THE RISE OF ANTICHRIST & THE UNHOLY TRINITY
WAR IN HEAVEN – WAR ON EARTH
Revelation chapter 12 is one of the most important chapters in the book, for it describes the outbreak of war; past, present, and future. This war first takes place on earth in verses 1-6, then in heaven in verses 7-12, and finally back on earth again in verses 13-17.
The chapter typifies the grand symbolism found in much of the book of Revelation. John sees a woman, clothed with the sun, crying out in pain as she gives birth. Waiting to kill her child is a red dragon. The woman symbolizes Israel, the dragon is Satan, and the male child is Jesus. The male child is “caught up to God,” a reference to Jesus’ ascension after His resurrection, and the woman is able to flee into the wilderness (12:1-6).
Next, we see a very real and dramatic tragedy in heaven. This war will settle a conflict that has been raging since before there was a world – a cosmic war between good and evil, between God and Satan. A war that will have severe consequences on earth. The last great angelic battle and Satan’s ultimate expulsion from heaven are described in verses 7 through 12. In this passage, John sees a great war between Michael and the angels of God and the dragon (Satan) and his fallen angels that will take place somewhere around the midpoint of the Tribulation period. Satan, in his great pride and delusion that he can be like God, will lead a rebellion against God. It will be a cosmic mismatch. Thus, the dragon and his fallen angels (demons) will be no match for God and will be thrown out of heaven forever.
Now, we need to understand that this is not a depiction of the initial fall of Satan because according to Old Testament books such as Job, the devil was still able to access heaven and accuse humanity before God. After this cosmic battle in heaven Satan will no longer have access to God to accuse the brethren. Prior to Revelation chapter 12, Satan was still allowed temporary access to God’s presence in heaven at certain times by God’s choosing but at this point, however, he will be entirely evicted and thrown down to earth – expelled from God’s presence completely. This results in rejoicing in heaven – also a dire warning. Now that Satan is running out of time, and confined to the earth, his rage will be taken out on mankind, especially Israel (12:7-12). Satan can read and he is well aware that he only has 3 ½ years left and will be bent on destroying whoever stands for God in this world. This will usher in a period of intensified suffering on earth known as the Great Tribulation during which the Antichrist violates his peace treaty with Israel, desecrates their temple, declares himself as God, and begins to systematically murder all those who refuse to worship him.
Next, beginning with verse 13, the war with Satan returns to earth – start of the Great Tribulation period of 3 ½ years. Thwarted in his last attempt on earth to destroy Jesus Christ (at the cross), the male child of the woman, and now just having been defeated in heaven, Satan now turns his attention to the woman (Israel). The anti-Semitism of Satan is the most intense ever, for Israel is symbolic of the worship of God which Satan hates. As believing Jews rapidly flee to the wilderness, Satan causes a great flood to go forth in an attempt to destroy her. But in the providence of God, even the earth aids the woman, and the great flood is swallowed up by the earth. The dragon is now exceedingly angry with Israel and takes his anger out on those who do not flee to the wilderness. Jews who turn to Christ, “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (v.17)” will be the special target of Satan’s fury as he unleashes an attack on the Jews which is unparalleled in history. According to Scripture around two thirds of Israel’s population will be killed during the Great Tribulation (Zech. 13:8). No wonder the Bible calls it “… the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7).” This would indicate that although the entire world will be involved, the purpose of the Tribulation primarily relates to Israel and the conversion of the Jewish remnant to faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. You will find no mention of “the Church” in chapters 12 or 13. In fact, when John was “caught up to heaven” (symbolic of the rapture) in Revelation 4:1, to view the future, there is no mention of “the Church” on earth during the time of the Tribulation period, chapters 6 through 19, then the church reappears near the end of the Great Tribulation in chapter 19: 7-9 when we see “the Church” at the marriage supper of the Lamb taking place in heaven. After this we see the advent of Christ – “heaven opens” and we see Christ sitting on a white horse ready to come down to earth to conquer His enemies (Rev. 19:11).
Believing Israelites are forced to flee into the wilderness where God has prepared a place of shelter and safety for them. When Christ gave His great prophecy about the Great Tribulation, He warned, “Then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains (Matt. 24:16). The prophet Isaiah mentions the city of Sella in the wilderness of Moab as a place to hide. Sella is the Hebrew form of the Greek name Petra, meaning rock. Located some 55 miles south of the Dead Sea, the city of Petra was the capital of the ancient Edomite Empire. Since it is situated in a fertile basin at an elevation of 2,700 feet and since it is entered only by a narrow twisting gorge in some places only 16 feet wide and walls towering over 600 feet high, the spot seems to be the perfect hideaway for the fleeing Jews. Today, this uninhabited city carved out of the rocks of a gigantic volcanic eruption had in its heyday nearly 26,000 inhabitants and would be a perfect refuge for fleeing Jews during the awful days of the Tribulation. The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812 and today it is known as one of the seven wonders of the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here believing Israel will be fed and protected for the last 3 ½ years (1260 days) of intense persecution in the Tribulation period (Rev.12:6). As you can see the Great Tribulation is not about the church, at all. The church is in heaven during the war on earth – raptured before the start of the seven-year Tribulation period (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The Tribulation is about God once again dealing directly with His people, Israel. Israel’s sphere is earthly, the Church’s sphere is heavenly, and they should not be confused. One of the Divine purposes of the Tribulation is the conversion of the Jewish remnant to faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. God had not (and has not) rejected His beloved people, Israel. All Israel, “His elect” (the righteous remnant that survives the Great Tribulation) will be saved when the Deliverer comes. He, the Messiah, will put an end to the period of the Great Tribulation at His coming and destroy His enemies – Battle of Armageddon.
* Look, Satan’s goal would be to destroy all mankind, if he had the chance. And he especially desires to go after God’s children and try to destroy them. So, after losing the war in heaven and banished to earth only, Satan’s fury and wrath will be aimed at anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus. So, Mid-trib and post-trib rapture believers need to ask themselves this question: Why doesn’t Satan go against “the Church” and try to destroy her because it has been his goal for nearly 2000 years of church history. But no, instead, his full fury goes against the offspring of the woman – the Jews (v. 12:13)? Why the Jews and not the church? The answer is simple: the Church (Christ’s body of believers) is not on earth during the Tribulation period but has been “caught up to meet the Lord in the air” and taken to heaven prior to the start of the Tribulation period (1Thess. 4:16-17). In the Tribulation God is dealing directly once again with His people, Israel. As part of the process of bringing the Jewish remnant to faith Zechariah 13:8 speaks of a purging out of the non-elect Jewish element from the nation. “And it will come about in all the land, declares the Lord, that two thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it. I will bring the one third through the fire. And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Next verse reads, “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming… For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken… Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city, then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations (V. 14:1-3).” Here we read about the Lord’s second coming to Jerusalem. The Old Testament prophets spoke frequently of the purging out of the Jewish non-elect during the Tribulation. We, the Church, will be watching this all unfolding on earth from our seat in heaven.
THE RISE OF ANTICHRIST AND THE UNHOLY TRINITY
The career of Satan has been a long and infamous one. From the very moment he lifted his head in pride against God, his goal has always been the same. Lucifer wants to be God. Since Satan’s ambition to be God is impossible, he attempts the next best thing – he imitates God. It is during the dark days of the Tribulation that Satan will be most successful in imitating God. In fact, during this period of judgement upon the earth, Satan will produce a counterfeit trinity. This evil trinity will be composed of Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
In Revelation 13 the other two members of this false trinity are introduced. As Satan is the false Father, verse one depicts the rise of the false Son, the false Christ. He, who is called the first beast, is said to arise “out of the sea,” an expression which signifies from a Gentile nation. I believe the Antichrist will come out of a nation that was part of the Old Roman Empire surrounding the Mediterranean Sea – Spain, France, Italy, Greece, etc. Now, in order to deceive the world into believing that he is Christ, the Antichrist is shown to receive a deadly wound (shot) to the head that was healed. Apparently, Satan will miraculously restore the Antichrist to life, imitating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since it is questionable whether Satan can actually raise a person from the dead, the Antichrist probably only pretends to be dead and then rises again deceiving people into believing that he is an authentic savior. No wonder the world will acclaim the Antichrist! Scripture reads: “I saw one of his heads as if it had been morally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast (v. 3).”
At this eventful point in history, Satan will receive something he has always wanted. Through his man, the Antichrist, whom he makes the ruler of the world, Satan will receive worship and praise. Verse 4 indicates, “So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” Satan takes credit for the miraculous phenomena which takes place during the Tribulation. Unable to explain it, the people of earth believe Satan’s lie given to the world through the Antichrist and fall down and worship them both. They cry, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” The unique character of the beast and his might make the people stand in awe. These same individuals were confronted with the unique character of Jesus Christ and His might before the rapture and yet they did not believe. Now they believe without reservation in Satan and the Antichrist.
That the Antichrist is the world ruler is evident from the fact that his power (authority) was over all “peoples, tongues and nations (v. 13:7).” Undoubtedly, he will be gathering power throughout the first half of the Tribulation but will not receive world rulership until he breaks the covenant of peace with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Then, acting as the tool of Satan, the beast will wage all-out war against Israel and the saints of God. Those who stand true for the faith during the Great Tribulation will have no civil liberties and will be viciously attacked by the Antichrist and killed in the name of the Empire. During this period, born-again believers will be persecuted and murdered much as they were in the second century under the original Roman Empire. Going through the Great Tribulation born-again believers will find encouragement in these words by Jesus, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matt. 13).” Those who stand fast, enduring persecution to the end of the Great Tribulation will be able to go right into the Millennial Kingdom without dying. In other words, they will be able to go into the Millennium in their natural bodies to repopulate the earth. In this passage, Christ is not talking about salvation of the soul (as salvation is always presented in the Bible as a gift of God’s grace, received by faith), but salvation of the body.
* Here is where post-trib rapture believers really get it wrong. If the rapture happens at the end of the Great Tribulation, as they say, and all believers on earth are taken to heaven and given glorified bodies, then who is there left on earth to re-populate the earth during the Millennium – Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth? In Matthew 25:31-46 we see the separation or judgement of the sheep and the goats – believers (righteous) and unbelievers (unrighteous) that have survived the Tribulation period. Christ will judge the unrighteous (the goats), and they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). Therefore, no unbelieving person will survive to live on into the millennial kingdom, only the surviving righteous (the sheep) go into the millennial kingdom. All born-again believers including the fleeing Jews who escaped into the wilderness following the “Abomination of Desolation,” will enter the Millennium. There will be two distinct groups occupying the earth during the millennial kingdom – those with glorified bodies, and those with earthly bodies who lived through the Tribulation go on into the millennial kingdom. (I will do a detailed posting on the Millennium shortly)
Now, getting back to the Great Tribulation; this will be the heyday of Satan. He will receive praise and worship. He will envision himself as God. The second person of this evil trinity will speak forcibly for Satan and the majority of the world will fall in line against God and those who represent Him on the earth. All of this is permitted by God in a final display of Satan’s evil, but He won’t permit it forever. As always in history, God’s children are promised and assured of ultimate victory.
Next, a second beast arises on the scene (the False Prophet) and is the antithesis of God, the Spirit. As the heavenly Trinity is made up of three persons, Father and Holy Spirit, this counterfeit, hellish trinity is made up of three persons: Satan, Antichrist and False Prophet. Please note that he appears on the scene “like a lamb (v.11).” He is not a lamb but appears like a lamb. If he was a lamb, we would think of him as an imposter of Jesus Christ. But since he appears like a lamb, he imitates the Spirit of Christ. As the Holy Spirit produces Christlikeness in us, this False Prophet will produced Antichrist-likeness in the lives of those who worship the beast.
In verse 12 we read that “he exercises all the authority (power) of the first beast in his presence.” During the Great Tribulation the False Prophet imitates the Holy Spirit by exerting the power and authority of Antichrist. The aim of the False Prophet is to promote the worship of Antichrist and at no time in his career does he promote himself. This is true with the Holy Spirit. He causes men and women to worship Jesus Christ. He does not attract attention to Himself but always points to Christ. Jesus Christ came to give life and the Holy Spirit came to comfort, teach, and point men to Christ. Likewise, the False Prophet does not seek attention but seeks to divert attention to the Antichrist.
We also learn in verse 13 that the False Prophet, “performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” Again, and again the Holy Spirit is associated with fire. When the Spirit came upon the Church at Pentecost, “there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them (Acts 2:3).” Here, perhaps, the False Prophet is imitating more than the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The two witnesses of Revelation were divinely commissioned and empowered by God and had the ability to perform miracles including the issue of fire out of their mouths devouring their enemies. Not to be outdone by his religious adversaries, the False Prophet also performs wonders or signs including the calling forth of fire. All of this is a part of the strong delusion mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
The final way in which the False Prophet imitates the Holy Spirit is found in verse 15. “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship image of the beast to be killed.” As Satan’s religious leader, the False Prophet will issue an edict demanding that an image of the beast be made. This will become the focal point of their false system of worship. The magical power that Antichrist (Satan personified) gives the False Prophet is not to give life to an inanimate object but to give the “appearance” of life. The satanic image of the beast will be given the appearance of breathing and moving, either mechanically like a robot or by being indwelt with one of Satan’s demons. Whatever the case, the masses will believe it is alive and will worship it.
I wrote in a previous posting called “Revelation In Our Generation” that what John was writing about here (v.15) nearly 2000 years ago perfectly describes today’s new 3D technology called “holoportation.” This technology allows high quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed, and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time when combined with mixed reality, they are actually present in the same physical space. Communicating and interacting with remote users becomes as natural as face-to-face communication. Simply, this technology allows users to hear, see, and interact with remote participants in 3D as if they are actually present in the same physical space. So, in Revelation 13, John describing a statue that comes to life and is able to speak could very much be describing a 3D technology called “holoportation.” You can actually check out this technology by typing in your search engine: http//research.microsoft.com/holoportation.
I am going to stop here but will continue in my next posting closing of Revelation chapter 13, describing what is the “Mark Of The Beast” and why Christians need not worry that they might get it accidentally, more on Antichrist and the characteristics of Antichrist, bowl judgements, conflict of the ages, etc.
In closing, I’d like to clear up some confusion on the “Gathering of the Elect” we read in Matthew 24:31. God created the earth, and as the Owner of planet earth He made a divine covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the land of Israel was theirs forever. From the book of Genesis until this day, tyrants and dictators have done everything in their power to take the land of Israel away from the Jewish people. The day is coming when Christ returns to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation to crush the enemies of Israel once and for all time. Remember, the reference in the Olivet Discourse to “the elect (Matt. 24:24, 31)” refers to the Jewish people – not the church.
The “elect” is a nation that God has chosen, as recorded in the book of Exodus 19:5-6: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” During the Tribulation the Jewish believers will be protected by the hand of God at the natural fortress of Petra located today in present Jordan. After the enemies of Israel are destroyed at Armageddon, God “will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect (believing Jews), from throughout the earth (Matt: 24:31)” and taking them back to Israel. We see in this verse that from all the earth they (believing Jews) will be gathered to greet their Messiah and enjoy His glorious 1000-year reign from Jerusalem – the golden age of peace.
When we read of warfare in heaven, we are somewhat taken aback. This war will settle a conflict that has been raging since before there was a world. Satan and Michael are very familiar foes. They have battled one another on many occasions for thousands of years. We are not sure just how angels fight. We can only use our imagination. But believe me there will be a great war and the players of this great war are Michael, Jesus (I’m sure He’s involved), Israel, and Satan. This great war has been raging for thousands of years; however, it comes to a climax in the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation period. The battle in heaven described in Revelation 12:7-12 is the first phase of Satan’s final attempt to overthrow God. The final phase is described in Revelation 20:7-10, “after the 1000 years has expired and Satan is released from prison.”
> Oscar Leske
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