“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” (Revelation 13:11-12).
The role of the second beast is to enforce the worship of Antichrist and to confront Christians with the choice of either proclaiming, “Antichrist is Lord” or facing death.
We know that Jesus is the true Lamb (John 1:29), “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the earth.” And how like Satan it is to have a counterfeit! He looks like a lamb, but when he opens his mouth, he speaks like a Dragon.
The mild, lamb-like preacher who denies the deity of Christ speaks with the voice of hell. The meek, gentle preacher who denies the Virgin Birth is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The one who denies Christ as God in human flesh; the one who says that Jesus is not 100% God; the one who denies the blood atonement and sacrificial death of Christ on the cross; or the one who denies the Resurrection may look like a lamb, but he is speaking with the mouth of a dragon.
As Satan lays his plans for a strategic final attack to dominate the earth, he attacks on three major fronts: Political/Economic/Religious.
Religion Is Simple: Worship the First Beast or Else (Revelation 13:13-15)
“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 honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed” (Revelation 13:13-15).
This image is the Abomination of Desolation foretold by Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 11:36); Jesus (Matthew 24:15); and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Some kind of demonic control enters into this inanimate object, and it begins to act as if it’s alive.
Since Satan can’t command worship from heaven, he does it in the Jewish temple in the Holy City (Daniel 8:9-16).
The Worship Is Enforced by Economic Sanctions: The Infamous Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18)
“It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” (Revelation 13:16-17).
All beast worshipers are compelled to receive a mark.
How could this happen? Consider the technology and governmental control that already exists in the U.S. and much of the world today:
- Invent a system to house all the computerized economic data
- Remove all currency and substitute controlled credit
- Have central control on everyone’s financial status and credit rating
- Do all major economic work at institutional level
- Give government complete control of finance … We are moving in that direction! The Federal government controls the economy, inflation, and recession by limiting or increasing the money supply.
So why then bother to have credit cards? Why don’t we get one number for economic and social needs and tattoo it on the forehead or insert a chip into the back of the right hand?
A man from communist Bulgaria said that the most terrible instrument ever devised by man is the ration card. You can’t buy or sell anything except according to that little ration card. “If they please, they can starve you to death … dispossess you of everything you have, for you can’t trade nor buy nor sell without that little card.”
The Beast will control a centralized economy. Watch closely for the mark; “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666” (Revelation 13:18).
Now, if we just find a man who signs his name with three sixes, we’ll know who the Antichrist is. Of course, it’s not that easy. There are at least several possible explanations of 666.
1. A symbol of humankind. “Six” is the number of humanity in the Bible. 666 may be taken to mean an individual who is trying to imitate the Trinity of God (three sixes in one person).
2. Gematria—the ancient practice of adding the sum total of the numerical equivalent of letters of a person’s name.
In Greek and Hebrew, the letters of the alphabet had definite numerical equivalents: the letters were in fact used as numbers, ABC=1+2+3=6.
Gematria was a popular game among the Greeks. A piece of graffiti found in the ruins of Pompeii reads, “I love the girl whose number is 545.”
John thought that number was self-evident, but while it’s easy to turn a name into a number, it’s much harder to turn a number back into a name. Incidentally, both Caesar Nero and Bartholomew = 666. Hitler = 656; Roger Barrier = 596, and so on.
3. A symbol of imperfection. The number “7” is the number of perfection in Scripture. Jesus’ name adds up to 888 (one more than perfection). 666 is consistently one less than perfection, and it could stand for the personification of evil.
Let me share just a few applications that we can all consider as we ponder Revelation 13 and the events of the End Times.
1. Be certain that you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You don’t want to miss the Rapture when Jesus takes his people out of the earth and home to glory. You don’t want to be anywhere nearby when the angels pour out the bowls of God’s wrath.
2. Beware, Christians alive during those days will be persecuted, and the persecution will intensify. I recently had to vote against a bill that would allow the government to control how many Christians can meet together at any time. That is just the beginning.
3. Don’t sell your soul for the world’s goods. Today’s culture tempts us continually to sell out at any price.
4. The cost of following in the days ahead is really going to be high … but may I also add that cost of not following Jesus is going to be higher yet.
I hope you find my answer helpful.