(First published January, 2020)
The posts on this website contain some rather detailed, thorough explanations for various Biblical mysteries and prophetic passages. As they are somewhat lengthy and time-consuming to have to wade through, it seemed worthwhile to provide capsule summaries of the main concepts introduced in the posts. And if the reader desires more clarification, he or she can easily refer to the more thorough explanations given in the original posts.
1. A Previous “End of the Age”?
2. Dual Nature of the Final Empire: Two Power Sources, Two Religious Strongholds, Two Territories
3. 8th Head/Beast
4. Who Is the False Prophet?
5. 666 Riddle
6. Abomination of Desolation
7. Image of the Beast
8. Ten Horns Coming into View?
9. Gabriel’s Prophetic Proclamations: Ancient Past or Near Future?
10. Fall of the Great Harlot
11. Hell in Heaven? Heaven in Hell?
12. The Final Seven Years
This website contains several posts on the subject of Divine Creation. Nowadays, this belief (that God had a hand in the formation of the natural world) is generally thought to be outdated or irrelevant – some kind of crackpot pseudo-science.
Long ago the apostle Peter had some profound insight and foresight about this misinformed mentality that has shaped mankind’s modern day skepticism: “There shall come in the last days scoffers… saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?… all things continue as they were…’ For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2Peter 3:4-6, KJV)
It is one thing to understand that the natural world came into existence by God’s handiwork. But Peter lays some additional emphasis on the fact that the earth was destroyed and re-created at the time of the Great Flood. The scientific evidence for this is overwhelming. (See the Posts in Part 2 and Part 3 of Retrieving Mankind’s Lost Heritage.) [It should be noted here that this account of the Flood cataclysm exists also in the Mahabharata (III.clxxxvi) and the Quran (Sura 11: 36,37,40,42).]
But scientists refuse to see it – they are “willingly ignorant” as Peter puts it – because they refuse to accept any supernatural explanation, to acknowledge the Creator’s role, in the formation of the natural world. Everything has to have a physical, material explanation.
Once it is understood that the Biblical accounts of Creation and the Flood cataclysm are not matters of faith or “religion” only, but also matters of science, then that sheds a whole new light on things. We are confronted with the awesome possibility that God’s created world could very well undergo a colossal re-structuring – as predicted in many passages of Scripture.
Is it time for the Creator’s intervention once more into Earth’s geological history? Are we on the threshold of a new Age in human history, one where benevolent government will prevail? For, as Revelation 20:4 and 6 state, the saints “came to life” and “they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
But to believe that this could actually happen, it helps to know that something similar already happened in Earth’s history. In the days before the Flood, the situation was getting out of control: “the wickedness of man was great in the earth… every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and… filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:5,11) So the time had come to start over again in a new and re-created post-Flood earth.
In the modern world, it looks as though the situation is once more getting out of control: we have the technological capacity to destroy the natural world through nuclear weapons. Add to this the vast amount of pollution going on in land, sea, and air; mis-management and destruction of earth’s natural resources; unfair distribution of wealth; wars of all kinds; and the list goes on. Surely, we are on the threshold of another intervention by the Creator into human history… and geological history. It is time to start over again.
There are several aspects to consider in this broad subject of the Creator’s role in the formation of the natural world and re-creation of it in the Flood cataclysm. Below are the links for the main subject areas:
Part 1: The World of Prehistory
Part 2: Has the Earth Already Had an “End Time”? Cataclysm of the Great Flood
Part 3: Transition from One Environment to Another
Part 4: How Well Does Evolution Theory Agree with Scientific Principles and Discoveries?
Part 5: How Old Is the Natural World?
Part 6: Conclusion
In the course of outlining future history, the Daniel and Revelation books speak of a future “beast” who was to rule the world in its final days before the Second Coming of Christ. This Beast symbolizes a powerful empire and its ruler who is often referred to as “the Antichrist”. But there is another Beast mentioned, a co-ruler, known as the “False Prophet”. So, instead of just one main superpower controlling everything, two powerful regimes operate together to comprise this final empire. Following are some indications in the Scriptures that point towards this future historical reality:
- Daniel 2 – In the vision of the “image”, there are two “feet”, symbolizing mankind’s last empire; and the feet are made out of two materials (“iron and clay”).
- Revelation 13 – Another vision that pictures two “beasts” working together to build the End Time empire.
- Revelation 17:11 – A more obscure reference here mentions the union of two (the 7th and 8th) ”heads” or “beasts”.
So, this dual empire was predicted, it seems, in the Bible. And in this way it resembles the dual empires of the past: ancient Rome was split into East and West Rome, and the Medo-Persian empire was the union of two nations, Media and Persia. The Bible actually portrays the dual feature of these empires in symbolic form in the Book of Daniel, chapter 2 – as “arms of silver” and “legs of iron”.
In our modern world, what are the two main sources of power? Probably military force and economic control. The dual symbolisms of “iron and clay” in the Daniel 2 “image”, and the 2 “beasts” from “sea” and “earth” in Revelation 13 and 17 seem to reflect this modern historical reality.
Revelation 18 notes that, towards the End of the Age, the “merchants were the great ones of the earth”. (18:23) Such power and independence of the merchant class did not exist in ancient times when they were kept under control, for the most part, by powerful military-political rulers. But nowadays, to a large extent, the ultra-wealthy powerbrokers are calling the shots instead of the military class.
This would explain why it was said, “The fourth kingdom [Rome] shall be as strong as iron”, but in the feet “the [fourth] kingdom shall be divided.” (Daniel 2:40-41, NKJV) In other words, that military strength that used to predominate in the “fourth kingdom” of ancient Rome, now in modern times, has to kow-tow to the equally powerful ruling bloc of wealthy powerbrokers. They control how events play out on the world stage nowadays to a much greater degree than they did in ancient times.
The commonly held explanation that “iron and clay” symbolize democracies and dictatorships is not entirely accurate. The merchant classes have used the loose controls of laissez-faire democracy to rise to dominance in the world, it is true, but dictators have also used democracy to establish military regimes.
To get a full picture, it will be helpful to understand that “iron and clay” symbolize power blocs – military force and economic control. And from them will emerge the two secular “religions” of demagoguery and materialism. (In ancient times these were known as emperor worship and Mammon-worship.) When combined – “iron mixed with miry clay” – as they will in the very End, it makes for an extremely powerful form of government and religion. (Daniel 2:41,43, KJV) We can see this to some extent in the American empire – a powerful combination of military and economic control; and in very recent times in the growing cooperation between China and Russia.
As the American empire crumbles, the next empire (of the two Beasts from sea and earth) will follow a similar plan, combining the two power blocs of military force and economic control (each bloc having its own “religious” dimension). Unlike the American empire, it seems this one will have two geographic centers. As the two arms and two legs symbolized the dual empires of Medo-Persia and East and West Rome, it seems likely that the two feet of Daniel’s image should symbolize a dual empire… coming soon.
And it appears that this dual feature of the final empire will manifest in both its physical geography and in what we might call its spiritual geography. (See Post on this subject.) This may be a speculative notion, but could it be that the dual territorial feature of the final empire (that is, its physical geography) will manifest as the merger of the European and Asian land masses? (See the Eurasian map below and this Post for more information about this possibility.)
As the Roman empire was divided between west and east (Europe and Asia), so the final empire will have the same kind of division, but on a much larger scale. In that way the modern empire will connect to the ancient empire. And that would seem to match well with the feet-connected-to-legs symbolism.
The outstanding feature about this upcoming empire: each of the ancient dual empires was a “beast” split into two parts. But in the End of the Age it seems that, besides two geographical territories (symbolized by the “feet”), the final empire will be presided over by two “beasts”. That is, it has also a dual spiritual geography; and that adds a dimension of power not seen before in history.
Could this be what is happening even now on the world stage? We see Russia, the military stronghold, joining forces with the commercial stronghold of China; in coming days we may also see the European Union, another commercial stronghold, start to ally with Russia. (See Posts on Ezekiel 38-39 concerning prophetic passages about Russia’s role in the Mideast maelstrom.)
A new world order is taking shape before our eyes nowadays to replace the present one dominated by America. Russia may be able to overthrow the old order militarily. But to establish the new regime and rule the world, Russia could not do that alone. The final empire of this present Age will require the input and support of the upcoming economic superpowers (China and/or the European Union).
(This abridged version comes from one of the posts in the Shape of the Future series; Scriptures from ESV Bible unless noted otherwise)
“And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” (Revelation 17:11, NKJV)
Several theories have been advanced regarding the meaning of this mysterious “eighth” Head/Beast, most of them rather complicated. The solution to this mystery, however, could be a lot simpler than we think.
Back in Revelation 13, in addition to the “beast rising out of the sea”, with its “seven heads”, that chapter also depicted another “beast” – of a different type, one “rising out of the earth”. (13:1,11) Numerically, in the Daniel-Revelation Books’ progression of various “beasts”, this one comes along as an addition to the “seven heads/beasts”. It should, therefore, be categorized as the eighth “head” (or eighth “beast”) to come along in world history – an economic-religious empire, portrayed as a mysterious “eighth head” attached to the seven-headed “first beast” of Revelation 13. (13:12)
Looking at this from a slightly different angle, if that Sea-Beast is listed “first” (13:12), that would make the Earth-Beast “second”. But the final manifestation of the Sea-Beast is the seventh head, which, of course, means that the Earth-Beast would be the eighth.
Interestingly, both 7th and 8th Beasts/Heads are headed for “perdition” in chapter 17 (verses 8 and 11, NKJV); and then later in chapter 19, we read that the Beast and False Prophet are to go into perdition (described as getting tossed “into the Lake of Fire”). (19:20)
And if there is any doubt who this False Prophet is, the passage goes on to say that he “worked signs in his [the Beast’s] presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.” (19:20, NKJV) This echoes what was written in chapter 13 about the second Beast who “makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast… and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth” and “causes all… to be marked.” (13:12,14,16)
This then identifies the “false prophet”, mentioned in chapter 19, with the Beast from chapter 13 who comes “out of the earth”.
So, if both 7th and 8th Heads/Beasts are headed for perdition in chapter 17, and then later in chapter 19, the same two (called Beast and False Prophet) are again pictured going into perdition (described as getting tossed into the Lake of Fire), that should confirm that the 8th Head/Beast is none other than the False Prophet Beast from the earth, the second Beast mentioned in Revelation 13.
Could this be the answer then to the riddle of Revelation 17:11 of how on earth does the seventh Head manage also to be the eighth? “As for the beast that was and is not [the 7th Head the Antichrist], it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven.” That seems to suggest that the 8th Head does not belong in the same category as the other seven Heads. (It comes from the “earth” not the “sea”.) Yet it is still joined to them, or at least to the 7th Head.
And it could also be taken to mean that the 8th Head/Beast has been around all through history. At least his religion of materialism has been around; but not until modern times have the merchants of materialism gained a large measure of dominance over the affairs of humankind. In the Modern Age the time has finally come for this Beast of materialism, this master of deception, to rise up, to have its own empire, to work with (not against) the other Antichrist Beast.
Related to the question of how can the 7th Head also be the 8th, we could ask a similar question about the “feet” in the Daniel 2 “image”: why do the iron and clay materials in the feet “mix”? Well, it must have something to do with a combining of the two separate kingdoms’ resources, rule, or religion, or something of that nature.
So the single Antichrist kingdom is actually made up of two parallel empires. They do more than co-exist, but it seems they unite or cooperate so that with their combined resources, they can overthrow the Great Harlot and bear rule over much of the world.
To summarize, the Earth-Beast is the eighth Beast who, in Revelation 13, is mentioned after the seventh, the Antichrist. In Revelation 13, they are portrayed as separate, yet simultaneous, kingdoms who join forces; and Revelation 17:11 merely restates this fact more concisely. “The beast that was, and is not, [that’s the 7th one, the Antichrist empire] is himself also the eighth.” (NKJV)
Because of the Antichrist empire’s alliance with the False Prophet and his empire, that 7th empire is actually two empires in one. (The verse also suggests that the Antichrist “beast” will be regarded as the official or recognized “head” of this combined empire.)
In the above sections we learned about the Eighth Head and the False Prophet, which appear to be different terms used for the “beast rising out of the earth” in Revelation 13:11.
So what does this “beast” symbolism mean? Since it has all the organs, skeletal framework, musculature, limbs, everything that forms a body, a “beast” should symbolize a superpower (and its leader) with all the infrastructure – political-military organization, wealth, industry, population, weapons – everything that’s needed to rule much of the world.
Although it/he is also called the False Prophet (in Revelation 19:20, 20:10), this Beast’s strength is not limited to spiritual power only; he possesses plenty of temporal power. Like the Beast from the sea, he is capable of ruling much of the world.
That Beast from the sea, by the way, resembles the ancient empires; it possesses great military strength and will have a leader who is worshiped. “They worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4)
As for the Beast from the earth, it would appear that his “rule” manifests in a different domain, that of economic control. According to Revelation 13:16-17, this Beast has the power to structure a new economic system that everyone will be more or less forced to join if they want to engage in buying and selling activities.
To join this system, people will be required to receive the “mark of the beast”. Whatever that is, it will be understood as an act of worship to the other Beast who is known as the Antichrist. Several passages in the Book of Revelation warn that, regardless of whatever temporary benefits it may offer, the act of receiving the Mark will be regretted later on (in the Afterlife).
So here we can understand why this Beast is called the False Prophet. He drives the world into his economic system, which, in order to join it, requires making a religious commitment to the Antichrist. In addition, we could probably assume that this Beast will control the media communication systems of the world. (See Post 5 and Post 4.) And through this powerful influence, he will “make the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast (the Antichrist).” (13:12)
In ancient times emperors always had a “religious” guy to promote their reign and to preside over the empire’s religion. In the End Time era, the “religious” guy happens to have his own empire. And unlike most past empires, its power depends more on economic strength than military strength. The “religion” the False Prophet presides over is secular in nature – a religion that’s not supposed to be a religion. And it is two-fold: more than just worship of the Antichrist, it includes worship of materialism; the two are bound up together.
So, who is the False Prophet? This is just a theory, but we might speculate that he would be the leader of either the European Union or of China. These are the two major economic powers of modern times who are big enough to qualify as “beasts”. China is already operating outside the boundaries of the American empire, and in future the European Union may also decide to do so.
But really, to pinpoint who the False Prophet might be, is pretty much impossible now. But a look into recent history at some major false prophets might offer some helpful context. Three that come to mind are Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Joseph Goebbels. So, what were their “achievements”?
Marx came up with an economic system to re-distribute wealth to the poor, a seemingly good idea; but the catch? It was based on the belief that human society could evolve into a utopian system without there being any need for the working of a Higher Power. Darwin came up with the idea that human beings evolved from apes and ultimately from non-living matter, which has led to the belief that we are not God’s special creation but merely the end by-product of natural forces; despite much contradictory evidence, evolution theory has led mankind to accept science, instead of God, as the ultimate source for understanding reality. Geobbels was an ardent propagandist for Adolph Hitler, an antichrist-type figure from the 1930’s and 40’s; his adept use of the media caused the demonization of certain groups of people (Jews, Gypsies, dedicated Christians) and helped to catapult Hitler into leadership of the Third Reich.
How then have their ideas and methods filtered down into modern times? Today we see Chinese society based loosely on Marxist economic philosophy and atheism. European society (and much of the rest of the world) has long been under the spell of Darwinian philosophy. And compared to the days of Hitler, we see a much more powerful system of media communication in operation.
So what might these false prophets of the recent past tell us about the False Prophet of the future? Perhaps he will combine the various aspects mentioned above: promote a new utopia with a new means of wealth distribution; indoctrinate the masses with a pseudo-scientific system of thought that denies the authority of a Higher Power; through media manipulation and propaganda, exalt mankind and idealize its new leader into the status of a demagogue who will seem to embody the aspirations and solutions the world is hoping for, while demonizing those who refuse to worship him.
So it seems the groundwork is already laid. All that remains is to activate in full force what now exists in the worldviews and technology of modern society.
This number 666 need not be viewed as some demon-inspired talisman as the media so often portray it. Probably it was God who inspired the originators to configure this number into the computerized shopping system in the 1970’s so that goods could be bought and sold more easily. (See Post 9 of 666 and the Mark of the Beast for more information.) And it also seems that God is teasing us a bit in Revelation 13:18 – throwing out a riddle for us to solve, a riddle which also points to a clear “sign” that the End of the Age is not far away.
When we analyze the passage in Revelation 13, it becomes clear that 666 is a number that pertains to the selling side of commercial transactions. (See Post 10 of 666 and the Mark of the Beast for more information, as well as the accompanying Charts.
It also requires some (“wisdom”) since it is not easily visible; the number 666 is represented by the unmarked bars implanted in the barcodes, internationally, on most of the merchandise we buy nowadays. (See Chart below from Post 9.)
In the commercial exchange system, the onus is on the sellers, not the buyers, to use the barcodes and thus increase the likelihood that their merchandise will get sold. As for the buyer, the onus will be on them to get implanted with the “mark” so they can purchase items in the buying and selling system of the future.
This mysterious passage is framed as a riddle: “Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast.” (Revelation 13:18) Or as one Bible translation expresses it: “Solve a riddle: Put your heads together and figure out the meaning of the number of the Beast. It’s a human number: 666.” (Lexham English Bible) The use of riddles was a more common pastime in days of old, which we may find difficult to relate to nowadays.
It helps to realize then that, as a riddle, the 666 number does not have to conform to reality. And indeed, the unmarked bars only look like three sixes; they are in reality “guard bars” – boundary markers for different sections within the barcode. But as far as riddles are concerned, this does not matter. (See Post 11 of 666 and the Mark of the Beast for more information.)
The passage notes that it is “man’s number”. This is the more accurate translation. But the translation, “number of a man”, implying a specific man, is commonly used. This has given rise to all sorts of numerological speculations throughout history that have tried to link 666 with the name of whoever was thought to represent the Antichrist or his kingdom in days gone by. (See Post 10 again.)
However, in those days gone by, the commercial system was in a primitive stage and had not advanced to the point where it is today – with its use of the 666 barcode. Thus, not being able to link the number with any known buying and selling operations, Bible teachers in the past opted for the idea of linking 666, numeralogically, to the name of the Beast in some way. But what the passage seems to be saying is, this is just man’s number (since man was created on the 6th day). Interestingly, it is not just one 6 but three 6’s – drawing attention to the triple configuration of 666 in the barcode.
True, it is the “number of the beast” – the number that the Beast system uses to streamline the commercial exchange of merchandise. There may yet be some kind of numerological connection, but any connection to the person of the Antichrist is not the main point. The main point is that the number 666 will be used in the commercial system, and in particular, the selling side of commercial transactions.
The 666-number is a very down-to-earth “sign” that anyone can relate to. In our ordinary, daily experience of shopping activity, this sign stares straight at us, albeit somewhat hidden. Like a signpost, it marks where history is headed – towards the End of the present Age. (Post 13)
(Scriptures quoted from King James Version, unless noted otherwise)
It has been customary to think that the “abomination of desolation” (of Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) is just another way of representing the “image” (spoken of in Revelation 13 and elsewhere in that Book). But could it be that they are different – two separate inventions altogether, and their only common feature is that they are both products of modern technology?
For a number of reasons (outlined in the series of Posts in Unraveling the Mystery of the Abomination), it is quite natural to understand the abomination as a modern weapon/vehicle of war that invades the sacred “holy place” in Jerusalem – that is, if we take into account the constraints of ancient culture: the limitations of vocabulary and non-existent understanding of modern technology. The same guideline applies also to John’s description of the “image” in Revelation 13.
Summary of the Various Reasons for Understanding the “Abomination of Desolation” as a Modern Instrument or Vehicle of War:
(1) From Daniel 9:27 it is evident that there is a military invasion (“overspreading”) of several “abominations” that “desolate” the city of Jerusalem and its sanctuary. Therefore, it seems to follow that the single “abomination that maketh desolate”, which appears in the holy place in Daniel 11:31, is only one of several used in the invasion. And it’s hard to imagine how this could mean anything else other than an invasion of modern weapons and vehicles of war, and that it’s just a matter of one of them invading the holy place. This explanation has the advantage of accuracy and simplicity. (See Post 3.)
(2) In recent history we have witnessed similar events – in Waco, Texas, and Amritsar, India. These events were a good illustration – a bit of historical hindsight, as well as foreshadowing, of the future event to happen in the holy place in Jerusalem. They set a precedent for how to deal with religious squabbles, which increases the likelihood that this type of heavy-handed “solution” will be used again. (See Post 6.)
(3) Every reference to the abomination of desolation is set in the context of war. (See Post 3.)
(4) In the original Hebrew, the intensive form for the word for “make desolate”, in those passages about the “abomination”, suggests that it has great destructive capability (like that of a modern instrument of war). Especially significant along this line is the fact that the noun form of the word “desolation” appears only three time in the New Testament – Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:20. Luke 21:20 states, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” (NKJV) This easily suggests that the “abomination of desolation” mentioned in the other two verses (Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14) must have the military power to destroy.
Understanding “desolation” in terms of violent physical destruction fits well the original Hebrew-Greek wordings and goes along with the warfare context of the different passages where it is found. (See Post 2.)
(5) When we strip away our own modern familiarity with these inventions of war and see them spiritually, or see them through the eyes of those from ancient times, people who knew nothing about our modern technology, then the term “abomination of desolation” seems a much more reasonable description of a modern instrument of war than we may have thought. (See Post 7.)
(6) The translation of certain words can be misleading, such as for the words “place” and “set up” in Daniel 11:31 and 12:11, which make it sound as if the passages are talking about an idol. However, in these cases, the most common translation of the Hebrew is “give”. It was a flexible, catch-all term that is difficult to translate unless the actual context is known. (See Post 8.)
(7) The word “abomination” means anything that is abhorrent to God and is not limited to mean an idol, or things connected to idolatry. (See Post 1.)
(8) On the other hand, if we do want to interpret the “abomination” in religious terms, then it seems logical, judging by the context of the Daniel 11 passage, that it should be connected to the “god of forces” (a god of war and armaments), rather than to the Antichrist demagogue. And so, a weapon or vehicle of war would seem to be the appropriate “abomination” here, rather than some kind of image or likeness of the Antichrist. So, whichever way you look at it, in religious terms or non-religious, the explanation that fits well in both cases is that the abomination is a weapon or vehicle of war. (See Post 4.)
(9) If we believe that the Revelation 13 “image” is a live, broadcasted image of the Antichrist, then there’s no need to think that another image or idol is needed in the form of the “abomination of desolation” in the “holy place”. (The series of posts in Unraveling the Mystery of the Image explores this intriguing subject.) If the Antichrist is there, that should be sufficient. He himself is the object of worship. In modern secular culture, this adulation of a person through his live, broadcasted image is more acceptable than worship via any kind of manufactured image or idol, however realistic or technological it may be. (See Post 9.)
(10) War and military power are prime features of the Antichrist’s domain of influence. Since he is the one who places the “abomination of desolation” in the “holy place”, chances are it will be linked to the activities of his warmongering in some way. The False Prophet, on the other hand, rules in the domain of economic power, and spiritually, he deceives the world through the media, broadcasting the “image of the beast” into every corner of the earth.
Different domains of power use different technologies; the “abomination” and “image” ought to be different inventions, each characteristic of one of the Beasts and his domain of power. It is not likely they should be conflated, thought of as the same thing (as envisioned in the idea of some kind of great computer idol). The “abomination” should be an invention that merely helps the Antichrist carry out his war campaigns – a weapon or vehicle of war; and the “image” should be one that helps the False Prophet carry out his campaign of getting the world to worship the Antichrist through the media. (See Post 10.)
(11) The beginning of the Great Tribulation is a precise event starting at a precise time. Trying to install a robot idol or super-computer (or both) in the “holy place” could be a monumental task that would take some time. From a practical point of view, it would be simpler if it were just a war tank or some other war machine that barged its way in. A provocative incident like that would be the kind of spark that could easily set off the explosive era of the Great Tribulation. (See Post 6.)
(12) Everything is all ready to go. We don’t have to wait for some extraordinary new invention to come along. Thus, there’s no need to delay in our minds the future, thinking the Antichrist can’t come along yet because we have to wait for the “abomination” to get invented. As far as the technology goes, everything’s in place ready to roll.
Several “clues” have been offered that point towards the idea of the “abomination of desolation” being some modern instrument or vehicle of war. Each clue by itself may not be enough to prove that. But, by putting all the clues and pieces of the puzzle together, we seem to arrive safely enough to that very conclusion.
These mysterious passages about the “abomination” are like a riddle from ancient times – a secret tucked away in the Scriptures for almost 2,500 years. If now we’re able to decipher this mystery, that’s a good sign we’re in the End Time – because that’s when the Lord would want to reveal it.
And that should be encouraging. We’re seeing now the answers to the disciples’ questions from long ago. We no longer have to wonder, as they did, about this peculiar “sign of Your coming and of the End of the Age”. (Matthew 24:3) Now we can see what it will be, and how it is looming on the horizon. Knowing we’re on the threshold of these events should also encourage us to prepare earnestly and brace ourselves for the tumultuous days ahead.
[This abridged version comes from the series of Posts in Unraveling the Mystery of the Image, especially Post 2, “Worldwide Worship (Adulation) of the Antichrist”.]
There are two main difficulties that get in the way of getting a good understanding of what it means by the “image of the beast” that is mentioned a few times in the Book of Revelation: 1) the idea that John the apostle’s description of the description of the Image is infallibly correct. 2) the assumption that the Image can be identified with the Abomination of Desolation.
First of all the question, is the “image of the beast” just another way of describing the “abomination of desolation” (spoken of in Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, and Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11)? After close examination of the various passages involved, it becomes obvious that, yes, the “image” and “abomination” have in common the fact that they are both inventions of modern times. Other than that, however, they appear to symbolize very different modern inventions.
In the previous “capsule summary”, we explored how the “abomination of desolation” could actually be a weapon or vehicle of war. If this is the case, then it leaves open the question, how should we understand the “image” (if it has nothing to do with the “abomination”)?
To start, it is needful to understand that the description of the “image of the beast” did not come from God nor from an angel; it was simply the apostle John’s attempt to explain whatever it was he saw in vision. The vision came from God, of course, but the description in Revelation 13 seems to have been written in John’s own words. On occasion when a prophet receives a vision, and if he doesn’t seem to be getting the right idea about it, there will be a visit from an angel to correct the prophet to make sure he is understanding it in the right way. Some interesting examples of this may be found in Revelation 7:13-14, 17:6-7, and Daniel 8:17-19.
But in this chapter 13 about the vision of the image, there is no such intervention, and the Lord may have allowed this for a reason. That is, what we have here turns out to be an intriguing example of a time-travel experience – how someone from an ancient time would react to and describe a distant-future invention. Knowing only the 1st century techniques of image manufacture (painting and sculpture mainly), he describes it in the terms he understands. No surprise then that his description sounds like the description of an idol.
But we could easily understand that what he saw in vision was actually some kind of broadcasted image of the Antichrist. If that were the case, we would expect his explanation to be inaccurate. For how could he understand modern means of image production, how streamlined the process is now? Unbeknownst to John, the creation of the image and its worldwide distribution and its power of having “life” would all happen instantaneously and simultaneously.
But in John’s mind, these have to be separate functions. And because of that 1st century outlook of how images were made in those days, his explanation for how the “image” is produced sounds cumbersome and inappropriate, and more like that of an idol than of a broadcasted image. (A more detailed investigation of these points may be found in Posts 3 to 7 in Unraveling the Mystery of the Image.)
A helpful question to ask at this point: What would be the most effective way to generate worship of the Beast in the non-superstitious age of modern times? People nowadays can only be swayed into worship of a political figure if the image they view is the real thing. A broadcasted image has that capacity to convey the charisma and persuasiveness of a powerful speaker. No need to rely on superstitious imagination to make a lifeless idol an object of worship. The very persona of the Antichrist himself will be the object of worship, conveyed through media broadcasting.
Today, of course, it is possible to manufacture robotic, lifelike, AI-powered humanoids. As realistic as some of these may be, they could not generate real worship. According to the concept of the “uncanny valley” syndrome, the more a humanoid appears like a real human being, the more it generates uncanny feelings of eeriness and revulsion. That is why cinematographers prefer to use robots that look like robots because they are more likeable that way.
A broadcast of a real, living person (who has lots of charismatic persuasiveness) would be the most effective way for the forces of Darkness to generate worship of the Antichrist than any other kind of image. We have even seen this happen in recent history. In Germany of the 1930’s, Adolph Hitler made cleaver use of the broadcasting media (radio in those days) to generate worship of himself. How much more effective modern media will be with its capacity to convey, not only speech, but also the live image of the future demagogue.
A captivating thought to ponder: The apostle John’s explanation of the “image” in Revelation 13 offers an intriguing example of what we might call a time travel experience, how someone from an ancient time would react when confronted with some of the realities of our modern world.