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Satan's War Against the People of God

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Revelation 12 first takes us back to the birth of Jesus to show that the Messiah and God’s chosen people are the main focus of Satan’s hatred and wrath. It then moves us forward to the time of Christ’s second coming.

Satan’s warfare against God’s people—including Jesus Christ, the natural descendants of ancient Israel and all true Christians—is the primary subject of Revelation 12 and 13. These chapters explain the devil’s motivation and introduce the worldly powers he employs in his end-time battle against Christ and His servants.

John begins: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth” (Revelation 12:1-2 Revelation 12:1-2 1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
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). This woman symbolizes the people of God, chosen to be the light of the world —in contrast with the woman of Revelation 17, who is the mother of harlots.

The imagery here recalls the ancestral history of ancient Israel. The patriarch Joseph described one of his revelatory dreams to his family: “Then he … said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father [Jacob, or Israel] and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’” (Genesis 37:9-10 Genesis 37:9-10 9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brothers, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brothers: and his father rebuked him, and said to him, What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow down ourselves to you to the earth?
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).

Nevertheless, after Joseph became Pharaoh’s chief deputy in Egypt, his family did bow before him. His dream proved to be a revelation from God.

Jacob, Joseph’s father, quickly grasped the symbolism in Joseph’s dream. The sun represented Jacob, the moon his wife and the stars his sons—12 in all, counting Joseph. In other words, the symbolism in Joseph’s dream referred to Jacob’s family, from which the ancient nation of Israel developed. The woman in Revelation 12, clothed with these same symbols, also represents Jacob’s family, after it has expanded into a nation—God’s chosen people Israel.

Many hundreds of years after the time of Joseph, the Jews (descendants of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi) and a few remnants of the other tribes were the only descendants of ancient Israel remaining in Palestine. The mighty Roman Empire dominated them when the time came for Jesus, the Messiah, to be born in the Jewish nation. “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” (Revelation 12:5 Revelation 12:5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne.
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).

But notice what happened immediately after Christ’s birth. Satan, symbolized by the dragon, “stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
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). The Gospels record how Satan influenced Herod, the Jews’ Roman-appointed king, to murder all male children 2 years old and younger in and around Bethlehem in an attempt to eliminate the potential threat to his throne (Matthew 2:16 Matthew 2:16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
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). The king didn’t know God had already spared Jesus by having his human parents whisk Him off to Egypt until Herod died (Matthew 2:13-14 Matthew 2:13-14 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
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).

Because of God’s loving care, Satan was prevented from destroying the favored woman (Revelation 12:6 Revelation 12:6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.
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). Nevertheless, Satan will again relentlessly persecute and kill God’s people at the time of the end.

Satan’s all-out war

Notice the next event. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9 Revelation 12:7-9 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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).

This event comes shortly before Christ returns to bring “salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God” (Revelation 12:10 Revelation 12:10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
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). So God’s angel announces: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
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).

When Satan loses his battle with God’s angels, he directs his fury at the people of God, symbolically represented by the woman mentioned earlier (Revelation 12:13 Revelation 12:13And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
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), evidently the spiritual “Israel of God” who are now members of His Church (see Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
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; Galatians 3:7 Galatians 3:7Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
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, Galatians 3:29 Galatians 3:29And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
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; Romans 2:25-29 Romans 2:25-29 25 For circumcision truly profits, if you keep the law: but if you be a breaker of the law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge you, who by the letter and circumcision do transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
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). God promises this favored woman a place “where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time [3 1 ⁄2 years], from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14 Revelation 12:14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
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). God will intervene to help the woman survive during this time of unbelievable affliction (Revelation 12:15-16 Revelation 12:15-16 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
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).

Satan’s war will be directed not only against the natural, physical offspring of Israel, as at the birth of Christ, but even more specifically against “the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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).

Notice that Satan will especially rage against commandment keeping saints who follow the actual teachings of Christ. All of them are destined to be hated. Though some are prophesied to survive the Satan-inspired onslaught, the Scriptures reveal that many others will be martyred. As Christ has already warned: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
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).

The persecuting empire

The geopolitical power most actively involved in this persecution of God’s people—an end-time revival of the Roman Empire, as we will see—is introduced in Revelation 13 as “a beast rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name” (Revelation 13:1 Revelation 13:1And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy.
American King James Version×
). This “beast” receives “his power, his throne, and great authority” from the dragon, Satan (Revelation 13:2 Revelation 13:2And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
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; compare Revelation 12:3 Revelation 12:3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads.
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). Its characteristics are those of a leopard, a bear and a lion (Revelation 13:2 Revelation 13:2And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
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).

Centuries earlier Daniel wrote of these same beasts as symbolic of the successive empires of Babylon, Persia and Greece (Daniel 7:4-6 Daniel 7:4-6 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand on the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and see another, like a leopard, which had on the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
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; compare with Daniel 8:19-22 Daniel 8:19-22 19 And he said, Behold, I will make you know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. 20 The ram which you saw having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
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), each of which would rule the Holy Land. Later that territory would be captured and controlled by Rome, synonymous with a terrible fourth beast Daniel described. John writes about the revival of this ancient system: “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:3 Revelation 13:3And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
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).

At the time of the end all these ancient empires will seem, from a historical perspective, to have been permanently destroyed. But much of their ancient cultural and religious heritage has been carefully preserved. From this heritage the end-time revival of the Roman Empire, a powerful alliance of 10 “kings” or rulers—in our day having titles such as president, prime minister or chancellor—will arise shortly before Christ returns.

In Daniel 2 the heritage of this powerful end-time kingdom or empire is depicted as a statue of a human figure composed of four metals (Daniel 2:31-33 Daniel 2:31-33 31 You, O king, saw, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before you; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
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). Its head represented Nebuchadnezzar’s Neo-Babylonian Empire (Daniel 2:37-38 Daniel 2:37-38 37 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are this head of gold.
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), which conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The dominant powers after Babylon, represented by other parts of the image, were the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greco-Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:39-40 Daniel 2:39-40 39 And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
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).

The final manifestation of this system is represented by the feet of the statue: “As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. ‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed …’” (Daniel 2:42-44 Daniel 2:42-44 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
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, NIV). In other words the 10 toes of this image will exist at the time of the end and will be smashed by the returning Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:34-45 Daniel 2:34-45 34 You saw till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image on his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. 36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are this head of gold. 39 And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41 And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, for as much as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 For as much as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
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).

The 10 toes on the statue of Daniel 2 apparently correspond to 10 horns on the beast of Revelation 17. What, then, do those 10 horns signify?

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them …” (Revelation 17:12-14 Revelation 17:12-14 12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
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).

The “beast” these horns collectively form will be a short-lived, end-time empire ruled by Satan. As we will see later, it will be a commercially driven political, religious and military entity similar to the empire ruled by ancient Babylon.

The beast that appears to John in Revelation 13 is a composite of the empires represented by the image described in Daniel 2 and the four beasts of Daniel 7. The fourth beast in Daniel 7 was the Roman Empire, described as different from those that preceded it. The composite beast of Revelation 13 is a resurrection of that Roman Empire, incorporating the characteristics of the three earlier empires.

John clearly refers to the other empires when he says: “Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard [the Greek empire], his feet were like the feet of a bear [the Persian Empire], and his mouth like the mouth of a lion [ancient Babylon]. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2 Revelation 13:2And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
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).

Notice how powerful this beast, possessing many key characteristics of the persecuting empires preceding it, will be in its end-time manifestation: “And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’

“And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Revelation 13:3-7 Revelation 13:3-7 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
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).

The book of Revelation reveals, from more than one perspective, the emergence of this vast end-time empire governed from a great city God labels ” Babylon the great” (Revelation 17:5-18 Revelation 17:5-18 5 And on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 7 And the angel said to me, Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9 And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 15 And he said to me, The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18 And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
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), the reference here being to Rome. This final resurrection of the Roman Empire, centered in Europe, is destined to become the world’s dominant superpower. Satan will use it as his principal weapon against Christ and His people at the end of the age.

Satan will cause the human dictator of the end-time beastlike empire— who is also referred to as “the beast”—to be worshipped worldwide. Satan will give this coming dictator the power to transform his (and Satan’s) political and military objectives into a worldwide religious crusade.

John explains: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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).

The religious factor

Next John says: “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed” (Revelation 13:11-12 Revelation 13:11-12 11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 And he excercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
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, NIV).

Who is the second beast? He is a tool of Satan who uses his position and authority to influence humankind to worship the first beast.

How will he persuade the masses to accept such arrogance? He will be a skillful deceiver directly manipulated and empowered by Satan. “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:13-15 Revelation 13:13-15 13 And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceives 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. 15 And he had power to give life to 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.
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).

John later describes the powerful religious leader as “the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his [the Beast’s] behalf” (Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
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, NIV). The False Prophet is evidently the satanically led leader of a false religious system represented by the immoral woman riding the Beast in Revelation 17.

Paul also foretold the coming of a superpowerful deceiver: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
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). Tragically, most people will be hoodwinked into believing him.

Is emperor worship again possible?

To most of us the prophesied scenario of the worldwide worship of the Beast—much like the worship of the Roman emperors of old—may appear too incredible ever to recur in this modern era. But as recently as World War II the Japanese people were required to worship the emperor of Japan. Their soldiers enthusiastically waged war on his behalf.

We should also remember that in our lifetime many religious leaders have arisen who have represented themselves as divine beings in the flesh. Some have successfully seduced many thousands of followers from all walks of life. At times deluded disciples have willingly forfeited their lives at such leaders’ whims.

The idea that the modern masses could not be deluded by a fanatical leader—especially one with a powerfully charismatic personality—is simply not true. History proves it is all too possible.

The second beast described in Revelation 13 represents himself as a lamb (like Christ) but speaks like a dragon (the devil). He will seduce the world into worshipping the first beast (Revelation 13:12 Revelation 13:12And he excercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
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). He will even influence and seduce the merchants of international commerce to such an extent “that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17 Revelation 13:17And 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.
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).

Winners and losers

The inevitable outcome of Satan’s war against the servants of God is the subject of chapter 14 and the first four verses of chapter 15. Here the real winners and losers are clearly delineated in divine messages delivered by angels.

Christ, represented as a Lamb, is pictured in the midst of the 144,000 who have “His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1 Revelation 14:1And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
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). These are described as those who have faithfully followed Christ, the Lamb, instead of the Beast even during this time of great tribulation (Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
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).

John describes these loyal and worthy servants of Christ as “without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:4-5 Revelation 14:4-5 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
American King James Version×
). He continues: “And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb …” (Revelation 15:2-3 Revelation 15:2-3 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, you King of saints.
American King James Version×
, NIV; compare Revelation 14:3 Revelation 14:3And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
American King James Version×
).

John sees them, in his vision, singing and rejoicing, ultimately the real winners in this great spiritual conflict.

John also sees that before this war is over “every nation, tribe, language and people” will have this “eternal gospel” message proclaimed to them: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth …” (Revelation 14:6-7 Revelation 14:6-7 6 And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
American King James Version×
, NIV). During this time the impending fall and destruction of that great city Babylon the Great is announced by another angel (Revelation 14:8 Revelation 14:8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
American King James Version×
).

John also plainly identifies the losers in the war for the spiritual control of humanity: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation” (Revelation 14:9-10 Revelation 14:9-10 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
American King James Version×
). The judgment of people who follow the ways of Satan, a judgment God’s servants have long anticipated, is at hand.

The saints have every reason to be confident in the outcome. But in the meantime the trials of God’s people are not over: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them’ ” (Revelation 14:12-13 Revelation 14:12-13 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on: Yes, said the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.
American King James Version×
, NIV). Apparently, to the very end Satan will send his deceived human instruments to pursue and murder those who truly try to obey and serve God.

Then follows a description of Christ and an angel removing the wicked and their wickedness from the earth like a farmer would remove grain from a field with a sickle or “gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine” (Revelation 14:14-18 Revelation 14:14-18 14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and on the cloud one sat like to the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in your sickle, and reap: for the time is come for you to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
American King James Version×
, NIV). Those who are gathered are thrown “into the great winepress of God’s wrath” (Revelation 14:19-20, NIV). God will express His wrath through “the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed” (Revelation 15:1 Revelation 15:1And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

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