One post on the Internet claimed that something very shocking happened at an East Coast charismatic conference. The “keynote speaker” was reportedly introduced as being “more than an apostle”. The pastor hosting the conference asked the congregation to bow down to the “apostle”, because only in that posture could God’s power be released.
An estimated 80 percent of the spectators complied with this instruction. The remainder either stood in silent protest or walked out.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that account were true. I’ve always suspected that pampered, sheep-fleecing celebrity preachers were only a short step away from demanding to be worshipped. Give ‘em an inch and they’ll grab a mile. Speaking of miles, I wonder if all the dollar bills ever sent to greedy preachers were laid end to end, whether they’d stretch to the moon and back! They’ve hoodwinked untold millions out of needy, desperate saints to live a lavish lifestyle which would have scandalized Peter and Paul. But now they are beginning to say through their attitude: “Move over, God, it’s mighty crowded at the top!”
Humans craving worship is nothing new. I am reminded of a couple of examples of this Antichrist (Gr. Antichristos: against Christ, or instead of Christ) spirit manifesting in fallen humans. King Herod sat on his throne, all decked out in royal apparel. The crowd with wild when Herod preached them a sermon. Despite Herod’s wickedness, cruelty, and debauchery, people proclaimed him to be a god. Herod did not argue with them about it. He basked in people’s praise. The angel of the Lord struck Herod and the arrogant king died shortly thereafter (Acts 12:21-23).
The other example is the Antichrist political ruler of the Tribulation Period, who will someday emerge as a one-world dictator (I John 2:18; II Thes.2:3; Dan.7:24-25; Rev.13: 11-18). Antichrist will be catapulted to power through the power of satan, much like Hitler. Hitler mesmerized the German people with powerful oratory which was reputedly way beyond the limits of his naturally shy personality. Hitler was active in a political party which very few thought had the slightest chance of rising to power. Hitler was just an ordinary wall-paper hanger, a quiet painter of landscapes, who didn’t even excel in art. Satan has an evil counterfeit for everything God does. The devil energized and possessed Hitler and turned him into a different person, in imitation of the way Christ makes a repentant sinner “a new creature” (2 Cor.5:17).
At the time of Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s economy was in tatters and its currency was virtually worthless. It took a wheelbarrow of deutschmarks to purchase a loaf of bread. Germany’s people were desperate. They feared for their future. The Germans longed for a savior to solve their problems. But as a nation, they turned to a sinful man instead of to Jesus.
The Germans had suffered humiliating defeat in World War I. Hitler bandaged the Germans’ bruised national ego by telling them they were destined for greatness if only they would fight for it. Hitler said the “Master Race” needed more liebensraum (living space). So satan inspired Hitler to invade Poland and start the bloodiest war in all history.
Hitler’s thundering orations had a hypnotic impact on the masses in Germany and won their hearts. I remember watching an old newsreel on TV. I can’t speak German, but I could understand how Hitler’s powerful oratory and the forceful, crescendoing cadence in his voice must have been largely responsible for the way he brainwashed the downtrodden masses. THE TRUTH is always the first casualty of any war launched by a power-crazed dictator. Hitler’s lies led to worldwide tragic consequences.
Hitler won over the hearts of the masses by promising to empower them to get the good life they deserved. Aren’t religious charlatans also preaching the message of empowerment? Many years ago when I lived in the States, I would receive countless variations of this “divinely imparted message” in my mailbox: “Satan is AFRAID of what you’re about to do. ACT TODAY. GOD IS WAITING ON YOUR RESPONSE!” And that “response” ALWAYS meant sending more money out of your need!
Millions of poor people bought the lie. People who had been “unlucky” in life and lived from paycheck to paycheck. People who were about to lose their homes. People who were terminally ill. Could it be possible? And easy 1-2-3 plan to unlock the Key to God’s Blessings? Making God an offer (pay a vow) He just can’t resist, to twist His arm and shake the goodies loose out of His hand? And not only that, to send Old Sluefoot a-runnin’ back to hell where he belongs? How wonderful! How liberating! The very idea that satan could actually be afraid of ME if only I’d send my last seven dollars in to the grinning “savior” in the navy blue suit! That’s what the definition of “savior” is: one who saves. Either Jesus is our savior or we look unto men to save us out of our troubles!
In “troublesome times” the Antichrist will also present himself as a benevolent savior. He will seem to be an unusually brilliant man, and the only one able to broker a peace treaty in the Middle East acceptable to both Israel and her enemies. You’ve heard the old saying: “Any port in a storm”. That’s why we have professional politicians running the world today, people who went straight from university into government and never had to slog away at a real job in their life. They get elected by saying what people want to hear, then change their tune afterwards. Such leaders are little more than pawns of multi-national corporations who have a vested interest in keeping business taxes low and the arms race going.
But if it’s a choice between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, many reason that a poor leader is better than none at all. If, after many decades of a lack of conscientious, capable world leaders, some good-looking politician with a magnetic personality and a genius ability for solving world problems were to come on the scene, he would be seen as a gift from heaven. But Antichrist will really be a gift from hell. Indwelt by the spirit of satan himself. Antichrist will not demand only loyalty. He will demand total worship.
John had the vision of Revelation way back in the first century. Since Antichrist will be a creature who, like all other creatures, can only be in one place at one time, I often wonder if this passage refers to a televised image of that monstrous man, and if the Mark could mean an advanced, even more sinister version, of today’s computer microchip:
Rev.13:15: And he (the Beast, or Antichrist) 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.
VERSE 16: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
VERSE 17: And that no man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
VERSE 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is a number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six (666).
Seven is God’s number of completeness and perfection, repeated throughout God’s Book as being associated with divine things. For example: the seven lamps before the Throne symbolize the seven spirits of God (Rev.4:5). In Revelation chapter 6 God begins to pour out His Seven Seal Judgments upon a wicked, Christ-rejecting world. In Revelation Chapter 7 there is a pause before God pours out his final Seal Judgment Revelation 8:1: silence in heaven as God prepares even more terrible judgments: the Seven Trumpet Judgments which span chapters 8 through 11. All of Revelation Chapter Ten and Revelation 11:1-14 is a parenthetical pause before the final Trumpet Judgment is released by God in the remainder of Revelation Chapter 11. Before the seventh Trumpet Judgment, the Two Witnesses are sent to earth to preach repentance. The seven vial judgments poured out on unrepentant mankind are described in Revelation chapter 16. But unlike the Seal and Trumpet judgments, there is no parenthetical pause between the sixth and seventh Vial judgments. The next parenthetical pause comes AFTER the seventh judgment, and spans chapter 17, where the wickedness of the “whore” or false religious system, is judged by God. In chapter 18 God pours out destruction on Babylon the Great, who has exported her fornication and delicacies to the whole world.
Besides the terrible judgment poured out upon Mystery Babylon, there will be three sets of seven-part judgments in Revelation. Three is the number of God’s divinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). Seven is God’s number of completeness.
Antichrist mimics God by claiming to be divine; hence, the number three. Six is the number of man, which falls short of divine perfection. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). So Antichrist is Mr. 666, a number 6 imitating the triune (3-person) Godhead. In response to the Antichrist’s three sixes (666) God answers with three sevens of judgment!
Greedy preachers have always sold out our dear Savior for a cheap bag of silver, the better to live high on the hog until they die and lose everything. But now many have gone a step further down that dark path of covetousness. They have stepped over the line to claim the honor which is due God alone. They promise miracles in exchange for filthy lucre, and now they’re even demanding worship! Poor people live lives of quiet desperation in a dull, grey workaday grind of hardship. People with hungry bellies and in danger of being thrown out on the street aren’t so level-headed as better-off people, so they’re easily overpowered emotionally (and spiritually) by the tacky props of gold-plated stage furniture on Prey TV. They mistake glitzy Madison Avenue sparkle and charm for the glory of God. TV preachers teach people: “You could be like me if ONLY you give God (me) your all!” When you are told to give “to God” in these spectacular circus meetings, who’s holding that Judas bag, God or representatives of “THE MAN OF GOD”? Is the brazen preacher claiming that he himself is God as he robs you of your rent money, and hoodwinks you into playing a perverse religious lottery, where you “prove” (tempt) God by giving what you don’t even have? Setting yourself up as God to rob His people, (and now even demanding worship of them!) is done through the spirit of Antichrist!
Preachers are laying a snare before baby Christians (and even sick, desperate older ones) who are grasping at straws to gain a sense of empowerment over a devil which has harassed and hurt them. Predatory preachers are teaching Christians to view God as a slot machine, and this can only result in God’s hot displeasure and judgment, not His blessing!
2 Pet.2:1: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be FALSE TEACHERS among you, who privily (in a sneaky way) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
VERSE 2: And many shall follow their pernicious (destructive) ways; by reason of whom the truth shall be evil spoken of.
VERSE 3: And through covetousness (greed) shall they with feigned (insincere) words make merchandise of you: whose judgment of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Mark 9:42: And whosoever shall offend (cause to stumble) one of these little ones which believe in me, it is better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.