Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (February 2009)
Read Revelation 13:1-18.
Revelation 13 describes three power bases which will be used by the Antichrist in his world government during the coming tribulation period of seven years. These refer to political, religious and economic power.
First, political power. In Revelation 13:2 we read that Satan will give the Antichrist his power, his throne, and great authority. The throne refers to a world government through which great authority will be exercised over all nations. Throughout the entire New Testament dispensation the devil and his demons have from the spiritual realm constituted a reigning power in the world. Ephesians 6:12 says: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” John says that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). The Lord Jesus also refers to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), and Paul says he is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). That is why Christ has come to “deliver us from the present evil age” (Gal. 4:1).
We are now heading for the darkest hour in world history, when the spiritual control which Satan wields over the fallen world will be revealed in a visible world government. We have always had to contend with the mystery of lawlessness, but the time is approaching when the Antichrist will be revealed as the lawless one. Paul says: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:8-9).
The lawless one, the Antichrist, will make his appearance on earth in the end-time, shortly before the visible return of Jesus Christ, and establish an evil world government with all the power and assistance of the devil. He will be the personification of the devil himself, as he will sit on Satan’s throne and practise his subversive power. His influence will be worldwide. John says: “And he was given authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Rev. 13:7). That is political globalism. We are on the threshold of this dispensation. A committee of the United Nations has already concluded that a world government with executive powers is the only solution for the handling of global crises. They are promoting this idea, ignorant of the fact that it is actually the devil’s plan!
Second, religious power. Satan not only strives to be king and ruler of the universe in place of God, but also to be worshipped by all people. All people are therefore going to be deceived into uniting themselves behind the leadership of the Antichrist, and also to worship the devil: “And all the world marvelled and followed the beast. So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev.13:3-4).Their marvelling will lead to open worshipping.
The final objective with the present process of religious globalisation is general worship of Satan as the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), as well as worshipping his special representative, the Antichrist. The ecumenical movement has already done the preparatory work for this sinister purpose. Initially, only Christian ecumenism was practised under the banner of the World Council of Churches, but it was soon transformed into multireligious ecumenism in which close ties are forged among all religions. The idea is now entertained by ecumenical compromisers that all faiths worship the same God and can therefore all be united under the leadership of the same, universal Christ. They do not realise that the devil is the god of this fallen world, and the Antichrist is the universal Christ for all faiths, who will be followed in amazement by the entire world.
Third, economic power. Revelation 13 concludes with a description of the Antichrist as the head of a world economy in which there will be only one, electronically-controlled monetary system. His control of the world economy will be so absolute that nobody will be able to buy or sell without his number on his/her hand or forehead. We all know that the technology has already been developed to inject under a person’s skin a tiny glass capsule containing a small processor on a microchip. Without this chip people will not be able to buy or sell as it will not be possible to gain access to the system of electronic funds transfer without a personal identity number. Considerable progress has been made with the process of economic globalisation, which paves the way towards the institution of one, centrally-controlled monetary system for the entire world. No trade or any economic transaction will be possible without this system.
The devil will not be satisfied with having only political and religious authority over the world. He also endeavours to control all the riches of the world, as well as all consumers’ spending of these riches. For this reason the New Testament also refers to the devil as Mammon – the god of money.
The word mammon is derived from the original Aramaic word which merely means riches. But the Lord Jesus personalised this concept by using it as a personal name for the devil as the lord or god of money. He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt. 6:19-21, 24).
In Luke 16:9 Jesus refers to the unrighteous Mammon. His wealth is perverted and he uses it to spiritually and morally corrupt all people on earth. The disposition of people to pursue material wealth at all cost and allowing it to become the master of their lives, usually leads to unrighteousness such as excessive profiteering, corruption, bribery, megalomania, an appetite for power, and various other sins and corrupt practices. That is an indication that Mammon has gained control of their lives. However, there also is uncorrupted wealth which is accumulated in an honourable way and is also spent to the advantage of others and the extension of God’s kingdom.
That, however, is the exception. In most cases Mammon takes full control of rich people’s lives and also promises them more riches, power and influence. During the time of the early Christian church and also in Medieval times Mammon was generally regarded as the demon of covetousness, riches and corruption. In Milton’s book, Paradise Lost, Mammon is depicted as a fallen angel who covets earthly riches above everything else. In De Plancy’s book on the kingdom of darkness, Dictionnaire Infernal, Mammon is described as Hell’s ambassador to England. For Thomas Carlyle in Past and Present, the ‘Gospel of Mammonism’ simply became a metaphoric personification of the materialistic spirit of the 19th century. In various works of art on mythology, Mammon is depicted as a wolf-like demon that came from hell to inflame the human heart with greed.
According to the Bible poor people obviously could be just as materialistic as wealthy ones as they may desire riches with all their hearts. Paul says, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Desiring nothing but riches inclines one to spiritually take the wrong direction. Mammon does not only intend to control your own life but also to control the whole world.
We are now in such an advanced stage of globalisation that a world government, an alliance of world religions, and a centrally controlled world economy may become a reality within the foreseeable future. It is obvious that political and economic structures for world governance will first be established. That will soon be followed by the general religious veneration and worship of the coming messiah - which will be in reaction to his great political and economic breakthroughs to save humanity form the jaws of a threatening nuclear holocaust and also to redeem them from an impending global depression and economic meltdown.
Mammon has acted very cunningly to create the international economic predicament through which all countries have been forced to unification and cooperation on a global level. The strategy that he followed moved through the following stages:
1. A capitalist system with a free market was established as this offers the best possibilities for the rapid generation of wealth. This process continued with minimum intervention until great wealth and technological advancement was achieved – so much so that capitalism became a desirable model for development around the globe.
2. Governments were taken over by liberal, materialistic and power-hungry leaders. With the help of multinational companies and large banks, and with huge tax revenues, they subjected their own countries and the rest of the world under the control of the international money power. The feverish pursuit of wealth coincided with the over-exploitation of natural resources and the large-scale pollution of the atmosphere and water resources. Mammon, however, is not concerned about these problems as exploitation and destruction are part of his evil character.
3. The success of governments is only measured on the short term by the degree of economic prosperity which they can bring to their people. Consequently, effective economic management, financial discipline, and strict control of government institutions and the private sector with a view to eliminating corrupt practices and low productivity, are neglected. Instant wealth is promised to all people. In election campaigns houses, jobs and prosperity are promised to all, but these promises are made at the expense of sustained economic growth and sensible conservation of the environment.
4. The method by which unrealistic political objectives were realised was the rapid growth of a country’s money supply by central banks, and the availability of cheap credit to commercial banks. Banks competed with one another to offer money at very low interest rates to their clients, regardless of whether they were creditworthy or not. Every bank tried to increase its market share. As a result young people in first time jobs had no difficulty in obtaining even 100% loans to buy expensive cars and houses. When they experienced cash-flow problems because of their high instalments they merely applied for more credit cards to buy all wanted commodities on credit.
5. Virtually everything that the market offered was bought – cars, houses, luxury items and many other commodities. Because of the high demand and cheap credit, prices rapidly increased, particularly real estate. In South Africa, the price of houses increased by more than 300% after the year 2000. The price of fuel also skyrocketed due to the sharply rising demand. All these factors contributed to the problem of inflation, causing central banks to increase their interest rates to avert overspending and economic chaos. Mortgage rates increased and soon many people could no longer afford the increased instalments on houses and cars; neither could they settle their other debts.
6. The banks suddenly experienced big problems as the repossessed houses and cars were worth less than the outstanding balances. The weakened buying-power in the market gave rise to big losses in the economy. New businesses could not be started as the banks were either reluctant or no longer able to offer sufficient financing. Investment confidence sharply decreased and stock exchanges suffered losses of billions of dollars almost overnight. The wealth of many people simply vanished. Mammon’s plans have seemingly gone wrong, but these events were all part of his long-term planning to gain full control over the world economy. The free market had to make way for a socialist form of political control over the economy.
7. Governments intervened to avert a threatening recession, but through their actions they effectively nationalised banks and large corporations. This process soon repeated itself all over the world. In China, thousands of factories were closed because of the declining demand for their products in overseas markets. Growing economies stagnated and according to projections for 2009 most of them will be in a severe recession during this year. On the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January 2009 it was forecast that 50 million jobs might be lost in the world economy during this year.
8. Government intervention and salvaging operations in capitalist economies paved the way to future political control over the world economy. It will be at this juncture where Mammon’s number one man, the Antichrist, will appear on the scene to take charge of the world government and the world economy. Because of his supernatural achievements he will soon be worshipped as world messiah. That will be the final fulfilment of the prophecies in Revelation 13.
A Christian who is closely associated with the banking system in the US was asked for his comments on the present developments. He said:
“Governments alone cannot be blamed for the economic problems. They have a mandate to ensure prosperity and comfort to the electorate. Should they have any other agenda people will simply not elect them. At this stage, the Federal Bank of the USA is close to bankruptcy. Virtually every government endeavours to avert the crisis by simply lending out more money, rather than addressing the fundamental problem, i.e. ‘if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat’ (2 Thess. 3:10). It appears as if the Federal Bank is busy fiddling its books, as had all the banks that went under. This bank now offers its last assets as bailouts.
“The entire world economy is built on sand and is on the verge of collapse. We know what its replacement will be, namely the new economic order and new monetary system of the Antichrist… We as Christians have also been dragged in as we generally entertain wrong ideas on money and wealth. We search for value in money, but God’s means of payment is blood – the life of His Son. ‘You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ’ (1 Pet. 1:18-19; cf. Rev. 5:9). We will not find salvation in material things – if we pursue them, they will possess us. We are called upon, like Christ, to sacrifice ourselves in His service. Instead, many Christians go after convenience, prosperity and prestige, and even misuse their Christian calling to achieve these ideals.”
Christians must certainly be economically active but they should be content when their basic needs have been supplied (1 Tim. 6:8-10).
All indications are that there will be a quick breakthrough to the final institution of a world government, a world religion, and a world economy.
There are two possibilities for the revelation of the Antichrist and the acceptance of his role as world leader.
The one possibility is that he will use the present economic crisis to offer world reforming solutions. That will lead to his general acceptance and his ultimate worship by all people.
The other possibility is that he will appear on the scene as a peacemaker during a great war in Israel, possibly the Russo-Arab invasion of Ezekiel 38 and 39, thereby averting a threatening third world war. As a “prince of peace” with superhuman abilities he will then also be elected as the political, economic and religious head of a world government. Whatever the final entry to his position of world leadership might be, it will soon lead to a broad based consolidation of his position of authority. He will be the unchallenged leader in all areas of governance.
The first half of the Antichrist’s rule will be characterised by false peace and unity in the world. The world economy will temporarily recover, peace will be made in all the areas of conflict, and the whole world will follow their new leader in amazement. According to Daniel 9:27, he will conclude a seven-year covenant with Israel and the nations. That will be the foundation for a new world order under his personal leadership.
Halfway through the seven years there will be rebellion against his world government and he will be mortally wounded. After this wound has been healed through the mediation of the false prophet the Antichrist will be transformed from prince of peace into a cruel military dictator. He will then pursue his objectives by the unprecedented use of military power.
In the religious sphere he will also raise the degree of his rebellion against God by declaring himself to be God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (2 Thess. 2:4). No longer will he be satisfied with his status as world messiah, but will claim to be God. He will also set up an image of himself in the Holy of Holies of the temple and force people everywhere to worship him. All those who refuse to do so will promptly be executed (Rev. 13:15).
When the end of his seven-year reign approaches the Antichrist will deploy his multinational forces in and around Jerusalem to fight against Christ and His heavenly army in an effort to save his own world government from annihilation. According to biblical prophecies he will know that the true Christ will return to the world at the end of that year-week to destroy the false messiah and his followers, to save the remnant in Israel, and then to establish His thousand-year reign of peace on earth. That will lead to the battle of Armageddon. John says:
“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Christ] and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:19-21).
The new world order on which the world is currently working with so much enthusiasm is nothing less than a plan of Satan to deprive the nations of their political and economic self-determination, and their freedom of religion. Globalisation will be offered to them in the name of peace and greater unity and harmony, but will later culminate in the cruel dictatorship and forced worship of the Antichrist as God. All the Antichrist’s followers and accomplices, who accepted his number and worshipped him, will share in his eternal judgement:
“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength 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. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:9-11).
The false prince of peace and champion of globalisation will be followed in awe by the whole world. He will be Satan’s special angel of light to cause millions of people to be trapped unawares into the kingdom of darkness.
But the Lord expects of us to act as withholders of the Antichrist – also now when his policy of global unity is propagated so convincingly as a much needed policy which will lead to the economic and political restoration of the whole world. We should be able to discern the concealed deception of this plan and ensure that we never subscribe to it.
During these dark times we should lay hold of the Lord Jesus’ promise that He will come for His true disciples before the Antichrist is revealed and the horrors of his seven-year long reign take effect: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).