The Word for today:
Mark this: Revelation 13:4
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Revelation 13 concerns "the beast," famously associated with the numerals 666.
So over the next two days, Stand in the Rain will delve into this topic. But we will not concern ourselves with identifying who the beast is--or will be--because whether he is Joe, Sam, Willy, Ferdinand, or Oglethorpe has not one whit of significance for this writer. ("A rose by any other name is still a rose…")
We will endeavor to convey not his name, but his nature.
Part 1 will look back--locating preliminary appearances of the beast in scripture.
Tomorrow, part 2 will convey "the nature of the beast."
The beast. The Antichrist. The false prophet. 666.
What to make of all this?
First of all, it should be known that the Antichrist will be an embodiment of a spirit that is presently at work among us, greasing the slippery slope to hell.
The word “antichrist” appears only in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18; 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7), and the Bible student will learn as much about Antichrist from these epistles as he will learn from John's other book--Revelation.
"the spirit of antichrist"
“The spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3) refers to the demonic deception that will work to produce the final world ruler who rules as the false Christ. The spirit of antichrist is always actively seeking to pervert the gospel by distorting Jesus Christ’s true nature:
Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. (1 John 2:18)
The plural--“antichrists”--in 1 John 2:18b refers to false teachers whose false doctrine distorted the truth and opposed Christ (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Acts 20:28-30).
The singular--“antichrist”-- in 1 John 2:18a refers to the coming final world ruler, energized by Satan, who will seek to oppose and replace the true Christ.
Thus the final antichrist of Revelation 13 will not be something new, but will embody all the antichrist spirits that have perverted truth. This can be seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, where the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is still to be revealed, but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.
For further study:
The Bible student should be able to trace the movements of "the beast" prior to his arrival in Revelation. He is--
"the little horn" of Daniel 7:24-26;
"the desolator" of Daniel 9:27;
"the abomination that causes desolation" of Matthew 24:15;
"the man of sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8.
To the beast Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 13:4).
Extrabiblically, the Bible student should be aware of "The Second Coming," a culturally influential poem by William Butler Yeats:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?