[The angel said to me, "John,]The[great red dragon]beast, which you saw [cast out of Heaven in Revelation 12:7-9], once was[in Heaven], now is not[in Heaven because he was cast into the Abyss], and[at the appointed time, he]will come up out of the Abyss[e.g., the spirit realm where he has been confined]and[after a great display of authority and force for about a year will]go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they[actually] see the[great red dragon]beast, because he once was[a glorious angel in Heaven], now[is confined to the Abyss and]is not[visible to human beings], and yet[during the fifth trumpet]will[be permitted to]come[out of hiding and masquerade as Almighty God. He will astonish the wicked with incredible glory, counterfeit wonders and miracles!]. . . . The[great red dragon]beast who once was[in Heaven], and now is not[in Heaven], is an eighth king.[This stern-faced king is called an eighth king because he will rule over the seven heads as the eighth horn ruled over the seven horns in Daniel 7.]He[the great red dragon]belongs to the seven[heads because he opposes God's authority and truth. The great red dragon is the dreaded anti-Christ]and[even though he will appear to be invincible for a while, you can be sure that he]is going to his destruction."(Revelation 17:8, 11, emphasis and insertions mine)
Last month's Wake Up Report! examined the identity of the composite beast in Revelation 13. This composite beast represents "a crisis authority" that will form shortly after the Great Tribulation begins and it will impose itself upon the nations of Earth with increasing authority during a period of 42 months. (Revelation 11:2) The composite beast has seven blasphemous heads (representing the seven religious systems of the world) and it also has ten horns (representing ten future kings who the devil himself will appoint as "taskmasters" over the human race). When it first appears, the composite beast will function as a religious authority. It will represent all mankind and its objective will be to appease an angry God. Recorded history affirms over and over that force is always the last resort of false religion, and history will clearly be repeated during the Great Tribulation. The composite beast will also use force to accomplish its purpose. It will force the inhabitants of Earth to "repent" and worship according to its dictates. If people dare to oppose its laws, harsh penalties will be enforced. Eventually, the devil will cause the composite beast to morph into a global church/state.
Three key points were discussed in last month's study and a short review of these points should make this concluding study a little easier to understand. (1) Bible prophecy indicates that God's patience with mankind's degeneracy and decadence will soon end. He will surprise the nations of Earth with four trumpet-judgments. (Revelation 8:2-13) Thousands of wicked cities will be destroyed and one fourth of Earth's population will perish when God's wrath is released. (Revelation 6:8) (2) The first four trumpet-judgments will come as a complete surprise for most people. (1 Thessalonians 5:3) The enormity and universal scope of God's wrath will exceed human calculation. Global terror will evoke a global response from mankind, and religious and political leaders of the world will humbly unite. Together, they will form a crisis authority to appease God's wrath that would be otherwise unthinkable. Since it is likely that the first four trumpet-judgments will destroy places that are widely known for sinful behavior, repentance and worship will become matters of paramount importance during the Great Tribulation. (Rev 13:7,8) (3) God's anger will be widely evident all over the world. Political leaders will meekly subjugate their legislative powers to the demands of religious leaders who will claim to have the solution for appeasing God's anger. Actually, the religious leaders of the world will know nothing about God's plans. They will only make matters worse by demanding an ever increasing number of "sin-less" laws – thinking these laws will appease God and stop His judgments. The composite beast will not displace nations' governments that are in place when the first four trumpet-judgments occur. Instead, it will direct the political leaders of each nation to enact and enforce numerous "sin-less" laws in an effort to keep people from sinning. Thus, they reason, God's wrath will cease.
Obviously, after the horrific destruction caused by the first four trumpet-judgments, martial law will be implemented. Political leaders will readily violate the constitution of their nation to comply with the religious demands of their clergy – and who will complain? Fearing that God's anger could flare up again and cause more destruction, political leaders will have no choice! Man's response to God's wrath explains how worship will become a matter of persecution. Laws will be enacted in every nation declaring a day of worship. People who observe the Ten Commandments will be persecuted because the fourth commandment declares the seventh day of the week is God's holy day. The composite beast (the crisis government) will mirror the ancient government of Babylon, both in arrogance and ignorance. It will "set up an image" and blaspheme God by usurping His prerogatives. This is why the book of Revelation calls the composite beast "Babylon."
The Appearing of the Antichrist
I assume you are acquainted with the physical appearing of the devil (the Antichrist) during the fifth trumpet judgment. (Revelation 9:1-11) If not, please read Chapter 5 in my book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled . About 890 days after the censer is cast down (Revelation 8:5), the devil will physically appear. This is the fifth trumpet-judgment. He will claim to be Almighty God, Ruler of Earth, but in fact, he is the Antichrist. At first, attempting to disarm the world's skepticism, he will speak kind words, perform wonderful miracles and offer hope to a world in utter despair. However, as time passes, the devil's charade will fail. He will prove to be the meanest and cruelest taskmaster the world has ever known. The devil will take control of the composite beast (the crisis government) and through it, he will impose even greater suffering upon humanity. Two statements about this terrifying event are necessary because the devil and the composite beast will work together like a "hand in a glove."
Several passages in the Bible describe the physical appearing of the devil. Tragically, very few people understand the seriousness and enormity of this event because these passages are usually misdirected and/or misinterpreted. For example, the man of sin or lawlessness mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2, the horn power/stern-faced king in Daniel 8, the king of the north in Daniel 11:36-45, the two-horned beast ascending out of the Earth in Revelation 13:11, and the beast ascending from the Abyss in Revelation 11 and 17 are all descriptions of the physical appearing of the devil. The world has not witnessed anything comparable to the physical appearing of the devil and this is why the Bible has so much to say about it! This compelling event is described in diverse ways in the Bible because there are numerous issues involved with the physical appearing of Lucifer who is the Anti christ.
Surprising as it may seem, Lucifer's activities will cause greater destruction and suffering than that caused by the first four trumpets. The devil will inflict irreparable destruction on three fronts. First, he will destroy the governments of all nations. Second, he will destroy all of the religious systems of the world. Third, he will destroy one-third of mankind (the non-religious wicked and many of the saints). This is why the devil's name in both Hebrew and Greek is Abaddon and Apollyon , which means destroyer.
It is impossible to describe the agony and suffering that will be caused by Lucifer, so think about his actions for a moment. Once the devil gloriously appears, attended by his 200 million fallen angel followers (Revelation 9:16), the usual order of world governance (our political and religious systems) will be useless. The devil, masquerading as Almighty God, will perform incredible miracles such as calling fire down out of Heaven perhaps destroying rebellious cities. Billions of people will either be intimidated or deceived into believing that God Himself lives among men. Ultimately, the devil will demand that all religious diversity be eliminated – and naturally so. The devil will proclaim himself to be God and, as such, his word is the law. Once the devil has gained enough followers, the Bible predicts the devil will terminate the seven religions of the world by setting up a new one-world religion. This new religion is called "an image" or likeness of the composite beast in the book of Revelation. In other words, the composite beast will be modified so that there will be "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" instead of seven opposing religions claiming to have the truth about God.
The Bible also predicts the devil will eliminate the governments of Earth. He will do this to gain absolute control over mankind. Consider this: When the devil first appears, he will lead the world to believe that he (as God) has come to establish a thousand years of peace on Earth and all of the destruction caused by the first four trumpets must be rebuilt or repaired. Like Pharaoh of old, everyone will be forced to work hard to speed Earth's recovery. (Of course, the devil knows there will be no recovery from God's destruction, he just uses this false hope to "wear out" and torment the people of Earth.) The devil will divide Earth into ten sectors and will appoint ten kings as "taskmasters" to oversee Earth's reconstruction. Make no mistake. Lucifer will not be a benevolent king. All who stand in opposition to the devil's heavy and harsh demands will be targeted for elimination. On the other hand, everyone who believes the devil is God will be treated as a slave. By the time the seventh trumpet sounds, the great red dragon, the eighth king, will reign over Earth as "King of kings (politics), and Lord of lords (religion)." The government of Earth will rest on his shoulders and Lucifer will "sit in the heart of the seas," an ancient phrase that means "ruler of all nations." (Ezekiel 28:2)
God permits the devil to physically appear for several reasons. Here are two: (1) The devil is not allowed to physically appear until the work of the 144,000 stalls. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11) In other words, most of the people of Earth will have heard the gospel and made their decision about whom they will worship before the devil is allowed to physically appear. After the devil is released from the Abyss, and people begin to discern the true character of Satan, God extends a final offer for the wicked to reconsider their decision. As people observe the torture which Lucifer and his angels inflict on human beings during the fifth and sixth trumpets, perhaps some of the wicked will repent of their rebellion, reject the lies and authority of the devil and submit to the joy of serving Jesus Christ, "whose yoke is easy and burden is light." (2) Lucifer is permitted to physically appear before the inhabitants of Earth so that Earth's religious gridlock can be eliminated. Because religion is a highly sensitive matter involving personal persuasion and cultural heritage, it is almost impossible for one religious person to convince another person from a different religious system that his understanding of God is better and more comprehensive. God understands this gridlock. (It has been said that less than 5% of the world's population change religious systems.) Therefore, God allows the devil to physically appear so that the many religious systems existing throughout the world can be eliminated. Suddenly, the religious wicked will discover a great void and this void will enable many to thoughtfully and intelligently consider the true gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time. But wait! It only gets worse. The devil will demand the death penalty for anyone who refuses to participate in his one world religion and this decree will force everyone into one of two camps: worship the devil and live or worship Jesus and be killed. This will be the ultimate test of faith."He[the devil]was given power[authority from God]to give breath[life]to the image[the one-world religion]of the first beast[composite beast], so that it could speak[make laws]and cause all who refused to worship[according to the demands of]the image to be killed."(Revelation 13:15)
Remember, the Bible predicts the devil will divide the world into ten sectors and place ten "taskmaster" kings over these sectors. Since the Bible doesn't reveal the geographical boundaries of these ten sectors, they may conform to general geographical and cultural boundaries. For example, the ten sectors could be (1) North America, (2) Central and South America, (3) Africa, (4) Europe, (5) China, (6) India, (7) Russia, (8) Asia and the Middle East, (9) Australia, and (10) The Pacific Nations. Of course, time will tell how the world is divided. Ultimately, the composite beast and the devil will appear to succeed. Those who love lies will submit to their demands. Those who love truth will be despised. It is ironic that the world will end just like sin began; believing the devil's lies."[John,]The ten horns you saw are ten kings[these kings are also represented by the toes of the metal man in Daniel 2]who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour[Greek syntax: for one hour does not mean 60 minutes, but at an appointed hour]will receive authority as kings along with the[great red dragon]beast.[As the taskmasters of mankind]They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the[great red dragon]beast.[At the Second Coming]They[the ten kings]will make war against the Lamb[as did Lucifer and his angels thousands of years ago], but the Lamb will overcome them because he is[the true]Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."(Revelation 17:12-14, insertions mine)