Unexpected developments affecting the entire world are coming and the survivors will not understand them. One surprise is a coming war over worship. I call this war, World War IV, because it will begin after World War III has ended and will involve every person on Earth. Currently, we cannot imagine a war like this. Most people would say it is impossible. However, the totality of the destruction that the first four trumpets cause is also unimaginable. Most people would consider the prediction of a coming worldwide government directed by seven religious heads to be pure fantasy. Like it or not, believe it or not, the Bible predicts a new world order is coming. This unexpected surprise will be caused by man’s response to God’s wrath, which is also unexpected.
After God’s wrath begins, many people will think the best step mankind can take is establish the seven-headed beast government. Ironically, as the leaders of the world implement their plans to appease God, they will persecute those who are doing their best to please Him! The saints believe that God’s laws have higher authority than man’s laws (Acts 5:29) and God should be worshiped according to the dictates of conscience. (Revelation 22:17; John 3:16) The seven heads of the beast will arrogantly presume to know God’s will and everyone who resists their laws will be punished. If there is any good news regarding this coming war, it is the war over worship will end after forty-two months (shortly before the Second Coming). (Revelation 13:5)
Consider the following passage from Revelation 13: “The whole world was astonished [by the sudden creation of the seven-headed beast] and [at first, most of the survivors] followed [along with] the [purpose of the seven-headed] beast. [However, in obeying the laws of the seven-headed beast,] Men worshiped the [great red] dragon [who is that ancient serpent, the devil] because he had given authority to the [seven-headed] beast, and they also worshiped the [seven-headed] beast and asked, ‘Who is like the [seven-headed] beast? [Who can resist its sweeping authority and succeed?] Who can make war against him [without being killed or severely punished]?’ The [seven-headed] beast was given a mouth to utter proud words [to the world, the leaders presumed to speak for God, they spoke with boasting] and blasphemies [declarations that are insulting to God] and [the beast was allowed] to exercise his authority for forty-two months. . . He [the seven-headed beast] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation [including the United States, China, Russia and Europe]. All inhabitants of the Earth will [eventually] worship the [seven-headed] beast [if they want to live] – all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:3-8, insertions and italics mine) John writes several declarations in this passage that are hard to believe, and the devil knows they are especially difficult to accept if we do not, first, understand the devastation caused by the first four trumpets! So, he keeps the world in blissful ignorance concerning God’s coming wrath, especially the seven trumpets.
Now that you have read Revelation 13:3-8, remember that man’s purpose for the seven-headed beast is to appease God so that His wrath will end. The devil’s purpose will be to persecute God’s people, and God’s purpose will be to separate the sheep from the goats! It is amazing how well the seven-headed beast meets the purpose of these three separate entities!
The Bible says, “All inhabitants of the Earth will worship the [seven-headed] beast.” (Revelation 13:8) The Greek word used for worship in verse 8 [proskuneo] means to kiss, surrender, or render submission. Proskuneo is important within this context because it describes the ancient practice of showing honor and submission to people who held power over life and death by bowing and kissing the ring of a king, queen, or pope. The prediction in Revelation 13:8 is uncomfortable because it also states: “All inhabitants of the Earth will worship the [seven-headed] beast — all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb”
In spite of all the good the seven-headed beast intends to do, it will quickly and unexpectedly morph into a harsh government which the devil controls. The seven-headed beast will be the devil’s hand puppet so he can make war on the saints. “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest [the last] of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17, insertion mine) The devil will give many false prophets miracle working power in exchange for control of the seven-headed beast. Jesus will give 144,000 prophets miracle-working powers so that people will not be led astray. The contest between true and false prophets will be intense. God allows the devil and his false prophets to mislead people (if possible) so that people will have a choice. The coming war over worship will be a testing time to separate those who will believe falsehoods and those who will believe the Bible and testimony of Jesus. People who love and seek truth are not convinced by miracles alone, counterfeit or genuine. God does use miracles at times to affirm that something is important, but a miracle in itself does not prove a statement is true; even Pharaoh’s magicians produced miracles! (Exodus 7:11-22) God’s Word is proven true by the harmony that comes from the sum of its parts and from Holy Spirit conviction! Honest hearted people will have their eyes opened to see and understand the contest occurring, but the wicked will not be aware of the devil’s deceptive efforts. False prophets will perform counterfeit miracles to deceive the elect, if that is possible. (Matthew 24:24) “None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” (Daniel 12:10)
Why Does God Allow the Saints to Suffer?
Ever since sin’s curse began, God has permitted the devil’s followers to kill and persecute His followers. After the curse of sin tainted Heaven, God cast the devil and his followers out because all sinners will become predators given enough time and opportunity. Lucifer became the first predator. He lied to the angels and then lied to Eve. When Adam fell into temptation because of his love for Eve, sin’s curse was passed to their offspring. God has wisely allowed the curse of sin – along with its fruits: pain, sorrow, illness, and death – to exist for a few millennia so that once the curse of sin is destroyed, it will never again be tolerated. This means that when God creates new worlds with new people, a billion years from now, the recorded drama that occurred on Earth will be available for study. Therefore, if anyone develops a problem with God’s rules and thinks about sinning, He will do everything possible to dissuade His child from it. God will send, if need be, a billion ex-sinners to testify on his behalf; He will replay clips of Earth’s ancient, painful history, showing what sin does. However, if that person persists and chooses to sin, God will execute that sinner on the very day he sins. The universe, having the knowledge of good and evil, will declare that God is just and righteous for doing so. Therefore, God wisely allowed the curse of sin to develop in Heaven and contaminate Earth to prevent a third instance of sin’s curse from occurring again.
Many people do not understand that God has self-imposed limitations. For example, the greatest gift God gives to His children is free will and the power of choice. This gift is so important, wonderful, and precious that God Himself will not violate it! If a person wants to lie, he can do so; Lucifer lied to the angels and to Eve. If a person wants to kill another person; he can do so. Cain chose to kill Abel; the Jews chose to kill Jesus. This is free will! However, with free will and the power of choice comes accountability. Each person is accountable to God for his choices and actions. Therefore, in God’s economy, if a person chooses to hurt another person, he sins against God (who has said “Love your neighbor”) and commits an injustice against his neighbor. Unless the sinner repents, God will legitimately put all predators to death at the appointed time, because the penalty for sin is death. If a predator willfully hurts another person, God will ensure that he suffers in hell according to suffering he caused – an eye for an eye and a life for a life.
The sinful nature is self-centered and predatory, and this curse is hereditary. Cain inherited his parent’s fallen nature and, unfortunately, his sinful nature mastered him. Until God eliminates the curse of sin, its seeds (sorrow, suffering and death) will remain on Earth. When the time comes for justice to be served and the Earth is purified with fire, the curse of sin will disappear from the universe.
Jesus will permit the devil to kill a predetermined number of saints during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 6:9-11) This may seem harsh, but Jesus does not see death as we do. Instead, He sees it as a temporary state like sleeping. (John 11:11-13) He has the power of life within Himself and He has the keys to the grave, so the first death (the consequence of sin) is not final. (Revelation 21:3-6) However, the penalty for sin (the second death) is final. (Revelation 21:8)
When circumstances are right, the blood of martyrs is the strongest testimony that human beings can give for the gospel of Jesus. Believers in Jesus are not suicide bombers, and they do not harm innocent people while shouting “God is Great.” Martyrs for Jesus are amazing people who can say, as Jesus did, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34) Martyrs for Jesus are compassionate people who love God and seek His righteousness with all of their heart, mind, and soul, and they love their neighbors as themselves. Martyrs for Jesus are a living testimony to those who observe their deaths. When a wicked person sees a truly innocent victim willing to suffer prison or even death because of their loyalty to God, the victim’s testimony can be transforming. (Revelation 12:11) The saints will reveal amazing endurance and strength during the Great Tribulation because Jesus will give them grace and strength to overcome the world. Their testimony will shock the wicked! “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:32)
All who die in the Lord during the Great Tribulation will simply “sleep” through the remainder. (Revelation 14:13) At the Second Coming, the Lord will resurrect “the dead in Christ” to see Jesus appear in clouds of glory. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17) In many ways, death during the Great Tribulation will be a blessed relief!
Controlling the Seven-Headed Beast
“The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.” (Revelation 13:2) The devil will gain control of the seven-headed beast by giving it his power to deceive. The devil will give the seven-headed beast his throne and great authority over Earth which is more far reaching than people can conceive. Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) because the devil controls or influences everything. The devil is highly intelligent, clever, a master strategist, and far more capable than humans imagine. People controlled by the sinful nature rarely detect his activities, but people born of the Holy Spirit can clearly identify his presence and handiwork. The devil knows this! He gained control over the world in Noah’s day by leading people deeper into the excitement and pleasures of sin. Lucifer uses gratification to his advantage because it is so alluring to the sinful nature. The devil has ruined every government God set up since Noah’s flood; he ruined the nation of Israel, the Christian Church, and Protestantism. He controls every religious system on Earth through people who are his hand puppets. This is why a blasphemous name is written on each of the seven heads. (Revelation 13:1; 17:3) Given the devil’s amazing skills and lengthy experience with sinners, he will easily and swiftly take control of the seven-headed beast to persecute God’s people. In fact, I believe the devil is preparing, right now, the very people who will soon serve as leaders of the seven-headed beast!
The devil uses sophisticated techniques to bring people under his control. He gained control of King Herod when, as a young man, the king chose wrong doing. Early on, King Herod was known for his ruthless brutality. Whenever a person willfully does wrong and violates his conscience, God requires the Holy Spirit to temporarily leave that person so that demons can assail him. God permits demons to insert their depraved thoughts into a sinners’ mind the same way He permits the Holy Spirit to insert holy and good thoughts into the mind of a saint. When a person regularly chooses to do wrong, he gradually slips into a lifestyle of sin and there are physical, mental, and spiritual consequences. Demons understand the process very well and this is how they lead their victim deeper into wrong doing. After a while, the demons know their victim will have no sense of guilt, remorse, or right and wrong. The sinner becomes “dead” (or numb) to his life of sin. (Ephesians 2:1) When a person is separated from God, the Holy Spirit cannot speak to him. When the Holy Spirit stops speaking, demons take over.
When King Herod learned that wise men from the East had arrived and a child had been born in Bethlehem who would someday rule the nations with a scepter of iron, he became afraid that he could lose his throne. Herod panicked. Wicked people often become hypersensitive to any threat, real or imaginary. King Herod had power over life and death, and as sovereign, he moved to protect his authority. He had previously killed his second wife Mariamne I and their two sons. Therefore, he did what the demons suggested he must do to protect His throne. He commanded that all baby boys in Bethlehem who were less than two years old, be killed. What a horrific deed! Lucifer and Herod both contributed to Herod’s actions. The devil wanted Baby Jesus dead and Herod wanted to protect his throne. Lucifer did not hesitate to move on Herod’s heart to commit one of the most horrible crimes possible. Conversely, consider how the Lord moved on Cyrus’ heart when the time came to release the Jews from Babylon after seventy years: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing.” (2 Chronicles 36:22, italics mine)
The devil did not anticipate the Father would send an angel to Joseph, telling him to flee to Egypt with Mary and Baby Jesus. Historians may recount Herod’s despicable crime, but there is far more to the story than is revealed in the book of Matthew. Revelation 12 lifts the veil so that we can actually see Lucifer’s predatory role. Lucifer was the Master of Ceremonies and Herod was his agent of death on the night that all the baby boys in Bethlehem were killed. Similarly, Lucifer will become the Master of Ceremonies after the seven-headed beast is created. The world’s religious and political leaders will become his agents for punishment and death, just like Herod.
The devil understands Bible prophecy better than any human. Therefore, he has garbled apocalyptic prophecy with erroneous ideas so that no one will believe what the Bible actually says. The devil hates truth because it exposes his lies. He does not want people to know God’s love, wonderful character, or redemptive plans. By keeping everyone in the dark, the devil knows that he can, literally, get away with murder. A window of opportunity lasting 42 months is coming (the creation of the seven-headed beast), so the devil is secretly working today on the religious and political leaders of the world. (2 Thessalonians 2:7) After the seven-headed beast appears, it will only take a few days for the devil to transform man’s efforts to appease God into a hand-puppet to destroy the saints. Be on the lookout! The devil is keenly focused on making war against the saints! Many wicked people will be punished and put to death in the process, but the devil will regard their loss as collateral damage. “He [the seven-headed beast] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” (Revelation 13:7, insertion mine)
The First Message of the 144,000 – Fear God, Worship the Creator!
The 144,000 will deliver four profound messages during the Great Tribulation. Try and place yourself in this experience: The world’s infrastructures have been destroyed by the first four trumpets and almost two billion people are dead or dying. Survivors are trembling, anticipating more judgments. The seven-headed beast is present and you are facing the enforcement of a number of its laws. You know that rebellion will bring severe punishment. This will be the context for the first message given by the 144,000. (Revelation 14:6,7)
The first message given by the 144,000 will be a simple, non-negotiable demand. It will be offensive and inflammatory for almost everyone, especially Babylon’s leaders. The first message is so unusual that if given before the first four trumpets occur, most of the world’s population would not receive it. For the past 2,000 years, Revelation 14:6,7 has had no relevance for non-Christians and very little relevance among Christians. This will abruptly change. The Holy Spirit will give the message impressive authority. The 144,000 will announce: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the Heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7)
The phrase, “Fear God,” uses the Greek word, phobeo. Our English equivalent is the word, “phobia,” which indicates fearfulness or a state of remaining afraid. The 144,000 will begin their ministry declaring that the survivors should be afraid of God at a time when most people surely will! However, the fear the 144,000 will announce means properly fearing God and recognizing His sovereign authority. Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power [to resurrect you and] to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” (Luke 12:5, insertion mine) God’s laws are higher than man’s laws and we should honor Him first. God is not bound by man’s laws, religions, or cultures. A sovereign God determines right and wrong. This is why the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge [it is the first thing every person should learn], but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7, insertion mine)
The first message the 144,000 prophets give will insult and infuriate the clergy who direct the seven-headed beast (Babylon). The survivors will struggle with two divergent messages. Many people will oppose the demands of the seven-headed beast, many will oppose the message given by the 144,000, and others will reject both messages! As a result, three groups of people will emerge. The first group will be those who agree with the leadership of the seven-headed beast. Several billion people will play “follow the leader,” thinking at first, the experts are right. These people believe the beast’s purpose and mission is appropriate and timely. The second group will be those who join the 144,000 who will openly oppose the seven-headed beast’s efforts. This group of people would rather be persecuted than dishonor the higher authority of the Creator. Finally, there will be many people who oppose both the laws of the seven-headed beast and the testimony of Jesus, spoken by the 144,000. These people will have no inclination toward obeying religious laws. Each of the three groups will advocate totally different behaviors.
The Nature of War
No one takes kindly to being told to change his behavior or else. Our sinful nature naturally rebels against uninvited and unwelcomed authority. Human beings have free will and power of choice, so it is aggravating when one person attempts to force his religious beliefs on another. Babylon’s seven leaders will anticipate widespread rebellion. Therefore, to maintain control of the situation, they will immediately impose severe penalties for disobedience. They will demand that people comply with their laws because, in their thinking, everyone must participate in their effort to appease God. Like the high priest, Caiaphas, they will argue, “God may destroy the whole world if a few rebels refuse to repent.” (John 11:50)
The 144,000 will respond with, “Fear God and give Him glory.” This means “Don’t be afraid of the leaders of the seven-headed beast, be afraid of God. Obey Him. Fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell.” (Luke 12:5) The 144,000 will tell the world that the seven-headed beast is insulting God and that repentance and reformation will not appease God’s wrath. They also will contradict the seven-headed beast who says more judgments are coming!
The 144,000 will explain that if a person wants to give God glory, he must recognize God’s laws are higher than any earthly authority. When we put God first and do what is right and honorable in His sight, we are giving glory to our Creator. Obeying the laws of the seven-headed beast will not give God glory. In fact, obeying the seven-headed beast means worshiping the devil! “[When obeying the seven-headed beast] Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the [seven-headed] beast? Who can make war against him [who can rebel without being severely punished]?’ ” (Revelation 13:4, insertions mine)
The first message given by the 144,000 also includes this declaration: “The hour of His judgment has come.” This phrase means “Judgment Day” has begun. God will now judge the living according to their choices and actions. Jesus will save all who worship Him as God and give Him glory by obeying His laws. This will take a lot of courage and faith because of the beast’s persecution. When He appears at the Second Coming, Jesus will destroy those who refused to obey Him and live by faith. Many religious people think they are good people and salvation comes through human goodness, but the Bible teaches that people, good and bad, are saved through faith alone! “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” (Hebrews 11:31)
Finally, the 144,000 will declare: “Worship Him who made the Heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water.” This segment of the first message will create a global uproar because the 144,000 will declare that Jesus Christ is the Creator! Since most of the world does not recognize Jesus as deity or the Creator, this message will distress many people. Nevertheless, the 144,000 will boldly declare to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people that the Father commands everyone to worship Jesus Christ because He is the Creator of everything that exists! “He [Jesus Christ] was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. . . Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. . . For by Him all things were created: things in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” (John 1:10; 1:3; Colossians 1:16, insertion mine)
Can you imagine the anger and hostility Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Atheists and heathens will have towards the 144,000’s first message? When the 144,000 tell these ancient religious systems to worship Jesus Christ, the demand will be contrary to everything previously believed about God! The revelation that Jesus Christ is the deity, the Almighty God, the Sovereign Creator of Earth who has just destroyed “the Heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water” will be an unexpected surprise. The announcement will be so inflammatory that if Jesus did not protect the 144,000, they would be killed within a few hours. The revelation of Jesus Christ, the revealing of all that Jesus really is, will crush the cherished beliefs of religious people around the world because it will require them to embrace a whole new God; a God previously scorned or even unknown. Billions of people will have to recognize that their lifelong religion is a false religion.
The first four trumpets will affect “the Heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water.” One-third of the Earth will burn in the first trumpet, an asteroid will impact the sea in the second trumpet, the springs of water will be contaminated in the third trumpet, and the Heavens will turn dark during the fourth trumpet. These signs and the first message given by the 144,000 will start a great controversy about which God is the Creator and who has sovereign power over Earth. Remember the falsity that mankind worships the same God, we just call Him by different names. The 144,000 will direct people to the Bible to confirm that Jesus Christ is Earth’s Creator. The Holy Spirit will speak convincingly to the honest in heart, convicting them that the 144,000’s message is true.
Because Catholics and Protestants already believe in Jesus Christ, their confrontation with worshiping the Creator will be just as intense, but in a different way. The 144,000 will declare the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is the Sabbath of the Creator, and that Jesus requires all mankind to rest on His holy Sabbath day. Catholics and Protestants will have the same anger and rejection that Hindus, Muslims and Jews experience when the 144,000 tell them they must worship Jesus Christ on His holy day! When it comes to God’s laws, human nature is the same regardless of religion. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7)
Worship the Creator
The requirement to worship the Creator may seem to be easy but it is not, because only God can define true worship. Notice what happens in the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was a shepherd. (Genesis 4:2) He loved sheep. His wealth and livelihood depended on raising and caring for them. It was painful and expensive for him to sacrifice a perfect lamb on his altar. Yet, he put his emotions aside and did as God commanded: He built an altar periodically, confessed his sins over the head of the lamb, and then killed it. Abel worshiped God because he did as God required.
Cain, on the other hand, was a farmer, and it did not seem fair that he should have to purchase and offer an animal as a sacrifice. He worked in his fields tirelessly to produce the highest quality fruit possible. So, he too periodically built an altar and placed the fruits of his labor on it. Cain confessed his sins over his fruit, but in His presumption He insulted God. Cain put what he valued above God by deciding how God should be worshiped. This is why God refused to send fire to burn up his offering! Cain was humiliated in front of his family when God sent fire from Heaven and burned up his younger brother’s offering. How could God ignore the offering of the firstborn of the human race? Later, a jealous and bitter Cain quarreled with Abel. When Abel told Cain that God would respect his offering if he did as God commanded, Cain became furious that his younger sibling would chide him, so Cain killed Abel for disrespecting him. The first death on Earth was the result of a war over worship.
The War over Worship Is Coming
The war over worship began before Jesus created Earth. The devil came to hate Jesus because he wanted to be worshiped as Jesus was worshiped. Eventually, Lucifer and his followers refused to worship Jesus, and the Father cast them out of Heaven because He will not allow anyone to live in Heaven who refuses to worship Jesus as Almighty God! After the devil led Eve and Adam into sin, he became the prince of this world and made it a point to reject, denounce, and belittle the importance of Jesus for 6,000 years. The devil has infiltrated every religious system of the world and each one is in for a rude awakening: That Jesus Christ is Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the very God who sent the first four trumpets, the same God whom the seven-headed beast is actually trying to appease, will be a very difficult truth for billions of people to accept!
The Father has mandated that everyone, including the angels, must worship Jesus. (Hebrews 1:6-12) He has also defined how and when Jesus is to be worshiped. If we follow Cain’s example and worship God in a way we think best, Jesus will refuse our worship because we have defied the Father’s authority. If you will recall, the definitions for the Greek word worship means to kiss, an act of submission, or yielding obedience. Therefore, those who obey the Father’s command to worship Jesus will give Him glory through obedient faith. Any other worship than what the Father has declared may seem like worship but, do not be fooled, the story of Cain and Abel proves that Jesus will see the difference.
A war over worship is coming. I call it World War IV, because it will occur after World War III. The seven-headed beast will demand that God be worshiped according to men’s laws, and the 144,000 will declare that God must be worshiped according to the fourth commandment. Because billions of people will oppose both demands, Jesus will use the fifth and sixth trumpets to force people to choose which god they will worship. The Bible teaches that before the forty-two months of persecution end, all the inhabitants of Earth will worship the seven-head beast (and the devil), except those people whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.