11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
Previously we saw the Antichrist come and speak against all God stands for, and make war on the saints. Now the unholy trinity is complete with the arrival of the false prophet. His job is to make the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, and by supernatural, hyper charismatic signs (2 Thessalonians 2.3-4) he gives breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. He performs signs and wonders and turns people’s attention to the first beast, the Antichrist, but ultimately both first beast and second beast, and the dragon for that matter, are second-rate, evil impersonators of what is good, pure, just, holy, and upright.
For example, they mimic the structure of the Holy Trinity; Father, Son, Holy Spirit through dragon, first beast, second beast. They mimic the sealing of the saints we read of in 7.3-4,
‘”Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:’
So far, nothing original, simply pretending to be just like the triune God in order to turn people away from Him.
This is how cults start, they borrow from truth just enough to gain credibility and traction, then take a weird turn somewhere down the orthodox highway into heresy town.
When I was in high school there was a popular band named the Arctic Monkeys, maybe you’ve heard of them. Their debut album which was everywhere at the time was called Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not…
This is absolutely the case with our pretenders in this section;
They say they have healed mortal wounds (resurrection), but they did not.
They say they are worthy to be worshiped, they are not.
They claim they are omnipotent, they are not.
They claim to be great conquerors, they are not.
They claim authority over people’s everyday lives, they don’t have this.
We could get lost in conjecture about the number 666, the theories are as baffling as they are plentiful, but the main point here is that this unholy trinity doesn’t even come close to comparing to the true resurrecting power, the right worship, the omnipotence, the all conquering, the Sovereign triune God of the Bible, our great and awesome God.
For us, we need to stay focused on the real deal, not an imitator. One really simple step is to consider 1 John 4.1-3,
‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.’
So, things look good, sound good, look ‘spiritual’, fill you with awe…stop…pause…and think, does this confess Jesus? Otherwise, what it says it is, it is not.