With the arrival of the Second Beast, an unholy trinity is completed. Just as the true God exists as a trinity, so does the counterfeit god. The two trinities compare with each other as follows:
The second beast is the False Prophet whose task it is to point people to the Antichrist, just as the Holy Spirit points people toward Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:20 links the False Prophet with the Antichrist; they work together and ultimately will perish together. In Revelation 13:11 we are told he looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. Satan causes his False Prophet to appear like a meek and gentle lamb when in reality he has the heart of a destroyer. Jesus Himself said to beware of false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). This False Prophet is the epitome of every false prophet who has ever lived.
The Antichrist and the False Prophet are paired significantly: The former’s focus is politics while the latter’s emphasis is religion. In the Tribulation, with the absence of true religion, a false religion will be necessary to solidify the political power of the Antichrist. Wherever you have a vacuum of true religion, political power will marry itself to false religion to give itself a mark of acceptability. Even Communism has a religion called atheism or materialism. It grieves me when I hear someone say, “one religion is as good as another,” for I know that all that person has seen is false religion.
So during the Great Tribulation, Satan will use religion to unite the world under the leadership of the Antichrist.
The False Prophet, the second beast of Revelation 13, will be the religious leader who will point people toward the Antichrist. He will be like many false prophets of our own day—dispensing what people want to hear instead of the truth they need to hear. And he will attract large crowds–false prophets usually do. But in a day of trouble like the Great Tribulation, the lamb-like preacher the people listen to will suddenly begin to manifest the deeds of a ravenous wolf.
THE DEEDS OF THE SECOND BEAST (13:13)
The False Prophet will have the power to counterfeit the miracles of God, such as calling down fire from heaven. Calling down fire from heaven was associated with the power of God in the Old Testament (Genesis 19:24; Leviticus 10:1-2; 1 Kings 18:38; and in Revelation 11:3-6). Whatever God does, Satan is the master counterfeiter. Since God often revealed Himself by fire, the False Prophet uses fire to validate his own works.
THE DECEPTION OF THE SECOND BEAST (13:14-15)
The False Prophet deceives the people into building an image which can be used as a focal point for worship of the Antichrist. I believe this image will be set up in the city of Jerusalem as a counterfeit to the temple of God. We aren’t told what the image will be, but I believe it will be a large structure, not just an effigy on a coin or some similar symbol. I believe it will become a gathering place for those coming to worship the Beast.
The False Prophet’s powers are not slight—he actually is able to make the image speak. Satan cannot give life; i.e., the image doesn’t come alive. It only appears to be alive as a result of being able to speak. Some say it is ventriloquism; others say it will be a computer chip which speaks much as our cars and computers talk to us today. However he does it, the False Prophet makes the image seem to be alive. I can imagine people gathering at this location every day to hear what the image has to say. The media will carry the content of the image’s speeches each day in the news; it will become a focal point of every person’s day. I believe this image is that “abomination of desolation” Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15. When this image is set up in Jerusalem, the disciples of Jesus will know that the Great Tribulation is about to begin. He then goes on to say that the disciples should flee Jerusalem because things are about to get much worse than they ever have before. The image of the Beast is a signal for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
THE DEMAND OF THE SECOND BEAST (13:16-18)
The mark which the Beast causes everyone to receive on their hand or their forehead is yet another attempt at counterfeiting. Remember that in Revelation 7:3 the Lord caused a mark to be put on the foreheads of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (see also Revelation 14:1). What God does, Satan imitates by way of counterfeiting.
The mark (Greek charagma) refers to the Roman use of a seal or mark connected with the emperor which conveyed official sanction. So the Beast will use a charagma to identify those who are loyal to him. Those without the mark will be deemed traitors and boycotted by the commercial system the Beast controls. Those without the mark will die from exposure or starvation or illness as a result of not being able to purchase what they need. I vaguely remember the days of rationing during World War II when money wasn’t enough to buy certain items. You had to have a government issued ration card because of the scarcity of some items. While that rationing was only temporary to help our country’s war effort, under the Beast’s reign it will be permanent. All the money in the world won’t be enough to buy bread if you don’t have the mark of the Beast.
We tend to think that only those without the mark will suffer—but those with the mark will suffer as well (see Revelation 14:9-11). People will face a choice: Reject the mark and suffer at the hands of the Beast; accept the mark and suffer at the hands of God. The choice will be to decide which is worse—to suffer the temporary wrath of the Beast but receive the eternal favor of God, or receive the temporary favor of the Beast and suffer the eternal wrath of God.
The details given about the False Prophet are few. However, if we understand the patterns and motivations that the Bible reveals about the class of people called “false prophets,” we will be better equipped to recognize the general mold that the end-time False Prophet will fit. Both Testaments describe false prophets, and Peter, John, and Jesus Christ specifically warn of false prophets that affect church members.