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THE FALSE PROPHET - PART 1
Dr. Allen M. Barber
September 14, 2007
 

The False Prophet has been the subject of much controversy among theologians and prophecy buffs, probably more so than the Antichrist. Some believe he is the Pope because of the authority the Papacy wields over a billion Catholics and the recognition he receives from both political and religious leaders. Others think the False Prophet and Harlot of Revelation 17 are the same personage since the Harlot represents a false religious system that is confederate with the world. Still others see no relationship to the Harlot and believe the False Prophet is really not a person, but a political system, even the United States.  There is a website that has so-called proof that the United States is the two-horned second beast (False Prophet) of Revelation 13. Their exposition is quite convincing. However, I have several problems with it.  

Our problem in identifying the False Prophet is similar to the Antichrist - is it a person, government, religious system or all three?  The only problem I have with the False  Prophet if he is identical with the second beast of Revelation 13, although the second beast is not called the False Prophet, is the nature of the two horns (Rev. 13:11). Before we discuss what we believe to be the Bible's position on the False Prophet, let's look at how one eminent pretribulation scholar, Dr. Dwight Pentecost defines him:

In close association with the Beast, the head of the federated empire, is another individual known as the "False Prophet" (Rev. 19:20; 20:12), called "the second beast in Revelation 13:11-17, where his fullest description is given.  In that passage of Scripture there are some important factors concerning him to be observed: (1) The individual is evidently a Jew, since he arises out of the earth, or land, that is Palestine (13:11); (2) he is influential in religious affairs (13:11, "two horns like  a lamb"); (3) he is motivated by Satan as the first beast is (13:11); (4) he has a delegated authority (13:12, "the power of the first beast"). (5) he promotes the worship of the first beast and compels the earth to worship the first beast as God (13:12); (6) his ministry is authenticated by the signs and miracles which he does, evidently proving that he is Elijah that was to come (13: 13-14); (7) he is successful in deceiving the unbelieving world (13:14); (8) the worship promoted is an idolatrous worship (13:14-15); (9) he has power of death to compel men to worship the beast (13:15); (10) he has authority in the economic realm to control all commerce (13:16-17); (11) he has a mark that will establish his identity for those who live in that day (13:18).

It will be observed that the Revelation in relating the second beast to the first, presents him as subservient to the first. He is called the "false prophet" (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10), who ministers in connection with the first breast as his prophet or spokesman. We are presented, then, with a Satanic trinity, the unholy trinity, or the trinity of hell: the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (Rev. 16:13). That place occupied by God in His program is assumed by Satan, that place of Christ is assumed by the first Beast, that ministry of the Holy Spirit is discharged by the False Prophet."

...the first Beast will be in direct opposition to Christ as one who falsely fulfills the covenant to give Israel their land and the second Beast will assume the place of leadership in the religious realm which rightly belongs to Christ...both Beast in their corporate unity culminate lawlessness.
(Things to Come, pp. 336-339).  

Notice that Dr. Pentecost assumes the False Prophet is a person, even a Jew since he comes out of the earth (the land of Israel) and that he acts in the same role of Elijah, the Old Testament prophet. In addition, he promotes the first beast, who is assumed to be the Antichrist. While Revelation 13 does not call either the first beast, the Antichrist, or the second beast, the False Prophet, their roles seem to imply that is their proper title. While I agree with the majority of Dr. Pentecost's positions regarding the False Prophet, I differ with him on a couple of things. The Revelation 13 text does not  prove the False Prophet heads world false religion. Let's examine Revelation 13: 11-18 to find out the identity of this second beast:

11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, and he spoke with the voice of a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and those who belong to this world to worship the first beast, whose death-wound had been healed. 13 He did astounding miracles, such as making fire flash down to earth from heaven while everyone was watching. 14 And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people of the world to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15 He was permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. 16 He required everyone — great and small, rich and poor, slave and free — to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18 Wisdom is needed to understand this. Let the one who has understanding solve the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.   NLT

The Greek word for "another" in Verse 11 is "allos" meaning another of the same kind. If the second beast was someone or something unlike the first beast, the Greek word would have been "heteros" meaning another of a different kind. The second beast will be like the first beast in his character and nature - Satanic. Since he exercises all the power of the first beast, he also receives his power from Satan.  Some think that because he is the second beast in the unholy trinity, he represents the place of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity. While that has some merit, I believe the second beast is more a John the Baptist - Elijah type. What was the role of John the Baptist?  He was to prepare the way for the Lord's first advent:

Matthew 3: 1-3 NLT

1 In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was, 2 "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." 3 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,

"He is a voice shouting in the wilderness:
'Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming!
Make a straight road for him!' "  

John the Baptist  had one mission, to promote the ministry of the Lord Jesus and it is my belief the False Prophet will do the same for the Antichrist - promote him to the world as the promised Messiah, which all three major religions are expecting - the Jewish Messiah in His first advent, the Christians in His Second Advent, and the Muslims, the 12th Imam with Jesus as his lieutenant.  The Jews questioned Jesus about His claim to Messiahship for they were looking for Elijah to come back first before Messiah appeared:

Malachi 4:5  NLT

5 "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse."

Jesus told the Pharisees that Elijah had indeed come and the disciples understood that to be John the Baptist. The dreadful Day of the Lord, which my book is about, does not occur until the tribulation has ended, for the Old Testament prophets equated the Day of the Lord with two primary things - cosmic phenomenon - great global darkness when the sun, moon, and stars do not shine and the wrath of the Lamb poured out upon the earth, which does not take place until the 7th Trumpet and the 7th Bowl of Wrath. Therefore, since Elijah is predicted to appear in relation to and before the Day of the Lord, I believe that is a prediction of the two witnesses, which begin their ministry at the mid-point of the tribulation. The midpoint of the tribulation is the same time when Satan is cast out of heaven and his angels with him. It is also the time when he possesses the Antichrist. Therefore, the two witnesses will be in contrast to and in opposition to Satan's two witnesses - Antichrist and the False Prophet.  While it appears the False Prophet will be able to call fire down from heaven, so will the Lord's two witnesses:

Revelation 13:13 NKJV

He (False Prophet) preforms great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on earth in the sight of men.

Revelation 11: 3-5 NKJV

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

The Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel teaches that Elijah must come before Messiah can usher in His Kingdom (See Malachi 4:5 above).  For them to accept him, he must have the characteristics of the Old Testament prophet, Elijah. More importantly, the religious Jews are not going to accept any Messiah without Elijah preceding Him - that  is the Old Testament teaching which they strictly adhere.  The secular Jews who do not follow the Torah or the teachings of Judaism will not care one way or the other. They will blindly follow the Antichrist. This poses another question that Dr. Pentecost mentioned, that is, because the second beast comes from the land, he has to be a Jew for "the land" mentioned in Revelation 13:11 is the land of Palestine or Israel.  Where Dr. Pentecost arrived at that conclusion is uncertain, for the Greek word for "earth" is ge (ghay) which is translated Gaia in English and is the basis for the Gaia (Worship of mother earth) movement led by Al Gore.  Ge or Gaia means the earth proper or a specific region of the terra firma.  The Hebrew word meaning the land of Israel is erets as opposed to the general earth or the other nations in the Middle East. For example in Deuteronomy 3:18 where God tells Moses that He has given the land of Canaan to the Israelites, the word used for land is - haa aarets from the root word erets. When the Orthodox Rabbis speak of the land of Israel, they always use the word erets or haarets, never Gaia or adamah (another word for the earth proper). Therefore, the False Prophet can come from anywhere in the Middle East or for that matter, anywhere on the globe, but he will have Jewish lineage for he has to resemble or take the role of the prophet Elijah. Both the Jews and the Arabs believe they are physical descendants of Abraham - that is true of the Jews, but not for the Arabs as they are a mixed race.  

Returning to Revelation 13:11-18 above, it is clear the False Prophet has one primary mission - to promote and sell the Antichrist to the world, he even makes an image of the Antichrist and sets it up in the land of Israel, many theologians think on the temple mount:

Daniel  9:27 NLT

27...he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.


The obvious reason the False Prophet has to sell the Antichrist to the world is that not all people and nations are going to accept the Antichrist when he first rises to power and eventually claims to be God.  His professed deity will have to forced upon the world by those who doubt his claim to be God. When it says, he will exercise the authority of the first beast, he will not take credit for the miracles he performs to convince the world to follow Mr. Antichrist.  What did John the Baptist tell the Pharisees and the people of Israel who thought he was the Messiah? He plainly told them that he was not the promised Messiah, but only the voice preparing the way for Him. In fact, he said that he (John) must decrease, but Jesus, the Messiah, must increase. The False Prophet will do the same - heap all the praise and attention upon the false Messiah, the Antichrist.

The reason the False Prophet forces the "Mark" upon all who dwell upon the earth is that many are not going to voluntarily follow or worship the Antichrist.  Obedience to his regime will be coerced.  The Mark will not be implemented until the middle of the tribulation.  We know this from the  sounding of the 5th Trumpet (Rev. 9: 1-12 - the Star that falls from heaven is the devil - Verse 11). The 5th Trumpet is the beginning of the last 3 1/2 years or the Great Tribulation. By the time of the 5th Trumpet the False Prophet will have spent the first 3 1/2 year promoting the Antichrist as a great world leader, but when Satan is cast out of heaven and literally controls both the Antichrist and the False Prophet, the False Prophet will began to promote the first beast as supreme deity - the god of heaven and earth. Then the meaning of the word "Antichrist," takes on its proper definition -"in place of Christ." He will cause the earthlings to forget about the real God of heaven and earth. However, there will be a witness on earth to the true God - the believers in Jesus Christ.

Notice in the Revelation 13:15 that it is the False Prophet who instigates the death of those who  refuse to worship the image of the beast.  What comes to mind is the image that Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar erected and forced the people to worship on the penalty of death in a fiery hot furnace (remember the three Jewish boys - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into the furnace for refusing the worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar and how they were supernaturally delivered by the Son of God - the preincarnate Jesus Christ? See Daniel 3). Therefore, in the tribulation, the beasts of Mystery Babylon will force the unbelievers on the earth to worship their image.  We do not know for sure what the image of the beast will be.  I have read some amazing interpretations of the image of the beast from a giant computer to a Virtual talking look-alike human robot.  We also do not know how the False Prophet will appear to give life to the image of the beast. This is not a reference to resurrection life, but the appearance of human life, for Revelation 13:15 says he causes the image of the beast to speak as though having human life. No doubt that is going to deceive many people who are unsaved and have no capacity to discern truth from error.  

Jesus warned in Matthew 24: 24 "that false Messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible even God's elect, and in Verse 25, He says, "See I have warned you about this ahead of time." If believers were not on the earth during this time there would have been no reason for Jesus giving that warning.

Notice in Revelation 13:16-18 that it is the second beast that forces the Mark upon the world and that the number 666 is linked to his name and not the first beast, even though the beast's (both beasts) system is identified with the number 666. Verses 17 and 18 plainly say the Mark of the Beast - the second beast, is the NUMBER OF A MAN. Therefore, the second beast, the False Prophet, will be a man like the first beast and not a system, government or nation. He will definitely preside over a world system known as Mystery Babylon, which is both a religious and political system, but he will be a human being, even a man. Do not be deceived by this, but believe the Word of God over the prophecy teachers who refuse to obey the literal meaning of the Scriptures. We should look for a religious personage with 666 in his name who will promote the Antichrist, not look for the Antichrist per sae. We will know, and this is very important, who the Antichrist is (even before he signs the covenant of Daniel 9:27) because the False Prophet will promote him.

If as the Jews believe the prophet Elijah or someone resembling his characteristics, must precede the Messiah, then we can expect someone to soon appear in the Middle East (again the word for land or earth in Revelation 13:11 is Gaia and means planet earth per sae, not just the land of Israel), having Old Testament prophet - like abilities who will promote someone as a world leader - someone who can solve the mess man has created in this world.  My take on this is that as Jesus and John the Baptist were born only six months apart and were actually cousins, that the False Prophet and the Antichrist will appear about the same time, but the False Prophet will began to promote the Antichrist. His PR campaign will move from a great world leader to promotion as God at the midpoint of the tribulation. 

The fact that he leads the world to worship the Antichrist, means he has a religious nature, but that does not mean he heads world religion or that he is the Harlot of Revelation 17.  He is not the Harlot, which we will discuss in the next article.  The False prophet will be a John the Baptist type and have Elijah-like abilities to preform great miracles.  Elijah actually did not call fire down from heaven; on the contrary, God rained down fire from heaven to authenticate Elijah as His prophet to spiritually blind Israel (See I Kings 18: 36-39). Satan is the prince and power of the air and he will appear to give the False Prophet power to rain fire down from heaven.  However, it will be a clever illusion and many will be deceived.  

The main point of this first article on the False Prophet is to prove that his primary mission is to promote the Antichrist not false religion in the sense of heading up and leading all the thousands of religions in the world today. The Harlot will do that. For the beasts (plural) and the ten horns (New World Order) to hate the Harlot and destroy her means that the Harlot is in competition with the Antichrist and his lieutenant, the False Prophet. The Antichrist (actually Satan who possesses him) will not tolerate any competition in his claim to be sole deity:

Revelation 17: 16 NLT

The scarlet beast and his ten horns all hate the prostitute (harlot). They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire.

The Lord bless you.