Pseudo Messiah

In the Book of Revelation, John saw a “Beast ascending from the Earth,” the “False Prophet.” He was intent on deceiving the “Inhabitants of the Earth” on behalf of the “Beast from the Sea.” The latter was characterized by its political power, while the “False Prophet” used religious propaganda to deceive men, and economic might to suppress anyone who did not conform to the demands of the World Empire.

Those who were members of the “Inhabitants of the Earth” rendered obeisance to the “Beast from the Sea,” and by proxy, to the “Dragon,” namely, Satan himself. With members of this group, no coercion was needed to secure their subservience to the “Beast.”

Dollar Ben Franklin - Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash
[Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash]

The “
False Prophet” promoted religious devotion to the “Beast” and gave it concrete expression by encouraging the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to erect an “image” in honor of the “Beast.” He also employed economic sanctions against the followers of the “Lamb” who refused to give their allegiance to the “Beast” and otherwise did not comply with imperial decrees that were contrary to the word of God and the “Testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 13:4-8).

The “Beast from the Sea” had “ten heads” and “seven horns,” and one of its “heads” appeared to be “slain.” But its “death stroke was healed,” and the description of it “as having been slain” was applied previously to the “Lamb.” Likewise, the “Beast” was wounded “and lived,” just as Jesus “died and lived” - (ezésen - Revelation 2:8, 5:6, 13:3-4).

The restoration of the wounded “head” mimicked the death and resurrection of the “Lamb,” and the restoration of the “Beast” to life struck the “Inhabitants of the Earth” with awe. Thus, the “Beast from the Sea” was (and remains) the counterfeit of the Lamb - (Revelation 13:3-6).

Likewise, the “False Prophet” had two “horns like a lamb.” It was not identical to the “Lamb,” but it imitated him by speaking with what sounded like his voice. Moreover, while the “Lamb” had “seven horns,” the second “Beast” had only “two.” Thus, it was a pale imitation of the true “Lamb.”

The “False Prophet” also had the power to summon fire from heaven, making it the satanic counterpart to the “Two Witnesses” who consumed their opponents with “fire from their mouth.” However, unlike the Witnesses, the “False Prophet” did not bear the “Testimony of Jesus,” but instead, promoted the ideology of the “Beast.” Like the “Two Witnesses,” it was a “prophet” though a false one, and this is why the Book called him the “False Prophet.”

RELIGION AND ECONOMICS


This “False Prophet” employed religious devices to direct the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to venerate the first “Beast.” But it used economic pressure to punish anyone who resisted, especially, the overcoming saints who, like the three Jewish exiles in Babylon, refused to render homage to this “image” - “O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, you serve not my god or RENDER HOMAGE TO THE golden IMAGE THAT I HAVE ERECTED!” - (Daniel 3:13-14).

His attempt to deceive the “saints” was anticipated in the letters to the Seven Assemblies of Asia with their warnings against “false apostles,” the “Nicolaitans,” the “prophetess Jezebel,” and the “teachings of Balaam.” Each of these deceivers encouraged believers to “commit fornication and eat food sacrificed to idols,” allusions to attempts to trick or coerce the churches into participating in the imperial cult.

Thus, the “Beast from the Earth” was active already among the Seven Assemblies. The economic attacks by the “False Prophet” were reflected in the economic deprivations suffered by the congregation in Smyrna, a foretaste of the more severe attacks yet to come - (Revelation 2:2-6, 2:14-15, 16:13, 19:20).

Moreover, the seven churches certainly would have recognized in the vision’s language and imagery the pressure by local magistrates of the cities of Asia on believers to venerate Caesar and his image.

The stress in Chapter 13 is on the use of religious deception to seduce the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” and to coax the churches into giving their allegiance to the first “Beast.” When coercion becomes necessary, the “False Prophet’s” tool of choice is ECONOMIC POWER.

In the Book, humanity is divided into two groups: Those who “follow the Lamb” and those who render homage to the “Beast.” Total allegiance is given to one or the other, and there is NO middle ground or third alternative.

COUNTERFEIT RELIGION


The “False Prophet” imitates the “Lamb” and his true prophets. He employs a counterfeit of the true faith of Jesus Christ to deceive men and thereby cause them to give their allegiance to the “Dragon” and his earthly surrogate, the “Beast from the Sea.”

The beastly goal is to destroy the church through deception and apostasy, or more directly, by economic pressure and persecution. Already deceived, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” are willing supporters of the “Dragon” in his quest to annihilate those who have the “testimony of Jesus.”

The marginalized congregations of Asia would have recognized the arrogant pretensions of Rome in John’s visions, especially the demand for the veneration of Caesar.

If there is a lesson for today, it is that the “Beast” will imitate the true faith to deceive the “saints.” For disciples of Jesus, this counterfeit religion will look and feel all too familiar, and very likely, it will deceive them into giving the total allegiance that belongs to Jesus ALONE to the political rulers of the World Empire.



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