In 1979, an article in Time magazine carried the headline, “Inflation: Who Is Hurt the Worst?” A worried blue-collar worker named Arthur Garcia said, “I keep waiting for a miracle, some guy who isn’t born yet, and when he comes, we’ll follow him like he’s John the Baptist.”1 One day, Arthur Garcia’s lament will become the cry of the world.
Revelation 13 introduces us to one of the main characters on the stage during the Great Tribulation. We usually call him the Antichrist. Now, when some people hear of the Antichrist, they tend to snicker and grin in a condescending way, as if to say, “Oh, how hopelessly naïve!” They put him on par with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. But make no mistake: This sinister, dark, evil person will come on the scene, and people will say of him, “Our savior!” He will deceive and destroy the world.
The Coming World Leader (Revelation 13:1-10)
Six characteristics will mark this future world leader. The first is wickedness. In verse 1, he is called “a beast.” As John stands on a beach, he sees rising from the sea a monstrous, weird creature with seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns. This creature is a hideous combination of three animals: a leopard, a bear, and a lion. This is how God sees the Antichrist—just as he saw Satan as a dragon rather than an angel of light. God is able to peel away the veneer of supposed reputation and reveal the fabric of one’s character.
The Greek term for “beast” is therion, which speaks of a wild, venomous beast, a monster. Paul calls this character “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” and “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8). The Antichrist will come on the world scene much like the angels at Christmas, saying, “Peace on earth” and offering a plan for world tranquility. But this will not last long. Midway through the Tribulation, he will commit what both Daniel and Jesus called “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15), thus revealing his true character. This beast, the Antichrist, will serve Satan and will receive both power and authority directly from the father of lies, the head of this counterfeit trinity.
The second characteristic is world dominance. Verse 1 says the Antichrist will have seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns; verse 2 declares that the devil will give him his power, his throne, and great authority. This man will be granted power to “make war with the saints and to overcome them” and will be given authority over “every tribe, tongue, and nation” (v. 7). This recalls the vision in Daniel 7 of four beasts representing four distinct world powers: a lion (Babylon), a bear (Medo-Persia), a leopard (Greece), and a grotesque and terrifying creature (Rome). Here, John sees a single beast possessing all of the characteristics of the four creatures in Daniel 7. And this final kingdom will have seven heads and ten horns, representing separate governments that at the time of the end will come together in a confederacy.
This ruler will impose a new kind of world order on the planet—a world order with unprecedented influence. Daniel 7:23 says the Antichrist will devour the whole earth, trampling it and breaking it into pieces. If he is to deliver world peace, then he will need a global influence.
Part of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, produced by the Democratic World Federalists, says,
Realizing that humanity today has come to a turning point in history; that we are on the threshold of a new world order which promises to usher in an era of peace and prosperity and harmony; conscious of the obligation to save humanity from imminent and total annihilation and conscious that humanity is one despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies, cultures; that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis of a new age when war will be outlawed and peace shall prevail; conscious of the inescapable reality that the greatest hope for the survival of life on earth is the establishment of a democratic one world government; we, the citizens of the world, hereby resolve to establish a world federation to be governed in accordance with the constitution for the federation of the earth.2
The framers of this document thought the new federation should be headed up by a “world executive,” a presidium of five leaders who represent five continents. They called for one president and four vice presidents who would aid him. This world executive would control everything.
As world conditions decline—and the world will get progressively worse as we approach the rapture—there will grow such a cry for peace that any solution, any confederation that can promise peace on earth, will gain global support. By promising exactly this, the Antichrist will achieve global dominion.
One key element to gaining world peace, according to the “one world” strategists and planners, is the removal of absolutes. In his classic book The Closing of the American Mind, Alan Bloom said the only way globalism can work is by eliminating any system of absolutes. In other words, nothing is right, and if nothing is right, then no one has the right to say, “You’re wrong.” And that’s how we’re all going to get along. Linda Faulkinstein of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory said, “Black and white answers probably never really existed, but the time has long passed when even the myth can endure. Competent world citizens must act in the large zones of grays where absolutes are absent.”3 Planners like her realize that religious beliefs—which tend to divide people—must be eliminated, and that the adherents to those beliefs must be labeled as close-minded, prejudiced, and intolerant. All of this will contribute toward a massive truth vacuum throughout the world.
The Antichrist will accomplish this total control, in part, through the third characteristic, wonder (v. 3). The beast will be engineered by the devil, possessed by the devil, controlled by the devil, and empowered by the devil. Apparently, he will survive some kind of head wound that appears fatal, causing the world to marvel over him and follow him. The word “marveled” in verse 3 means “to greatly admire, to wonder, to feel stunned by.” Marvel is the first step toward worship.
The “return” from a mortal head wound could be a reference to the revived Roman Empire, but in verse 12 we read that the wound seems to be of a more personal kind. There we find a term that is also used of Jesus Christ, when John sees the Lamb, or Christ, “as though it had been slain” (5:6). Some scholars believe the Antichrist will conjure some kind of fake resurrection. While the devil can never manufacture an actual resurrection, he can create a sign or wonder that could be mistaken for such—a wound that merely appears to be fatal and from which the Antichrist fully recovers, prompting the whole world to marvel after him.
The fourth characteristic is worship (vv. 4,8). Marvel and fear will quickly blossom into full-fledged worship of the beast—and through him, worship of the devil. That’s what Satan has always wanted. Ever since he tried to usurp God’s authority long ago, the devil has wanted to be like the Most High, and that includes receiving the worship only God can receive. Paul said the Antichrist will oppose God and exalt himself above everything that is called God, to the point that he sits in the temple in Jerusalem to proclaim his divinity (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The world will willingly believe this lie, giving him praise that sounds a lot like authentic worship of God: “Who is like the beast?” (v. 4). In the Old Testament, believers often declared, “Who is like our God?” (see, for example, Exodus 15:11; Psalm 35:10; Isaiah 40:18; Micah 7:18). And the unbelievers during the Tribulation period will say to the beast, “You are our God!”
Satan has always tried to masquerade as God. Here the dragon will try to masquerade as God the Father, while the Antichrist will masquerade as the Son. At this point in the Tribulation, all the dreams that people have expressed for a one-world religion will be fulfilled—but it will be demonic and blasphemous.
Fifth, the beast will be characterized by many words (v. 5). Almost every dictator who has risen to power has done so through the persuasive use of words. They know how to sway a crowd with potent speeches. Perhaps you have seen films of Adolf Hitler mesmerizing throngs in pre-World War II Germany. The Antichrist will be powerfully persuasive, but his enticing speech will eventually turn into blasphemy against God.
Sixth, the beast will become a man of war (v. 7). He will “overcome” the saints and slaughter millions of them (see also Daniel 7:25). These saints are not members of the church, of which Jesus said, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Rather, they are Tribulation saints. The church will have already been raptured from the earth, and the believers whom the Antichrist persecutes will be Tribulation saints. Large multitudes of them will suffer a martyr’s death.
Excerpted from Skip Heitzig, You Can Understand the Book of Revelation, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2011, 139-143)
1. Time, Monday, January 15, 1979, at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,920012-1,00.html.
2. Roger Kotila, “Constitution for the Federation of the Earth” (Democratic World Federalists), http://www.dwfed.org/pp_CFE.htm.
3. Quoted in Allan David Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 19