The False Prophet of Revelation
“But the [composite] beast was captured, and with him the false prophet
who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these
signs he [the false prophet] had deluded those who had received
the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them
were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”
During the July 2014 Lake Tahoe Seminar, the question was asked, “Who is the false prophet in the book of Revelation?” As the discussion unfolded, several people also wanted to know about the three frogs that come out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. (Revelation 16:13) I will address the identity and purpose of the three frogs next month, but this month let us see what the Bible has to say about the false prophet.
There are four beasts in the book of Revelation:
- A lamb having seven eyes and seven horns (This beast represents Jesus.)
- A great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns (This beast represents Lucifer in an invisible state.)
- A beast coming out of the Earth/Abyss* having two horns like the lamb, but speaking like the dragon. (This beast represents Lucifer in a visible state.)
- A composite beast coming from the sea having seven heads and ten horns (This beast represents the global government that will form in response to the chaos of the first four trumpets. The world’s religious and political leaders will unite in an effort to appease God’s wrath.)
*Note: The ancients thought Earth was flat, much like a dinner plate. For them, the bottomless pit was a mysterious shaft that pierced Earth. They believed that if a person fell into the bottomless pit, he would find himself in an underground region where evil spirits lived and endless fires burned. Volcanoes were thought to be chimneys for the fires that burned beneath Earth. God used these concepts to illustrate the book of Revelation for John.
Keeping these four beast entities separate and distinct can be somewhat challenging for two reasons. First, the book of Revelation uses many pronouns which can be very confusing. For example, Revelation 13 has more than 20 pronouns in it! Second, tracing the devil’s actions takes a bit of work because he sometimes operates as an invisible entity and sometimes as a visible entity within the book of Revelation. When operating as an invisible entity, he is described as a great red dragon. When operating as a visible entity, he is described with different phrases such as “the beast from the Abyss,” or “the angel of the Abyss,” or “the beast that comes up out of the Earth having two horns like the Lamb.”
What Is a False Prophet?
“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. . . . That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:1–5, italics mine)
A false prophet is an entity who demonstrates supernatural power, but preaches rebellion against the Lord and tries to turn people away from God’s ways and commands. This explanation, along with the following two verses taken from Revelation [italics mine], will help us discover the identity of the false prophet:
Rev 12:9 “The great dragon [Lucifer] was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Rev 18:23 “The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.”
Who Is the Devil?
Before the world was created, Lucifer was the greatest and most powerful angel of all created beings. God highly favored Lucifer until he became jealous of Jesus and hatred filled his heart. Lucifer was given enormous powers and abilities that mankind cannot understand. He travels faster than the speed of light, he can pass through solid walls undetected, he can see us and hear our words, he knows each person intimately because he has watched our behavior, and without notice, he can influence people to do wicked things. He is also a master of entrapment. He trapped Eve with his enticements and led her into sin. Through her, Lucifer was able to entice Adam to sin, so watch out! The devil can do many things which human beings cannot explain or understand. Hatred is the game he knows best. I am highlighting some of his amazing powers and abilities because increasingly, much of the evil we see happening around us bears his invisible signature.
The devil becomes exceedingly successful when he gains control of people who have religious, military, and/or civil power. For example, when Jesus was born, an invisible Lucifer attempted to kill Baby Jesus through a demon possessed king (King Herod). (Revelation 12:1–6) Because Lucifer often works through wicked people to achieve his demonic goals, God describes Lucifer in the book of Revelation as an invisible force, but a time is coming when Lucifer will not always be an invisible force. This is a profound point which many students of Revelation do not give adequate consideration. The coming Antichrist will not be a human being – not even close! It will be the devil, accompanied by his angels, who will be given glorious bodies so that they can physically appear on Earth, in plain view! Therefore, God describes Lucifer as a visible being in the book of Revelation with phrases like: “The beast from the Abyss” (the Abyss means the spirit realm) or the beast “that once was [visible], now is not [visible] and will come up out of the Abyss [and be visible].” (Revelation 17:8)
When God permits Lucifer and his angels to physically appear and walk on Earth, the Bible says his appearing will be an overwhelming delusion for the wicked. (Revelation 17:8) His glory will be so brilliant that people will shield their faces. The angelic host who hovers around him will be so numerous that nations will cower with intimidation. There is no parallel in ancient history for such a display of awesome power and authority. Even the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai will pale by comparison. Because the devil is both invisible and visible in Revelation’s story and because he can do things that human beings cannot do, God has given Lucifer different names and described him in different ways so that no one should be deceived. When God describes him as a dragon in the book of Revelation, Lucifer is working as an invisible adversary. (See Revelation 13:2) When God describes him as the beast from the Abyss, Lucifer will be working as a visible adversary. (See Revelation 11:7)
Why Does God Permit the Devil to Physically Appear?
The apostle Paul explains, with amazing detail, the physical appearing of the devil in 2 Thessalonians 2 and why God permits it. Paul calls Lucifer “the man of lawlessness” for a simple reason. When the devil and his angels appear, he will not obey or respect any of man’s laws. The devil and his angels will trample underfoot everything (laws, boundaries, religions, and governments) that man honors and no one will be able to stop him. Lucifer will be an unstoppable bully and after leading the world to believe that he is God, he will become an insatiable predator.
Paul describes the situation this way: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [the Second Coming of Jesus] will not come until [a] the rebellion occurs [before Jesus returns, the 144,000 will boldly proclaim the testimony of Jesus and the whole world will hear it. The demand to worship Jesus on His seventh day Sabbath will create a global rebellion.] and [b] [before Jesus can return] the man of lawlessness is [must be] revealed, the man [thought to be indestructible will be] doomed to destruction. [Prior to the Second Coming, the devil will be released from the spirit realm or Abyss where he is now confined. When he is released,] He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped [The devil will have no respect for the religious systems or governments on Earth. He will oppose and abolish all religion and authority.], so that he sets himself up in God’s temple [he will not occupy a building made by man, instead he will sit on the tops of the mountains], proclaiming himself to be God [to the world below]. . . .The coming of the lawless one [the physical appearing of the devil will have the appearance of divinity living among men, but his great performance] will be in accordance with the [deceitful] 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 who rebelled against the gospel of Jesus will] perish because [they clearly heard the will of God which was faithfully delivered by the 144,000, but] they refused to love the truth and so be saved [because of their stubborn rebellion and hard hearts]. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion [the physical appearing of Lucifer and his demons] 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 mine)
The False Prophet Identified
Given the information that we have examined thus far, please consider the following passage and especially notice that the devil will flatter the leadership of Babylon during the fifth trumpet by performing miracles “on behalf” of the composite beast (Babylon): “And he [a visible Lucifer] performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men [attempting to prove to the world that his lie is truth, that he truly is Almighty God]. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast [Babylon, the composite beast], he deceived the inhabitants of the earth [and led them astray]. [Eventually,] He ordered them to set up an image [a one world church state] in honor of the [composite] beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” (Revelation 13:13–14)
The Bible says that the visible Lucifer will perform amazing miracles “on behalf” of the leadership of Babylon. His time to complete this is short. During the fifth trumpet, the devil is limited to five months to create a bandwagon effect. Lucifer knows that if he is accepted and endorsed by the religious leaders of Babylon as Almighty God, a multitude of people claiming to be religious, who rejected the testimony of Jesus (which was spoken through the lips of the 144,000) will quickly and wholeheartedly embrace Lucifer as Almighty God. Therefore, to achieve his goal, the devil will praise and extol the leaders of Babylon, he will exalt and praise them for “the good job” they have been doing (by persecuting rebels who are actually the saints, etc.). As soon as the sixth trumpet sounds and the devil is permitted to kill people, the devil will throw the religious and political leadership of the world “under the bus” so that he can take over as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jumping forward to the Second Coming of Jesus, please notice the contents of this verse: “But the [composite] beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he [the false prophet, the beast from the Abyss, a visible Lucifer] had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image [Lucifer’s one-world-church-state]. The two of them [the devil’s physical body and the composite beast that he empowered – Rev 13:2] were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (Revelation 19:20, insertions and underlining mine)
Bottom line: We find the false prophet performed miraculous signs on behalf of the composite beast. We found in Revelation 13:13 that the lamb-like beast [a visible Lucifer] performed miraculous signs on behalf of the composite beast. We know that a false prophet is defined as someone having supernatural power, and he uses that power to lead people away from God’s ways and commands. Given these specifications, clearly the false prophet is another identity describing Lucifer in his visible state.