We now hit the second beast.
This one comes out from the earth. He has two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. In short, he looked innocent, like the Lamb of God, himself. But his words were that of Satan.
And while the first beast tries to use brute force to get people to follow him, the second beast uses deception. Not just in the things he says, but in performing miraculous signs. The end result, however, is the same: persecution of the saints.
And the thing is, there is no middle ground. You either have the mark of the beast or you have the mark of God. If you have the mark of the beast, you’ll be just fine in this world, able to live life, buying and selling the things you need to live.
But if you have the mark of God on you, you will be persecuted.
For this reason, I’m not so certain the mark of the beast is a literal one or not. If the mark of God is not a literal one we can see, (7:3-4), why should the beast’s mark be? Still, I suppose we won’t find out for sure until that time comes.
What do we get from this? You may be ready for persecution. But are you ready for deception?
Jesus told us that “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
And this second beast will be the final one of these false prophets.
How will we recognize him and the first beast he represents? John tells us to discern them, we will need wisdom and insight. (18)
He gives us the number 666 as the number of the first beast. There’s a lot of speculation on what it means and the truth is, it’s hard to be sure what it means. Which of course means we really will need wisdom and insight when the beast comes. 🙂
Perhaps the meaning is simply this: 7 is the number of perfection, and so 777 reflects God in trinity. 6 is something less. It’s incomplete. And so 666 reflects that whatever the dragon, the first, and the second beast are, they will only be an incomplete image of the one true God.
And so to be truly wise and discerning, we need to know the true God so we can identify the counterfeit.
Some of you may say, “I understand what you’re saying, but what’s the point? I don’t believe we will face the antichrist and his prophet. We’ll be raptured away by then.”
But again, even if you believe we won’t face them, remember there are other antichrists and false prophets, even if they’re on a smaller scale.
And like the second beast, they come into our churches looking like lambs. They look like us and sound like us. But the truth is, they are savage wolves. And if we are to keep from being deceived by them, we will need God’s wisdom and discernment.
How much do you have?
How well do you know your Lord, and his Word? Are you able to discern the true from the counterfeit?