“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [the Second Coming] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
The month of December is renowned for its primary holiday. Even though Christmas is a manmade holiday, Christians can use the season to initiate a discussion about Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, ascension, and return. There is a lot to talk about if you can find an opportunity to do so! Although few people were aware of Jesus’ birth, when he returns, the Bible predicts “every eye will see Him!” (Revelation 1:7) Before Jesus returns, another being called the Antichrist will first appear on Earth. The Antichrist (Lucifer) will not appear in the same manner that Jesus appears. Jesus and the Father will not touch the Earth at the Second Coming. Instead, they will hover above the Earth and as Earth rotates beneath them, every eye will see them on a glorious throne. (Matthew 26:64) When Jesus returns, He will call the righteous dead to life (John 5:28) and the righteous living will then be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air! (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The righteous saints meet the Lord in the air because Jesus and the Father will not descend to Earth at the Second Coming! Instead, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the redeemed will leave this planet and head for the city, New Jerusalem. In this manner, Jesus will keep the promise He made just before His death: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2,3, italics mine) In this verse, Jesus promised to take us to be with Him. He did not promise to return to Earth and stay here with us.
Unfortunately, many Christians have not considered John 14:2,3. They believe Jesus will live on Earth for a thousand years after the Second Coming. However, the Bible teaches that prior to the Second Coming, the Antichrist will loosely imitate the Second Coming many times. Because communication will be limited between different parts of the world, Lucifer will descend with a giant cloud of brilliant angels over large cities. People in different regions of the world will see him arrive at various times. The important difference between Jesus’ and the devil’s appearing is that the devil will be unable to do what he intends to do if he stays up in the sky. The devil has to spend some time on Earth to accomplish his evil goals.
The Man of Lawlessness
Paul indicates “the man of lawlessness” (Lucifer, the devil) will put on a big show with counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) Millions of evil angels (actually demons) will herald the fake news, “Almighty God has arrived! Come out to see him! He has come to establish the kingdom of God on Earth and there will be a thousand years of peace and prosperity for everyone!” The wicked will be excited by this announcement. Yet, we can only understand this deception if we learn the events that occur prior to the Antichrist’s appearance.The first four trumpets will devastate Earth and ruin its many infrastructures. People who live then will be in very primitive, miserable conditions. I believe the devil and his angels will appear about two and one half years after the first four trumpets occur. Consider the devil’s appearance as John saw it:
“The fifth angel [that stands before God in Heaven (Revelation 8:2)] sounded his trumpet, and I [John] saw a star [a term used to describe angels (Revelation 1:20), a brilliant being] that had fallen from the sky to the Earth [cast out of Heaven]. [At the appointed time,] The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he [the devil] opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it [a great cloud of angels appeared in the sky, the cloud was so dense that it looked] like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The Sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts [millions of angels with wings, the number of them was so great that they looked like a giant swarm of locusts] came down upon the Earth and were given power [from God to hurt certain people, the harm they caused was] like that of scorpions of the Earth.” (Revelation 9:1-3, insertions mine)
In John’s day, the Abyss was thought to be a mysterious region located beneath a flat Earth. People believed that demons dwelled in the Abyss and volcanoes served as chimneys for the fires that burned down there. The shaft (or bottomless pit) of the Abyss was considered to be a hole that went through the flat Earth. In this case, the star is Lucifer who was cast out of Heaven. As the angel king of the Abyss, he is given a key so that he and his followers can escape. This language indicates that Jesus deliberately and precisely controls when the Antichrist appears.
“They [the demons] were told not to harm the grass of the Earth or any plant [crops] or tree [they are not permitted to physically destroy anything], but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. [The torture was so great that] During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. The locusts [the angels from the Abyss] looked like [well-armed] horses prepared for battle. On their heads they [the demons] wore something like crowns of gold [showing authority over mankind], and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was [long] like women’s hair, and their teeth were [deadly, powerful] like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron [they were invincible, human beings could not stop them, injure them, or kill them], and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses [very loud] and chariots rushing into battle [they had intimidating power]. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, [the star who received the key] whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. [Whether Jew or Gentile, his title means: The Destroyer.] The first woe [the first curse on the wicked] is past; two other woes are yet to come [upon them].” (Revelation 9:4-12, insertions and italics mine)
John saw a representation of Lucifer and his demons in the same way that he saw the seven-headed beast in Revelation 13:1. If you remember, the seven-headed beast looked like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear, and a mouth like a lion. These features are representations that describe Babylon’s powers. Lucifer and his demons will not physically look like locusts having scorpion tails. Instead, the devil and his angels will be brilliant, glorious beings with a human-like appearance, because like mankind, they were made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26; Job 38:7) The demons from the Abyss will be much larger and more powerful than humans. People will not be able to control, stop, or kill them. God will release them from the Abyss and give them power to rule over the whole world for about fourteen months.
God only releases the devil and his angels from the spirit realm (the Abyss), after the world has rejected the clearest evidence of His will and higher authority. When the fifth trumpet occurs, Lucifer will confront each wicked person with the clearest evidence of his will and authority. Standing about fifteen feet tall and deceptively cloaked in brilliant light and charming benevolence, the devil will tell the wicked that he is “Almighty God.” I believe that Lucifer is physically “15 feet tall” using the following texts. Psalm 8:3-5 reveals that Jesus created man “smaller” or “shorter” than the angels and 1 Kings 6:23-26 documents that Solomon constructed a life-sized likeness of the two angels for the Most Holy Place.
To prove the lie that he is “Almighty God,” the devil will call fire down from the sky on command. (Revelation 13:13) The devil will declare he has come to establish God’s kingdom on Earth and he invites everyone to join him for 1,000 years of peace and prosperity. The devil is called “the false prophet” for this reason. Behind the scenes, demons will arrest and torture everyone caught refusing to worship the devil for blasphemy and insubordination.
The Beast from the Abyss is the Antichrist
In Revelation 9:1-11, John saw “the angel king of the Abyss” released from the Abyss. In Revelation 13:11, John saw a beast come up out of the Earth (inferring this beast will come up through a shaft in the Earth). In Revelation 11:7, John says the beast from the Abyss will kill the Two Witnesses and in Revelation 17:8, John says the wicked will be astonished when they SEE the beast from the Abyss because currently, he is not visible. Putting these pieces together, I conclude at the fifth trumpet, Jesus releases “a higher power.” At this point, the devil and his angels will physically appear and descend from the sky. They will torture everyone except those having the seal of God as they take control of the world and rule with absolute authority. Paul calls the devil, the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2 because he will not be subject to manmade laws.
When the five months allotted for the fifth trumpet end, the sixth trumpet will sound. At that time, Jesus will permit the devil to kill one-third of mankind. (Revelation 9:15) When he receives this power, the devil will demand a one-world government be formed. Lucifer will set himself up as King of kings and Lord of lords and no one can stop him. He will demand everyone who refuses to worship him be put to death. To make his dominion complete, the devil will abolish and outlaw the religions and governments of the world. There will be one faith, one Lord, and one baptism. At this time, the 144,000 will announce an inflammatory third message to counter this global development: “If anyone worships [obeys] the beast [from the Abyss] and his image [his one-world government] and receives his mark [a tattoo] on the forehead or on the [right] hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:9,10, insertions mine) The devil’s one-world government is described in Revelation 13 as an image (or a likeness of the government set up by the seven-headed beast) because it will be similar. The seven-headed beast will be a global church/state directed by seven heads, but the devil’s image will be a global church/state directed by an evil impostor claiming to be Almighty God.
The Mark of the Beast
If we want to understand the mark of the beast, we have to understand the dire situation that will exist on Earth at the sixth trumpet. After the devil abolishes the religions and governments of the world, he will establish ten “puppet” kings as task masters. He will give these kings an assignment to build God’s kingdom. Everyone must work on this project or be punished for sedition. The devil will resort to an ancient method for dealing with large numbers of people to enforce his laws and manage his subjects. He will divide the people of Earth into groups of 1,000. (Exodus 18:24-26, Numbers 31:48-54, Deuteronomy 1:15, 1 Samuel 22:7, 1 Chronicles 27:1) One person will be chosen from each group to serve as its captain. After the devil divides the people, he will tell each captain that the first 666 people willing to receive a tattoo on the right hand showing “666” can live. All others must be put to death. (Revelation 9:15) This gruesome tactic will expose those who have the slightest reservation about worshiping the devil and obeying his laws. People who immediately accept the devil’s mark will live.
The phrase, “the mark of the beast” is a poor translation from the Greek language. The phrase should be translated, “the engraving of the beast.” The Greek word: charagma is translated “mark” in English, but the Greek word means an engraving, such as an engraving on a tombstone or a tattoo, an engraving on the flesh. A tattoo is a very simple, low tech, easy way to control people in large numbers. Hitler tattooed millions of prisoners and the devil will do the same. A tattoo is not reversible, transferable, or subject to theft or counterfeiting. To conduct business (some buying and selling will be possible at that time), a tattoo showing “666” on the right hand will be required. The dire circumstances on Earth at the time of the sixth trumpet require strong action.
The Bible also describes Lucifer’s government as a great prostitute (Revelation 17:1), riding on (controlling) the seven-headed beast. This caricature indicates that everyone who goes along with the devil to survive will behave as a prostitute. A prostitute is a person without morals. A prostitute is willing to violate his or her body for something even though he or she knows that doing so is evil. The parallel will be obvious. When the mark of the beast is offered, billions of people who refused to love the truth, people who refused to trust in God and depend on Him for survival will sell their souls and bodies to the devil to survive. This is a profound lesson found in Revelation’s story: When people reach a point where they value life more than righteousness, the Creator of life has determined that such people are unfit to live!