By Gary Vaterlaus
Revelation chapter 13 introduces us to two beasts, one coming up from the sea, and the other arising out of the earth. The first beast is described as having ten horns and seven heads. He acts with all the authority of Satan, blasphemes God and makes war with the Saints. This is an obvious reference to the Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians 2.
The second beast, arising out of the earth, is described as “having two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon”. His main purpose, as stated in Revelation 13:11-17, is to make the whole world worship the first beast. To do this he performs great signs, even calling down fire from heaven. He tells all people to make an image of the first beast and worship it. He gives breath to the image and all who refuse to worship this image he causes to be killed. And finally, we are told that this second beast causes all to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead and that without this mark it will be impossible to buy or sell.
The reference to “two horns like a lamb” tells us that he will appear outwardly harmless and a man of peace, but the phrase “he spoke as a dragon” refers to the fact that in reality he will exercise the power of Satan to deceive. He will be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The reference to a lamb also points to his role as a religious leader, the leader of the apostate church of the last days. He is called the False Prophet in Rev. 16:3, 19:20 and 20:10. This title gives us another clue that his purpose and activity are religious in nature. Just as the true prophets of the Old Testament urged people to worship God, this false prophet will demand that people worship the false God, Antichrist.
There has been much speculation as to the identity of the False Prophet. A popular belief is that a future Pope of the Roman Catholic church may fulfill this role. This belief comes from several passages that seem to identify the headquarters of the future worldwide religious system as Rome (Rev. 17:18), and the fact that the Roman Catholic church holds sway over millions of people around the world, and would thus be well suited to control a one-world religion. Others have suggested that America, or another country, is the False Prophet.
What we can tell from Scripture is that the False Prophet will be an individual who serves the role of enforcing the worship of Antichrist. He will be a religious leader with supernatural power and authority. This “beast” will actively persecute and kill all those who will not take the mark of the first beast or worship his image.