The Vile False Prophet
December 2nd, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE VILE FALSE PROPHET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-2-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio, if you would like to follow us in the message this morning, turn in your Bible to Revelation chapter 13. And we begin at verse 11. You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this the pastor bringing a message which is an exposition of the last half of the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation. It is entitled, The False Prophet.
Last Sunday morning, we left off with the first ten verses of chapter 13 which described a political and ultimate anti-Christ. And today, beginning at verse 11, we have described for us the false prophet.
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And He exerciseth all of the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six, six, six; six hundred threescore and six.
If I could get a blackboard big enough that this entire audience could see it, I would have written on that board that Greek sign – that Greek mark which is very definitely referred to – "six-six-six" – as it is in the Greek language. This is one of the instructive of all of the visions to be found in the Apocalypse. Chapter 13 begins with the vision that John beheld of a beast rising out of a raging sea. That beast is a composite of the four vicious wild-like animals that Daniel saw coming out of that same sea. This beast combines his sovereignty. His kingdom combines all of the characteristics of those great empires that Daniel saw in prophecy. The only difference lies in the fact that this first political king, anti-Christ, beast, is not alone.
John saw something that Daniel was not privileged to behold. Not only does this final and ultimate anti-Christ have the ten kings who yield to him their sovereignty – the power and strength of their kingdoms – but there is a coadjutor by the side of this first and political beast. And he is described in the second vision, when John beholds another beast arising out of the earth. He is called in chapter 16 and chapter 19 and in chapter 20 – he is called "the false prophet." He looks like a lamb. He has two horns like a little lamb. But when he speaks, his draconic voice betrays him, for he has the heart of a dragon, and he has the voice of a dragon; and he exercises – there is given to him by the first beast, the authority and the military power and the financial aid of the government. And he does miraculous and marvelous things as he uses the power of the state to coerce the whole world to bow down and to conform to the program and to the will of this first beast. He is a remarkable, remarkable fellow – this second beast, this false prophet, one of the most unusual to be found in all of the Word of God. And without him, this false prophet, that political anti-Christ, could never be what he is or achieve the worldwide program that he does. For a moment, let us contrast these two beasts.
The first one rises out of the sea. The second rises out of the earth. I think that means the first one arises out of social chaos and revolution. In the turmoil and in the strife and in the rage of conflicting races and nations and economic orders, out of that social revolution and social chaos, this great final tyrant rises to preside over the might and strength of the whole earth. As I have said many times, where these things arise in the Revelation, all tyrants and all dictators arise out of that raging sea – out of the social disruption of civil power and authority. The second beast arises out of the land – out of the earth. Now, to me, that means that he comes out of an established civil order. He does not come like the first one – out of chaos and revolution. But he is a product of an ordered society – the development and the growth of civilization.
Another contrast; the first one is political. He is crowned. He is a king. He is a military, national, international sovereign in the earth. The second one is religious. He is like a lamb. And he exercises his authority to induce, to deceive, the whole world in accepting the sovereignty, the authority, the program, and ultimately the so-called self-chosen deity of this first ultimate and final anti-Christ.
You know, it is instructive just to pause here and think for a moment. I do not suppose in the history of mankind it has been possible to rule without religious affirmation and devotion – neither today nor in any of the centuries and millenniums past. In the days of Pharaoh, when Moses and Aaron stood before the sovereign of Egypt, he called in Jannes and Jambres and his magicians – the religionists of his day. When Balak, the king of Moab sought to destroy Israel, he hired the services of Balaam in order to curse Israel. In the days of Dan, when that marauding, avaricious tribe settled up there in Laish, they stole the priest and the ephod, the gods, in order that they might worship some kind of a deity there in the far north at Dan. When Absalom entered his revolutionary scheme to destroy his own father, David, he did so in the wisdom and in the advice of Ahithophel. When Jeroboam revolted against Judah, he felt compelled to build gods of gold at Bethel and at Dan. Ahab and Jezebel were able to do what they did in the destruction of Jehovah worship in Israel and in the debauchery of the kingdom because they were abetted and assisted by the prophets of Baal.
In the French Revolution, they had a goddess of blasphemy, of infidelity, of atheism, and poured into their fraternity and equality and liberty, the devotion of fanatical religionists. And anybody who has studied communism would be blind not to see in it the same thrust and the same fanatical devotion to materialism that we have in our devotion to the spiritual meaning of the Lord God. And without that ableness to bring into your cause the devotion of the religious life of people, no national sovereignty, no great and ultimate destiny would be possible. So it is in the end as this anti-Christ builds for himself through the yielded sovereignty of the ten kings, the ten nations of the earth, as he builds for himself this great final world rule, he has by his side a co-agitator. And his name is the false prophet.
Let us compare them one other way. It is a remarkable thing, it is an astonishing thing, it is an unusual thing, and especially if you read the newspaper, and especially if you read history. It is astonishing thing how these two stay together – the first beast and the second beast, the political anti-Christ and the religious false prophet. They abet one another. They support one another. And that is unusual because in the kingdom of evil, mostly the leaders war and destroy one another. For example, in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, there were some vagabond Jews that said, who sought to be exorcists; cast out devils in the name of Christ. And when they sought to cast out the devils out of this poor afflicted somebody, why the demon on the inside says: "Paul I know, Christ I know, but who are you?" [Acts 19:16]. And they almost ripped apart these seven sons of Sceva, deceivers.
When Mohammed was reigning at Medina, there was another like prophet who was over there in another town and pretended to the same prophetic order of Mohammed. So the second one proposed to Mohammed that they divide the world between them and make common cause. So this fellow, Moseilma, wrote a letter to Mohammed and this is what he said: "From Moseilma, the prophet of Allah to Mohammed, the prophet of Allah, Come now, let us make a partition of the world and let half be thine and half be mine." And Mohammed replied – and this is his letter – "From Mohammed, the prophet of God, to Moseilma, the liar and the prophet of the devil," And from then on there was nothing but war between them. You have it all the time.
When Napoleon abrogated to himself all of the sovereignty of Europe, from then on, he and the pope did nothing but damn and excommunicate one another. Today, all of us who have any love for our country at all, cannot help but sit by with diabolical pleasure at the rip-roaring, shooting-tooting carryings-on between Moscow and Peking. I enjoy every syllable that I read in the paper – every one of them. And little old Albania in there cussing better than any of them, oh, boy, I like that. Keep it up. Keep it up. That is the kingdom of darkness and evil. It always is that way.
If you follow your newspaper in our lifetime, dark headlines again and again of these gang warfares when they seek to divide up the gambling racket, to partition out all of the bootlegging, the vice, the prostitution. The vile underworld, it lives in blood and in hatred and in grief and in avarice. That is the kingdom of Satan. Now, that is why I have said this is a remarkable thing, an astonishing thing. These two; that political anti-Christ and his false prophet are like blood brothers. One gives authority and financial support and military power to the other one. And the other takes it and uses it for the tremendous, unbelievable, immeasurable support of the other one.
You see, the Book says, the Apocalypse says, that the whole thing moves toward one great political unit. And that would demand the same kind of a thing – the same kind of a spirit. That thing would demand that they also move in the same direction toward one, great common religion. And he would be a blind leader of history, and he would be a blind leader of present-day newspaper headlines, who didn’t see that thing developing, developing, developing, developing, more and more and more and more, moving toward one great political unit – more and more and more moving toward one great religious unit – making common cause. And if the Devil is to perform that, he says, "I like that. They want one great supra-government. I will give it to them. And they want one great supra-religion. I will give it to them." And things are moving to that direction – every day, every day, every day – just like you see it outlined here in the Word of God. Ah, but we must hasten.
Let us look at this false prophet a little more closely. Let us get acquainted with him. You just won’t ever find in the earth an animal, a character like this one. "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and – when he spake – he spake like a dragon. And he exerciseth all of the power of the first beast" [Revelation 13:11, 12]. And he uses it to compel men to bow down and obey the mandates and the orders and the commands of that political tyrant. Isn’t that an unusual thing? Such a mixed up group of metaphors here. He is like a lamb. He is like a lamb. He is like a lamb. There is a gentle domesticity about him. There is a softness about him. And there is an easiness about him. And what could be more sweet, or tender, or precious, than somebody who counsels his people and he seeks to make them conscious of God and happy in their lives and to solve all of the problems they face in this world and to give them a program by which they can be at peace with themselves and with God? – "like a lamb." There is a gentleness about him and a sweetness about him and a preciousness about him and a softness about him and an easiness about him that is wonderful.
But, of these two beasts, he is far more dangerous! Why? Because any man who proposes to guide and to command the consciences of men and the minds of men and the hearts of men and the souls of men has in his power an unbelievable authority over mankind. He is indescribably the more dangerous of the two. "Like a lamb" – like a lamb, but his voice betrays him, and his manner of speech and actions reveal him.
One of the funniest things I have ever read in history and one of the strangest things I have ever come across in human life is this, the great persecuting church says, "We never destroyed any heretic, never. We never burned any heretic at the stake. We never drowned any heretic. We never destroyed any race over religion. It was the mandate of the state that did it. We never destroyed anybody." Oh, you know if they had read the Bible, they might change some of the things that they say. That is exactly what God said about the lamb who acts like a dragon. He is soft. He is easy. He is spiritual. He counsels his people. He seeks to guide their minds and their consciences and their souls and their lives. And the authority by which he works is the authority of the state. The state supports him and in return, he supports the state.
Just look at this fellow. He is an interesting character. He is a hybrid if there ever was one. He has got two horns, it says, like a lamb. He is not the real lamb. He just says he is – because the real Lamb of God has seven horns, the plenitude and the fullness and the power of the Almighty. But this one is an imitation lamb. He just says that he is a lamb – that he is Christ in the earth. He is like a lamb. So when we look at him, I can see here several things about him that are very unusual. One, he is a product of an apostate and a perverted Christianity. Isn’t that astonishing and isn’t that amazing – that out of the development of Christian civilization and Christian sovereignty and Christian history, should develop this false prophet? What an amazing thing.
A second thing about him, he just imitates all of these things that are of the Lord – all of them. Look, Paul says: "I bear in my body the stigmata of the Lord Jesus – the brand marks of the Lord Jesus" [Galatians 6:17]. And those stigmata – the markings of God – you will find in the seventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation in Israel. You will find them in the one hundred forty-four thousand in the fourteenth chapter. You will find them in God’s saints in heaven. The mark of Christ – the mark of God. This fellow has a mark, too, a charagma. He has a mark, and he puts it in the hand and he puts it on the forehead. He also has a mark.
Another thing about him, he is able to do miracles. What an astonishing thing. And he is able to do miracles, just like they do them in Lourdes, France, just like they do them in the Virgin of Guadalupe, just like they do them. It has not been very many weeks ago when I stood at Cartago at Costa Rica, and they were gathered there by the thousands and the thousands and the ends of the earth doing miracles. They say, for this was the shrine of the Virgin of the Angels – remarkable; doing miracles, doing miracles.
And in the most remarkable thing of all, the most indescribable development in Christianity, in history, and he uses his authority and his power to promote an idolatrous worship. Oh, do you mean to say that out of this rigid monotheism of Judah, and out of the great interdiction of God, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" [Exodus 20:4] – do you mean to say that the Christian churches have given themselves to an unbelievable idolatry; oh?
History is more astonishing than fiction. Somehow, there is a weakness in humanity. I must have some kind of a visual representation in order to help me to worship. It was true back there in ancient Israel, when Aaron made those golden calves. It has been true in the development of the story of the people of God ever since. There is a bewitchery about idolatry that is indescribable. There is a fascination about images, about idols, about representations that is almost unbelievable. And God says it is the bane and the abomination and the scourge of the earth, idolatry, the representation that helps you worship. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t that strange? And it is the churches that lead in this world of image and idolatry. What an astonishing thing.
If you had time just to follow it through, where Mohammedism arose, where Islam arose was as a violent reaction to idolatry in the churches. They felt called of God – Mohammed and his prophets and the Caliphs who followed him – they felt called of God to destroy idolatry, and the idolatry they were talking about was the idolatry in the churches. That is where the Mohammedan came from.
And isn’t it a remarkable thing? And I feel that I have the intuitive feeling that what God says here of the development of the religion of the future is just like John saw it in the Revelation. The great religion of the future will not be that rigid monotheism of the Mohammedans, nor will it be the rigid monotheism of the Jew; but the religion of the future is going to be the idolatry of the so-called Christian churches. When finally that great thing is worked out, and that development comes to pass, you’ll not have that universal religion, Jew, nor will you have that Mohammedan, but it will be idolatrous according to the Word of God. Oh, what astonishing things. What astonishing things God doth write in His Book!
Well, let us take time for one other and then we will close. Here is another amazing thing, overwhelming thing in the history of mankind and in the ultimate development of civilization. The first great world sovereignty was represented by a tremendous image – an instrument of idolatry. And when you turn to the end, the human family is still in that same kind of an idolatrous devotion. That is an astonishing and amazing thing. The first great world empire was the golden sovereignty of Nebuchadnezzar. "And Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold whose height was sixty cubits and whose breadth was six cubits and he set it up in the plain of Dura" [Daniel 3:1]. And he compelled all of his subjects to bow down and name it. You see, as long as his empire was cluttered up with diverse and diverse religions, it represented weakness in the ultimate and final sovereignty; so in order to make one tremendous kingdom, he had the decree sent out that all must bow down before this one great god.
That is the way the thing began. And now when I turn to the last of the age, humanity repeats that same thing again. There is an idolatrous commitment and a bowing down before the image. And if one does not obey in the financial and political and military authority given to this false prophet, there is coercion. You do or you cannot buy or you cannot sell.
Let me pause to say this, I was astonished listening to the president of Roberts College in Istanbul, who married a Bulgarian, and who for the years of his life had lived in Bulgaria. He said to me, "You cannot understand and you cannot know, but the most terrible instrument of persecution ever devised is an innocent ration card. You cannot buy and you cannot sell except according to that little innocent rationing card. And if they please, you can starve to death. And if they please, you can lose everything that you have because you cannot trade, you cannot buy, and you cannot sell." Oh, the coerciveness – the coerciveness that lies so easily in the hands of a dictatorial tyrant. You bow down or else! And the whole story of humanity ends in that same dictatorial authority.
Then John does something here that in itself is astonishing and remarkable. He says, "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man,it is 666" [Revelation 13:18]. That is the most famous of all of the apocalyptic figures in all history and in all literature – six-six-six. I have just a moment to sum it up. The righteous will understand what that means when the time comes. God’s saints will understand what that refers to when the time comes. We do not know. There may be a thousand speculations – and there are. And there may be another thousand speculations – and there will be. But no man knows what is that six-six-six, which is the number and the mark of that beast, that final anti-Christ. No man knows until the day and the hour comes. But God’s children will know when the time arises. It will be revealed unto them and the saints will understand.
There is only one thing about it that we know and that is this: six is the number of a man; six, falling short of the perfect seven; six. He was created on the sixth day. He is to work six of the seven days. A Hebrew slave could not be a slave more than six years. The fields were to be sown not more than six years then were to rest on the seventh. Six is the number of a man. And here is a trinity of sixes – six, six, six. Six raised through three decimal points – six units, six tens, six hundreds. And all that I can say in the present light is this: that this is the ultimate of all human ingenuity and ableness. The most mankind will ever be able to attain to is underneath the perfect seven; always a six, always a six; with himself, a six; with his national government, a six; with his laws, a six; with the whole program by which we seek to make an Eden in this world and a millennium among mankind – always that deafening, defeating, discouraging six. When we come to the end of the way, the Book says here, it is still a six. The height of a man’s arrogance and the height of a man’s folly and the ultimate of a man’s self will is still that falling short – a six, a six, and another six. This is the number of man – six, six, six. Age, discouragement, death, failure, sin, war, destruction, hatred – the Book says we never get beyond it.
If we had the Apocalypse closed with the thirteenth chapter, of all things most discouraging and full of despair, but beyond – but beyond, ah, as we turn the pages, here is the perfect seven – the seven-horned Lamb of God. Here is the perfect Holy Spirit – the seven spirits of God. This is the holy and blessed world, the seven times blessing that God hath poured out upon His new creation – to whom they sing the seven-fold doxology of dominion and glory and power and honor unto Him forever and ever. Our perfection, and our victory, and our new world, and our ultimate and final government, and our great and reigning Christ, these are in the Lamb of God – the perfect seven.
Now, while we sing our song of appeal and while our people share in this moment of prayerful invitation together, somebody you to put your life with us in this blessed and precious congregation, you come and stand by me. Somebody to give his heart to Jesus today, you come. A couple you, a family you, one somebody you; a child, a youth, as God shall open the door and shall lead in the way, make it this morning. Make it now. I will be standing to your right at that communion table. I will be standing there, and as I stand there, you come. "Preacher, this morning, I give you my hand and my heart to God." Or, "Pastor, we are coming into the fellowship of the church today and here we stand." As the Spirit of God shall lead in the way, make it now. While we stand and while we sing.
THE VILE FALSE PROPHET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. John’s vision of a beast rising out of a raging sea – the political Antichrist(Revelation 13:1)
1. The beast a composite of the four vicious beasts Daniel saw(Daniel 7)
2. He not only has the sovereignty of ten kings, but there is a coadjutor by his side
B. John sees another beast, rising out of the earth, that Daniel did not see
1. Lamb-like, dragon-tongued supporter of the first beast, called "the false prophet" (Revelation 13:11; 16, 19, 20)
2. Without the false prophet, the Antichrist could not be what he is
II. The two beasts compared
A. One rises out of the sea – out of social chaos, revolution, seething mass of humanity
1. The other rises out of the earth – out of an established civil order
B. One is a secular power, a king, a military international sovereign
1. The other is a religious power, like a lamb; deceives world in accepting the sovereignty of the Antichrist
a. Religious element is one of the most powerful in humanity – needed by the state to survive
i. Pharaoh called upon Jannes and Jambres, religionists of the day
ii. When Balak, king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel
iii. Dan settling in Laish, they stole the priest and gods
iv. Absalom sought advice of Ahithophel
v. When Jeroboam revolted against Judah, he built gods at Bethel and Dan
vi. Ahab and Jezebel were abetted and assisted by prophets of Baal
vii. French Revolution had a goddess of blasphemy, atheism
viii. Communists have religious devotion to materialism
ix. This ultimate Antichrist has the false prophet
C. Concord, cooperation between the two
1. Unusual because leaders in evil usually war and destroy each other(Acts 19:16)
a. Mohammed and Moseilma
b. Napoleon and the Pope
c. Russia and China
d. Gang wars
2. Combination, union, conformity the order of the day – one political and religious world order
III. A closer look at the false prophet
A. Two horns like a lamb, speaks like a dragon(Revelation 13:11-12)
1. Has power, but not a king
2. He has a certain domesticity about him, gentleness, easiness
B. Of the two beasts he is far more dangerous
1. Any man who purposes to guide and command consciences of men has unbelievable authority of mankind
2. His voice betrays him – he uses political power of the state to accomplish his purposes
a. Persecuting church says "We never destroyed any hereticâ€¦the state did that"
C. A product of an apostate perverted Christianity
1. Imitation – "like a lamb"(Matthew 24:24)
2. His charagma, mark, like the stigmata(Galatians 6:17, Revelation 7:3, 14:1)
3. His miracles(Revelation 13:13-14)
4. His use of the instrument of idolatry
a. Strange weakness of mankind that they must have some visible representation to aid them in worship
i. Violent reaction of Mohammedanism against idolatry in the churches
IV. The strange course of civilization
A. The first great world sovereignty was represented by a golden image – at the end the human family is still idolatrous(Daniel 3:1)
1. Nebuchadnezzar decreed all must bow before this great god
B. God’s saints will understand what the number of the beast, 666, means when the time comes (Revelation 13:18)
1. Six is the number of man, impressed upon him at creation and in subsequent history