1. What warning did Jesus give concerning last-day deceptions?
Matthew 24:1-5, 24 “Watch out that no-one deceives you.... For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (vv 4, 24).
2. Taking up this theme, what position did Paul say a “lawless one” will claim as his?
2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
God’s temple is the church (1 Corinthians 3:16). The term “antichrist” means ”in place of Christ.” While there are many antichrists (see 1 John 2:18), the ultimate antichrist is Satan, who will counterfeit Jesus’ second coming in an attempt to deceive the world (vv 9, 10; see Isaiah 14:12-15).
Revelation presents a picture of a lamb-like beast that speaks like a dragon. It is counterfeit religion masquerading as true Christianity, to carry out Satan’s devious plans.
3. What does the lamb-like beast do?
Revelation 13:11-14 “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to [deceive the inhabitants of the earth]” (v 13).
Fire from heaven was used, in the time of Elijah, to show who was the true God (1 Kings 18:38). At Pentecost it indicated the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-3). Here it is used to indicate spiritual deception to deceive people into thinking God is acting.
What is the issue in the final crises? Revelation 13:11, 15 “He ...made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed ...and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.”
5. What would happen to those who refused false worship of the beast?
Revelation 13:15-17 “He ...cause[d] all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone ...to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark.”
Could a subtle dictatorship happen today? Note what renowned thinker Francis Schaeffer says: “What of tomorrow? In the United States, for example, a manipulating authoritarian government could come from the administrative side or from the legislative side. A public official in the United States serving at the highest level has wisely said, ‘Legislative dictatorship is no better than executive tyranny.’ ...‘When freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom’” (How Should We Then Live? pages 244, 245).
6. Whom are we called to worship?
Revelation 14:6, 7 “Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” (v 7).
7. Which commandment is in view?
Exodus 20:8-11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (v 11).
Those who accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation will honour Him in keeping His commandments and remaining loyal to Him. They will worship the Creator, rather than the beast!
8. What did Jesus say should characterise a true Christian?
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
9. What event delivers God’s people in the final crisis?
Mark 13:26, 27 “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect.”