The Satanic Trinity
October 30th, 1983 @ 8:15 AM
THE SATANIC TRINITY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Revelation 16:13, 14, 16
10-30-83 8:15 a.m.
As you know, in these immediate Sundays, the pastor in the great doctrinal series from the Bible is preaching on angelology. And this is the fourth message of the seven; and this sermon is entitled The Satanic Trinity. And the reading of the Scripture is in Revelation, the last book in the Bible, chapter 16, reading verses 13, 14, and 16. Revelation chapter 16, verse 13: "And I saw three unclean spirits come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." Verse 16: "And he gathered them together into a place called," in the Hebrew tongue, Har-Megiddo: the mountain of Megiddo, "Armageddon."
These are three persons in a triumvirate of evil. The dragon, he is described in Revelation 12:9, "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." And the second person of the triumvirate, the beast, in chapter 13 , "I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea." In Scripture, the sea is always a symbol of the turbulent Gentile nations of the earth. And this beast out of the sea rises from among the Gentile nations of the earth. In 1 John 2:, and 1 John 4:, and 2 John :7, he is called "the Antichrist."
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, he is called "the little horn arising out of the ten, and he himself the eleventh" [Daniel 7:7-8, 20]. In the eighth chapter [verse 23] of the Book of Daniel, he is called "the king of a fierce countenance." In the ninth chapter [verse 26] of the Book of Daniel, he is called "the prince that shall come." In Matthew 24 [verse 15], Jesus calls him "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet." In the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians [verse 3], he is called "the man of sin," and again, "the man, the son of perdition." This is the Antichrist, the ultimate and final dictator of all the kingdoms of the earth. It is as though Hitler had won the war and winning the war had won the world.
The third person of this evil triumvirate is the false prophet. In the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, verse 11, "I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth," that’s the land of religion, the land of Israel, "another beast coming up out of the earth," the false prophet, "he had two horns like a lamb," he was lamb-like, he is a religious leader, "and he spake as a dragon. And he exercised all of the power of the beast." This is the triumvirate of evil: the dragon who is Satan; the first beast who is the final world dictator, political leader of the earth; and third, the beast rising out of the land, the religious leader, the false prophet who will guide the worship of the earth toward that final political dictator.
The triumvirate of evil is also the trinity of Satan, the satanic trinity. Satan is not a creator; he has no power to create. But he is a marvelously gifted counterfeiter. And he counterfeits Almighty God. Satan is anti-God, the first person of the trinity of evil. The beast is anti-Christ; he is the great incarnation of Satan, the masterpiece of the evil one. And the third of the trinity is the false prophet, anti-Holy Spirit, who guides the attention of the world toward the political leader, the first beast. These three, the trinity of evil, Satan, in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah we learn that Satan says, "I will be like God," and he seeks to raise his throne above that of the Almighty [Isaiah 14:13-14]. Satan is God’s adversary; Lucifer became Satan, the adversary of God and God’s people.
The great political final dictator of the earth is anti-Christ: as God is incarnate in our Lord Christ, the beast is the incarnation of Satan. He is Satan’s finest demonstration of worldly glory and power. Christ has a church; the beast, the Antichrist has a church. In Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9, it is called "the synagogue of Satan." Christ has a bride: Ephesians 5:25, "The bride of Christ, for whom Christ laid down His life." The Antichrist, the beast, the great political leader has a bride: it is the mystic harlot church, described in the seventeenth chapter of the Revelation. And Christ has a cup and a table, described in the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians. Satan also has a cup and a table, described in the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians [verse 21]. It is the cup of demons, at which table the world drinks.
The third part of that satanic trinity is the false prophet, the anti-Holy Spirit. I wrote here the distinctions between the false prophet and the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the divine Trinity; the false prophet is the third person of the diabolical trinity. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness and purity; the false prophet is the fountain source of every unclean spirit. The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus at the beginning of His three and one half year ministry; the false prophet joins himself to the Antichrist at the beginning of the three and one half years of the great tribulation. The advent of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by fire; fire authenticates the coming of the false prophet, "He maketh fire come down from heaven in the sight of men" [Revelation 13:13]. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life; the false prophet is the giver of death. The Holy Spirit seals; the false prophet marks, in the hand and in the forehead. The Holy Spirit empowered the Lord Jesus; the false prophet empowers the Antichrist. The Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, but exalts the Lord Jesus; the false prophet speaks not of himself, but he glorifies the Antichrist. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth; the false prophet is the spirit of deception. The ultimate penalty for the rejection of the Holy Spirit is spiritual death [Matthew 12:32], the unpardonable sin; the ultimate penalty for the rejection of the witness of the false prophet is physical death, Revelation 13:15, "He had the power to give life unto the image of the beast, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." This is the triumvirate of evil, the satanic trinity.
Now, when I read these passages and study them, the passages that I read concern the end of the age, the consummation of the age. The manifestation of Satan incarnate is in the end time, in the great tribulation. The revelation of that ultimate and final dictator of all the earth is in the days of the tribulation. And the manifestation of the false prophet who will head the religion of the whole world and point to the Antichrist is in the days of the great tribulation.
These are the days of Ezekiel 37 and 38. These are the days of Daniel 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. These are the days of Zechariah. These are the days of the apocalyptic discourse of Matthew 24 and Luke 17. These are the days of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. These are the days of the Revelation, particularly 16 through 19. But the Bible is careful to point out to us that what we see at the consummation of the age is no less true of the days and the times in which we live.
God is not just God in the days of the consummation. He is the same Lord God now. Evil and the trinity of evil is not just in the days of the tribulation. We face that trinity of evil today. The tremendous political leadership and religious leadership that drifts away from God is not just in the days of the tribulation; it is characteristic of the days of our time and of all history. And the days of judgment are not just in the days of the consummation, in the tribulation; but the days of God’s judgment are now and throughout all history.
The Lord is very careful to point that out to us. In 1 John 2, verse 18, "Little children," the King James reads, "it is the last time: and ye have heard the antichrist shall come," that’s in the great tribulation, "but even now there are many Antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time." Now that’s the translation of the King James Version: "Little children, it is eschate hora, it is a last time: and ye have heard that there is to be an ultimate Antichrist; in our day and throughout the days, there are many antichrists; whereby we know it is a last time." What we experience today of the triumvirate of evil is but a harbinger and a type of the ultimate and final consummation of evil in the last days.
The spirit of evil is always with us, working against us, our adversary and slanderer and accuser. And the Lord Jesus closed His great apocalyptic discourse in an unusual way, when He described the judgments of God that were to fall upon men. The disciples answered Him, and said, "Where, Lord, do these judgments fall?" [Matthew 24:3]. And Jesus said unto them, "Wheresoever the carcasses, thither will the vultures be gathered together" [Matthew 24:28]. What did He mean by that? That closes the great apocalyptic discourse, the disclosure of our Lord, of the consummation of the age. Why does He close it like that? "Where do these judgments fall, Lord?" the disciples say, and He says, "Wherever the carcasses, there will the vultures be gathered together." The meaning is very apparent when you look at what our Lord has said. At the end of the age, at the consummation of the age, is the great final judgment day of Almighty God. It is the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:16]; it is the personal return of our Lord [Acts 1:11]; it is the casting of Satan and the false prophet and the world dictator, the beast, into the lake of the fire [Revelation 20:10]; it is the great white throne judgment [Revelation 20:11]. That is the final day of the Lord. But the Lord says, "Wherever, wherever there is decay," and putrescence, and apostasy, in a nation, or in a church, or in an institution, or in a city, or in a corporation, or in a life, or in a family, or in a heart, or in a home, the great universal principle of judgment always falls: "Wherever the carcass is, there do the vultures gather together" [Matthew 24:28].
It is the same thing as the universality of God’s law in the world of physics. The same laws that we see operating here in planet Earth operate on Venus, and they operate on Neptune, and they operate in the galaxies beyond our Milky Way. The laws of physics are universal. They are instituted by God. It is no less true with the laws of our spiritual lives. When there is decay or apostasy or putrescence anywhere in the world, He says, there do the vultures of carrion gather.
What it brings to us is an appeal and an intercession and a prayer that God will have mercy upon His people. And what we pray is that God’s hand will intervene in the crises that overwhelm the days of judgment in the earth. We especially live through these days of crises now. The judgment of God, the intervention of God, the presence of God, "Lord, Lord, we stand daily, veritably, truly, on the very destruction of humanity, civilization, and mankind." Anything can trigger it, any day, any moment. And we move, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes statedly and overtly, toward that great judgment day of Almighty God. It behooves our people as a church, as a family, individually, that we bow in the presence of the Lord; confession of our weakness and transgression, asking the forgiveness of God, asking the help of God, asking the wisdom and direction of God, and casting ourselves upon His mercies.
One of the most dramatic of all of the incidents in world history occurred the twenty-second day of June in 1897. It was the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria of the British Empire, upon the close of her sixty years as sovereign of the greatest bastion of force and glory and power that the world had ever seen. And in that pageantry, there gathered in London the kings, and queens, and princes, and ambassadors of the whole earth. There has never been before, there has never been since the glory and the drama as the spectacle presented before the eyes of the entire world in London in 1897. And after the glory and the grandeur of that immemorial and immortal scene, drama, followed the recessional: back to the ends of the empire and back to their places of ambassadorial leadership, the great and mighty of the earth returned, after the glory of that spectacle in London; the recessional. And in that day, Rudyard Kipling, and upon that occasion, Rudyard Kipling wrote one of the greatest poems in the English language and the poem for which he is most notably and gratefully remembered.
God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Far called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that hold not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – let we forget!
["God of our Fathers, Known of Old"; Rudyard Kipling]
Whether we live or die lies in the imponderables of Almighty God. How it behooves us individually, in heart, in life, to bow in the presence of the great God: "Lord, remember me." How it behooves the family to kneel in the presence of the great God: "Lord, be good to the circle of our home and family." And how well and beautifully does it behoove the nation to look to God for direction in the day of crisis and confrontation: "Have mercy upon Thy people, dear Lord." Our hope is in Him.
We are going to stand in a moment and sing our song of appeal. And while we sing it, a family, "Pastor, today we have decided for God, and we’re coming; all of us are coming." A couple you, or just one somebody you, "God has spoken to my heart, and I am giving Him the throne of my life. This is God’s day for me, and I’m answering with my life." Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand to sing, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, I’m on the way; here I am." God bless you and angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing. Bless your heart, and a thousand times welcome.
THE SATANIC TRINITY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The three separate persons in the satanic triumvirate(Revelation 16:13, 20:10, Isaiah 11:9)
A. The dragon – the Devil, Satan(Revelation 12:9)
B. The beast
1. Arises out of the Gentile nations of the world – the final world dictator(Revelation 13:1)
2. The Antichrist (1 John 2:18-22, 4:3, 2 John 7)
3. Called "the little horn", "a king of fierce countenance" and "the prince that shall come"(Daniel 7:8, 8:23, 9:26)
4. Jesus calls him "the abomination of desolation"(Matthew 24:15)
5. Paul calls him "the man of sin", "the son of perdition"(2 Thessalonians 2:3)
C. The false prophet
1. Arises out of the land – like a lamb, with voice of dragon(Revelation 13:11)
2. Religious leader – calls fire from heaven like Elijah(Revelation 13:13)
3. Glorifies the beast, the political dictator of the world
II. The trinity of evil – Satan a great counterfeiter
A. Satan is anti-God(Isaiah 14:14)
B. The beast is anti-Christ
1. Christ is the incarnation of God – Antichrist is the incarnation of Satan
2. Christ has a church – Antichrist has a church (Revelation 2:9, 3:9)
3. Christ has a bride – Satan has a bride, the mystic harlot (Ephesians 5:25, Revelation 17)
4. Christ has a table and cup – Satan also has a table and cup (1 Corinthians 10:21)
C. The false prophet is anti-Holy Spirit – heads the final apostate church and magnifies the political leader, the beast (Revelation 13:12)
1. Holy Spirit is third Person of the divine Trinity – false prophet third person of diabolical trinity (Matthew 28:19, Revelation 16:13)
2. Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness and purity – false prophet is source and incarnation of unclean spirit (Romans 1:4, Revelation 16:13)
3. Holy Spirit anointed Jesus at beginning of His 3 ½ year earthly ministry – false prophet joins himself to Antichrist at beginning of the 3 ½ years of the great tribulation (Matthew 3:16, Revelation 13:11-12)
4. Advent of Holy Spirit accompanied by fire – fire authenticates coming of the false prophet (Acts 2:3-4, Revelation 13:13)
5. Holy Spirit is the giver of life – false prophet is the giver of death (Romans 8:4-9, Revelation 13:15)
6. Holy Spirit seals – false prophet marks(Ephesians 1:13, Revelation 13:16)
7. Holy Spirit empowered Lord Jesus – false prophet empowers the Antichrist (Acts 10:38, Revelation 13:14-15)
8. Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, but exalts Jesus – false prophet speaks not of himself, but glorifies the beast (John 16:13, Revelation 13:12)
9. Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth – false prophet is the spirit of deception (John 15:26, Revelation 13:14)
10. Ultimate penalty for rejection of Holy Spirit is spiritual death – ultimate penalty for rejection of the false prophet is physical death (Matthew 12:31-32, Revelation 13:15)
III. The universal principle of trinitarian evil
A. This final tribulation and great triumvirate of evil is much spoken of in Scriptures (Ezekiel 37, 38, Daniel 7-11, Zechariah, Matthew 24, Luke 17, 2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 5-19)
1. Bible plainly reveals that the principles of judgment in the ultimate consummation are the same that guide the nations and life today
2. God’s laws are unchanging and universal – it is the same now as there
B. Eschatehora – "a last hour"(1 John 2:18)
1. We experience the spirit of the anti-Christ until the ultimate Antichrist – "many anti-Christs"
2. Spirit of evil appears again and again until incarnate in the consummation
C. The incarnation of evil in human personality throughout history
1. Illustrated in literature, music, drama
2. I think Satan has his masterpiece in every generation
D. Where and when conditions call for it, the judgment falls(Luke 17:37)
IV. We live in the imponderables of Almighty God
A. Whole world trembles on the verge of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16)
B. A call to prayer, intercession, confession
C. Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, June 22, 1897
1. Rudyard Kipling’s "The Recessional"