The Beast from the Earth: The False Prophet… :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Revelation 13:11-18; Isaiah 14:7-12; Matthew 4:8-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Summary: The False Prophet uses false “miracles and signs” to convince the world that the Antichrist is the leader for whom they have been waiting. He is a tool of Satan used to draw people away from the truth of the Gospel and toward the certainty of hell.

The Antichrist, who was introduced in Revelation 13:1-10, will not rise to power alone. His success will result from a worldwide spiritual deception perpetuated by the man referred to in Revelation 13:11-18 as “the beast from the earth,” known as the False Prophet. He will be a religious leader whose penchant for “working miracles” will enable him to convince the public that the Antichrist is the leader for whom they have been looking. The ultimate deception of the end times will involve the worldwide worship of the Antichrist. This will be encouraged and then enforced by the False Prophet. He serves as the spokesperson for the Antichrist.

The scheme of the devil, or Satan, will culminate in the two beasts’ corporate enterprise. The Antichrist will directly oppose Christ, and the False Prophet will assume the place of religious leadership that rightly belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 13:11-18 presents the following identifying features of the False Prophet:

He rises from the earth and will control all religious affairs, motivated by Satan himself. He will promote the worldwide worship of the beast and will deceive the people through the working of false “signs and wonders.” He will seemingly “give life” to the image of the beast and will kill everyone who refuses to worship the image. He will be in control of all economic affairs and the operation of the “mark of the beast.” He will have the power to determine life and death during the final portion of the Great Tribulation.

Over a century ago, Dr. Samuel Andrews, writing in his book Christianity and Anti-Christianity (Chicago; Moody Press, 1898), said that the work of the False Prophet will be to extend his ecclesiastical administration over the whole world by establishing the church of the Antichrist as the counterfeit of the true church. Andrews pictured an apostate religion bound together by a common hatred of Christianity and filled with demonic power. Thus, the False Prophet does not so much deny Christian doctrine as he corrupts it. Only in this way can the Antichrist sit in the Temple of God, demanding to be worshipped (Isaiah 14:12-14).

When Satan tempted the Lord Jesus in the wilderness, Satan appealed to Jesus for worship (Matthew 4:8-10). In fact, the devil offered to surrender the entire world over to Jesus if He would worship Him. So, we should not be surprised that the goal of the Satan-inspired False Prophet will be to inspire the world to bow down to the Antichrist, who is the personification of Satan himself.

Together, Satan (the dragon), the Antichrist (the beast from the sea), and the False Prophet (the beast from the earth) comprise an “unholy trinity” that is a counterfeit of the triune God. Satan opposes God the Father, the Antichrist opposes the Son, and the False Prophet opposes the Holy Spirit. This ungodly alliance is Satan’s final attempt to overthrow the work of God on earth.

Scripture explains their method. The Antichrist does not dare to appear until after the “rebellion” or “falling away” (apostasy) mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. “In the meantime, the spirit of Antichrist (lawlessness) is already at work, attempting to pervert the Gospel and corrupt the true church. When this process is sufficiently established, the False Prophet will arise for the coming of the Antichrist. Revelation 17 links the False Prophet with whom the Bible refers to as “the great prostitute” (apostate religion). Prostitution was often a part of pagan worship, but the adultery referred to in Chapter 17 refers to spiritual adultery. The woman is guilty of spiritual compromise and association with apostate religions.

Several biblical teachers have noticed similarities between the Antichrist and the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who persecuted the Jews in the second century B.C. The False Prophet is to the Antichrist what Menelaus was to Antiochus IV. Menelaus was responsible for enforcing many of the Hellenizing decrees of Antiochus IV upon his own people, the Jews.

John describes the False Prophet as having “two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon” (13:11, NIV). He looks religious but talks like the devil. He counterfeits true religion in order to hide his real identity. Whereas the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bring people to Jesus, the False Prophet’s counterfeit work is to beckon people into a spiritual allegiance with the Antichrist. The False Prophet deceives the world through apostasy, the renunciation of the true Gospel. The spirit of Antichrist continues to work throughout church history, daring to deny the true Savior and His work on the cross that redeemed us from our sins.

The apostles were convinced that the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:3) and the mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7) were already at work in their own time. This means that the apostate spirit predates all modern churches as we know them today. If pretribulationists are correct in assuming the rapture of the true church will occur before the Tribulation begins (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 3:10), then all “Christian” churches that remain will be apostate regardless of their label. All those “pseudo-Christians” who are left behind may well align with one another in a common cause of unbelief (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

In summary:

1) The spirit of the Antichrist and the mystery of iniquity were already at work in the days of the apostles.

2) Apostasy has progressed throughout church history, predating the modern church.

3) A large segment of modern Christianity is already apostate. Unbelief is rampant in liberal churches.

4) After the rapture of true believers, all professing “Christians” who are left behind will be apostate believers regardless of denomination.

5) The False Prophet will arise to lead apostate Christendom in its acceptance of the Antichrist.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, Paul indicates that this process will begin during the church age. The “falling away” will occur before the “Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2:1, 3). But its final explosion as a form of worldwide unbelief will not occur until after the restraining ministry (indwelling the true church) is removed at the time of the rapture. This seems to indicate that we probably will not know who the False Prophet is prior to the rapture. Only those who are left behind to face the Tribulation will know his true identity.

Repent of your sins and come to Christ for salvation today. The Antichrist and False Prophet are not persons you want to encounter. Let this message serve as a warning to those who need to awaken from their slumber.

(The primary source for this message was derived from “The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy” by Drs. Ed Hindson and Tim LaHaye, (c) 2004, Harvest House Publishers).

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