The second beast, later referred to as the false prophet is depicted as the PR guy for the first beast. His purpose is to make the people of the earth worship the first beast. He exercises the first beast’s power and he does the dirty work. He becomes the ‘religious’ leader to the first beast’s political leader role. But the religion is perfect blasphemy with the first beast, the antichrist as the object of worship.
Verses 11-12 read,
“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.”
Let’s delve into scripture with the Holy Spirit to find out what all this means. What are the two horns of the second beast? Horns if you recall, are a symbol of power in the Bible (Deuteronomy 33:17). Horns symbolize royal authority (Jeremiah 48:25). Horns are the part of the altar where blood was smeared during the sacrifice of burnt offerings (Leviticus 4:7). So this beast has both political and religious power. People will see it as perfectly acceptable. Those who now cry out “separation of church and state” will not cry it then. Though by the end they’ll know why the United States of America felt it was so important for the state not to have power over the church that it was placed in the Constitution.
But his horns are like a lamb. What does like a lamb mean? The lamb is the symbol of innocence and purity. Jesus is the Lamb, because He is perfectly righteous, completely innocent. We get the impression of gentleness and quiet. But we also see him trying to distort the image of Jesus Christ. He wants to appear Christ-like in his nature, but the problem is, he does not have Christ’s nature, the Holy Spirit. He has Satan’s nature. People will be deceived by his outward nature of goodness and gentleness, but he speaks like a dragon. His nature is Satan’s nature as deceiver. His words and his actions are all illusory. Everything he does is to make people worship the antichrist. He not only speaks like a dragon but the dragon, Satan. Verses 13-15 describe his deceitfulness.
“It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.”
People like images. In the wilderness, Israel had God, but what did they do, they made an image of a golden calf. They chose to worship a golden lump of metal in a shape of a calf rather than worship and fellowship with the One True Living God (Exodus 32). So the false prophet increases the worship of the antichrist by telling people to make an image to worship. And he gives a false life to the image, allowing it to speak. This power of speech somehow kills anyone who will not worship it. In Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image of himself and ordered all the people to worship it. Whoever did not fall down and worship it at the sound of music was ordered to be thrown into the fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship this idol. The malicious voice of the Chaldeans spoke up, alerted the king to their refusal to bow down and they were ordered to be slain. They were thrown into the fiery furnace, but Jesus was with them and He saved them. As a result they were promoted in the kingdom. (Daniel 3).
Similarly when we are faced with false prophets or the false prophet forcing us to worship an image, we have a choice. We do not have to worship. What is the worst they can do, kill us? Big whoop! Jesus is with us! He saved us! We will simply be promoted in the Kingdom of Heaven and rule with Him eternally! (2 Timothy 2:12). Sounds great to me. If I have to have my head cut off, burn to death, or be run through with a sword, I can face the temporary pain for the eternal joy of Christ.
We have addressed so far the second beast’s religious power, but he also has some political power. Verses 16-17 describe that authority.
“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.”
Most of the world will see this mark as a good thing, a way to ensure that everyone has access to food and goods, that the poor are not forgotten and that the rich do not have it all. But this is a way to weed out those who will not worship the antichrist. It is a way to make Christ’s followers suffer and starve, bring them out and have a charge worthy of the death sentence. Christians will know, because of what is written in Revelation, that the beasts will do this. We will know not to get that mark. We will know not to worship the image. We are warned. We know and we can do what must be done in order not to receive the seal of Satan.
The mark is described as the name of the beast. In another pale travesty of Holy God, Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet orders the name of the antichrist on the right hand or forehead of the people. Christ’s name will be on the foreheads of the redeemed in New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:4). The antichrist’s name will be on the foreheads or right hands of the doomed in New Babylon.
We are given the information we need now to identify the name of the antichrist. It is a puzzle the wise man can solve when he is given all the pieces. For now, we do not have the final pieces but at the right time we will have what we need to know his name and warn people, even though they will not believe us. Verse 18 reads,
“This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”
Somehow that number will tell us his name. But it also tells us something else about him. Seven is the number of completion in perfection and holiness. On the seventh day of Creation God rested (Genesis 2:2). On the seventh march Jericho fell (Joshua 6). Hebrew slaves released on the seventh year because their service was complete (Exodus 21:2). Three also speaks of completion in complete power, and witness. On the third day Jesus rose (1 Corinthians 15:4). There were three witnesses to Jesus transfiguration (Matthew 17). Paul prayed three times for healing (2 Corinthians 12:8). But the antichrist falls short of this perfection, his name is three sixes. He is given almost complete yet temporary power of the earth. He appears perfect to the blind, but to the wise, he is obviously the antichrist.
So Believer stay aware. Be alert. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit. We know what to look for. The lost are blind. We are not. We can open their eyes. We know who Jesus is and we do not have to mistake a liar for The Truth, The Way, and The Life.