptian magicians were able to do anything by their secret arts. We simply don’t see this kind of magic anywhere in the world today. All magic we see now is sleight of hand that provides an illusion. Yet the magicians of Pharaoh were able to do the same things as Moses. Clearly, Satan had empowered these miracles, yet only to a limited extent. For instance, he is able to imitate but not create. They couldn’t reverse the signs that Moses performed by the power of God either. (I should note that there are some extraordinary feats performed by witch doctors and such in some areas of the world. However they usually involve injuring or healing people, but nothing like the things done by the Egyptian magicians.)

These signs are meant to deceive people into believing that the beast is god. Even in the times of Jesus, people who were not believers were casting out demons. In Matt 12:26, Jesus said that if Satan cast out Satan, then he is divided against himself. He then asks how his kingdom can stand.  

How do Jesus’ statement and the signs in Revelation demonstrate the unity of Satan’s plan?
  

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7:21-23 KJV)  

I’ve used these verses to show that many people who think they are Christians simply because they claim Jesus as Lord are not saved. However in light of the miracles performed by the second beast, it also shows that the demon world will obey and cooperate with each other to fake miracles if it furthers their interests. In the last times, the demonstrations will bring many into an everlasting bondage to sin. 

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matt 24:24 KJV)  

Jesus said they would do this so it should not be surprising to us. Yet I have heard Christians say that a sign must be from God if it does good. We cannot underestimate the power of these miracles. They will be so persuasive that even the elect (Christians) will almost believe them.

Even now, I get emails from Christians who have little or no discernment. They pass on obvious lies about political leaders because the email erroneously reports that is true and verified by snopes. Some stories are cute inspirational but others have subtle (and sometimes blatant) theological errors that would encourage believers in the wrong direction or even convince a non-believer that they didn’t need Jesus. 

What is the purpose of these miracle performed by Satan? 
 
Why will people believe them? 
 

This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth. (2 Thess 2:9-12 NLT)
They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty. (Rev 16:14NLT)

Satan and his demons have had power to perform what appear to be miracles throughout the ages. Paul clearly labels them as counterfeit, which means they are a copy or imitation in order to defraud or deceive people. They have a specific purpose and that is to deceive those who are perishing, in contrast to God’s miracles, which are aimed at glorifying God and bringing salvation. In the end times, deceptive miracles will be unprecedented in numbers and power. Satan’s miracles will also increase in evil.

They occur only because God is allowing it to bring out the truth in people’s hearts. People will no longer be riding the fence. They will have to choose, as they never have before. God already knows people’s hearts. He acts in concert with what they want by sending them the things that will lead them that way. We must remember that God has already sent the truth in Jesus and people have rejected it. He is not tricking them, only letting the full force of what they have chosen become manifested. Note that the love of truth keeps us from being deceived, not the truth itself.

One thing that seems to impress people who dwell on the earth is fire from heaven. It could also be done specifically as a countermeasure to discredit the two witnesses since fire came from their mouths. John describes people who dwell on or inhabit the earth four times from Rev 13:8-14. 

What does this description of dwelling on or inhabiting the earth reveal about people? 
 
How is should this be different for Christians? 
 

The objects of the deception are those who dwell in the earth. Since Christians aren’t going to be deceived, that means that only people who have not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will be deceived. The word for “inhabitants” in the Greek is katoikeo (kat-oy-keh’-o); to house permanently, i.e. reside (literally or figuratively).[1] Since those who inhabit the earth are the ones who are living there permanently, they can’t be believers. This is a big difference between believers and the lost. The lost are tied to the things of this world and don’t want to leave it. Believers are looking for another land and recognize that this world is only a temporary home.  

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb 11:13 KJV)
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:16 KJV)  

We are people of faith just like the people referred to in these verses. We are aliens and strangers on earth longing and waiting for our new heavenly home (1 Peter 2:11a). We are strangers in the world. We are just passing through. While there may still be Christians on the earth at this time, it is clear that unbelievers will be deceived, not Christians.

The Image of the Beast


What kind of an image could be set up that will appear to be alive, speak, and kill all who don’t worship it?
 
What does Satan counterfeit in producing this image? 
 

It is ludicrous for anyone to attempt to speculate what this image is. Man’s imagination has come up with so many things, like androids and transformers (those Sci-Fi robot-people that can change shapes) so I’m not surprised that Satan would come up with his own version of something that could do all this. Whatever it is, I’m sure it still falls into counterfeiting God’s glory since it will be set up in the temple.  

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex 40:34-35 KJV) 

This abomination will be set up in the temple to take the place of the Glory of God that appeared there in the Old Testament. Satan wants this kind of glory for himself. It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz and the man behind the curtains running the controls to produce a visual affect that frightened people. Unfortunately the technology to do this will not be physical, but spiritual, but the concept is the same – a pretender will be behind the scenes. The death that strikes people who do not worship will be a counterfeit of the death that struck people who entered the Holy of Holies without the proper sacrifice and in the proper manner. Satan doesn’t care about holiness or sacrifice, he only cares that he is worshiped. This has been his way forever, which is any way but God’s.

The image is given breath to speak. This is another one of Satan’s counterfeits, the replication of the creation of man. 

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7 KJV)  

God formed man from the dust and breathed into him the breath of life. Does the beast really have power to give breath? No, we saw before that life only comes from God the Father and Jesus the Son. However, Satan certainly wants people to think that he has power to do what only God can do.

It is interesting to see that the second beast ordered the people to set up an image. At this point the people have so ensnared themselves in the evil that they are essentially slaves. Some may not want to set up the image, but now they have no choice. Next, he forces them to receive a mark.

The Mark 666


How does the mark counterfeit God’s Word? 
 

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. (Deut 6:6-8 NASU)  

God’s Word is so important that it should be a central point of our lives. It is so important that God told the Israelites to tie them to their hands and foreheads. I am sure that it is not just a coincidence that the beast wants people to put his mark on their hand or forehead. He wants to usurp God even in this way.

How does the mark counterfeit God’s provision for us? 
 

The mark of the beast is essentially a mark of ownership. Just as slaves were branded with the mark of their owner, so will this be. The Beast owns the inhabitants of the earth.

A slave could go to the market and buy on behalf of his master because he had a mark that showed where the bill was sent. The mark is a means of economic control as well, as is clearly stated. They receive a physical mark that controls their life. It shows what is important to them.  

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt 6:33-34 KJV)  

Our Lord expects us to turn to Him for all our needs. In the same way the beast wants everyone to turn to him for his or her needs. He has found a way to force people to turn to him by ensuring they can’t buy or sell without the mark. 

How is the mark a counterfeit of God’s seal by the Holy Spirit? 
 

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:13-14 RSV)  

Since Satan likes counterfeits, the mark also has the same effect as being a counterfeit to the seal of the Holy Spirit. We are marked with the Holy Spirit, which is a guarantee that we have eternal life with Jesus. As we’ll see in chapter 14, the mark of the beast is a guarantee of eternal condemnation.

The mark that will be visible is not a bar code. It isn’t an implanted microchip. It is the name of the beast or the number of his name. We shouldn’t read into Scripture what isn’t there. If the Anti-Christ’s name were Smith, then each person would be forced to have Smith or the number of Smith branded in some way on his hand or forehead.

I have a sweatshirt that says “Property of Jesus of Nazareth.” The sweatshirt doesn’t belong to Jesus, but the person wearing it does. In the same way, the mark of the beast doesn’t enable a person to buy or sell because it identifies the person’s bank account, but the fact that the person now belongs to the Anti-Christ. It is the counterfeit of the seal that Christians receive from the Holy Spirit.  

How is worshiping the beast tied to this mark?
 

There is an emphasis on the fact that the beast has the ability to force people to accept the mark. Just as they are killed if they refuse to worship the beast’s image, I wouldn’t doubt that anyone caught without the mark would be killed if they refused to accept it. It is tied even more directly to worshiping the beast in Rev 14:9. In God’s eyes, receiving the mark is the same as worshiping the beast.  

How do we calculate the number? 
 

The number 666 is the number of the beast’s name. It isn’t some serial number that identifies each of us. One way to calculate his number would be to take the numerical value of each letter in the order it appears in the alphabet and add them together to get the number. This is what I thought it was for many years. However I visited a web site that shed a lot of light on the how this should really be done. The concept is based on the fact that Hebrew and Greek don’t have numbers but each letter represents a number. You can search for this on the internet if you would like to see some exhaustive research that others have done on the “Beast” and his number.

Hank Hanegraaaff and Sigmund Brouwer used this or similar method in their novel, The Last Disciple, to come up with the name of the beast being Nero Caesar. However to come up with 666 they had to write it in Hebrew without the vowels.[2] While I believe they did a lot of research and were very accurate in what they did for book, it is evident that by using different methods, you can come up with what you want.

You can also find detailed explanations for calculating his number, barcodes, and microchips. In addition there are recent news articles that are pretty scary. Be careful, however. I originally recommended a web site and later found out that they were cultish.

Buy or Sell


This is a little bit of a side trip regarding modern technology and how it fits with the mark of the beast. When debit cards came out, a lot of Christians were concerned about using them instead of cash or checks. They thought it was a first step in providing the technology that would enable the beast to gain power and issue his mark. At that time, grocery stores didn’t accept credit cards but started accepting debit cards.

Now, it is an accepted business practice to accept credit and debit cards. Anyone can accept them though online companies like PayPal. You can connect a card swipe cube or triangle to your smart phone and process someone’s card.

Many credit cards and some “customer loyalty” cards have microchips in them. You don’t need to swipe the card, only hold it near the reader. Smart phone apps promise the ability to buy from your phone as you walk through a store without going through a checkout line. 

Why would banks and even the IRS want to have a cashless society? 
 

Clearly, banks want to stop handling pieces of paper, either cash or checks. It takes time and money to do so. Ages ago, I worked at Peoples Bank in IT. At that time it was obvious that they were a long way from being able to do this, but they have come along a lot faster than I would have thought possible. The IRS would also love a cashless society. Think about how much easier it is to audit people when they have all their financial transactions recorded and tied back to their social security number. You cannot open a bank account without a social security number because there are certain transactions that a bank must report, such as any transaction over $9,999.99. With all of this in place, think how easy it would be for the government to prohibit the use of cash in the interest of reducing crime. No more laundering money, under the table transactions, can’t buy a gun or drugs without knowing who or when. There are many positive reasons to do this.

Greed is probably another factor in going cashless. Banks that issue credit cards receive up to 3% or more of each credit card transaction. Some also have authorization fees of $0.25 or more just to verify that your card is valid. Debit cards used to have the same fees until recently when laws were passed to reduce them. And those rewards, airline miles or cash back, are also taken out of the proceeds of the transaction. Merchants say nothing and just pass the increased business cost on to customers. Since few people pay cash, businesses can’t complain. Consumers are motivated to get some of that cash back by using a cash-back reward card.

The next logical step is to say that everyone must tattoo their number on their body since you can’t do anything without the number, so why carry a card? For the vain, it could only be visible with ultraviolet light. Better yet, why not simply insert a microchip under your skin, since that technology would be even more foolproof? I’ve read about the military trying this rather than using dog tags. 

If a bank came up with an implant that would allow you to buy your groceries simply by waving your hand over the counter, would you take it?
 
Is it really any different from a card in your pocket?
 
Would you refuse it because it would be too much like receiving the mark of the beast?
 
What if the government insisted that all citizens received a chip implant, whether on your hand, forehead or anywhere else. Would you reject it based on your belief that it was the mark of the beast or simply because you don’t want your privacy violated?
 
 
 
All this technology would make it easier for the beast to keep track of people who had his mark. But I want to emphasize that this technology is not the mark of the beast. It can be used for good or evil. We can’t base our rejection of an implant based on Revelation 13:16-17 unless the implant also included an outward visible sign that included his name or the number 666.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating microchip implants. I think they would be a huge violation of our privacy beside the ability for someone to steal your identity with the shake of your hand. We need to understand that the mark of the beast is a mark of ownership. It is just as bad as setting priorities in our lives that dethrone God from His rightful place in our lives. It’s called idolatry. The difference is that we can repent of our idolatry.

My short answer to these questions is that accepting a tattoo or implant would not be wrong but it would be stupid. Perhaps that’s why Rev 13:18 says it calls for wisdom.

Wisdom


How do wisdom and understanding work together regarding this number? 
 

Most of the speculation about the name or the number of the beast is not wisdom but an attempt to gain understanding without wisdom. We are admonished to do the calculation; however, I fear that it isn’t done with wisdom. We are relying on our own methods and not God’s. I readily admit that I don’t have the wisdom to do the calculation; however I think that if we do seek wisdom, we won’t need to calculate the number to verify the name of the beast. 

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28 KJV)  

Both wisdom and understanding are tied together in this passage. A wise person is one who has recognized God for who He is. This fear must be that which brings us to our knees in the presences of a holy, almighty, merciful God. Depart from evil. If we know God it results in understanding, which is to shun evil. The results of wisdom and understanding should result in a holy life. By refusing the mark a person would be departing from evil. We can know the mark of the beast, probably not before it appears, but when it does because we will have known the true God.  

I thought, “Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.” But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32:7-9 NIV)  

It is clear that it isn’t growing old and learning about things that bring on wisdom. It is the Holy Spirit within us. He gives us the understanding and then we can get on about the business of knowing God. Just as the mark keeps people from receiving the Holy Spirit in their lives but signifies their alliance to the beast, so the Holy Spirit keeps us from the beast because we know the true God. The ability to know God comes from the Holy Spirit but He expects us to find out most things from His Word.  

What should we be looking for when we apply the idea of calculating the number of man? 
 

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14 NASB)  

We continually have to train ourselves. We can’t just read the Bible once and expect to know His Word and thus, good and evil. That is why the wise are the ones who are to look at the number of man. We are to examine things men come up with, whether they are new religions, new methods of controlling our cash, or forms of educations. We need to look at each and try to determine what there is in them that take us away from Jesus or bring us closer to Him. In this case the mark of man will not be obvious to people. They will say, “What harm could having this sign tattooed on me do? It only allows me to use my credit card or pay my bills.” What harm does teaching evolution do in schools? It is the same for this and other ideas that are contrary to God’s wisdom.

 I don’t think that the biggest challenge will be in taking someone’s name and calculating a number that comes up to 666, but in recognizing the underlying motives and consequences of taking the number. This is what we are expected to do. Even so, it appears that God has so devised it so that the name will add up to 666 just in case we have any doubts. 

Who has his seal on you? Jesus or Satan? 
 

Let’s make our top priority to love, honor, worship, and obey Jesus. If we do this we won’t have to worry about being deceived by Satan before or after this beasts appear. We will also love our neighbors as ourselves as we live out what Jesus has put into us, the Holy Spirit – His seal on our lives.

[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] Hank Hanegraaaff and Sigmund Brouwer, The Last Disciple (Wheaton IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 2004) pp 336-334

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