February 24, 2012 Ė Signs, Wonders, and the Greatest Show on Earth
13 He performs great signs (startling miracles), even making fire fall from the sky to the earth in menís sight. Ė Revelation 13:13 AMP
Todayís verse describes a time on earth like no other. There is a man coming who will perform miracles and make fire fall from the sky. The only man in recent history who could have accomplished these great feats was Jesus, but this guy is far from Jesus. He is referred to by scholars and lay people in the church alike as the false prophet. At the midway point of the Tribulation, he will be the antichristís right hand man. As much as people would like to know the identity of this individual and even make him some modern day leader, what he will do will be so much more important than who he is.
One of the first things that the false prophet will do is set up a single religion worldwide (Revelation 13:12). Sounds too good to be true, doesnít it? Everyone on earth will be worshiping the same way, believing the same way, and serving the same god. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, even atheists and agnostics will be standing hand in hand serving the same god. The only problem is that Jesus will no longer be the way to salvation. The false prophet will be the head of the new religion that has deified the antichrist. And this new religious sect will probably have more pomp and circumstance surrounding it than the week preceding the Super Bowl.
The false prophet will perform miracles and deceive humanity. He will supervise the construction of a statue that will be made in the antichristís likeness (Revelation 13:14). And when the statue is complete everyone on the planet will have to bow down and worship it or face the ultimate penalty of their life (Revelation 13:15).
Of course this will not be the first time someone has erected a statue and forced the populace to worship it. In Daniel Chapter Three, King Nebuchadnezzar had a statue of himself made and ordered everyone to bow down and worship it at the sound of music playing. Anyone who didnít would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Christians know the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, from Sunday school as children or from their own children. Those men thrown into a fiery furnace heated to seven times its usual level did not experience death at the kingís command.
But the death penalty for not worshiping the antichrist does not involve a fiery furnace. Anyone who doesnít worship the antichrist and accept his mark will be beheaded (Revelation 20:4). Some of you may be grabbing your necks now and cringing, as such a form of capital punishment is not heard of in most developed countries. But do some research: it is still a popular form of execution worldwide, especially in predominantly Muslim nations.
Now my question is this: how will Christians, let alone humanity, see any of this coming? First and foremost, the Rapture will occur before any of these events take place. If you are blessed enough to be included in this event, you have nothing to worry about. But there are going to be literally millions of professed Christians who miss the Rapture. Some scholars will even argue that the Holy Spirit will no longer dwell in the hearts of humanity after this event, making things that much harder on those who put their trust in Christ after the Tribulation begins.
The only sure-fire way for anyone to see the rise of the antichrist and the false prophet is to know the Word. When law enforcement agents are trained to look for counterfeit money, they do not have countless samples of the imposter paraded before them. They are shown the real thing. They study the money very carefully. They learn the feel and texture of the original. They know the location of watermarks and other distinguishing features. Afterwards they are able to spot the counterfeit bill a mile away.
When our oldest son was in elementary school, we took him, our other sons, and two of his classmates to the circus. It was called the greatest show on earth. But when the show started, we quickly learned that all the children in attendance with us were more interested in snacks and souvenirs than the show itself. We left before it even ended. Marlo and I left in disgust. We turned our backs to what appeared to be no more than a bunch of sedated wild animals and twenty intoxicated clowns crammed into a Ford Pinto. We left because we had the freedom to do so.
But no one will be able to turn their back on the false prophetís show without dying. In this day of feel-good Christianity and churches in general that really do nothing to bring the body of believers to true repentance, are we setting our faith up for a show greater than anything the circus ever imagined? I believe we are.
Noah Webster has several definitions in his 1828 Dictionary for the word show. Among them are superficial appearance, not reality, a spectacle, and hypocritical pretense. Has todayís church turned into a show just like the circus? Are churches and Christians both living life on the surface while hiding so much that they cannot even see the truth about themselves? The truth is that many churches and believers today live in a la-la land very far from reality. Things that God would have none of us involved in are simply passed off in Christian circles as being part of the world we live in. The problem is that there is a show coming that will be reality and lead humanity and many Christians straight into the lake of fire. Will you be able to see? Will you know the real thing from the fake? The false prophet will be able to perform miracles just like Jesus did. Will you be part of the wicked generation that demands a sign or wonder, or will you know that the false prophet is just part of a really big show?