This sermon is from the series UNDERSTANDING REVELATION and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday, July 27, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Several years ago, I received a call from a reporter at Newsweek Magazine and he said, “We are doing a story on THE END TIMES. Do you think that there is a lot of interest in this subject?” I replied, “Yes, people want to know how the world ends.” That was true then and it is more so today. Hollywood has played with the subject in several films such as the OMEN trilogy. These films focus on the birth, childhood, teen years, and adulthood of the antichrist who comes under the control of Satan. Other films such as “End of Days” and “Armageddon” focus on these themes. I have not seen any of these films, but their very existence shows the interest that both believers and non-believers have in the subjects we address in the Revelation.
The Apostle John is the only one of the biblical writers that uses the word “antichrist.” I John 2:18, 22, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” I John 4:3, “…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” 2 John 1:7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” These verses describe the spirit of those who are against Christ and oppose both his humanity and his deity. This we have with us now.
The Apostle Paul refers to the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” Also, in 2:9 he says, “…the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.” Paul also says in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” There are various interpretations of who this restrainer is such as the church, the Holy Spirit, and the archangel, Michael. I prefer the strong angel, Michael, as he restrains a fallen angel, Lucifer.
In Chapter 12 that we studied last Sunday, we saw Satan ready to do as much harm to the Christ and to his church as he possibly could. In Chapter 13 we see the rise of a person that is given the title of Antichrist and also of his partner, the False Prophet. There are several questions that we need to answer in order to understand this evil personage.
I. WHERE WILL THE ANTICHRIST ARISE? (v.1)
“And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.”
The dragon, Satan, is pictured as standing on the seashore and there arises from the sea a horrendous beast which is understood to be a person with the title of “antichrist.” The sea has been interpreted as being the Mediterranean region which was governed in John’s day by the Roman Empire. This has led to the belief that the antichrist would arise from some European country that Rome governed. This led to interpretations of the Antichrist being one of the popes – and several were declared to be a candidate. Also Hitler was a prominent candidate during World War II. Several world leaders who were oppressive at various times in history have been looked at as possible candidates for this distinction. The fact is – no one knows for he has not appeared yet. But he will be a powerful demon possessed man who will establish a strong world empire. He will impersonate the death and resurrection of Christ so as to get the world’s attention and cause multitudes to worship him.
II. WHEN WILL THE ANTICHRIST APPEAR ON THE SCENE? (v.5-6)
“There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.”
The forty-two months is interpreted to mean the last three and a half years of the seven year tribulation period. It is possible that his demonic reign will last longer than this, but the intense oppression will be the 1260 days.
III. WHAT IS THE AGENDA OF THE ANTICHRIST? (vv.2-7)
HE WILL BLASPHEME GOD. “And the dragon gave him power and his throne, and great authority. (v.2). “…and his fatal wound was healed and the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.” (v.3) “” (v.4)
It is easy to see how this is possible. Satan has prompted the United States to remove God from public life through an erroneous interpretation of our Constitution. School children are disciplined for mentioning God in papers that they write. College students are ridiculed for their convictions that they learned at church and in their homes as they come up against liberal and godless professors. Workers lose their jobs because they will not do the dishonest requirements of their bosses. Chaplains in our military are prohibited from praying in Jesus Name. Can you see in all of this more than just an attempt to be neutral toward all religions? Look at the swear words that we tolerate in our media – “Jesus Christ!” “Christ!” that are the blasphemies spoken of in these scriptures.
HE WILL TRY TO DOMINATE GOD’S PEOPLE. (v. 7) “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them…” Satan instructs the antichrist to go after God’s people. Have you ever wondered why God’s people suffer so much? The mystery of the ages is now revealed – the saints have the same enemy that God has. The last final blow Satan can bring is against those who have believed in Christ during the tribulation period.
HE WILL TRY TO DOMINATE EVERY NATION ON EARTH. (v.7) “…and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” See how ambitious Satan is. He wants to rule world – wide, not only every nation, but every tribe and every language, and every ethnic group of people on the earth. The church is given the responsibility to take the gospel to every nation and people on the earth. Satan’s agenda through his missionary, the antichrist, is the same.
HE WILL TRY TO GIVE HIS MESSAGE OF SALVATION TO THE MASSES. (v.8) “All who dwell on the earth will worship him…” The antichrist will be the infusion of all of the world’s religious hopes. He will bring under him the confusion existing in all of the cults, the various world religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and all the rest. All of the world’s philosophies and religions will make sense in what the antichrist offers. He will be presented as a god that will be acceptable by all.
IV. WHAT WILL THE FALSE PROPHET DO? (vv.11-18)
There will arise another beast that will enforce this. He is called the false prophet. “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given to him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” (vv.11-15)
This is what Paul discussed in II Thessalonians 2:3-4. There was a question in the Thessalonian congregation about THE DAY OF THE LORD. He answered by saying, “…it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” We are living in the time of apostasy when Satan is neutralizing the witness of many main line churches as they compromise with the world’s standards. Satan has used the gay agenda and materialism to do it. “…and the man of lawlessness is revealed…so that he takes his seat in the temple of God displaying himself as being God.” This is interpreted literally by some to be a temple built in Jerusalem during the tribulation period. We often hear rumors that the Jews want to rebuild their Temple and are even collecting materials for it. Others see it in more figurative language as he sets himself up in the temple of men’s hearts.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus said: “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains…unless those days had been cut short no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
The false prophet is the one who proclaims that the antichrist must be worshipped and all that do not must be killed. At this time the economy of the world is captured and those who do not have the mark of the beast in their right hand or on their forehead will not be permitted to buy or sell. (vv.16-17) When it is revealed as to who the antichrist is – the letters in his name will equal 666 which means that he is the epitome of all that is evil and imperfect.
V. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO BELIEVERS DURING THE TIME OF THE ANTICHRIST? (v.8)
There will be many that will come to Christ during the tribulation period. They are the ones who will not worship the beast because their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Many of these will be imprisoned and others will be martyred. It will be a dreadful time for those who are alive.
Of interest to us today is what Satan is doing in our midst that we need to understand. He is
blinding the minds of the unregenerate (2 Cor. 4:4).
snatching away the good seed of the word (Matthew 13:19)
lulling the unbeliever into a false sense of security (Luke 11:21).
laying snares for the unwary (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
masquerading as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-14).
deceiving those whose minds are not subject to the Word of truth (Rev 12:9).
mixing truth with error (Matthew 13:25-8).
The important question today is: Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?
Revelation 13:8 – “…everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” The lamb is spoken of as being slain from before the foundation of the world and the believer is spoken of as having his or her name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Is this predestination? Yes, but not determinative predestination. The fact that God knows from eternity who will be saved does not mean that He chose who would be saved. He gave us that choice.
Revelation 3:5 – He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Revelation 20:12 – And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 17:8 – The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
To know that your name is written there bring forth the exclamation.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!