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Revelation Lesson 34 - Counterfeit

Revelation Lesson 34 - Counterfeit

Ref: Revelation 13:3–4

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but Satan is just a copycat. He isn't original. So we shouldn't be surprised to see him make a counterfeit god, a counterfeit gospel, and a counterfeit messiah.

Transcript

Counterfeit

Revelation 13:3-4

At the outset, let me say I’ve caught this cold and cough all over again . . . thought I had licked it, but evidently that was only round one.  So let me say ahead of time, excuse me, and then whenever I cough, we’ll just keep moving on.

I can’t afford to miss any more Sundays . . . listen, if we don’t press on through the Book of Revelation, we’re never gonna get out of the Tribulation!

So, you bear with me and we’ll press on . . . alright?

In one of my recent trips . . . to Chic-Fill-A – you thought I was gonna say a mission field – these trips are part of a well-balanced life . . . I actually go there with the added incentive of a free newspaper which you can read while you eat your healthy mix of nuggets with honey barbecue sauce, sweet tea and if you have a little extra money, one of their signature brownies with chocolate icing on top.  In my opinion it’s all part of spiritual growth.

Anyhow, one article from the USA Today newspaper a few weeks ago caught my attention.  The headlines read, “Bogus Money Goes Mainstream.”

The article revealed how the economic downturn has given new meaning to words, “photo-copying.” 

Arrests for making counterfeit money have hit a five-year high.  People are now evidently trying to pass off fake bills to pay everyday expenses.  If you can imagine it, counterfeiters handed off 64.4 million dollars in 2008. 

The article read, “Counterfeiters have taken advantage of technological advances in scanners and printers.”  “Christmas is usually the worst time of year, one federal agent reported, “The cashiers are overwhelmed.”  

The article reported that this problem is now way beyond the Christmas season.  One secret service agent who was interviewed said that this problem was no longer the actions of the criminal element in society like drug dealers and gangsters; this is now a mainstream problem . . . this is your neighbor next door.

People have now been caught trying to use counterfeit $20 bills to buy pizza and gasoline for their cars.

One 15 year old student in Milford, Michigan photographed currency on a scanner copier and tried to pass it off at his high school cafeteria.

In one town in Georgia, earlier this month, local banks found counterfeit 20’s and 100 dollar bills from respectable merchants.  Authorities from that same town had already arrested one man recently, catching him in the act as he printed bills from a color scanner on his kitchen table.

One lawman said, “This is probably due to the economy . . . and I’ve got a feeling there’s a lot more going on out there.” / Adapted from USA Today, January 1, 2009

Just imagine the implications of this: the character of our citizens can be bought off by a downward economy.  Difficult times can cause ordinary, for the most part law-abiding citizens to photocopy a 20 dollar bill and risk everything to pass it off. 

My father used to say to us boys as we were growing up – whenever someone was caught stealing something – he’d comment that the amount stolen was too little to sell out – whether it was a 100 dollars or a million dollars.  He’d usually say, “My character is worth more than 100 dollars.”

From that perspective, imagine someone’s character worth less than a pizza, or a tank of gas, or lunch from the school cafeteria; or, I might add, a couple thousand dollars on a dishonest tax return.

If troubled times can lead people to sell their conscience and create some counterfeit money, there is little wonder in my mind how the world will one day, during the darkest days of the Tribulation, follow a counterfeit Messiah.

They will literally sell their soul to a counterfeit King.

We have been introduced to the Antichrist already in Revelation chapter 13.

In the first 2 verses – and from Daniel’s prophecy – we’ve learned that he will head up a revived Roman Empire – 10 European kingdoms – matching the vision of Daniel’s image with 10 toes, signifying this 10 kingdom coalition which forms a one world government.

We have also learned that the Antichrist will rise into power as a fairly insignificant European leader – Daniel calls him a little king that rises among them (Daniel 7:8) – that is, a king among the European leaders, and he will begin his rise to power as an unimpressive, inauspicious man.

Daniel also informs us that the Antichrist will eventually rise to take the throne as the world’s final Caesar.

He will eventually force everyone to take his mark or die.  This mark of the beast is described later in chapter 13 which we’ll study closely in a later session.

The Antichrist is the ultimate counterfeiter.  Everything God has done, Satan has tried to duplicate or counterfeit.

The Antichrist will be the Devil’s greatest achievement in the history of his counterfeit agenda.

If you go through scripture and compare the life and ministry of Jesus Christ with the efforts of Satan to counterfeit Him, it is uncanny.  Let me give you some comparison’s  . . . well, let me give you 19 of them in this introduction. 

By the way, all of this is available online later each week . . . the entire manuscript, if you want to print it off for free – colonial.org at the Media Center.

Number 1.

  1. Jesus Christ performs miracles, signs and wonders throughout the Gospels; Paul writes to the Thessalonians that the Antichrist will come in accordance with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
  2. Jesus Christ will appear in the millennial temple – and the Antichrist makes his appearance in the Tribulation temple. The Apostle Paul describes him taking his seat in the Temple, declaring himself worthy of worship. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
  3. Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God – God in the flesh; the Antichrist will claim to be the incarnation of God (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
  4. Jesus Christ is the Lion from the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5 reiterates this lineage); the Antichrist will have a mouth like a lion)
  5. Christ will make a peace covenant with Israel that will be enjoyed throughout the millennial (Ezekiel 37); the Antichrist will begin his claim as Messiah by offering Israel a peace covenant as well (Daniel 9:27)
  6. Christ motivates and causes worship for the one true God; the Antichrist will actually encourage worship of the false God, Satan.
  7. Christ’s followers during the tribulation will be marked and sealed as His (Revelation 7:4); the Antichrist will seal his followers on their forehead or right hand (Revelation 13:16-18)
  8. Christ has a worthy name (Revelation 19:16); the Antichrist uses blasphemous names.
  9. Christ is married to a virtuous bride while the Antichrist is betrothed to a vile harlot (Revelation 17:3-5)
  10. Christ is crowned with many crowns: the Antichrist is crowned with 10 crowns (Revelation 13:1)
  11. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings; the Antichrist is called a king (Daniel 11:36)
  12. Christ sits on a throne; the Antichrist will sit on a throne (Revelation 16:10)
  13. Christ will ride a white horse when he comes (Revelation 19:11); the Antichrist rides on a white horse in Revelation 6:2
  14. Christ has an army, as does the Antichrist (Revelation 19)
  15. Christ died a violent death; the Antichrist dies a violent death (Revelation 13:3)
  16. Christ is resurrected; the Antichrist is resurrected as we’ll see in a moment.
  17. Christ comes again to reign as does the Antichrist come back to reign (Revelation 13:3)
  18. Jesus Christ reigns from Jerusalem for 1,000 years during the millennial kingdom; the Antichrist reigns for 3 ½ years in his worldwide kingdom (Revelation 13:5-8)
  19. Finally, Christ is a part of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; you will discover in Revelation an unholy trinity of Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. / Adapted from Mark Hitchcock, Is the Antichrist Alive Today? (Multnomah Books, 2002), p. 20

In every way possible, Satan will attempt to counterfeit the true Messiah.

J. Dwight Pentecost, one of my former seminary professors, summarized it well when he wrote, “Satan is seeking to give the world a ruler in place of Christ who will also be in opposition to Christ so that he can rule over the world, instead of Christ.” / Ibid

What is it that causes such profound deception by this counterfeit Messiah?  Primarily two things:

First, his management of peaceful reconciliation

We saw the antichrist fulfill the symbolism of the white horseman who rides forward and offers Israel peace in their land.  Palm branches will be waving at the sight of this wonder-worker who brokers what no other world leader has been able to accomplish.

But that’s just a warm-up. 

Not only will his management of peaceful reconciliation be impressive, secondly: His miracle of physical resurrection will cement his rise to world power.

Their wonder of him will turn to worship.  Their excitement over him will turn into the exaltation of him as their crowned messiah.

Let’s take a closer look at Revelation 13:3.  I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed.  And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.

Remember, the title beast refers to both the Antichrist and the coalition of this revived Roman Empire.

Because of that fact, there are some who believe the resurrection spoken of here in verse 3 is not referring to the Antichrist, but to the resurrection of his kingdom – the revived Roman Empire.

The major problem with that view is that the Greek language uses the personal pronoun for this wounding and dying event which then limits this to one of the kings – not the entire kingdom. / Robert L. Thomas, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 1995), p. 158

If you look down at the last part of verse 12, John writes, “the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.”

Again this is a personal event – one of the kings – specifically the first beast – the first beast introduced to us in chapter 13 is the Antichrist. 

Evidently, at some point in his rise to power the Antichrist is assassinated.  

The question obviously comes up, was he really dead?

Look further at verse 14 – the later part where the false prophet orders the world “to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.”

At some point in his rise to power, the Antichrist is assassinated by a wound to the head.  He is literally killed and literally brought back to life.

Are you sure he really died?  Some believe he faked it . . . it was one of his lying wonders. 

I, along with other Bible teachers, believe the Antichrist is actually, physically dead and one of the strongest reasons I believe it is another verse of scripture.  In verse 3 of Revelation 13, we read, “I saw one as if it had been slain – literally slaughtered.  

Turn back to Revelation chapter 5, where you discover the English translation of that exact same Greek phrase where it is now used Jesus Christ.

Notice verse 6, where we see the Lamb of God standing before the throne of God the Father and John writes that he saw, “A Lamb standing as if slain.”

What he means by that is not that Jesus wasn’t really slain, but that he bore the marks of having been slain; which implies that the Antichrist will also wear the marks of that failed assassination attempt on his life as a sign of his invincibility.

It’s also one more way he can masquerade as the Messiah.

So the Antichrist’s slaughter is as real as the Lamb’s slaughter.    / Kendell H. Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation (Holman, 1998), p. 227

The Antichrist isn’t faking death, he’s really dead.

Now wait a second.  If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, that means the Antichrist has to be literally resurrected from the dead.

Do you believe Satan can resurrect someone from the dead?

Great question. 

Let me ask and answer a lesser question first.  Can Satan perform miracles?

We know from scripture that Satan has been given delegated, limited power. 

Do you remember how, with God’s permission, Satan was allowed to control the winds of nature to create a tornado that collapsed the home where Jobs children were feasting.  He was allowed to influence the mind of warriors who came and killed Job’s servants.

With further permission from God, Satan was able to exercise his power by sending diseases to Job’s body, covering him with boils and sores.

That’s significant, delegated, God appointed and God allowed power.

We saw the same thing earlier in Genesis where Pharaoh’s magicians were able to copy several of the miracles of God through Moses, including turning their own rods into serpents, just as Moses’ rod was transformed into a serpent in Genesis 7:12. 

They were also able to turn water into blood in verse 22 of that same chapter, which only further hardened the heart of Pharaoh against the God of Moses – which was God’s purpose.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ informs us that false teachers will eventually stand before the Lord as unbelievers who were able to counterfeit true spiritual ministry and even in the name of Jesus Christ. 

They will perform real miracles of healing.  But all along they are not members of God’s family; they are actually empowered by Satan himself (Matthew 7:22, because Jesus will say to them on the day of judgment, “I never knew you.”

Just as Jesus Christ and His apostles raised people from the dead, so Satan will be allowed the ability to raise the Antichrist from the dead, thus counterfeiting the very foundation of the Christian faith – the resurrection of the Messiah.

This helps us understand how the world will at that moment consolidate not just their wonder over this man, but now their worship of this man.

He who was dead has come back to life.

We know that it is the empowerment of Satan, allowed by God to perform this miracle so as to deceive the world – John wrote earlier, “to lead the whole world astray.” 

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians that, “God will send delusion so that the world will believe the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

I believe this resurrection of the Antichrist is a major part of Paul’s words being explained and fulfilled.

God will allow Satan to perform this miracle and the world will fall at Antichrist’s feet.

In my research I uncovered the popular belief during the 1950’s that John F. Kennedy was the antichrist.  Runaway imaginations led to many misguided speeches and even sermons and articles. 

Kennedy was, of course, the first President elected who was not Protestant, but Roman Catholic.  That made our vastly Protestant country, at the time, somewhat suspicious of this man who was loyal to Rome.  At the democratic convention in 1956 he received 666 votes.  That really got the imagination going for some.  He was elected president and then later shot in the head – a fatal wound to the head – which is how the Bible described the death of the Antichrist.  There were some who believed that as President Kennedy lay in state in the rotunda of the Capitol, he would come out of his casket an assert himself as the ruler of the world . . .which, of course, never happened. / David Jeremiah, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, 2008), p. 145

I have tried to imagine this scene from the information John and Daniel and Paul provide us. Revelation 13 confirms the message.

The world is now grieving over the loss of its greatest peace negotiator . . . a brilliant genius of a man who had led his European country to national prominence. 

His policies were being copied and his advice on everything was being requested.  Only recently, he had helped solidify a European coalition, taking the reins of 3 countries whose leaders mysteriously died, or disappeared.  He masterfully strengthened the coalition as he took over and the other kings granted him the highest rank among them. 

His skill at leadership and diplomacy was breathtaking and reassuring.  In a world that was going mad with plagues and earthquakes and disease and death, his hand seemed to calm everything it touched.

But an assassin had gotten through . . . a madman with a sword who struck this great leader – perhaps it was someone acting in revenge over the death of the other kings; we’re not told why; we’re only told that the Antichrist is killed in cold blood. 

Now the world mourns as he lies in state in some European embassy – or castle – television cameras from networks around the world are trained on the coffin while others beam the tear streaked faces of mourners who are lined up for miles to pay their last respects. 

Suddenly, to the shock of everyone, certainly the millions of people watching global network news, this king suddenly opens his eyes, takes a deep breath, sits up in his coffin, then clambers over the side and walks up to a camera and announces to a stunned world that he is indeed the true Messiah – the one who was dead and is now, forevermore alive.

No wonder John writes in Revelation 13:3b, And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4. They worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast and they worshipped the beast.

Who wouldn’t?!

Apart from the discerning grace of God, those who are dying for their testimony in Christ would only wonder like John the Baptist who, in desperation and doubt, incarcerated in a prison about to die, sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you really the one or should we look for another?”  (Matthew 11:3)

It doesn’t look like our sides winning! 

The world celebrates the victory of this king over death itself.

And so they worship him . . . but did you catch John’s inspired phrase in verse 4a . . . “they worshiped the dragon.”

The dragon, as we’ve already learned is Satan.

Here’s the raw truth –by worshipping the Antichrist, unbelievers will actually be worshiping Satan, the real power behind him.  Some people will fully understand that, but most will probably be deceived, like those of whom Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:20: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God.”  In other words, thinking that they were worshiping the god to whom they sacrificed, they were in reality worshiping the demonic world which was impersonating their false god. / John MacArthur, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 2000), p. 46

Whether they comprehend it or not, they are giving allegiance to the power behind their false religion. 

In reality, the world will one day be dancing with the Devil.

And many will go willingly.  Like one European leader some time ago who actually said, and I quote, “If the devil could offer a panacea for the problems of the world, I would gladly follow the devil.” / Adrian Rogers, Unveiling the End Times in our Time (Broadman, 2004), p. 154

That will one day actually happen.

This is the recognition the devil has always wanted; this has been the longing of Satan . . . he desperately wants to be worshipped. / Sam Gordon, Worthy is the Lamb (Ambassador, 2000), p. 284

This is his finest hour!

How he thrills to hear mankind chant their worship of his counterfeit Messiah.  How he thrills to know he has influenced billions of worshippers away from God and unto himself.

This is his highest achievement.

And notice what the world says in verse 4. Who is like the beast and who is able to wage war with him?

These are rhetorical questions expecting the answer back, “No one is like the beast – the Antichrist; no one is able to fight against him.”

How do you fight someone you can’t kill?  How do you compare someone else to this one who before our very eyes – not secretly like that other Messiah – the Carpenter – who disappeared after appearing to less than 1,000 people at most.

This one – the true Messiah – has shown the world his power over death and the grave.  He has hidden nothing.  He is the promised one.

The world will go delirious with delight at this one who seems to be the answer to everything  / John Phillips, Exploring Revelation (Loizeaux Brothers, 1991), p. 166

Perhaps he is the one who can give to them eternal life. 

Do you know what’s been happening throughout world history?  One author put it, dress rehearsals for this event and this coming leader.  The human heart hungers for a visible God and is ever ready to deify a leader who promises them what they want. / Ibid, p. 167

I believe that Satan throughout history has always had a man ready; he doesn’t know the moment of the Rapture and the ensuing Tribulation when he can move forward with his global agenda, and so for that reason, he seems to have someone ready to go at any moment.

He was ready with the Caligula and Nero.

He was ready with Napoleon and Robespierre.

He was ready with Mao and Hitler and Stalin.

Puppets who sold their souls to war against Jesus Christ; puppet kings who would have gladly stepped forward to rule the world.

But they were not in God’s timing . . . they were not God’s choice.  And Satan would chew them up and spit them out as only one more failed attempt to rule the world through them.

Joseph Stalin’s daughter would later talk about her father, used by Satan to fight Christianity and literally martyr millions of Christians.  On his deathbed, she described, he did something peculiar. She said that just before he died, he had been unconscious, unable to move much at all, but he suddenly sat up in his bed, looked up at the ceiling, raised his clenched fists and shook them towards the ceiling, fell back on his pillow and died.

His last act of defiance against the Savior he so hated.

In his bunker, days before he would take his own life, Adolph Hitler whiled away his time with his close friends and mistress.  The untold story, until years later, was that Hitler had been a man given over to the occultic underworld; an avid student of yoga, hypnotism, astrology and Eastern occultism; many now believe him to have been possessed by demonic forces to do things that can only be explained by the darkness of Satan’s agenda against the Jew and the Christian and the world at large.

One of his staff members, there with him at his final hideaway, was a man named Raushning who described a recurring scenario in Hitler’s final days when Hitler was no longer a comrade of Satan but a throwaway puppet king of no more use.  And I quote, [We would hear] “Hitler yell for help . . . seized with power that made him tremble so violently his bed shook.  There in his bedroom, his lips would turn blue and he would drip with sweat and he would be whispering in terror, “It is he!  It is he!  He is here! / (Lisa, I couldn’t footnote this quote; it’s in Erwin Lutzer’s, Hitler’s Cross … in my library at church . . . used in another manuscript)

Whether he sensed Satan or Christ whom he hated, we don’t know.

Listen to this truth about the final false Messiah.  The Antichrist means nothing to Satan.  He is only his greatest puppet . . . used as Satan’s final attempt to wrestle worship away from God.

For those of us who believe in Christ, the Antichrist is not someone to be feared, he is someone to be most pitied.

Like Judas Iscariot who did Satan’s bidding and then took his own life, as did Nero and Hitler after him.

They danced with the Devil and then died.

And they will live with him one day, forever.

I close our study today with a challenge and an invitation.

For those who believe in Jesus Christ:

Let me give you a challenge to be discerning.

Even today, even without the Antichrist to do his bidding, the Christian is in danger of being distracted by the Enemy . . . or worse yet, deceived.

Listen, for everything that God has, Satan has a counterfeit.  There are counterfeit Christians.  We call them hypocrites.  There is a counterfeit church.  The Bible calls it the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 3:9).  There are seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (I Timothy 4:1); there are false messiahs and false prophets who will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 7 and 24) / Adapted from Rogers, p. 157

When trouble comes . . . will it detract from your worship; will it distract from your walk; will it divert your commitment?

Even now . . . this is our challenge in a world with false promises and antichrist agendas.  Listen dear Christian to the challenge of the Apostle Peter who wrote, “The end of all things is near.”  I love that.  Listen, if Peter thought the end was near, what we can know for certain is that it’s 2,000 years nearer.

We believe the end of all things is really near.  So what does that mean?!

Peter writes, “The end of all things is near; therefore, panic! No, that’s not what he wrote; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complain.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever is the gifted speaker, do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever is gifted in serving, do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all tings God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11)

So, for the believer . . . let this discussion on last days call you to a pure way of living . . . to a gracious love and hospitality; to committed service to the body of Christ with your spiritual gifts that God has entrusted you with to bless the church – whether speaking or serving.

And along the way, the truth about the last days is meant to challenge us toward living with discernment.

For you, an unbeliever, listening to my voice …

Let me give you an invitation to deliverance.

Listen my friend, a counterfeit works well only because it looks so much like the real thing.  It models the truth as much as possible.

It uses religious terminology . . . it genuflects at the Bible or some steeple . . . or at a cross.  It hushes in reverence at the sight or sound of something spiritual or profound.  But it wants nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

Listen, the antichrists of the world and the coming final antichrist will have so many people dying for them; Jesus Christ died for you.

I invite you to eternal deliverance . . . don’t follow the wrong Messiah, even now, place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ – everyone else is a counterfeit. 

Only Christ is the one to Whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.

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