Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
Revelation 13:11-18 ESV
While I believe that the person (being?) who will become the false prophet is alive today, I feel that there is no point in speculating who he might be at this time. I believe he is currently being restrained by the Restrainer, along with the antichrist. Once this restraint has been lifted, the false prophet’s identity will become extremely obvious to those who are paying attention.
One Witness, in the Name of Elijah?
The false prophet functions as the third member of the “unholy trinity”, along with the antichrist (false messiah) and satan (the dragon) (Revelation 16:13). He may claim to be “Elijah”, whom the Jews are expecting to come before the “Day of the Lord”:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6 ESV)
This Jewish expectation of Elijah is played out every Passover, where a cup of wine is placed for him at the Passover meal. A chair is also set out for Elijah at circumcision ceremonies. The Passover Haggadah hymn also references Elijah – “Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah the Giladite, May he soon (in our days) come to us, with the messiah son of David”.
Note that God will send His own 2 Witnesses to preach truth (Revelation 11), although it will be rejected by the majority in favor of satan’s lies. Note that God will send TWO witnesses, whereas satan will only have one.
Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (2 Corinthians 13:1; Deut 17:6, 19:15).
The false prophet will arise “out of the earth” as opposed to the antichrist arising “out of the sea”. While the sea depicts humanity, the earth is less clear. Perhaps he arises out of the pit of the earth (hell/abyss). He is depicted as having horns like a lamb but speaking like a dragon. He will appear gentle, docile, and persuasive; however, his words will come straight from satan (the dragon).
Signs and Wonders
The false prophet is empowered by satan in action and speech:
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 ESV)
And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. (Revelation 13:2 ESV)
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9 ESV)
The false prophet is permitted by God, and empowered by satan, to perform “great signs”. These signs and wonders might include a number of things, but it will certainly include calling “fire to come down from heaven to earth” (Revelation 13:13). Fire coming down from heaven could include asteroids, meteors, volcanic activity, or possibly even supernatural fire and brimstone. Chris White, in his book “False Christ”, notes that to the Jews, this calling down fire from heaven is almost the same as declaring himself to be Elijah. Elijah is the only prophet in the Bible who performed such a feat, which he did three times. These signs and wonders will deceive humanity, through the “wow” factor, into following the false prophet’s teachings.
The primary function of the false prophet is to bring worship to the antichrist. He will set up an image of the antichrist, likely in the Jewish Temple, and will be given power to bring it to life. Whether it has actual LIFE or is something like a hologram (statue? android? hybrid creature? clone?) remains to be seen. The image of the antichrist will proclaim the message of the antichrist. It will “kill” all who refuse to worship it. This “living” image, which “speaks” and demands worship, is likely to be the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel:
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Matthew 24:15-16 ESV
And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. Daniel 9:27 ESV
Israel is to worship the Lord God and serve Him only (Deut 6:13, 10:20; Luke 4:8). Thus, setting up an idol of another god for the prime purpose of receiving worship in the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple is the ultimate abomination against Yahweh.
Since we are told in Revelation 13 that the false prophet is the one who organizes the setting up of the image that will be worshiped, it is possible that the “he” who makes the strong covenant with “many” and then later stops the sacrifice and offering is actually the false prophet:
And he [no antecedant; it is perfectly natural that following such a time gap a new character might be introduced.] shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Daniel 9:26-27 ESV
The one who comes on the “wing of abominations” is the one who makes desolate until he meets his appointed end – this is clearly the antichrist. However, the “he” who makes the strong covenant may or may not be the one who comes on the wing of abominations. That is, this verse could be talking about the false prophet THEN the antichrist; the antichrist could be in view both times; there may be no first “he”; or God might confirm His Abrahamic covenant with Israel, followed by the antichrist making stopping sacrifice and making desolate. It will become very clear as the events unfold in real time.
Mark of the Beast System
Once the antichrist’s world rule has been established, the False Prophet will set up the Mark of the Beast system. Despite rumors that it is already in existence, it is not. No one will be able to take the Mark accidentally or unknowingly. The Mark will be related to the worship of the antichrist, and will declare allegiance to him. It will be required for all economic transactions. Unfortunately, taking the antichrist’s Mark seals each person’s fate with the wrath of God:
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11 ESV)
At the end of the antichrist’s world rule (1260 days), the False Prophet will face the same fate as the antichrist – being tossed into the Lake of Fire by Jesus Christ.
And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. (Revelation 19:20 ESV)
They will later be joined in the Lake of Fire by satan:
…and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10 ESV)
God’s purposes and plans will be carried out exactly as He has foretold.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!