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Worshiping the Unholy Trinity

We are made to worship and unless we learn about the deceptive tactics of the evil one, we risk him stealing the worship that belongs to God alone.

 

Revelation 13:1-18 1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

 

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

 

10 If anyone is to be taken captive,

to captivity he goes;

if anyone is to be slain with the sword,

with the sword must he be slain.

 

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

 

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

 

What does Satan want the most? He wants God's throne, God’s power, and God’s authority. He wants to be the lord of all in heaven, on earth, and beneath the earth to claim the worship that belongs to God alone. 

 

The problem is that people don’t understand how badly Satan wants to be worshiped. They need to know he will do anything to claim the worship that belongs to God.  

 

As we continue “Uncovering Revelation,” verse by verse, Revelation 13 was revealed to expose the deceptive tactics that Satan uses to get what he wants. In the end times, he will even imitate and fabricate an unholy trinity to claim the worship that belongs to God. 

 

The big idea is, we are made to worship and unless we learn about the deceptive tactics of the evil one, we risk him stealing the worship that belongs to God alone.

 

The question is, what are the deceptive tactics of Satan? Revelation 13 reveals them and warns believers against them by exposing three truths about the unholy trinity that apply to us even now: the power of the evil one, the purpose of the evil one, and the persuasion of the evil one.

 

The Power of the Evil One

 

Revelation 13:1 reads, “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.” To understand the power of the evil one as it relates to his deceptive tactics, we see three aspects of the beast.

 

First, the Source of the Beast. Essentially, the beast is the incarnation, or copy, of the dragon in the Revelation 12:3, which reads, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.” 

 

Then, Revelation 12:7 closes with “And he [the dragon, Satan] stood on the sand of the sea,” and Revelation 13:1 tells us, “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea.” So, Satan is the source of the beast.

Second, the Strength of the Beast. The sea usually represents chaos and instability. This beast fueled by Satan as its source will imitate and fabricate calmness in chaos and stability in instability that belong to God alone. Today’s world needs someone to bring calmness and stability to the chaotic and unstable world.

 

The Greek word for beast, thērionwhich, is not just any animal. It is a monster, a wild beast. Revelation 13:2 tells of its strength, “And the beast that I saw was like a leopard [fast]; its feet were like a bear's [strong], and its mouth was like a lion's mouth [ferocious]. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.” The dragon gave his power and throne and great authority to the beast to dominate the world.

 

Through deceptive tactics, Satan stole power, dominion, and authority in the Garden of Eden to corrupt the worship of God. In Matthew 4, he offered this to Christ if He bowed and worshiped Satan. Here in Revelation 13, he brings forth an evil imitation of Christ, the antichrist, the second person of the unholy trinity, and gives him corrupt power, throne, and authority to dominate the world to impose his worship on the world. 

 

Third, the Scope of the Beast. To understand the scope of the beast, we need to understand Daniel 7. The four beasts of Daniel 7 represent four powerful empires: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman.

 

In Daniel 7:19, the prophet asked the angel specifically about the fourth beast and its horns.

 

The angel’s responded in Daniel 7:24-25, “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.” The beast of the sea in Revelation 13 and the world leader of Daniel 7 are the same person— the antichrist who in Daniel 9:27 says will set up the abomination.

 

The beast, that is, the antichrist, in Revelation 13 the combined powers and devastation of the four beasts of Daniel 7 because his final empire will be stronger than all the previous empires.

 

Just as Christ will return to rule the world, Satan imitating and fabricating the end-time events will bring forth the antichrist to rule the world to draw worship for himself.

 

Revelation 13:3 says, “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” There are many views on this mortal wound being healed. Some view it as the resurrection of the Roman Empire. Others think the antichrist will die and come back to life like Christ. Others think it might be a reference to Nero.

 

It does not matter who and what he might be. The important thing is what he will do. Revelation 13:4 reads, “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” ” The power of the evil one will steal worship that belongs to God alone.

 

A pastor was once asked whether the evil power can bring a person back from death or not. The answer was no because only God can give life and resurrect the dead. Satan can trick us into believing that he can. No created being can give life only God does.  

 

The application is, watch out for the antichrist. The Bible teaches that even today, there are many antichrists.

 

First John 2:18 reads “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” Don’t fall for the antichrists.

 

The Purpose of the Evil One

 

Revelation 13:5-7 says, “5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them, authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation...”

 

For three and a half years of the tribulation, God will allow the antichrist to blaspheme, God will allow the antichrist to persecute believers, and God will allow the antichrist to exercise authority over every nation. God will allow all of this to separate the sinners from the saints. Those who are fake will be proven.

 

Revelation 13:8 continues, “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” God will allow the purpose of the evil one to advance because He knows who will worship the antichrist.

 

Revelation 13:9-10 is good news to the elect because they will be preserved through persecution, “ 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.” 

 

Growing up in Pakistan, our Christian community was persecuted for our faith. Muslims were the masters and we were the slaves. By and large, that mindset has not changed even today. This mindset will not change, but will prevail in the world as the end time draws near. 

 

The application is in the last phrase of verse10, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” Christians were never promised the prosperity that many churches preach but they were promised preservation through persecution so we are called to endure and remain faithful.

 

The Persuasion of the Evil One

 

Revelation 13:11-12 starts a new vision and a new sign with, “11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.” The dragon, which is Satan, gave power and authority to the first beast, the antichrist. And, here, he gives the power and authority to this second beast, which most Bible scholars believe, will be the false prophet, the third person of the unholy trinity.

 

Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” That what we see next in verses 13-15, “13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” That would be the real test. 

 

When Moses performed signs and wonders, Pharaoh mocked him because his magicians performed signs, also. Satan cannot create but he can certainly imitate and fabricate. The evil one can use our faith to take our focus away from the worship of Christ to worship signs and wonders, that is, desiring healing and provision more than God.

 

If that does not work he will persuade us by other means, as in Revelation 13:16-17, “16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” No one will be able to buy or sell anything, not even the necessities of life whether food, water, clothing, and housing, without it. 

 

My wife, Sarah, was telling me about a friend of hers at the Metuchen Fire Department who bought a cup of coffee and did not notice that the order number was 666. When my wife pointed it out to her friend, the friend immediately threw the coffee in the trash. There is so much fear and fascination surrounding the mark of the beast, and the number 666. Too many people are investing too much time speculating on the identity and the mark of the beast, and the number 666, which to me is also a form of worship that robs us of the time, energy, and devotion that belong to God alone. 

 

The application in verse 18 says, “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” It calls for godly wisdom, not human wisdom because human wisdom is earthly wisdom that follows corrupt rationale and seeks earthly comfort and earthly possessions. It says to follow your heart, but godly wisdom says that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Satan will use persuasive means to seal people with his mark in opposition to the seal of the living God which is mentioned in Revelation 7:2. 

 

I was reading about Nero, the first Roman emperor who officially initiated state persecution of Christians. One resource I read said, that Nero “burned hundreds of Christians alive to light his imperial gardens at night and butchered others in various ways.” That and worse is what we are called to endure. I do not know what the number 666 or the mark of the beast is going to be but I know one thing: God will allow the power, the purpose, and the persuasion of the evil one to build a final empire that will have its own social, political, governmental, and economical systems so that God can separate sinners from saints. 

 

The action step to take is self-examination. Ask yourself: Which way will you fall? To whom will you bow? You are made to worship— will you endure in faith or give in to the deceptive tactics of the evil one who wants to steal the worship that belongs to God alone?

 

The appeal this: Don’t fall for the deceptive tactics of Satan. Don’t limit your worship to Sunday services only and also, don’t skip Sunday services. Whether the mark of the beast is literal or spiritual, the principle is the same— Satan wants us to deny Jesus. Don’t deny Jesus. Don’t be silent about your faith. Stand for Jesus. Stand for your faith in Jesus.

  

Study Questions

 

  1. What is unholy trinity?  

  2. What were the primary purposes of the beasts?  

  3. Make observations about the word “allow” in Revelation 13:5, 7, 14, 15 (ESV) and discuss who allowed this and why. Note: Not all translations use the word “allow,” but the meaning is the same.

 

Deeper Discussion Question

 

In the New Testament, there are many references to the antichrist. Some of those references indicate that the antichrist has already come. Read the following verses and discuss some practical steps you should take to deal with antichrist/s today.

 

  • 1 John 2:18  

  • 1 John 2:22

  • 1 John 4:1-3  

  • 2 John 1:7


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