Revelation 13:1-18 | He who has an ear

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He Who Has An Ear

Revelation 13:1-18

Key Verse 9-10

“He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
Chapter 12:9 says that “The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” In Bible study we refer to this verse as a tell tale sign of the devil’s main work in this world of ours. His work is to lead the whole world astray from God. And in generations past he has been able to do so by enticing people to betray that most essential part of their human nature— the knowledge that God exists and the faith by which they can find him and honor him as God. “He leads the whole world astray” is an ominous statement and prediction of what has happened in the past and what is happening this very day and what is yet to happen in days to come. The devil has been leading people astray from God for generations. But according to Revelation 13, a time in coming when not only populations of people are led astray from God, but when the whole world will be led astray. And here is how it will happen.

The last verse of the previous chapter tells us that the dragon who is Satan or the devil was in a rage when the Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. And in a rage, he set out to do war against Jesus’ people scattered around the world. While Satan works hard to lead people astray from God, he has also been waging a simultaneous war against Jesus’ people. But in the end times, Satan would be allowed to unleash his full rage against this world, both believers and unbelievers. In John’s vision, the dragon or Satan himself appears on the shores of the sea. And look at what he will do in the end times. Read verses 1 and 11. “And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.” “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.” In these verses we see the emergence of an unholy trinity that will be the demise of the entire human race. The first beast that comes out of the sea will be what the Bible calls the Antichrist. And the second beast that comes out of the earth is what the Bible calls the false prophet. And together, this unholy trinity of Satan, the Antichrist and his prophet will devastate the souls of men. While the destruction that has already occurred on the earth by the breaking of the seals and the blowing of the trumpets had been mostly a physical kind of destruction, it seems that the final destruction will be an assault on men’s hearts and souls. The first beast— the Antichrist— will establish his power on the earth, and later the second beast— the Antichrist’s false prophet— will enforce the Antichrist’s rule in order to bring the souls of all men to destruction.

Look at verses 2-8. In these verses we see what the first beast who is the Antichrist will do to. His rule will be marked by very distinct characteristics which we want to look at closely. The Antichrist may be identified by these very characteristics or actions. But before we see what these are, I want us to look at what John says about the antichrist in his earlier books. In 1 John 2:22 he tells us: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist— he denies the Father and the Son.” And in 2 John 7 he tells us: “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” So the world has been and is already filled with many antichrists. They deny the Father and the Son. They deny that the Christ did not come in the flesh thereby denying the very gospel of his death and resurrection. This is a lesson for another time. But let us say that while “the” Final Antichrist— the first beast—  is yet to come, the world has been already filled with all kinds of antichrist deceivers. It is most likely that the final Antichrist would be a real person who heads an Antichrist world system. How then can the first beast— the Antichrist— be identified.

First, he would have Satan’s very own power and authority. In verse 2 it says that “the dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.” In verse 3 it tells us that he had such great power that even a fatal wound on his head seems to have healed. So there is a impression here that the Antichrist may be allowed the power to simulate some kind of resurrection. We know that the power of resurrection belongs to no one by to God, so we also know that whatever the antichrist will do, whether healings or seeming resurrection would still be under God’s sovereign rule. And God allows this because the final judgment on men has been long due.

Second, the Antichrist will accept worship in the place of God. Read verse 4, and 8a. “Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast.” No man is above God, nor will ever be any man to equal God. He alone is God and he commands men to worship him alone. When a worldly man or worldly system plays on the desires of men’s hearts, and seek to be worshiped, it is an abomination. Satan once tried to temp Jesus to worship him offering him the world on a platter. But Jesus refused him saying: “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ”Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’” (Matthew 4:10) Antichrists want to be worshiped. They desire honor and praise. They desire men to esteem them and to think highly of them. In their stupor men also tend to worship themselves, believing that they are at the center of all things. No one must accept worship or worship anything or anyone but God.

Third, The Antichrist will utter proud words and blasphemies against God. Look at verses 5-6. “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.” Pride is the mark of the antichrist. The antichrists utter proud words. They speak proudly. No wonder, since pride is at the root of sin. (Rm 1:21) Men’s pride is usually their downfall. Antichrist are proud. Proud of their position. Proud of his accomplishments. Proud of his conquests over other men’s hearts. He knows how to steal men’s hearts to himself. He is proud that men worship him rather than God, as if he is better than God in every way. He speaks proudly of what he has done in taming other men to himself to follow him or the system he has instituted. The world is full of proud men who feed on their own pride as well as on the worship of other men. They speak proudly that they have achieved success. They are proud of what they have become in life, for they revel in their popularity or success, even in their own goodness and humanity. But God has told men form the beginning of time: “God opposed the proud.” (1 Pet 5:5) Antichrist(s) are proud.

Antichrist also speaks blasphemy against God and his holy place and against heaven. The antichrist will speak blasphemy. He can’t help it. It’s the crown on his head. There are all kinds of blasphemies. But the greatest blasphemy is to deny God his glory and honor, and the worship that is due God in his great goodness. It is a great blasphemy to set oneself above God, to deny his holy word and to live by the codes and teachings of men. In their blasphemous mouths men speak of God as if he is dead, or impotent. They speak of their sins and pleasure seeking lives as if they were of no consequence either to men or to God. That is blasphemy too. They may not blaspheme God to his face. But in their actions they blaspheme God and his name and his holy place as well. John tells us that they even blaspheme heaven and its inhabitants. But the Antichrist will blaspheme God and his name and his throne in the open, and men will cheer that they have finally put off the yoke of God and of religion, and have finally come their senses that there is no God, and that his church is a sham and a design to enslave people rather than to free them. Every time men talk of freedom, the freedom to sin and to do all the abominations they are set on doing it is a blasphemy against God who calls us to be and to act in his image. These days men frequently use the name of God in vain. That is blasphemy as well. We must be careful to recognize what is blasphemy and not follow the blasphemous ways of the world.

Fourth, the Antichrist will exercise his power for a very long time. Read verse 5 again. “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.” We saw last time that a period of three and the half years is given for the forces of evil to work in this world before the coming of God’s kingdom. But in truth, we can also see that the reign of evil has been going on from the beginning of time. Satan has been ruling the hearts of men, those who submit to their own ways rather than the ways of God, for what seems to be generations. Evil ruled in the times of Noah, and it was a kind of evil that is very subtle and almost unrecognizable to the eyes and hearts of dulled men. Jesus said in
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37-39) That is the true face of evil, subtle hidden unseen by those who do not know the will of God nor his word. They think all is well, but from God’s point of view, evil has been going on from the beginning of time, and it will take its course fully when the Antichrist has finally arrived to turn men’s hearts away from God forever.

Fifth, the Antichrist will wage war against the saints of the Lord, against the true Christians. Look at verse 7a. “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.” The Antichrist hates the real true to heart Christians. The Antichrist loves the nominal Christian for the Antichrist has nothing to worry about him or her who is a worldly Christian. They speak as if they know and believe Christ, but in truth, they know nothing holy and believe only in themselves. They live compromised lives, making them as worldly as every worldly person. The Antichrist loves the religious man or woman, for they delight in their own morality and in their own righteousness and never look to God for the salvation that comes from his mercy and the humility of their hearts. They are religious but they are devils who mock God and his word by their live and actions. But The Antichrist hates the true Christian, he or her who claims the blood of the lamb and the word of testimony of God’s grace and he or her who loves Jesus more than they love their own lives. Against those, the Antichrist and the antichrists who follow him wage war of persecution, a war of ridicule and of oppression in order to stamp out the faith. But they cannot win, for God is ever their shelter and refuge. Under the blood of Jesus, no harm can ever come to those who take shelter. According to verse 8, their names are written in the book of life and no one in heaven or on earth can blot their name out of it.

Sixth, the Antichrist will finally subjugate the whole world. Read verse 8. “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” All people of all nations will eventually become subject to the Satan’s enchantments— except those whose names are written in the book of life. They will worship him because he is truly charming— like an angel of light. And they will worship him because they will be deceived to think that he is invincible. Verse 4 tells of their deception: “… and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”.

There is an interlude here in this chapter between the coming of the first beast who is the Antichrist, and the second beast who is the false prophet. The interlude is in verses 9-10. Read them. “He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” God calls all men to hear the word of God — because through hearing comes the gift of faith which saves them when they put their faith in Jesus Christ. All men are challenged to listen to the word of God while they have time to live and breath. For Jesus said in John 12:35b. “Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.” In other words, while we are still alive and during each man’s life time, there is always an opportunity to turn from one’s sins in repentance and to put one’s faith in the Christ who died on the cross to save us. Jesus was very clear about that. He taught us not to waste our lives on listening to our own ideas or the ideas of others, nor to trust our feelings when it comes to spiritual things, nor the feelings and hunches of others. Most feelings and hunches and ideas the world has experienced are wrong. They are wrong because the world has been under the reign of sin for a very long time. But God calls us to hear his word. From his throne in heaven he challenges all men who have an ear to hear and to listen to heed his words, and turn to him at all times.  Verse 10 is the warning that those who do not hear will become captives of Satan and will suffer death— probably eternal death. In the past the nation of Israel did not hear when God called them to listen and they went into captivity. Likewise all those who do not listen to the word of God and put their faith in Jesus are led to captivity to sin and to sinful desires and after that led as captives to the pit.

It was not enough that the 1st beast was sent to this earth to devastate the souls of men by drawing them to worship him, and by blaspheming the name of God, now the dragon who is the devil calls forth another beast from the earth to enforce the support and enforce what the 1st beast has come to do. He acts as the prophet of the antichrist. Look at verses 11-18. The false prophet mainly does two things. Look at verses 13-14. Acting with the same authority as that of the Antichrist, his false prophet first deceives the people with powerful signs such as those of the old prophet Elijah. But this time the awesome sign of fire from will not be from God but from the devil himself whose power consumes anyone who does not worship him. His purpose is to bring the whole world to the worship of the Antichrist who fills in for the devil himself. This will eventually become a world totally without God— as is happening even today. And to ensure a world without God, the false prophet has another mission. Look at verses 16-18. The second the false prophet does is to force the world and its people to bear the mark of the beast which is the number 666. what ever that number may be, we know that it’s some mark of un-holiness. If 777 is the mark of holy perfection— the mark of God’s Holy Trinity— then this mark of 666 is the mark of the unholy trinity of antichrist, false prophet & Devil. When men can no longer buy or sell, or eat or drink, or act without compromising their souls, that will be the day when the world has become without God— a world ready for the final judgment.

In the last days men should be careful what they follow and who they follow. The sign of antichrist(s) is already here. They say that the European Union is the resurrected Roman Empire, raised from the ashes of death. The world has no room nor tolerance for God anymore. God-haters are everywhere. Few churches are left in the world with real worshipers, and if there are any churches left open and active, they are under pressure to conform to the world and its ways of tolerance, or die out. The politics of the western region seem to be a formidable power that has united half the world together, and people are praising it and feel secure in it. Someday perhaps the Final Antichrist will appear to unite and dominate not only the west but also the whole world under his banner and that of the dragon. So people have to be careful what they follow and who they follow. The sign of the false prophet is also upon us. False doctrines are rampant. We do not need a false prophet to force people to worship other gods, or a god of their own liking— for people follow whatever god suits their own whims and fancies. People are already following man made religions, following unnatural teachings and doctrines that have corrupted the gospel of Jesus to their own designs. But God is still sovereign over all things. He has called a people unto himself to serve his purpose, to preach the good news, to teach the gospel way of life and to hold on to the faith. He still calls men to listen— to hear— to heed his words and by them to turn to Jesus Christ who is the Lamb of God who triumphed over death and sin and through whom we can escape what is to happen to the world in times to come. Read verse 9.

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