Revelation 13:1–10, 16–18comment (0)
July 10, 2008
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: Revelation 13:1–10, 16–18
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity (Retired), Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
What about the Antichrist?
Revelation 13:1–10, 16–18
The events of Sept. 11, 2001, catapulted the term “terrorism” into the vocabulary of Americans of all ages. To a degree hardly matched in recent times, many people are deeply concerned about the eruptions of terror and evil in the world. In many periods of history, evil has had a face, a person whose name suggested the embodiment of evil. Among names that come to mind are Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Such leaders have often had people associate the label “Antichrist” with them.
History has seen a number of godless rulers. Although it doesn’t use the word “Antichrist,” the Book of Revelation points to one final evil one whose activities will precede the return of Christ. Bible students invoke the term “Antichrist” when discussing Revelation 13 and its Satan-inspired figure. It is a convenient term for talking about this end-time figure.
In pondering the arising of a great end-time Antichrist, Christians should be armed with understanding of what the Antichrist will do. If for no other reason, such awareness can serve to motivate us to oppose evil in any place and form. Three ideas emerge from Revelation 13, which together give us a picture of the person and work of that final personification of evil.
Satan’s PR Man (1–6)
While the details of the figure John, Revelation’s author, saw in his vision are varied and grotesque, the idea comes through with clarity. Introduced as a beast arising from the sea, the Antichrist will receive power, position and authority directly from Satan. He will use that Satan-supplied power to amaze and sway the world and lead people to worship Satan and oppose God. Even so, his activities will have a limit imposed on them in terms of 42 months. Within the time permitted, the Antichrist will seduce people and blaspheme God.
Before John’s vision of the end-time Antichrist, he wrote a letter to people he loved. In it, he reminded them there were already antichrists at work (1 John 2:18) and warned them that the spirit of the Antichrist was already evident in the world (1 John 4:3).
Even as we live before the end times, Christians must be alert to reject any teaching that lessens the sovereignty, holiness and majesty of Christ. We should keep in mind that most people are not drawn into the worship of Satan by obvious and direct methods. Satan and those who oppose God often use deceptive, subtle practices to draw people away from God and toward Satan. The warning for us is simple: Beware of anyone or any group serving as Satan’s public relations agents.
The Ultimate Control Freak (7b–8, 16–18)
Having seen the Antichrist as the first beast, John saw in his vision a second beast (Rev. 13:11–12). The second figure will arise with two primary goals: to compel people to worship the first beast and to require people to receive the mark of the beast in order to live or do business. The mark of the beast will be either the first beast’s name or his number. The mark will be either on everyone’s right hand or forehead. Symbolically the placement of the mark might suggest that both actions and thoughts will pass under the beast’s control.
Christians should beware of any religious leader who demands worship or absolute devotion. Satan is the ultimate control freak, and those whom he inspires seek to become like him. Allegiance to cult leaders has led followers into heartache and hurt, which typically touches their families and friends.
The Persecutor (7a, 9–10)
The Antichrist will wage war against believers to persecute and kill them. The prospect of satanic opposition now and at the end times calls for endurance and faithfulness on the part of those called on to suffer persecution. Having been defeated by Christ through His saving death and victorious resurrection, Satan’s strategy focuses on Christ’s followers. Unable to harm Christ, Satan seeks to cause Him pain by harming His servants.
The deaths of believers may appear as a victory for the Antichrist, but it’s actually a victory for Christ. It’s always a victory when believers are steadfast in difficulties and when they enter the eternal presence of God.