The Antichrist, The Beast, 666 and other Scary Things about End Times Theology : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan
Islamic State terrorists have been announcing that they see themselves as part of the apocalyptic end times prophesied in the Koran and that Jesus will appear soon to defeat the armies of Rome, thus beginning the countdown to the end of the world. This prophetic interpretation was hinted at by the leader of the grisly beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians as he pointed northward in the grisly video of the killings, saying, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.” ISIS believes it is setting up a showdown with the armies of Rome in northern Syria and then a final showdown with an anti-Messiah in Jerusalem.
With that in mind it is important that we all have a basic understanding of end times prophesy. By now, thanks to the Left Behind series of books and movies, Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth, and movies like The Omen, The Devil’s Advocate, The Prince of Darkness, Fear No Evil, The Sixth Day and Rosemary’s Baby, most people have heard something about the end times. If you’re a churchgoer you have probably heard a lot more. Most of the dire warnings about the end times can be found in the Bible, particularly in the book of Revelation, although there are mentions in the book of Daniel, Thessalonians, 1st John and others.
One of the most popular verses is Revelations 13:1 which reads “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.”
Now the Beast is not a wild animal like a tiger or a lion. He is not a literal animal. Many theologians believe that the Beast refers to a human being or at least something that has the appearance of a human being. This is the Anti-Christ, whom most theologians believe will rise to power and rule with an iron hand over most of the Earth which by this time has pretty much converted to a one world religion. Some people believe the Beast is a country or an organization, but whatever or whoever it turns out to be, it is important not to worship him. The most solemn warning in the Bible is given to people who worship the beast. This warning includes the threat of receiving God’s wrath. “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.” Revelation 14:9,10
So, if you worship the beast and receive his mark you will receive the complete wrath of God. Many believe taht the mark of the Beast contains the numerals 666, but whether this is the beginning of a number like a Social Security number or some code stamped on everyone’s wrist or forehead, no one is completely sure. But we do know that it is very important to understand who the beast is so you can avoid worshiping him. That may not be as easy as you might think. For one thing, it means not falling for his tricks. The Bible says that the Beast will perform many signs and wonders so don’t fall to your knees just because someone levitates an automobile or calls down lightening or even raises someone from the dead. Why is warning so strong?
The Beast is Satan claiming to be God
Worshiping the Beast is worshiping Satan. Satan comes to earth disguised as God. He will wear a costume that makes him appear to be God. He will take on the appearance of God. But he is not God. He is Satan, the great deceiver. Satan has been on the earth for thousands of years. But most of the time he has not been visible to human eyesight. He has existed in the spirit world. Soon he will transform himself into a being that looks and sounds like God.. He will have the appearance of a glorious, heavenly being.
When Satan comes to earth in a visible body he will be glorious, impressive, attractive and charismatic. People will recognize that he is stronger and more majestic than a mere human being. The beast will speak in a melodious voice and he will have friendly, loving eyes. He will be gentle and kind. His appearance will dazzle and charm people. He will be extremely powerful. People will be convinced by their senses that Satan is God.
According to the Bible, people will believe that the beast is God. They will be entranced and drawn to him. They will have an almost irresistible desire to worship the beast. Referring back to Rev. 13:1, the Beast will have seven symbolic heads. Each head will have a blasphemous name. Blasphemy is claiming to be God when you aren’t God. Satan will claim to be God even though he is not God. He will give himself seven names that are variations of God’s name. The reference to the ten horns may refer to ten of Satan’s leading demons. These ten demons will be kings and rule with Satan. This is why each of them is wearing a crown.
When Does the Beast Come
Most authorities on scripture think the Beast may come in our lifetime. The beast will have a supernatural and glorious arrival on earth. He will look like God. People on earth will worship him. Most people will be deceived into believing that he is God. Some theologians think that he will have a supernatural and glorious arrival and that the whole world will quickly become aware of his coming. Others think he will start out as a human being who rises to fame through gaining power and doing seemingly good things and then, once he is well known and powerful turn himself over to the devil to be possessed. Some scriptures have been interpreted as saying that the Antichrist will be a human who is assassinated and then miraculously rises from this mortal wound, fully possessed by Satan and demonstrating great powers.
The Bible describes five major events that will happen on earth just before the beast comes. The first is a world-wide earthquake. This major earthquake will shake the whole world. It will be accompanied by thunder, lightning and noises.
“Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.” Revelation 8:5
Shortly after the first worldwide earthquake there will be four severe calamities. They are called trumpets in the Bible. These four trumpets will devastate the earth.
The First Trumpet
“The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.” — Revelation 8:7
A barrage of meteorites hits the earth and thousands of fires are ignited. The crops that are ready for harvest are burned up and one of the trees in the forests are burned up. Now, this is something I don’t think one can fail to notice. But, in case that one gets by you the next one won’t.
The Second Trumpet
“Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” — Revelation 8:8,9
An asteroid the size of a mountain plummets into the ocean. One third of the ships that are sailing on the ocean are sunk and one third of the fish die. The ocean becomes like blood. Maybe the worldwide earthquake could’ve been misinterpreted as many smaller earthquakes, but the ocean turning to blood is hard to explain away.
The Third Trumpet
“Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.” — Revelation 8:10,11
An asteroid falls to the earth, blazing with fire. The asteroid contains a bitter contaminant. One third of the rivers and springs of water are poisoned. Many people die from drinking the water. The scary truth is that many people believe this trumpet may have already happed. The Bible gives the name of the star that falls to Earth is Wormwood. The Russian reactor that melted down, Chernobyl, which translated into English is Wormwood. Some dispute this and it could be a coincidence because I’m pretty sure the first two trumpets have not yet happened.
The Fourth Trumpet
“Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.” — Revelation 8:12
Basically, one third of the sun, moon and stars are darkened and the day and night turn dark. The smoke and residue from the first three trumpets darkens the air and the sky. Most theologians believe that the first four trumpets occur over the course of a few days. They cause worldwide devastation and they get the attention of everyone on the earth. These calamities are acts of God. They are not caused by man or by Satan. It is evident that God has interrupted the lives of people on earth. People are frightened beyond description. “Is God angry with us?” they are wondering. Preachers are calling on people to repent and return to God. Within a month or two after these four disasters occur, the beast will come. He will say that he is God and that people must repent of their sins and return to him. But he is not God. He is Satan and people should not worship or follow him. After the Beast comes there will be three more trumpets which are called the Three Woes and heap one plague or disaster after the other upon rebellious mankind.
The Good News
Some theologians believe that the true believers will be taken up to heaven before these tribulations begin in something called The Rapture. Others believe that they will have to endure the tribulations along with everyone else, which includes a mass martyring of those who refuse to worship the Beast. But remember these martyr will go straight to Heaven. For whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. –Matthew 16::25. According to the New Testament at the end of the tribulation, Jesus will come the second time to rescue His people and take them to heaven. When Jesus comes the beast will be cast into the lake of fire.
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20
This does not mean that Satan himself is destroyed at this time. The beast is a costume or disguise that Satan uses. It is Satan’s ability to disguise himself as God that is destroyed in the lake of fire. Satan will never again be allowed to pretend to be God. And that, my friends, along with everlasting life for those who believe in Christ, is the good news in this week’s blog.