The Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast
John Saw the Devil and His Demons Released
For centuries, people have speculated on the identity of the Antichrist. The Bible reveals who the Antichrist is, but the truth is almost unbelievable! The Antichrist is the devil. At the fifth trumpet, God will permit the devil and his demonic angels to appear physically all over Earth. John saw the physical appearing of the devil: “The fifth angel [one of the seven angels that stand before God, Revelation 8:2] sounded his trumpet, and I [John] saw a star [a term used in the book of Revelation to describe angels (Revelation 1:20), a brilliant being] that [had been cast out of Heaven, he] had fallen from the sky to the Earth. [At the appointed time] The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss [The ancients believed the Abyss (bottomless pit) was a mysterious region located beneath a flat Earth. The ancients believed a bottomless shaft (hole) went through the flat Earth to the Abyss which was a dwelling place for demons. Volcanoes served as chimneys for the fires that burned under the Earth. The star that had fallen from the sky is Lucifer whom God cast out of Heaven because of his rebellion. John saw the angel king of the Abyss (Lucifer), given a key so that he and his demons could escape. This language indicates that Jesus deliberately and precisely controls the timing when the devil and his demons can physically appear]. 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 [billions of angels with powerful wings, the number of them was so great that at a distance, John could only compare them to a giant swarm of locusts] came down upon the Earth and were given power [from God to hurt certain people, the torture they caused was] like that of scorpions of the Earth.
They [the demons] were told not to harm the grass of the Earth or any plant [crops] or tree [God does not permit them 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 demons from the Abyss] looked like [well-armed] horses prepared for battle. On their heads they [the demons] wore something like crowns of gold [showing their 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 beings, human beings could not stop, injure, or kill them], and the sound of their wings was [very loud, they had intimidating power] like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 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. [For the Jew and the Gentile, his title means the same: The Destroyer.] The first woe [first curse on the wicked] is past; two other woes [curses] are yet to come [upon them].” (Revelation 9:1-12, insertions and italics mine)
The physical appearing of the devil with billions of demons at the fifth trumpet is a prophetic development that few people anticipate. Jesus revealed the appearing of the Antichrist to John using a caricature of Lucifer and his demons in the same way that He used the caricature of a seven-headed beast in Revelation 13:1 to represent a crisis government. 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 metaphors that describe Babylon’s swift and ferocious power. The idea is that Babylon will quickly destroy everyone who resists its laws. This is why people will lament when the time comes, “Who is like the [seven-headed] beast? Who can make war against him?” (Revelation 13:4)
Lucifer and his demons will not physically look like the locusts having scorpion tails and riding on horses. These are also metaphors. The devil and his angels will be brilliant, glorious beings with a human-like appearance because angels were made in God’s image like mankind. (Genesis 1:26; Job 38:7 KJV) The demons from the Abyss will be physically larger and much more powerful than mankind, and they will be able to fly! Men will not be able to control, stop, or kill them. When the fifth trumpet sounds, Jesus will release the devil and his demons from the Abyss. They will be given power to rule over the whole world for about fourteen months.
Jesus is very patient. He only releases the devil and his demons from the spirit realm after the whole world has had time to thoughtfully consider the testimony of the 144,000. Remember, after a period of about two and a half years, three groups of people will exist. The first group consists of the saints who love and follow Jesus; the second group consists of the religious wicked who obey the laws of Babylon to avoid persecution; and finally, there is a third group that consists of non-religious wicked who refuse to obey either God’s laws or Babylon’s laws.
After the devil and his angels appear his demons will focus their attention on the third group, the nonreligious group. The demons will not attack those who are willing to worship the devil; and God does not allow the demons to attack the saints who have God’s seal. Therefore, the demons will search for people who refuse to worship the devil as Almighty God. When they find these people, they will torture them until they make a decision. If a person surrenders to the demons, agreeing to obey and worship the devil, his torture will end. If he chooses to worship Jesus and receive God’s seal, his torture will also end, but only temporarily.
Coercion is not God’s way. A God of love will not accept forced repentance or a forced conversion; albeit, many genuine conversions have happened in foxholes and other difficult circumstances. Sometimes people will make a genuine and lasting decision when they realize their desperate need for a Savior! (Acts 16:30; Luke 23:42) Because we are created as beings with free will, God only accepts the submission and worship of a person who freely chooses to love Him and obey His commandments. (John 14:15) This will sound strange until you think it through: God allows the devil to torture “hard-headed and hard-hearted” people who have not firmly reached a decision about worshiping anyone so that, if possible, some will repent of their defiance and receive salvation!
The nonreligious group will choose between two options . . . obey and worship the devil to end the torment, OR, in faith, obey and worship Jesus the Creator by resting on His Sabbath day. Once a person makes his decision, his torment will end because demons are not permitted to harm anyone who has God’s seal! Of course, the demons will threaten those who choose to worship Jesus, telling them that while they can escape torture for the present, they will be dealt with later. Most of the people in the nonreligious group will acquiesce and worship the devil to avoid further torture. The sinful nature is eager to avoid the consequences for doing wrong. Salvific faith, on the other hand, is eager to do what is right in God’s sight, trusting that God will be glorified through the consequences.
Jesus will not permit the devil to put people to death during the fifth trumpet, but during the sixth trumpet this restriction is removed. Jesus will allow the devil to put many saints to death as martyrs. Most of the people who surrendered to Jesus during the torture of the fifth trumpet will be martyred during this time because they will refuse the mark of the beast! The demons will surely seek them out.
Monster Size Demons
When the devil appears, masquerading as Almighty God, each wicked person will be confronted with Lucifer’s “mighty power and sovereign authority.” Standing about fifteen feet tall (See *Note: below) and deceptively cloaked in brilliant light and charming benevolence, the devil will claim to be “Almighty God.” He will literally call fire down out of the sky to validate his many lies. (Revelation 13:13) The devil will declare that he has come to establish God’s kingdom on Earth. He will “admonish” everyone to join him so that there can be a thousand years of peace and prosperity. Of course, everything he predicts about the future will be a lie, and this is why the book of Revelation calls the devil “the false prophet.”
*Note: I speculate the devil will be fifteen feet tall because there were giants before the flood (Genesis 6:4) and centuries later, Goliath was over nine feet tall. (1 Samuel 17:4) Since mankind was created as “smaller” or “shorter” beings than angels (Psalm 8:3-5), it is reasonable to say that Lucifer and his angels will be taller. When the temple was built, God gave Solomon instructions to create two “life sized” angels for the Most Holy Place and they were fifteen feet tall. (1 Kings 6:23-26.)
Paul described the appearing of the devil and his demons: “The coming of the lawless one [the devil is called “the lawless one” because he will not show any respect for any laws other than his own. His wishes and whims will immediately become law and even though he will appear to be a glorious being, he is a demon masquerading as Almighty God. His actions] will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They [the wicked] perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, insertions and italics mine)
Paul said, “For this reason God sends the wicked a powerful delusion.” The reason is “Because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” A person cannot refuse to love the truth and be saved until he has first heard the truth and had time to process its requirements! When a person refuses to obey God’s will after the clearest evidence of God’s will is put before him, God can do nothing further for such a person because God will not violate a person’s free will. Before Earth was created, God cast Lucifer and his followers out of Heaven because they refused to obey God’s commands. When Jesus releases the devil and his demons from the spirit realm (the Abyss), Lucifer’s demons will seek out and confront those people who refuse to worship any God. For five months Lucifer’s demons will torture anyone who refuses to worship the devil. The price for insubordination will be painful.
The 144,000 Will Proclaim a Third Message
When the fifth trumpet occurs, the 144,000 will add a third message to their gospel: “If anyone worships the beast [the God-like beast] and his image [the image which the devil will set up] and receives his mark [a tattoo] on the forehead or on the 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 timing, identity, and mission of the Antichrist and his demons are explained throughout the Bible. For two thousand years, God has hidden these details in plain sight because the information is only applicable to the final generation. Thus far, we have investigated the fifth trumpet. (Revelation 9:1-11)Now, we need to investigate Revelation 13:11-18 because it reveals more about the Antichrist!
If you remember, the seven-headed beast in Revelation 13:1 came up out of a sea. There is a second beast in Revelation 13:11, that comes up out of the Earth. These beasts are separate and distinct. The seven-headed beast initially derives its power from the people of Earth (the sea represents peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages – Revelation 17:15). However, the beast that comes up out of the Earth (Abyss) does not need humanity to give it power! The beast coming up from the Earth is the angel Lucifer whom God cast into the Earth on Resurrection Sunday. (Revelation 12:9, KJV) Historically, I have called this beast the “lamb-like beast,” but I now think he should be called the “God-like beast.” (See *Note below) This new title is more appropriate because the devil will travel about the world masquerading as Almighty God. John does not describe the beast coming up from the Earth other than to say that it had two horns like the Lamb, but it spoke like the dragon. These two clues are enough to determine who the beast actually is!
*Note: Paul said the man of lawlessness “will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Think about this: If the devil appears on Earth as Jesus Christ, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus would not be inclined to receive or worship him. However, if from the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the religious leaders of the world convince their followers that there is only one God called by different titles, the stage is set for the devil’s deception! When the devil appears on Earth claiming to be “Almighty God,” the religious systems of the world will be ready to receive him because he is one God, having different titles! He does not favor any particular religious system or theology. Notice this specification: Paul said the devil “will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped” and this language has to include the Christian God, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I have had to modify my thinking and I now call the second beast in Revelation 13, “the God-like beast.” This is a subtle, but important update.
John saw Jesus represented as a Lamb in Revelation 5 and noticed that Jesus had seven horns (representing all power) and seven eyes (all seeing) in that scene. (Revelation 5:6) With this in mind, consider John’s report in Revelation 13:11 and onward: “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the Earth [actually, he came up out of the Abyss where he had been confined]. He had two horns [he will exercise authority over religion and politics] like a [the] Lamb [John doesn’t actually say, “like a lamb” in the Greek text. The indefinite article “a” is supplied by translators, but they should have used the definite article “the.” The Greek language sometimes uses nouns without an article when referring to a previously identified subject. John saw the Lamb of God in Revelation 5:6 and He had seven horns. In Revelation 13:11 John saw a beast that had two horns like [the] Lamb, but he spoke like a [the] dragon [again, John did not include the indefinite article in the Greek text. The text should read “but he spoke like the dragon.” Prior to Revelation 13, John saw the great red dragon in chapter 12, and the beast in Revelation 13 speaks like the dragon because he is the great red dragon!]. . . And he [the God-like beast, an impostor of Almighty God] performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from Heaven to Earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast [the seven-headed beast], he deceived the inhabitants of the Earth [into thinking that he was indeed, Almighty God]. [After the five months allotted to the fifth trumpet, the angel having the sixth trumpet sounded his trumpet and the devil was given authority to kill his adversaries.] He ordered them [his worshipers] to set up an image [this image will be a one-world church/state, a theocracy, a likeness of the chaotic church/state created by the leaders of Babylon. The Antichrist will claim he was doing this] in honor of the [seven-headed] beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He [the Antichrist] was given power [from God] to give breath to the image [so that his one-world church/state exercised even greater authority than that] of the first beast, so that it [e.g., the devil’s government] could speak [with absolute authority] and cause all who refused to [obey its laws and] worship the image to be killed.” (Revelation 13:11,13-15 insertions mine)
When the sixth trumpet sounds, the devil will abruptly change persona and character because God will permit him to kill a third of mankind. Moving quickly and masquerading as Almighty God, he will demand that a theocracy be formed. Obviously, there can be no room for religious diversity or multiple governments on Earth when God Himself lives among men! Lucifer will set himself up as King of kings (Head of State) and Lord of lords (Head of Religion) and no human can stop him. He will demand that anyone who refuses to obey and worship the image (his counterfeit theocracy) to be killed. The devil will then abolish and outlaw the world’s religions and governments to make his dominion complete and, in the process, his forces will kill about two billion people who resist. I estimate the death toll will be two billion people assuming the population of the world is six billion at that time!
During the sixth trumpet, the devil will make sure there will be one faith, one Lord, and one baptism on Earth. The 144,000 will counter this global development by announcing a third message that will be highly inflammatory: “If anyone worships the [God-like] beast and [obeys] his image [his 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 Mark of the Beast
If a person wishes to properly understand the mark of the beast, he has to understand a few prerequisites. For example, he needs to appreciate the primitive conditions throughout the Earth caused by the devastation of the first four trumpets (electrical grids will be in ruins and travel, transportation, and communication will be very limited). Then, he also needs to understand the glorious arrival of the Antichrist with his demons and their efforts to deceive the world into thinking that Lucifer is Almighty God. Finally, he needs to understand the devil’s cruel move to take control of the world. Lucifer will kill one third of mankind and human beings will be unable to stop him.
To set up his theocracy, the devil (the Antichrist, the God-like beast, the beast from the abyss) will abolish the religions and governments of the world. He will then divide the world into ten segments and establish a “puppet” king over each segment as a taskmaster. The devil will commission these kings with a fake project to “build God’s kingdom on Earth.” He will demand that everyone must work on “building up the kingdom” by resorting to an ancient and primitive method for dealing with large numbers of people. (Exodus 18:24-26; Numbers 31:48-54; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 22:7; 1 Chronicles 27:1) He will require the ten kings to divide their subjects into groups of one thousand. One person will be chosen from each group to serve as captain. Each captain will announce that the first 666 people willing to receive a “666” tattoo on the right hand can live. All others must be put to death. This is how and when one-third of mankind will be killed. (Revelation 9:15) (999 people minus 333 people equals 666 people.) This gruesome tactic will work because it will expose and eliminate those who have the slightest reservation about worshiping the devil and obeying his laws. Those who rush to be included with the first 666 will be rewarded with their lives.
The phrase “the mark of the beast” is a popular, but 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 it means an engraving, such as an engraving on a tombstone or an engraving in the flesh. A branding or tattoo fits this definition A tattoo is a simple, low tech, easy way to manage people in large numbers. Hitler tattooed millions of prisoners during the primitive conditions of World War II and the devil will do the same. A tattoo is not subject to theft or counterfeiting and it is not reversible or transferable. A person must display a tattoo showing “666” on his right hand to conduct business (what little buying and selling will be possible). Given the dire circumstances on Earth at the time of the sixth trumpet, it is easy to understand how the devil will be able to control people at that time.
The devil will be delighted to kill a third of mankind because his cruelty and ruthlessness will intimidate the survivors. Everyone will tremble at the authority and power of the “stern-faced king” (Daniel 8:23) when they realize that he has absolute control over life and death. Each person who receives the devil’s tattoo will be reminded that he can only live as long as he worships and obeys his demonic master/monster! The devil has no compassion and love for human beings. He thrives on pleasure derived from torturing and destroying his subjects. His depth of twisted evil and cruel hatred for the Father and everything Jesus has created is impossible for humans to comprehend.
The 144,000 Proclaim Their Fourth and Final Message
To save themselves from death, billions of wicked people will scramble to receive the dreaded “mark of the beast,” which will be tattooed on the right hand. Tattoos have been used since ancient times to mark slaves, and everyone receiving the tattoo will literally become a slave by choice. Life is precious . . . Life is everything . . . or is it? When it comes to doing evil, can evil be justified or is faith in God required? The book of Revelation holds a profound lesson: When people reach a point where they value life more than standing up for righteousness, the Creator of life determines such people are unfit for life! To demonstrate this lesson, Jesus will permit the devil to kill millions of His saints during the sixth trumpet. These martyrs will choose death rather than knowingly do evil. (Revelation 12:11) This is the profound difference between sheep and goats.
Those who serve as captains and officials in the devil’s theocracy will receive the 666 tattoo on their right hand, but they will also receive a tattoo on their foreheads to show their superior rank in the devil’s government. The tattoo on the forehead will be a name that the devil will declare after he physically appears (Revelation 13:17); a blatant counterfeit of what God intends to do for His servants. The Bible says the 144,000 will wear the names of the Father and Jesus on their foreheads after they go to Heaven. (Revelation 14:1; 22:4)
When the mark of the beast is offered, the 144,000 will give their final message to the world and it will cost most of them, if not all, their lives. “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the Earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the Earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. . . Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to Heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.” (Revelation 18:2-7)
The Bible describes Lucifer’s theocracy in Revelation 17 as a great prostitute, riding on (directing) the seven-headed beast. This caricature indicates that everyone who goes along with the mark of the beast is essentially a prostitute. A prostitute is a person without morals or virtue; someone willing to exchange his or her soul for gain even when they know doing so is wrong. When the devil offers the mark of the beast, billions of people who refused to love truth, who refused to trust and obey Jesus, will knowingly and willingly sell their souls and bodies to the devil to survive, but their survival will be short lived.
The Seventh Trumpet
The rush to be counted among the first 666 people to receive the mark of the beast will complete the separation of the sheep from the goats. The saints will have God’s seal and the wicked will have the mark of the beast. After each person has made the choice of whom he will worship, Jesus will pronounce a solemn benediction. His gracious offer of salvation which began the day Adam and Eve sinned will end. Jesus will say, “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:11) Three and one-half days after this benediction, the seventh trumpet will sound. “Then God’s temple in Heaven was opened, and within His temple was seen the Ark of His Covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.” (Revelation 11:19) After God’s offer of salvation has ended and the seventh trumpet sounds, the final curse (third woe) will begin. This curse is the seven bowls containing God’s wrath Jesus will use to impose crushing vengeance on the wicked. As King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will repay the wicked for their rebellion and for the way they mistreated His saints. An angel will say of Jesus, “You are just in these judgments, You who are and who were, the Holy One, because You have so judged.” (Revelation 16:5)
Jesus Will Not Touch Earth
The Second Coming occurs during the seventh bowl. Many Christians have not carefully considered Jesus’ words: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there [Heaven] to prepare a place for you. And if I go [to Heaven] and prepare a place for you, I will come back [to Earth] and take you to be with me that you also may be [in Heaven] where I am
[I live now].” (John 14:2,3 insertions and italics mine) The words of Jesus are particularly important because you need to know that Jesus will not touch Earth at the Second Coming. Instead, when Jesus returns, He will hover in the sky so that every eye will see Him as Earth rotates beneath. (Revelation 1:7) Jesus will not remain here when He returns at the Second Coming. This is why the saints will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) Jesus and the saints will leave Earth and travel to Heaven where they will live together in His Father’s house, the holy city called New Jerusalem, for 1,000 years.