The False Prophet - Part 1
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." (Revelation 13:13)
One of the most mysterious passages in the entire book of Revelation relates to someone who is called The False Prophet. While the Bible tells us that in the present wicked age "many false prophets are gone out into the world,"1. there is apparently a singular, and primary False Prophet who will deceive the nations of the world. This final False Prophet is a global religious figure who will cause the world to worship the Antichrist, call fire down from heaven, bring about the construction of something called "the image of the beast," and much more.
After a careful examination of the scriptures, it will become clear that this individual may be even more important than the Antichrist himself - for much of the prophetic activity actually originates with him during the tribulation period. The primary passage reads as follows:
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceiveth 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, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."2.
These verses are filled with complex information that is carefully embedded in the spiritual imagery that God has recorded for his saints, so we have to take this text apart very carefully. First and foremost, we need to recognize that it's obvious that these verses have some sort of symbolic content. To put it another way, it's highly unlikely we're going to see some weird creature with two horns climb up out of the earth.
Like so many other prophetic components found in scripture, each aspect is intertwined with another. To identity any particular part of the text, we sometimes need to use the process of elimination. For example, the various dreams and visions in the book of Daniel have already established that the first beast of Revelation 13, the one whose deadly wound is healed, is a political empire. When Daniel has his famous dream of four great beast empires (the lion, bear, leopard, and diverse 4th beast), the interpreting angel tells him "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth...."3. This fourth and final beast/kingdom is described as being "dreadful and terrible...and it had ten horns."4.
Revelation 13 describes this same beast - except it is now described as the first beast of two. This final beast empire seen in Revelation is also characterized by its ten horns. John's vision of the beast empire seems to be at a later stage, for it has now somehow assimilated the 3 empires that preceded it - Daniel's lion, bear, and leopard empires:
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns...And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion...."5.
Because Revelation 17 tells us one of the heads of this beast "goeth into perdition,"6. we have further proof that this first beast is the final empire because we know that phrase is a key term that describes the Antichrist, who is also known as "that man of sin...the son of perdition."7. Furthermore, because Daniel establishes that the beast with ten horns is the final "kingdom," and Revelation's first beast is also the final kingdom that is ruled by Antichrist, it is clear the first beast of Revelation 13 is the political power that "devours the whole earth" at the end of the age. This is a crucial understanding, for it means that the second beast of Revelation 13, the one that causes the creation of the image of the beast, is something other than a political power.
Many Protestant teachers have taught for centuries that the first beast is the so-called "revived Roman empire" and the second beast is the False Prophet - usually seen as the Pope of Rome. Seventh Day Adventist and other Sabbatarian writers have uniformly reversed the roles. They teach the first beast is the Papacy and the second beast is the political power of the United States - with America acting to cause the world to follow the first beast - the Papacy. Although they each have parts of it right, both views are in error; and as I previously stated, if you get the two beast's identities wrong, you can't help but misinterpret the true identity of the False Prophet (to say nothing of the image and the mark of the beast).
Because we know the first beast must be the political beast, simple process of elimination points us to the second beast as some form of religious power. For instance, there is a character known as "the false prophet" because later in Revelation we see him thrown into the lake of fire with the Antichrist. The internal textual evidence is powerful, for Revelation 19:20 plainly says "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image." This proves the second beast of Revelation 13, the one that causes men to "make an image to the beast" and "deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles"8. must be the religious figure known as the False Prophet.
Actually, there is plenty of scriptural evidence indicating that Satan seeks to duplicate more than just the work of Christ in the last days. To put it another way, if there's a false Christ, there's probably also a false John the Baptist to act as that false Christ's prophet. After all, Satan seeks to counterfeit the kingdom of God with the political empire he empowers. He apparently tries to counterfeit the resurrection of Christ with his man receiving a "deadly wound." During the tribulation, God places a seal on the forehead of His saints - even as Satan has a mark for his followers, and so on.
The very fact that this individual's title includes the word "prophet" is a further indication that the second beast figure must be a religious power. Prophets are seen in the Bible in a religious context - not a political one. Even though Seventh Day Adventist teaching also identifies this second beast of Revelation 13 as "the False Prophet," they seek to assign his role to the political power of America as, in their view, he "causes" the world to follow the Papacy. This view is untenable and inconsistent, for America is clearly a political power and the Papacy is clearly a religious power. In short, they have the roles reversed.
The book of Revelation explicitly tells us that the role of the False Prophet is to cause the world to "worship the first beast." This brings us to the question as to whether this reference to the "first beast" is to the beast empire, or the personification of that empire, the Antichrist. Utilizing the "layered" approach to prophecy that the Holy Spirit continues to confirm in my heart, I believe it refers to both. What I'm suggesting is the False Prophet "causes" mankind to follow and support (worship) the political power that hosts the Antichrist, and then ultimately compels humanity to worship the individual as well. Of course, few people will realize that when they manifest an unqualified support of this man's every move, they will, in effect, be worshiping him.
When the False Prophet convinces the world to follow the Antichrist, the Bible tells us he is only able to accomplish it through the working of an extraordinary power - what Revelation calls miracles. Revelation expressly tells us he "deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles...."9. By examining the actual miracles spoken of, we can discern some interesting things about his mission.
The Revelator details several specific activities that the False Prophet accomplishes - at least two of which appear to be in the realm of the miraculous. John writes that this second beast "...doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven in the sight of men."10. This is a very revealing statement, for the only other biblical figure that was ever able to call down fire from heaven was Elijah the Prophet.
The reader will remember that the False Prophet functions as an imitation of John the Baptist, in his role as the herald, or forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ. This Satanically inspired priestly figure is not so much patterned after John the Baptist, as he is a counterfeit of Elijah, the major prophet that John the Baptist is identified with. Remember, in referring to the Baptist, Jesus specifically stated that "if ye will receive it, this is Elias (Elijah) which was for to come."11. In short, the False Prophet is an imitation Elijah.
It is not a coincidence that the most visible miracle mentioned in the scriptures as coming forth from the False Prophet is the singular miracle that Elijah the Prophet was most noted for. When Elijah the Tishbite was being pursued by Ahaziah the king, he sent troops to arrest the famous seer. The account in II Kings records the well known interaction:
"Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty...And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and they fifty, And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty."12.
This episode actually continues with a second captain with his fifty men burned up, and then a third that survives when the Lord tells the "fiery" prophet to go with them. Even in the New Testament, we find that the knowledge of this particular miracle was foremost in the minds of the people during the time of Christ - over 900 years after the generation of Elijah. Luke records that after Christ was rejected by a city of the Samaritans, the disciples came to Him and said "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?"13.
In yet another well known episode, Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a duel of sorts with his mysterious ability to call fire down from heaven. The contest calls for whoever is empowered by the true God to call fire down and burn up a sacrificial altar. When Baal's men fail, Elijah says "Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God...Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice...."14.
Note how the miracle is brought forth as a sign so "that this people may know" who the true Lord is. Significantly, when the False Prophet brings forth what is apparently the same miracle, it is said that this miracle is how he convinces the people to follow his god - the Antichrist.
By now, it should be apparent that the primary reason the Devil chooses to emulate Elijah's ministry as part of his final deception is because of Elijah's scriptural association in identifying who the true Saviour is. Remember, when John the Baptist, who Christ identified with Elijah, first sees Jesus coming towards him he said "Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."15. This is one of the reasons that, when confronted with the power of John the Baptist, the Jews quickly began to wonder if he actually was Elijah. The Gospels tell us they asked John "Art thou Elias?"16.
The reason that Elias (which is simply an alternate transliteration of the name Elijah) was on everyone's mind during the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ is the final prophecy of the Old Testament. In Malachi, we are told that God says "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smith the earth with a curse."17.
This prophecy is central to all people - but particularly to Jews and Christians. It clearly states that Elijah must come before the Saviour comes. Because the Jews failed to recognize John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, they also failed to recognize Christ Jesus as their prophesied Messiah. This means they are still expecting their Messiah, as well as Elijah. For example, it is widely known that at the Passover meal, Jews that observe the ritual leave on empty chair at their table - for Elijah. Clearly, they are expecting Elijah before the appearance of the Messiah.
When the False Prophet comes forth working his miracles, his primary wonder of calling fire down from heaven will clearly indicate his claim to the mantle of Elijah. Yet the text tells us he is a deceiver that will actually cause the world to worship the Antichrist. It should be obvious that the biblical expectation of the arrival of Elijah is being manipulated by Satan in the office of the False Prophet.
It's important to see that Malachi specifies that Elijah will come before the "great and dreadful day of the Lord."18. After John the Baptist had already been identified with Elias, Jesus tells us that "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things."19. This is an apparent reference to another appearance of Elijah - shortly before the return of Christ - and the terrifying period known as the "Day of the Lord."20. Because the text qualifies the predicted appearance of Elijah before the "great and dreadful day of the Lord," both Christians and Jews are expecting Elijah to be physically present at some point before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The False Prophet will ultimately deceive members of every religious group in the world, but the emphasis in prophecy appears to be on the big three with claims to Jerusalem: Christians, Jews, and Moslems. In short, this individual must draw the prophetic expectations of all three groups and focus them on the Antichrist. An early example of this religious merging may be found in the case of the late Elijah Muhammed, the controversial leader of the black nationalist group the Nation of Islam. His very name bridged the gap between the Old Testament and the Koran.
Moslem writer Adib Rashad, writing in a biography of Elijah Muhammed, states "His genius lay in the fact that he was able, without formal education, to synthesize a Black Nationalist Christian tradition, messianic-nationalism, and quasi fundamental Islamic tenets. He also syncretized selected biblical versus (sic) with selected Quranic verses...."21. While Elijah Muhammed was most certainly not THE False Prophet, his life proves the expectation of the prophet Elijah, as a heraldic figure pointing towards a great messianic move of God, is an acceptable component to Islamic theology. Of course, because the world currently contains about 1 billion Moslems, common sense dictates that the False Prophet's activities must also encompass Islam in his global embrace of the Antichrist, and his beast empire.
Because Islam has never fielded a world leader that has sought to assimilate Catholicism and Judaism into the Islamic paradigm through anything other than military conquest, it is highly unlikely the Moslem world could produce the False Prophet. So too with Judaism, for no orthodox or liberal Jewish religious figure of global stature has emerged since Israel became a modern state in 1948.22. The only institution that could produce a viable candidate for the office of the False Prophet is the Roman Catholic church with their highly visible leader, the Pope.
When we look at the Pope to consider the possibility that his office contains the desk of the Second Beast of Revelation 13, we find an over-abundance of indicators that he is the culprit. Not only does the Bishop of Rome enjoy a global visibility and prestige that is unmatched in the religious arena, we find that the intelligence gathering capabilities of his organization are second to none. His wealth is believed by some to be the greatest of any organization on the planet.
Through the course of history, the Roman church has increasingly amassed an incalculable fortune. For example, as the powerful institution approached the first millennia and the year 1,000 AD, large numbers of Europeans believed the return of Christ was imminent and ceded their lands to the church. Needless to say, the Papacy didn't return these lands to their rightful owners as the second millennia began. Indeed, the entire history of the Roman Catholic church is marred by abysmal financial charades such as the selling of indulgences, confessional fines, and even the auctioning off of the office of Pope!
Dozens of Catholic theological inventions such as the "miraculous medal" of Mary, the "brown scapular," and the practice of tithing to the church in order to have a deceased loved one released from "purgatory" are just a few of the more imaginative revenue generators. Eventually, Pope Innocent III devised the first "forfeiture" statutes - installing them in the Corpus Juris, the official law book of the Papacy. By pronouncing any theological opponent a heretic, "the possessions of heretics are to be confiscated. In the church's territories they are to go to the Church's treasury."23.
This economic leverage increased the power of the Romanists to the degree that by the 16th century, "her economic stranglehold upon all and sundry was no less massive than her spiritual dominion, and almost paralyzed whole countries."24. By the time the church entered the modern era, through banking, stocks, real estate, and massive tax free revenues, it is no surprise that a Catholic prelate boasted to a London newspaper "We are already a lot bigger than Ford Motors, Shell Oil, and Bethlehem Steel put together."25. In fact, as far back as 1960, Fortune Magazine estimated that the revenues of just one archdiocese generated $150 million per year.26.
Another Catholic priest, Father Richard Ginder, writing in the Catholic publication Our Sunday visitor summed it up rather succinctly: "The Catholic Church must be the biggest corporation in the United States. We have a branch office in every neighborhood. Our assets and real estate holdings must exceed those of Standard Oil, AT&T, and U.S. Steel combined. And our roster of dues paying members must be second only to the tax rolls of the United States Government."27.
Clearly, the Vatican has the financial muscle necessary to field a world class religious figure.
In seeking to find comparisons between the Papacy and the Antichrist's herald, the False Prophet, we inevitably come to the centuries of dynastic European rulers that were always coronated by the Pope. From the time of Charlemagne, also known as Charles The Great (742-814), the normative ritual for crowning a new king was always at the hands of the Pope. Indeed, with the exception of the Church of England which broke away from the Vatican, every shift in royal power from the various European dynasties was always endorsed by the "holy father."
Here again we see the concept of the religious power giving his support to the civil power - the beast government; in exchange, of course for the maintaining of the ecclesiastical monopoly run by the Vatican. In the realm of political power through the mechanism of intelligence gathering, the Vatican is on a par with the Israeli Mossad and the American CIA.
The notorious Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, is a 460 year old secretive order that has been the architect of numerous national revolutions, political up-heavals, and the distorted Marxist oriented theology known as liberaciġn. In Latin America, they're associated with the communists seeking power. In the Philippines, they were dubbed the "Jesus Mafia" when they were implicated in Corrie Acquino's overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos. In China, one of their key members is considered so dangerous to the Beijing government that he's been in solitary confinement for 7 years. The mysterious group of intellectuals is active from India to South America.
An expert on the Jesuits, British barrister Peter Rawlinson describes the Jesuit order as that of a superior spy organization:
"One of the rules of the Order is that each member has the right to communicate directly and personally with the General himself in Rome. This is a privilege of which its members have availed themselves from the earliest days, and what the members had written to their General from every quarter of the globe during four centuries was stored in this house. The privilege to write direct to their General is one which the 26,000 members regularly exercise. Since they are all men holding doctorates from the major universities in the world and since they serve in every continent, this provides the General of the Jesuits with an information service which few states can equal. He is probably better informed than most heads of government."28.
In addition to the Jesuits, the Papacy benefits immensely from the support of Opus Dei, another low profile organization that is exclusively devoted to the Pope on an individual level. Opus Dei is comprised of laity that operates outside conventional ecclesiastical channels with an intense loyalty not to the church - but to the Pope. Along these same populist lines, because of his peculiar devotion to the Virgin Mary, the current Pope, John Paul II, is the favorite of Marian devotees everywhere.
Is there any indication that John Paul II, or any subsequent Pope, would embrace a theological view that fulfills the descriptions of the False Prophet in Revelation 13? There can be no doubt.
January 6, 2003 - James Lloyd
Copyright © 2003 Christian Media Network
1. I John 4:1
2. Revelation 13:11-15
3. Daniel 7:23
4. Daniel 7:7
5. Revelation 13:1, 2
6. Revelation 17:11
7. II Thessalonians 2:3
8. Revelation 13:14
10. Revelation 13:13
11. Matthew 11:14
12. II Kings 1:9, 10
13. Luke 9:54
14. I Kings 18:37, 38
15. I John 1:29
16. John 1:21
17. Malachi 4:5, 6
18. Malachi 4:5
19. Matthew 17:11
20. Malachi 4:5, Joel 2:31
21. Elijah Muhammed, The Ideological Foundation of the Nation of Islam, Adib Rashad (James Miller), page 1, emphasis mine
With the possible exception of the Rebbe, the late Menachem Schneerson from the Habad movement in Brooklyn New York. Schneerson's followers believed he was the Jewish Messiah.
22. Fundationis Eccles, M Magdal, 1422, Ludwewig I. Xi, pp 457-69; cited in Vatican Billions, Avro Manhattan, Chick
Publications, page 58.
23. ibid., page 69
24. Sunday Express, London, 2/27/66; cited in Vatican Billions, page 162
25. Vatican Billions, page 165
26. ibid., page 168
28. The Jesuit Factor, Peter Rawlinson, page 42
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