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The False Prophet is specifically mentioned in the Book of Revelation three times [16:13, 19:20, 20:10]. The last two times are in reference to his judgment. The Book Of Signs, however, starts with different verses on the assumption they are referring to the False Prophet before he is introduced by name. Dr. David Jeremiah is right in that identification but not in the application.
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. Rev. 13:11, NKJV
Dr. David Jeremiah draws the majority of his teaching on the False Prophet from the second beast of Revelation 13. Let’s read the chapter and see what it says.
Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
The Beast from the Earth
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 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 the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
[Note: Some aspects of Revelation 13 we will examine in future articles as we look at the related chapters in The Book Of Signs.]
The False Prophet will come on the scene as a religious leader. At the outset, he will encourage worship in all non-Christian religions, knowing that increased participation in multiple religions will dilute the influence of Christianity. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (pp. 261-262). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The images of the beast in this passage are metaphoric… Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 260). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The Book Of Signs recognizes that the beasts are metaphors for specific evil people but jumps between metaphoric and literal interpretations without any reason that I can see. For example, why would the second beast be a metaphor, yet his signs all be literal? Consistency would require that we treat them all the same.
There is no mention in The Book Of Signs of the second beast coming from the earth, but this is vital in identifying him. As we have shown earlier, the Bible and Jewish writings frequently use ‘the earth’ [Greek GE] to refer specifically to the land of Israel and not to the whole world. That being the case, the second beast comes from the land of Israel. This makes it very unlikely that he would be promoting “all non-Christian” religions.
Before we continue, we should refresh our understanding on when and to whom The Book Of Revelation was written. As we saw here, John wrote with a sense of urgency to his 1st Century readers. This was information that they needed in the last days of Israel and the Old Covenant system when all they had known was collapsing around them. The Book of Revelation was not written with Western society 2,000 years in the future in mind. It had importance and meaning to those who first read/heard it - which is a primary law of Bible interpretation. This being the case, every application that The Book Of Signs makes for the False Prophet is itself false as it would have been meaningless to the Christians in the 1st Century who were desperate for encouragement and instruction in the tumultuous times in which they were living.
The first beast comes from the Sea of Nations. He is identified for us in Revelation 17:9-10 as Rome. It is not a mythical revived Roman Empire but the historical one that the apostles had to deal with. [We should note that the beast image can shift between Rome in general and a specific Roman ruler depending on context.].
With that preparation, we come to the land beast, the False Prophet. Just as the first beast can represent Rome in general or a specific emperor, so the second can represent the Jewish leaders in general or their ultimate representative, the High Priest.
The Jewish leaders were very aware that they operated under the authority of Rome [sea beast]. They knew that Rome’s best interest was their best interest and promoted submission to and obedience to Rome. This is recorded in Scripture.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."
And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:47-50, NKJV
From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” John 19:12, NKJV
But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” John 19:15, NKJV
The high priest had another, more controversial function in first-century Jerusalem: serving as a sort of liaison between Roman authority and the Jewish population. High priests, drawn from the Sadducean aristocracy, received their appointment from Rome since the time of Herod the Great, and Rome looked to high priests to keep the Jewish populace in line. We know from other cases (such as one incident in 66 C.E.) that Roman prefects might demand that high priests arrest and turn over Jews seen as agitators. UMKC School of Law
A lamb was most recognized as the Passover sacrifice. The beast looking like a lamb confirms that it was the Jewish leaders [or leader] as they represented the ministers of God, and the High Priest offered the lamb on the Day of Atonement. Horns represent power [as Dr. Jeremiah has pointed out]. Since a lamb does not have horns, the horns are unnatural power which shows Jewish leaders excising Roman power from their position. The dragon is a symbol of Satan. It is not that the Jewish leaders were puppets of the Roman Empire, but they were actually instruments of Satan in crucifying Christ and trying to stamp out the church.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2, NKJV
The Book Of Signs slips between metaphor and literal interpretations as it suits its theory. If we are going to be consistent, we must interpret everything in a given passage the same way. Everyone believes the beasts to be metaphors - no one believes that literal beasts are going to rise out of the sea and land. So to be consistent, these signs must be metaphors as well.
Jesus warned that in the last days of the nation of Israel, false prophets would arise.
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Matt. 24:11, NKJV
Did this happen?
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Acts 19:13, NKJV
Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Acts. 13: 6-8, NKJV
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. Acts 8:9-11, NKJV
Much of the New Testament was written to defend the Faith against false teachers and false prophets. While God’s fire fell in judgment on rebels in the Old Testament, these false prophets used their powers to bring judgment on Christians and hinder the Gospel.
What about the image? What was an image to the Jewish mind?
The worship of the Antichrist will center on this idol until the end of the Tribulation period, marking the final stage of apostasy, which is idolatry—the hallmark of all false religions. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (pp. 264-265). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Dr. Jeremiah equates “image” with “idol” because it is worshipped; however, anything that takes the place of Christ is an idol that is idolatry. It doesn’t have to be a physical object. It can even be good things like family, money and sports if they are more important than Jesus.
Are we talking about a literal idol here? The Book of Revelation does speak about literal idols.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols [Strongs 1494/eidolothuton], and to commit sexual immorality. Rev. 2:14, NKJV
Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols [Strongs 1494/eidolothuton]. Rev. 2:20, NKJV
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols [Strongs 1497/eidolon] of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. Rev. 9:20, NKJV
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image [Strongs 1504/eikon] to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Rev. 13:14, NKJV
1504 is the word used every time the Book of Revelation talks about the image of the beast. It does not mean a physical idol. [It may refer to a physical idol one time in the New Testament: Rom. 1:23.]. It is used to refer to the likeness of Caesar on a coin [Matt. 22:20, Mark 12:16, Luke 20:24], Christians being made like Jesus [Rom. 8:29, 1 Cor. 15:49, 2 Cor. 3:18, Col. 3:10], man reflecting the glory of God [1 Cor. 11:7], man reflecting Adam [1 Cor. 15:49], Jesus reflecting the Father [2 Cor. 4:4, Col. 1:15] and the Law being a shadow and not an image [Heb. 10:1].
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image  of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Rom. 8:29, NKJV
I hope we don't think God is making us into being idols of Jesus! Given the New Testament usage of this word, it is extremely unlikely that it is referring to a physical idol, even IF the rest of the passage was literal. It speaks of someone or something mirroring someone else.
There are several ideas about how this applies in Revelation, but we cannot fall into a literal interpretation when everything that surrounds it is symbolic. One idea is that the image [of the first beast] is Israel itself being remade into the image of Rome, speaking and acting on its behalf and enforcing its regulations. We know the Jews viciously persecuted the Christians. If you know of a better explanation, let me know.
We will deal with 666/Mark Of The Beast in a later chapter.
With the evidence against the view presented in The Book Of Signs, it seems unreasonable to think that this is one of the 31 UNDENIABLE Prophecies Of The Apocalypse. Many competent Bible scholars have differing views.
[I am indebted to Rev. David Chilton, Rev. Jonathan Welton and others for insights in this article.]
Return To The Book Of Signs.
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