Today we will look at the second Beast of Revelation aka the False Prophet.
(Note that in the Book of Revelation, “the beast” always refer to the first Beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. The second Beast is described as a beast only in the first verse of Rev 13 and is called the False Prophet in the rest of the book. Thus, the “number of the beast” means the number of the first Beast.)
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 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. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 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. 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.
As we can see, the False Prophet is the second-in-command to the first Beast and he is given all authority of the latter to “exercise it in his presence”. (Since we know he is not a political leader like his boss, “authority” could mean spiritual authority, which is the ability to summon demons or evil spirits. It could also mean he is a religious leader with strong political influence.)
The 2 lamb horns suggest he will appear as a messianic figure like Jesus (Lamb of God), promising hope and salvation to the world. And like most false messiahs, he is most probably a charismatic speaker and a master manipulator who could deceive many with great swelling words (thus “spoke like dragon“).
He is also shown to be a powerful sorcerer who can perform great signs and wonders like summoning fire from heaven and giving life to an inanimate image of the first Beast, enabling it to speak and even kill.
So who is a likely candidate for the False Prophet?
For the longest time, I was convinced that he will be someone from a Christian cult (a cult that believes in a perverted form of Christianity). After all, it is a spirit of Antichrist in the world (1 John 4:3) and many of the cults, while blatantly making use of teachings from the Bible, do not acknowledge Jesus as God or even deny He ever came in the flesh.
But after reading that he can summon fire from heaven, it dawns on me that he could be… Jewish.
As it is written in Malachi 4:5, God promised to send Elijah back to earth before the Day of the Lord and we know that the prophet is famous for the fire-from-heaven feat. Thus, the False Prophet could have used this sign to dupe the Jews into believing he is the “Elijah” sent by Yahweh (Jesus had said John the Baptist was the Elijah but obviously they did not believe that, as they were still waiting for the coming of the prophet), and also the Messiah that they have been waiting for (they did not believe Jesus is their Messiah too).
(I know in Malachi 4:5, the “Elijah” is referring to John the Baptist but I believe it also points to the 2 Witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11, as the Day of the Lord means the Second Coming. But that is a topic for another day.)
One flaw to my theory, as pointed out by my friend, is the fact that orthodox Judaism forbids any form of idol worship. So how could the False Prophet be allowed to set up an image of the first Beast in the Temple? Though I think it is not really an insurmountable problem. After all, being an expert liar, he could have somehow lied his way in or use his sorcery to convince the Jews (I mean it’s hard to argue with someone who could bring fire down from the sky, right?).
An alternative theory, as believed by many people, is that he will come from a particular non-Protestant Christian denomination which actually allowed sculptures and relics of their saints in their place of worship. Furthermore, the head of their denomination has always been involved in politics, either directly or indirectly and in recent times, they have been adopting a more liberal view in their doctrine.
(The above are just my opinions and conjectures. For all we know, the False Prophet could come from a syncretic or a previously unknown religion.)
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, 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.
Just exactly how he will “cause” people to have the mark is anybody’s guess. Again, he could lie, use sorcery or maybe death threats.
And is the mark an embedded microchip? Frankly, nobody knows for sure. But suffice to say, since the mark is used for buying and selling, it should have something to do with a technology that facilitates the exchange of money.
to be continued…
Subtlety is not one of the False Prophet’s stronger traits.