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Convincing Deception

Revelation 13:11-14
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (NIVUK)

The first beast, in John's vision, came out of the sea (Revelation 13:1-4); a multi-headed horned creature arising out of the sea (the picture of chaos, disorder and confusion), to establish a new world order. This will be welcomed and praised by all who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as King. Now, John records seeing a second beast. This one came out of the earth, to build upon the anti-Christ structures and culture established by the first beast. If the first beast represented civil and military power, the second could be spiritual power with the lamb even mimicking the Saviour (John 1:29).

This second beast is probably the false prophet (Revelation 19:20; 20:10), speaking on behalf of the devil, the dragon (Revelation 12:9). Its work is to direct the affairs of earth so that the destructive ambitions of Satan are fulfilled. In some way the prophet's authority is accepted and praised, as the second beast demands that everybody should accept the authority of the first beast (2 Thessalonians 2:4). In this collusion of secular and spiritual power, the people of God are trapped - so that they, and their Lord, can be eliminated from the earth (Revelation 13:15).

Like all false prophets, this second beast was able to perform amazing miracles, to prove that it has the highest authority (Matthew 24:11, 24). Better than the prophets of Baal, who were unable to get their god to ignite their sacrifice (1 Kings 18:24-29), the second beast successfully calls down fire from heaven. Satan's reign is in full flood. The deception is so convincing. Everybody on earth, except the faithful believers, believe that the second beast has the priestly or god-like right to affirm the civic powers in their totalitarian rule; affirming the rightness of persecuting the church. Like Nebuchadnezzar, the beast sets up a great monument to the power of the world ruler, to be venerated by the people (Daniel 3:1-6).

This consortium of military power and spiritual domination will be Satan's intentionally toxic mixture to finish the church. That would show that the kingdom of Christ has no validity and no citizens. In such a case Jesus could not be Lord. That would totally undermine the efficacy of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection: "For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living." (Romans 14:9). As we start to experience the prelude to this prophesied drama, we should not be surprised at how easily people are deceived by the combination of civic, military and spiritual power. We should not assume that sensible people will see through the devil's deceptive propaganda. Satan's goal is still the overthrow of Christ's kingdom: even though he knows he cannot succeed, he will make as much trouble while he can (Revelation 12:12). As Jesus said, we must be on our guard (Mark 13:9, 23). At the same time we should stand firm (James 5:8), and also rejoice (Luke 6:22-23). We know that those who stand firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). So like Jesus we must look to the glory ahead (Hebrews 12:2). "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:3)

Father God. Thank You for alerting me to the problems ahead. Forgive me for the times when I am fearful, discouraged and when I start believing Satan's deceptions. Help me to be on my guard, stand firm, and to rejoice that in the end You will be seen to be Lord of all, and I will share Your glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams