Image of the Beast from the book of Revelation
I have written this article as inspired by the Holy Spirit on the basis of the Scriptures. I do not ascribe this article to any particular servant of God identifying or pointing him or her as the Antichrist. This article should serve as an eye opener to anybody in God’s vineyard with an image larger than his or her person. I also do not say that anybody having his/her own image bears the image of the beast. But I stress that any saint who builds or promotes his or her own image which is actually larger than his/her original image does attribute to the image building or the image worship work of the Antichrist. If any of us has fallen into the snare of the Devil by building our own images in the House of God, it is high time we examined our own ministries so as to eliminate such images ruthlessly with the help of a prophetic sword.
The Antichrist and the antichrists
John writes in I John 2:18 to 23, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. ….Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ: He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also”.
In the above passage, John who had the revelation about the beasts in the book of Revelation writes that there were many antichrists in his days. They were earlier with him and other disciples in the Body of Christ. But they went out from them because they could not continue with the true disciples of the Lord. Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is the Antichrist. Today many people deny this Jesus Christ of Nazareth. These preachers present another jesus who is not the Christ Who was crucified and resurrected from the dead. If you read their messages and revelations reported to have been received from some angels or Old Testament saints, you will find that they are projecting another jesus who is not the Christ of the gospels. According to them, this jesus exhorts them to reconstruct the temple in Jerusalem and to gather the saints in Jerusalem and to hate the nations that make a war against the land of Israel. These preachers in fact deny the Father and the Son as revealed to us in the Old Testament prophetic books and in the gospels. If any preacher claims that the Father had called him or her to His throne in the heaven and commissioned him or her to do a particular ministry, we can fairly conclude that the preacher concerned has been deceived by the Devil. Some preachers claim to have seen the Father in the heaven or heard Him speak in a vision to them. This negates the cardinal truth spoken by John in John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he that declared Him”. They thus deny the Father and the Son by presenting another God who is not revealed in the Scriptures.
John writes,” every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof we have heard that it should come: and even now already is it in the world“(I John 4:2-3). “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist……Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and Son. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 8-10).
We all know that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. But Islam presents Him as a prophet only and not as the Son of God. Islam presents another jesus who is not come in the flesh. Many religious leaders including Jews have not confessed that Jesus Christ, the Messiah or the Savior of the world, was manifested in flesh. The so-called Christians who call themselves as born-again Christians transgress and do not abide in the doctrine of Christ. They deny Jesus Christ through their lives today.
If a preacher presents some other jesus in his church or ministry who is not the same Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he is one of the antichrists who had gone out from the Body of Christ. What is the doctrine of Jesus Christ? Jesus summed up the whole ten commandments of God into a twin commandment. That is loving God with all your heart and soul and loving your neighbor in the same manner as you love yourself. Then Jesus exhorted us to observe what He taught us on the mount called the Sermon on the Mount. Do we really love those who disagree with us or those who tell us on our faces our faults and sins? Today if I write something to point out the unscriptural things a minister is performing in the Name of Jesus Christ, he hates me, not to talk of loving me.
John writes very clearly that there are antichrists in our midst in flesh and that the spirit of the Antichrist is already in the world. We have now to identify the antichrists in flesh who have gone out from the fold of the Body of Christ and the spirit of the Antichrist who is already at work in this world.
If the Antichrist reveals himself through an earthly king today, we can easily identify him. However, he is a spiritual being, functioning directly under the power of the Devil. It is saddening to note from the prophecies that he has cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them (Dan.8: 9-10). Some of the host and of the stars could be anointed servants of God or some Christian rulers, who were shining in the kingdom of God.
Let us note that the spirit of the Antichrist is not slumbering but is active in this world because the Devil has given him all his authority to deceive the saints. He is reigning as a king in his hidden kingdom. But he is not yet revealed in flesh. Until and unless he is revealed to us in flesh, we cannot see him through our physical eyes. We can identify the fallen saints who are the antichrists in flesh in our midst by testing their spirits. These antichrists are influenced by the spirit of the Antichrist who is already in the world. But we cannot identify the real Antichrist, the first beast, now because he is not yet revealed. If any preacher tells us that Mr.X is the Antichrist, we need not believe his statement at all. But we can believe his statement to the extent that Mr. X has been influenced by the spirit of the Antichrist.
Paul in his epistle to Thessalonians wrote, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way”. This means that the power of the Devil as a mystery is already at work. This is not something new, which will happen at the end of the age. The work begun by the spirit of Antichrist will reach its peak in the last of last days. The Devil and his representatives are already at work. If any preacher says that the Antichrist will start functioning only after the Rapture of the Church, he preaches only a false doctrine. The doctrine of the Rapture is also not scriptural. I do not deal with the subject of Rapture in this article.
Using the litmus test
We have to use the litmus test of testing the spirit of the Antichrist who reigns in a hidden kingdom and the spirits of those antichrists who live in our midst, on the basis of what John taught in his epistles. The antichrists cannot remain with us because of the spirit of the Antichrist working in them exhibits their prideful hearts. They will not listen to you. There must be a point of time when they would have fallen from the grace of God into the snare of the Devil. They would not have listened to the prophetic voice of the children of God who had admonished them or would not have studied the Scriptures thoroughly. We have to be very careful in these last days. Those who have already fallen into the snare of the devil are hereby exhorted to re-examine their own ministries and to search for such hidden images or idols in their magazine ministries, television ministries, internet ministries, open air crusades, etc. They have to remain in constant fellowship with the apostles and prophets in the Body of Christ.
The litmus test is to examine their doctrines and their ministries to find out whether they present the same Jesus Christ of Nazareth in their churches and ministries. This is very important. To know more about our Lord, we should live with Him very closely and should have constant fellowship with Him and the apostles and prophets in His Body who are the foundation of the Church. Then read His gospels and the epistles of the apostles to know more about how Jesus lived, how Jesus preached and taught how Jesus performed miracles and healings, etc. The same Holy Spirit Who worked through the ministry of Jesus Christ should be with us. He cannot be a different spirit who performs only some miracles and healings. Whether the preacher’s life style reveals the life of Jesus whom he preaches? One Canadian evangelist, reported to have been used of God mightily in America lived a life of immorality but preached the same gospel. Miracles and healings took place. Many people were deceived because they had received another spirit during his meetings. Let us not use the yardstick of miracles and healings to judge the ministry of some evangelist or pastor.
From the book of Revelation
Now let us to read what the same John tells us about the Antichrist and the false prophet in the book of revelation. Most of the preachers tell us that the Antichrist will make his debut after the so-called rapture of the Church, will set the abomination in the physical temple in Jerusalem, etc, etc. If their message is to be believed, then we have to make a discount of what John taught us in his epistles as mentioned above. My messages about the works of the Antichrist and the false prophet may be read in my website at http://sites.google.com/site/antichristexposed.
Image of the beast
John writes in Rev.14:6 to 9 that when the everlasting gospel is preached unto them that dwell on the earth and to every nation, and kindred and tongue and people, there is another announcement about the hour of God’s judgment and an exhortation to “to worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters”. This is followed by another announcement of the fall of Babylon, the great city, because she (Babylon) made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Then the third angel announces a message with a loud voice, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 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”. In verse 11, those who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of His name shall have neither rest day nor night and the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever.
Rev.19:20 says that the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.
First beast and his image
He rises up out of the seas (Rev.13:1). He is seated on the harlot woman, the Babylon. He cannot be separated from this woman, the false religious system in our midst. He is the representative of the great red dragon, the Devil (Rev.12:9) and the dragon gave his power to the beast (Rev.13:4). He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given to him “to make war with the saints, and to over come them and power was given to him “over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations”. The representative of this beast is “another beast” coming up out of the earth and he exercises “all the power of the first beast” and does “great wonders” and deceives all those who dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles. He exhorts those who dwell on the earth to “make an image to the beast (first beast). He has power to give life unto the image of the beast so that the mage of the beast should both speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads so 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.
John says that the spirit of the Antichrist is already in the world. He is a spiritual man, not visible to our eyes. The first beast, the Antichrist has an image. This is called the image of the beast. This image is being created throughout the ages by the second beast, the false prophet. Image revolves around the personality of a person. Image is in the form of a photo, an art, a picture, shadow. Every image also speaks or conveys a message. The photo or the picture of Gandhi reminds us of our struggle for independence. The image of a lion conveys a message that it eats other animals. Though photography was not invented in the first century, we have the images of important persons who lived during the first century in the form of sculptures or arts.
Here, the image of the first beast is made or built by the second beast with the help of those who dwell on the earth. The false prophet, the second beast, can create the image of the first beast, the Antichrist because he has all the power given to him by the latter. But he takes the help of the human beings to make an image to the first beast. The image of the Antichrist, the first beast, can be easily identified by us if we study the characters of the Devil, the great dragon. But this mage is being made by the false prophet, the second beast. It is a peculiar image that can be discerned through our prophetic eyes only.
We have now to identify his unique image which is being built by the people of this world. We have in our midst images of great political leaders, religious leaders, great scientists, great doctors, great engineers, etc. These images are being made by the people who have benefited from these great persons. In other words, the people who worship (adore, reverence or respect, love) are making the images of these important personalities. It is the good deed or the good work done by these great leaders that makes them heroes in the eyes of the world. The image of a person grows when he has more followers.
Image of Jesus
When His image grew amongst the people to whom Jesus served, Jesus withdrew from the crowd and went to the wilderness to be alone with His Father. Then He specifically told the people healed by Him not to speak a word about Him. However, His fame was spread throughout the land of Israel. Jesus did not allow His image to be built by His followers or His disciples. He rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and sins. He rebuked His own disciples for their mistakes.
Jesus is the express image of His Father and did not have His own image at all. The multitudes saw in Him the Father working. Only the blind religious leaders could not see the work of the Father in the ministry of Jesus. Now the Church, the universal Body of Christ is the express image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Body of Christ means the mystical Body of Christ Who lived 2000 years ago. Those who are members of His Body are supposed to express the image of the Son of God only.
Making or enlarging images
Any person who dwells on the earth, be it a child of God or otherwise, making an image, or allowing his/her own image to be built or made, contributes directly or indirectly to the image building work of the false prophet only. This image is being built through praises and worship (love, respect, adoration, reverence). You may ask me a simple question. If a preacher of the gospel preaches the gospel, signs and wonders take place and the fame of the preacher spreads like the wild fire. The minister of the gospel establishes a mission or plants a church. Multitudes are being saved through his/her ministry. The people who have benefited from his/her ministry give their sacrificial offerings to the minister concerned for the propagation of the gospel. The multitudes are gravitated to his/her ministry so that the gospel is preached to the lost. What is wrong with such an image being built? No doubt, there is an image of the preacher concerned. Every human being has his or her own image in this world. The image is part of his or her person. The question now arises is how this image is built or made or how his/her original image grows. It is made or built either by myself or by those who benefit from my work or ministry.
I can now increase or build my own image which is quite different from my own image. When someone starts his humble ministry, he has his own image. As his fame spreads or as he seeks to proclaim that he is a special person chosen by God, he builds his own image surreptitiously. His intention may not be to build his own image. When he or she “advertises” that he is a special person, the image building exercise starts without his knowledge. It is not the testimony of Jesus but the testimony of that person concerned. What we need is the testimony of Jesus and not own testimony. If an evangelist announces his crusade for the sake of the gospel, it is good. But if he advertises his crusade by glorifying his ministry, then his image is being made. If a pastor announces his ministry in a street of his town for the sake of the gospel, it is good. But if he seeks to advertise his big church and the big gathering that he attracts in his church, his image is being made. A pastor by virtue of the spiritual gifts given to him can make his image larger in the eyes of the children of God by gravitating them to his image. A pastor or a servant of God making his image before the children of God is very dangerous. Of course, an evangelist making his image before the multitudes of the lost for preaching the gospel can be justified if he does not take upon himself the glory due to God. The moment a pastor or a minister of God advertises his ministry before the children of God that is the beginning of his fall. The children of God are being made to worship the image of the pastor! This is like the children of Israel worshiping the molten calf made by Aaron. I find from the website of a pastor of a mega-church the photo of his church and a large gathering of the children of God in his church. Why does he show the big crowd in his church? Is it to glorify God for bringing this crowd to his church? Or is it to attract the children of God from other churches to his church?
Image being distorted
When our image grows, it gets distorted and the original image disappears. An image larger than my life appears. I reproduce below a prophetic picture. In this picture, you find two old people i.e. a woman and a man. But their shadows show them as a young girl and a young boy. The second distortion is that both of them are dancing. Our images are being manipulated by the Devil so as to present us to the world as great people worthy of worship. The photo taken of me when I was a child cannot be presented to you as my photo of today.
As a servant of God, have you attempted to project your image in a distorted manner? Have you ever published in your magazine that you were mightily used by God through signs and wonders, when only a few people were healed or only when a few people had received miracles? Have you ever published a report projecting your image as a great man or a woman of God used throughout the world?
Image in the outer court and inside the Temple
If an evangelist preaches the gospel to the children of the world in the outer court and performs signs and wonders in the Name of Jesus Christ, his own image is being built by his fame through the thousands of people who are being saved or who see miracles in the outer court. His or her image does attract the multitudes to the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with such an image. Let it be there so long as it attracts the lost souls to the Cross and so long as he attempts to maintain a low profile of himself without appropriating the glory due to His Name. But if the same evangelist ministers to the children of God saved through his ministry, his ministry falls into the holy precincts of the Temple where he is not supposed to enlarge his image. Paul writes to his spiritual son Timothy, an evangelist that he should reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine; endure afflictions, and make full proof of his ministry (II Tim.4:2 to 5). Paul exhorts the young Timothy to "rebuke and admonish" them including the elder who are found guilty, and who persist in sin "in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels - "thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality...." (I Tim.5:20-21).
Open rebuke is better than secret love (Pro.27:5). David says in Psalm 141:5, "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head; for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities". If an elder or a servant of God who has committed a sin and persists in such sin without repentance, the younger generations like Timothy have a right to bring an accusation against that elder through the mouth of witnesses and, if the charges are proved, to "rebuke and admonish" the elder concerned "before all" so that "others also may fear".
Many evangelists like to please their supporters and to pray for their material blessings all the time. They prepare messages of promises on the New Year and exhort their supporters to inherit material blessings only. They want to be popular amongst the children of God inside the Temple by enlarging their images.
I may write a book for preaching the gospel or for edifying the children of God. But if I make an advertisement that I am a special person chosen by God, then I make my own image and appropriate a part of the glory of God forgetting that I am doing this ministry by His grace only, not being made worthy by my own righteousness. I can of course publish my photo or the photo of my family in my website or in my book so that others can know me personally for fellowship or for prayers. But I glorify my ministry through my photographs, I enlarge my image. If I cast out some evil spirits in Jesus’ Name, I am doing His ministry so long as I do not covet His glory. But I cast out evil spirits in His Name, advertising my ministry in a public television network or in a video, I make my own image. Why do you want the television camera to focus on the scenes of the demon possessed people falling down? If Jesus were with us, will He allow us to telecast His work of casting out evil spirits?
Image of a pastor in a city
In a metropolitan city of India, the pastor of a mega-church of a Pentecostal denomination is a man of God, working round the clock, helping many pastors, visiting distant places and nations for the sake of the gospel. Thousands of people attend the Sunday church services where he preaches. People of God from distant places in the city go to his church in vans specially arranged by him for their transport. These people of God live in places where there are small fellowships and churches. But they choose to attend the church services of this particular pastor. Do you think that the same Holy Spirit Who works signs and wonders in his church is not present in the other small fellowships and churches? I want the people of God to think on this line. What makes this pastor great in the eyes of these thousands of people? Is it the Holy Spirit in his church or his own image that has grown over the years? I do not deny that he is a chosen vessel of God who has labored more than the other pastors in the same city. I also agree that the messages preached by him and the signs and wonder that take place in his church also attract the thousands of people of God to his church. An image that is bigger than his original image when he started his church in a humble manner many years ago, has emerged from his pulpit and from the signs and wonders that had taken place in his church. If people of God feel that his messages benefit them, they can very well hear his messages in CDs/VCDs, etc. But why do they flock in large numbers only in his church services? Do they think that the same Holy Spirit cannot give those messages and perform signs and wonders through other pastors who live next door to them? Just think over it. You can now conclude that the image of this pastor that has emerged from his wonderful messages and from the signs and wonders taking place in his church does attract the thousands of people from the other parts of the city. I happened to attend his church services three times. When I was there on one particular Sunday, there was a special service which was dedicated for releasing one of his VCDs. He was being led in a small procession with beating of trumpets. The whole church was decorated with posters containing his photographs. Preachers showered praises on him and eulogized him. The pastor himself built his own image over the years. The thousands of people who attended his church service had also been building his image over the years. The same people could have attended the small church services or the fellowships in their localities and could have strengthened the hands of those pastors. In these small churches, these people of God could have got opportunities to develop their talents to preach and to witness.
Enrolling 10000 prayer warriors for a single ministry
While writing this message, the Holy Spirit brought my attention to the ministry of a beloved servant of God who has been given a unique talent of singing for preaching the gospel to the lost souls. I saw an appeal in his website seeking enrolment of 10,000 prayer warriors to pray for one hour in a week for God to bless his ministry. Let us know that an attempt is being made by this servant of God to build his own image through the prayers of 10,000 prayer warriors. It would be appreciated if he had solicited the prayer support of 10,000 prayer warriors to pray for other servants of God who serve God in various villages and towns. How can he expect the children of God to pray for one hour in a week for his ministry alone? We covet the intercessory prayers not for preaching the gospel in places not reached by the gospel but for promoting the ministry of an individual servant of God who has already been blessed by God with the abundant resources. Last month, I came across a hear-rending report from a North Indian mission field being run by Bro. S. Caleb Jeyakumar, a servant of God in Kattaruthurai, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu about the premature and untimely home-call of one of his missionaries, namely Bro. Rajesh, a native of the state of Bihar, who served the Lord in Bhimtal, Uttar Pradesh. He was 28 year old youth. When he drove his bike on a hilly region, a truck collided his two wheeler and he died. He is survived by his wife, aged 27 year old, 6 year old daughter Anugrah, 5 year old son and 2 year old daughter Aradhana and an old mother. Are we praying for such dedicated soldiers of Christ Jesus who face diseases and accidents in distant mission fields? Do we join the 10000 prayer warriors’ group just to pray for a single evangelist who has already been blessed with all the resources for doing his ministry?
Testimony distorted to project image of an evangelist
I quote yet one more instance. A dear pastor informed me that a sister in his church was interviewed by a popular televangelist just to record her testimony of how God had blessed her through the television ministry of that evangelist. Her testimony was recorded in the studio of the evangelist. In her testimony, she also made a reference to the local church where she had frequented for fellowship. But, while publishing her testimony, that particular portion wherein she had made a reference to the local church was deleted from her original testimony and only that portion where she praised the evangelist concerned was published. Here we can clearly see that the image of the evangelist was sought to be built or enlarged.
A prophetic vision
I now give below a prophetic vision interpreted by me some years ago so that you can easily understand what I am trying to drive home.
A member of our group from America emailed her vision to me for my interpretation. The following is the dream:
The following is my interpretation based on the Word of God:
This vision shows that the Lord is going to use your son in the prophetic. The name "David" indicates that he is going to deliver the children of God from the captivity of the evil spirits likened to Philistines, Amalekites, etc. His ministry will expose the false prophets and teachers who trap the children of God in men-made church structures. David and his group were headed for the rifle range. They walked through a greenery area surrounded by a forest but ended up in a building. David and his men went to fight against the Devil. They were in the rifle range. They were led to "lie down in green pastures" by the Great Shepherd (Ps.23:2). In the woods, he saw poles with wires. These poles with wires did not lead them to the rifle range to fight against the Devil. These were set up by the enemy to distract their attention and to lead them away from the battlefield. But, ultimately, they ended up in buildings. Buildings are symbolical of men-made church structures which do not allow the children of God to grow in their spiritual lives.
Image of the beast not a physical statue
We should bear in mind a cardinal truth that the image of the beast is not physically building or erecting an image of some individual religious leader or a political leader. If an image of a person is built by some powerful political leader or a powerful religious leader of this world and he seeks worship of this image, then we can easily identify the work of the spirit of the Antichrist. Every physical activity that happens in the physical world can be seen through our physical eyes. But it is a spiritual activity in the spiritual realm. Image of the beast is the sum total of images of all leaders and saints being built over the ages. Even if make an image of our Lord or God, it is also tantamount to making an idol. Jesus is the express image of God. No one can or should make an image of Christ Jesus. Similarly, no human being is supposed to make an image of any member of His Body. In the ten commandments, God commanded the children of Israel not to “make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth (Exo.20:4).
How an image is built?
If I love to preach from my own church pulpit every Sunday without sharing the same with the other elders in my church, I build my own image by coveting my church pulpit. If I advertise the spiritual gifts given to me by the Holy Spirit, I make my own image. If I do not do a team ministry, I am trying to build my own image. Jesus deputed the seventy disciples for preaching the Kingdom of God. He was always in the company of His disciples, while feeding the multitudes or while preaching to the multitudes. If your ministry revolves around you or your own family, there is an image already built by you.
It is the nature of the fallen man to seek to be popular or to build his/her own image. A crucified person will not seek to be popular. He goes into the wilderness very often and encourages his co-workers to do the public ministry in his place.
We may not be worshiping the beast or making his image knowingly. But, being deceived by the beast, we may be building his image surreptitiously without our own knowledge. We find that the beast was given to make war with the saints and that he has already brought down the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth (Rev.12:4). The beast works through this worldly system only. Being popular or seeking to be popular amongst the children of the world would become a snare in the hands of the Devil to tempt a saint. If the Antichrist works through a religious leader today, we can easily discern his work. But if he works through a deceived preacher of the gospel or a deceived pastor, we cannot easily discern his work. In America, a popular evangelist who performed “great miracles” in the name of Jesus Christ was living in the sin of open adultery. When the public came to know of his adulterous affair, he divorced his own wife and married that woman with whom he had the adulterous relationship and some popular evangelists endorsed his actions. Today he is reported to be in his public ministry “after repentance”. The deception is that he was reported to have repented of his adultery with that woman. That adultery was legalized in his second marriage. Deception comes only by the adulteration of the gospel and by presenting another Jesus who is not the Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Thousands of pilgrims flock in a famous Catholic shrine in Tamil Nadu, known as Velangani Matha, wherein they worship the images of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary. Similarly, thousands of pilgrims flock in many famous Hindu Temples wherein they worship the images of their gods and goddesses. If the children of God also visit some particular pastors in their churches just to hear his messages, we can conclude that the children of God are attracted towards the images of the pastors concerned in such church structures, though they may worship the living God in their churches. In the same church where they worship the living God, they also make a small image of their pastor. Just think over it. Please note that I am not saying that in such mega-churches, the children of God worship the images of their pastors. But I stress here that unknowingly they subscribe to the image building of their pastor.
Origins of the beasts
The first beast rises up out of the sea. Sea or the waters prophetically mean nations or peoples (Rev.17:15). The Antichrist emerges from the whole political system of the world. The second beast comes up out of the earth. The false prophet emerges from the materialism of the world. Earth is the source of all material wealth of the world. Even the material wealth of the sea comes out of the earth only. Whatever material object that comes from down and not from above is earthly.
Appearance of the first beast
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” (Vs.2). This is the appearance of the beast. A leopard runs swiftly to catch its prey. Likewise the beast catches its prey. Its feet were as the feet of a bear. The feet of the beast are so strong that it tramples its prey. Its mouth is like the mouth of a lion. It has the carnivorous teeth of a lion to eat its prey. All this shows a mighty and strong kingdom which enjoys all political, religious and economic powers. This invisible kingdom is visible through its powers. It influences the rulers or the kings of the earth who are opposed to Christ. It persecutes the Body of Christ, the Church in all ages.
Work of the first beast
The great dragon gives his power to the Antichrist, the first beast. And the false prophet, in turn, exercises all the powers delegated by the great dragon to the Antichrist.
Read Rev.13:4 to 8. The Antichrist usurps all the worship due to God. Any image of a person who eclipses the image of God or Christ even to a little extent from the public eye adds to the image of the beast. Nobody can alter or increase the image of Christ but he can eclipse His image from the other people who want to see Him fully. Any mouth that speaks “great things” or boasts about himself or about his ministry is of the Antichrist.
Any mouth that blasphemes the Name of Christ Jesus is of the Antichrist. Those opposed to Christ Jesus blaspheme His Name. But there may be some children of God who curse the Name of Christ. There are many servants of God who deny the Name of Christ Jesus for giving water baptism. We can give water baptism either in the Triune Name of God or in the Name of Jesus Christ. If someone preaches that we should not give baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ, he denies His Name. Denial of His Name is tantamount to cursing His Name.
Anybody who makes a war with the saints helps the Antichrist in his war against the saints. God has appointed His ministers in His vineyard for some specific functions. As a spiritual man, I can spiritually discern or judge the ministry of a saint as per 1 Cor.2:15. I can discern the spirit of a person to find out whether he is a saint or not. But I cannot make a war against a minister of God who has been entrusted with the prophetic role in admonishing me. If I resist an elder who admonishes me or a child who points out my mistake, this means I am making a war against His saints.
The first beast has the wound by a sword. We can identify those people who had been wounded by a sword. It is the prophetic word that becomes a sword in the hands of a saint that wounds the Antichrist. Over the ages, the Antichrist is being attacked and exposed by the prophetic sword in the hands of the children of God like you and me. He stands exposed by the wounds sustained by him through the sword. Any false teaching that comes from the Antichrist stands exposed through the right interpretation of the Word. But this wound gets healed quickly and he appears in the scene again to deceive and attack the saints. If any false doctrine propagated through the beast is attacked and exposed by the prophetic sword, after some time, we may forget the origin of deception or the error that had snared the people of God. It gets healed. The same Antichrist surfaces again through another or the same false doctrine.
Work of the second beast
Rev.13: 11 to 17 may be read. Anyone speaking as a dragon, making a boast of himself or his ministry, helps the false prophet in his work. Anyone who causes the people to worship the first beast helps the false prophet in his work. Please note that it is not physical worship of some image or some idol. But it is some spiritual activity that happens in the spiritual realm. Any person who does “great wonders” need not represent Christ Jesus. By such miracles, if he deceives the people making them believe that he has such powers in his body, he helps the false prophet in his mission.
Any person who gives life to the image of the first beast helps in the mission of the false prophet. I have my own image. If someone tries to make me a great person or to popularize me in the public eye, that person indirectly promotes the ministry of the false prophet by building my image.
Any person who causes all the people, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads for buying or selling, helps in the work of the false prophet. If I am induced to part with my money in promoting the image of any person or a saint or a servant of God, I help in the mission of the false prophet of making a mark of the beast on my forehead or my right hand. And the person who induces me to do so is also making a mark of the beast on his forehead or his right hand.
Electronic chips – an identification mark?
These days, the electronic chips are being inserted into the bodies of persons for easy identification. If we say that this is the work of the Antichrist, we can easily expose him because it happens in the physical world or the physical realm. But the mark of the beast is spiritual and not physical. Today many children of God are being identified not as the Lord’s sheep but as the sheep of some evangelist or some pastor and they bear the name of such a pastor or evangelist. I do not mean to say that they should not have fellowship with the elders concerned or those who have brought them to the faith in the House of God. Fellowship means sharing joy and sorrow and revelations of the Word and bearing the burden of one another in the house of God. Today, we do not find any such kind of fellowship between the elders or the servants of God and the children of God who are either the congregation members or the supporters. The congregation members or the supporters simply attend the church services or the evangelical meetings just to hear the sermons of their pastors or favorite preachers or to receive God’s blessings.
We should not accept every word that comes from the mouth of a pastor or an evangelist as the word of God without examining it with the Scriptures. If an elder “sins”, you have to rebuke him “before all” that others also may fear (I Tim.5:20). Many of us do not rebuke elders /pastors when their sins are made public.
Those who have rejected the gospel of Christ have already borne the mark of the beast on their foreheads and on their right hands. But the false prophet attempts to cause the children of God to bear this peculiar mark of image building. It is the personal identification mark of the beast on a child of God. The children of the world are also being identified as belonging to some ethnic, religious, political, social groups. They are being influenced by their leaders or by the society in which they live. It is the mark of the image of the beast. It is not merely belonging to some group but making an image of a person so as to worship him or her. Is the false prophet marking the sign of the beast on our foreheads as we worship another god or Jesus and as we make an image of ourselves larger than our own lives?
Let us now read I Pet.5:2-3. The elders are supposed to “feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre (tithes and offerings), but of a ready mind: Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away”. They are not supposed to merely preach from the pulpits but also to be ensamples to the Lord’s flock. They are also not supposed to lord over God’s heritage. The sheep of the Lord should be known by the name of the Great Shepherd and not by the shepherds who are hired by the Great Shepherd. Let us not have the mark of a man i.e. 666.
Sign of 666
“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 hundred threescore and six” (13:18). It is the number of a man. It cannot be a numerical figure in a literal sense. It cannot be an electronic number or a chip. Electronic chips are in the visible area, easily discernible by us. But what happens in the invisible area can be discerned only through our prophetic eyes i.e. the spiritual eyes feasting on His word.
This peculiar number ‘666’ shows the peculiar character of the Antichrist. It is the number of deception. He deceives any man. He adopts different methods in deceiving the people of God. He does not work in a stereotype manner. He works with sharp intellectual traits.
Three idols form his visible image i.e. god of religions (religious rites and ceremonies, devoid of spiritual growth), god of materialism (seeking only material prosperity) and god of power (seeking power to perform miracles and healings without salvation of souls from sin).
Three are his functions i.e. duplication, deceit and destruction.
Three are his manifestations i.e. abominations (making the children of God commit abominable sins), blasphemy (denying the Father and the Son by presenting another father and another son) and unrighteousness.
What exposes and wounds the Antichrist?
It is only the prophetic sword in our hands by meditating on His word and by aligning our lives in line with the Word of God that exposes and wounds the Antichrist. By merely shouting at him and by invoking the Name of Jesus Christ, we cannot overcome him. We cannot cast him out in the Name of Jesus Christ. Of course, we can cast out the evil spirits or the demons in the powerful Name of Jesus Christ. When the devil tempted Jesus by quoting the Scriptures, Jesus defeated him by quoting the same Scriptures and saying, “Thus saith the Lord”. The Antichrist will be destroyed with the spirit of Lord’s mouth after he is revealed during the second advent of Jesus Christ (II Thes.2:8). Before that particular point of time, we have to attack and expose him only through the prophetic sword of the Word. Let us follow the best example of the church in Berea in studying and examining the Word of God.
How to alter the enlarged images?
The minister of God whose image has grown in a gigantic proportion has to go into the wilderness and in his place his co-workers have to do the public ministry.
A great lesson through two parallel lines
John the Baptist cried in the wilderness, “He (Jesus) should increase and I should decrease”
John wanted his own image to decrease in proportion to the image of Jesus Christ. How?
Let us now draw two parallel lines of equal length. One line is meant for the image of Jesus Christ and the other line for the image of John the Baptist or our own image. Now the image of Jesus Christ cannot be altered because He is the express image of the invisible God (Col.1:15). No one can alter the image of Jesus Christ at all. By praising Him or giving a testimony about Him, we cannot increase His image. By ridiculing Him, we cannot decrease His image. By publishing scurrilous books like The Da Vinci Code, etc, or publishing some ridiculous cartoons, nobody can decrease His image. As such, let us not touch the first line which represents the image of Jesus Christ. Now to magnify His image through our vision, we can alter the second parallel line. By decreasing the second line, we can magnify the first line.
A minister of God becomes popular through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his/her image grows. Multitudes follow him/her to experience the power of God. The minister concerned can increase or decrease his/her own image. When he/she grows in image, he/she can withdraw into the wilderness and spend the time in intercessory prayer or in other ministry that does not propel him/her into popularity. He/she can devote the time to writing messages or interpreting the word of God. At the same time, the minister of God can equip his/her co-worker to do the public ministry. In this manner, he/she can decrease his/her own image.
These days, we can see the image of a “popular” servant of God through his magazines, television channels, etc. If he promotes his co-workers or those in the second line of his ministry in the public gaze, he can definitely decrease. Paul had a team of co-workers with him in his ministry. Even Jesus Christ did have the company of His twelve disciples. He did equip and send them for ministry. The Pentecost ushered in a body ministry of the Holy Ghost. The individual Levitical ministry came to an end when Christ died on the Cross and the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Mark 15:38). Those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb have been made unto God kings and priests to reign on the earth (Rev.5:9-10).
“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Mathew 9:16-17).
We find today is the same old Levitical ministry but in new bottles. New cloth and new bottles mean the new dispensation under the new covenant through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let us put on the new cloth by discarding the old cloth. Similarly, let us put the new wine of the gifts of the Holy Spirit into the new ministry of the New Covenant. The new wine should be put in the new bottles only.
The servants of God promoting their own ministries should decrease by replacing their ministries with “body” ministries. They should discard the old clothes but should put on the new clothes. They should not combine the new dispensation with the Old Testament tool of Levitical ministry.
What we find today is the decaying of these individual popular ministries. The Levitical ministry has to perish. If the Levitical priesthood is practiced continuously, it will definitely become “worse”.
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were nobler than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable woman which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”(Acts 17: 10-12)
The city of Berea in Macedonia (northern Greece) some forty-five miles west of Thessalonica, was visited by Paul and Silas on their first missionary journey. Before coming to Berea, Paul and Silas had laid the foundation of a thriving church in Thessalonica in a short time. However, due to the unbelieving Jews, persecution arose against them to such a degree that they had to leave the newly founded congregation, and came to the city of Berea. The Holy Spirit, who inspired Luke to write the book of Acts, recorded for us some key lessons we can learn from the Bereans. These lessons have to do with our attitude toward God’s word and his ministers; our discipline in the reading of God’s word; our willingness to acknowledge the truth when shown from the word of God; our willingness to be a discerning Christian, and our willingness to share the truth of God with others in order that they might be saved. So the question we need to ask ourselves is; how can I become a Berean Christian? That is: What we can glean from this account of the Bereans would clearly demonstrate the mark a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should bear. There would be less deception in the church if everyone who names the name of Christ would become Berean Christians. There would be more converts to the faith if more people would examine the claims of the Holy Bible with an open heart.
I. Receive the word of God with all readiness of mind.
Readiness of mind in the Greek is prothumia that is, zeal, earnest, alacrity. If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must approach the word of God in the correct attitude of heart. We should approach the bible with a ready mind to understand what saith the scriptures, and pray that God the Holy Spirit would grant us understanding of the word of God. In I John 2:20 it says that we have an unction, and in verse twenty-seven it says we have an anointing; these are translated from the same Greek word meaning, special endowment. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Bereans didn’t turn Paul and Silas away, but received them and were eager to hear them concerning the gospel. We too must be eager to hear the word of God, and to put it into practice. When we come to church, we should expect to hear the word of the Lord preached. We should desire and hunger for the sincere milk of the word, and the meat of the word to grow thereby. We should always let the word of God be true, and every man (including ourselves) becomes the liar.
II. We must search the scriptures if we are to be Berean Christians.
If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must be dedicated students of the scriptures. We must recognize that the source of the truth is the word of God and the word of God alone. And as students of the Word, we must try by the Word whether the things preached and taught are true. Notice how the Bereans did not accept what Paul and Silas preached because they were great preachers or well-known. In St. John’s gospel chapter 5:39 we read, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” If we choose to be Berean Christians we must subject all that is taught or spoken to the authority of God’s holy word. The Berean Christians must not establish truth on what he senses on the emotional level, or on his personal opinions but strictly on the basis of the scriptures. The preacher should demand that his hearers make recourse to the word of God to make sure that what was preached, or taught was correct.
Berean Christians are suspicious of any minister that discourages questions, and simply demands blind obedience. No where in the bible are we taught that we are to blindly follow anyone; this would include the minister. In Isaiah 8:20 it says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The faith in Christ is a rational faith, and a faith that can stand the test of intellectual scrutiny. We do not have to dump our brains and become brutes to believe the scriptures as some in the scientific world imagine. The Lord Jesus himself commanded that the scriptures be searched. This shows us that God is interested in a thoughtful consideration of the truths advanced in the scripture. Unlike that of cults and false religions, true servants of the Lord encourage the asking of questions on the part of the hearer. An unexamined faith is not worth anyone’s commitment. Truth is not afraid of being examined because truth will always prove to be the truth every time.
III. The word of God is for the Berean Christians, daily bread.
The passage in Acts 17:11 says that they searched the scripture daily. If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must read the word of God everyday if we possibly can. Some days will naturally bring exceptions, but hopefully these are rare exceptions. The prophet Jeremiah in the chapter 15:16 said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of host.” If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must eat, or rather, internalize the word of God. When we take the word of God to heart, we are obedient to its commands. Psalms 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” In Psalms chapter one, the writer speaks of the blessing of those who stand not in the counsel of the ungodly, but finds his delight in the law of the Lord, and in it, meditates day and night. “. . . It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (St. Matthew 4:4).
IV. A true Berean Christian is a discerning Christian.
Just as the Bereans searched the scriptures to try what was being preached of Paul and Silas, we too must have a heart of discernment; especially since these are the last days. In the book of Hebrews chapter 5:14, we read, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” In the first general epistle of John in chapter 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” This is why it is so important that we all become Berean Christians. There is great danger of being deceived and lead astray into deception and destruction. The bible warns us that Satan transforms himself into a messenger of light, and therefore it is no marvel that his ministers appear as ministers of righteousness. Satan has ministers in the Church today who preach another Jesus, another gospel, by the power of another spirit. Exercising good discernment was one of the things Jesus commended the Church of Ephesus for. They tried them that called themselves apostles, and found them to be liars. The discernment of a Berean Christian depends solely on “it is written” and not on signs, wonders, and miracles. Miracles are no sure way of discerning whether some one is of God or not.
V. The Berean Christian is concerned about sin.
Notice in verse twelve of our text: “Therefore many of them believed. . .” That is, they repented of their sins when they were called to salvation. If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must be concerned about sin. The concern should begin with us; we need a clear revelation of ourselves.
VI. The Berean Christian is jealous for the word of God.
This is something that seems to be lacking in the church today. It is difficult to find those who care about what “thus saith the Lord.” It would seem that most believers are more jealous for their denominations than for the things of God. We live in a day where the holy word of God can be butchered, perverted, twisted, and completely ignored. It would seem that God’s people love to have it so. But any true Christian who desires to be a Berean Christian will contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. In the book of St. Jude verse three, we read, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (St. Jude 3).
VII. The Berean Christian is willing to suffer for the faith.
This is also seldom realized in the Church of Jesus Christ in the western world, particularly in the Christian nations and in those places in India where there is no severe persecution. We seem to think that the persecution of Christians died out with the Roman Coliseum. But the persecution of the believers in Christ never really stopped. Down through the centuries whether the Romans or the Catholic Institution, and later the religion of Islam, Christians many times had to give up their lives for the testimony which they held. This is one of the greatest legacies of our faith and the blood of our brothers and sisters who loved not their lives even unto the death bears testimony to our faith. Should we now betray their sacrifice by compromising the faith for which they suffered and died? And what of our brothers and sisters in our day; in many countries of the world many are under great trail? In every Muslim country Christians are suffering great persecution such as imprisonments, torture, decapitation, castration, and deportations. Many Christians around the world are sitting in some cold, filthy prison cell right now, and they are full of joy of the Holy Ghost.
These are just a few indicators that we can use to determine if we are being the Bereans we should be. These are by no means all the characteristics of a Berean Christian, but I hope that this will spark your own study on this subject. The need for discernment is great in our day, and there is every wind of false doctrine blowing throughout the Church and the World. The only sure foundation that will not be moved in these tempestuous times and seasons is the holy word of God. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. This means that the word of God is our ultimate authority on all things; especially when it comes to sound doctrine. The word of God is alive, and energetic; it is dynamic in its working, and sharper than any two-edged sword. If we let it guild us by the Spirit of God, it will reveal to us the will of God and shine the precious light on our path. But it will also pierce to the dividing asunder or soul and spirit, and will even divide the bone from the marrow and expose all the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is the word by which the true gospel is preached unto men.
(Written by Job Anbalagan - the message about the Berean Christians was written by one Jimmy Lathan. We do not claim copyrights to God’s messages. Please feel free to download and transmit this message in any manner as the Holy Spirit leads you.)