He will also use deceptive signs, and he will be able to perform miracles in his efforts to win people’s allegiance to his boss (13:12–15). This is one reason why I so adamantly caution Christians not to be so enamored with miracles. Some Christians run from church to church, town after town, in search of the next big spiritual flash. Yes, our God does indeed do miracles. But be careful. Not every miracle comes from God! In ancient times, false prophets were able to perform miracles, whether real or through some form of chicanery, and in our time, we’ve seen our share of charlatans.
Now, John warned us that the False Prophet is going to wow people with miracles and “great signs,” even making fire come down out of heaven, as the prophet Elijah did and as the two witnesses to come will do in Jerusalem. Many people will be deceived by the False Prophet. This is the spirit of devils working miracles (16:14).
Although he may look and sound like a lamb, the antichrist’s beastly cohort is devious. He will establish a false religion, bringing all the world’s religions together and forming an umbrella religion designed to worship the antichrist (13:14–15), an eclectic, inclusive, tolerant religion. The only religious beliefs that will not be tolerated will be biblical Christianity. Can you not see that this is beginning to happen in the U.S. and throughout the world?
The False Prophet’s public spectacles will deceive many people. He will encourage them to make an image of the antichrist, and they will set up an idol to the Beast who had the head wound and came back to life. When will this happen? Probably midway through the seven-year Tribulation. Where will it occur? I believe it will occur in Jerusalem, but possibly this image will be seen in your home. Whether by television, the Internet, or some other means, the False Prophet will somehow cause the image to speak! He gives breath to the image, and this image will talk, deceive, and destroy, all by the power of Satan. Moreover, this image will have the power to have anyone killed if that person will not worship the antichrist.
With the help of the False Prophet, the antichrist will devise an economic system whereby people are given a mark either on their hand or their foreheads (13:16–17). Many well-meaning Christians have portrayed this mark as an ugly demarcation on a person, but that is highly unlikely to catch on in our beauty-conscious society. What form the mark of the Beast will take is uncertain, but it will probably be innocuous, such as an eye or hand scanner, or even inserted below the skin, observable only with scanners or other devices. With modern biometric devices already on the scene, and new technologies appearing every day, the possibilities are endless.
Nowadays, we have the wherewithal to place computer chips in our pets, and many children’s advocates want traceable identification to be implanted in children to help prevent child abductions and other pernicious evils. Besides having personal information about the child, the chip would function as a personal global positioning system. But the evil of the mark of Revelation 13:16 will far exceed any evil such implantation might prevent.
Why would people accept the mark of the Beast? As the apostle John informed us, they won’t be able to buy or sell without it. They won’t be able to do business without the mark, the name of the Beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16–17). This means that people will not be able to trade on the stock market without the antichrist’s mark. That’s true, but that’s not all. You won’t be able to buy groceries either. Nor will you be able to sell your products or services. Imagine going to an automobile dealer and being refused service because you don’t have the mark. Or think of how you will procure electricity or water or medical services.