Holy Father. We humble our hearts before you. We thank you for full salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for the "things" the apostle Paul mentioned in 1 Cor. 2:9, "things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that [You have] prepared for those who love [You]."
We have been going through Revelation chapters 11-13, verse-by-verse. We finished Rev. 13:6 in the last broadcast. Today we'll start with Rev. 13:7. The spotlight is still on Antichrist in verse 7, but the spotlight will move to the false prophet, the image of the beast, and the number 666 as we continue with this chapter.
I'll read the first half of Rev. 13:7. As is typical, I'll read from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition. Frequently I will make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ]. "It was also given to him [to Antichrist] to make war against the saints and to overcome them." I'll read what I said in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," under these words. As I have mentioned, I frequently modify what I said in the book for these radio broadcasts. God will permit Antichrist "to make war against the saints and to overcome them." These words build on Dan. 7:21, 25 and Dan. 12:7. Daniel 7:21 says, "I kept looking, and that horn [Antichrist] was waging war against the saints and overpowering them." And Dan. 7:25 says, "He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they [the saints] will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Daniel 12:7 also mentions a time, times, and half a time and speaks of shattering the power of the saints. This "time, times, and half a time" of Dan. 7:25 and Dan. 12:7 is the equivalent of the "forty-two months" of Rev. 13:5. All three passages refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week. (Rev. 12:6, 14 also speak of the equivalent of three and one-half years and refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week.) As we have discussed, the devil will give Antichrist "his power and his throne and great authority" right after he is thrown down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and Antichrist will begin his super-evil reign at that time.
"The saints" that Antichrist will make war against will be the Christians converted after the rapture. God has determined that the Christians who are faithful to Him in the years before the Lord Jesus Christ returns will be kept out of the hour of great testing that will come upon the whole world throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week (see Rev. 3:10). We will be raptured from the earth in the middle of the seven-year period, so we will not be living on the earth during any part of the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist, or when the false prophet is forcing people to worship Antichrist and his image and to take his mark, or else. God has determined that we will be glorified, raptured, and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ instead of being overcome throughout those very difficult years. That is God's decision, and I believe He expects us to rejoice in that decision. It sounds good to me!
The saints that the devil and Antichrist will make war against are the "rest of the woman's seed" of Rev. 12:17. It is clear that the "rest of the woman's seed" are Christians; Rev. 12:17 says that they "keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
Why will God permit Antichrist to overpower the saints? We have some answers. The saints will be tested, refined, and purified during that period (see Dan. 12:10 and Zech. 13:9). Those who become Christians after the rapture will experience a brief, very intense, time of testing, refining and purifying. We glorify God by staying faithful to Him (by His grace) during times of testing, and we will be rewarded (see, for example, Rev. 15:2-4 and Matt. 5:10-12). When it says that Antichrist is going "to overcome" the saints, it does not mean that he will be able to overcome them spiritually, but that he will be able to kill many of them, etc. (see Rev. 16:6; 20:4). Revelation 15:2 pictures these saints in heaven after their trials are over. It says that they "had been victorious over the beast [Antichrist] and his image and the number of his name." God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We can, and we must, trust Him!
I'll read all of Rev. 13:7; then we'll go on to verse 8. "It was also given to him [to Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. (8) All who dwell on the earth will worship him [will worship Antichrist], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." The fact that this verse speaks of "the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain" shows that all of God's elect are saved and inherit eternal life through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God. Also see Rev. 17:8, which has much in common with Rev. 13:8. All the people living on the earth during the second half of Daniel's 70th week will worship Antichrist, except for God's elect who will be living on the earth at that time.
The Bible speaks of God's choosing the elect before the foundation of the world through His foreknowledge. I'll read what the apostle Paul said in Eph. 1:4, for example, "just as He chose us in Him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love." We must emphasize God's role and God's grace in our salvation and give Him all the glory for our salvation, but we must also make sure that we do the things that He requires of us, by grace through faith. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the New Testament teaches. The New Testament is packed with verses that warn us that we must continue to do the things God requires of us (by grace though faith) if we want to have an inheritance in His eternal kingdom of glory. For one thing, we must take His warnings and His calls to repentance seriously.
I'll read Rev. 3:1-6, for an example. The Lord Jesus Christ was speaking here to the Christians at Sardis about AD 95, but we must understand that the words He spoke to those Christians apply to all other Christians in the same situation. His message to most of those Christians was that they would have to repent, or else forfeit having a place in God's eternal kingdom of glory. Revelation 3:1-6, "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds [or, works], that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die [These words (and some of the words that follow) confirm that Jesus was speaking to born-again Christians.]; for I have not found your deeds [or, works] completed in the sight of My God. (3) So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief [I will come like a thief (in the night) in judgment], and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (4) But you have a few people in Sardis, who have not soiled their garments [The fact that those that Jesus was calling to repent had garments which they had soiled, without repentance, shows that they were born-again Christians.]: and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy [worthy by the saving grace of God in Christ]. (5) He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life [The fact that the names of those that Jesus was calling to repent were in the book of life shows that they were born-again Christians (see Rev. 17:8, for example.], and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (6) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." As I mentioned, we must take such warnings seriously. We must continue to do the things that God requires of us according to His Word, by His sufficient grace through faith. We certainly don't want to have our names erased from the book of life.
Revelation 13:9, "If anyone has an ear, let him hear." There is widespread agreement that these words exhort the saints to pay close attention to the words of the next verse. At the end, or near the end, of each of the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus Christ exhorted His readers with the words, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Also see Matt. 11:15 and Mark 4:9.
Now Rev. 13:10. I'll read this verse from the NIV, "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints." In other words, those saints will have to trust God and stay faithful to Him during those very difficult days, knowing that He is in control. (All of God's people of all generations must trust Him and stay faithful to Him by His grace. We glorify God by trusting Him and staying faithful to Him.) We know that there will be many martyrs during the super-evil reign of Antichrist, for example, but it is victory to die as a martyr for God in the will of God, not defeat, and He always gives His people the grace to do the things He requires them to do.
Now we'll go on to Rev. 13:11 and the false prophet. I'll read 13:11, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon." This other beast is sometimes called "the false prophet" in the book of Revelation (see Rev. 16:13; 19:20; and 20:10). He will be a religious leader, who will strongly promote the worship of Antichrist. Many speculate that he will be an apostate Christian; some speculate that he will be the last pope. Some Roman Catholics, based on a prophecy given by St. Malachy in the 1100s, believe that the last pope will be evil. "He spoke as a dragon" because his words were inspired by Satan, the dragon. The fact that this beast is seen coming up out of the earth is probably not substantially different than the fact that Antichrist was seen "coming up out of the sea." See Dan. 7:3, 17.
Now I'll read Rev. 13:12, "He [the false prophet] exercises all the authority of the first beast [Antichrist] in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed." We have already learned of the extensive authority of Antichrist. I'll quote the key words from Rev. 13:2, 4, and 5, "And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority...they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast...and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him." And we have already learned in this chapter that all the people dwelling on the earth will worship Antichrist, with the very important exception of God's elect, whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
We have already discussed the fact that Antichrist's fatal (mortal) wound will be healed, and he will come back from the dead. It is clear that the false prophet will strongly promote the worship of Antichrist and that he will base that worship, to some significant extent, on the fact that Antichrist has come back from the dead.
I'll read Rev. 13:12 again; then we'll go on to verses 13, 14. "And he [the false prophet] exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. (13) He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down to the earth in the presence of men. (14) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life."
The false prophet will use the "great signs" to deceive those dwelling on the earth and further promote the worship of Antichrist, including his having them make an image to the beast. The "image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life" will commemorate the fact that Antichrist has come back from the dead and he must be worshiped. Those dwelling on the earth will be required to worship Antichrist and his image. The great signs will be wrought by the power of Satan, as permitted by God. The Bible makes it very clear that not all miracles come from God; genuine miracles are sometimes wrought by Satan and his hosts. We must be guided by God's Word and by His Spirit.
Let's look at a few cross references that will help us understand these "great signs" that will attend the super-evil reign of Antichrist. First let's look at 2 Thess. 2:9-12. Referring to Antichrist, the apostle Paul said, "...the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, (verse 10) and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (11) For this reason GOD WILL SEND UPON THEM a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, (12) in order that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." Those who persist in their rejection of God, His gospel, and His righteousness will follow Antichrist to destruction. Those who love evil and persist in rebellion (without repentance) cannot have a place in God's eternal kingdom.
I'll read what Jesus said in Matt. 24:24, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." We must be very careful who we listen to.
And I'll read Rev. 16:13, 14, and 16, verses that deal with the gathering of the multitudes to Armageddon under the sixth bowl of wrath, that will help us understand the Satanic, demonic miracles that will be taking place during the second half of Daniel's 70th week. "And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon [the devil] and out of the mouth of the beast [Antichrist] and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; (14) for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (16) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Mageddon."
I'll read Rev. 13:14 again and comment further on this verse, "And he [the false prophet] deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast [Antichrist], telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound [the mortal wound] of the sword and has come to life." I'll quote a paragraph that I have under this verse in my book. The "sword" of Rev. 13:14 reminds us of Zech. 11:15-17. Zechariah prophesied that GOD WOULD RAISE UP "a foolish shepherd" (referring to Antichrist) as part of His end-time judgment of the world. Zechariah 11:17 specifically mentions that Antichrist will have been smitten by a "sword." The sword could represent any weapon. I'll read Zech. 11:17, "Woe to the worthless shepherd Who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm And on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered And his right eye will be blind." I assume Antichrist's right eye will be blind after he comes back from the dead and that he will have a withered arm. The prophecies of Zechariah are very important. Zechariah chapters 9-14 are discussed in some detail in my book.
I have a sub-heading under verses 13, 14 in my book, "Is this image to the beast associated with Antichrist's abomination of desolation?" I believe the answer to this question is no! I'll read what I said under this heading. Many believe this "image" will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem as part of Antichrist's abomination of desolation. Revelation chapter 13 rather clearly indicates that this "image" will not be made until after Antichrist has begun his super-evil reign right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. From my point of view, this means that the "image" will not be made until at least a month after the abomination of desolation. (See under Dan. 9:27 in my book. As we have discussed in earlier articles, Dan. 12:11 and other considerations indicate that Antichrist will initiate his abomination of desolation some thirty days before the exact middle of Daniel's 70th week.) I doubt that Antichrist will have been killed, much less have come back to life, before the time of the abomination of desolation. Antichrist will probably be killed during the intense warfare of the short great tribulation, which will take place (as Matthew chapter 24 shows) after the abomination of desolation. Furthermore, this "image" cannot be located in the temple at Jerusalem during the second half of Daniel's 70th week if it is true, as I have suggested, that the Lord Jesus Christ and His people will control Jerusalem throughout this period. (See the section titled "The Lord Jesus Christ Will Claim Jerusalem as His City" under Dan. 7:9, 10 in this book.)
Now I'll read the next verse, Rev. 13:15, "And there was given to him [to the false prophet] to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." Here's another spectacular, supernatural sign wrought by the false prophet. This sign will certainly have deceptive power and will back up his message: Antichrist and his image must be worshiped. It seems clear that the image will not only speak; it will "cause as many as do not worship the image to be killed."
Now I'll read Rev. 13:16. "And he [the false prophet] causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead." To take this mark is to agree to submit to Antichrist and to worship him and his image. I'm quite sure that these things will take place after the rapture, but it is obvious that no true Christian can agree to worship anyone but God, the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 13:17, "and he [the false prophet] provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast [Antichrist] or the number of his name." As we will discuss under the next verse, the number of Antichrist's name [the number 666] is just another way to represent his name. This verse, and especially verse 15, which speaks of the death penalty for those who do not worship the image of the beast, show that there will be a high price to pay for refusing to worship Antichrist and his image and not taking his mark. But, on the other hand, God powerfully warns mankind that the people who reject Him and worship Antichrist and his image and take his mark will pay a much higher price. I'll read Rev. 14:9-11, "Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, (10) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." The next verse in chapter 14 goes on to mention that the saints will need to persevere in keeping God's commandments and their faith in Jesus.
I should also mention that God will do a lot more than just warn mankind that they must not worship Antichrist, etc. He will exhort them to repent and to submit to Him and His gospel. I'll read Rev. 14:6, 7, verses that precede the warning of verses 9-11, "And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' " The hour of His judgment will have fully come with the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. The Lord Jesus Christ will have returned and the resurrection, glorification, and rapture will have already taken place when these angels of Revelation chapter 14 sound forth their messages across the earth.
Now I'll read Rev. 13:18, the last verse of this chapter, "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man [Antichrist is a man.]; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." I'll quote much of what I said under this verse in my book. "The number of the beast" is "the number of his name" (see verse 17). Each letter of the Greek and Hebrew alphabets represents a number. In the ancient world it was common to add up the numerical value for each letter of a name, thereby arriving at the number of that name. I'm not sure if we should use Greek letters or Hebrew letters. The book of Revelation was written in Greek
The Greek verb translated "calculate" here in verse 18 means "count up, calculate, reckon" according to the BAGD Greek Lexicon. The King James Version translates, "Let him count...the number of the beast." Why calculate the number of the beast. For one thing, this information will probably help us identify Antichrist at an early date, before it is obvious that he is Antichrist. Antichrist will be manifested as Antichrist at the time of his abomination of desolation.
The comments of Irenaeus on "the number of the beast" are often mentioned by commentators. As I mentioned in an endnote, Irenaeus was an important church Father, who lived in the second century. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. Irenaeus said, "But he indicates the number of his name now, that when he comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is...." In his day many names had already been listed that added up to six hundred and sixty-six. Irenaeus cautioned, "It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved." In the previous chapter, Irenaeus mentioned waiting for the day that the ten kings (the ten horns) will reign in the Roman Empire
I'll read Rev. 13:18 one more time. "Here is wisdom, Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." That concludes our study of Revelation chapters 11-13. I trust you can see that these chapters are extremely important, and I trust you can see that these chapters enable us to see that the seventh and last trumpet will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week and that at that time the Lord Jesus Christ will return; the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints will take place; the devil and his angels will be thrown down to the earth; the end-time remnant of the nation Israel will submit to the Lord Jesus Christ (in faith), but not in time to be taken in the rapture; and Antichrist will begin his super-evil three and one-half year reign at that time. As we have discussed, the Lord Jesus Christ will use Antichrist in His end-time judgment of the world.
Now we'll go on to a verse by-by-verse study of Daniel chapter 12. Daniel chapter 12 is another very important prophetic chapter that is packed with important details regarding the last days, but the primary reason we are turning to this particular chapter now is because this chapter, like Revelation chapters 11-13, enables us to see that the Lord Jesus Christ will return and the resurrection (and rapture) will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.
I'll give a brief summary of some of the primary things that are prophesied in this chapter. We see the short great tribulation in verse 1 (there is widespread agreement that Jesus' teaching about the short great tribulation in Matthew chapter 24 builds on Dan. 12:1), and we learn that God will use Michael the archangel to protect the end-time elect remnant of the nation Israel during the days of the short great tribulation. The short great tribulation will start about the time of Antichrist's abomination of desolation and will be over by the middle of Daniel's 70th week. As we have discussed, that remnant will be repentant and ready to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to them in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, but they will not become Christians until after the rapture. As we continue with Daniel chapter 12, we see, in agreement with many prophetic passages, that those Christians will still have three and one-half very difficult years to go through, throughout the super-evil reign of Antichrist.
Significantly, in verse 2 we read of the believers who will have died before that time, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, being resurrected to everlasting life. Verses 6 and 7 are extremely important. They picture the man dressed in linen, who is in an exalted position above the waters of the river at a time corresponding with the middle of Daniel's 70th week, the very time that the Lord Jesus Christ will return. The man dressed in linen informs us that there are three and one-half years yet to go and that the power of the holy people will be shattered during those difficult days. (In other words, as Dan. 12:10 shows, they will be purged, purified, and refined during those days.) I believe (in agreement with many) that the man dressed in linen is God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This viewpoint makes verses 6, 7 all the more important and interesting, and as we will discuss in some detail, the evidence is quite strong for this viewpoint.
Lastly, I'll mention Dan. 12:11. This verse is extremely important in that it informs us that there will be 1,290 days from the abomination of desolation to the end of Daniel's 70th week, when Antichrist will be removed by judgment. This shows us that the abomination of desolation will take place some thirty days before the middle of Daniel's 70th week. This information is essential for us to rightly interpret many key prophetic passages.