Most people don’t notice when they are given counterfeit money and then pass it on. After all, who really takes the trouble to check whether the money he has been given is genuine? However, anyone who passes counterfeit money risks being imprisoned. So we have to know how to recognize counterfeit money, as it will always appear deceptively real.
This is also the creed of the “False Prophet,” who is mentioned three times in the Book of Revelation (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Many people treat the prophetic word in the same careless way in which they take and then pass on counterfeit money. The Antichrist is widely seen as a terrifying, yet luring tyrant, but most people don’t really know where to start when it comes to the False Prophet. However, the fact is that the latter is actually the deceiver.
The Antichrist will appear as a commendable and exemplary human being and leader in whom most of the world will believe. After all, Antichrist means the one who appears “in the place of” the Messiah or Christ, in the way the world imagines Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
The False Prophet will assist and advise the Antichrist as his prime minister of religion, with a role similar to that of Aaron to Moses. The False Prophet imitates everything that God does so that he will appear as genuine as possible. Only by doing so can he deceive and mislead the world.
There are many horror stories about the False Prophet, but religious science fiction novels can be a distraction from reality. While end time scenarios may tickle the imagination, the most important thing is to recognize the False Prophet early on even though he appears normal.
For example, how does one disguise a hostile takeover? By behaving in such a way that no one would expect. You are perceived as a best friend and most trusted confidante. Yet world history is full of Brutuses and Judases. And the more dangerous the enemy, the more fraternal he will appear. The False Prophet may seem to come in brotherly love, but it is a deception.
The Bible paints a terrifying picture of the False Prophet, describing him as a “beast” and “dragon” with ten horns and seven heads, whose mouth is speaking out profane names. When we read these things we can get goose bumps. But we could have a long wait for a monster of this kind, and in doing so we overlook how he is already leading us astray with his ecumenical piety. We can read about this in Revelation 13:1-10.
Dictators who are destined to plunge their nations into disaster have their people celebrate them as a savior. When the world is politically misled, it is much easier for the False Prophet to deceive all nations and religions.
In doing so he uses a light touch, so that no one will be aware of what he is doing. Those who are pious will be misled by a religious veneer, and those who are more rational will be led astray by reason, so that in the end everyone will think that he is right. Our only protection is to be sealed with the Holy Spirit who binds us to the Word of God. This is the only way in which we can triumph over every deception of Satan that he presents in the name of Jesus.
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