13 And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

14 And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, that had the wound by a sword, and did live.

15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

 

PART 2

 

*** Great wonders ***: The activities of the earth beast ministry are described as “great wonders”. He performes incredible miracles designed to deceive those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 13:14). The activities pertinent to the end times are described as being the earth beast’s ability to make fire come down from heaven. Note how the verse says these miracles were performed in front of everyone (Revelation 13:13). The word translated as “man” in Revelation 13:13 is the word ánthrōpos, which means mankind. It refers to both men an and women. There is no distinction describing who these people serve - if God or the dragon. The beast miracles target all people without any barriers.

*** Making fire come down from heaven ***: Among the activities the beast is involved in during the end times, there is one which is possibly the most incredible of all the wonders he has done up to that point. He makes fire come down from heaven. We can understand that this specific activity will reach its peak strength during the time of the end because Jesus said this about what would happen at that time: “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24). The earth beast’s most powerful act of deceit will be making fire come down from heaven. This action seems to be a turning point in the course of the events leading up to people’s final decision about their spiritual allegiance. But what does this mean? Will we see actual fire come down from the sky? As we’ve mentioned in study #93, Revelation 13 is full of symbolism, and so, there is a very deep meaning behind the words chosen to describe the events during the final days. First, we must understand the symbol chosen here: “fire coming down from heaven”.

Typically, in the Bible, whenever fire comes down from Heaven, it is an act of God indicating His acceptance of a sacrifice (1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1), His presence (Exodus 19:18), or His justice (Revelation 20:9; Genesis 19:24; 2 Kings 1:10, 12).There are two stories in particular that seem to bear some significance in this case and can help us understand how serious this beast action is. The first one is the story of Pentecost and the second is the episode when Elijah faced the false prophets at mount Carmel.

- Pentecost (Acts 2): The Pentecost marked the pouring of the Holy Spirit over the first Christians, gathered in one accord at a house, as they were meeting in prayer after Christ’s ascension to Heaven. The Bible describes the way they were filled by the Holy Spirit: “And there appeared unto them separated tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2:3). This event marked the beginning of the work of the Holy Spirit on Earth following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to the throne of God. Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit after His return to Heaven. Jesus would start His work in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit would start His work on Earth, by directing people to the truth and leading them to accept Christ’s offer of salvation (John 14:26). In a counterfeit way, the earth beast starts His final work during the time of the end by bringing down fire in front of everyone, commanding people to follow the false Christ in the form of the sea beast (Revelation 13:12). It is evident here how the earth beast stands for Christian-like values. Let’s think about this His for a moment. The counterfeit always looks like the real thing but with minor alterations. That is what is so convincing about the beast message - it sounds right. As the fire during the Pentecost propelled the early Christians to spread the Gospel to the nations around them, to everyone’s amazement (Acts 2:7), we can expect that the fire in Revelation 13:13 will also amaze the people of the earth and motivate them to spread the beast message globally. In this sense, the coming down of fire represents a growth in “spirituality”. Given the source of the fire, the spiritual values being promoted are not pure and are instead based on the dragon’s principles.

- Elijah at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:19-40): During Elijah’s time, God’s people were divided. They were not following either God or Baal completely. The Bible teaches that salvation comes only when a person gives their entire heart to God, and so prophet Elijah was worried about the state of indecision God’s people were in. If they remained like that, they would be as good as lost. By making fire come down from Heaven, God showed His people the truth - the truth about the Lord of Heaven. His fire is also a sign of His justice, and consequently, the destruction of the false prophets was the next step.

The counterfeit fire from Revelation 13 is not intended to bring up the truth about God but on the contrary. It is intended to deceive people and make them break God’s Law. The Ten Commandments are very clear about how we should not make or worship images (Exodus 20:4-5). Yet, during Satan’s big power display, the people are called to not only make an image of the sea beast (the one who received the mortal wound and lived) but also to worship this image (Revelation 13:14-15). Unlike Elijah’s episode at Mount Carmel, where the false prophets were killed, the ones who wish to worship God and not the image of the beast will be the ones threatened with destruction instead.

Let’s compare these three moments when we see fire come down from heaven:

 Pentecost - Acts 2 Elijah at Mount Carmel - 1 Kings 18:19-40
God’s people are gathered, in one accord (Acts 2:1) God’s people are gathered but are divided, wavering between God and Baal. False prophets were also present. (1 Kings 18:19-21) Mankind is gathered. No distinction is made at this point between God’s people and beast followers. (Revelation 13:13)
Fire comes down from Heaven over God’s people and God’s truth is made known as the Holy Spirit works through the apostles. (Acts 2:3-4) Fire comes down from Heaven over the sacrifice, and God is made known as the true God of Heaven. (1 Kings 18:38-39) Fire comes down from heaven on the earth and the earth dwellers are deceived. (Revelation 13:13-14)
As a result, people are led to follow Christ and 3000 people are baptized. (Acts 2:41) As a result, people recognized that the Lord is God, and all the false prophets were killed. (1 Kings 18:39-40) As a result, the earth dwellers were called to break God’s commandments. They were to worship the beast and those who refused to do so were to be killed. (Revelation 13:14-15)

 

*** The image of the beast ***: When we read Revelation 13:14-5, we see clearly that the earth beast commanded the people of the earth to make an image of the sea beast. The earth beast has such political influence that he can actually push this order forward, as if breathing life into this recreated sea beast (Revelation 13:15). Breathing in life into an image is first seen during creation (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7), and it is solely a power that belongs only to God. Like the first beast, the second beast also claims to have divine powers.

We learned in studies #90 and 92 how the sea beast had lost its political strength when it received the mortal wound. At the peak of his power, the sea beast preached his altered values and persecuted to death anyone who refused to obey them. Building an image of the sea beast means recreating this same scenario. Note that it is the people themselves who are to create this image (Revelation 13:14). This way, the people will have a sense of ownership in the project. They are to recreate the sea beast system and give it their full devotion and allegiance, in the form of worship. This is a reference to what we see described in Daniel 3.

King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that a gold statue be built (Daniel 3:1). The statue was very similar to the one he had seen in the dream he received from God (Daniel 2:31-33). There was, however, a big difference in this statue. It was completely golden. In his dream, only the head of the image was made of gold. The head of gold represented the Babylonian kingdom, and how God had told him his kingdom would one day have an end and other kingdoms would follow (Daniel 2:38-43). By building an entirely golden statue, Nebuchadnezzar was making a strong statement. He was publicly denying what God had told him, and was replacing God’s truth with his own altered version. He wanted the Babylonian kingdom to last forever and never be conquered by any other kingdom. As the supreme leader, Nebuchadnezzar had the power to order his people to not only build him this statue but also to worship it at his command. Those who refused to worship the image would be sent to death (Daniel 3:5-6). Now we can understand even better the meaning behind the image of the beast. It ultimately represents the altered spiritual values and religious system supported by the end time government. Just as it happened during the Medieval times - the time of the sea beast - those who refuse to follow the doctrines preached by the image of the beast will pay with their own lives.

*** How about freedom of worship? ***: Not having the freedom to worship whoever you want sounds very strange for us living in the current western culture. How can a society built on religious freedom change so much to the point of killing those who do not conform? Is it possible for such a change to happen so fast? The cultural change could happen gradually, or it could be the result of a major event. The speed at which this will happen is not the focus of the prophecy. We’ve witnessed in our recent history how peaceful neighborhoods turn savage during a crisis. People openly looting after a major disaster such as hurricane, flood or war. We’ve seen this on the news more often than we care to admit. A change in behavior like that is not as far fetched as we would like to think. But the main reason why persecution of those refusing to worship the image of the beast will happen is because God said it would. And that has nothing to do with human timing. This warning is, however, not meant to scare us or to discourage us from remaining faithful. That’s what the enemy would like, right? God’s purpose is to prepare us for the final events. Jesus already said difficult times like never seen before would come (Matthew 24:21). Let’s not forget He is also the one who tells us no to fear: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The awareness of such end-time trials should only serve to reminds us that God is the one in control and that He already holds the victory.

*** Deception ***: When the earth beast displays signs and wonders in front of the whole world, he is actually revealing Satan’s wish to deceive and distract people from God’s truth. It is clear here that the earth beast exercises the counterfeit work of the Holy Spirit. The earth beast calls attention to the false christ and teaches false doctrines, while the Holy Spirit points to Jesus Christ and teaches us the truth. Deception is the basis for satanic work. Jesus called Satan the father of lies (John 8:44). It seems that his tactics will become even more intense during the end times. The dragon’s speech, reflected in the activities of his two beasts, aims to move people away from the true God and His commandments.

*** Overview ***: People who are undecided about who or how they should worship become an easy target to Satan’s poisonous darts. The dragon wishes to receive worship and, at the same time, to make people stop worshiping the true God. By using the sea beast as the focus of worship, Satan is able to achieve his goal in a subtle and easy to accept way. Remember, the sea beast is a symbol for a spiritual leadership, representing seemingly good and wholesome values. It will seem like following him will be the right thing to do. In turn, this can easily create the global sentiment that those who refuse to follow the beast are actually troublemakers. That is why we must understand the difference between the actions of God and any counterfeit work coming from Satan. When God sends fire from Heaven, it is a sign of His justice and love - an act that calls people to repentance and true worship. It brings people back to Scripture. We must understand that any other teaching calling us to do something contrary to what is directed by God, written in the Bible, is an enemy trap intended to deceive us. Traditions established by humans should never take the place of Biblical teachings. As we’ve studied before, Satan’s agents, described as beasts, are actually religious and political leadership powers - in other words, groups of influential humans. The only way to not let Satan’s lies deceive us is to be willing to receive the Holy Spirit, like the apostles on the day of Pentecost, and to choose to only worship the God of Heaven, like Elijah at Mount Carmel. While fasting for 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus Himself turned to Scripture and the Truth established by God as a defensive response to Satan’s deceptive request for worship: “Get you behind me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8).

 

11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.

12 And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them who dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

 

PART 1

 

*** Background ***: During the previous seven studies, we went deep studying the details surrounding the sea beast, which was the first of Satan’s allies on this Planet. We learned how the first beast is a religious and political power that seeks to dominate and deceive the world. As we saw in study #86, the term ‘beast’ is used in the bible to refer to a government force of global influence. The symbolism in Revelation 13 does not stop at the term ‘beast’. The entire chapter includes many symbols, including the beast’s place of origin. The first beast came out of the sea. The term ’sea’ is a reference to a portion of the planet that the dragon wanted to claim for himself when he was cast out of Heaven. The Bible says that after the dragon lost the war in Heaven, he directed his attention to the inhabitants of the sea and of the earth (Revelation 12:12; see also studies #84 and #85). The portion of the planet Satan was interested in was the people themselves.

*** A second beast ***: In his vision, John had witnessed the first beast emerge from the sea. After he described the activities of the sea beast and the mortal wound the first beast received, he went on to witness yet another beast power emerge. The second beast came from the earth, the other portion of the planet Satan was claiming for himself. This means Satan wanted to conquer the entire population of the world. The earth beast was a new powerful government.

In Revelation 12:13-16, we read about how Satan persecuted the Church, portrayed as the woman, and how God had prepared for her a place of refuge. Then we saw how Satan attacked the woman with a terrible flood of water coming out of his mouth. The water carried the woman away but the earth came to her rescue and swallowed the water. Note how the earth, who helped the woman, is also the place of origin of the second beast. What we have in Revelation 13 is the expansion of the details on the war against God’s people seen in chapter 12. The same elements are present in chapter 13. The water coming out of the mouth of the beast are the lies Satan is spreading about God and salvation. Revelation 12:16 says the earth swallowed the flood thus ‘saving’ the woman. In reality, the earth became contaminated by the false teachings coming out of the dragon’s mouth. It is from this contaminated earth that the second beast emerges. We must understand that the earth beast has the same poisonous speech as the dragon. We know that because he speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11).

*** He has horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon ***: The first beast had a very similar appearance to the dragon himself, with ten horns and seven heads. In that sense, it looked like the dragon and it also acted like the dragon. The earth beast, however, does not look like the dragon. It only has two horns and it actually looks like a lamb. In Revelation 5:6, we saw Jesus as the “Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes”. The earth beast presents itself in a very favorable way, with the appearance of a lamb, a Christ-like figure. The earth beast looks like a lamb but is not exactly like the Lamb who was slain. As we read the beast’s next attribute, we find out that while he may look like an innocent lamb, his true character and allegiance lie with Satan, because he preaches the dragon’s message. The exterior presentation seems to be just a means to deceive people and distract them from his true satanic agenda. Because of the similarities between the first beast and the beast described in Daniel 7, it is easier for us to identify who the ten horns are. On the other hand, the two horns on the second beast are not as easy to fully comprehend. However, we can see the dual nature of the second beast in the way John described it:

- It has two horns (Revelation 13:11)
- He looks like a lamb on the outside but he actually is like a dragon on the inside (Revelation 13:11)
- He has great power himself but uses it to direct worship to someone else (Revelation 13:13)
- He dazzles the people with great miracles but he persecutes anyone who does not obey his decrees (Revelation 13:14-15)
- He gives life to an image but kills living, breathing people (Revelation 13:15)

Revelation 13:14 says that the earth beast deceives people by means of extraordinary miracles. The second beast is able to present his arguments in a way that makes them seem right and appealing. Now we see how the woman in Revelation 12 felt compelled to accept help from the Earth. The earth seemed so friendly coming to her rescue! In reality, it moved her away from the place God had prepared for her.

*** He has the power of the first beast ***: The first beast received his powers from the dragon (Revelation 13:4). The second beast “exercises all the power of the first beast” (Revelation 13:12). This means that the earth beast also received power from the dragon. Even though the earth beast does not look like the dragon and does not appear to be connected to the dragon, his actions and his message reflect the values of the dragon. His actions make people break God’s commandments: he causes people to worship someone else other than God. He “causes the earth and them who dwell therein to worship the first beast” (Revelation 13:12). Just as the first beast, the second beast not only exercised global political influence when he emerged but also had a foot in the spiritual arena. Yet, their approach differed significantly. While the sea beast sought to be worshiped and be god on earth, the earth beast prefers to be feared rather than receive worship. And so, he directs the worship to the sea beast and threatens to kill all who do not obey him (Revelation 13:15).

At the top of his influence, the earth beast will exercise ALL the powers of the first beast. This means that at the time of the end, the second beast will be doing what the first beast did during the Middle Ages. The sea beast persecuted and killed those who he considered heretics and wished to follow the Bible and not the traditions accumulated over time. Such traditions helped strengthen the authority of the beast system. The more the people blindly follow tradition, the more power the beast system gets. The first beast killed and persecuted. The second beast will do the same, and likely in a much more intense way. Jesus said: “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:21-22).

The first beast had to suffer a mortal wound just so a second power could come and reach the people who had rejected the first beast. Now we get a first glimpse of the similarities between the work done by the second beast and the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came from God to Earth after Jesus to teach the people the truth concerning Jesus (John 16:5-15). The earth beast emerged after the sea beast to teach the dragon’s message. One big difference between their work is that the false trinity established itself in order to deceive the world while the true Trinity is working to save it.

*** He directs people to worship the first beast ***: Directing people to worship the first beast is the manifestation of the dragon-like speech the second beast is said to have. According to God’s commandments, we are not to worship any other gods (Exodus 20:3). The first beast claimed to have changed God’s law, and the earth beast maintained that change. Remember that the first beast was a religious system claiming to profess the Christian faith. The second beast is also a system who presents Christian-like values to the people. Just as the dragon, the earth beast includes in his message some elements of truth mixed with some false teachings. Remember how Satan tempted Jesus by misquoting Bible verses? (Matthew 4:1-11). Remember how the serpent convinced Eve by twisting what God had taught her about the tree? (Genesis 3:1-5). That is what makes it so appealing. The message sounds right enough to be considered good and correct. Jesus was able to resist temptation by holding on to the Biblical truth (“it is written”) and to His relationship with the Father. Eve fell into temptation because she followed the serpent’s convincing message - she focused on the many good qualities the tree had to offer (Genesis 3:6). She abandoned God’s Word in that moment.

In Matthew 24:24 we read Jesus’ warning against those teaching a Cristian faith different from His Original message: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” Note the order Jesus says these impostors would come:

1) Christ impersonators
2) people prophesying a false message in the name of Christ.

The order is the same as the order the beasts appeared on the scene in Revelation 13. The sea beast is a system of Christ impersonators, and the earth beast is a system of false prophets. Such is the case that later in Revelation, the earth beast is referred to as the false prophet (Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10).

*** When did the earth beast emerge? ***: The bulk of the described activities the earth beast is involved in seems to happen at the time of the end, after the healing of the mortal wound to one of the sea beast’s head. But all the attention the earth beast directs towards the sea beast suggests that the second beast is involved in the healing process of the mortal wound. There was a need for a separate power to emerge because the first power had received a fatal blow to the head and was no longer exercising the political power necessary to drive their agenda in the political realm as it once could. Too many people had become opposed to the powers of the first beast. So once the first beast lost its reach, the second beast had the opportunity to present his case and offer an appealing spiritual and political opportunity for the people.This makes us think that the second beast appeared during the “is not” phase, meaning, right after the strike of the mortal wound onto one of the sea beast’s heads (see study #92, Revelation 17:8). During our last study, we saw how the time of the mortal wound seems to fit well with the time around the French Revolution. This is not an arbitrary time, but one based on the prophecies of Daniel, which we will not be studying in today’s lesson. Sometime during the French Revolution, a government power emerged away from Europe, very friendly to Christians, also holding Christian values. The lines defining which specific government that was are very blurry. Perhaps this is telling us that the focus should not be in identifying which nation is the earth beast but instead on which beastly behaviors to expect.

*** Overview ***: Jesus said: “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”. (Matthew 24:11-14, NASB). The word lawlessness was is a literal translation from the Greek word anomia. People’s love for the Lord will diminish because they have abandoned God’s principles. They lost focus on God and started focusing on themselves. A state of lawlessness is a state of sin. Lawlessness is the dragon’s ultimate goal. It is evident here that the Law of God plays a very important role during the final events. It lets the heavenly records show whose side we are on, not for God’s benefit, because He already knows, but for our own and for the benefit of the entire universe. Those who keep it are those who love God (Revelation 12:17), therefore those who do not keep God’s Law are those who reject Him. We saw in study #92 how the sea beast and the man of lawlessness (anthrōpos tēs anomias in Greek) described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 are one in the same. The earth beast is a power that looks right and sounds right but actually seeks to move people away from God’s Law. It does so by looking very friendly, and attractive. Once again, we must emphasize: the book of Revelation does not deal with a single individual. It’s always about a system put together in order to amplify the dragon’s message to the world. The good news is that it really does not matter whether or not we, as individuals, live under such beast-like governments. The Bible says that the entire world is under the influence of the beast system. It seems that everyone is impacted by it. If we keep trying to fit one single government as the beast, we may miss the fact that deceit is actually coming from every direction. The Bible says that the world leaders, as well as those who dwell on the earth planet, have been drinking from the wine of the fornication offered by Satan’s agents (Revelation 17:2). Instead, if we focus on what behavior to expect from the earth beast, then we will be able to recognize when any government sets out to speak like a dragon. Deceit is coming from all nations, and as Jesus said, we will be hated by all nations because of His name (Matthew 24:9). Besides, the spiritual war has not ended just yet and God is still extending saving opportunities and the true message to all those rebellious nations. Jesus said: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”. (Matthew 24:14, NASB). The important thing to remember is that Jesus has already provided a way to victory. In fact, victory is guaranteed to those who trust in God, who love Him to the end, and who believe in salvation brought by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

   
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